restricted access Arion’s Lyre: Archaic Lyric into Hellenistic Poetry by Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by
Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin. Arion’s Lyre: Archaic Lyric into Hellenistic Poetry. Pp. XVIII + 252. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2010. CDN $42.95. ISBN 9780691095257.

Posidippus’ epigrammatic narration of the journey of Arion’s lyre (AB 37), which is carried by a dolphin across the sea and through time to the Hellenistic queen Arsinoe II, is emblematic of the complex engagement with Archaic lyric in Hellenistic poetry. The evocation of Arion by the narrative translation of the physical object of his song, the lyre, signals the recall and preservation of Archaic lyric. At the same time, it announces the adaptation and transposition of earlier lyric models into new cultural and poetic realities. This is the starting point of the study under review, in which Benjamin Acosta-Hughes (A.-H.) traces with his characteristic acuity and sensitivity what can now be gleaned of the interaction of Hellenistic poetry with the fragmentary remains of five principal voices of Archaic lyric: Sappho, Alcaeus, Anacreon, Ibycus, and Simonides. The study also looks forward from the Hellenistic age to explore the dynamic tradition of intertextuality between these earlier texts and Roman poetry, the works of Catullus and Horace in particular. Many of the texts discussed in the course of this book are naturally familiar, yet A.-H. often manages to say something [End Page 442] subtly new and thought-provoking about their intertextual relationships.

The book is organized into five main chapters. The initial two concentrate on the reception of Sappho, the first on the adaptation of her poetry discernable in the hexameter verse of Theocritus and Apollonius, the second on the relationship between her poetry and Hellenistic elegy. The third chapter turns to look at Alcaeus, with a focus upon the slight vestiges of his erotic and sympotic poetry, undoubtedly of more interest to Hellenistic readers than his political poetry better known to modern scholarship. The fourth chapter considers the reception of Anacreon and Ibycus, who as court poets were perhaps particularly relevant models for Hellenistic poets in the Ptolemaic court. The fifth chapter offers a reading of Hellenistic engagement with Simonides, especially the new fragments of the Plataea elegy, in the Callimachean Tomb of Simonides (fr. 64) and Theocritus’ Idylls 16 and 17. This last chapter also offers a particularly illuminating exposition of possible evidence in the scholia for Apollonius’ debt to Simonides as a model for episodes in the Argonautica (an approach that is also fruitfully applied in chapter four to trace the possible rapport between Ibycus and Apollonius). Chapters two, three, four, and five include useful overviews of the evidence for Hellenistic editions of Sappho, Alcaeus, Anacreon, and Simonides.

The methodological underpinnings of the study are solid. A.-H. brings a nuanced approach to intertextuality, which looks beyond mere allusion to consider how texts are read and understood in relation to each other, and applies a ποικιλία of scholarly approaches judiciously throughout: one finds, for example, precise and intelligent commentary on metrical variation alongside sensitive readings of poetic voice and gender (e.g. pp. 85–6 on Nossis 11 GP [Anth. Pal. 7. 718]), and an awareness of the importance of cultural and political realities in the Hellenistic reception of poetry (e.g., the excellent remarks on p. 74 on Ptolemaic involvement in Lesbos and Callimachus fr. 110). Given the fragmentary nature of the authors in question, many of the intertextual relationships proposed here must perforce remain uncertain, but the possibilities are nonetheless attractively weighed and presented throughout. A few detailed comments:

  1. 1. Concerning the remarks (64–5) on the relationship between Callimachus’ apparent neologism ἰόζωνος (fr. 110 54), which is used in close connection with the phrase εἰς κόλπους two lines later, and the Sapphic ἰόκολπος: A.-H. points to Solon fr. 11. 4 Gentili-Prato Κύπρις ἰοστέφανος in support of the identification of Arsinoe with Aphrodite through the Callimachean violet-epithet (65 n. 11)—cf. ἰοστέφανος of the goddess also in early hexameter Hymn. Hom. 5. 275 v.l., Hymn. Hom. 6.18; the more frequent association of this epithet with Aphrodite could strengthen the case for the role of ἰόζωνος in the identification of Arsinoe with the goddess.

  2. 2. On p. 68 for “Sappho’s line 51, ἄρτι [ν]εότμητόν …” read ‘Callimachus’ line 51 ἄρτι [ν]εότμητόν …’. [End...