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Euphorion et les mythes

 | 
Christophe Cusset
, 
Évelyne Prioux
, 
Hamidou Richer

L'obscur et l'insolite

The dark side of Euphorion

Evina Sistakou

Résumé

Le fantastique, le morbide, l’horrible et l’étrange constituent autant de notions connexes qui ont eu un rôle formateur dans le développement de mouvements contemporains, surtout le romantisme et le décadentisme, mais qui peuvent aussi s’avérer utiles pour décrire plusieurs tendances de l’esthétique hellénistique. Euphorion est attiré par les sujets morbides et confère volontiers au discours une intensité émotionnelle marquée : aussi peut-on être tenté de le qualifier de « poète noir ». La présente contribution examine les testimonia et les fragments d’Euphorion en les situant dans le cadre de ce projet esthétique particulier.

Texte intégral

  • 1 In one of his conversations with the German poet Johann Peter Eckermann, Goethe confesses: “Euphor (...)

1Literature is full of enigmas, ambiguous meanings, polysemous symbols. A case in point is Euphorion, one of the dramatis personae in the third act of Goethe’s Faust. Often considered a drama in itself, Act III from the second part of Goethe’s masterpiece focuses on Helen of Troy; in its second scene, symbolically set in a shadowy grove of Arcadia, Helen bears a son to Faust called ‘Euphorion’. According to a rare legend attributed to the grammarian Ptolemy Hephaestion and attested by Photius (Bibliotheca, 190.149a), Helen bore to Achilles a son called Euphorion on the Isles of the Blessed, who died at an early age struck by Zeus’ thunderbolt. Goethe models his own Euphorion upon this mythological figure by adding a subtle detail: he makes him a poet–an allegory of pure poetry, of the heilige Poesie (as explicitly said in l. 9863) – thus paying tribute to the great Romantic poet Byron.1 Obviously this is not our Euphorion – but what if we fancied for a moment that Goethe dramatized the emerging, dark Romantic poetry by alluding to the obscure, sensational poet from Hellenistic Chalcis?

  • 2 On the cantores Euphorionis, see, among many others, Lyne 1978, Tuplin 1979 and the modern review (...)
  • 3 In his fascinating analysis of neoteric poetics, formed under the influence of Euphorion and Parth (...)

2A Romantic take on Euphorion is not a novel idea. It is perhaps inherent in the most famous aphorism describing neoteric aesthetics, the phrase cantores Euphorionis, used pejoratively by Cicero with which the latter opposed the Roman avant-garde poetics against the ‘moralistic’ epic tradition of Ennius. Despite the philological controversy about whether Cicero criticizes Euphorion’s obscure style or the exotic content of his poetry and whether the contempt for his Roman epigones has an aesthetic or ideological basis,2 it is beyond doubt that by the 1st century BC the name of Euphorion was synonymous with ‘modern’ poetics, and that Rome regarded him as a love poet par excellence.3 Do these features suffice to make him a Romantic avant la lettre?

  • 4 For an overview of Euphorion’s Alexandrian models, see Magnelli 2002, p. 22-37.
  • 5 The first scholar to have analyzed the poetics of Euphorion from this perspective is Crump 1931, p (...)
  • 6 See especially Crowther 1976 and the detailed discussion about the reception of Parthenius in Rome (...)

3Before attempting an answer, it is critical to touch upon another complex question, that concerning the literary affinities of Euphorion. Euphorion is indeed a paradox case because he is Callimachean and un-Callimachean at the same time. Lexical and mythological antiquarianism unites the two poets. Yet, numerous ancient testimonies rank Euphorion alongside other representatives of a new, post-Alexandrian sensibility, most notable of which are Lycophron the obscure and Parthenius of Nicaea.4 A common thread connecting Euphorion especially with Parthenius (and setting Callimachus apart) is definitely their taste for sensationalism, expressed by the preference for morbid love stories.5 Parthenius seems to have been the connection between Alexandria and Rome, and it is through him that Euphorion became a model for the elegist Cornelius Gallus and the dark love poet Cinna.6

  • 7 . Crump 1931, p. 102. Of course, my emphasis is on Crump’s judgement of Euphorion’s style and thema (...)

4Judging from Euphorion’s reception (since his original work survives only in fragments), he must have established his literary fame as a poet of dark aesthetics. Euphorion was indeed fascinated by darkness:7

The examination of the evidence for Euphorion’s epyllia produces a conception of a new type differing very considerably from any previous type […]. The love romance becomes increasingly prominent, and crime, violence and unnatural affection are frequently introduced. The epyllion becomes a vehicle for the sensational description of deeds and scenes of horror and for the study of morbid psychology.

  • 8 For the use of the same method in the interpretation of Apollonius, Lycophron and Nicander and, by (...)

5The present study offers an overview of stories and motifs that highlight the dark side of Euphorion’s aesthetics. As introduced here the term ‘darkness’ comprises the fantastic, the morbid, the horrifying and the uncanny. Yet, since these categories have also played a formative role in the development of modern-day movements, primarily Romanticism and Decadence, this study attempts to draw a parallel between Euphorion and 19th century aesthetics too. Though anachronistic, this line of reasoning is based on certain ideological and cultural analogies between the Hellenistic and the Romantic era – the emphasis on imagination and individuality, the invention of a new sensibility, the portrayal of human passions, the emergence of fantasy and the growing importance of visualization and sensationalism in art; it is therefore a new lens through which Alexandrian poetics, and especially Euphorion, may be re-viewed and re-assessed.8

1. A realm of wonder

  • 9 Perhaps the term wonder tale, deriving from modern theoretical approaches to the fantastic, is app (...)
  • 10 This is the definition given by Todorov 1975, p. 54-57, who observes, among other things, that “th (...)
  • 11 Cf. Clute and Grant 1997, s.v. ‘Fantasy’: “A fantasy text is a self-coherent narrative. When set i (...)

6Euphorion is attracted by the marvellous.9 The marvellous, a category of the fantastic that does not presuppose a conflict between the real and the imaginary, takes place in a realm dominated by wonder.10 According to ancient and modern definitions of the fantastic, myth may comprise realistic narrations, with a mimetic or ‘life-like’ quality, but also paradoxical, marvellous stories, fairytales impossible in terms of reality; the first take place in ‘this world’, the latter are set in alternative ‘otherworlds’.11 This dichotomy is best exemplified by the splitting of the Odyssey into the scenario of ‘The Homecoming Husband’ and the one pertaining to the incredible adventures of the wandering sailor. Therefore, the various degrees of probability in ancient myth may acquire a different generic or aesthetic dimension for the poets. When Callimachus deals with the story of Hecale, he does so in realistic terms, a tendency reinforced by the stylistic elaboration on the representation of Attica, the depiction of everyday-life, the emphasis on psychological insight and so on. Whereas, on the other hand, Apollonius in the Argonautica transforms a quest plot into a fantasy narrative by setting it against the background of a mysterious and dark otherworld.

  • 12 Euphorion’s fragments, and their english translations (with minor alterations), are cited after Li (...)
  • 13 On the myth of Anius as a recurrent Hellenistic story of wonder, see Forbes Irving 1990, p. 233-23 (...)
  • 14 Periclymenus as a figure of epic with a fantastic or symbolic potential is discussed by Forbes Irv (...)
  • 15 Forbes Irving 1990, p. 142-148, provides an excellent analysis of the black undertones of Niobe’s (...)

7Euphorion’s scant fragments12 attest to the fact that the Chalcidian poet, apart from his penchant for arcane philological data, had a fascination for narrating marvellous stories. A poem with the title Anius is attributed to him (fr. 4 Lightfoot), dealing with a minor hero from the margins of the Trojan War saga, and probably with his miraculous daughters, the Oenotropoi, whose incredible story was also part of Callimachus’ Aetia (fr. 188 Pf.).13 The shape-shifting Periclymenus, likened to Proteus by Euphorion (fr. 91 Lightfoot), is another miraculous figure, mentioned also by Apollonius in the catalogue of the Argonauts for his extraordinary ability to transform himself during battle (1.156-160).14 Both narratives, as well as the stories about Niobe’s turning into a weeping rock (fr. 68 Lightfoot) or the sprouting of hyacinth from the blood of Ajax (Hyacinthus fr. 44 Lightfoot), which involve some kind of transformation, place Euphorion, alongside Boios and Nicander, among the forerunners of Greek metamorphosis poetry. Yet, the stories of Niobe and Hyacinthus add an extra dimension to Euphorion’s exploration of the fantastic: in evoking mystery and death, enigma and morbidity, natural anomaly and excessive pathos, these stories reveal Euphorion’s taste for aesthetic darkness as well.15

  • 16 Apart from Theocritus’ treatment of the Bacchae in Idyll. 26 and the indirect involvement of Diony (...)
  • 17 That Dionysus was part of the Mopsopia is argued by Barigazzi 1963, p. 446-448.
  • 18 On Euphorion’s Dionysus, see Barigazzi 1963, Van Groningen 1977, p. 39-61, Livrea 1995, and Wyler, (...)
  • 19 Hollis 1976, p. 146-148, briefly discusses Euphorion’s influence on Nonnus (e.g. p. 146 “one can i (...)

8That the fantastic and its dark associations intrigue Euphorion is evident from the handling of the myth of Dionysus. Why did Euphorion choose to extensively treat the adventures of a god neglected by other contemporary poets?16 For the Greeks Dionysus was a bizarre figure, probably of Eastern origin; his cult, expressed as ritual madness or ecstasy, was strange and horrifying; his theology and theogony ran counter to the Olympic universe as established by Homer and Hesiod; his myths were almost exclusively treated by Orphic literature – with Euripides’ tragedy and some depictions in comedy being the exception to this general rule. So, strangely enough, two poems by Euphorion deal with this god, the much-discussed Dionysus (fr. 14-19 Lightfoot) and the Gaping Dionysus (fr. 20-21 Lightfoot). But whereas the latter poem narrates the story of the Samian Elpis, an aetion explaining the cult of Διόνυσος Κεχηνώς, it is in the former (and in fr. 40 Lightfoot from the ‘Dionysiac’ part of the Mopsopia)17 that Dionysus, the miraculous god, becomes the main protagonist.18 In this respect, it might be argued that the much later, colossal epic Dionysiaca by Nonnus owes its central concept, the dramatization of the fantastic adventures of Dionysus, to Euphorion’s epyllion – only developed in a different scale.19

  • 20 Sch. Lyc. Alex. 207; the cauldron may perhaps be associated with the manuscript reading ὑπὲρ φιάλη (...)

9What may be inferred from the remaining fragments is that Euphorion reconstructs the Dionysian wonderland as a place where life and death, miracle and terror, are inextricably intertwined. The sacred tale of the Orphic tradition (fr. 59 Bernabé), reworked in the opening lines of Nonnus’ Dionysiaca (1.1-10), recounts the three births of the god. Euphorion must have been familiar with all three versions according to Philodemus (fr. 40 Lightfoot). The third birth of Dionysus from Zeus and Persephone and his incarnation as Zagreus is marked by the violence sent by Hera. Fragment 14 Lightfoot monitors how the Titans cut the limbs of the god and cast them into a cauldron for Apollo to taste:20

ἐν πυρὶ Βάκχον δImageον ὑπερφίαλοι ἐβάλοντο

Into the fire those arrogant beings cast divine Zagreus…

10According to Tzetzes (Sch. Lyc. Alex. 207), the same dark tale was told by Callimachus (fr. 643 Pf., cf. Aetia fr. 43.117 Pf. on Zagreus). Its sequence, certainly found in Euphorion, is a story of pure miracle (fr. 15 Lightfoot):

Ὕῃ ταυροκέρωτι Διωνύσῳ κοτέσσασα
<Φηρσὶν> Ῥειώνη βλαψίφρονα φάρμακα χεImageεν
ὅσσ’ ἐδάη Πολύδαμνα, Κυτηϊὰς ἢ ὅσα Μήδη…

Wroth with Hyes, bull-horned Dionysus, <upon the Pheres> Rheione cast mind-destroying drugs–all those in which Polydamna or Cytaean Mede were skilled…

  • 21 The various transformations of Dionysus/Zagreus are listed, with rhetoric excess, by Nonnus, D. 6. (...)
  • 22 This interpretation of the passage, which served as a model for Nonnus, D. 14.143-185, is suggeste (...)
  • 23 Attributed to Dionysus by Barigazzi 1963 and Van Groningen 1977, p. 44-61, who also discusses the (...)

11Dionysus is portrayed in one of his miraculous transformations as a horned bull–and indirectly as rain (through the recherché epithet Ὕης).21 Hera acquires the role of the evil witch, the dark Medea, who causes the prodigious metamorphosis of the Pheres into a breed of centaur with strange horns with her φάρμακα.22 The scene evokes the notorious epiphanies of Dionysus, for which the god was legendary. Fragment 19 Lightfoot is set in a somewhat different context but has the same fantastic undertones. The background is now the victorious marching of Dionysus throughout Greece, the theme around which Nonnus’ epic also evolves;23 the miracle is very alive, Greece is Dionysus’ new wonderland, as the god, clad in a goatskin, establishes the Attic cult of the Ἀπατούρια (ll. 25-26) and is eventually celebrated by the Bacchants (ll. 37-40).

12Violence verging on cannibalism, strange metamorphoses, births and rebirths, the ambiguity of a god visualized as an entity between man and animal have a special allure for Euphorion who gives life to a rather neglected literary theme. Euphorion in Dionysus is much more than a pedantic researcher of obscure knowledge: the dramatization of Dionysiac mythology reveals his fascination with the potential of this barbaric, dark deity for the experimentation with the fantastic.

2. The abyss of love

  • 24 On unhappy love as a leitmotif of Hellenistic poetry, see the thorough analysis by Rohde 1960, p. (...)
  • 25 Hellenistic poets mark a crucial stage in the transformation of the epic myth and the heroic value (...)

13Darkness looms large when Euphorion treats another major theme of his poetry – the passions of love. Love is hardly ever a ‘cheerful’ topic in ancient literature; yet, certain Hellenistic poets, ranging from Apollonius to Lycophron, and from Euphorion to Hermesianax, specialize in the dark facets of love in all its unusual or extreme manifestations.24 Love stories with their pathology mark a turning point in Hellenistic aesthetics, and it is through emphasis on unhealthy love that the new, anti-epic ideology of the era is born. To bring forgotten or unknown myths of sick love into light is one of the objectives of Euphorion, an aesthetic tendency which culminates with Parthenius and the Roman neoterics.25

  • 26 The Hesiodic connection of the story is evident in the curious detail that Prometheus, the fruit o (...)
  • 27 The sources include Aratus, Ovid and Nonnus, on which see Lightfoot 2009, p. 296, n. 93.
  • 28 A thematic analysis of Actaeon’s myth and related stories in Forbes Irving, 1990, p. 80-90.
  • 29 As Lycophron does when he has the Palladion come alive and avert its gaze from the rape of Cassand (...)

14The first category comprises the love stories that are set in the realm of the gods. These stories reproduce the ‘lust and punishment’ motif. The Homeric scholia (Sch. AD Il. 14.295) attest that Euphorion narrated how the giant Eurymedon, probably during the Gigantomachy, once raped young Hera and impregnated her; that Zeus discovered the crime and punished Eurymedon by consigning him to Tartarus (fr. 58 Lightfoot). The story, unknown from other sources, recreates the pre-Olympian world order dominating Hesiodic poetry, for which Euphorion had a fascination26. Along the same lines is the myth of Tityos who is said to have been punished in Hades for his sexual advances to Artemis (fr. 69 Lightfoot) and also Orion’s story of lust and vengeance (fr. 65-66 Lightfoot). Orion’s complex love stories are variously told by post-classical writers (it is said that Day fell in love with him and that he tried to rape Artemis and perhaps Oupis), but always end darkly with Orion’s punitive metamorphoses into a star.27 Both Orion and Tityos presuppose a transgression of the limits, a hubris against the divine, that ends in tragedy (two similar paradigms, that of Teiresias and Actaeon, are dramatized in Callimachus’ fifth hymn The Bath of Pallas).28 But sacrilege acquires another aesthetic and ethical dimension in a story whose lesser-known alternative is attested in Euphorion (fr. 95 Lightfoot). The protagonist is the Trojan priest Laocoon who is pursued by the deadly dragons because he had intercourse with Antiope in front of Poseidon’s statue (Serv. ad Aen. 2.201 hic piaculum commiserat ante simulacrum numinis cum Antiopa sua uxore coeundo). Making love in front of the god’s image is not a novel idea: it is not certain whether Sophocles’ lost Laocoon had this very story as its background, but it is highly probable that the Epic Cycle introduced the motif by presenting the rape of Cassandra by Ajax as taking place in front of the Palladion. What strikes us in the story is its dramatic potential, and we are tempted into supposing that Euphorion may have focused on this bizarre sexual scene by highlighting its uncanny details.29

  • 30 As Lightfoot 1999, p. 27, succinctly observes: “This quest after criminal heroines and erotic sens (...)
  • 31 I use the term in the same sense as Lightfoot 1999 does when she remarks about the quality of love (...)

15It is the second category, however, ill-fated love stories on a human scale, that constitutes the major contribution of Euphorion and other poets of the era (such as Philitas, Apollonius and Hermesianax) to neoteric aesthetics.30 These stories turn the spotlight on desire as sin and crime; males and females become persecutors or victims of extreme passions among which incest is dominant; endings are violent and include suicide, murder or metamorphosis. The story of Cyzicus and Cleite (or, in Euphorion’s version, of Larisa) is a telling example of this type of Hellenistic romance. But whereas Apollonius in the Argonautica (1.1012-1097) recounts a Romantic variation according to which Cleite dies of grief upon hearing that Cyzicus is killed in battle, Euphorion’s account has an obvious ‘decadent’ twist:31 Larisa, Cyzicus’ bride-to-be, has an incestuous love-affair with her father and this signals the unhappy end of their union (fr. 6 and 9 Lightfoot). Euphorion is cited as one of Parthenius’ sources for this story (Erotica pathemata, 28), and for two more, those of Harpalyce and Apriate, which were part of his Thrax (Erotica pathemata, 13 and 26).

  • 32 On the Thrax, see especially Kolde 2006.

16These stories form the core of the longest passage that has come down to us from Euphorion’s poetry, over ninety fragmentary lines with some marginal scholia attributed to the Thrax (fr. 24-26 Lightfoot). In an unknown context (probably a curse poem?), a wealth of stories of hubris, perversity and morbidity are listed in compact form.32 These fall into two main categories, the ones pertaining to anthropophagy, the ‘abominable supper’ prepared out of vengeance (Astyages and Harpagus? fr. 24.18 Lightfoot, the Peliades fr. 24.11-12 Lightfoot, Tereus and Procne fr. 13-15 Lightfoot), and the ones involving excessive lust or incest (the Aeolids? fr. 26.i.6 Lightfoot, Semiramis fr. 26.i.9-11 Lightfoot, Pandora fr. 26.ii.1 Lightfoot, Comaetho fr. 26.ii.16 Lightfoot). Serving as mythological examples on the punishment of injustice (a hypothesis supported by the Hesiodic context about Nemesis and Justice in fr. 26.ii.2-13 Lightfoot), these stories are framed by the full-scale narratives about Harpalyce and Apriate, which provide an idea of how Euphorion exploited the dark abyss of love. Parthenius gives a full account of the incestuous love affair between Clymenus and his daughter, Harpalyce, and its climactic ending (Erotica pathemata, 13.3-4):

ἡ δὲ δεινὰ καὶ ἔκνομα πρὸς τοImage πατρὸς ἀξιοImageσα πεπονθέναι τὸν νεώτερον ἀδελφὸν κατακόπτει καί τινος ἑορτImageς καὶ θυσίας παρ᾽ Ἀργείοις τελουμένης, ἐν Image δημοσίᾳ πάντες εὐωχοImageνται, [καὶ] τότε σκευάσασα τὰ κρέα τοImage παιδὸς παρατίθησι τImage πατρί. καὶ ταImageτα δράσασα αὐτὴ μὲν εὐξαμένη θεοImageς ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀπαλλαγImageναι μεταβάλλει τὴν ὄψιν εἰς χαλκίδα ὄρνιν. Κλύμενος δέ, ὡς ἔννοιαν ἔλαβε τImageν συμφορImageν, διαχρImageται ἑαυτόν.

She considered that she had suffered outrageous injustice from her father, so she cut up her younger brother and, on the occasion of a certain festival and sacrifice among the Argives which involves a public feast, she prepared the child’s flesh and put it before her father. This done, she prayed to the gods to be removed from humankind, and was transformed into the chalcis-bird. When Clymenus took stock of his calamity, he committed suicide [transl. J. L. Lightfoot].

  • 33 Unlike Callimachus, Euphorion’s narrative reveals a taste for pathos, e.g. by the use of strong ex (...)

17All these incidents can be traced with certainty in Euphorion’s fragment – they were in fact recounted in rapid succession and intensified by the use of pathetic discourse,33 thus reinforcing the idea that the Chalcidian poet strove for effect and sensationalism. Pleasure in morbidity is more dramatically felt in the impressionistic tableau capturing the very moment of Apriate’s suicide, while fleeing Trambelus’ lustful advances (fr. 26.i.12-16 Lightfoot):

ἤ νύ Image[ο]ι ἈπριάτηImage [τ]εύξω γάμον Image[]··Image[]··ς
Image ὅτ[ε] ΤραμβήλοImage λέχ[ος] ΤελαImage[ω]νιάδα[ο
εἰς ἅλα δειμήνασα κατ᾽ [α]ἰγίλιπος ImageImage[ης
·]·····[·]Imageι πνειο·[·····]····ιηι··[
δελφImageνες ImageηγοImageο δ[ι᾽ ὕδ]ατος ἐγκονέεσκον…

Or I’ll devise for you the marriage of Apriate – whom, when she feared the bed of Telamon’s son Trambelus and leaped from a goat-abandoned rock into the sea,… still breathing… dolphins hastened through the white water…

18In neoteric love poetry fictional characters or ‘heroes’ on the margins add up to a new mythology; the scenarios are Romantic, their atmosphere gloomy, their effects pathetic. Euphorion has certainly played a major role in the emergence of this new, dark, sensibility.

3. Tales from the tomb

  • 34 In the Argonautica tombs include those of Dolops (1.585-591), Cyzicus (1.1057-1062), Idmon (2.835- (...)

19The tomb is a site of family drama, civil crisis, sacrifice and, of course, ghostly apparitions. This convention applies to the dramatic function of the tomb in Greek tragedy, if only we recall the, real or suggested, tombs of Achilles, Darius, Agamemnon, Polyneices or Iphigenia. Hellenistic poetry abounds with tombs too, and there at least two poets, Apollonius in the Argonautica and Lycophron in the Alexandra, that have dedicated entire sections of their poems to tomb discourse.34 These tombs, hardly ever settings of intense dramatic plot, serve other purposes: they either create a dark atmosphere evoking death, Hades or the world beyond, or mark sites commemorating mythological episodes and dead heroes of the past. Euphorion is no exception to this Hellenistic rule. But he also adds two other significant dimensions: he links the tombs to the very dying moment of the deceased, and he associates them with an antithetical setting, that of the locus amoenus.

  • 35 The ‘empty tomb’ is obviously an allusion to line 1464 from Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris (in ref (...)
  • 36 On these episodes in Hellenistic poetry, see Sistakou 2008, p. 150-153.

Just like Lycophron (and perhaps in an intertextual dialogue with him), Euphorion shows a preference for the tombs dedicated to characters from the Trojan War saga. One of his celebrated lines ἀγχίαλον ΒραυρImageνα, κενήριον Ἰφιγενείας “coastal Brauron, Iphigenia’s empty tomb” (fr. 89 Lightfoot) was probably a starting point for suggesting alternative versions concerning Iphigenia’s birth and the site of her sacrifice.35 Whereas other tombs conceal the secrets – and the ancestral sins – of the Priamids, the most characteristic of which is the execution of Cilla and her newborn son Mounippus by Priam (fr. 79 Lightfoot). This dark story of ‘prophecy, passion and murder’ is twice narrated by Lycophron (Alexandra, 224-228 and 319-322); Euphorion insists on the monument evoking the incident (fr. 186 Lightfoot): ἔνθα Τρώϊον ἄλμα καὶ ἠρία Μουνίπποιο “there is the grove of Troos and the tomb of Mounippus”, probably echoing Lycophron’s lines 319-320 ἵν’ ἄλμα πάππου καὶ χαμευνάδος μόροι/ τImageς λαθρονύμφου πόρτιος μεμιγμένοι “where her ancestor’s grove is, and where the groundling heifer of secret bridal lies in one tomb with her whelp” [transl. A.W. and G.R. Mair]. Troy is burdened by this murder – and the tomb marks it as an eternal curse for the house of Priam. Fr. 97-98 Lightfoot closely follow the Lycophronian context, since it seems that Euphorion also recounted the other death story from Troja’s past, that of Laodice and her son Mounitus; the surviving fr. 98 Lightfoot focuses on the conditions under which Mounitus was killed (ll. 2-3): ἀλλά ἑ Σιθονίῃ τε καὶ ἐν κνημοImageσιν Ὀλύνθου/ ἀγρώσσονθ’ ἅμα πατρὶ πελώριος ἔκτανεν ὕδρος “but in Sithonia, in the foothills of Olynthus, while hunting with his father, a huge water-snake destroyed him”.36 However, we have no clue as to whether Euphorion actually mentioned any tomb in regard to these stories.

  • 37 It should be noted that fr. 29 Lightfoot has been associated by some scholars with the burial of t (...)
  • 38 On the passage, see Durbec 2009.

20Burial becomes an indispensable component of other stories, for example when a comrade is killed and a tomb is erected in his honour. Aenos who died in Thrace while trying to fetch provisions for the Achaeans is a case in point (fr. 88 Lightfoot, cf. Callimachus fr. 697 Pf.). The adventurous returns of the Greeks, however, end much more dramatically. Disaster strikes the Greek fleet outside Euboea caused by Nauplius (fr. 99 Lightfoot) and Ajax meets his agonizing death in the sea of Mykonos (fr. 29 Lightfoot): in both cases the ‘tomb’ lies at an unspecified site in the region of the islands.37 Lycophron offers a horrifying and, at the same time, grotesque description of the shipwrecks of the Greeks in the Aegean (365-416), and in his case the sea becomes a huge cemetery.38 It seems therefore that, like the Priamid section, also the nostoi as narrated by Euphorion must have been modelled upon Lycophron. The Lycophronean connection explains why another incident from the nostoi concerning the fate of Mopsus and Amphilochus, a genuine story from the tomb, fascinated both poets with its dark aesthetics. Four lines recount the immeasurable hatred between the two seers which survived beyond their physical death (fr. 103 Lightfoot):

Πύραμον ἠχήεντα, πόλιν δ’ ἐκτίσσατο Μαλλόν,
Imageς πέρι δImageριν ἔθεντο κακοφράδες ἀλλήλοισι
Μόψος τ’ Ἀμφίλοχός τε, καὶ ἄκριτα δηρινθέντες
μουνάξ ἀλλίστοιο πύλας ἔβαν ἈϊδονImageος.

Resonant Pyramus; and he founded the city of Mallus, concerning which, with ill will bent against each other, Mopsus and Amphilochus fought; and after unresolved strife, singly they passed the gates of Hades the inexorable.

21It is noteworthy that Euphorion focuses on the moment of death, when after the duel Mopsus and Amphilochus pass separately (μουνάξ) through the gates of Hades; Lycophron takes one step further by highlighting the distance separating the two, bathed in blood, tombs (Alex., 439-446).

  • 39 Cf. the comments by Van Groningen, 1977, p. 169-170.

22Though the myths handled are dark, Euphorion’s style scarcely, if ever, becomes gory. In a rather Romantic atmosphere Euphorion couples the locus amoenus with the theme of death. A case in point could be the aetiology of the Grynean grove, if only we had more information than a brief summary by Servius (fr. 102 Lightfoot). The plot evolves around a prophetic contest between Mopsus and Calchas; the latter is defeated and eventually dies of grief. The interesting part is that the event is set against the background of the idyllic Grynean grove, which later becomes a symbol of the neoteric poetics of Gallus and the bucolic poetry of Vergil.39 Should we suppose that Euphorion treated the Grynean eutopia as the ideal setting for a story of death by melancholy? We will never know. Yet, another tomb story reinforces this hypothesis. Melicertes’ funeral procession takes place within a natural environment (fr. 107.1-2 Lightfoot):

κλαίοντες δέ τε κοImageρον ἐπ᾽ ἀγχιάλοις πιτύεσσι
κάτθεσαν, ὁκκόθε δὴ στεφάνωμ’ ἄθλοις φορέοντο…

Lamenting they deposited the youth on pines beside the shore, whence they derive a garland in the games…

  • 40 The aetion explaining the type of garland given as a prize at the Isthmian games is also found in (...)

23The tone is solemn and emotional, the setting almost idyllic: the untimely death of Melicertes has occurred in the sea, and his body is carried ashore by dolphins–the scene clearly echoes Euphorion’s depiction of Apriate’s suicide in fr. 26.i.12-16 Lightfoot. But the aetiological context of the story is overshadowed here by the sheer emotionalism of the moment – the burial of the child in a beautiful landscape.40

4. A touch of the uncanny

  • 41 For an outline of horror in the Greek world, see Eco 2007, p. 22-41. For a full-scale analysis of (...)

24Monsters have always stirred the imagination of the Greeks. Mythology, poetry and art abound with monstrous entities, such as the Chimaera, the Scylla, the Sirens, the Typhon, the Medusa and many more. Ancient Greek aesthetics has always been attracted by the ugly, the deformed, the grotesque and the uncanny.41 Sought for its horror or, at times, comic effect, monstrosity is re-discovered by Hellenistic poets: some of its most obvious manifestations are found in Apollonius’ depiction of mythical creatures in the Argonautica or in the sensational approach of ‘natural’ beasts in Nicander’s Theriaca.

  • 42 See Van Groningen 1977, p. 122-126.

25Euphorion treats several times the story of Cerberus (obviously within the context of Heracles’ labours, cf. fr. 28 and 41 Lightfoot), and it is to him that we owe its most vivid description (fr. 71.4-15 Lightfoot):42

ταρφέες ἀφλοισμImageImage [..
οἱ δ᾽ ὄπιθεν λασίῃ ὑπὸ γαστέρι πεπ[τηImageτες]
οὐραImageοι λιχμImageντο περὶ πλευρImageσι δImage[κοντες,]
ἐν καί οἱ βλεφάροις κυάνῳ ἠστράπτεImage [ὄσσε.
Image που θερμάστραις ἤ που Μελιγουνίδι τοImageαι
μαρμαρυγαί, αἴρῃσιν ὅτε ῥήσσοιτο σίδηρος,
ἠέρ᾽ ἀναθρῴσκουσι (βοImage δ᾽ εὐήλατος ἄκμων),
ἢ Αἴτνην ψολόεσσαν, ἐναύλιον Ἀστερόποιο.
ἵκετο μὴν Τίρυνθα παλιγκότῳ ΕὐρυσθImageι
ζωὸς ὑπὲξ Ἀίδαο δυώδεκα λοImageσθος ἀέθλων·
καί μιν ἐνὶ τριόδοισι πολυκρίθοιο Μιδείης
ταρβαλέαι σὺν παισὶν ἐθηήσαντο γυναImageκες.

Thick (droplets?) with foam… and lurking under his shaggy belly behind him the serpents of his tail licked round his ribs, and in their lids his eyes flashed out blue-black. Such flashes from the furnaces, perhaps in Meligounis, when the hammer smites the iron, dart through the air (and the much-pounded anvil groans aloud) or sooty Aetna, resting place of Asteropus. To Tiryns, to Eurystheus in his spite, he came alive from Hades: last of twelve ordeals. And at the crossroads of Midea, rich in barley, the frightened women watched him with their sons.

  • 43 The emphasis on visualization, typical of Hellenistic aesthetics, heightens the sensual pleasure o (...)

26Euphorion, as always, presupposes a wealth of subtexts for the interpretation of the passage. The horror description of the legendary dog from Hesiod’s Theogony (310-312); possibly poems relating to the abduction of Cerberus from Hades by Stesichorus (fr. S29 PMGF) and Pindar (Dithyrambi, fr. 70b M.-S.), and a lost play by Sophocles (fr. 327a Radt); the depiction of Hephaestus’ forge in Sicily by Callimachus (Hymn to Artemis, 46-86); Heracles’ marching through the market of Mycenae carrying the Erymanthian boar on his shoulders in Apollonius’ Argonautica (1.122-132); the women watching frightened the procession of Theseus with the bull through Marathon from Callimachus’ Hecale (fr. 69 H.) – not to mention the dark setting of the crossroad (τρίοδος), where usually the dog-shaped Hecate makes her horrifying apparitions (e.g. Theocritus, Idylls, 2.35-36). Exaggerated details of Cerberus’ appearance add up to a gory effect: the thick foam (from the jaws?), the tail formed by serpents, the black flashing of the eyes… Ταρβαλέαι ἐθηήσαντο “frightened they watched” establishes the horror of the Cerberus as pure spectacle.43

  • 44 Indirectly implied in the opening lines of the Alexipharmaca, on which the Sch. Nic. Alex. 13b not (...)

27Aetiology explains how monsters, albeit imaginary, have left their traces in the natural world. So, Cerberus is associated with a strange story about the growing of the poisonous aconite. Euphorion in his Xenios is said to have known this quite rare legend according to which the aconite sprouted from the vomit of Cerberus, when Heracles dragged him out of Hades (fr. 41 Lightfoot). Nicander, the poet who exploited the sensationalism of narrating about serpents and poisons, was familiar with this aetion, for which in all probability he drew upon Euphorion.44 Euphorion may have been attracted by the morbid sensation of the poison. This is how the effects of Hydra’s blood are described (fr. 70 Lightfoot):

τImageς μὲν δὴ τImageν, ὅσσα φύει εὐδείελος αImageα,
ἢ φύλλῳ <τινὸς> ἢ ποίῃ ὅτε χρίμψατο λύθρον,
ὡς πυρὶ καρφόμενα ψαφαρImage ἰνδάλλετο τέφρῃ.

Of all the things the sunny earth puts forth – or leaf, or grass – whatever touched its gore, as if burned up it seemed like powdered ash.

  • 45 Hence the famous comment by Lucian on the poetics of Euphorion, Callimachus and Parthenius (The Wa (...)

28Euphorion has a passion for minutiae45 – and he must have been the first to focus on the exact quality of Hydra’s blood. The ‘blazing-effect’ of the Hydra poison is known neither to Sophocles (The Women of Trachis, 572-577) nor to Apollonius (Argonautica, 4.1404). Even Nicander’s scientific approach to the symptoms of the Hydra bite fails to highlight the ‘blazing-effect’ of the poison (Alexipharmaca, 246-248). As the scholia suggest, perhaps Euphorion elaborates on Aratus’ phrase αἰθομένης Ὕδρης (Schol. in Arat. Phaen. 519). Yet, the Chalcidian poet has once more his own, unique way of enlarging upon the curious detail.

  • 46 Royle 2003, p. 1, who offers a comprehensive monograph on the uncanny.

29Euphorion, an avid collector of curiosities, has more to offer in terms of darkness. Not only the beast with its horrors but also any uncanny experience has a special allure for him as both scholar and poet. According to a general, simplifying definition the uncanny involves a process of alienation, the making of the familiar strange: “the uncanny is a crisis of the proper, it entails a critical disturbance of what is proper (from the Latin proprius, ‘own’), a disturbance of the very idea of personal or private property… it is a crisis of the natural, touching upon everything that one might have thought was ‘part of nature’, one’s own nature, human nature, the nature of reality and the world”.46 The Hellenistic collections of mirabilia arouse the weird feeling that nature is distorted or ‘twisted’. Two anecdotes from lost prose works by Euphorion capture his taste for the uncanny: the man who had never seen a dream (fr. 205 Lightfoot) and the man who had never drank anything in his life although he naturally produced urine (fr. 204 Lightfoot).

30According to a testimony deriving from the Homeric scholia, Euphorion might have narrated the peculiar condition under which Orion was born (fr. 65 Lightfoot). A man called Hyrieus asked for a child as a reward for offering hospitality to Zeus, Poseidon and Hermes; and so (Sch. AD Il. 18.486),

λαβόντες οImageν οἱ θεοὶ τὴν τοImage ἱερουργηθέντος αὐτοImageς βοὸς βύρσαν, ἀπεσπέρμηναν [κατούρησαν van Thiel] εἰς αὐτὴν, καὶ ἐκέλευσαν κρύψαι κατὰ γImageν, καὶ μετὰ δέκα μImageνας ἀνελέσθαι, Imageν διελθόντων ἐγένετο ὁ Οὐρίων, οὕτως ὀνομασθεὶς διὰ τὸ οὐρImageσαι τὸ σπέρμα αὐτοImage τοὺς θεοὺς [corr. Scheidweiler], ἔπειτα κατ’ εὐφημισμὸν, Ὠρίων.

The gods therefore took the hide of the bull which had been sacrificed to them and ejaculated [or urinated] onto it, and they told him to hide it underground, then take it up again after ten months. After those ten months had passed, Ourion was born, his name derived from the gods ‘urinating’ his seed, but later softened to ‘Orion’.

  • 47 Thereupon follows the narration about Orion’s death, and only at the end does the scholiast note ἡ (...)
  • 48 Ovid refuses to give a full account of how exactly the gods ‘ejaculated/urinated’, whereas Nonnus (...)

31Despite the uncertain attribution of the story to Euphorion,47 the narration of this weird anecdote as an aetion explaining the double name of Orion/Ourion is typical of Hellenistic scholarly poetics and reflects the trend towards paradoxography. It also suggests the emergence of a new aesthetics, best exemplified by the poems of Nicander: it is in the Theriaca and the Alexipharmaca that nature mingles with physical anomaly to create an uncanny effect, and the depiction of the human body with its fluids illustrates the grotesque. Whereas, on the level of intertextuality, it is noteworthy that the same ‘apocryphal’ story found its way into Ovid (Fasti, 5.493-536) and Nonnus, Euphorion’s close imitator (Dionysiaca, 13.96-103).48

5. Morbidly beautiful

  • 49 According to the original, though one-sided, analysis by Van Groningen 1953.
  • 50 For a comparative study of Hellenistic and modern-day Decadence, see Bonelli 1979; cf. the in-dept (...)

32Euphorion is renowned for emphasizing the aesthetic aspects of poetry, and it is within this context that he has been associated with modern-day poésie verbale.49 However, he does not seem to confine himself to the sensation of the words, to poésie pure in its fullest sense; his scholarly perspective on the one hand, and his penchant for recherché thematics on the other, render him an early representative of a more complex Aestheticism. Art for art’s sake and the concomitant cult of beauty in form and content are also found in other major contemporaries – Theocritus being the ultimate example of this Hellenistic trend.50

  • 51 An idea brilliantly explored by Praz 1970.

33The blending of beauty and morbidity is the Romantic and Decadent theme par excellence,51 and it is within this highly sensational combination that Euphorion’s aesthetics is best understood. To cite an obvious example. Beauty in horror, the terribly beautiful, has not been invented by Euphorion; yet he is fascinated with it (fr. 101.2-3 Lightfoot):

Εὐμενίδες μαργImageτα θυγατριδέαι Φόρκυνος
< > ναρκίσσου ἐπιστεφέες πλοκαμImageδας.

The Furies and the maddened man, the granddaughters of Phorcys, their hair entwined with (garlands of?) narcissus.

34In depicting the Erinyes as being crowned with narcissus Euphorion draws upon Sophocles (O.C. 681-685). Yet, traditionally the narcissus, the last flower picked up by Persephone before her abduction by Pluto (Hom. Hymn. Dem. 6-18), is also a symbol of imminent death. In Hellenistic poetics narcissus evokes the youth who met his death after beholding his own beautiful image. Euphorion’s snapshot epitomizes all these occurrences; moreover, Euphorion elaborates on the theme, by closely associating morbid themes with the beauty of nature. Two examples have already been discussed: the burial of Melicertes under the pines and the mortal contest between Mopsus and Calchas in the Grynean grove.

35The contrast between floral beauty and the dying moment is intensified in a rare version of the Hyacinthus myth as narrated by Euphorion (fr. 44 Lightfoot):

πορφυρέη ὑάκινθε, σὲ μὲν μία φImageμις ἀοιδImageν
Ῥοιτείῃς ἀμάθοισι δεδουπότος Αἰακίδαο
εἴαρος ἀντέλλειν γεγραμμένα κωκύουσαν.

Red hyacinth, one story of the bards <relates that> when the Aeacid fell on the Rhoteian shore you sprang forth from his blood, inscribed with a lament.

  • 52 A variation of the Homeric formula πορφύρεος θάνατος (Il. 5.83, 16.334 etc.) would perfectly match (...)
  • 53 Πορφυρός as an adjective for hyacinthus perhaps already in Sappho fr. 105c L.-P. The closest paral (...)
  • 54 The morbid associations of flower stories, like the one related to hyacinthus, are highlighted by (...)
  • 55 For a brilliant analysis of Hyacinthus from this perspective, see Clúa 1991.

Πορφύρεος is the key to the understanding of the passage. Since it suggests the colour of Ajax’ blood from which hyacinth sprouted, it alludes not to the actual red/blue colour of its blossom but to the dark or vivid red of the dying hero’s gore;52 Euphorion’s hyacinth is, contra naturam, not purple but crimson or scarlet.53 It is also a wailing flower; Euphorion plays with the idea of wailing for the dead in another surviving fragment from Hyacinthus, where he dramatizes the river of lament, Cocytus, by making him a helper of the wounded Adonis (fr. 47 Lightfoot): Κωκυτὸς <θ’ ὃς> μοImageνος ἀφ’ ἕλκεα νίψεν Ἄδωνιν “Cocytus who alone laved Adonis’ wounds”. Both Hyacinthus and Adonis are also symbols of premature death and, at the same time, images of metamorphosis and rebirth through nature54. And although Euphorion offers, more Hellenistico, the unknown variations of these myths, his Hyacinthus is nevertheless a lamenting poem par excellence.55

36In contrast to the bloody birth of the hyacinth, suggesting a morbid conception of death in nature, other death scenes in Euphorion’s poetry presuppose a less Romantic staging. Death by water is less idealized as compared to the magical metamorphosis following the loss of beautiful youths. A tableau monitoring the actual drowning with all its graphic details is found at least twice in Euphorion’s fragments. The first of these occurrences is in Philoctetes, in a passage capturing the moment at which Iphimachus, a hero on the margins, drowns off Euboea (fr. 48 Lightfoot):

Τὸν δ᾽ ἐκάλυψε θάλασσα λιλαιόμενον βιότοιο,
καί οἱ πήχεες ἄκρον ὑπερφαίνοντο ταθέντες
ἀχρεImage ἀσπαίροντος ἅλις Δολοπιονίδαο
δυστήνου· ζωὴν δὲ μεθ’ ὕδατος ἔκβαλε πImageσαν
χεImageρας ὑπερπλάζων, ἅλμη δ’ ἔκλυσσεν ὀδόντας.

Clinging to life, the sea washed over him; his outstretched arms appeared above the surface, as Dolopion’s son gasped vainly for his fill of air, poor wretch. And all his life he breathed forth with the water, tossing his hands on high, and the brine surge round his teeth.

  • 56 For the literary background of the passage, see Livrea 2002.

37The stretching of the arms, the struggle for survival, the suffocation, and the eventual submersion of the victim under the sea contribute to an image of agony. Iphimachus’ death is neither tragic nor miraculous, it is agonizing – a feeling reinforced by the expressionistic, highly subjective focalization of the passage (as suggested by λιλαιόμενον βιότοιο and δυστήνου). The reader loses sight of the broader picture – the popular narration about the shipwreck of the Greeks outside Euboea56 – and focuses on the affective, emotional moment of individual death. Euphorion deals with the aftermath of drowning in another expressionistic scene visualizing the state of a corpse washed ashore (fr. 191.B.2.5-7 Lightfoot):

μέ]λαν περιτέτροφε φImageκος
]ς, νοτερὴ δ’ ἀνεκήκιεν ἅλμη
]ς βρεκτImageν τε κομάων

Black seaweed clotted all around and the damp brine came oozing out and from the soaked hair…

  • 57 Fr. 130 Lightfoot πάντα δέ οἱ νεκυηδὸν ἐλευκαίνοντο πρόσωπα wonderfully captures the same ‘corpse- (...)

38Euphorion specializes in the graphic illustration of a particular detail, almost like a photographer or director, he highlights the dramatic shot, conveying the impression of a body just fished out of the sea covered with seaweed and brime. Euphorion is indeed attracted by the strange allure of the corpse.57

  • 58 Attribution to Euphorion is dubious; cf. Lightfoot 2009, p. 413, n. 212, who remarks about the pas (...)
  • 59 E.g. Van Groningen 1977, p. 238, suggests that the illness affecting Eutelides’ hair is no other t (...)

39These morbidly beautiful images evoke the atmosphere of 19th century Aestheticism. Along the same lines, Euphorion (or maybe one of his imitators?58) recounts how a certain Eutelides, a victim of his own beautiful looks, is bewitched by his image whereupon he falls ill and loses both his health as well as his good looks (fr. 189 Lightfoot). Whether or not Eutelides eventually dies is not known; but the general narrative pattern, the motif of the reflection in the river and the self-bewitchment, point to the story of Narcissus. Eutelides may be just a caricature of Narcissus, a grotesque version of the archetypal figure embodying ‘death by beauty’ – the evidence we have is insufficient to draw any firm conclusions.59But the scenario is definitely uncanny: once Eutelides is mirrored in the water he meets with his own Doppelgänger, his evil, malignant self. The darkness of this encounter is perfectly captured by another lover of morbidity – the Romantic poet Percy Shelley in his lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound (Act 1.191-199):

Ere Babylon was dust,
the Magus Zoroaster, my dead child,
met his own image walking in the garden.
That apparition, sole of men, he saw.
For know there are two worlds of life and death:
one that which thou beholdest; but the other
is underneath the grave, where do inhabit
the shadows of all forms that think and live,
till death unite them and they part no more.

40Our encounter with the dark side of Euphorion has been, in a way, an encounter with this strange, shadowy image walking in the garden.

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Notes

1 In one of his conversations with the German poet Johann Peter Eckermann, Goethe confesses: “Euphorion is no human but an allegoric being. In him Poesie is personified, which is bound to no time, place or person”. Euphorion’s birth in Faust symbolizes the synthesis of the Classical and the Romantic spirit, whereas his youth allegorizes the concept of modern poetry in general; on this interpretation, see Cardwell 2004, I, p. 191-192 and II, p. 254-257.

2 On the cantores Euphorionis, see, among many others, Lyne 1978, Tuplin 1979 and the modern review of the so-called neoteric poetics by Johnson 2007. Tilg 2006 is the first to argue that Cicero’s polemic is directed against the Epicureans, both for their philosophical as well as for their aesthetic credos, by making Euphorion their avatar.

3 In his fascinating analysis of neoteric poetics, formed under the influence of Euphorion and Parthenius, Johnson 2007 assumes that the main characteristic linking Greek and Roman neoterics is the attraction they felt for the power of transgressive love.

4 For an overview of Euphorion’s Alexandrian models, see Magnelli 2002, p. 22-37.

5 The first scholar to have analyzed the poetics of Euphorion from this perspective is Crump 1931, p. 92-102.

6 See especially Crowther 1976 and the detailed discussion about the reception of Parthenius in Rome by Lightfoot 1999, p. 50-76; on Euphorion’s influence upon Parthenius and Gallus, see Klooster 2012, p. 322-324. Watson 1982 holds a contrasting view in suggesting that Euphorion’s narrative style had no place for the development of emotionalism.

7 . Crump 1931, p. 102. Of course, my emphasis is on Crump’s judgement of Euphorion’s style and thematics, whereas the very existence of a hexametric class of poems, termed epyllion only in modern times, is still being hotly debated among scholars, as may be inferred from the most recent collection of controversial discussions on the subject by Baumbach and Bär 2012. Cf. a similar view held by Klooster 2012, p. 324, who concludes that it was ‘the perverse and ghastly character’ of Euphorion’s stories involving incest, rape and murder which mostly appealed to Parthenius.

8 For the use of the same method in the interpretation of Apollonius, Lycophron and Nicander and, by extension, for a comparison of Hellenistic aesthetics with Romanticism and Decadence, see Sistakou 2012.

9 Perhaps the term wonder tale, deriving from modern theoretical approaches to the fantastic, is applicable to Euphorion’s view of the fantastic: wonder tale describes all types of marvellous narratives, such as folktales, fairytales, Märchen and the like, which celebrate the world as a place of transformation, enchantment and magic (see Clute and Grant 1997, s.v. ‘Wonder Tale’).

10 This is the definition given by Todorov 1975, p. 54-57, who observes, among other things, that “the fairy tale is only one of the varieties of the marvellous, and the supernatural events in fairy tales provoke no surprise: neither a hundred year’s sleep, nor a talking wolf, nor the magical gifts of the fairies…”

11 Cf. Clute and Grant 1997, s.v. ‘Fantasy’: “A fantasy text is a self-coherent narrative. When set in this world, it tells a story which is impossible as we perceive it; when set in an otherworld, that otherworld will be impossible, though stories set there may be possible in its terms”.

12 Euphorion’s fragments, and their english translations (with minor alterations), are cited after Lightfoot’s 2009 edition in Loeb Classical Library series.

13 On the myth of Anius as a recurrent Hellenistic story of wonder, see Forbes Irving 1990, p. 233-234 and Sistakou 2008, p. 128-130.

14 Periclymenus as a figure of epic with a fantastic or symbolic potential is discussed by Forbes Irving 1990, p. 180-181.

15 Forbes Irving 1990, p. 142-148, provides an excellent analysis of the black undertones of Niobe’s petrification myth; the morbidity of the flower myths is also analyzed in p. 134-135.

16 Apart from Theocritus’ treatment of the Bacchae in Idyll. 26 and the indirect involvement of Dionysus in the plot of Eratosthenes’ Erigone, Dionysus was not a popular subject in Hellenistic poetry; Callimachus’ lost poem Semele (Suda, s.v. Καλλίμαχος) was of unknown content. For a general outline of Dionysus in literature, see Henrichs 1979.

17 That Dionysus was part of the Mopsopia is argued by Barigazzi 1963, p. 446-448.

18 On Euphorion’s Dionysus, see Barigazzi 1963, Van Groningen 1977, p. 39-61, Livrea 1995, and Wyler, this volume.

19 Hollis 1976, p. 146-148, briefly discusses Euphorion’s influence on Nonnus (e.g. p. 146 “one can illustrate even from the scraps how thoroughly Nonnus had absorbed Euphorion” and “we can prove by other means that Euphorion was one of Nonnus’ favourite authors”), by insisting on style and vocabulary rather than common topics.

20 Sch. Lyc. Alex. 207; the cauldron may perhaps be associated with the manuscript reading ὑπὲρ φιάλην (φιάλης Lobeck). For the other sources of the episode, see Van Groningen 1977, p. 40.

21 The various transformations of Dionysus/Zagreus are listed, with rhetoric excess, by Nonnus, D. 6.169-205.

22 This interpretation of the passage, which served as a model for Nonnus, D. 14.143-185, is suggested by Livrea 1995.

23 Attributed to Dionysus by Barigazzi 1963 and Van Groningen 1977, p. 44-61, who also discusses the excerpt.

24 On unhappy love as a leitmotif of Hellenistic poetry, see the thorough analysis by Rohde 1960, p. 12-177, and Lightfoot 1999, p. 17-31.

25 Hellenistic poets mark a crucial stage in the transformation of the epic myth and the heroic values into a modern mythology evolving around love. Poets of the Hellenistic avant-garde, the most prominent of which are Philitas, Theocritus, Apollonius, Euphorion and Parthenius, distance themselves, both aesthetically and ideologically, from the grand genres of the past by introducing novel thematics (morbid love, metamorphosis, gory death, magic etc.). This is the general idea behind my analysis of ‘the reconstruction of the epic’ during the Hellenistic era (Sistakou 2008).

26 The Hesiodic connection of the story is evident in the curious detail that Prometheus, the fruit of this union, was punished for this reason by Zeus (Sch. AD Il. 14.295): Ζεὺς δὲ… γνοὺς τὰ γενόμενα τὸν μὲν Εὐρυμέδοντα κατεταρτάρωσεν, τὸν δὲ Προμηθέα προφάσει τοImage πυρὸς δεσμοImageς ἀνήρτησεν. Callimachus is also fascinated by the pre-Olympian, Hesiodic universe, see Reinsch-Werner 1976, and the same holds true for Apollonius, see Clauss 2000.

27 The sources include Aratus, Ovid and Nonnus, on which see Lightfoot 2009, p. 296, n. 93.

28 A thematic analysis of Actaeon’s myth and related stories in Forbes Irving, 1990, p. 80-90.

29 As Lycophron does when he has the Palladion come alive and avert its gaze from the rape of Cassandra (in the Alexandra ll. 361-362, ἣ δ’ εἰς τέραμνα δουρατογλύφου στέγης / γλήνας ἄνω στρέψασα χώσεται στρατImage).

30 As Lightfoot 1999, p. 27, succinctly observes: “This quest after criminal heroines and erotic sensationalism certainly squares with what we know of the interests of some Hellenistic poets including Euphorion (though hardly Callimachus himself), and of the Roman neoterici”.

31 I use the term in the same sense as Lightfoot 1999 does when she remarks about the quality of love in Parthenius’ Erotica Pathemata as opposed to love in the Greek novel (p. 260): “All this [i.e. the emotion of Callirhoe in Chariton’s novel] is very different from decadent, Parthenian passion with its outbursts of morbid, illicit, ill-fated lust”.

32 On the Thrax, see especially Kolde 2006.

33 Unlike Callimachus, Euphorion’s narrative reveals a taste for pathos, e.g. by the use of strong expressions such as λυγρImageι (5), ἀεικέος (12), ἀπεχθομένην ὄρνισιν (14) and ἀπόθεστος (15).

34 In the Argonautica tombs include those of Dolops (1.585-591), Cyzicus (1.1057-1062), Idmon (2.835-844), Tiphys (2.851-857) and Sthenelos (2.911-926); numerous tombs sites are found in the Alexandra, see especially ll. 365-416, 648-665, 712-736, 799-814, 1174-1213.

35 The ‘empty tomb’ is obviously an allusion to line 1464 from Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris (in reference to Brauron) οImage καὶ τεθάψηι κατθανοImageσα.

36 On these episodes in Hellenistic poetry, see Sistakou 2008, p. 150-153.

37 It should be noted that fr. 29 Lightfoot has been associated by some scholars with the burial of the Giants in Mykonos, a rather unlikely hypothesis, on which see Van Groningen, 1977, p. 89.

38 On the passage, see Durbec 2009.

39 Cf. the comments by Van Groningen, 1977, p. 169-170.

40 The aetion explaining the type of garland given as a prize at the Isthmian games is also found in Callimachus (fr. 59.5-9 Pf.) and Nicander (Alexipharmaca, 604-606); on this typically Hellenistic pattern from Callimachus to Ovid, see Hollis 1996. It should not go unnoticed that the same feeling, but with a heightened sensuality stemming from the juxtaposition of beautiful flowers and cold tombs, is created by fr. 74.55-72 G.-S. of Nicander’s lost Georgica.

41 For an outline of horror in the Greek world, see Eco 2007, p. 22-41. For a full-scale analysis of mythical monsters in antiquity, see Murgatroyd 2007.

42 See Van Groningen 1977, p. 122-126.

43 The emphasis on visualization, typical of Hellenistic aesthetics, heightens the sensual pleasure of the audience; the aesthetics of the opsis would, in Aristotle’s view, be of an inferior quality as compared to fear stemming from the very structure of the plot (the locus classicus is Poetics, 1453b). On modes of viewing in Hellenistic poetry and art, see the monograph by Zanker 2004.

44 Indirectly implied in the opening lines of the Alexipharmaca, on which the Sch. Nic. Alex. 13b note: ἀκόνιτόν φασιν ἐκ τοImage ἐμέτου τοImage Κερβέρου φυImageναι. ἱστορεImageται γὰρ τὸν Κέρβερον ἐξ Ἅιδου ἀνενεχθέντα μὴ δύνασθαι τὰς αὐγὰς <ὑπομεImageναι> τοImage ἡλίου καὶ ἐμέσαι, καὶ ἐκ τοImage ἐμέτου ταύτην γενέσθαι τὴν βοτάνην. Euphorion’s passage is also imitated by Ovid in the Metamorphoses (7.408-420), on which see Van Groningen 1977, p. 104-105.

45 Hence the famous comment by Lucian on the poetics of Euphorion, Callimachus and Parthenius (The Way to Write History, 57): εἰ δὲ Παρθένιος ἢ Εὐφορίων ἢ Καλλίμαχος ἔλεγεν, πόσοις ἂν οἴει ἔπεσι τὸ ὕδωρ ἄχρι πρὸς τὸ χεImageλος τοImage Ταντάλου ἤγαγεν· εImageτα πόσοις ἂν Ἰξίονα ἐκύλισε.

46 Royle 2003, p. 1, who offers a comprehensive monograph on the uncanny.

47 Thereupon follows the narration about Orion’s death, and only at the end does the scholiast note ἡ ἱστορία παρ’ Εὐφορίωνι: as Lightfoot 2009, p. 296-297, n. 93, points out “it is not clear whether Euphorion told all or part of the story”. On the attribution to Euphorion, see Debiasi 2010.

48 Ovid refuses to give a full account of how exactly the gods ‘ejaculated/urinated’, whereas Nonnus bridges the paradox with the expression χύσις οὔρων (Dionysiaca, 13.101).

49 According to the original, though one-sided, analysis by Van Groningen 1953.

50 For a comparative study of Hellenistic and modern-day Decadence, see Bonelli 1979; cf. the in-depth analysis of the Hellenistic taste for “the erotic, the morbid and the grotesque” within the context of Aestheticism by Papanghelis 1994, p. 58-82.

51 An idea brilliantly explored by Praz 1970.

52 A variation of the Homeric formula πορφύρεος θάνατος (Il. 5.83, 16.334 etc.) would perfectly match Euphorion’s context here.

53 Πορφυρός as an adjective for hyacinthus perhaps already in Sappho fr. 105c L.-P. The closest parallel to the red hyacinthus is the rose-coloured, found in Euripides I.A. 1297-1298 ῥοδόεντ’ / ἄνθε’ ὑακίνθινα.

54 The morbid associations of flower stories, like the one related to hyacinthus, are highlighted by Forbes Irving 1990, p. 134-138.

55 For a brilliant analysis of Hyacinthus from this perspective, see Clúa 1991.

56 For the literary background of the passage, see Livrea 2002.

57 Fr. 130 Lightfoot πάντα δέ οἱ νεκυηδὸν ἐλευκαίνοντο πρόσωπα wonderfully captures the same ‘corpse-effect’.

58 Attribution to Euphorion is dubious; cf. Lightfoot 2009, p. 413, n. 212, who remarks about the passage that “the language is much less recherché than most Euphorion”.

59 E.g. Van Groningen 1977, p. 238, suggests that the illness affecting Eutelides’ hair is no other than baldness.

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