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Greek and Latin. Expressions of Meaning

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Andreas T. Zanker

Chapter 6: The Metaphor of text = person

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“Let [words] go where they please, so long as our mind retains its composition” (Seneca, Epistulae 115.18).

  • 1 It should be noted that similar metaphors were used of other media as well – painting, for instance (...)

1Up to this point we have simply been looking at expressions of meaning in the ancient world – what they were and where they came from. We have seen that a number of them were related to amore general vocabulary for wishing, thinking, speaking, showing, and sign-giving, and have established that many of the same expressions could be used of both authors and their texts. Here, I would like to discuss how the metaphor of text = person manifested itself in the imagery found in Greek and Latin texts, moving from the earliest Greek inscriptions through to late antiquity.1 Although the survey will be incomplete, it is important to consider the metaphor at this level, however briefly, since these classical descriptions of texts exert an influence on how we view our own: if we look back to the ancient world, we shall see a readiness to portray texts as if they were human beings in some of the period’s most influential literary works. Moreover, such a survey will contextualize the processes that we have been considering in the previous chapters – lexical metaphors give rise to literary metaphors. In the final chapter, we shall see how the more expanded form of the metaphor discussed here relates to ancient and modern expressions of meaning.

I. Epigram

  • 2 Bartonek & Buchner (1995) argue for the form “µι”. Further suggestions include Watkins’“ἐστι”, Heu (...)
  • 3 On this phenomenon, see in particular Häussle (1979). Cf. Flinck (1922-1923); Burzachechi (1962), 2 (...)
  • 4 For a full discussion, see Day (2010), 33-48.

2The practice of having an inscribed object “speak” to the reader in propria persona (“Ich-Rede”) goes back to the earliest examples of Greek writing. Nestor’s cup (late eighth century BC), recovered on Ischia in the mid-twentieth century, possibly already attests to this: although the crucial word, “εἰµί”, is a restoration, the traditional way of reading the first line is “[I am] the cup of Nestor, good to drink from”, where the cup itself addresses the reader (CEG 454).2 This form of address is well attested in graffiti written on potsherds, as well as in dedicatory and sepulchral epigram of the early seventh century BC, and the convention continued through to the Classical age and beyond.3 Here are two examples of dedicatory epigram that employ the accusative pronoun “µε” (“me”) instead of “εἰµί” (“I am”), the first written on the legs of a statuette discovered in Βoeotia and now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (c700-675 BC),4 the second from a statue pillar found on the Athenian acropolis (c525 BC):

1. Μάντικλός µ ἀνέθεκε ϝεκαβόλοι ἀργυροτόξσοι
τᾶς {δ} δε|κάτας· τὺ δέ, Φοῖβε, δίδοι χαρίϝετταν µοιβ[άν].

  • 5 For images, see Thomas (1992), 79, and Day (2010), 34. Another example, from the column of a statue (...)

“Mantiklos set me up as a votive gift to the far-darting silver-bowed [god] from his tithe. May you, Phoebus, give a grateful recompense” (CEG 326)..5

2. [Μ] νεσιάδες κεραµεύς µ εκαὶ Ἀνδοκίδες ἀνέθεκεν.

“Mnesiades the potter and Andokides set me up” (CEG 191).

  • 6 Tueller (2008), 16-27; see also the tables on pages 17-22. Tueller makes a useful point: “To be pre (...)
  • 7 See Agostiniani (1982); Watkins (1995), 126-134. Compare the probably genuine Praeneste fibula (CIL(...)

3The inscribed object, be it a statue or a stone, was in fact the most common “speaker” in epigram from the seventh and early sixth centuries.6 The tendency is not limited to the Greek language, and numerous examples can be found in Italian epigrams from the Archaic period onwards.7

  • 8 Compare also the longer CEG 108, with Svenbro (1993), 49-50, and Ford (2002), 103.

4From the late Archaic period we have funerary epigrams where the inscribed object appears to vocalize in a more sophisticated fashion, in that the vocabulary employed goes beyond the simple first-person verb “εἰµί” and pronoun “µε”; the following is from a stele found at Olbia (c490-480 BC):8

3. ...ἕστ[ηκα, λέγω δ᾽ ὅτι τῆλε πολέ[ως] |
...
κεῖτ]αι Λέωξος Μολπαγόρε[ω].

“...I stand, and I say that far from the city
...lies Leoxus, son of Molpagoras” (
CEG173).

  • 9 Cf. CEG 286, from a similar period, where the verb is “ὑποκρίνεσθαι” (“I answer the same thing to a (...)
  • 10 Cf. “χαλκῆ παρθένος εἰµί, Μίδου δ᾽ἐπὶ σήµατος µαι... σηµανέω παριοῦσι Μίδης ὅτι τῇδε τέθαπται” (“I (...)
  • 11 Burzachechi (1962), 3. Compare the modern “wash me”, or Lewis Carroll’s “eat me” and “drink me”. Se (...)
  • 12 For recent work, see Day (2010).
  • 13 Svenbro (1993), 3: “So when the reader of a funerary stele reads out the inscription ‘I am the tomb (...)

5The verb “λέγειν” is here used of the object itself,9 which proclaims the identity of the grave on which it stands. One might compare the “epitaph of Midas” alluded to in a number of Greek texts, where the verb employed is either “σηµαίνειν” or “ἀγγέλλειν”.10 Precisely how we interpret this habit of making stones speak is a matter of debate: Burzachechi has explained it as an instance of animism, where personality is attributed to the inanimate object,11 Day has argued for ritual reperformance,12 while Svenbro argues that the reader (the passer-by) is used as an instrument for the purposes of immortalizing the fame of the deceased.13 Whatever the case, the messages borne by these stones served as the basis of a long tradition that ultimately gave rise to the phenomenon of the personified book in Greek and Roman epigram.

  • 14 See Gutzwiller (1998) in particular.
  • 15 Rossi (2001), 338, although remaining agnostic about whether the epigram was really written by Theo (...)

6Hellenistic epigram maintained many of the earlier practices and formulae, even though these later examples may never have adorned a real grave or dedicatory offering. While still making verbal references to external objects such as statues and other offerings, the examples from the fourth century onwards were often a literary, mimetic affair designed to be enjoyed primarily as literature.14 Besides the other conventions they inherited from the earlier tradition, writers of epigram of this later period were sensitive to the “speaking stones” motif, as is demonstrated by the following example (possibly by Theocritus):15

4. αὐδήσει τὸ γράµµα, τί σᾶµά τε καὶ τίς ὑπ᾽ αὐτῷ·
Γλαύκης εἰµ τάφος τῆς ὀνοµαζοµένης.

“The carving (τὸ γράµµα) will say what marker this is and who is under it;
I am the grave of the girl who is named Glauke” (Theocritus,
Epigrams 23 Gow-Page).

7Here the expected epigram (“I am the grave...”) follows on from a peculiar introduction that plays on the earlier tradition. The “carving”, or “writing”, will say (“αὐδήσει”) to whom it belongs; it then proceeds to do so in the first person (“εἰµί”), proclaiming that it is the grave (“τάφος”). Poets of the Hellenistic period could also toy with the fact that the inscription was written in meter and make their inscriptions “sing” rather than “speak”, as can be seen in the following example by the poetess Anyte (early third century BC):

5. †ἥβα µέν σε πρόαρχε ἐσαν παίδων ἅτε µατρός
Φειδία ἐν δνοφερῷ πένθει ἔθου φθίµενος,
ἀλλὰ καλόν τοι ὕπερθεν ἔπος τόδε πέτρος ἀείδει
ὥς ἔθανες πρὸ φίλας µαρνάµενος πατρίδος.

“...of Phidias, you set in murky grief when you died,
but this fine verse
sings for you from above the stone,
that you died fighting on behalf of your dear fatherland” (Anyte,
Epigrams 4 Gow-Page).

  • 16 See Tueller (2008), 152; Bing (2002), 47-48 and 55, where he provides a fascinating example of a st (...)

8No statue is mentioned here – just a stone. Its song literally “sings” (“ἀείδει”),16 in accordance with its poetic form. The stone does not speak in the first person, as had earlier epigrams, but rather the letters inscribed upon it are envisioned as performing the function of singing.

  • 17 For actual “speaking poems” in Greek, see Callimachus, Epigrams 55 Gow-Page (“I am called the ‘Home (...)

9The distancing of sepulchral epigram from the context of the actual grave opened the door for great innovation, as we see in the following poem by Asclepiades:17

6. Λύδη καὶ γένος εἰµ καὶ οὔνοµα, τῶν δ᾽ ἀπὸ Κόδρου
σεµνοτέρη πασῶν εἰµι δι᾽ Ἀντίµαχον.
τίς γὰρ µ ᾽οὐκ ἤεισε; τίς οὐκ ἀνελέξατο Λύδην,
τὸ ξυνὸν Μουσῶν γράµµα καὶ Ἀντιµάχου;

“Lyde I am, by race and by name, more august than all the women descended from Codrus – on account of Antimachus. For who has not sung of me? Who has not read Lyde, the common writing of the Muses and of Antimachus?” (Asclepiades, Epigrams 32 Gow-Page).

  • 18 The sleight of hand would be impossible in the modern world, given the convention of italicizing bo (...)

10The poem begins conventionally enough, and the reader understands Lyde to be a deceased woman; it is not until the reference to Antimachus, the composer of the poem Lyde, at the end of the second line that one’s suspicions are aroused; these are confirmed by the reference to reading in the third line (“ἀνελέξατο”) and finally by the use of the term “γράµµα” in the final one, where the human speaker (Lyde) is fused with the homonymous poem (Lyde) that celebrates her.18

  • 19 Cf. “Lydia doctorum maxima cura liber” (“the Lydia, the greatest darling of wise men” Ticida, fr. 2 (...)

11Roman epigram continued the tradition of exploiting feminine book titles in order to turn the text into a quasi-living being. Early examples can be found in the writing of Ticida, Cinna, and Catullus,19 but perhaps the most amusing example is an anonymous epigram on the grammarian L. Crassicius Pansa and his familiarity with the Zmyrna of Cinna. Cinna worked for almost ten years to produce this poem, filling it with so many recherché allusions that it required scholarly elucidation, and Crassicius’ commentary was apparently highly appreciated:

7. uni Crassicio se credere Smyrna probauit;
desinite, indocti, coniugio hanc petere.
soli Crassicio sedixit nubere uelle,
intima cui soli nota sua exstiterint
.

Zmyrna has agreed to entrust herself to one man – Crassicus: cease, unlearned ones, to seek her for marriage. She has said that she wishes to marry Crassicius alone, to whom alone her secrets are known” (Incerti Epigramma de Crassicio Courtney page 306).

  • 20 The following epigram describes the relationship ofthe poet Menander with the Thais, aliterary prod (...)

12The Zmyrna (or Smyrna) is figured as the daughter of its author, Cinna. But here we see an extension of the metaphor, whereby the grammarian Crassicius is described as the suitor of the work. The covert allusions within Cinna’s text are equated to the hidden charms of a young woman, an idea that plays on the further metaphor that equates knowing with seeing. The agency of the text, its “willingness” to reveal its secrets to this particular scholar, can be noted in the phrase “se dixit nubere uelle”, whereby the Zmyrna literally wants to show its secrets to this man alone. The erotic potential of the metaphor was also exploited by poets such as Martial.20

  • 21 Cf. Philodemus, On Death 4.39.18 Henry (“τοῦ β[ι]ου παραγραφήν”); see Sider (1997), 74. On books be (...)

13In an interesting reversal of the metaphor, Philodemus describes his own life as a book, using the metaphor in order to document his aging; he asks the Muses to “write” Xanthippe as the punctuation-mark (the koronis) for this mad stage of his life:21

8. ἑπτὰ τριηκόντεσσιν ἐπέρχονται λυκάβαντες,
ἤδη µοι βιότου σχιζόµεναι σελίδες·
ἤδη καὶ λευκαί µε κατασπείρουσιν ἔθειραι,
Ξανθίππη, συνετῆς ἄγγελοι ἡλικίης,
ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι µοι ψαλµός τε λάλος κῶ µ οί τε µέλονται
καὶ πῦρ ἀπλήστῳ τύφετ᾽ ἐνὶ κραδίῃ ·
αὐτὴν ἀλλὰ τάχιστα κορωνίδα γράψατε, Μοῦσαι,
ταύτης µετέρης, δεσπότιδες, µανίης.

“Seven years are creeping up on thirty; now the papyrus columns of my life are being torn off; now too, Xanthippe, white hairs besprinkle me, the harbingers of the age of wisdom; but still the talkative sound of the harp and revels are a care for me, and afire smolders in my insatiable heart. Write her swiftly as the koronis, Muses, of this madness of mine” (Philodemus, Epigrams 4 Sider).

  • 22 LSJ s. v. “καρδία” III: “heart in wood, pith”.

14Here, unlike in the Asclepiadean poem, the Muses alone are the “authors”, this time of the book of Philodemus’ life; he asks them to put an end to this particular section by inscribing a koronis, or punctuation mark. The fire that rages in Philodemus’ heart (“κραδίῃ”) takes on a disturbing connotation when used in the context of a book-roll,22 and makes the “τάχιστα” all the more urgent: this section of Philodemus’ book must be completed before the whole thing succumbs to the flames.

II. Books as Children

  • 23 Lakoff & Johnson (1980), 74-75, characterize this as a species of the general metaphor creation = b (...)
  • 24 On the metaphor of a play wright “giving birth” to a play found at Clouds 530-532, see Dover (1968) (...)
  • 25 These lines (and those adjacent to them) form the main basis for a number of interesting departures (...)

15The conceit of the book as the author’s child, a variation of the metaphor of the author as source or origin, is perhaps most unpleasantly exploited in Nietzsche’s phrase “aut liberi aut libri” (“either children or books” Götzen-Dämmerung, “Streifzüge eines Unzeitgemässen” 27, KGW VI. 3 123).23 While the metaphor is well attested in authors such as Aristophanes, particularly in his Clouds (518-562),24 Plato is particularly important in the history of its development, presenting us with a range of ways to visualize the text as a youth. In his Phaedrus (a text to which we shall return in Chapter 9), just after describing the invention of writing by the Egyptian god Theuth, “πατὴρ... γραµµάτων” (“the father of writing” Phaedrus 275a), Plato describes the plight of the author and his text in the terms of the relationship between father and child, the latter requiring the former’s help:25

9. ταὐτὸν δὲ καὶ οἱ λόγοι · δόξαις µὲν ἂν ὥς τι φρονοῦντας αὐτοὺς λέγειν, ἐὰν δέ τι ἔρῃ τῶν λεγοµένων βουλόµενος µαθεῖν, ἕν τι σηµαίνει µόνον ταὐτὸν ἀεί. ὅταν δὲ ἅπαξ γραφῇ, κυλινδεῖται µὲν πανταχοῦ πᾶς λόγος µοίως παρὰ τοῖς ἐπαΐουσιν, ὡς δ᾽ αὕτως παρ᾽ οἷς οὐδὲν προσήκει, καὶ οὐκ ἐπίσταται λέγειν οἷς δεῖ γε καὶ µή. πληµµελούµενος δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἐν δίκῃ λοιδορηθεὶς τοῦ πατρὸς ἀεὶ δεῖται βοηθοῦ· αὐτὸς γὰρ οὔτ᾽ µύνασθαι οὔτε βοηθῆσαι δυνατὸς αὑτῷ.

  • 26 For other personifying imagery used to describe λόγοι in this text, see Plato, Phaedrus 261a (creat (...)

“And the same goes with [written] discourses (λόγοι): you might think that they spoke as if they had intelligence, but should you question one, wishing to find out about the things it says, it always indicates the one thing only. And, once it is written, every discourse is circulated all over the place – alike among those who understand it and among those for whom it is of no concern – and it does not know to whom it is necessary to speak or not to speak. And when it is ill-treated and unjustly abused it always needs its father as a helper. For on its own it is unable to defend or help itself” (Plato, Phaedrus 275d-e).26

  • 27 The middle of the verb “κυλίνδειν” can mean to “to wander to and fro” when used of people (LSJ s.v. (...)

16The verbs used of the actions of the λόγος (“λέγειν”, “σηµαίνειν”) are incorporated into a longer passage that brings out their metaphorical potential; the personification is facilitated by the fact that the word for “word/discourse” in Greek, “λόγος”, is masculine. The verb of thinking, “ἐπίστασθαι”, similarly applies to the discourse: it does not know to whom it should speak (“λέγειν”). It has a protective father (“πατήρ”), who is to be identified with the author. Finally, we might note that the word/text is wronged (“πληµµελούµενος”) and suffers reproaches (“λοιδορηθείς”) at the hands of others unjustly.27

17The metaphor reappears, in a reversed sense, in the Republic, where Socrates is describing the effects of adornments such as meter on the reading of poetry:

10. οὕτω φύσει αὐτὰ ταῦτα µεγάλην τινὰ κήλησιν ἔχειν. ἐπεὶ γυµνωθέντα γε τῶν τῆς µουσικῆς χρωµάτων τὰ τῶν ποιητῶν, αὐτὰ ἐφ᾽ αὐτῶν λεγόµενα, οἶµαί σε εἰδέναι οἷα φαίνεται. τεθέασαι γάρ που.
ἔγωγ᾽, ἔφη.
οὐκοῦν, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ, ἔοικεν τοῖς τῶν ὡραίων προσώποις, καλῶν δὲ µή, οἷα γίγνεται ἰδεῖν ὅταν αὐτὰ τὸ ἄνθος προλίπῃ;

  • 28 Cf. Pindar, Isthmians 2.6-8, for “silver-faced songs”.

Socrates. Thus do these [adornments] naturally possess some great spell; since when the sayings of the poets are stripped naked of their musical color and are taken on their own, I think you know how they appear. For you have observed them.
Glaucon. Indeed I have.
Socrates. Do they not look similar to the faces of adolescents, but not beautiful ones, whenever the flower of youth should abandon them?” (Plato, Republic 601b).28

18The poets’ “sayings” are here in the neuter plural: stripped (“γυµνωθέντα”) of their proper adornments, they are likened to the faces (“πρόσωπα”) of boys whose attractiveness has abandoned them. The notable difference between this excerpt and the one from the Phaedrus is that here the point of view has changed from that of the author to that of the reader: the speaker is more interested in evaluating the text than he is in protecting it.

19In the Symposium, however, Diotima exalts the children of the poet as procuring fame for eternity, in that they confer a kind of immortality to set against the kind of immortality that comes from offspring of flesh and blood; intellectual productions, including literary ones such as those of Homer and Hesiod, are once again figured as children, but here the advantages of giving birth to them are stressed:

11. καὶ πᾶς ἂν δέξαιτο ἑαυτῷ τοιούτους παῖδας µᾶλλον γεγονέναι τοὺς ἀνθρωπίνους, καὶ εἰς µηρον ἀποβλέψας καὶ Ἡσίοδον καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ποιητὰς τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς ζηλῶν, οἷα ἔκγονα ἑαυτῶν καταλείπουσιν, ἐκείνοις ἀθάνατον κλέος καὶ µνήµην παρέχεται αὐτὰ τοιαῦτα ὄντα.

“And everyone would choose children such as these [i.e. those of Homer and Hesiod] to be his own rather than those human ones, simply by having glanced at Homer and Hesiod and the other good poets and envying the offspring they leave behind, which furnish them with undying fame and memory by being such as they are” (Plato, Symposium 209c-d).

  • 29 For an Aristotelian application of the simile of poems as children: “µάλιστα δ᾽ ἴσως τοῦτο περὶ τοὺ (...)

20Diotima goes on to describe how Lycurgus left seemly children behind in the form of his laws, but the key point for us is that Homer, Hesiod, and the other poets could do the same. Their mental creations (“παῖδας”, “ἔκγονα”) rank higher, according to Diotima, than the children of flesh and blood that most men produce, since they are immortal whereas human children are not.29

  • 30 For another personification of these poems as girls (daughters of Homer), see Anonymous, Greek Anth (...)
  • 31 “From the last two passages… it is a short step to treating Χάριτες as personifications of the poem (...)

21The metaphor of course also appears in the Hellenistic and Roman periods: Dioscorides refers to Sappho’s poetry as her “daughters” (Epigrams 18.9-10 Gow-Page), and Antiphilus of Byzantium has the Iliad and Odyssey describe themselves as “θυγατέρες... Μαιονίδου” (“the daughters of Maionides [i.e. Homer]” Greek Anthology 9.192).30 In Idyll 16, Theocritus asks who will receive his Charites, personified versions of his poems, and not send them back without a gift:31

12. αἳ δὲ σκυζόµεναι γυµνοῖς ποσὶν οἴκαδ᾽ ἴασι,
πολλά µε τωθάζοισαι, ὅτ᾽ ἀλιθίην ὁδὸν ἦλθον,
ὀκνηραὶ δὲ πάλιν κενεᾶς ἐν πυθµένι χηλοῦ
ψυχροῖς ἐν γονάτεσσι κάρη µίµνοντι βαλοῖσαι,
ἔνθ᾽ αἰεί σφισιν ἕδρη, ἐπὴν ἄπρακτοι ἵκωνται.

“They come home angry and on bare feet, jeering at me frequently that they travelled the path in vain. And once again they timidly rest at the bottom of the empty chest, throwing their heads over their cold knees, where there is always their seat when they return without having accomplished their purpose” (Theocritus, Idylls 16.8-12).

  • 32 Bing (1988), 33-34, shows how columns and diacritical signs (the koronis) could themselves be perso (...)
  • 33 The poems are depicted as two female figures crouching beside the seated Homer on the Archelaus Rel (...)
  • 34 Cf. LSJ s. v. “νόθος” II. 2: “of literary works, spurious”; “νοθεία” II, “spuriousness”.
  • 35 Cf. “παῖδας ἐγὼ λόγους ἐγεννησάµην, τοὺς µὲν ἀπὸ τῆς σεµνοτάτης φιλοσοφίας καὶ τῆς συννάου ταύτῃ πο (...)

22The Hellenistic age was particularly attuned to the personification of texts in this fashion; it is from this era that we see the metaphor used by authors such as Callimachus,32 and even find a visual depiction of the personified Iliad and the Odyssey beside their author.33 The metaphor of the author of a text a sits father was incorporated into Greek literary criticism, as were certain extensions: literary forgeries, for example, were called “bastards” (“νόθοι”) from at least Porphyry (third century AD) on down.34 The tradition was maintained in the Greek of Late Antiquity, and an ornate example stands at the beginning of the letters of Synesius.35

  • 36 On the metaphor in Roman literature, see Connor (1982); Wyke (1987); Pearcy (1994); Oliensis (1997) (...)
  • 37 On this, see Farrell (1999), 139-141.
  • 38 See also the following lines: “sic ego, non meritos, mecum peritura, libellos, imposui rapidis uisc (...)

23As we saw in the epigram on Crassicius, the metaphor also appears in Latin poetry, although here it is often found in the form of a direct apostrophe to the text (discussed in the next section).36 Catullus speaks of how his mind cannot give birth to the “dulcis Musarum... fetus” (“sweet children of the Muses” Catullus, Carmina 65.3), and at another point describes the longevity of papyrus in human terms: “haec carta loquatur anus” (“... that this page may speak even when it is old” Catullus, Carmina 68.46). Horace describes the poetry of Choerilus as “incultis... uersibus et male natis” (“inelegant and misbegotten verses” Epistulae 2.1.233). Ovid represents his poetry books as his children a number of times, perhaps most movingly in Tristia 1.7, where he describes his attempt to burn his unfinished Metamorphoses with reference to the death of Meleager:37 just as Meleager’ smother, Althaea, burned the log that represented her son’s life, so too did Ovid attempt to throw his books on the pyre. Now, however, he prays “ut uiuant” (“that they might live”, Tristia 1.7.25) and remind the reader of him.38 Six verses are to be added to the beginning of the Metamorphoses in order to excuse the work’s unfinished state, the first of which makes the metaphor explicit:

13. orba parente suo quicumque uolumina tangis...

“Whoever you are who touch these rolls, rolls that are bereaved of their father...” (Ovid, Tristia 1.7.35).

  • 39 On the plural “liberi”, see Gellius, Noctes Atticae 2.13.

24In fact, given the frequency with which Ovid makes use of the metaphor it is tempting to see him as exploiting the near-pun “libri” (“books”) = “liberi” (“children”).39

  • 40 On this, see Svenbro (1993), 160-186, together with his discussion of Callias.

25To close this section, we might note the riddle from the comic playwright Antiphanes’ play Sappho that is preserved in Athenaeus. Sappho herself poses the riddle:40

14. ἔστι φύσις θήλεια βρέφη σῴζουσ᾽ ὑπὸ κόλποις
αὑτῆς, ὄντα δ᾽ ἄφωνα βοὴν ἵστησι γεγωνὸν
καὶ διὰ πόντιον οἶδµα καὶ ἠπείρου διὰ πάσης
οἷς ἐθέλει θνητῶν, τοῖς δ᾽ οὐδὲ παροῦσιν ἀκούειν
ἔξεστιν

“There is a feminine creature that protects its children under her folds – children that, although they are without voice, send out aloud cry, both through the sea’s swell and through all the land, to whichever mortals they desire, and even those who are absent can hear them…” (Antiphanes, fr. 194.1-5 Kassel-Austin).

26After someone whom Sappho addresses as “father” guesses wrongly that the solution is a city (its children are politicians), the poetess provides the correct answer: the female creature is a letter holding writing within it. The writing is silent (“ἄφωνα”), but speaks (“βοὴν ἵστησι γεγωνόν”) to those who are far away.

III. Address to the Book

  • 41 On this, see Besslich (1974); Citroni (1986); Wissig-Baving (1989). Although the convention appears (...)
  • 42 This is apparently the first instance in Latin literature of a poet addressing his text and asking (...)

27In Roman literature we have a number of examples of the metaphors text = child and text = servant which take the form of a direct address to the book or writing medium;41 the convention was probably an inheritance from the poetry of the Hellenistic age, although our earliest example is Catullus’ instruction to a piece of papyrus bound for Caecilius:42

15. poetae tenero meo sodali
uelim Caecilio papyre dicas
Veronam ueniat…

I would like you, Papyrus, to tell the tender poet, my friend Caecilius, that he should come to Verona…” (Catullus, Carmina 35.1-3).

  • 43 Compare Catullus, Carmina 95.7-8: “at Volusi Annales Paduam morientur adipsam et laxas scombris sae (...)
  • 44 Cf. “adeste, hendecasyllabi, quot estis omnes undique, quotquot estis omnes… persequamur eam et ref (...)

28Catullus repeats this form of address in Carmina 36 (the address to the “cacata charta”, or “toilet paper”, of Volusius),43 and Carmina 42 (where he calls on his hendecasyllables to attack a girlfriend who has stolen his writing tablets)44. One should note how the address to the poem reduces the directness of the statement: Catullus does not tell Caecilius directly that he should come to Verona, but instead installs a middle man (the poem itself), allowing him to flatter Caecilius while speaking about him in the third person.

  • 45 On the personification in Epistulae 1.20, see Fraenkel (1957), 356-363; West (1967), 16-20; Connor (...)

29The theme of the willful disobedience of one’s own literary creations is prominent in Roman poetry, and Horace, Epistulae 1.20, presents perhaps the best example of this: in this send-off epistle, the poet admonishes his book of poetry, described in terms of a run-away slave or, perhaps, a freedman, for seeking to leave the safety of Horace’s bookcase and to make its way out into the world:45

16. Vertumnum Ianumque, liber, spectare uideris,
scilicet ut prostes Sosiorum pumice mundus.
odisti clauis etgrata sigilla pudico ;
paucis ostendi
gemis et communia laudas,
non ita
nutritus. fuge quo descendere gestis.

“You appear, book, to be looking out towards Vertumnus and Janus, evidently in order that you may put yourself on sale, elegant due to the pumice of the Sosii. You hate the keys and the seals that are pleasing to the chaste, you groan at being shown to but a few, and you praise the common haunts – not raised for this purpose. Go off, then, to where you are itching to descend” (Horace, Epistulae 1.20.1-5).

  • 46 On “nutritusa”, cf. Horace, Carmina 4.4.25-26: “indoles nutrita faustis sub penetralibus” (“charact (...)

30The book of Epistulae is the anti-Horace: even though it was raised (“nutritus”) for seclusion, it seeks to flaunt itself in front of the mob in the book-sellers’ market of Rome, the “odisti clauis… communia laudas” standing in clear contrast with the author’s own “odi profanum uolgus et arceo” (“I hate and fend off the profane mob”) of Carmina 3.1.46 The book will, however, regret its decision:

17. non erit emisso reditus tibi, “quid miser egi?
quid
uolui?” dices, ubi quid telaeserit etscis
in breue te cogi, cum plenus languet amator.

“There will be no return for you once you are let out. ‘What have Idone, alas? What did I intend?’ you will say, when someone criticizes you; and you will feel yourself packed away when your sated admirer grows weary” (Horace, Epistulae 1.20.6-8).

  • 47 Mayer (1994), 270.
  • 48 For a good list of these ambivalences, see West (1967), 18-19; for example, “in breue cogi” = “to b (...)
  • 49 Mayer (1994), 274-275. The “uolui” may even be a hint to the usage of “uelle” discussed in Chapters (...)
  • 50 Fraenkel compares the epigram by Aratus on the fate of the poet Diotimus of Adramytteion: “αἰάζω Δι (...)

31Mayer points out the pun on “emisso” – it could be used both of manumitted slaves and published books.47 In fact, as West notes, much of the entertainment of the first nineteen lines lies in the poet’s skill in ambivalence.48 Moreover, the conferral of intentionality on the book implied by verbs like “gestis” and “uolui” is remarkable for the way it provides an example of the pseudo-abdication of authorial control: whatever harm the book may cause, Horace is not to blame.49 Horace has apparently done his best in attempting to hold back his book from the public – by means of this personification he can at least symbolically disclaim responsibility for whatever harm it does in the world. Horace seems in general to have followed Plato in his mistrust of his literary productions: “nescit uox missa reuerti” (“a word, once uttered, does not know how to return” Horace, Ars Poetica 390). The final image that we have of the recalcitrant slave-book in Epistulae 1.20 is on the outskirts of society, far away from the fashionable booksellers of Rome, where it serves as an aid for teaching boys how to read (Epistulae 1.20.17-21).50 But Horace in fact places a description of himself at the end of the poem that he has supposedly disowned: in spite of its age and humbled status, the book is to tell the world about him should (“forte”) it be asked. The poet thus manages to do two things at once in Epistulae 1.20 – (a) ostensibly argue that he only unwillingly surrendered the book for publication and (b) simultaneously use it to further his own fame.

  • 51 Cf. Barchiesi (2001), 25-28: “Ovid is perhaps the most daring of ancient poets in personifying text (...)
  • 52 Similarly, in Amores 1.12, the poet describes how Corinna has been unconvinced by a message that Ov (...)

32Ovid presents us with a number of overt personifications of his poetry books that have a bearing on the parent-child relationship (of which we saw some examples in the previous section).51 Although not classed specifically as the poet’s children, the epigram to his Amores involves the three libelli speaking directly to the reader, describing why they are no longer five (Amores 1, epigram).52 At the other end of his career, relegated to Tomi on the Black Sea, Ovid could address his book as if it were his son:

18. tu tamen ipro me, tu, cui licet, aspice Romam ;
di facerent, possem nunc meus esse liber!

“But you go on my behalf; you (for whom it is possible) look upon Rome; if only the gods could bring it about that I could now turn into my book!” (Ovid, Tristia 1.1.57-58).

33The book will proceed into the city, without decorative embellishments and in a state of mourning, but will nevertheless be recognized immediately as Ovid’s own:

19. nec te, quod uenias magnam peregrinus in urbem,
ignotum populo posse uenire
puta.
ut
titulo careas, ipso noscere colore;
dissimulare
uelis, teliquet esse meum.

“And do not think that you are able to arrive as a stranger to the people simply because you are arriving into a great city as one from abroad. Although you lack a title, you will be known by your very color/style; you may wish to hide it, but it will be clear that your are mine” (Ovid, Tristia 1.1. 59-62).

34Ovid’s book is characterized as possessing the mental qualities of thought and volition (“puta”, “uelis”), and, just as in the case of Plato and Horace, the correspondence between text and child is maintained by various items of vocabulary – the term “titulus” could refer, for instance, both to the title of a book and the honors of an individual, and “color” could of course describe literary style as well as physical complexion (see below). Ovid maintains the personification in what follows, where he instructs the book to enter Rome secretly in order that it might not be harmed by the reputation of the poet’s earlier poetry, which had secured Ovid’s banishment; he describes what his book should say, should a potential reader be concerned about spending time with it:

20. siquis erit, qui te, quia sis meus, esse legendum
non putet, egremio reiciatque suo,
“inspice” dic “
titulum: non sum praeceptor amoris;
quas meruit poenas iam dedit illud opus”.

“If there is anyone who does not think that you are to be read on account of the fact that you are mine, and should throw you from his lap, say: ‘look at my title. I am not the teacher of love; that work has now paid the penalty that it deserved’” (Ovid, Tristia 1.1.65-68).

35This book is innocent; it was the earlier ones (the three books of the Ars Amatoria) that were at fault. Nevertheless, Ovid instructs it to be careful, particularly when visiting Augustus on the Palatine, and potentially to content itself with being read by commoners (Tristia 1.1.87-88); the book should only be introduced to the emperor under propitious circumstances and by a trusted friend. Moreover, when the book returns to Ovid’s own bookcase in Tomi, figured as its domus, it will see its brothers (“fratres”) lined up in order; some (“cetera turba” 109) will display their titles proudly (“detecta... fronte” 110), but three in particular will attempt to hide:

21. tres procul obscura latitantes parte uidebis;
sic quoque, quod nemo nescit, amare docent.
hos tu uel fugias, uel, si satis oris habebis,
“Oedipodas” facito “Telegonosque” uoces.

“You will see three, hiding far off in a darkened part; even thus they teach how to love, as everyone knows. You should either flee them, or, if you have the face for it, dub them ‘Oedipuses’ and ‘Telegonuses’” (Ovid, Tristia 1.1.111-114).

  • 53 The reference to “satis oris”, translated here as “assurance”, plays on the term “frons” – the edge (...)

36If the book has any concern for its author, and here Ovid uses the term “parens” (Tristia 1.1.115), it will not befriend these scoundrels; the new names that Ovid proposes for his Ars Amatoria (“Oedipus”, “Telegonus”) reflect the books’ status as parricides, in that they brought about the “death” of their author.53

  • 54 On this poem, see Oliensis (1998), 179-181.
  • 55aspicis exsangui chartam pallere colore? aspicis alternos intremuisse pedes?” (“do you see how my (...)
  • 56 Two further instances: in Tristia 3.7 Ovid instructs his letter to contact a literary protégé, Peri (...)

37Other late poems by Ovid bring out the personification of the poetry book in similar ways – Tristia 2involves an attack on his poetry as being an “infelix cura” (Ovid, Tristia 2.1-2), while Tristia 3.1 serves as a sequel to Tristia 1.1, where the nervous book has arrived in Rome and is escorted to the Palatine.54 It describes its own mental and physical shape by utilizing similar ambiguities to those of the earlier poem,55 and again makes reference to its “father” (“parenti Tristia 3.1.57), hoping that he will be reconciled with the imperial house. It then attempts to enter the Palatine library in order to visit its brothers (“fratres Tristia 3.1.65), but is turned away by the guard (a reference to the banning of Ovid’s works). The paternal relationship between the author and his works is given a further twist by a reference to inherited guilt: the book of poetry speaks of how Ovid’s children (“nati Tristia 3.1.74) have suffered the same fate as their creator (“auctoris Tristia 3.1.73).56

  • 57 See Besslich (1974), 7-8; the poems are Epigrammata 1.3; 1.70; 2.1; 3.2; 3.4; 3.5; 4.86; 4.89; 7.84 (...)
  • 58 On the influence of this poem and the possibility that it opened Martial’s collection, see Howell ( (...)
  • 59 Cf. “uade salutatum pro me, liber: ire iuberis ad Proculi nitidos, officiose, lares” (“go, book, de (...)

38The theme of the address to the poetry book appears some sixteen times in Martial’s Epigrammata at key positions;57 already in Epigrammata 1.3, Martial chides his book (following Horace, Epistulae 1.20) for desiring publication,58 while in Epigrammata 1.70 he simply gives it instructions (in a similar vein to Catullus 35).59 One of the most interesting of the examples from Martial is Epigrammata 3.2, where Martial presses his book to tell him where it is going:

22. cuius uis fieri, libelle, munus?
festina tibi uindicem parare,
ne nigram cito raptus in culinam
cordylas madida tegas papyro
uel turis piperisue sis cucullus.
Faustini fugis insinum?
sapisti.
Cedro nunc licet
ambules perunctus...

“Whose gift do you want to be, little book? Hurry to find yourself a protector, lest snatched away into a dark kitchen you should cover sprats with your damp papyrus, or become a wrapper for incense or pepper. Do you flee into the lap of Faustinus? You are clever. Now you may strut, oiled with cedar...” (Martial, Epigrammata 3.2).

  • 60 For the tablet/book held on the knees while writing, see Callimachus, Aetia fr. 1.21-22 Pfeiffer; c (...)
  • 61 Howell (1980), 110; Citroni (1986), 141-146.

39There are echoes here of both Horace, Epistulae 1.20 and Ovid’s Tristia 1.1: just as in the Horatian poem, we have the question put to a book that is on the verge of leaving, but Martial’s book, safely ensconced in the lap of Faustinus, also corresponds with Ovid’s opus on its entrance into the city of Rome. In Martial’s poem, the diminutive “libelle”, coupled with the book’s settling itself in the lap of its patron, gives the sense that Martial, as Ovid before him, is possibly describing the book in terms of a small child.60 It is clear that by the second half of the first century AD the motif of the address to one’s poetic works had become widely current: it is present in Statius (Siluae 4.4.1-11, Thebaid 12.810-819), in the fourth-century poet Ausonius (Epistulae 10), and has been exploited in the descendant literatures ever since.61

  • 62 See Citroni (1986); Bing (1988), 30-31; Svenbro (1993), 196-197; Giannuzzi (2007), 300-306. There a (...)

40The materiality of the book-roll exploited by Martial in excerpt 22 is even more apparent in an epigram by Strato:62

23. εὐτυχές, οὐ φθονέω, βιβλίδιον · ῥά σ᾽ ἀναγνοὺς
παῖς τις ἀναθλίβει, πρὸς τὰ γένεια τιθεὶς
τρυφεροῖς σφίγξει περὶ χείλεσιν κατὰ µηρῶν
εἰλήσει δροσερῶν, µακαριστότατον ·
πολλάκι φοιτήσεις ὑποκόλπιον παρὰ δίφρους
βληθὲν τολµήσεις κεῖνα θιγεῖν ἀφόβως.
πολλὰ δ᾽ ἐν ἠρεµίῃ προλαλήσεις· ἀλλ᾽ ὑπὲρ µῶν,
χαρτάριον, δέοµαι, πυκνότερόν τι λάλει.

“You are blessed, little book, and I do not begrudge you this; some boy, having read you, will rub you, placing you against his chin; or he will press you around his delicate lips, or will roll you along his tender thighs, o most blessed book of all. And frequently you will wander around under his cloak, or, thrown down beside his chair, you will dare to touch those things fearlessly. And you will babble forth many things at rest. But I ask you, little book, say something frequently on my behalf” (Strato, Greek Anthology 12.208).

41Strato accounts his book as blessed – this is a makarismos of sorts. Here, the materiality of the book truly comes into play: the book is unrolled on the reader’s knees, held like a child, and subsequently carried in the folds of the reader’s tunic when he walks around (an idea that can be traced back to Plato’s Phaedrus). Besides speech (albeit “prattling”, which again characterizes the book as a child), it has the same desires (“τολµήσεις”) and mannerisms (“φοιτήσεις”) as a human being. This late epigram demonstrates how far the genre had come since the speaking stones motif, but also how the personification of the writing medium could function under different circumstances – when the object was no longer an immovable stone but a portable piece of papyrus.

IV. Prose and Technical Writing

  • 63 Harrison (1990) argues that the prologue of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses is a similar instance of the bo (...)

42References to personified texts in Latin are not limited to poetry;63 in a letter of Cicero, for example, we hear that the orator sent four books of his Academic Questions to Varro in 45 BC as “admonishers”:

24. ...qui metuo nete forte flagitent, ego autem mandaui utrogarent...

“I indeed fear that they may harass you, even though I commanded that they should merely ask you” (Cicero, Ad Familiares 9.8.1).

  • 64 See Stroup (2010), 234-236. Cf. “iam pridem enim conticuerunt tuae litterae” (“for a long time now (...)
  • 65 Cited by Höschele (2010), 46. See also Pliny, Epistulae 1.9.5, on the repose of his country estate: (...)
  • 66 Cf. “...neque concipere aut edere partum mens potest nisi ingenti flumine litterarum inundata” (“…a (...)
  • 67 For instances of the metaphor in declamation, see Gunderson (2003), 70-72.

43Elsewhere, he speaks of books being received as “guestfriends” (Cicero, De Officiis 3.121).64 Seneca describes a letter of Lucilius as “wandering” (“uagata”) through several smaller problems before settling (“constitit”) on the one that provides the theme of Seneca’s own letter (Epistulae 120.1). In a similar mode, Pliny refers in a letter to Octavius to how his friend’s verses have “broken their bars” (“claustra sua refregerunt” Pliny, Epistulae 2.10.2), and how, unless Octavius takes heed and drives them back to the main “body of work” (“corpus”), they will, like “runaway slaves” (“errones”), find anew master.65 Petronius has the poet Eumolpus describe literary creation in terms of conception and parturition (Petronius, Satyricon 118),66 while Tacitus likewise has Aper describe how the poet Bassus’ verses are, so to speak, born – “hi enim Basso domi nascuntur” (“for they are born for Bassus at home” Tacitus, Dialogus 9). Such expressions are isolated and employed sporadically, but nevertheless demonstrate how the metaphor could be employed in a relatively natural and unforced manner in Latin prose.67

  • 68 On the terminology of the book, see Birt (1882); on the creation of technical vocabularies in scien (...)
  • 69 Cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.26; see also Cicero, Brutus 211, where Cicero mentions the metaphorica (...)
  • 70 Demetrius describes how Hipponax shattered his verse “and made it limp” (“ἐποίησεν χωλόν On Style (...)
  • 71 The term “corpus”, as well as the Greek nouns “σῶµα” and “σωµάτιον”, does not generally mean a sing (...)
  • 72 We have already seen how Ovid made use of this vocabulary in his Tristia. For a number of other ter (...)

44The same holds true when we compare technical writing about literary criticism and style. First, we might note that a number of the technical terms used in such texts reflect the metaphor text = person in clear ways.68 The words used to describe the parts of literary works were directly transferred from terms used to particularize the human body – in ancient criticism, apiece of text could have limbs (where the terms “κῶλα” and “membra” were used),69 ahead (compare “κεφαλή”, “caput”), and a prosodic foot (“πούς”, “pes”).70 The terms “ἄρθρον” (“joint”) and “σύνδεσµος” (“fastening”, “sinew”) had anatomical meanings before they were used as grammatical terms (“article” and “conjunction” respectively). The terms “σῶµα” and “corpus” (both “body”) could be used to refer to collections of texts – Cicero, for instance, mentions the “σῶµα” of his consular speeches (Cicero, Ad Atticum 2.1.3), while Seneca describes the collected writing of a great author as if it were a female body (Seneca, Epistulae 33.5).71 English has inherited much of this terminology either directly or by a calque – for example, “chapter” (from “capitulum”/“caput” via French), “foot”, and “body”. While these words were used to refer to the content of the book, others could refer to its physical form; for example, the “umbilicus”, “frontes”, and “membranae” of Roman books.72

  • 73 On metaphorical terminology in Greek literary criticism, see van Hook (1905), especially 18-23 (on (...)
  • 74 Van Hook (1905), 18-19, also quotes an excellent example from Pliny (Epistulae 5.8.10). Cf. Cicero,(...)

45Vocabulary relating to the physical body seems also to have been one of the chief sources for the terminology of literary criticism and style.73 Plutarch mentions how, just like the human body, speech (“λόγον”) should be not only free from fault (“ἄνοσον”) but vigorous (“εὔρωστον”) as well (The Education of Children 7b); the author of the Rhetorica ad Herennium links the swollen style with bodily swelling (4.15), while Tacitus provides amore expanded example in his Dialogus:74

25. oratio autem, sicut corpus hominis, ea demum pulchra est in qua non eminent uenae nec ossa numerantur, sed temperatus ac bonus sanguis implet membra et exsurgit toris ipsosque neruos rubor tegit et decor commendat.

“However eloquence, just like the body of a human being, is beautiful precisely when the veins do not stick out and the bones cannot be counted – when sound and healthy blood fills the limbs and wells up in the muscles, and a rosy hue covers, and a grace adorns, the sinews themselves” (Tacitus, Dialogus 21.8-9).

  • 75 Van Hook (1905), 22-23 and 31-32; Most (1992), 407-408 and n. 116.

46Good style is said to be “strong” (“ἁδρός”) and to have “grace” (“ἁβρότης”) and “beauty” (“κάλλος”, “εὐµορφία”); faulty style is characterized as being “dry” (“αὐχµηρός”), “lifeless” (“ἄψυχος”), “fat” (“παχύς”), and is criticized for its “shagginess” (“δασύτης”). Further terminology was derived from the spheres of human grooming and morals,75 Cicero himself praising Caesar’s unadorned commentaries, “omni ornatu orationis tamquam ueste detracta” (“... with every ornament of speech taken away just like clothing” Cicero, Brutus 262).

  • 76 On this tradition, see Most (1992), 407; Socrates follows his remark by reciting the epigram from t (...)

47Finally, certain foundational literary theorists (Plato, Aristotle, Horace) compared literary works to living creatures in order to set up norms for proportion and appropriateness. While not a personification as such, the idea that texts could have heads, feet, and bodies invites the comparison of texts with human beings. From Plato on, we read of texts having bodies with individual parts:76

26. ἀλλὰ τόδε γε οἶµαί σε φάναι ἄν, δεῖν πάντα λόγον ὥσπερ ζῷον συνεστάναι σῶµα τι ἔχοντα αὐτὸν αὑτοῦ, ὥστε µήτε ἀκέφαλον εἶναι µήτε ἄπουν, ἀλλὰ µέσα τε ἔχειν καὶ ἄκρα, πρέποντα ἀλλήλοις καὶ τῷ ὅλῳ γεγραµµένα.

“But I believe that you will agree to this, that it is necessary for every discourse to be put together like an animal, having a body of its own, so as to be neither without ahead nor without afoot, but to have a middle parts and extremities written in away that is fitting to each other and to the whole” (Plato, Phaedrus 264c).

48Following Plato, Aristotle in his Poetics likens the text to an animal (“ζῷον”) that ought to have a beginning, middle, and end; in the Poetics (1450b34-1451a6), he refers to how proportion is essential to the beauty of a plot just as it is for animals. Moreover, the plot should neither be minuscule nor gigantic – one would not be able to comprehend the unity of an animal a thousand stades long. Further on, Aristotle brings in the question of pleasure:

27.... δεῖ τοὺς µύθους καθάπερ ἐν ταῖς τραγῳδίαις συνιστάναι δραµατικοὺς καὶ περὶ µίαν πρᾶξιν ὅλην καὶ τελείαν ἔχουσαν ἀρχὴν καὶ µέσα καὶ τέλος, ἵν᾽ ὥσπερ ζῷον ἓν ὅλον ποιῇ τὴν οἰκείαν ἡδονήν...

“... it is necessary for plots, as in tragedy, to be constructed dramatically, that is, concerning a single, whole, and complete action, with beginning, middle parts, and end, so that epic, like a single and whole animal, may produce its proper type of pleasure” (Aristotle, Poetics 1459a18-21).

  • 77 “... ἵνα ἔχῃ ὥσπερ σῶµα κεφαλήν” (“...so that like the body it may have ahead” Aristotle, Rhetoric (...)
  • 78 One would censor any painter who sought to fuse the neck of a horse with a human head (“humano capi (...)

49Similarly, in his Rhetoric, Aristotle refers to the proem as if it were the “head” of the “body”.77 The idea was picked up by Roman authors: Cicero mentions it in his Brutus (209), and Horace of course adopted the idea at the opening of the Ars Poetica (1-13), although there he compares literary productions to figural painting.78

V. Conclusion

50What we can see from this brief (and incomplete) survey is that the personification of the text was, if not ubiquitous, at least hardly a novelty in ancient literature; from the very earliest phases of Greek writing onwards we have examples of the inscribed object apparently “speaking” for itself; once epigrams began to be written for books as opposed to immovable stones, the convention of addressing one’s book or letter itself, commanding it to convey a message, became a possibility. Moreover, much of the vocabulary used to describe the physical book and its contents was derived from the vocabulary of the human body. In any case, personifications of the book featured in a number of writers who have been profoundly influential on the modern age as well as on their immediate successors; it is possible that our awareness of the convention in the ancient world may play a role in our own usages.

Notes

1 It should be noted that similar metaphors were used of other media as well – painting, for instance; cf. Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia 35.83, where works of art are described as “uisum effugientes”.

2 Bartonek & Buchner (1995) argue for the form “µι”. Further suggestions include Watkins’“ἐστι”, Heubeck’s “ἔην τι”, and Gerhard’s “ἔασον”; for the most recent suggestion, see Gerhard (2011). For bibliography on Nestor’ scup up to 1983, see the entry in the CEG; for more recent bibliography, see Miller (2013), 145. For interpretations, see (for example) Powell (1991), 163-167; Faraone (1996). For other early examples of graffiti that refer to the owner, see Häussle (1979), 58 (with bibliography).

3 On this phenomenon, see in particular Häussle (1979). Cf. Flinck (1922-1923); Burzachechi (1962), 28-36; Lausberg (1982); Thomas (1992), 61-65; Svenbro (1993), 26-43; Tueller (2008); Day (2010). For recent histories of epigram in the ancient world from the Archaic period onwards, see Fantuzzi & Hunter (2004), especially 283-349; see also Livingstone & Nisbet (2010). I have not been able to take Christian (2015) into account. Inscriptions on coins could follow the same convention; compare the Phanes stater: “I am the sign of Phanes”.

4 For a full discussion, see Day (2010), 33-48.

5 For images, see Thomas (1992), 79, and Day (2010), 34. Another example, from the column of a statue found in Attica (c510-500 BC): “Ἰφιδίκε µ ἀνέθεκεν Ἀθεναίαι πολιόχοι” (“Iphidike dedicated me to Athena, guardian of the city” CEG 198). Cf. Burzachechi (1962), 4-5; Powell (1991), 167-169.

6 Tueller (2008), 16-27; see also the tables on pages 17-22. Tueller makes a useful point: “To be precise, sometimes the speaker/addressee is the object, and at other times it is the thing represented by the object” (12). For the Herodotean examples, see Appendix I.

7 See Agostiniani (1982); Watkins (1995), 126-134. Compare the probably genuine Praeneste fibula (CIL I2 3) and Duenos kernos (“duenos med feced CIL I 2 4). See also the supposed funerary epigram of Pacuvius: “…hoc te saxulum rogat ut se aspicias, deinde, quod scriptum est, legas” (“… this little rock asks that you look at it, then that you read what is written [on it]” Gellius, Noctes Atticae 1.24.4).

8 Compare also the longer CEG 108, with Svenbro (1993), 49-50, and Ford (2002), 103.

9 Cf. CEG 286, from a similar period, where the verb is “ὑποκρίνεσθαι” (“I answer the same thing to all people, whoever asks which man set me up: Antiphanes did, as a tithe”); see also CEG 429 from Halicarnassus: “αὐδὴ τεχνήεσσα λίθο, λέγε...” (“tell me, cunningly wrought voice of the stone…”). On these, see Tueller (2008), 150-151.

10 Cf. “χαλκῆ παρθένος εἰµί, Μίδου δ᾽ἐπὶ σήµατος µαι... σηµανέω παριοῦσι Μίδης ὅτι τῇδε τέθαπται” (“I am a bronze maiden, and I sit on the tomb of Midas... I shall signal to those who pass by that Midas is buried here” Contest of Homer and Hesiod 265-270). For a different version, see Plato, Phaedrus 264d. On this epigram, see Ford (2002), 101-109.

11 Burzachechi (1962), 3. Compare the modern “wash me”, or Lewis Carroll’s “eat me” and “drink me”. See already Flinck (1922-1923), 8: “et videtur cum ipsarum litterarum usu esse coniuncta origo huius formae. Nam cum inscriptio inrequadam incidebatur, visa est ipsa res loquendi artem adepta personae loquentis instar exstitisse. Itaque haud difficulter factum est, utipsa res prima persona loqueretur” (“the origin of this formulation seems to be conjoined with the use of writing itself. For when an inscription was etched in an object, the object itself seemed to have come into possession of a type of speech like a speaking individual. Therefore it was no difficult matter for the object itself to speak in the first person”). Cf. the “µένος στάλας” (“power of the stele”) of Simonides, fr. 581.4 Page, which Ford (2002), 108, labels “catachrestic” in light of the fact that in Homer the word means “vital energy”.

12 For recent work, see Day (2010).

13 Svenbro (1993), 3: “So when the reader of a funerary stele reads out the inscription ‘I am the tomb of Glaukos’, logically there is no contradiction, for the voice that makes that ‘I’ ring out belongs not to the reader, but to the stele bearing the inscription”. Cf. 31, 63: “The inscription is a machine designed to produce kleos”.

14 See Gutzwiller (1998) in particular.

15 Rossi (2001), 338, although remaining agnostic about whether the epigram was really written by Theocritus, does not dispute the dating to the first half of the third century BC. Compare the conceit in Callimachus, Epigrams 25 Gow-Page, where the speaker is a bronze cock: “φησὶν µε στήσας Εὐαίνετοςοὐ γὰρ ἔγωγε γιγνώσκω...” (“Euaenetus, who set me up, says (for I do not know, of course)...”). Compare Posidippus’ famous dialogue epigram on Kairos (Epigrams 19 Gow-Page).

16 See Tueller (2008), 152; Bing (2002), 47-48 and 55, where he provides a fascinating example of a stele talking to the other tombs from the Hellenistic period; cf. Callimachus, Epigrams 24 Gow-Page: “ἢν δ᾽ ἆρα λάθῃ καὶ †µιν ἀπαιτῇς φησὶ παρέξεσθαι µαρτυρίην πίναξ” (“but if you forget and demand [payment a second time], the tablet says that it will bear witness”), restoration by Gutzwiller (1998), 190; Antipater, Epigrams 32.1 Gow-Page: “ στάλα... ἐρεῖ” (“this stele will report...”); Meleager, Epigrams 122.19-20 Gow-Page: “τὸ δ᾽ οὔνοµα πέτρος ἀείδει, ‘Ἀντίπατρον προγόνων φύντ᾽ ἀπ᾽ ἐρισθενέων’” (“the stone sings his name, ‘Antipater born of mighty forebears’”).

17 For actual “speaking poems” in Greek, see Callimachus, Epigrams 55 Gow-Page (“I am called the ‘Homeric writing’ (‘γράµµα’)” – the speaking poem here is The Taking of Oichalia), Antiphilus of Byzantium, Greek Anthology 9.192 (a conversation with the personified Iliad and Odyssey); Crinagoras, Greek Anthology 9.239 (the works of the lyric poets); Anonymous, Greek Anthology 9.191 (Lycophron’s Cassandra); Anonymous (late), Greek Anthology 9.210 (The Tactics of Orbicius); Anonymous, Greek Anthology 9.358 (Plato’s Phaedo); Agathias (late), Greek Anthology 6.80 (Agathias’ Daphniad). These are collected by McKeown (1989), 1-2; cf. Bing (1988), 29-30.

18 The sleight of hand would be impossible in the modern world, given the convention of italicizing book titles. Cf. Sens (2011), 212-219. Compare Callimachus’ retort, Epigrams 67 Gow-Page: “Λύδη καὶ παχὺ γράµµα καὶ οὐ τορόν” (“the Lyde is a fat work and imprecise”); Bing (1988), 30, quotes Pfeiffer: “Asclepiadis ipsa uerba ad ridiculum conuertit” (“he twists the very words of Asclepiades towards the ridiculous”). In his Aetia (fr. 1.9-12 Pfeiffer) Callimachus likens poems to women and describes a µῦθος as “running” (“ἔδραµε”, Aetia fr. 75.77 Pfeiffer).

19 Cf. “Lydia doctorum maxima cura liber” (“the Lydia, the greatest darling of wise men” Ticida, fr. 2Courtney); “saecula permaneat nostri Dictynna Catonis” (“may the Dictynna of our friend Cato remain through many centuries” Cinna, fr. 14 Courtney). Cf. Catullus, Carmina 95 (on Cinna’s Zmyrna); Juvenal, Saturae 7.82-86 (on Statius’ Thebais). See Kaster (1995), 201.

20 The following epigram describes the relationship ofthe poet Menander with the Thais, aliterary production of his youth: “hac primum iuuenum lasciuos lusit amores; nec Glycera pueri, Thais amica fuit” (“with her he first played the naughty games of young men; nor was Glycera his girlfriend when he was a boy, but rather Thais” Martial, Apophoreta 187).

21 Cf. Philodemus, On Death 4.39.18 Henry (“τοῦ β[ι]ου παραγραφήν”); see Sider (1997), 74. On books being like human lives, see also Seneca, Epistulae 93.11.

22 LSJ s. v. “καρδία” III: “heart in wood, pith”.

23 Lakoff & Johnson (1980), 74-75, characterize this as a species of the general metaphor creation = birth. The metaphor is reflected in certain ancient terms; cf. LSJ s.v. “τίκτω” IV: “metaph., generate, engender, produce”. Cf. “ἔτεκον ἀοιδάς”, Euripides, Heracles 767; Suppliants 180. OLD s.v. “pario”: “To create (intellectual, artistic, or other productions)”. On the classical tradition, see Leidl (2005), 15-17; Rutherford (2009), 107-127. On the subsequent tradition, see Curtius (1953), 132-134.

24 On the metaphor of a play wright “giving birth” to a play found at Clouds 530-532, see Dover (1968), 167. Cratinus, who depicts himself as the husband of Comedy in the Pytine (Wine-Flask), seems to have also used the idea; cf. Weinreich (1953), 494-496.

25 These lines (and those adjacent to them) form the main basis for a number of interesting departures; see, for example, Szlezák (1999) and Yunis (2003), not to mention Derrida (1972a), 77-213 (“La Pharmacie de Platon”). Cf. Phaedrus 257b, “Λυσίαν τὸν τοῦ λόγου πατέρα...” (“Lysias, the father of this discussion...”). Similar ideas are found in the Theaetetus (e. g. 150c, 160d-161a) and Symposium (177d). On the text as a child, see Svenbro (1993), 85. For λόγοι likened to οἰκέται (“servants”), see Theaetetus 173c. For personified laws, well-known from the Crito, see also Statesman 294b-c.

26 For other personifying imagery used to describe λόγοι in this text, see Plato, Phaedrus 261a (creatures); 276a (brothers), 278a (the speaker’s offspring).

27 The middle of the verb “κυλίνδειν” can mean to “to wander to and fro” when used of people (LSJ s.v. “κυλίνδω” II. 2), but can mean “to be much talked of”, “bandied around” (LSJ s.v. “κυλίνδω” II. 4); it also has the basic meaning of “to be rolled”, which is appropriate when speaking of the physical book roll (LSJ s.v. “κυλίνδω” II). For other possibilities, see Pender (1999-2000), 98-100. Cf. Pindar, Pythians 7.9-10: “πάσαισι γὰρ πολίεσι λόγος µιλεῖ Ἐρεχθέος ἀστῶν...” (“...for among all the cities the report of the citizens of Erechtheus travels”).

28 Cf. Pindar, Isthmians 2.6-8, for “silver-faced songs”.

29 For an Aristotelian application of the simile of poems as children: “µάλιστα δ᾽ ἴσως τοῦτο περὶ τοὺς ποιητὰς συµβαίνει· ὑπεραγαπῶσι γὰρ οὗτοι τὰ οἰκεῖα ποιήµατα, στέργοντες ὥσπερ τέκνα” (“this perhaps happens frequently with the poets: for they love their own poems, cherishing them like their children” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1168a1-3); the third-century comedic author Machon puts the following words in the mouth ofPhiloxenus as he entrusts his poetry to the muses (he is preparing to eat himself to death): “τοὺς διθυράµβους σὺν θεοῖς καταλιµπάνω ἠνδρωµένους καὶ πάντας ἐστεφανωµένους” (“with the gods’ blessing, the dithyrambs that I am leaving behind have all grown up and become garlanded” Athenaeus, Scholars at Dinner 341c).

30 For another personification of these poems as girls (daughters of Homer), see Anonymous, Greek Anthology 16.292.

31 “From the last two passages… it is a short step to treating Χάριτες as personifications of the poems, and T. so treats them here (10; cf. Σ 6 τὰ οἰκεῖα ποιήµατα). When his laudatory poems meet with no reward they return grumbling to their chest”; Gow (1952) 2.308. Gutzwiller (1983), 213: “The Charites appear in the poem as personifications of Theocritus’ poetry”. See also Bing (1988), 20-21.

32 Bing (1988), 33-34, shows how columns and diacritical signs (the koronis) could themselves be personified by poets such as Posidippus (“φθεγγόµεναι σελίδες”, “speaking columns” Epigrams 17.6 Gow-Page) and Meleager (Epigrams 129 Gow-Page).

33 The poems are depicted as two female figures crouching beside the seated Homer on the Archelaus Relief, found outside Bovillae in Italy. Zanker (1995), 161, suggests that the relief may reflect the actual appearance of shrines to Homer such as the Homereion set up by Ptolemy Philopater. This type of representation was, however, a rarity; on this, see Seaman (2005).

34 Cf. LSJ s. v. “νόθος” II. 2: “of literary works, spurious”; “νοθεία” II, “spuriousness”.

35 Cf. “παῖδας ἐγὼ λόγους ἐγεννησάµην, τοὺς µὲν ἀπὸ τῆς σεµνοτάτης φιλοσοφίας καὶ τῆς συννάου ταύτῃ ποιητικῆς, τοὺς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς πανδήµου ῥητορικῆς...” (“I have given birth to discourses as children, some of them by venerable Philosophy and Poetry, who lives in the same temple as her, others of them by Rhetoric, who is shared by the people” Synesius of Cyrene, Epistles 1.1-3); cf. Weinreich (1953), 519.

36 On the metaphor in Roman literature, see Connor (1982); Wyke (1987); Pearcy (1994); Oliensis (1997), Oliensis (1998); Roman (2001).

37 On this, see Farrell (1999), 139-141.

38 See also the following lines: “sic ego, non meritos, mecum peritura, libellos, imposui rapidis uiscera nostra rogis” (“thus I set on the raging fire my undeserving books, my own flesh and blood, about to perish along with me” Ovid, Tristia 1.7.19-20). Here, Ovid plays on the usage of “uiscus” as “child”; cf. OLD s.v. “uiscus” 5 (well attested in Ovid).

39 On the plural “liberi”, see Gellius, Noctes Atticae 2.13.

40 On this, see Svenbro (1993), 160-186, together with his discussion of Callias.

41 On this, see Besslich (1974); Citroni (1986); Wissig-Baving (1989). Although the convention appears only in the Roman period, already in Pindar we can see the mobility of orally produced song being prized over statuary: the poet tells his “γλυκεῖ᾽ ἀοιδά” (“sweet song”) to depart (“στεῖχ’”) for Aegina to announce (“διαγγέλλοισ’”) that Pytheas has won at the Nemean games (Pindar, Nemeans 5.1-6); one might also note Olympians 2.1-2, where the poet asks his “ἀναξιφόρµιγγες µνοι” (“lyre-ruling songs”) whom they should celebrate. Compare Asclepiades 31 Gow-Page, where the dead man, Euippos, directs a passerby to relay a message.

42 This is apparently the first instance in Latin literature of a poet addressing his text and asking that it convey a message to a recipient. See Stroup (2010), 92 and 234-236. Metaphorical descriptions of texts inhuman terms of course stretch much farther back: “istas [tabellas] quae norunt roga... sed ut occepisti ex tabellis nosce rem” (“ask those [tablets] – they know it... but as you have begun, learn of the affair from the tablets” Plautus, Persa 516-518); for related expressions in Plautus, cf. Plautus, Stichus 180-191 (a malediction on a type of dinner-excuse); Rudens 478 (on a speaking pitcher); Pseudolus 23-24 (on bad handwriting), 1007-1008 (on a speaking letter)

43 Compare Catullus, Carmina 95.7-8: “at Volusi Annales Paduam morientur adipsam et laxas scombris saepe dabunt tunicas” (“but Volusius’ Annales will die right on the Po, and will often provide loosely fitting clothes for mackerel”). On the materiality of the book, see Farrell (2009).

44 Cf. “adeste, hendecasyllabi, quot estis omnes undique, quotquot estis omnes… persequamur eam et reflagitemus. quae sit, quaeritis. illa quam uidetis…” (“come here, my hendecasyllables, however many you are, from wherever you are... let us follow her and demand [them] back. Who is she, you ask? That one, whom you see...” Catullus, Carmina 42.1-7).

45 On the personification in Epistulae 1.20, see Fraenkel (1957), 356-363; West (1967), 16-20; Connor (1982); Pearcy (1994). As with “liberi” (“children”), one is tempted to see a near-pun on “liber” (“book”) and “līber” (“free”), although the prosody does not support this; for an example of “liber” being used as a substantive (“free man”), see Cicero, In Pisonem 22. In Epistulae 1.8, Horace directs his Musa to bear to the recipient news of Horace’s condition and inquire how Celsus fares. Compare Sermones 2.1.30-34, where Horace is describing Lucilius: “ille uelut fidis arcana sodalibus olim credebat libris...” (“he entrusted his secrets to his books as if they were friends...”), and Epistulae 2.2.111-114.

46 On “nutritusa”, cf. Horace, Carmina 4.4.25-26: “indoles nutrita faustis sub penetralibus” (“character nourished in chaste recesses”). On “prostare” in the sense of “prostitute”, see OLD s. v. “prosto” 2b.

47 Mayer (1994), 270.

48 For a good list of these ambivalences, see West (1967), 18-19; for example, “in breue cogi” = “to be crammed into a box” or “to be forced into penury”; “amator” = “lover” or “literary admirer”, “reader”.

49 Mayer (1994), 274-275. The “uolui” may even be a hint to the usage of “uelle” discussed in Chapters 1and 2; I owe this suggestion to Michael Putnam.

50 Fraenkel compares the epigram by Aratus on the fate of the poet Diotimus of Adramytteion: “αἰάζω Διότιµον, ὃς ἐν πέτραισι κάθηται Γαργαρέων παισὶν βῆτα καὶ ἄλφα λέγων” (“I lament for Diotimus, who sits on stones saying ‘Alpha’ and ‘Beta’ to the children of Gargarus” Greek Anthology 11.437).

51 Cf. Barchiesi (2001), 25-28: “Ovid is perhaps the most daring of ancient poets in personifying texts and animating books” (26).

52 Similarly, in Amores 1.12, the poet describes how Corinna has been unconvinced by a message that Ovid had sent by means of a slave, Nape: “flete meos casus: tristes rediere tabellae! infelix hodie littera posse negat” (“bewail my downfall: my tablets have returned sad; the unhappy letter denies that it is possible today” Amores 1.12.1-2); much of the remainder of the poem is directed against his tablets. On this, see McCarthy (1998), 183-185.

53 The reference to “satis oris”, translated here as “assurance”, plays on the term “frons” – the edge of the roll that could be fitted out with bosses or cornua (“horns”).

54 On this poem, see Oliensis (1998), 179-181.

55aspicis exsangui chartam pallere colore? aspicis alternos intremuisse pedes?” (“do you see how my page grows pail with bloodless color? Do you see how the alternate feet tremble?” Ovid, Tristia 3.1.55-56).

56 Two further instances: in Tristia 3.7 Ovid instructs his letter to contact a literary protégé, Perilla, and to tell her not to write on amorous topics (29-30), and in Epistulae ex Ponto 4.5.1-2 the poet tells his elegies to take his letter to Sextus Pompeius, the consul of AD 14.

57 See Besslich (1974), 7-8; the poems are Epigrammata 1.3; 1.70; 2.1; 3.2; 3.4; 3.5; 4.86; 4.89; 7.84; 7.97; 8.1; 8.72; 9.99; 10.104; 11.1; 12.2 (3). These are simply the addresses to the poetry book, and do not include all instances of the personification of the text in the corpus; see, for example, Epigrammata 1.25.7-8: “post te uicturae per te quoque uiuere chartae incipiant...” (“let writings that are going to live after you also begin to live now by your aid”); Epigrammata 3.1.5-6: “plus sane placeat domina qui natus in urbe est: debet enim Gallum uincere uerna liber” (“clearly one that is born in the mistress city should please more: for a home-born book ought to defeat a Gallic one”); Epigrammata 1.109; 4.10.1-2; 7.84.7-8; for a good introduction to this aspect of Martial, see Roman (2001), especially 125-137.

58 On the influence of this poem and the possibility that it opened Martial’s collection, see Howell (1980), 110.

59 Cf. “uade salutatum pro me, liber: ire iuberis ad Proculi nitidos, officiose, lares” (“go, book, deliver my greetings on my behalf: you are commanded to go to the glistening home of Proculus, you officious one” Martial, Epigrammata 1.70).

60 For the tablet/book held on the knees while writing, see Callimachus, Aetia fr. 1.21-22 Pfeiffer; cf. the proem to the Batrachomyomachia (1-3).

61 Howell (1980), 110; Citroni (1986), 141-146.

62 See Citroni (1986); Bing (1988), 30-31; Svenbro (1993), 196-197; Giannuzzi (2007), 300-306. There are other possible interpretations of this poem.

63 Harrison (1990) argues that the prologue of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses is a similar instance of the book itself speaking; on Heliodorus’ fusion of the heroine Charicleia with the text in which she appears (the Aethiopica), see Elmer (2008). On the titles of novels, see Whitmarsh (2005), who argues that the female names for the novels (“Charicleia”, “Leucippe”) are a Byzantine invention (596).

64 See Stroup (2010), 234-236. Cf. “iam pridem enim conticuerunt tuae litterae” (“for a long time now your letters have been silent” Cicero, Brutus 19); “...in hac turba nouorum uoluminum” (“...in this crowd of recent volumes” Cicero, Brutus 122).

65 Cited by Höschele (2010), 46. See also Pliny, Epistulae 1.9.5, on the repose of his country estate: “mecum tantum et cum libellis loquor” (“I only talk with myself and with my books”).

66 Cf. “...neque concipere aut edere partum mens potest nisi ingenti flumine litterarum inundata” (“…and the mind cannot conceive or give forth its offspring unless it is inundated by the vast flood of literature” Petronius, Satyricon 118).

67 For instances of the metaphor in declamation, see Gunderson (2003), 70-72.

68 On the terminology of the book, see Birt (1882); on the creation of technical vocabularies in science and medicine, see Schironi (2010).

69 Cf. Rhetorica ad Herennium 4.26; see also Cicero, Brutus 211, where Cicero mentions the metaphorical origin of the name: “necessitas cogat aut nouum facere uerbum aut asimili mutuari” (“necessity compels us to invent anew term or to use a metaphor”).

70 Demetrius describes how Hipponax shattered his verse “and made it limp” (“ἐποίησεν χωλόν On Style 301). Cf. Barchiesi (1994), 135-137.

71 The term “corpus”, as well as the Greek nouns “σῶµα” and “σωµάτιον”, does not generally mean a single book, but rather a collection (by analogy with “corpus militum”); cf. Birt (1882), 11-45 and Farrell (1999), 128-133, and (2009). For further exploitations of the vocabulary, see Vitruvius, De Architectura 10.16.12 with Hutchinson (2013), 20, and Seneca, Epistulae 46.1.

72 We have already seen how Ovid made use of this vocabulary in his Tristia. For a number of other terms, such as “coma”, “cornua”, and “color”, see Ovid, Tristia 1.1. The word “membrana” is in fact an example of metonymy; see the following chapter.

73 On metaphorical terminology in Greek literary criticism, see van Hook (1905), especially 18-23 (on metaphors derived from the human body).

74 Van Hook (1905), 18-19, also quotes an excellent example from Pliny (Epistulae 5.8.10). Cf. Cicero, Brutus 68; Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1.77.

75 Van Hook (1905), 22-23 and 31-32; Most (1992), 407-408 and n. 116.

76 On this tradition, see Most (1992), 407; Socrates follows his remark by reciting the epigram from the tomb of Midas, the order of whose lines can be freely mixed up: “χαλκῆ παρθένος εἰµί, Μίδα δ᾽ ἐπὶ σήµατι κεῖµαι... ἀγγελέω παριοῦσι Μίδας ὅτι τῇδε τέθαπται” (“a maid of bronze I stand on Midas’ tomb... I tell the traveler that Midas is buried here” Plato, Phaedrus 264d).

77 “... ἵνα ἔχῃ ὥσπερ σῶµα κεφαλήν” (“...so that like the body it may have ahead” Aristotle, Rhetoric 1415b8). Compare also the term “σύνδεσµος” (“ligament” Rhetoric 1413b32), frequently employed by Aristotle to describe words that are neither nouns nor verbs. Cf. Pfeiffer (1968), 76-77.

78 One would censor any painter who sought to fuse the neck of a horse with a human head (“humano capiti”).

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