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Propertius' ‘Paternal Ashes’

  • Archibald Allen (a1)

At 3.9.37–8, Propertius says that he will not bewail (sc. in epic verse) the destruction of Thebes by the Epigonoi or the earlier assault on the city by the Seven:

non flebo in cineres arcem sedisse paternos

Cadmi, nee septem proelia clade pari.

That nec…pari in 38 refers to the Seven, with Lipsius' septem for the manuscripts' semper, J. D. Morgan demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt in his discussion of the couplet in CQ 36 (1986), 186–8. But Morgan's chief concern in that discussion was with paternos at the end of 37, and it is his treatment of that adjective which prompts this note.

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1 He noted that arcem…paternam and arces…paternas could refer only to Cadmus' birthplace, Tyre, and that Postgate erred in assuming that the line refers to the ‘sudden’ destruction of the Theban palace, and the death of Semele, at the birth of Dionysus, since the context requires a reference to a war worthy of epic poetry.

2 Morgan also thought highly of tepentes, suggested to him by a CQ referee, and rightly so, for it is an attractive conjecture.

3 A CQ referee generously notes a parallel to the separation of parentis from Cadmi at lineend in 4.10.40–1, vasti parma… ducis / Virdomari.

4 I thank my colleague Allan Kershaw for helpful discussion.

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
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