Allusion and Allegory: Studies in the "Ciris" by Boris Kayachev

By Boris Kayachev

The Ciris, a Latin mythological poem of contested date and authorship, has bought a specific amount of scholarly cognizance in the course of the 20th century, yet typically has did not meet with an enough appreciation. This learn is aimed toward vindicating the Ciris, customarily by means of exploring its use of pre-Virgilianpoetic texts mostly neglected in past scholarship."

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In the most general terms, we find, on the one hand, the Greek opposition of poetry and philosophy and, on the other, the Roman one of otium and negotium. There seem to exist two ways in which the Greek scheme can be related to the Roman. First, in the traditional solution, both poetry and philosophy can be accommodated within the domain of otium. Second, in a more innovative solution offered by Catullus, philosophy can be matched against negotium as a serious occupation and poetry against otium as an unserious occupation.

Among other things, it has often been pointed out that the ‘praises of Epicurus’ contain an allusion to a fragment of Empedocles, generally taken to refer to Pythagoras, which likewise contains a variation on the motif of intellectual journey (note fr.  ὀρέξαιτο πραπίδεσσιν), see Edwards ()  n. .  See Burkert (). 5 37 would be unwise to force this rather general similarity between Parmenides and the Ciris too far, but it is not irrelevant for a fuller understanding of the literary context that the motif of the intellectual journey implies in the Ciris.

38 1 The proem (lines 1‒100) to ignore Callimachus’ assimilation of his poetry to philosophy (which, however, is a false impression, as we shall soon see). 6 The first sentence of the Ciris, which we have mainly been dealing with so far, does not explain why the poet decides in favour of a mythological rather than a philosophical poem. ⁵⁶ Yet we do get a glimpse of what the philosophical poem would be like, in an elaborate simile comparing it to the Panathenaic peplos (18‒41). This peplos image is of crucial importance for understanding the poetic programme of the Ciris, and we shall soon have a closer look at it; but first I propose to consider the structure of the first half of the proem (1‒53).

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