Version classiqueVersion mobile

Les hippodromes et les concours hippiques dans la grèce antique

 | 
Jean-Charles Moretti
, 
Panos Valavanis

Les épreuves hippiques et les chevaux

Heroes and hooves: Outstanding horses in Posidippus’ Hippika

Christian Mann

Résumé

When hippic victors presented their agonistic success in epinicia and victory epigrams, the horses usually got their share of the praise: poets call them “swift” or “prize-bringing”, but mostly without any reference to the circumstances of the victory or to the actual performance of the horses. In some cases, however, the hippic praise is more specific; that is, when the poets describe particular qualities of the horses or memorable situations in the race. On the surface, such presentations of hoofed heroes seem to detract the reader’s attention from the victor, but a more careful reading shows the poetic techniques, for example intertextual references to Homer and Pindar in Posidippus’ Hippika: praising the horses is a method of praising the victor, examples include the horse that runs without being whipped (Posidippus, 73 AB), the filly that wins the same race twice (Posidippus, 74 AB), and the “my horse and me” motif in Posidippus, 71 AB.

Texte intégral

I am grateful to R. Hübner and S. Scharff for their comments. All dates are BCE unless otherwise noted.

The commemoration of hippic victories

1In ancient Greece, a hippic victory in one of the major festivals brought more fame than almost everything else. Many contributed to the agonistic success, for example the people who looked after the horses and arranged their transport to the festival sites, but the most important three groups were: the horses that ran in the hippodrome; the jockeys respectively the charioteers; and the owners of the horses.

  • 1 Nicholson 2005, p. 110.
  • 2 Carrhotus, relative of king Arcesilas IV of Cyrene (Pindar, Pythian Odes 5.49-53); Nicomachus (Pind (...)

2When we have a look at the literary presentation of hippic victories, we notice a clear hierarchy between these three groups. On the lowest level we find the men who rode the horse or drove the chariot. While their skills were decisive for the outcome of the race, they are nearly absent from the memory. According to N. Nicholson, “memorials for victories in horse races are organized around the exclusion of the jockey”.1 This formulation might be too drastic, but what is undoubtedly true is that those who controlled the commemoration of the victory did not care for jockeys and charioteers. The praise is lavish when the owner themselves or their relatives stood in the chariot,2 but these cases are rare; normally we do not know neither the names nor the social status of jockeys or charioteers.

  • 3 Maehler 1996; cf. Canali de Rossi 2011, p. 105 indice f; Canali De Rossi 2016a, p. 77 indice f.

3Concerning the commemoration of victories, horses were much better off. We know a couple of race horses by name,3 and the poets of epinician odes and epigrams regularly praised their deeds on the racecourse, using vocabulary that refers to the world of gods and heroes: Pindar applies the adjective ἀελλόπος, which is an epitheton of Iris in the Iliad, to Chromios’ horses (Nemean Odes 1.6), ἀκαµαντόπους is applied to Theron’s horses (Olympian Odes 3.3) as well as for the thunder of Zeus (Olympian Odes 4.1). It is no surprise that other words of praise for race horses refer to swiftness, like ἀελλοδρόµης (Bacchylides, 5.39), ὠκύπους (Bacchylides, 4.6; Ebert 1972, no. 33) or ὠκύδροµος (Ebert 1972, no. 7).

  • 4 The locus classicus is Veblen 1899, pp. 87-89. For Greece, see Alcibiades’ claim that his horses no (...)

4It is well known, however, that the horses did not have the most prominent place in the commemoration of hippic victories, it was the owner who dominated the scene. Pindar, Bacchylides and the writers of victory epigrams set them in the centre of their poems; that does not come as a surprise if we consider that the owner, not the charioteer, was announced as the victor of the race, and that the owner chose and paid the poets. The function of praising the horses, thus, is easy to decode: beautiful and swift horses are status symbols, in ancient Greece and elsewhere.4 Massive applause for jockeys and charioteers could detract the attention from the owner of the horses, while the praise of his horses augmented his fame.

  • 5 Bastianini, Gallazzi 2001 (= editio princeps). See also Austin, Bastianini 2002 (= editio minor), a (...)
  • 6 There are also scholars who doubt the attribution (e.g. Schröder 2004), but the arguments do not se (...)

5Up to this point, there is no historical problem. But in the corpus of agonistic praise poetry, there are some examples of outstanding horses that seem to outshine their masters. In these cases, we need to take a closer look at the texts, trying to decipher the specific function of the hippic praise in each poem. In this article, I will analyze three epigrams in this way. They belong to the “New Posidippus”, one of the most fascinating papyrological discoveries of the last decades. It is a collection of 112 poems preserved on a mummy cartonnage. The papyrus was bought by the University of Milan in 1992 and published in a critical edition in 2001.5 The communis opinio attributes the whole collection to Posidippus of Pella, for the very reason that the papyrus contains two poems known before, both works of Posidippus.6 The poems are organized in ten sections, one of them headlined Hippika containing 18 epigrams for victors in horse and chariot races. The most prominent group among the addressees are Ptolemaic queens, six of the poems praise their successes in panhellenic competitions.

  • 7 E.g. Criscuolo 2003; Bennett 2005; Clayman 2012; Huss 2008.

6Naturally, the Hippika, like the whole collection, have attracted the attention of many scholars. The reconstruction of the text has made great progress, while discussions about historical questions have been quite superficial, or rather selective, so far. There is much debate about the identity of Berenice in epigram 78 –Berenice II or Berenice Syra?–,7 while other aspects have been neglected. Particularly striking is the lack of discussion with regard to the genre of the Hippika: they are agonistic epigrams, which means they were written to praise athletic victors, and they should be interpreted with respect to other examples of this genre. Many agonistic epigrams have survived in inscriptions, on papyri and in manuscripts, and due to the marvelous work of J. Ebert, we know very well the standard elements as well as the variety of this genre.

Posidippus, 73 AB
(P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, XI 29-32)
8

  • 8 Transl. E. Kosmetatou.

εὐθὺς ἀπὸ γραµµῆς ἐν Ὀλυµπίαι̣ ἔ̣τρεχον οὕτω
     κέντρα καὶ εξ.[ ±15 ]µενος,
ἁδὺ βάρος ταχυ[ ±12 στ]εφάνωσαν
     θαλλῶι τρυγα. [.........]..[.]. [ο]υ

At once from the starting line at Olympia I ran thus
     with no need of whip nor thrust (?)
a sweet weight for speed (?) [...] they crowned
     Trygaios (?) with an olive branch...

  • 9 Dickie 2008, pp. 15-28.
  • 10 Fantuzzi 2005, p. 268.
  • 11 Köhnken 2007. Diplomatic is the statement of Seidensticker, Stähli, Wessels 2012, pp. 14-15: “Wie v (...)

7Despite the lacunae in lines 2-4, the substance of this short epigram is clear: the poet alludes to different phases of the Olympic horse race, beginning with the start and ending with the victory ceremony. The horse is the protagonist as well as the implicit speaker, and with all probability the deictic οὕτω refers to a statue showing the horse at full pelt. M. Dickie has offered a detailed line of argumentation for the case that the poems in the Hippika were indeed inscribed on monuments.9 Other scholars are skeptical and interpret Posidippus’ poems as fictitious epigrams; the references to statues, thus, are considered merely as literary play.10 The burden of proof is on the latter’s side, given the fact that none of A. Köhnken’s six kinds of fictitious epinician epigrams, developed on the basis of the Anthologia Palatina, fits for the Hippika.11 They are indeed much more similar to the agonistic epigrams preserved on stone.

  • 12 According to Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 45-46, βάρος in line 3 refers to Trygaios’ weight, and he c (...)
  • 13 For an overview, see Angiò et al. 2016, p. 35.

8The victor himself does not appear until the last line,12 he is introduced as the passive recipient of the olive branch. So it is the horse who occupies the most prominent position in the monument, both in image and in text. This horse is a real champion, it is praised not only for its speed, but also for a very special commitment: in line 2, the poet mentions κέντρα (“horse-goads”). There are different suggestions for the following lacuna,13 but all scholars agree that there must be some kind of negation in the verse: the horse was not incited by the κέντρα and by a second object that is difficult to identify. At first sight, this might seem a trivial statement, but it is not trivial at all if we look at the literary tradition that formed the background for this line.

  • 14 Homer, Iliad 23.382-387 (transl. A.T. Murray).

9The first passage we have to take into account comes from Homer. In the middle of the famous chariot race in Iliad 23, Apollo tears away Diomedes’ goad. As a result, the horses slow down, and Diomedes abandons all hope of winning the race:14

καί νύ κεν ἢ παρέλασσ᾽ ἢ ἀµφήριστον ἔθηκεν,
εἰ µὴ Τυδέος υἷϊ κοτέσσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων,
ὅς ῥά οἱ ἐκ χειρῶν ἔβαλεν µάστιγα φαεινήν.
τοῖο δ᾽ ἀπ᾽ ὀφθαλµῶν χύτο δάκρυα χωοµένοιο,
οὕνεκα τὰς µὲν ὅρα ἔτι καὶ πολὺ µᾶλλον ἰούσας,
οἳ δέ οἱ ἐβλάφθησαν ἄνευ κέντροιο θέοντες.

And now would Tydeus’ son have passed him by or left the issue in doubt, had not Phoebus Apollo waxed wroth with him and smitten from his hand the shining lash. Then from his eyes ran tears in his wrath for that he saw the mares coursing even far swiftlier still than before, while his own horses were hampered, as running without goad.

  • 15 For Pherenicus’ “careerˮ, see Henderson 2011, with bibliography.
  • 16 Pindar, Olympian Odes 1.17-23 (transl. D. Arnson Svarlien).

10Unlike Diomedes’ horses, the hoofed hero in Posidippus 73 has no need of a goad: it runs at full speed even without it. In this respect it is similar to Pherenicus, the famous race horse of Hieron of Syracuse.15 In Pindar’s Olympian 1, Pherenicus is said to have run without being spurred:16

ἀλλὰ Δωρίαν ἀπὸ φόρµιγγα πασσάλου
λάµβαν᾽, εἴ τί τοι Πίσας τε καὶ Φερενίκου χάρις
νόον ὑπὸ γλυκυτάταις ἔθηκε φροντίσιν,
ὅτε παρ᾽ Ἀλφεῷ σύτο, δέµας
ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόµοισι παρέχων,
κράτει δὲ προσέµιξε δεσπόταν,
Συρακόσιον ἱπποχάρµαν βασιλῆα.

Come, take the Dorian lyre down from its peg, if the splendor of Pisa and of Pherenicus placed your mind under the influence of sweetest thoughts, when that horse ran swiftly beside the Alpheus, not needing to be spurred on in the race, and brought victory to his master, the king of Syracuse who delights in horses.

  • 17 Cf. Mann 2001, p. 267.

11By using the words δέµας and παρέχων, Pindar adds a sacral element to the horse race: Pherenicus dedicates his strength and speed to his master, it is a kind of sacrifice, or better, self-sacrifice.17 Hieron of Syracuse, in these lines, remains in the background like the winner in Posidippus, 73.

  • 18 Scholia vetera in Pindari Olympionicas 1.33a: ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόµοισιν: ἀµάστικτον αὐτῷ τῷ κατὰ φύσιν (...)
  • 19 An investigation of the epinicians’ influence on Posidippus is desperately needed (Hose 2015, p. 28 (...)

12A scholiast on Pindar has recognized that Pindar underlines Pherenicus’ devotion in these verses, and the scholiast has also recognized the difference to Diomedes’ horses in Iliad 23.18 It is not too optimistic to assume that Posidippus (and his audience) knew both Homer and Pindar very well, and what we can detect here is the influence of the famous 5th century epinician odes on Hellenistic epigrams.19 By alluding to Pindar, Posidippus shows his art, but his art is not just a literary play, but carries a strong message about the winner: if the horse runs voluntarily as fast as it can, his master is the recipient not only of an olive branch, but also of an animal’s full devotion. In spite of staying in the background, he is the real protagonist of the poem: everything the horse does, it does for him.

Posidippus, 74 AB
(P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, XI 33-XII 7)
20

  • 20 Transl. E. Kosmetatou.
  • 21 Βραβέες is a suggestion of Janko 2005 (cf. Lapini 2007, p. 283). The papyrus gives βραχέες, either (...)

ἐν Δελφοῖς ἡ πῶλο̣ς ὅτ’ ἀντιθέουσα τεθρίπποις
ἄξον‹ι› Θεσσαλικῶι κοῦφα συνεξέπεσε
νεύµατι νικήσασα, πολὺς τότε θροῦς ἐλατήρω̣ν̣
ἦν ἀµφικτύοσιν, Φοῖβ{ε}, ἐν ἀγωνοθέταις·
ῥάβδους δὲ βραβέες21 χαµάδις βάλον, ὡς διὰ κλή̣ρου
νίκης ἡνιόχων οἰσοµένων στ̣έ̣φ̣ανον·
ἥδε δὲ δεξιόσειρα χαµαὶ ν̣εύ̣σα[ς’ ἀ]κ̣ερα̣ίων
ἐ̣[κ σ]τ̣ηθ̣έ̣ω̣ν α̣ὐτ̣ὴ̣ ῥά̣β̣δ̣ο̣ν ἐφειλκύσα[το,
ἡ̣ δ̣ε̣ι̣ν̣ὴ̣ θ̣ή̣λεια µετ’ ἄρσεσιν· αἱ δ’ ἐβόησ[αν
φ̣θ̣έ̣γ̣µ̣α̣τ̣[ι] π̣α̣ν̣δήµ̣ωι σ̣ύµµιγα µυριάδ[ες
κ̣ε̣[ίν]η̣ι̣ κ̣η̣ρ̣ῦ̣ξ̣αι σ̣τέ̣φανον µ̣έγαν· ἐν̣ θ̣ο̣ρ̣[ύβωι δὲ
Κα̣λ̣[λικ]ρ̣ά̣τ̣ης δάφνη‹ν› ἤρατ̣’ ἀνὴρ Σάµ̣ι̣ο̣[ς,
Θε̣ο̣ῖσ̣ι̣ δ̣’ Ἀ̣δ̣[ε]λ̣φε{ι}οῖς εἰκὼ ἐναργέα τῶ̣ν τότ’ [ἀγώνω]ν̣
ἅρ̣[µα καὶ ἡνί]ο̣χ̣ον χάλκεον ὧδ’ ἔθετο.

In Delphi when this foal competed in the four-horse race
swiftly it arrived at the finish, racing against a Thessalian chariot,
winning by a nod. Then there was great uproar among the charioteers
before the Amphictyonic judges, Phoebus.
The arbiters cast their staffs to the ground, for by lot
they believed that victory ought to be awarded.
But then the horse on the right side nodded to the ground
with open heart (?), herself the staff she drew up,
an excellent female among males; whereupon the myriads roared
in one commingled voice
to proclaim a great wreath for her; in a crowded assembly thenCallicrates, a man from Samos, the laurel crown won.
And to the Brother-Loving gods he dedicated the lifelike image of that contest
here: the chariot and the charioteer in bronze
.

  • 22 Thessaly was famous for its horses (see below).
  • 23 For sortition with staffs, see Gundel 1914.

13This comparatively long epigram relates the deeds of an amazing filly. In the hippodrome of Delphi, there was a very tight finish in the ἅρµα πωλικόν, the chariot race with four foals: a Thessalian chariot22 and that of Callicrates of Samos were nearly equal at the finish, the latter was only a nod ahead. But instead of declaring Callicrates the winner of the race, the agonothetai decided it was a tie, thus the winner had to be determined by sortition. The arbiters threw their staffs onto the ground, but the lottery –we do not know how exactly it was intended to work–23 was interrupted by Callicrates’ filly, who picked up a staff with her muzzle. The whole crowd considered that a wondrous sign, and Callicrates’ chariot was declared winner of the race.

  • 24 For Callicrates’ career, see Hauben 1970; Bing 2002, pp. 244-246. Posidippus mentions him also in e (...)
  • 25 For example, a pancratiast from Ephesos prides himself for having won the competition despite his m (...)

14Callicrates of Samos was one of the most important men in Ptolemaic Egypt,24 but in this epigram a horse seems to outshine him. While we do not read the name of the owner until line twelve, the filly wins the race even twice: firstly, she was running at the outer right, which meant she held the most important position in the yoke; so it was particularly her speed and skill that made Callicrates’ chariot come in first. And secondly, when the arbiters unjustly left the decision to the lot, it was her who decided the matter: in the middle of the uproar and chaos (πολὺς θροῦς) she remained cool and directed the case to the right judgement. It is important to know that, in the world of Greek sport, casting lots was not necessarily seen as exploration of the will of the gods,25 and in this epigram the sortition is based on a wrong decision of the arbiters. It is the action of the filly, instead, that is presented as divine decision. The victory of Callicrates, thus, gets a sacral flavour. It is further worth noting that the poet stresses the role of the audience: the whole crowd shouts in favour of Callicrates, and the decision appears as a kind of plebiscite.

  • 26 On this aspect, see Guichard Romero 2004, p. 79.
  • 27 Homer, Iliad 23.407-409 (transl. A.T. Murray).

15But the function of the horse in this epigram is more specific. It is the female sex of the horse that is stressed by Posidippus: she was the only filly in the yoke, the other three foals were masculine.26 Why does the poet tell us that? Again, we have to take a look into the Iliad: during the chariot race mentioned above, Antilochus incites his stallions. Apart from threatening that Nestor will have them butchered if they do not win a decent prize, he appeals to their masculine honour:27

ἵππους δ᾽ Ἀτρεΐδαο κιχάνετε, µὴ δὲ λίπησθον,
καρπαλίµως, µὴ σφῶϊν ἐλεγχείην καταχεύῃ
Αἴθη θῆλυς ἐοῦσα.

But the horses of the son of Atreus do ye overtake with speed, and be not outstripped of them, lest shame be shed on you by Aethe that is but a mare.

  • 28 Homer, Iliad 23.375-378 (transl. A.T. Murray).

16Shortly before these lines the epic poet presents the race as a competition between stallions and mares:28

     ὦκα δ᾽ ἔπειτα
αἳ Φηρητιάδαο ποδώκεες ἔκφερον ἵπποι.
τὰς δὲ µετ᾽ ἐξέφερον Διοµήδεος ἄρσενες ἵπποι
Τρώϊοι.

And forthwith the swift-footed mares of the son of Pheres shot to the front, and after them Diomedes’ stallions of the breed of Tros.

  • 29 Barbantani 2012, p. 49.

17With all probability the emphasis on the foal’s sex is motivated by the addressee of the poem. As is well known, in the Ptolemaic dynasty women had an important position, and Callicrates’ filly seems to reflect this situation. As S. Barbantani has noted, “this mare was a true female of the Ptolemaic species!”29

  • 30 Hibeh Papyri 2 199. The cult was introduced in 272/1.
  • 31 In this case, it would not make sense to mention Delphi at the very beginning of the poem.
  • 32 Bing 2002, p. 252. See p. 251 for the date of the victory and the monument.

18Very important is the reference to the monument at the end of the epigram. Callicrates was not only nauarchos and philos of Ptolemy II, but also the first eponymous priest of the cult of Alexander and the theoi adelphoi, which means the cult of Philadelphos and his sister and wife Arsinoë II.30 And the dedication of the monument is connected to this office, Callicrates dedicated the statues of horses and charioteer to the theoi adelphoi. The place of the dedication is not given in the epigram; Delphi is unlikely,31 probably the monument was erected in Alexandria, but other places are also possible.32

19Certainly, Posidippus is not an advocate of women’s rights when he praises the filly. He skillfully uses literary techniques, especially allusions to well-known passages of the Iliad, to connect the race at Delphi to the situation at the court in Alexandria. On the one hand, Callicrates is glorified for his victory and the special circumstances of the jury’s judgement. On the other hand, the admiral from Samos is presented as a loyal courtier of the Ptolemies, a courtier who knows his duties. With the dedication of the monument, he connects the performance of his outstanding filly to the theoi adelphoi.

Posidippus, 71 AB
(P. Mil. Vogl. VIII 309, XI 21-24)
33

  • 33 Transl. E. Kosmetatou and B. Acosta-Hughes.
  • 34 Στ̣[εφόµην, editio princeps; στ̣[άδιον, editio minor.

οὗτος ὁ µουνοκέλης Αἴθω̣ν ἐµὸς ἤ[ρατο νίκην
     κἀγὼ τὴν αὐτὴν Πυθιάδα στ̣[εφόµην34
δὶς δ’ ἀνεκηρύχθην Ἱππόστρ[ατος] ἀ̣θλοφ̣[όρος τ’] ἦ̣ν
     ἵππος ὁµοῦ κἀγώ, πότνια Θεσσα̣λ̣ία.

Aithon, my single horse [won victory]
     and so was I crowned during the same Pythian games;
twice I, Hippostratos, was heralded victor
     my horse, as well as I, o lady Thessaly.

  • 35 According to Canali de Rossi 2016a, p. 43, this man has to be identified with Hippostratus from Cro (...)
  • 36 Hector’s Aithon is mentioned in Homer, Iliad 8.185. For a list of horses called Aithon in Greek myt (...)
  • 37 See above n. 27.

20In Posidippus, 74, the Thessalian chariot lost the race, now we are witnessing a Thessalian triumph. The speaker of this epigram is a man called Hippostratus,35 but the real protagonist is his horse Aithon. This name was very popular, the most famous Aithon is Hector’s stallion in the Iliad; it is derived from αἴθω and refers both to the colour (“red-brown”) and to the character (“hot, fiery”) of the animal.36 Also the female form Aithe was popular.37

  • 38 Cf. Anthologia Palatina 6.135 (= Ebert 1972, no. 6, for Pheidolas of Corinth): οὖτος Φειδόλα ἵππος…

21The poem begins with a deictic οὗτος, pointing to the statue of the horse.38 It is likely that a statue of Hippostratus stood nearby, but we do not find a clear indication in the text. What the poet heavily emphasizes is the connection between owner and horse, by the pronoun ἐµός and twice by κἀγώ. It is obvious that the connection of animal and human winning together is the most important motif of the epigram, but due to the fragmentary preservation of the papyrus, the interpretation faces problems: it is difficult to understand the nature of the owner’s victory from the surviving text. The nucleus of the problem is the double victory mentioned in line three; since line two excludes the possibility that one of the two victories was won in another contest, two options are remaining, both causing problems.

  • 39 Austin, Bastianini 2002, 94, followed by Schröder 2004, p. 66. For St. Schröder, both horse and vic (...)
  • 40 Empedocles of Acragas, for example, won a victory in the horse race, while his son Exainetos triump (...)

22Some scholars assume that Hippostratus won two victories at the Pythian Games, one in the keles, the other one in a gymnic discipline. C. Austin supplemented the sigma and tau in line 2 to στ̣[άδιον, therefore assuming that Hippostratus was a sprinter.39 This sounds like a logical solution, but it does not explain the dominance of the horse in poem and monument, and there is no reference to a statue of a runner. It is further worth mentioning that hippic victories normally followed in a later stage of a man’s life than gymnic victories.40 Another problem of C. Austin’s solution is the strange connection of νικάω with the double accusative Πυθιάδα and στάδιον.

23Another option is to understand the double victory, of the horse and of the man, as one and the same: the victory in the keles is a triumph both for Aithon and for Hippostratus. In this case, στ̣[εφόµην is a reasonable completion of the controversial word in line 2. It is hard to understand δὶς δ’ ἀνεκηρύχθην this way, and it is even harder to explain why the poet emphasizes that the victories were won in the same Pythian Games (τὴν αὐτὴν Πυθιάδα). The translation cited above understands the accusative as relating to the duration of the festival, but this is not convincing. The most probable assumption is that there is something wrong with the text.

  • 41 See also Posidippus, 72.73.83 AB; Ebert 1972, no. 7.38; Bacchylides, 3.3-9.

24But nevertheless the two most important features of the poem are perfectly clear: the dominance of the horse and the “my horse and me” motif. The name of the horse is given in line one, the owner’s name not earlier than in line three, and κἀγώ, occurring twice in this short text, concedes the first place (in the tandem of horse and owner) to the horse. The role of Aithon here is quite different from the usual function of horses in victory epigrams: there are many epigrams praising horses, but the standard story is “this horse has performed brilliantly, and it did so for me”. This is the way Posidippus presents the relationship between another Aithon and its owner in epigram 86,41 while here he chooses another narrative, the “my horse and I have won”.

  • 42 E.g. Herodotus, 7.196; for the Thessalian cavalry, see Spence 1993, pp. 23-25, and Blaineau 2015, p (...)
  • 43 Posidippus, 71.83-85 AB. Only the Ptolemies appear more frequently in this collection.

25In my opinion, the key for the interpretation of the poem is the very end, the invocation of πότνια Θεσσα̣λ̣ία. The valleys of Thessaly encouraged horse breeding, and the fighting power of the Thessalian cavalry was proverbial.42 and not only on the battlefield, but also in the hippodromes Thessalian horses performed well: as we have seen, beating a Thessalian chariot was considered a memorable achievement, and among the 18 epigrams of Posidippus’ Hippika, four are devoted to Thessalians.43 If we have this in mind, we understand the ring-composition of the poem: the deictic οὗτος points to a horse, and the πότνια Θεσσα̣λ̣ία also points to horses.

  • 44 Scharff 2016.

26Recently S. Scharff has demonstrated an important aspect of Thessalian athletics in the Hellenistic period: in the self-representation of Thessalian victors, it was the Thessalian identity that was expressed and strengthened, not the polis identity.44 If we have this fact in mind, we get closer to an understanding of the extraordinary features in Posidippus, 71: with the exalted apostrophe at the end, the poet relates the victory (or victories) to Thessaly. And since successful horses are symbols for Thessaly, it makes sense to let the man, in this case, step behind his horse.

Conclusion

  • 45 Most intensive is this debate with regard to the odes of Pindar and Bacchylides; see e.g. Kurke 199 (...)

27We have had a brief look at three epigrams that share one feature: a horse dominates the scene. How it does this, however, is quite different: one demonstrates its full devotion to its master by running voluntarily in the hippodrome (73); another is an example for females’ capability (74); a third one is closely connected to its master in the agonistic success (71). I will end this article by bringing together the reflections on outstanding horses with one of the big questions of epinician poetry, the decades-old debate as to whether or not songs for athletic victors should be interpreted in a literary or a historical context.45

28The purpose of agonistic epigrams (as well as for the related monuments) is easy to describe: they were intended to fill athletic victories with meaning, to make them appear glorious and worth remembering. That was not an easy task: there were hundreds of agonistic festivals in the Greek world, and all included different disciplines, hippic as well as gymnic and musical, and different age classes. Greek agones produced many hundreds of victors every year, and poets were expected to present one victory as more glorious than others or at least as a somehow special performance.

  • 46 Very rarely agonistic epigrams allude briefly to myths; see Köhnken 2007, pp. 303-304.
  • 47 Anthologia Palatina 9.588 (= Ebert 1972, no. 67), referring to the Isthmian Games.
  • 48 IvO 160; Anthologia Palatina 13.16 (Ebert 1972, no. 33; Moretti L. 1953, no. 17). Posidippus refers (...)
  • 49 E.g. Cleitomachus (see n. 47) or Cleonicus of Miletos (Ebert 1972, no. 65). A wrestler had won a ma (...)
  • 50 See above n. 25.

29In contrast to epinician odes, myths did not play an important role in agonistic epigrams. Epigrams are short, there is no space for stories about the heroes of the past.46 But there is space to explain the formal singularity of athletic victories. Cleitomachus of Thebes, for example, is praised for having won three crowns (wrestling, boxing, pankration) on the same day.47 In an epigram that is preserved both on stone and in the Anthologia Palatina, Cynisca is extolled as the first woman who triumphed at Olympia.48 Referring to special circumstances of the victory was another option. For example, poets praise wrestlers who have not fallen during the competition, a fact that underlines their superiority.49 Or, as noted above, winning despite bad luck could be presented as glorious achievement.50

30Posidippus’ handling of horses should be analyzed in this context. His agonistic epigrams are artful poems, they could only be understood with regard to the intertextual allusions. The poet from Pella adopts motifs from Homer and Pindar and modifies them. His praise of horses is subtle, but it is not l’art pour l’art, it is rather related to the purpose of agonistic poetry and the special needs of his commissioners. A full understanding of the epigrams, thus, is only possible if we analyze them both in the Greek literary tradition and with regard to specific historical contexts.

Notes

1 Nicholson 2005, p. 110.

2 Carrhotus, relative of king Arcesilas IV of Cyrene (Pindar, Pythian Odes 5.49-53); Nicomachus (Pindar, Isthmian Odes 2.20-22); Damonon of Sparta (IG V 1, 213 = Moretti L. 1953, no. 16; for this important inscription, see now Nafissi 2013, with bibliography). Aristocrats who were able to drive a chariot resembled Homer’s heroes (Iliad 23.262-533; see below). In victory monuments erected in the sanctuaries, charioteers or jockeys are often represented together with the horses and the owner. The most famous example is the charioteer of Delphi, but even in this case his name is not mentioned.

3 Maehler 1996; cf. Canali de Rossi 2011, p. 105 indice f; Canali De Rossi 2016a, p. 77 indice f.

4 The locus classicus is Veblen 1899, pp. 87-89. For Greece, see Alcibiades’ claim that his horses not only enhanced his own fame, but also that of the polis (Thucydides, 6.15f.; cf. Mann 2001, pp. 102-112; Papakonstantinou 2003).

5 Bastianini, Gallazzi 2001 (= editio princeps). See also Austin, Bastianini 2002 (= editio minor), and the commentaries: Seidensticker, Stähli, Wessels 2012; Zanetto, Pozzi, Rampichini 2008. A full bibliography and an updated critical edition is provided by Angiò et al. 2016.

6 There are also scholars who doubt the attribution (e.g. Schröder 2004), but the arguments do not seem convincing. For the scope of this paper the authorship is not decisive.

7 E.g. Criscuolo 2003; Bennett 2005; Clayman 2012; Huss 2008.

8 Transl. E. Kosmetatou.

9 Dickie 2008, pp. 15-28.

10 Fantuzzi 2005, p. 268.

11 Köhnken 2007. Diplomatic is the statement of Seidensticker, Stähli, Wessels 2012, pp. 14-15: “Wie viele seiner Epigramme Inschriften waren und wie viele literarische Epigramme, lässt sich natürlich nicht sagen.ˮ

12 According to Canali De Rossi 2016a, pp. 45-46, βάρος in line 3 refers to Trygaios’ weight, and he concludes that Trygaios was himself the rider of the horse. But this is unlikely, one would expect a clearer indication to such a rare and brilliant performance (see n. 2). Βάρος should be understood metaphorically instead (Bernardini, Bravi 2002, p. 156).

13 For an overview, see Angiò et al. 2016, p. 35.

14 Homer, Iliad 23.382-387 (transl. A.T. Murray).

15 For Pherenicus’ “careerˮ, see Henderson 2011, with bibliography.

16 Pindar, Olympian Odes 1.17-23 (transl. D. Arnson Svarlien).

17 Cf. Mann 2001, p. 267.

18 Scholia vetera in Pindari Olympionicas 1.33a: ἀκέντητον ἐν δρόµοισιν: ἀµάστικτον αὐτῷ τῷ κατὰ φύσιν τάχει τὸ σῶµα κατὰ τὸν ἀγῶνα διαφυλάξας. ἐκ δὲ τούτου τὸ ταχὺ καὶ πρόθυµον τοῦ ἵππου δηλοῖ. καὶ παρὰ τῷ Ὁµήρῳ (Ψ 387)· ἄνευ κέντροιο θέουσαι.

19 An investigation of the epinicians’ influence on Posidippus is desperately needed (Hose 2015, p. 283).

20 Transl. E. Kosmetatou.

21 Βραβέες is a suggestion of Janko 2005 (cf. Lapini 2007, p. 283). The papyrus gives βραχέες, either understood as “too few” (Bingen 2002) or “at once” (Bastianini, Gallazzi 2001, pp. 201-202; Bing 2002, p. 250 n. 17).

22 Thessaly was famous for its horses (see below).

23 For sortition with staffs, see Gundel 1914.

24 For Callicrates’ career, see Hauben 1970; Bing 2002, pp. 244-246. Posidippus mentions him also in epigram 39.

25 For example, a pancratiast from Ephesos prides himself for having won the competition despite his misfortune: he was not an ephedros in any round, which means that others had time to recover while he had to fight (Ebert 1972, no. 76A; Moretti L. 1953, no. 64).

26 On this aspect, see Guichard Romero 2004, p. 79.

27 Homer, Iliad 23.407-409 (transl. A.T. Murray).

28 Homer, Iliad 23.375-378 (transl. A.T. Murray).

29 Barbantani 2012, p. 49.

30 Hibeh Papyri 2 199. The cult was introduced in 272/1.

31 In this case, it would not make sense to mention Delphi at the very beginning of the poem.

32 Bing 2002, p. 252. See p. 251 for the date of the victory and the monument.

33 Transl. E. Kosmetatou and B. Acosta-Hughes.

34 Στ̣[εφόµην, editio princeps; στ̣[άδιον, editio minor.

35 According to Canali de Rossi 2016a, p. 43, this man has to be identified with Hippostratus from Croton, a runner who won the Olympic stadion race in 564 and 560 (Moretti L. 1957, nos. 100 and 104). The basis for this hypothesis, however, is weak: there is neither a testimony for a hippic victory of this Hippostratus nor for a Pythian victory, and it is hard to explain why a Thessalian should have commissioned Posidippus to write an epigram for a Crotoniate athlete of former times, and not even a famous one like Astylos or Milon.

36 Hector’s Aithon is mentioned in Homer, Iliad 8.185. For a list of horses called Aithon in Greek mythology, see Knaack 1893; cf. Maehler 1996, pp. 16-17. Posidippus mentions another horse bearing this name (86, l. 3).

37 See above n. 27.

38 Cf. Anthologia Palatina 6.135 (= Ebert 1972, no. 6, for Pheidolas of Corinth): οὖτος Φειδόλα ἵππος…

39 Austin, Bastianini 2002, 94, followed by Schröder 2004, p. 66. For St. Schröder, both horse and victories are fictitious.

40 Empedocles of Acragas, for example, won a victory in the horse race, while his son Exainetos triumphed in the wrestling competition of the same Olympics (496); cf. Moretti L. 1957, nos. 167 and 170.

41 See also Posidippus, 72.73.83 AB; Ebert 1972, no. 7.38; Bacchylides, 3.3-9.

42 E.g. Herodotus, 7.196; for the Thessalian cavalry, see Spence 1993, pp. 23-25, and Blaineau 2015, pp. 74-81 and passim, with further bibliography.

43 Posidippus, 71.83-85 AB. Only the Ptolemies appear more frequently in this collection.

44 Scharff 2016.

45 Most intensive is this debate with regard to the odes of Pindar and Bacchylides; see e.g. Kurke 1991; Mann 2013; Morgan K. A. 2015, with bibliography.

46 Very rarely agonistic epigrams allude briefly to myths; see Köhnken 2007, pp. 303-304.

47 Anthologia Palatina 9.588 (= Ebert 1972, no. 67), referring to the Isthmian Games.

48 IvO 160; Anthologia Palatina 13.16 (Ebert 1972, no. 33; Moretti L. 1953, no. 17). Posidippus refers to Cynisca in an epigram for Berenice (87 AB).

49 E.g. Cleitomachus (see n. 47) or Cleonicus of Miletos (Ebert 1972, no. 65). A wrestler had won a match when his opponent had fallen three times.

50 See above n. 25.

Auteur

Universität Mannheim, Historisches Institut Alte Geschichte

© École française d’Athènes, 2019

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search