3. Posidippus Old and New

David Sider, New York University
A review of Posidippo premilanese is clearly in order if we are ever to see him whole. This presents an interesting challenge, because old and new Posidippi are not the easiest of fits. I have, moreover, taken it as my task to point out, if not exaggerate, these differences. We begin with a brief review of what we knew of the poet and his work before the publication of the papyrus. [1]
There are not many facts external to the epigrams themselves known about Posidippus, [2] but oddly enough one of them is that he wrote epigrams. IG IX.12.17, v.24, from Thermium, grants proxeny status in Delphi to “Posidippus the epigrammatist from Pella,” Ποσειδίππωι τῶι ἐπιγραμματοποιῶι Πελλαίωι, [3] and a scholion to Apollonius of Rhodes tells us that Posidippus the epigrammatist (ἐπιγραμματογράφος) followed Antimachus on the matter of Heracles’ great weight (Schol. ad A.R. I.1289, p.116 Wendel = SH 703). For a while I wondered whether ἐπιγραμματοποιός, the word used in the public declaration, was the more formal of the two words for epigrammatist, [4] and whether ἐπιγραμματογράφος perhaps harbored some of the pejorative sense that λογογράφος had in contrast with λογοποιός, [5] but there are far too few instances to substantiate this distinction. Posidippus, then, is simply an epigrammatist, although he may have written in other forms. [6]
A survey of what was previously known is in order, sorted by source. The reason for giving lengths of individual poems [in square brackets] will appear presently.
From the Greek Anthology (i.e., the union of the Palatine and Planudean anthologies) [7] we have thirteen undisputed epigrams: AP V 134 (1 GP), 183 (10 GP ), 186 (2 GP), 211 (3 GP), 213 (9 GP); VII 267 (15 GP); XII 45 (5 GP), 98 (6 GP), 120 (7 GP), 131 (8 GP), 168 (9 GP); APl 119 (18 GP) [8] , 275 (19 GP). [average length of undisputed epigram, ca. 5 vv.]
Unfortunately, nine epigrams in the Greek Anthology are doubly ascribed to Posidippus and another: [9]
Asclepiades: AP V 194 (Asclepiades 34 GP = EG 23), AP V 202 (Asclepiades 35 GP = EG 24), AP V 209 (Asclepiades 36 GP = EG 25); AP XII 17 (Asclepiades 37 GP = EG 26), AP XII 77 (Asclepiades 38 GP = EG 27); APl 68 (Asclepiades 39 GP = EG 28) [10]
Callimachus: AP VII 170 (Posidippus 21 GP; Καλλιμάχου C [11] )
Plato Comicus: AP IX 359 (Posidippus 22 GP; οἱ δὲ Πλάτωνος τοῦ κωμικοῦ [12] C)
Meleager: AP V 215 (Posidippus 23 GP; ἢ Μελεάγρου PC)
Athenaeus is our source for four epigrams: VII 318c (13 GP); X 412d (14), 414d (16); XIII 596c (17). This last poem is intriguingly introduced as follows: εἰς δὲ τὴν Δωρίχαν (sc. the mistress of Sappho’s brother Charaxus, who, like Doricha, is mentioned in the poem) τόδ᾿ ἐποίησε τοὐπίγραμμα Ποσείδιππος, καίτοι καὶ ἐν τῇ Αἰθιοπίαͺ πολλάκις αὐτὸς μνημονεύσας. ἔστι δὲ τόδε [“17 GP”] (“Posidippus wrote this epigram on Doricha, indeed mentioning her many times also in his Aithiopia. It is as follows:” [17 GP]). [13] Aithiopia looks very much like the title of a book. Why was Ep. 17 excluded from it, as καὶ before ἐν indicates? Two reasonable answers: (i) Aithiopia is a book containing poems in a different genre or genres from epigrams (elegies would be most likely), where the slight genre of epigram would be thought out of place; [14] or (ii) Aithiopia was a book of epigrams, but Posidippus wrote one or more epigrams mentioning Doricha in either an earlier or a later book of epigrams. If the latter (ii) is the case, we may know the title of that book too, for at 491c Athenaeus quotes one line from a work of Posidippus entitled Ἀσωπία· οὐδέ τοι ἀκρόνυχοι ψυχραὶ δύνουσι Πέλειαι (SH 698). [15] Scholars noting the similarity between Asopia and Aithiopia have suggested that one is a mistake for the other, [16] but if our inference from 596c is correct that Posidippus published more than one book of epigrams and that one of them had a title, then it is reasonable to imagine that the second book also had a title. And if our testimony provides us with a second name, why get rid of it? A quick look at any onomasticon shows how many more Greek names begin with alpha than with any other letter. It remains possible that Asopia was, as Lloyd-Jones suggests, one long poem, possibly an epyllion. [17]
AB 15 (Tzetzes Chiliades VII 660 = 20 GP), which Page 1965:121 thought was ascribed to Posidippus erroneously, also appears in P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309, each reinforcing the other to support Posidippus as author.
AB 115–116 (P.Firmin-Didot) are two 10-line epigrams, 11 and 12 GP = 104a–b in Page 1942. [av. length of Ath., Tz., and P.Firmin-Didot, 7.7 vv.].
AB 117 (P.Tebtunis. I 3 21–25 , first century BCE, = 24 GP) contains traces of four poems in elegiac couplets. The first is anonymous and since it is 12 lines long Gow-Page wonder whether it should be thought of as an elegy, but as will be made clear below (in part by the 12-line epigrams in P.Mil.Vogl.), there is no hindrance to our considering it an epigram, just like the three that follow it in P.Tebtunis: Alcaeus of Messene 17 GP (8 vv., no heading but previously known from the Anthology); Posidippus 24 (4 vv.), headed Ποσειδί]ππου; and Asclepiades 47 (at least 6 vv.), headed Ἀσκληπ]ιάδου.
Stephanus of Byzantium 295.3 (AB 148 = SH 700), without naming the source, quotes three verses by Posidippus to illustrate that he spelled Ζέλεια as Ζελίη and that Πάνδαρος παρὰ τῷ Σιμοῦντι τέθαπται:
     ὁ δὲ Λυκαονίη δέξατό σε Ζελίη
ἀλλὰ <παρὰ> προχοῇσι Σιμουντίσι τοῦτό σοι Ἕκτωρ
     σῆμα καὶ ἀγχέμαχοι θέντο Λυκαονίδαι.
Nor did Lycaonian Zelia receive you, but Hector and the close-fighting Lycaonians set up this tombstone for you at the mouth of the river Simois.
This could easily be from a sepulchral epigram. Only three sepulchral epigrams by Posidippus were previously known, two from the Anthology (AB 131–132 = 21 and 15 GP) and one from Athenaeus (AB 122 = 17 GP), [18] but P.Mil.Vogl. contains twenty. Other Hellenistic sepulchral epigrams for Homeric characters are AP VII 136 (Antipater on Priam), 140 (Archias on Hector), 141 (Antiphilus on Protesilaus), 145–147 (Asclepiades, Antipater, and Archias on Ajax), but none of the twenty in P.Mil.Vogl. is of this sort. Stephanus, interested only in geographical and onomastic niceties, may well have excerpted SH 700 from a longer poem.
AB 118 (P. Berol. 14283 = SH 705) is a poem now of 25 lines but originally, if the posited lacunae are correct, of at least 28 lines. As Lloyd-Jones and Gutzwiller have shown, this poem spoken in the voice of the author, who laments his old age and asks for proper honors, reads very much like a sphragis, whether to introduce the book as its “seal” or as an envoi to the readers of the book. [19] In SH it is headed “epigramma vel elegia: poematum σφραγίς,” but as a sphragis it should rather be compared to the long introductory poems to Meleager’s and Philip’s anthologies, neither of which is considered an elegy, although it must also be noted that most people hesitate to call them epigrams either.
In addition to the poems noted above, there are several dubia, most of which are conveniently printed and commented on by Fernández-Galiano (as xxx–xxxvi [epigrams] and xxxviii [elegy]), although with little critical analysis of authorship. All are anonymous, and in each case Posidippan authorship is merely a guess (and often other names have been proposed as well).
AB 134 (AP V 168), anonymous in the two mss. of the Greek Anthology (= Anon. 3 GP) was held to be by Posidippus by Stadtmüller (the editor of the Teubner edition of the Greek Anthology), and then by Wallace and Wallace 1939 and Albrecht (1996:147–152), largely on the basis of some similarities with Posidippus AB 137 = 6 GP, but this poem in turn shares features with Asclepiades 11. In other words, these three poems (and Asclepiades 14) show the usual signs of overt debt (read “allusion”) of one epigram to another, whether or not by the same poet. [20] If this anonymous poem is by Posidippus, we will need another papyrus like P.Mil.Vogl. to prove it. Fernández-Galiano (1987:30) does not even print it among his dubia.
This, then, however briefly, is what we had of Posidippus before the publication of P. Mil.Vogl. How do the previously known epigrams differ from those in the Milan papyrus? One not uncommon reaction among early readers, who had then only Bastianini and Gallazzi by which to judge, [21] was that the new epigrams were distinctly inferior. The notion of how epigrams are judged will be questioned below—but before questioning it I want to point out one way Old Posidippus is more in line with what we usually think of when we picture a Hellenistic epigrammatist.
Old Posidippus frequently fashioned the speaker of the poem in the persona of poet, no example of which can be found in the new material. This is most straightforward in AB 118 (SH 705), the so-called Seal of Posidippus, in which he (i.e. the speaker in the name of Posidippus) addresses the Muses as his fellow citizens (1 Μοῦσαι πολιήτιδες), who are asked now to sing along with him in chorus what they had written of his grievous old age (5–6 νῦν δὲ Ποσειδίππῳ στυγερὸν συναείσατε γῆρας … γραψάμεναι δέλτων ἐν χρυσέαις σελίσιν). [22] Note the Hellenistic nicety of the Muses, of all people, reciting from an already written text. The text to be sung is of course this very poem, the Seal of Posidippus itself, the imperative συναείσατε, as usual, actually referring to the present performance; cf. μῆνιν ἄειδε θεά. The poem had been composed in the short-term memory of wax tablets; now finished it is transferred to the longer-lasting format of the book roll, and it is just such a roll that Posidippus wants to be seen reading when he is (he hopes) honored with a public statue: 16 ἔοιμι δὲ βύβλον ἑλίσσων. This last verb should be translated as “reading,” not simply and literally as “unwinding” (Page), an action whose only purpose in this context is to expose columns for reading; [23] and this word may also call for further elaboration. Since Posidippus had earlier alluded to himself, along with the Muses, reading from the Seal, we are thus presented with a very elaborate bit of ecphrasis, where the performance—Posidippus reading/reciting—is exactly what is before the audience’s eyes when he describes his desired statue. A tableau vivant in which performer, performance, [24] and content all become one. [25]
Next consider AB 137 (6 GP = AP XII 98):
τὸν Μουσῶν τέττιγα Πόθος δήσας ἐπ᾿ ἀκάνθαις
     κοιμάζειν ἐθέλει πῦρ ὑπὸ πλευρὰ βαλών·
ἡ δὲ πρὶν ἐν βύβλοις πεπονημένη ἄλλα θερίζει
     ψυχή, ἀνιηρῷ δαίμονι μεμφομένη.
Desire holding the Muses’ cicada on a bed of thorns wants to keep it silent by applying heat to its ribs; but the (cricket’s = poet’s) soul has done its homework and gathers other things, blaming the wretched god.
As Gutzwiller (1998:160–161) neatly demonstrates, Pothos would like to have an ἀκάνθιος τέττιξ, “mute or unmusical,” but cicadas thrive in heat and chirp even louder than before. Moreover, since cicadas (certainly those said to be “of the Muses”) often stand in for poets, [26] this particular learned poet [27] makes his literary harvest [28] from all that he has pored over in the book; he is now ready for a counterattack against the god, which consists, at least in part, of this very poem. [29] This poem contrasts (perhaps intentionally) with AB 140 (Anon. 9 GP = AP XII 99, from Meleager’s Garland), where the speaker, struck by Eros, gives up his devotion to the Muses, finding it useless if not an actual impediment at such a moment (5 τηκέσθω Μουσέων ὁ πολὺς πόνος) [30] Posidippus, on the other hand, not only does not give up on his art, he characterizes it as one that depends upon deep immersion in earlier literature—and himself, it would seem, as a poeta doctus, ready to take on the god of Desire.
Which books has Posidippus studied so carefully? We could try to compose a list, but he in fact provides his own: AB 140 (9 GP = AP XII 168).
Ναννοῦς καὶ Λύδης ἐπίχει δύο, καὶ φιλεράστου
     Μιμνέρμου, καὶ τοῦ σώφρονος Ἀντιμάχου·
συγκέρασον τὸν πέμπτον ἐμοῦ· τὸν δ᾿ ἕκτον ἑκάστου,
     Ἡλιόδωρ᾿, εἴπας, ὅστις ἐρῶν ἔτυχεν·
ἕβδομον Ἡσιόδου, τόν δ᾿ ὄγδοον εἷπον Ὁμήρου,
     τὸν δ᾿ ἔνατον Μουσῶν, Μνημοσύνης δέκατον.
μεστὸν ὑπὲρ χείλους πίομαι, Κύπρι· τἆλλα δ᾿, Ἔρωτες,
     νήφοντ᾿ οἰνωθέντ᾿ οὐχὶ λίην ἄχαρι. [31]
Pour in two measures for Nanno and Lyde, and one for the lover’s friend [32] Mimnermus and another for prudent Antimachus. For the fifth measure mix in myself. Then, Heliodorus, add the sixth measure with a toast to each person who ever happened to be in love. Say the seventh is Hesiod’s, the eighth Homer’s, the ninth the Muses’, and the tenth Mnemosyne’s. I drink a cup slopping over the brim, Cypris. And then, [33] Cupids, to be sober while drunk on wine is not to be too graceless.
His literary cup runneth over. And this cup may not have been his first, to judge from the lack of tidiness in his categories. Are Lyde and Nanno women or literary works? One often toasts or dedicates a drink to a woman; cf. Meleager 42 GP (AP V 136) ἔγχει καὶ πάλιν εἰπέ, πάλιν πάλιν, Ἡλιοδώρας, so the poem begins with a certain erotic charge; i.e., they are women. Continuing, however, with toasts to Mimnermus and Antimachus, the respective authors of Nanno and Lyde, the poem makes the reader rethink (in good reader-response critical fashion) the preceding two toasts; i.e., they are literary creations. [34] But isn’t Posidippus confusing his two poets by toasting first a work by each and then toasting them as authors? At least the choice of these two authors makes a kind of sense; both wrote erotic poetry, as does Posidippus. The fifth in the list is himself, but ἐμοῦ with συγκέρασον reads more like a partitive genitive: put some of me in the fifth measure. If this is so, however, we have to go back to the beginning once again and recognize that ἐπιχέω may also take a partitive genitive. [35] All of this seems to be turning this poem into a kind of (pardon the expression) potted literary history of the poet Posidippus. And even if item number six were only a toast, it still seems odd. Who offers a toast to oneself? The sixth toast is to everybody who has chanced to be in love. This, like “Lyde” and “Nanno” refers to content, which, as before, makes one back up a toast and ask whether “me” alludes to Posidippus as author or as subject. Let’s keep it open, an intentional amphiboly. Homer is every poet’s model, but Hesiod seems out of place. He was, though, known for his lists, the most important of which for a poet is the roster of nine Muses, the daughters of Mnemosyne. Hesiod thus may be taken as the model for the list we are currently reading, which puts the (nine) Muses in ninth place. [36] In any case, Muses and Mnemosyne form yet another category. All together, the list includes content (Lyde, Nanno, “me”), book (Lyde and Nanno), poet as author (Mimnermus, Antimachus, Posidippus), poet as persona (“me” taken together with “everyman” in love), and poetic inspiration (Muses and Mnemosyne). Since, moreover, Muses and Memory are typically appealed to in proems, their mention suddenly converts lines 1–6 into a proem, after which (τἆλλα) the poet begins the poem proper. Our poem, however, like many shorter Homeric hymns, is all prologue. Its form, though, is meant to mirror its content, which describes what a poet must do (read, think, absorb, imitate, allude to) before composition.
The confusion of categories, in other words, is an artful mess, covering the ground like a drunk who cannot walk straight, but who eventually makes his way. Here the ground is erotic poetry, as indicated by the addresses to Cypris and Erotes. The drunkenness, however, is only an act. Thus, in the last line, not only does “sober” mean as befits one ἐν βύβλοις πεπονημένος (cf. νήφω LSJ II a, “soberness of thought,” as adapted to a poet-scholar), but νήφοντ᾿ οἰνωθέντ᾿ refers to the two facets of the poet’s psyche at work at the same time, νήφοντα for the poet now (note present tense) crafting his poem, οἰνωθέντα for his persona within the poem. [37]
We are now in a position to recognize that Posidippus AB 139 = 5 GP (AP XII 45) belongs to this group of poems where the persona of the speaker represents Posidippus as poet.
ναὶ ναὶ βάλλετ᾿, Ἔρωτες· ἐγὼ σκοπὸς εἷς ἅμα πολλοῖς
     κεῖμαι. μὴ φείσησθ᾿, ἄφρονες· ἢν γὰρ ἐμέ
νικήσητ᾿, ὀνομαστοὶ ἐν ἀθανάτοισιν ἔσεσθε
     τοξόται ὡς μεγάλης δεσπόται ἰοδόκης.
Come on, Cupids, take your best shot! I’m right here, one target for many. Don’t hold back, you ninnies, because if you conquer me, you’ll be famous among the gods as archers who are masters of a great quiver.
This poem presents a twofold response: on the surface a challenge to the Erotes, but just as clearly to Posidippus’ readers both ancient and modern a response to Asclepiades 17 GP (AP XII 166), a plaintive appeal to the Erotes by someone wasted by love to be put out of his miseries altogether, [38] line 5 of which begins ναὶ ναὶ βάλλετ᾿, Ἔρωτες. As such, Asclepiades’ poem is part of a long history, beginning with Sappho, of the lover passively bewailing his or her wasted state. To which Posidippus’ poem is more than that of a more bold lover telling a more down-cast one to face up to his adversaries; rather, although this has not been generally recognized, it is the poet Posidippus telling a fellow poet how to react when in love; poets, after all, possess resources denied to ordinary men. They can lend fame and glory even to immortals.
Posidippus’ conditional, “if you conquer me, you will have a name,” has an unspoken negative, “if you do not conquer me, you will not be named.” [39] To be named is to be famous, but not to be named is to be abominable; cf. Od. XIX 260 = 597 Κακοΐλιον οὐκ ὀνομαστήν, Hes. Th. 148 (the Cyclopes) οὐκ ὀνομαστοί, Κόττος τε Βριάρεως τε Γύγης θ᾿, ὑπερήφανα τέκνα. Compare Lat. nefandus (West ad loc.) and Eng. “infamous.” Posidippus thus takes the topos of a poem granting immortal fame (usually understood as a form of immortality) and transfers it to the Erotes, who as much as any mortal will welcome having their tale told forever. [40] This poem, in other words, gains its point only when it is understood as the words of a poet qua poet, and quite a bold one at that.
We have now seen how Old Posidippus differs, in a way we have come to think of as typically Hellenistic (a poet who plays with the persona of the speaker as an “I,” who in this case is a cocksure poet unafraid to take on the god of love himself), from New Posidippus, who thus starts his literary life at a disadvantage. Such a difference, however, was predictable, as we see when we consider another difference between the two, which will also help to explain the first difference and allow us to make a proper comparison between Old and New Posidippi.
It will have been noted that the epigrams found in the Greek Anthology are shorter than the new ones, which break down as follows: 108 poems in 630 vv. = 5.83 vv./poem (4 vv. x 54 poems, 6 x 38, 8 x 11, 10 x 2, 14 x 3). But this disparity in length does not apply to those epigrams of Posidippus previously known from papyri: The Firmin-Didot and the Tebtunis papyri contain epigrams significantly longer than the 5+ line average of the Anthology. The relative shortness of the epigrams from the Anthology can be credited to one person, Meleager, who compiled a Garland of poems by the first generation of Hellenistic epigrammatists, including himself and Posidippus. Thanks to the convenient gathering of these poems in Gow and Page’s Hellenistic Epigrams, it is relatively easy to get a sense of the epigrams Meleager liked: “sharp and devastating [in] their sudden changes of register, subject, or speaker, [with] sudden revelations and surprises in their movement.” [41] I quote Hutchinson (on Hellenistic epigrams in general and Callimachus’ in particular, not specifically on Meleager’s taste) not only because it is to the point, but also because he credits brevity alone with allowing all this. Asclepiades and Callimachus provided early examples of the witty and brief epigram, and they were followed very much by later practitioners. By the time Meleager came to compile his Garland, longer epigrams, especially if they did not have a sting in their last line, must have seemed somewhat stodgy. Meleager’s published anthology would have spread the gospel of brevity even further, for an overall comparison between the average length of an epigram in his collection with that in Philip of Thessalonica’s shows that poets took brevity as a challenge if not a criterion. I can’t provide averages here, but note that in Gow and Page’s Hellenistic Epigrams, there are twenty-one epigrams longer than ten lines (six longer than fourteen lines); in their Garland of Philip, on the other hand, the only poem longer than ten lines is Philip’s introduction of fourteen lines (far shorter than Meleager’s 58-line introduction). [42] Brevity now becomes explicit as a criterion of the epigram: Philip mentions ὀλιγοστιχίη in his introduction (Philip 1 = AP IV 2.6), and one of his authors actually says φημὶ πολιστιχίην ἐπιγράμματος οὐ κατὰ Μούσας εἶναι (Parmenion 11 = AP IX 342.1 f.). Between Meleager and Philip’s two collections and the two Byzantine manuscript collections that make up the Greek Anthology, there was further selection, but probably not in a way that disturbs the decreasing size of epigrams between the first generation of epigrammatists (Meleager’s collection) and Philip (who must be one of the very latest in his own collection).
This has not been an exercise in statistics. The inference to be drawn is that the best artists (say, Asclepiades and Callimachus), if they are recognized as such at the time, alter the development of their genre. That Meleager was both poet and anthologist almost guaranteed that what he thought good would affect literary taste for some time to come, [43] indeed until the present day. The American Heritage Dictionary (ed. William Morris, 1969) defines epigram as “a short poem expressing a single thought or observation with terseness and wit.” This is essentially the Hellenistic definition. Any poem that deviates from this definition cannot be, or fails in its attempt to be, an epigram. This explains the initial reaction of many (myself included) to think little of the Milan epigrams. Just as audiences’ expectation of music could never be the same after Mozart (ask Salieri), the essence of the epigram was forever altered after Callimachus, Asclepiades, and their contemporaries.
Among their contemporaries, of course, was Posidippus. He therefore could not, it has been argued, [44] be the author of the Milan epigrams, which seem sorely deficient in Hellenistic wit. This argument, it should now be clear, cannot be maintained. Even if “good” and “bad” were entirely objective and measurable qualities (and if one granted for the sake of the argument that the Milan epigrams were bad), the selection process that began with Meleager and ended with Maximus Planudes would guarantee that Posidippus’ epigrams in the Greek Anthology would be better than those in any epigram book edited by Posidippus himself (if that is what the Milan papyrus is). This in fact can be “proved mathematically” by the one purely quantifiable criterion used by epigrammatists themselves: length. The situation becomes more complex when we leave science and recognize not only that art is not quantifiable but that, as we have seen, tastes change, even within the lifetime of one artist, who may change with the times or who, like Mozart, may himself be responsible for the change in other artists. Tempora mutantur. . . .
New Posidippus thus challenges us to read him as he would have been read before the Hellenistic epigram took on (in no small part thanks to Old Posidippus, who may in fact have postdated his Newer form) its characteristic qualities, and to appreciate him for what he is rather than to depreciate him for being what he is not.


[ back ] 1. Texts with commentaries on Posidippus are Schott 1905; Gow and Page 1965; Fernández-Galiano 1987; and Albrecht 1996.
[ back ] 2. For the testimony see Fernández-Galiano 1987:9–17.
[ back ] 3. First published by Weinreich 1918.437; see further Lloyd-Jones 1963, repr. with corrections and a postscript in Lloyd-Jones 1990; Fraser 1972:II 796n44 is good on its historical context.
[ back ] 4. A third word, ἐπιγραμματιστής, lies latent behind Latin epigrammatista in Apollinaris Sidonius Epist. IV 1.
[ back ] 5. Cf. Plat. Phdr. 257c διὰ πάσης τῆς λοιδορίας ἐκάλει λογογράφον, with schol. ad loc. λογογράφους γὰρ ἐκάλουν οἱ παλαιοὶ τοὺς ἐπὶ μισθῷ λόγους γράφοντας καὶ πιπράσκοντας αὐτοὺς εἰς δικαστήρια, ῥήτορας δὲ τοὺς δι᾿ ἑαυτῶν λέγοντας, Demosth. XIX 246 λογογράφους τοίνυν καὶ σοφιστὰς καλῶν τοὺς ἄλλους καὶ ὑβρίζειν πειρώμενος.
[ back ] 6. Περὶ Κνίδου (SH 706), credited to Posidippus, could for all we know be in prose, just as Sophocles, Ion of Chios, and Callimachus wrote in both prose and verse. It is also possible that SH 706 was written by another Posidippus.
[ back ] 7. Austin and Bastianini publish these as AB 65, 123, 124, 125, 129, 130, 132, 135, 137, 138, 139, 140, and 142. For the details on the two anthologies, see Sider 1997:45.
[ back ] 8. This epigram is one of two previously known poems of Posidippus which also appear in the Milan papyrus and which thus alerted the editors to the likelihood that Posidippus was the author of all the epigrams in the papyrus.
[ back ] 9. These are published in AB as nos. 126, 127, 128, 131, 133, 134, 136, and 141; for the problem of doubly ascribed epigrams in general, see Gow 1958.
[ back ] 10. It will thus be observed that Gow, the GP editor primarily responsible for Asclepiades and Posidippus, and Page, the editor of the OCT Epigrammata Graeca (EG above), disagreed on these particular doubly ascribed epigrams. For the double ascriptions to Posidippus and Aslepiades in particular, see GP:II 117.
[ back ] 11. C is the siglum for the Corrector in the Palatine Anthology, who, with access to mss. no longer extant and with an intelligence of his own, often alone records a correct reading or ascription; cf. GP:I, xxxv–xxxviii; Cameron 1993:103–105, 108–120.
[ back ] 12. Since elsewhere there is confusion between Posidippus the epigrammatist and Posidippus Comicus (see below, n. 24), it is possible that this was the original confusion here.
[ back ] 13. SH 699, designed solely to highlight the title, omits the actual text of the epigram. Although καίτοι καί occasionally serves as a strong continuative (cf. Denniston 1954:560), here the two participles seem to work independently, as here translated. Cf. Angiò 1999:157, who argues that in the Aithiopia Posidippus imitated Mimnermus, Antimachus, Philetas, and Hermesianax in composing a long elegy containing (inter alia) amorous tales in a historical setting, and that the name of the poem alludes to Aithiops, an early and poetic name for Lesbos.
[ back ] 14. Catullus had not been born yet.
[ back ] 15. The meaning of this line shifts, depending on which of the two adjectives is attributive and which predicate. Since the acronychal (evening) setting of the Pleiades is in the spring, either (as spelled out by Parsons and Lloyd-Jones 1983:338) “the acronychal Pleiades set but are not cold [as they would be in their autumnal setting],” or “the cold Pleiades set but are not acronychal [as they would be in the spring].” The former is the thought more likely to be expressed.
[ back ] 16. Schott 1905:100 read Αἰσωπεία for both, since Herodotus II 135 says that Doricha was a fellow slave of Aesop the fabulist; “ingenious, … but it is in fact extremely hazardous” (Lloyd-Jones 1990:176). In his Teubner edition of Athenaeus, Kaibel suggested reading Αἰθιοπίδι for Αἰθιοπίᾳ.
[ back ] 17. Lloyd-Jones 1963:176; but since Athenaeus labels AB 122 (17 GP) an epigram, Lloyd-Jones is wrong to suggest that Aithiopia is also an epyllion.
[ back ] 18. This is not counting the puzzling, or rather joking, epigram on the non-existent Homeric hero “Berisus” (SH 701); cf. Cameron 1993:372, 376.
[ back ] 19. Lloyd-Jones 1963:190; Barigazzi 1968:201. Gutzwiller 1998: 154 argues that it belonged to a book called simply Epigrammata, but, as we are beginning see, determining the number and names of possible Posidippan epigram books is not easy.
[ back ] 20. For this particular train of allusions, see Tarán 1979:53–65.
[ back ] 21. BG 1993a and 1993b.
[ back ] 22. Cf. Bing 1988:15, Acosta-Hughes and Stephens 2002:214–216n24. Does συναείσατε include Posidippus? Cf. Page’s 1942:473 translation, “now join Poseidippus in his song.”
[ back ] 23. Cf. (with Lloyd-Jones) Callimachus fr. 468 Pf. γράμματα δ᾿ οὐχ εἵλισσεν ἀπόκρυφα where a literal “unrolled treatises” makes no sense (Ammonius, who cites this fragment, tells us that γράμματα here equals συγγράμματα); AP IX 540 (anon., but conceivably from Philip’s Garland) μὴ ταχὺς Ἡρακλείτου ἐπ᾿ ὀμφαλὸν εἴλεε βίβλον, “don’t read Heraclitus hastily.” See further Acosta-Hughes and Stephens 2001:214, who demonstrate the difficulty of restoring ἑλ[ίσσω at Callimachus Aetia I 5.
[ back ] 24. I remain convinced that many Hellenistic epigrams were written for performance by the poet, who would thus be free to refer directly to himself. This is not the place to argue this, but cf. Sider 1997:27 for a brief account.
[ back ] 25. The ghost of Posidippus must be frustrated first by the fact that this poem has been preserved only on two wax tablets rather the book roll he describes, and second by the extant statue of a seated Posidippus merely holding an unopened scroll in his right hand rather than reading from it, although a stone statue in the Abbey of Grottaferrata of a boy reading shows how easily Posidippus’ wish could have been fulfilled; cf. the frontispiece of Pinner 1958 for an illustration. For a convincing argument that the statue labeled “Posidippus” is the epigrammatist and not the homonymous comic poet, see Dickie 1994, who also reproduces a photograph of the statue; see also Richter 1965:II fig. 1647. The statue is now on the cover of Austin and Bastianini 2002.
[ back ] 26. Cf. in particular Callimachus Aetia fr. 1 29–30 τῷ πιθόμη]ν· ἐνὶ τοῖς γὰρ ἀείδομεν οἳ λιγὺν ἦχον  τέτιγγος, θ]όρυβον δ᾿ οὐκ ἐφίλησαν ὄνων; Albrecht 1996:160f.
[ back ] 27. As Gow 1965:II 234 ad Theocritus XIII 14 notes, this use of πονέω is largely prosaic; note in particular Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics 1101b35 τοῖς περὶ τὰ ἐγκώμια πεπονημένοις. With this use of the perfect, cf. Aristotle’s frequent term for the educated man, ὁ πεπαιδευμένος.
[ back ] 28. Cf. Philip’s description of his literary culling: σελίδος νεαρᾶς θερίσας στάχυν (Philip 1.3 GP Garland = AP IV 2.3).
[ back ] 29. Cf. Gutzwiller 1998:161: “The poem thus becomes the proof of its own premise, that despite Desire’s attempt to silence the poet, the learned Posidippus has the means to resist by voicing condemnation of his torment.”
[ back ] 30. Somewhat similar is Meleager 19 GP (AP XII 117), which of course Posidippus could not have known; for a comparison of the three poems, cf. Albrecht 1996:166.
[ back ] 31. ἄχαρι Jacobs ἄχαριν P. The entire last clause is daggered by Gow-Page and Albrecht and emended in quite inventive ways by others (see Fernández-Galiano’s or Albrecht’s apparatus).
[ back ] 32. The ms. has φερεκάστου, but although φέρε is an appropriate word in this context I print Jacobs’ emendation, even though I am tempted by Bousquet’s φέρε καὶ τοῦ, which is printed and defended by Albrecht. Its stylistic awkwardness (played down by Albrecht in order to make his case) could be intentional, designed to make manifest the speaker’s drunken state (see below). And for what it is worth, it is paleographically the easiest of the various emendations. I borrow the translation “lover’s friend” from Paton; for a defense of such a literal rendering (rather than, say, “charming”), cf. Sider 1997:88.
[ back ] 33. An explicit temporal reading of τἄλλα fits my reading of the poem (see below) better than vaguer renderings like “for the rest” (Paton), “der Rest” (Beckby), “por lo demás (Fernández-Galiano), or “what’s more” (Gutzwiller). Buffière 1977:107 specifies that his “pour la suite” is temporal, but his understanding of what follows differs from mine.
[ back ] 34. For another example of intentional confusion between Lyde and Lyde, cf. Asclepiades 32 GP (AP IX 63)
Λύδη καὶ γένος εἰμὶ καὶ οὔνομα, τῶν δ᾿ ἀπὸ Κόδρου
     σεμνοτέρη πασῶν εἰμι δι᾿ Ἀντίμαχον·
τίς γὰρ ἔμ᾿ οὐκ ἤσεισε; τίς οὐκ ἀνελέξατο Λύδην,
     τὸ ξυνὸν Μουσῶν γράμμα καὶ Ἀντιμάχου;
For further play on women = poems (including Callimachus’ μεγάλη γυνή), cf. Cameron 1995:303–338. For Latin (some of which is discussed by Cameron), note Ovid Amores 3.1, which describes Elegeia and Tragoedia as women; e.g., v.7 venit odoratos Elegeia nexa capillos; id. Remedia Amoris 379–380 blandas pharetras Elegia cantet Amores; and Williams 2002:150–171, who analyzes the ways Martial (among others) personifies his epigrams in erotic terms.
[ back ] 35. Cf. Theocritus II 151 ἀκράτω ἐπεχεῖτο, “he poured some unmixed wine.”
[ back ] 36. Elsewhere I hope to suggest yet another reason for naming Hesiod.
[ back ] 37. The participles, that is, modify the speaker (so Skiadas 1966:188), not the (understood) kyathos vel sim. (so, e.g., Giangrande 1963:262f. and again, rearguing his case after Skiadas, 1969:440–448). My reading of the last clause is as follows: “And then, Erotes, it is not too graceless to be (sc. εἶναι) sober while drunk.” For asyndetic coordination of contrasting participles, cf. K-G II 103. The particular turn of phrase at the end is in direct response to Theognis 467–496, a rather tedious bit about drinking in moderation in order not to lose one’s wits during a symposium. Note in particular 478–480 οὔτε τι γὰρ νήφω οὔτε λίην μεθύω. | ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ὑπερβάλλῃ πόσιος μέτρον, οὐκέτι κεῖνος | τῆς αὐτοῦ γλώσσης καρτερὸς οὐδὲ νόου, 496 χοὔτως συμπόσιον γίνεται οὐκ ἄχαρι.
[ back ] 38. This at any rate is how I read the poem, which has two textually vexed passages; Gow and Page 1965:II 128 think that “the poet asks the Loves either to cease tormenting him or to kill him outright” (intro. ad poem.). Asclepiades’ precise meaning is not essential for my interpretation of Posidippus.
[ back ] 39. This is ordinary thinking but not logical: ~[(P→Q) → (~P→~Q)]. Or, for an example in ordinary English, the statement “Since I live in Manhattan, I live in New York City” does not entail “Since I do not live in Manhattan, I do not live in New York City.” (Manhattanites, take note.)
[ back ] 40. Pindar Pythian 1.35–38 applies the word to the town of Aetna. Theognis applies the word to himself: Θεύγνιδός ἐστιν ἔπη | τοῦ Μεγαρέως· πάντας δὲ κατ᾿ ἀνθρώπους ὀνομαστός. For our purposes, however, the most relevant passage is Posidippus AB 122.5–7 (17 GP) Ϲαπφῷαι δὲμένουϲι φίληϲ ἔτι καὶ μενέουϲιν | ᾠδῆϲ αἱ λευκαὶ φθεγγόμεναι ϲελίδεϲ | οὔνομα ϲὸν μακαριϲτὸν κτλ cf. Angiò 1999:153f.
[ back ] 41. Hutchinson 1988:75.
[ back ] 42. My figures are not compromised by the fact that Gow and Page added epigrams belonging to Meleager’s and Philip’s poets known from elsewhere (such as, in the case of Posidippus, AB 115), and even added (their readers are grateful) Theocritus, who seems not to have been anthologized by Meleager. (Also added are Crates, Duris, Moschus, Phalaecus, and Zenodotus; cf. GP:II 718f.) The important point here is the increased use of brevity as a criterion for inclusion. It is further interesting to note that Martial’s longer epigrams were criticized for not observing this by-then well established criterion: cf. Szelest 1980.
[ back ] 43. Cf. Cameron 1993:15, “It was Meleager’s selection [my emphasis] from this material that has shaped our perception of the character and limitations of the classical epigram. It was Meleager’s selection that influenced the practice of later epigrammatists; Meleager’s Garland that determined the character of later anthologies.”
[ back ] 44. Orally, by Hugh Lloyd-Jones. See also Lloyd-Jones 2003 (forthcoming).