Callimachus was after all a Cyrenaean aristocrat, presumably capable of displaying a certain independence of mind. He should not be cast in the image of a modern agnostic intellectual. We must also be careful to avoid confusing what looks to us to be literary Innovation and a departure from traditional hymnodic forms with a changed attitude towards the divine.
The chances are that it wras s an initiate he wrote the aetiological poem on the Samothracian Mysteries and that it represents an expression of his devotion to the cult.
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Philicus and possibly also Euphorion seem to have given similar expression to their devotion. Apollonius in his Argonautica has Jason and his companions, while on their way to Colchis, stop in Samothrace to be initiated in the mysteries, so that they may sail safely across the sea. The poet breaks off his account at this point to speak in his own voice to say that he will say nothing more about the mysteries and to express the wish that the island itself and the gods dwelling in it, to whom responsibility for the mysteries has fallen and about whom it is not right for him to sing, may rejoice 1.
It is certainly true that Apollonius interjects a first-person voice into the epic much more frequently than does Homer and in ways that are very different from those of Homer. From that it does not follow that Apollonius' refusal to say more about the gods of Samothrace is a purely literary artifice.
Nor again is his praying that no one should be cognizant of what Medea did in performing a sacrifice to Hecate in Paphlagonia and that he should not be moved to sing of it of the same order s his declining to say more about the mysteries on Samothrace 4. I cannot see why this should not be taken at face-value.
The expression of approval over Pentheus' fate is followed by an exhortation not to be troubled over the lot of whoever is hatef l to Dionysus, though the suffering of that person be still worse than that of Pentheus The 26th Idyll is best regarded s a hymn celebrating Dionysus and his mother Semele and her sisters,. Both Apollonius and Theocritus write s though they belong to the inner circle of initiates.
There is no very gqod reason to suppose that they have adopted a fictitious persona and do not speak in propria persona. As for Callimachus, it is very likely that he was initiated into the Samothracian Mysteries when he was in Thrace. Euphorion The case for Euphorion s initiate into the mysteries is on the face of it the easiest. It is ascribed to Theodoridas, a poet about whom not much can be safely said other than that Meleager included him in his anthology.
Two turns of phrase reminiscent of Callimachus and the se of a combinatton of metres found only in that poet have persuaded the most recent editors that there is little question about his flomit, whieh they wo ld place m the second half of the 3rd Century B. The epigram says that Euphorion who knew how to compose poetry that was sanspareil lies dead here by the Peiraic legs, and then, addressing the passer-by, calls on that person to make an offering to the initiate of a pomegranate, an apple or myrtle-berry, on the ground that while he wais alive Euphorion took delight in these fruits.
A2 It should be noted here ihat Cairjqis n. Gpw and D. Hardie compafes Thgn. Simylus SH Poets s Initiates in the Mysteries 55 at Euphorion's grave somewhere in the vicinity of the Long Walls, which ran down from Athens to the Peiraeus, in memory of the pleasure which Euphorion derived from being an initiate there are to be laid fruits symbolic of the mysteries. That is the straightforward explanation of the poem.
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Gow and Page, who follow the Interpretation of the epigram given by Susemihl in his Griechische Literatur in der Alexandrinerzeit and endorsed by Maas, suppose that the poem is an attack on Euphorion and that the Peiraic legs, the apple, myrtle-berry and pomegranate are all to be taken in an obscene sense. The vexed problem of where Euphorion was buried is thus in the view of Gow and Page disposed of, since it is irrelevant, if the poem is a lampoon, whether Euphorion was buried in Attica or s the Souda would have it in Syria, in either Apameia or Antioch.
On this reading of the epigram the mysteries in which Euphorion is an initiate have to be those of Aphrodite. It is certainly true that the mysteries of Aphrodite is a common enough figure for lovemaking. Maas, RE 5 A s. Further literature in W. To the exaraples collected by Maas may be added the mocking epitaph that Seneca says he was wont to utter when he passed the Campanian vilia in which the ex-praetor Vatia had buried himself in seclusion: Vatia, hie situs est Ep.
I owe the reference to Christoph Riedweg. It would be wrong to say that the sum of these objections amo nts to an insuperable obstacle to taking the epigram sensu obscaeno, but they do present formidable difficulties in the way of such an Interpretation. If the epigram is taken at face-value, the passer-by is asked to place on Euphorion's grave fruits that are tokens of his initiation into the mysteries. The association with mystery-cult of two of the fruits to be deposited on Euphorion's grave, the pomegranate and the myrtleberry, need not be dwelt on at any length, since there is nothing problematic about their association.
The pomegranate is closely linked with Persephone, and she is very often represented holding that fruit. The myrtle provides the wreath that is most often worn by initiates in the mysteries. Representations on vases of scenes of initiation from the 4th Century portray the initiand and the wystagogos-figure wearing what are generally taken to be myrtle-wreaths,29 while in the Niinnion-tablet, which belongs to the first half of the 4th Century, not only do figures in the three scenes of initiation represented on the plaque wear myrtle-wreaths, but some of them also carry what are conspicuously sprays of myrtle.
Quite what its connection with mystery-cult is eludes easy explanation, but ;t unquestionably had some part to play. There are two pieces of evidence that testify to apples or quinces playing a role in the mysteries. Clement of Alexandria, after quoting two verses from an Orphic poem which speak of the fair gold apples of the shrill-voiced Hesperids s one of the playthings with which the Titans tricked Dionysus into going off with them, goes on to give a list of objects, amongst them apples, that are Symbols of the mysteries.
Henderson n. Mylonas, Eleusts and the Eleusinian Mysteries Princeton figs. Mylonas n. West, The OrphicHymm Oxford has a commentary on the passage. Poets s Initiales in the Mysteries 57 Mysteries, apples had some significance in Orphic-Bacchic mystery-cult. We may conclude that apples or quinces along with pomegranates played a part in Orphic-Bacchic mystery-cult. Just what it was must reraain obscure. A perfectly coherent account can, accordingly, be given of the funerary epigram for Euphorion based on the assumption that it is a poem about a poet who was an initiate in the mysteries.
We cannot be altogether certain that the epigram was not inscribed on a stele surmounting Euphorion's grave, but a literary exercise written sometime after the death of the poet. Even if we grant that the poem was not a real epitaph, it does nonetheless provide the best testimony about where Euphorion was buried. Besides the epigram we have one other piece of Information that makes Athens the most likely place in which Euphorion was buried.
Helladius, a grammarian of the 4th Century A. The tradition that Euphorion was an Athenian by adoption must mean that Euphorion was granted Athenian citizenship. Such a grant of citizenship was in the time of Demosthenes no small matter. In Euphorion's case, it is likely it was the credit accruing to Athens in acquiring so important a poet s one of their own that encouraged the Athenians to make him a citizen. The motives of the Coans in making Meleager a citizen of their state will have been similar. The bronze statue set up in honour of Philetas by his fellow-Coans and the 32 M 34 35 36 57 Porph.
De ahst. In virtually the same breath, Julian mentions a prohibition against using pomegranates.
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Westes Suggestion n. Gudeman, RE 8 s. Helladios 2 Meineke, De Euphorionis Chalcidensis vita etscriptis G cd an A further indication that Euphorion was an Eleusinian initiate is perhaps to be seen in the apple and the pomegranate that are to be bestowed on his grave, but it may be that apples and pomegranates were associated with mystery-cults elsewhere. It is more significant that Euphorion's Initiation in the mysteries was a sufficiently important element in the life of the poet for an epigrammatist trying in a brief compass to capture something of the essence of the man to single it out for special mention.
We have, accordingly, a poet at the centre of whose being was his Initiation intp the mysteries. The obvious objection to such an Interpretation of the poem is that it is not Euphorion himself who bears witness to his religious feelings but someone eise. Theodoridas may have misinterpreted the depth of the devotion that Euphorion feit to the mystery-cult of which he was a member, but the notion of a poet devoted to mystery-cult is unlikely to have been a fantasy with no roots in reality.
It is proper at this poirit to inquif e how Theodoridas could have known that the mysteries meant so much to Euphorion. Possible Solutions are that Theodoridas knew Euphorion personally or that Euphorion's devotion was widely known. There is also the very real possibility that Euphorion had written a poem in celebration of the mysteries and that the poem is the source of Information on which the epigrammatist draws. Euphorion's loiig epic poem on Dionysus may, for exaniple, have had something to say about the mysteries frs.
If that were so, we would have an instance of a very common pattern in the way in which in ancient times the lives of poets were reconstructed from their writings: it was assumed that what the poet had written about in some sense held good for him. Theodoridas is less likely to have gone seriously astray in inferring from the poetry of Euphorion devotion to the mysteries. The next poet to be considered is Philicus, who belongs to the group of tragic poets active in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus known s the Pleiad.
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Lefkowhz, The Lives ofthe Poets London passim. Stoessl, RE 19 s. Philiskos 4 ; Fr ser n. That he was a priest of Dionysus the Souda also teils us. The poem, addressing Philicus in the 2nd person, bids him hon voyage on his journey to see the Lands of the Pious and the Isles of the Biest, after he has had a good view of the happy old age of Alcinous the Phaeacian.
What the elegiacs go on to say after this is lost. The poem is preserved in a p pyrus now in Hamburg P. Who its tolerably, though not completely, competent author was we do not know. The poem does not fall under any obvious classificatory rubric.
It is natural enough that a poem addressing the deceased in the 2nd person and recalling the pleasures he had once enjoyed should be treated s a lament. Yet lament is hardly the term that suggests itself for a poem in which there is little or no hint of regret or sadness and which seems on the contrary to look forward to a happy and privileged afterlife for Philicus. Although literary texts afford little help in the classification of the poem, the gold lamellae that dead initiates took with them to the grave do throw some light on how the poem should be classified and what its meaning is.
The poem is suffused by the language and ideas that inform the lamellae. I shall argue that the poem has many of the same sources of Inspiration s the lamellae and comes out of the same intellectual and cultural matrix. I am greatly indebted to Christoph Riedweg for letting me see in advance of publication his careful examinaaon of what is inscribed on the Orphic-Bacchic lamellae.
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However that may bc, the hypothesis that what is inscribed on the gold lamellae derives from ritualcontexts throws new light on what is going oh in the elegiacs bidding Philicus godspeed. It is proper to ask what the repetition means. Repetition is a device that performs a variety of functions.
Ritual is especially fond of it.
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