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Crippling Nostalgia:
Nostos, Poetics, and the Structure of the Ibis*

This paper examines the structure of the catalogue in Ovid’s Ibis. In the catalogue’s first half, Ovid highlights the important exilic themes of exile, nostos, and meter through repeating markers located at significant points, specifically a quarter of the way through and at the catalogue’s center (identified by a couplet that forms a ring-composition with the catalogue’s opening). In the catalogue’s second half, Ovid emphasizes poets and poetry, divine punishment, dismemberment, and the consumption of one’s own flesh and blood—again, recurrent themes in the exile poetry. Throughout, metapoetic language suggests both elegy and iambus, appropriately for the poem’s genre-crisis.

at some point during his exile, likely around 11 c.e.,1ovid wrote a poem entitled Ibis, which sent a host of esoteric curses after an enemy cloaked under the pseudonym of “Ibis.” Until twenty years ago, the poem’s inscrutability and the anonymity of its addressee were among its primary selling points for scholars2; recent work on the Ibis, however, has begun to acknowledge and [End Page 149] demonstrate its overall poetic merit, helping to turn the critical gaze away from literal detective work and toward that of a more literary variety.3 Even so, it is primarily the poem’s 250-line introduction that has benefited from the attention; a comprehensive analysis of the subsequent catalogue, which occupies the remaining three-fifths of the poem, is still wanting. While my own treatment of the catalogue in the following pages can hardly be called comprehensive, I do hope, at the very least, to continue advancing our understanding of the catalogue on a structural and thematic level.4 By examining repeating markers that Ovid uses to structure the catalogue, I show how he suggestively exposes certain prominent and recurring themes—themes which accord well with his other exile poetry.

introductory structures: ibis 1–250

It is generally recognized, as I observed above, that the Ibis falls into two basic sections, which for the sake of convenience we can refer to as the introduction (Ib. 1–250) and the catalogue (Ib. 251–638), and concludes with a six-line coda (Ib. 639–44).5 But both the introduction and the catalogue can be segmented further, the former on thematic grounds and the latter through a variety of [End Page 150] structural markers that I shall discuss in detail below. While there is no agreement among scholars as to the precise segmentation of the introduction, there is a tacit consensus that certain lines serve as turning points of one sort or another.6 I would argue, based on this tacit consensus and my own observation of thematic shifts, that the introductory material consists of four major unequal parts, ranging from forty-two to eighty-two lines but with each half totaling precisely 124 lines (see fig. 1); as we shall see, interactions between the introduction and the catalogue will help to uphold these divisions.

The first section of the introduction (Ib. 1–66) serves as a bipartite proem, presenting Ovid’s reasons for cursing Ibis and declaring war.7 The second section (Ib. 67–126), which is split more decisively into two, first calls on gods [End Page 151]

Figure 1. Structure of the introduction.
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Figure 1.

Structure of the introduction.

from every quarter to carry out Ovid’s curses (Ib. 67–106) and then prays, in a series of ritualized curses, for Ibis to become an exile from every land, doomed to wander in penury and hunger (Ib. 107–26). While there is a clear shift between these two subsections, and thus they might in fact be understood as individual sections in their own right, there is merit in treating them as a single unit: the prayers in the second half are the curses which Ovid requests that the gods fulfill in the first half.8 The third section of the introduction (Ib. 127–208) imagines Ovid’s ghost hounding Ibis with Fury-like torments, until (in a warm-up for the catalogue of curses) Ibis is finally consigned to eternal punishments in the Underworld; it concludes with a variant on the “many mouths” topos. Finally, the fourth section (Ib. 209–50) gives a brief account of Ibis’s ill-omened birth, which was attended by the Furies. At the end of this section and therefore at the end of the entire introduction, the Fates bestow upon Ovid a mantle of vatic (or perhaps fatic) authority to spin out the poem of Ibis’s destruction (Ib. 243–50); Stephen Hinds has demonstrated how lines 241–50, as well as closing the introduction, also serve effectively to restart the entire poem, in a recasting of the traditional medial proem as “a kind of anterior or pre-textual preface”9 to the catalogue. Accordingly, the [End Page 152] catalogue becomes something of an independent entity, allowing us to treat it as a discrete unit rather than simply as the last three-fifths of the poem.10

Unlike the introduction, the catalogue cannot easily be divided thematically—it is a veritable carmen perpetuum of vituperation and obscurity,11 with one curse followed immediately by the next and many of them only intelligible after some grueling mental calisthenics.12 At first glance, moreover, the curses are ordered in a haphazard jumble, but recent work has shown that there is at least some method behind the seeming madness of organization.13 To begin with, there are localized thematic groupings of curses, so-called “mini-catalogues.” These mini-catalogues can also often be grouped together under larger umbrellas (we might call these “umbrella-catalogues”)—so, for instance, a sixteen-couplet run at Ib. 365–96 consists primarily of those who died en masse, while also containing several smaller internal repetitions and groupings of themes, such as events from the Odyssey, those eaten by monsters, and so forth (see fig. 2). In addition, mini-catalogues are often connected to those around them through verbal echoes even when the theme itself does not cross over, and totally unrelated couplets are frequently linked through coordinating conjunctions and other syntactic devices.14 As a result, the catalogue of curses hurtles along like an unstoppable train.

The driving force of the catalogue’s interlinked structure is truly striking, but I would nonetheless contend that Ovid has in fact built pauses into the catalogue in order to catch our attention and alert us to the significance of upcoming [End Page 153] exempla. There are two different ways that we can detect these pauses, which I term “disjunction” and “closural couplets.” Disjunction occurs where nothing joins a couplet to those that precede it—there are no coordinating or subordinating conjunctions, no correlatives such as sic or ut that connect to previous material, no repetition of language from nearby couplets, and no continuation of themes from the preceding few mini-catalogues. Such extreme and total disjunction is rare; in fact, the first real pause in the catalogue only comes after eighty-eight lines.15 Disjunction does have the drawback that the presence or absence of certain connections may always be argued to be only in the eye of the beholder; fortunately, it is not our only structural guide through the catalogue.

Figure 2. Some connections found in the exempla at Ib. 365–96 * Following the reading Lemnia turba; if we accept Housman’s Lemnia clava, then the reference is to Corynetes, who also appears below, at Ib. 405–6.
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Figure 2.

Some connections found in the exempla at Ib. 365–96

* Following the reading Lemnia turba; if we accept Housman’s Lemnia clava, then the reference is to Corynetes, who also appears below, at Ib. 405–6.

Closural couplets are couplets which pass by without introducing a new exemplary figure or curse, and they are even more rare than total disjunction: only four such couplets occur in the entire catalogue (or really five, as Ib. 421–24 is, uniquely, a two-couplet curse).16 They are also so much simpler and [End Page 154] more straightforward a method of identifying key points in the catalogue that I suspect—and will argue—that Ovid meant these couplets to be our primary guide to the ebb and flow of the catalogue’s structure. And while some aspects of the textual tradition stymy our use of closural couplets to a certain degree (see the Appendix), this is where disjunction can rally to the cause: the first two closural couplets coincide with the first two points of disjunction, which therefore provides a corroborating—and also, in effect, a backup—structural marker. We shall turn to these couplets shortly, but in order to understand where we are headed, let us first begin at the catalogue’s beginning.

Figure 3. Some connections found in the exempla at Ib. 393–412: overlaps with and continues .
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Figure 3.

Some connections found in the exempla at Ib. 393–412: overlaps with and continues fig. 2.

limping into exile: ibis 251–424

Ovid opens the catalogue by praying that Ibis suffer Troianis non leviora malis—sufferings no lighter than the Trojans’ sufferings (Ib. 251–56)17: [End Page 155]

neve sine exemplis aevi cruciere prioris,     sint tua Troianis non leviora malis, quantaque clavigeri Poeantius Herculis heres,     tanta venenato vulnera crure geras. nec levius doleas, quam qui bibit ubera cervae,     255     armatique tulit vulnus, inermis opem.

Or, that you not be tortured without models from an earlier age, may your sufferings be no lighter than the Trojans’, and may you bear just as many wounds in your envenomed leg as Poeas’s son [=Philoctetes], the heir of club-bearing Hercules, bore. Nor may you be more lightly pained than he who drank at the hind’s udder [=Telephus] and endured the armed man’s wound, the unarmed man’s aid.18

The Trojans’ suffering is not an unfamiliar theme in the exile poetry—indeed, the Trojans’ departure from Troy becomes Ovid’s departure from Rome in Tr. 1.3, while Ovid opines in Pont. 2.7 that his sufferings could fill an entire Iliad. The curse here is general enough, however, that all we can grasp of the Trojans’ woes is their epic scale—an epic grandeur which Ovid immediately subverts by wishing on Ibis the wounded feet of Telephus and Philoctetes. This is, as I have argued elsewhere, nothing other than a traditional Ovidian foot-pun recast to match the style and context of the Ibis: Telephus and Philoctetes have crippled feet, just as do the elegiac couplets in which they are embedded, but so too does the limping Hipponactean choliambic meter, one variety of the iambics which Ovid purports to eschew.19 Accordingly, the familiar tropes of Ovidian poetry make their presence subtly felt, but by beginning with the traditional Euripidean “cholic” trio (Philoctetes and Telephus, plus Bellerophon), Ovid may also be reminding us that there is not so much difference between elegiacs and choliambics as the meter suggests.

To paraphrase Janus in the Fasti, beginnings contain omens, and in this case, the omen of things to come appears to be more or less what we have learned to expect from Ovidian beginnings: epic subverted by elegy. That [End Page 156] the epic context is one of sufferings, malis, rather than the usual martial affair is appropriate for both the internal cursing context of the poem and the external exilic context20; similarly, the elegiac (and iambic) subversion here comes not from Venus and Cupid’s barbs but from the pain of wounds which elsewhere serve as analogies for Ovid’s own exilic pain.21 This is the omen of the beginning—but beginnings are not the only traditional sites of meaning in Roman poetry. Middles, in particular, also have significance, as points of closure and renewal, and in the Ibis’s catalogue, despite its seeming disorder and endlessness, we can identify precisely that: a centrally-placed act of closure and renewal.22

At Ib. 411–12, Ovid finally concludes an unbroken sentence of twenty-four couplets, all dependent on the main verb pereas that had occurred forty-eight lines before (Ib. 365 etc., 411–14)23:

ut iuvenes pereas ... ut ... ut ... ut ... ... quaeque Ceres laeto vidit pereuntia vultu    corpora Thesea Cercyonea manu. haec tibi, quem meritis precibus mea devovet ira,    evenient, aut his non leviora malis.

May you die like the young men ... like ... like ... like ... [etc.] ... and those bodies of Cercyon which Ceres, with joyful mien, saw perish by Theseus’s hand. These things, or things no lighter than these evils, will come about for you, whom my anger curses with deserved prayers.

Here, contrary to his practice nearly everywhere else in the catalogue, Ovid does not immediately begin yet another onslaught of curses after finally wrapping up this unprecedentedly long sentence. Instead, he comes to a rare pause in the midst of his unbroken chain of invective, taking an entire exemplum-free couplet (Ib. 413–14) to allow the one hundred curses he has uttered so far to sink in. This couplet, a generalized prayer for the fulfillment of Ovid’s curses, is quite unlike anything that has come before. It is unprecedented in that it neither wishes any new fate on Ibis nor sums up the maledictions of [End Page 157] the previous several couplets.24 In addition, the precise wording of the couplet is highly resonant on an intratextual level.

Most strikingly of all, it closes with a repetition of the half-pentameter non leviora malis, creating a ring-composition with the opening of the catalogue (sint tua Troianis non leviora malis , Ib. 252); it feels, in fact, as though this couplet could easily have served as a formal close to the entire catalogue.25 The hexameter, meanwhile, densely echoes a couplet at the center of the second segment of the introduction, in which Ovid prayed that the gods would bring his curses to fulfillment (Ib. 95–96):

illum ego devoveo , quem mens intellegit, Ibin,   95   qui se scit factis has meruisse preces .

I curse the one whom I have in mind as Ibis, who knows that he has merited these prayers by his deeds.

Next, the opening word of the pentameter, evenient, also opens the third segment of the introduction (Ib. 127–28):

evenient . dedit ipse mihi modo signa futuri   Phoebus, et a laeva maesta volavit avis.

[My prayers] will come about. Phoebus himself gave me a sign of the future just now, and a mournful bird flew from the left.

Line 127 falls precisely at the center of the 250-line introduction,26 and thus evenient marks the approximate midpoint of both introduction and catalogue.27 In both places—which, notably, are the only two places in Ovid’s entire poetic corpus that the rare verb-form evenient appears—the assertion [End Page 158] is couched as a vatic certainty of the efficacy of Ovid’s own prayers.28 Finally, the opening of the hexameter at Ib. 413, haec tibi, while seemingly an innocuous phrase, occurs exactly two other places in the poem: at the end of the proemial first segment of the introduction ( haec tibi natali facito, Ib. 65) and at the beginning of the coda ( haec tibi tantisper subito sint missa libello, Ib. 639). Accordingly, lines 413–14 allude, in order, to the end of the introduction’s first section, to the middle of the introduction’s second section, and to the beginning of the introduction’s third section, concluding with an echo of the couplet that links the fourth and final section of the introduction to the curse catalogue. This ring-composition of non leviora malis, connecting the middle of the catalogue with its beginning, sets off the intervening 160 lines as a discrete unit, such that the subsequent couplets appear to begin the catalogue anew; and they suit their mezzoproemial context.

Shortly after this closural couplet come two couplets which are unique in devoting two couplets to a single curse (Ib. 413–24):

haec tibi, quem meritis precibus mea devovet ira,     evenient, aut his non leviora malis. qualis Achaemenidis, Sicula desertus in Aetna     415     Troica cum vidit vela venire, fuit, qualis erat nec non fortuna binominis Iri,     quique tenent pontem, †quae tibi maior erit†.29 filius et Cereris frustra tibi semper ametur,     destituatque tuas usque petitus opes:     420 utque per alternos unda labente recursus      subtrahitur presso mollis harena pedi, sic tua nescio qua semper fortuna liquescat,      lapsaque per medias effluat usque manus.

These things, or things no lighter than these evils, will come about for you, whom my anger curses with deserved prayers. Such as Achaemenides’ fortune was at the time when he, deserted on Sicilian Aetna, saw the Trojan sails; and not such as the fortune of two-named Irus wasn’t, and that of those who throng the bridge [=beggars]—you’ll have it even worse.30 And may the son of Ceres [End Page 159] [=Ploutos (“Wealth”)] always be loved by you in vain, and may he, continually sought by you, abandon your wealth; and as the soft sand is dragged out from under one’s pressed foot by the flowing wave, alternately rushing in and receding, thus may your fortune always somehow turn to water and, having slipped from between your hands, constantly flow away.

Gareth Williams reads these four lines as a seemingly peaceful interlude in the catalogic structure, soothing Ibis into a false sense of complacency31:

Certainly, the gentle image in the first couplet points to a change in pace and tone here, a respite from the violent outrages of the previous section, but first impressions can deceive. If Ibis’ fortune is like the sand, then the pressure to which the sand is subjected (cf. presso ... pedi, 422) recalls the insistent pressure applied to Ibis in the surrounding sections, where the target is softened up (cf. mollis, 422) by a steady sequence of embittered curses. ... So what seems at first to be a calm interlude already carries in the phrase per alternos ... recursus (421) a warning that this interlude is merely ‘the stillness between two waves of the sea’, and that the oppressive onslaught will soon recommence.

Williams’s interpretation, however, can be modified. As we have just seen, these are not the only couplets in the vicinity to mark a pause, nor the only lines with an intermediary function. Furthermore, I would argue that the phrasing of the couplet is not meant to beguile Ibis, but rather, that it should be read with metrical intent—specifically, I propose that Ovid is here using phrasing that is suggestively elegiac.

Presso pedi, in the pentameter at Ib. 422, echoes a Propertian foot-pun which Alison Keith sees at the root of Ovid’s original foot-pun at the beginning of the Amores.32 But this time, the pressed foot does not rest firmly on the head of Propertian and Ovidian poetry; instead, it rests unstably on the mollis harena, which is dragged out from under it. Mollis, of course, is a favorite [End Page 160] Augustan keyword for slender, Callimachean verse, and while Ovid’s curse here certainly deprives his enemy of wealth, at the same time it deprives him of the mollitia that allows for suitably Callimachean composition.33 Even the hexameter line contains some elegiac flavor, as the alternating beat of the wave, alternos recursus, employs a word that Ovid has used elsewhere with definite elegiac intent.34

The three couplets that intervene between the closural couplets, Ib. 415–20, wish on Ibis failed nostos and extreme poverty, a state which often goes hand-in-hand with exile.35 First, in an unmistakable allusion to the Aeneid, Ovid names outright—rather than through obscure and convoluted periphrasis—the Greek Achaemenides, whom Vergil had famously and innovatively added to his Homeric model. After wishing his destitution and terror on Ibis, Ovid continues by wishing on Ibis the destitution of Odysseus’s Homeric opponent, the beggar Iros.36 The use of both names leaves no doubt: the Aeneid and the Odyssey are clearly meant to be taken as our explicit context. Once again, however, the epic scale of Achaemenides’ and Irus’s poverty is destabilized by elegy, just as Ibis is destabilized by the disappearing sand. Accordingly, if we take this entire central section together, what we have is a fairly precise repetition of the juxtaposed themes of the catalogue’s opening, where the [End Page 161] Iliadic and post-Iliadic sufferings of the Trojans and the phrase non leviora malis were followed by a cleverly concealed foot-pun.37

passing the midpoint of no return: ibis 339–48

Just like Russian nesting dolls, this first half of the catalogue has its own significant midpoint (again marked by the rare coincidence of disjunction and a closural couplet) that falls approximately midway between the catalogue’s opening and its middle.38 It may not come entirely as a surprise to discover that the first two exempla here, after the pause (although see the Appendix), wish on Ibis the failed nostoi of the Greeks (Ib. 337–42):

sic, ubi vita tuos invisa reliquerit artus,   ultores rapiant turpe cadaver equi. viscera sic aliquis scopulus tua figat, ut olim   fixa sub Euboico Graia fuere sinu;   340 utque ferox periit et fulmine et aequore raptor,   sic te mersuras adiuvet ignis aquas.

Thus, when hateful life has left your limbs, may avenging horses snatch along your base corpse. May some cliff skewer your entrails thus, as once Greek entrails were skewered in the Euboean bay; and as the fierce rapist [=Ajax the Lesser] perished by both lightning and water, thus may fire help the waters to drown you.

At line 339, Ovid begins a run of curses with the general destruction of the Greek fleet near Cape Caphereus and continues with the specific death of Ajax the Lesser during the same event. From here, he segues into a mini-catalogue of those who were driven mad (Ib. 343–46)39:

mens quoque sic furiis vecors agitetur, ut illi,      unum qui toto corpore vulnus habet; utque Dryantiadae Rhodopeïa regna tenenti,     345      in gemino dispar cui pede cultus erat.

Also, may your mind thus be agitated, as for him who has one wound in his whole body [=Ajax the Greater]40; and as it was for Dryas’s son [=Lycurgus], who ruled the Rhodopeian kingdoms, who had unequal attire on his twin foot. [End Page 162]

Figure 4. Thematic scheme of Ib. 339–48.
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Figure 4.

Thematic scheme of Ib. 339–48.

This catalogue begins with the death of Telamonian Ajax (technically another failed nostos) and follows up with the fate of the Thracian king Lycurgus, an exemplum which affords Ovid the opportunity to curse Ibis with nothing less than literally cutting off his own foot. The complete removal (rather than crippling) of the foot is clearly reminiscent of the elegiac pentameter’s loss of one foot to the despotic whims of Cupid in Amores 1.1, but by allusively identifying Lycurgus only as the one who wore dispar attire on his gemino pede, Ovid leaves it up to the reader to draw the association. Nonetheless, the word dispar, especially linked to gemino pede, distinctly recalls other Ovidian elegiac jests.41 As I have said, it is likely no coincidence that this first pause-point in the catalogue, with its recapitulation of post-Iliadic events and a suggestive nod toward the elegiac disparity of metrical feet, comes roughly halfway between the two occurrences of non leviora malis.

We can see how, in the first half of the catalogue, Ovid repeatedly groups together the themes of nostos, exile, and meter and sets them off with rare pauses in the catalogue flow (thereby drawing attention to the collocation) in three significant places: at the beginning of the catalogue, approximately halfway through the catalogue, and at the midpoint between those two markers. [End Page 163] These repeated thematic clusters give a certain definition to the ebb and flow of the seemingly unceasing catalogue and underscore the importance of the repeated themes, themes which also have a powerful resonance in the broader context of Ovid’s exilic poetry.42 There, Ovid is recurrently obsessed with the construction of his own poetry, not least its elegiac form and his declining poetic ability; and he is recurrently obsessed with his own status as an exile, the possibility of returning home, and the deprivations he suffers in a distant barbarian land. As Hinds has remarked, the fates that Ovid wishes on Ibis are uncannily similar to his own, turning Ibis into something of an “evil twin” for Ovid,43 a status which is reinforced by the final exemplum of the catalogue, where Ovid literally wishes his own fate on Ibis, praying that he will live and die among the Sarmatians and Getae. But the end of the catalogue does not yet concern us; for now, let us return to the middle.

iambic themes and variations: ibis 425–58

The repetition of the phrase non leviora malis, recalling the catalogue’s opening, divides the catalogue after Ib. 414, and the catalogue breaks again at Ib. 421–24. Accordingly, as I have suggested, all the intervening couplets form a medial interlude of sorts, even a Contean “proem in the middle,”44 during which Ovid revisits and recasts the programmatic themes with which he opened the catalogue. But the numerical center of the catalogue, which is around Ib. 435–44,45 is also worth our attention for the cluster of iambic themes and artistic figures that surrounds it. As we approach these lines, immediately following the medial interlude, the second half opens with a focus on autophagy, cannibalism, kin-murder, and other such delights (Ib. 423–42)46:

sic tua nescio qua semper fortuna liquescat,     lapsaque per medias effluat usque manus. utque pater solitae varias mutare figuras,     425 [End Page 164]

Figure 5. Thematic scheme of Ib. 425–58. * This couplet may in fact stand elsewhere; see . † Phalaris’s tongue is cut out (lingua prius ense resecta, Ib. 439), a dismemberment that finds parallels elsewhere in the catalogue (lingua resecta again of Philomela’s tongue, Ib. 537–38). ‡ The connection of the Spartoi with Cybele is tentative, but Ovid attributes the founding of Cybele’s shrine (at Thebes?) to the Sown Man Echion (Met. 10.686–87); this shrine is where Venus caused Hippomenes and Atalanta to have sex and thereby offend Cybele. § See my argument at pp. 169–71.
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Figure 5.

Thematic scheme of Ib. 425–58.

* This couplet may in fact stand elsewhere; see Appendix.

† Phalaris’s tongue is cut out (lingua prius ense resecta, Ib. 439), a dismemberment that finds parallels elsewhere in the catalogue (lingua resecta again of Philomela’s tongue, Ib. 537–38).

‡ The connection of the Spartoi with Cybele is tentative, but Ovid attributes the founding of Cybele’s shrine (at Thebes?) to the Sown Man Echion (Met. 10.686–87); this shrine is where Venus caused Hippomenes and Atalanta to have sex and thereby offend Cybele.

§ See my argument at pp. 169–71.

    plenus inextincta conficiare fame; nec dapis humanae tibi sint fastidia; quaque     parte potes, Tydeus temporis huius eris. atque aliquid facies, a vespere Solis ad ortus     cur externati rursus agantur equi;     430 foeda Lycaoniae repetes convivia mensae,     temptabisque cibi fallere fraude Iovem; teque aliquis posito temptet vim numinis opto,     Tantalides tu sis, tu Teleique puer. et tua sic latos spargantur membra per agros,     435     tamquam quae patrias detinuere vias. aere Perilleo veros imitere iuvencos,     ad formam tauri conveniente sono. utque ferox Phalaris, lingua prius ense resecta     more bovis Paphio clausus in aere gemas.47     440 dumque redire voles aevi melioris in annos,     ut vetus Admeti decipiare socer. [End Page 165]

Thus may your fortune turn to liquid by some means and, having slipped through your hands, continually flow away. And like the father of the girl accustomed to change into various shapes [=Erysichthon], may you polish yourself off, filled with inextinguishable hunger, and may you not have a distaste for a human banquet; and in whatever way you can, you will be the Tydeus of this time; and you will do something whereby the Sun’s panicked horses are driven back again from the evening to their rising [=Thyestes/Atreus].48 You will seek again the foul banquets of Lycaon’s table, and you will try to deceive Jupiter with fraudulent food; and with you disposed of, may someone, I beg, test a god’s power; may you be Tantalus’s son [=Pelops], may you be Teleus’s boy.49 And may your limbs thus be scattered through the broad fields, just as those which detained their father’s journey [=Absyrtus]. May you imitate true bullocks in Perillean bronze, with your sound suited to the bull’s form; and as did fierce Phalaris, with your tongue first cut out by a sword, may you bellow, shut up in Paphian bronze, in the manner of a bull. And when you wish to return into the years of a better age, may you be deceived like Admetus’s old father-in-law [=Pelias].

In line 435, Absyrtus’s scattered membra per agros echo Ovid’s etymological derivation, in Tristia 3.9, of “Tomis” from Medea’s tmesis of her brother’s body.50 Hinds and Oliensis have both dissected this poem of the Tristia to find repeated hints of Ovid’s own fate, beyond the surface connection made between Absyrtus’s death and Ovid’s place of exile51; Hinds adds, moreover, [End Page 166] the observation that the Ovidian “Ur-poet” Orpheus’s own fate in both Georgics and Metamorphoses is layered into the intertextual nexus created by these allusions.52 Ovid’s self-referentiality continues in the next couplet (Ib. 437–38), where he wishes on Ibis the fate of Perillus, the craftsman who made a bronze bull for the tyrant Phalaris and was subsequently burned alive in it. The story of Perillus is, like that of Absyrtus, familiar to Ovid’s readers: in the first book of the Ars Amatoria, Ovid had used the story to espouse the idea that those who contrive death—or treachery, is the implication—should perish in the same fashion (neque enim lex aequior ulla est, / quam necis artifices arte perire sua, “for there is no law more fair, than that artists of death perish by their own art,” Ars am. 1.655–56). Suggestively, he had closely echoed those words at the beginning of the Ibis, referring to his own fate ( artificis periit cum caput Arte sua , “since the head of the artist has perished by his own Art,” Ib. 6)53; again, Ovid’s own fate and that which he proposes for the treacherous Ibis seem peculiarly intertwined. A few couplets later, the artistic and self-referential exempla of Absyrtus and Perillus are joined by the exiguus libellus which is Callimachus’s Ibis (Ib. 449–50), allowing us to see more clearly the programmatic gestures of this section: they are self-referential not only for Ovid, but for the Ibis.54 I have suggested elsewhere a centralized importance for the nearby couplet in which Curtius rides his horse into the Lacus Curtius in an act of eponymized devotio (Ib. 443–44)55; it is, I think, safe to say that [End Page 167] the couplets in this vicinity propagate poetic and programmatic meaning, and those which I have mentioned so far are not alone in their significance.56

As I observed briefly above, Ovid’s Ibis has nothing short of a self-professed generic identity crisis, being iambic in manner but elegiac in meter.57 Although statements of generic affiliation abound in the prologue, they primarily reveal Ovid’s uncertainty as to which generic category his poem actually falls into, and an emphasis on the Ibis’s inappropriate meter recurs in the poem’s six-line coda.58 While Ovid’s harping on the unsuitability of elegy for personal attacks may well be disingenuous, his explicit attention to his poem’s pes nonetheless directs the reader to the relevance of meter in the poem at large; we have already seen the fruit that our attention to this detail can bear. But nowhere, so far, has the iambic manner that shapes the Ibis been fully extricable from the equally limping elegiac garb that the Ibis wears. It is not until the current passage, at the numerical but not structural center of the catalogue, that iambic first emerges, unfettered, into the spotlight (Ov. Ib. 443–58):

aut eques in medii mergare voragine caeni,      dummodo sint fati nomina nulla tui. atque utinam pereas, veluti de dentibus orti     445     Sidonia iactis Graia per arva manu. et quae Pytheides59 fecit de fratre Medusae,     eveniant capiti vota sinistra tuo: et quibus exiguo volucris devota libello est,     corpora proiecta quae sua purgat aqua.     450 vulnera totque feras quot dicitur ille tulisse,     cuius ab inferiis culter abesse solet. [End Page 168] attonitusque seces, ut quos Cybeleïa mater     incitat, ad Phrygios vilia membra modos; deque viro fias nec femina nec vir, ut Attis,     455     et quatias molli tympana rauca manu. inque pecus subito Magnae vertare Parentis,     victor ut est celeri victaque versa pede.

Or may you, a horseman, drown in a morass of mid-region muck [=M. Curtius], provided that no name is derived from your fate. And would that you perish like those sprung from the teeth cast across Greek fields by a Sidonian hand [=Cadmus’s Sown Men]. And those ill-omened curses which Pytheas’s son [=Hipponax] made concerning the brother of Medusa, may they come about upon your head, and the ones with which the bird that purges its body with squirted water was cursed in the little book [=Callimachus’s Ibis]. And may you bear so many wounds as he is said to have borne, from whose rites the knife is accustomed to be absent [=Menedemus]. And may you, driven crazy like those whom the Cybelean mother goads [=galli], slice off your lowly part to Phrygian strains, and from a man may you become neither woman nor man, like Attis, and may you shake the harsh tympanum with your soft hand. And may you suddenly be turned into the beast of the Great Mother, as was the conqueror and as was the conquered girl, turned aside on her swift foot [=Hippomenes and Atalanta].

At Ib. 447, depending on how the proper names are emended, we likely have a reference to Hipponax’s iambic cursing of Athenis, brother of Hipponax’s usual target, the stone-carver Boupalos. Although this cannot be confirmed with certainty, the next exemplum unquestionably relates closely to iambus with its reference to Callimachus’s Ibis, certainly a poem in iambic mode if not definitively in iambic meter60; and as I shall argue, the iambic theme continues all the way to Ib. 458.

Bypassing the poorly understood reference to cuius ab inferiis culter abesse solet (“the one from whose rites the knife is typically absent,” Ib. 452), likely one Menedemus,61 we come to the self-castration of Cybele’s galli (Ib. 453–54). The couplet is, unambiguously, an appropriation of Tibullus 1.4.70 (et secet ad Phrygios vilia membra modos, “and let him slice off his lowly part to Phrygian strains”), but this passage of Tibullus is recognized as an adaptation of a fragment [End Page 169] of Callimachus’s third Iamb (fr. 193.35–36 Pf.)62; accordingly, iambics remain relevant. Furthermore, in the current context, I would suggest that ad Phrygios ... modos (Ib. 454) may take on a special significance: by highlighting the meter of the galli’s songs in an already-iambic context, it reminds us that they are written in galliambics.63 We are perhaps even meant to think specifically of Catullus 63, a notion that is compounded by the nec femina nec vir Attis in the following couplet; the gendered ambiguity powerfully recalls the themes of that earlier work. The couplet after that, detailing the leonid fate of Atalanta and Hippomenes, also has pronounced Cybelean connections, if not obvious connections to galliambic, but I would propose that in this context they in fact contain, if anything, an even stronger allusion to the iambic and galliambic meters than the previous couplets do. Scholars have drawn attention [End Page 170] to the punning emphasis which Catullus, in carmen 63, places on swift feet and swiftness in general, an allusion to the swiftness of galliambic; prime among these are the “hastened foot” with which Attis touches the Phrygian shore (citato ... pede, 63.2) and the “hurrying foot” of the “swift chorus” of galli (viridem citus adit Idam properante pede chorus , 63.30) who then follow their “hurry-footed leader” (ducem ... properipedem, 63.34).64 Given this proliferation of swift feet, it seems plausible that Ovid’s Atalanta at Ib. 458, who runs celeri pede, not only recalls her own proverbial swiftness (cf. velocem ... puellam, “speedy girl,” Ib. 371) but also, in the present Cybelean context, nods to the swift feet of the galliambic meter. In the broader iambic context of this section, celeri pede may also evoke the pure iambics of Archilochean iambus, as described by Horace and by Ovid himself.65

As we can see, therefore, even while it is undeniable that Ib. 413–24 constitutes a medial interlude on a structural and thematic level, heavily meta-poetic language of a different sort surrounds the catalogue’s later numerical center. There are, in effect, two central foci, one elegiac and one iambic; and as if to underscore their dual centrality, each is also marked by the adjective medius, uniquely in the catalogue.66 The structural tensions created by this polarity suggest that the intervening couplets, with their focus on autophagy, tecnophagy, cannibalism, and kin-slaying, couplets which follow seamlessly on from the thematic concerns of the medial interlude,67 can also be read [End Page 171] as programmatically significant. While we have already seen significance in their repeated connection to Ovid’s own fate, we may wonder what else this theme of inappropriate consumption might signify; and I suggest that we are meant, at least in part, to see Ibis’s eating of himself and his children, his dismemberment, and so forth, as directly related to the common conceit of the poetic corpus as akin to the poet’s corpus, a conceit of which Ovid makes particular use in his exile poetry.68 This is an issue to which we shall return, but we must first look at some additional areas of importance in the catalogue.

song and punishment: ibis 517–602

While the catalogue opens with a run of vatic figures,69 and a set of suggestively iambic exempla marks the conclusion of the middle, the most egregiously “literary” section of the catalogue begins less than 150 lines before the catalogue comes to an end. Here, at around line 519 (possibly slightly earlier, depending on how some unknown exempla are interpreted), Ovid begins an extensive run of writers, artists, musicians, prophets, and philosophers, stretching in fits and starts all the way to line 600, thus making it the longest umbrella-catalogue in the poem (see fig. 6)—there are, at the very least, nineteen artistic exempla in this section, most thickly-clustered towards the beginning, and several more are arguably relevant.70 Another umbrella-catalogue overlaps the catalogue [End Page 172]

Figure 6. Overlapping catalogues of artists (etc.) and divine vengeance at Ib. 519–602.
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Figure 6.

Overlapping catalogues of artists (etc.) and divine vengeance at Ib. 519–602.

[End Page 173]

of artist-figures, picking up speed as the other tapers off: this is a catalogue of those punished by divine vengeance, including at least fourteen exempla.71

The passage is not clearly flagged in any way, but in the context of a poem that clearly is aligned with Ovid’s other exilic works, these two themes, especially set in conjunction, should strike a clear chord.72 It is all the more surprising, therefore, that neither theme has been particularly prominent before this point, especially exempla of artistic figures. In fact, in the entire stretch of seventy-one couplets between the vatic figures of the opening and the artistic and iambic exempla of the middle, the single additional exemplum that would fit into this category is the prophet Amphiaraus (Ib. 354). Within the middle section, as we have seen, are Perillus, Hipponax, and Callimachus’s [End Page 174] Ibis73; following that, only Linus (Ib. 480), who gave his name to the linus-song, Orpheus’s wife Eurydice (Ib. 482), the Argonautic prophet Idmon (Ib. 504), and the poet Simonides (Ib. 512), who is not even the injured party, can fit the bill. So the catalogue of artists here is notable for its novelty as well as for its thematic echo of the exile poetry,74 and Ovid makes sure that we do not miss the theme—even if we cannot always decode the exempla—by means of explicit labeling.75

Within these overlapping catalogues of punished artists and divine vengeance, we again hear several verbal echoes of Ovid’s own crime and punishment. Noxia luminibus (Ib. 542), used of a bee’s sting, echoes Ovid’s wish in the Tristia that he had not seen what he saw (cur aliquid vidi? cur noxia lumina feci?, “why did I see something? why did I make my eyes harmful?” Tr. 2.103)76; ore reus (Ib. 560), used of Socrates drinking his hemlock, echoes language used of Ovid’s own position as public defendant (et peragar populi publicus ore reus , “and I shall be tossed around through the mouth of the people as a public defendant,” Tr. 1.1.24)77; Hippolytus is explicitly an exile (exul, Ib. 578); and the innumerable locations in which Cinna’s limbs were found (in innumeris inveniare locis, “may you be found in innumerable places,” Ib. 540) echo the multiple locations in which Absyrtus’s scattered limbs had to be sought out at Tomis (in multis invenienda locis, “to be found in many places,” Tr. 3.9.28).78 Thematic parallels can also be found: Empedocles’ fiery death (Ib. 597–98) is elsewhere seen as preferable to Ovid’s exile (Tr. 5.2.75); the loss of voice caused by Philomela’s loss of her tongue (Ib. 538) and by the crushing of Anticlus’s windpipe (sic tibi claudatur pollice vocis iter , “thus may the path of your voice [End Page 175] be shut off by a thumb,” Ib. 570) recalls Ovid’s own “loss” of language, one symptom of his exile79; and the themes of dismemberment and consumption that we saw in the central section as relevant to Ovidian exilic themes recur at Ib. 533–56, 577–78, and 595–600.80 In addition, there is a proliferation of poetic and metapoetic language in these lines, accompanying and amplifying the reminiscences of Ovid’s fate.

I have elsewhere discussed the case of Cinna, whose dismembered corpus was found in distinctly unmetrical innumeris locis (as well as throughout the surrounding verses of the Ibis), and the contingent exemplum of the inherently poetic Philo- mela , whose name fuses membra and carmina through her μέλη.81 In these exempla, we see close to the surface “a conventional literary vocabulary that metaphorically figures texts and parts of texts as their authors’ bodies and limbs”82; the punishment of dismemberment is fittingly scattered throughout the Ibis catalogue here and elsewhere as a sort of leitmotif with potentially literary implications. Furthermore, the two exempla that frame this section of artistic figures and divine punishment, whether standing just inside or just outside the catalogue,83 wish on Ibis the consignment of his membra to the devouring flames of a funeral pyre (Ib. 517–18, 601–2):

quodque ferunt †Brotean† fecisse cupidine mortis,     des tua succensae membra cremanda pyrae. ... natus ut Althaeae flammis absentibus arsit,     sic tuus ardescat stipitis igne rogus.

And as they say that †Broteas† did, from a desire for death, may you give your limbs to a lit pyre to be burned. ... As the son of Althaea burned with absent flames [=Meleager], thus may your bier blaze with a brand’s fire. [End Page 176]

These two couplets echo an important passage of the Tristia (Tr. 1.7.17–20):

utque cremasse suum fertur sub stipite natum     Thestias et melior matre fuisse soror, sic ego, non meritos, mecum peritura, libellos,     inposui rapidis viscera nostra rogis.     20

And as Thestius’s daughter is said to have burned her own son with a firebrand and to have been a better sister than mother, thus I placed my undeserving little books, my own innards about to perish along with me, on the swift-consuming pyres.

As has often been noted, Ovid likens his attempt at burning the Metamorphoses to Althaea’s filicide,84 and in the Ibis it is the fate of Broteas, even more than that of Meleager, that most closely recalls the phrasing and especially the action of Ovid’s foiled attempt, with membra replacing viscera. Accordingly, we may hear in both framing couplets, as we did in the account of Cinna’s death, an analogy between Ibis’s membra and poetic membra, perhaps even Ovid’s own.85

These are not, however, the only exempla in this section which can lay claim to featuring metapoetic language. At Ib. 589, the phrase per alternos ... unda, used of Leander’s death by drowning, echoes the distinctly program-matic couplet at Ib. 421–22, where as we have seen, the same phrase suggests the ebb and flow of elegiac couplets. Hipponax’s parum stabili ... carmine (“rather unstable song,” Ib. 523), used of the choliambic meter, recalls the loss of stability that we saw inflicted on Ibis’s foot in the pentameter of that same earlier couplet, as well as recalling the crippled opening trio of Euripidean χωλοί, Philoctetes, Telephus, and Bellerophon. I would also like to propose a few further suggestions of iambus in these lines: Orestes’ snakebite, which comes right after several surface-level references to iambus, may carry an [End Page 177] etymology of iambos in its bite along with its poison86; similarly, the sagittae, spicula, and tela launched in these lines (532, 542, and 567, respectively) could all easily play on the same etymology (following the other interpretation of ἰόν)87—Ovid certainly refers elsewhere in the Ibis to specifically iambic tela.88

death comes in the night: ibis 617–44

I do not wish to imply that we must read these (and other similar) notions of pervasive metapoetics into the text, but reading the Ibis as suspiciously as we read Ovid’s other poetry can certainly reap a profit. And if we are alert to such nuances, there is one final section of the catalogue that can richly repay our attention—fittingly, it is the final section of the catalogue. However, it is not only the placement of these lines that demands notice. We recall that at only four places in the catalogue does an entire couplet pass without introducing a new figure, and that the three we have looked at so far help to structure the flow of the catalogue. One, summing up a short catalogue of those dragged by horses (Ib. 337–38), comes just before the destruction of the Greek fleet at Cape Caphereus, while two more (Ib. 413–14, 421–24) bracket the medial interlude at Ib. 413–24. These, as we have seen, are points of fundamental [End Page 178] importance in the poem; it is, therefore, the appearance of the final closural couplet just before the end of the catalogue that ought to catch our attention.89

At Ib. 625–26, Ovid gives us our fourth and last closural couplet; as before, the method in which it is constructed is unique, for its pentameter concludes the previous couplet, and its hexameter concludes the couplet prior to that (Ib. 621–26):

Aethalon ut vita spoliavit Isindius hospes,      quem memor a sacris nunc quoque pellit Ion: utque Melanthea tenebris a caede latentem      prodidit officio luminis ipsa parens: sic tua coniectis fodiantur viscera telis,     625      sic precor auxiliis impediare tuis.

As the Isindian host-guest,90 whom the mindful Ionian even now casts from his rites, stripped Aethalon of life, and as his own mother betrayed, by the aid of a lantern, the one lying hidden from Melanthean death in the shadows [=Pasicles],91 thus may your entrails be plumbed by hurled javelins, thus I pray you may be impeded by your helpers.

In these lines, viscera and tela finally come together in an unsavory fashion,92 but if we are to follow the model of earlier closural couplets, then it is the [End Page 179] following passage, the last six couplets of the catalogue, which in fact should hold thematic meaning (Ib. 627–38):

qualis equos pacto, quos fortis agebat Achilles,     acta Phrygi timido, nox tibi talis eat; nec tu quam Rhesus somno meliore quiescas,     quam comites Rhesi tum necis, ante viae,     630 quam quos cum Rutulo morti Ramnete dederunt     impiger Hyrtacides Hyrtacidaeque comes; Cliniadaeve modo circumdatus ignibus atris     membra feras Stygiae semicremata neci; utque Remo muros auso transire recentes,     635     noxia sint capiti rustica tela tuo; denique Sarmaticas inter Geticasque sagittas     his precor ut vivas et moriare locis.

May such a night come for you as was brought on for the one promised the horses which brave Achilles was driving, the timid Phrygian [=Dolon]; and may you rest in no better slumber than Rhesus did, than did Rhesus’s companions (companions then in death, previously of the road), than did those whom swift Hyrtacides [=Nisus] and Hyrtacides’ companion [=Euryalus] gave to death along with Rutulian Rhamnes; or in the fashion of Cliniades [=Alcibiades], surrounded by black fire, may you bear half-burned limbs to a Stygian death; and as they were for Remus, having dared to jump across the new walls, may rustic javelins be harmful to your head; and finally, I pray that you live and die in this region, among Sarmatian and Getic arrows.

As before, the exempla immediately following the closural couplet are drawn from the Iliad and Aeneid, but failed nostos or poverty are not immediately apparent as their focus, and after them there is no clear foot-pun. Instead, Ovid wishes on Ibis the death of Alcibiades: according to Diodorus Siculus, Alcibiades’ house was set on fire, and when he fled out into the night, his clothes alight, his enemies killed him with spears.93 Nonetheless, we have been set up by the catalogue’s previous three foot-puns to look for one here, and accordingly, I would propose that membra semicremata, the aspect of Alcibiades’ [End Page 180] death on which Ovid focuses, is in fact meant to have a metapoetic ring. Not only is membra a term widely acknowledged to have literary and poetic significance, as we have seen,94 but their half-burned nature here could easily suggest the truncated nature of the elegiac hemiepes. In addition, they recall the membra cremanda of Broteas (and Meleager), which, as I argued above, in turn recall Ovid’s own burnt poetic viscera. The spears, too, unmentioned but implicit in this couplet and explicitly mentioned in the next two (tela, 636; sagittas, 637), the penultimate and final curses, may help to move us, on a metapoetic level, toward the promised iambics that the coda reiterates will follow (as well as being fundamentally implicit throughout the Ibis itself): postmodo plura leges et nomen habentia verum, / et pede quo debent acria bella geri (“afterwards, you will read more things, both having your true name and in the meter in which harsh wars ought to be waged,” Ib. 643–44).95

The allusions to the Iliad and Aeneid also need to be considered. They feature the parallel night-raids of Dolon, Odysseus and Diomedes, and Nisus and Euryalus, and hence are seemingly devoid of nostic/exilic content. However, the two couplets immediately prior to the exempla of Aethalon and Pasicles are both drawn from the nostos tradition (Ib. 617–20):

illius exemplo violes simulacra Minervae,     Aulidis a portu qui leve vertit iter. Naupliadaeve modo poenas pro crimine falso      morte luas, nec te non meruisse iuvet.     620

May you violate the statue of Minerva, by the example of that man who turned his light journey from the harbor of Aulis [=Ajax the Lesser?]; or, in the manner of Nauplius’s son [=Palamedes], may you expiate with death punishments for a false charge, and may it not help you not to have deserved it.

The former, whether or not it is yet another reference to Ajax the Lesser,96 unquestionably refers to a member of the Greek fleet (as the pentameter makes unambiguous), and the latter, while referring to the death of Palamedes, is constructed in such a way as to again recall the destruction of the fleet at Cape Caphereus, with its mention of Nauplius. Accordingly, the nostos tradition is at the forefront of the reader’s mind four couplets later, when Ovid returns to [End Page 181] the Iliad and Aeneid; furthermore, Dué and Ebbott have recently argued for a close connection between ambush, specifically addressing the Doloneia, and nostos.97 It is, of course, difficult to know whether Ovid would have perceived the episodes in this light, but Diomedes does predict prior to the raid that he and Odysseus will “both return home” (ἄμφω νοστήσαιμεν , Il. 10.247), and Athena later warns Diomedes to “be mindful of [his] homecoming” ( νόστου δὴ μνῆσαι, Il. 10.509).98 Dolon, Rhesus, and the Rutulians, by contrast, will have no homecoming, and neither will the luckless Nisus and Euryalus (who are in fact the perpetrators of death in Ib. 631–32, rather than the victims, but their joint presence reminds us of their joint failure to complete their night raid).

The death of the Rutulian Rhamnes at the hands of Nisus and Euryalus is also freighted with additional meaning, unconnected to themes of nostos or exile, but appropriate for its placement relative to the concluding exempla of Remus and Ovid. In the Aeneid, Nisus and Euryalus kill the king and augur Rhamnes, followed soon after by a figure called Remus (Verg. Aen. 9.324–35):

sic memorat vocemque premit, simul ense superbum Rhamnetem adgreditur, qui forte tapetibus altis     325 exstructus toto proflabat pectore somnum, rex idem et regi Turno gratissimus augur, sed non augurio potuit depellere pestem. tris iuxta famulos temere inter tela iacentis armigerumque Remi premit aurigamque sub ipsis     330 nactus equis ferroque secat pendentia colla. tum caput ipsi aufert domino truncumque relinquit sanguine singultantem; atro tepefacta cruore terra torique madent. nec non Lamyrumque Lamumque et iuvenem Serranum ....     335

Thus he recounts and suppresses his voice. At the same time, he approaches proud Rhamnes with his sword, who by chance stretched out on deep rugs was breathing forth sleep with his entire breast, the same man a king and, for king [End Page 182] Turnus, the most favored augur; but he was not able to repel his death with augury. Nearby, he lays low three servants, rashly sprawled amidst weapons, and the arms-bearer of Remus and, having got his charioteer below the very horses, slices their hanging necks with iron. Then he steals the head from the lord himself, and he leaves the torso pulsing out blood; the earth and couches are soaked, made warm with black gore. Nor does he not [kill] Lamyrus and Lamus and the young Serranus ....

As various scholars have pointed out, the juxtaposition of Rhamnes and Remus is meant to be significant, as Rhamnes “is related to the name of one of the three tribes of archaic Rome, the Ramnes or Ramnenses. The name Ramnenses was derived from Romulus, and rex et augur is the ‘traditional definition of Romulus.’”99 Casali also draws into the equation Euryalus’s eventual death, when Volcens utters the words calido mihi sanguine poenas (“[you will pay] me penalties with warm blood,” Aen. 9.422), an echo of Romulus’s words as he kills Remus in Ennius’s Annales.100

What does this have to do with the Ibis? The specific mention of Rhamnes and “those who were killed alongside him” sends us to peruse the Aeneid, where we find the aforementioned passage and the death of Remus alongside Romulus’s namesake. What a surprise, then, that two couplets later, it is Remus himself who meets his death at the hands of an unmentioned Romulus. The death of Remus is not merely an appropriate penultimate couplet, nor are the unprecedented tela the couplet’s only connection to the exempla that have come before101; rather, the segue is entirely appropriate, interrupted only by the exemplum of Alcibiades. Casali sees Ovid as the first commentator on the parallel between Vergil’s Nisus and Euryalus episode and the Homeric [End Page 183] Doloneia102; I see him also as the first commentator on Vergil’s juxtaposition of the names Rhamnes and Remus.


While there are still regions of the catalogue remaining to be unpacked, on both a thematic and a structural level, it is clear that Ovid’s arrangement of exempla is far from haphazard, and in addition, it is clear that Ovid has arranged his exempla so as to draw attention to themes that are familiar to us from his other exile poetry. To the themes of nostos, exile, poverty, and meter, which we saw highlighted in the first half by repeated structural markers, Ovid adds poets and poetry, divine punishment, dismemberment, and the consumption of one’s own flesh and blood, all of which are themes that strike powerful chords of resonance with recurring themes of the Tristia and Ex Ponto. In those works, dismemberment is a metaphor for exile,103 consumption and destruction of viscera are metaphors for the destruction of poetry, and divine punishment is (barely) a metaphor for the ira principis which relegated Ovid to Tomis.

We have also seen, encoded in the catalogue of exempla, suggestions to further highlight the disguised iambic nature of the Ibis; much like the themes of love that invade the Metamorphoses and undermine its epic nature, strains of iambus repeatedly invade the Ibis and undermine its professedly un-iambic nature, not least by hinting at the similarities between the elegiac and iambic meters. The increased interest in tela towards the end of the catalogue, which I have proposed is a nod towards the imagined etymological derivation of iambos, also picks up on the exilic image of the Getes pharetratus who replaces the Amor pharetratus of Ovid’s amatory works104; the final exemplum of the catalogue, wishing Ovid’s own fate on Ibis, unites these two functions into one.

There are, of course, other themes to which Ovid returns in the exile poetry, just as there are other themes that can be found in the Ibis catalogue. However, those that have emerged throughout this paper are some of Ovid’s favorite [End Page 184] topics, and the construction of the Ibis catalogue draws further attention to the fundamental importance of those themes in the exile poetry. We must notice, and we cannot forget, just how much the Ibis is a functional part of Ovid’s exilic corpus.105

Darcy A. Krasne
University of Missouri


A. E. Housman’s 1894 recension of the text places three couplets after line 338 (Ib. 459–60, 439–40, and 461–62, in that order), a move which he explains and defends in Housman 1918. La Penna accepts Housman’s transposition, as does Goold—although he does not print it due to the constraints of following Mozley’s earlier pagination—but Lenz and André do not. Two of the three couplets have manuscript evidence to support their placement where Housman suggests; the third (Ib. 459–60) does not, and transposing it disturbs the thematic flow of exempla between Ib. 457 and Ib. 464 (461–62 is less crucial there). A somewhat better suggestion, then, is that made by Tom Keeline in his important forthcoming work on the textual tradition, which proposes the order 337–38, 439–40, 461–62, 339–40. This has merit over Housman’s suggestion in that it does not disturb the placement of Ib. 459–60. However, not all of the textual problems in this region (such as the nearly persistent presence of 637–38 following 338) are solved by either proposal.

Furthermore, accepting either Housman’s or Keeline’s suggestion ignores the important oddity of 337–38 as a closural couplet (in short, there would be no pause following it), as well as not allowing the repeated themes of nostos and foot-maiming (for which, see pp. 155–64) to follow immediately after it. It is therefore prudent to observe the corroborating evidence of total disjunction—which is less unsettled by Housman and Keeline’s proposed arrangements—as a partial refutation of their proposals; this is not to say that nothing is wrong with the text, but rather that the proposed emendations are not fully satisfactory.

There is, however, an alternative which may satisfy the literary critic and the textual critic alike by accommodating both the demands of Ovid’s poetics and the undeniable confusion of the manuscripts. La Penna’s “Oxford group” of manuscripts, which again I thank Tom Keeline for drawing my attention to and underscoring the importance of, places 439–40 and 461–62 not after 338, but after 330. This placement works both syntactically and thematically (Phalaris and Apollodorus become two additional tyrants in the long umbrella-catalogue of kings and tyrants stretching from 281 to 332, for which [End Page 185] see Krasne 2012: ¶25), as well as possibly helping to explain the presence of 637–38 after 338 in most MSS (it hitched a ride along with its neighbor; see La Penna 1957: cxxxi–cxxxii for the verse order of the Oxford group), allowing us to acknowledge the fact that something is not right with the text while still retaining the important transition from 338 to 339.

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* I owe thanks to several people: to Bart Natoli, for his invitation to participate in the 2014 CAMWS panel on Ovid’s exile poetry, which afforded me the opportunity to revisit the Ibis; to Neil Coffee and James Gawley for their assistance in getting a text of the Ibis up on Tesserae (http://tesserae.caset.buffalo.edu/); and especially to Tom Keeline, for sharing with me his unpublished work (now Keeline 2016) on the Ibis’s manuscript tradition.

1. For modern speculations on the date, see Leary 1990; Williams 1992: 178; and Hinds 1999: 62–63. It seems almost certain that the Ibis postdates the composition of Tristia 4, and it necessarily predates Augustus’s death (cf. Ib. 23–28).

2. Although the target of these curses is still unknown, recent scholarship has suggested that we stop looking for Ibis among Ovid’s numerous acquaintances at Rome. If Ovid is not simply tilting at windmills in his exilic melancholy, as Williams 1996 has suggested, then we might profitably see in Ibis one of the two most immediate causes of Ovid’s exilic grief: either the Emperor Augustus (Schiesaro 2011) or Ovid’s own poetry (Krasne 2012). In some ways, Schiesaro’s proposal and my own are flip-sides of the same coin, drawing on much of the same evidence and even advancing some similar arguments.

3. Bernhardt 1986: 328–95 discusses the four catalogues of the introductory section and a sampling of eight mini-catalogues from the curse catalogue, looking primarily at how they correspond with other catalogues from Ovid’s exile poetry; Watson 1991 investigates connections between the Ibis and the Hellenistic genre of arai, or curse-poems; Williams 1996 reads the poem as an expression of irrational obsession and paranoia; Battistella 2010a focuses on the intertextuality of the prologue, highlighting (especially with regard to iambus) its dialogue with Horace, Catullus, and Ovid’s own previous poetry; Schiesaro 2011 convincingly situates the poem within the context of Augustan Rome, Augustan Egypt, and the Augustan literary milieu; in Krasne 2012, I argue that the catalogue is meant to be read by being unpacked in a ludic exercise of “Ergänzungsspiel” (for the term, Bing 1995) and that its poetics are poised between the determined namelessness of the Tristia and the open revelation of names in the Ex Ponto; and most recently, Hawkins 2014: 32–81 considers the literary implications of the poem’s place in a tradition of “ibidic invective” stretching back to Aristophanes and Plato. Rimell 2015: 307–18, which takes on the claustrophobia, dislocation, deracination, fragmentation, and hybridity evident in the Ibis, appeared after this article was already accepted for publication, but her reading of the Ibis and the exile poetry at large (276–322) dovetails nicely with my arguments; I have added references where possible.

4. I demonstrate suggestive interactions of the catalogue’s exempla on a local level in Krasne 2012 and 2013; this paper will primarily deal with the catalogue’s macro-structure.

5. For numeration, I use that followed by all modern editors apart from Owen 1915. In this system, the introduction is numbered at 250 lines (a conveniently round number), but one couplet (Ib. 41–42) is universally omitted as repeating Ib. 133–34, lines which stand out of place in some MSS. (See La Penna 1957 ad loc. and Lenz 1956: xix–xxii for elaboration and discussion.) Thus the introduction is actually 248 lines and the poem actually 642 lines (as in Owen’s numeration), and in my mathematical calculations I use these numbers. I primarily follow Mozley–Goold’s text (with occasional tacit changes of punctuation), except as noted.

6. This tacit consensus is reached simply by virtue of the recurrent appearance of certain lines in various scholars’ divisions of the introduction. André 1963: viii divides the introduction into five sections (1–30, 31–66, 67–106, 107–208, 209–50), while Lenz 1956 and Mozley–Goold 1979 both divide it into a slightly different five paragraphs (1–66, 67–106, 107–26, 127–208, 209–50). La Penna 1957 segments the introduction into fourteen parts for the purposes of his commentary (the breaks are after lines 22, 28, 44, 66, 86, 96, 106, 126, 140, 160, 172, 194, 208, and 250); with the exception of the section labeled “Pausa” (Ib. 127–40), it is hard to know which of these breaks he sees as more pronounced. Williams 1996: 13 refers to all of 67–250 as a “general section of curses, prophecy and prayer,” but one can infer from the rest of his text that he sees at least the following divisions (whether major or minor): 1–66, 67–92, 93–96, 97–106, 107–26, 127–208, 209–50. Von Albrecht 2012: 672–73 recognizes the prefatory nature of 1–66 but, uniquely, divides the poem after 208 (rather than after 250), although he seemingly contradicts this by saying that 259–72 stands close to the beginning of the poem’s second major part (“kurz nach Beginn des zweiten Hauptteils”). He sees a pattern of 30- and 34-line segments dominating the introduction (a crucial observation inexplicably omitted from the 1997 English edition), which he understands as primarily divided into thirds but also subdivided beyond that; as best I can tell, he wants the major sections to be 1–66, 67–96, 97–126, 127–60, and 161–94. Masselli 2002: 49–159 sees the introduction as structured in accordance with canonical rhetorical principles, with the lines grouped as follows: 1–10 (exordium), 11–28 (nar-ratio), 29–44 (conclusio A), 45–64 (partitio), 65–208 (conclusio B), 209–50 (confirmatio); the remainder of the poem serves as a third conclusio.

7. André 1963: viii divides the proem into two discrete sections at 30/31, but the list of adynata at Ib. 31–40 seems more an escalation of the previous lines than a shift of emphasis or theme; Bernhardt 1986: 340, as do I, sees the adynata catalogue as opening “die zweite Hälfte des Proömiums.”

8. The unity of the section is, I think, confirmed by the resulting centrality of Ib. 95–96 (for the relevance, see p. 158 below).

10. See Hinds 1999: 63–65; Krasne 2012: ¶¶27–32. Von Albrecht 2012: 672, followed by Guarino Ortega 2000: 28, implies only a minor transition between Ibis’s ill-omened birth and the subsequent catalogue by placing the poem’s major division after Ib. 208; this is, I think, refuted by Hinds’s observations concerning the repetition of the poem’s incipit. However, by referring to the introduction and catalogue as separate sections, I do not mean to imply, in the fashion of Housman 1920: 317–18 and André 1963: viii–ix, that the two are unrelated.

11. Williams 1996: 90: “Ovid is experimenting with a new kind of carmen perpetuum.”

12. Some are no longer intelligible at all, but that is due to our loss of sources and, in some cases, textual corruption, rather than authorial intention; I do not subscribe to the view that the catalogue’s inscrutability was a part of Ibis’s torture (cf. Williams 1996: 90).

13. It has long been recognized that thematic and associative logic are at play within the catalogue (e.g., Ellis 1881: xliv–xlvii; La Penna 1957: xlvi–xlix; André 1963: ix; Bernhardt 1986: 330–38); however, the careful layering and the potential to construe meaning from the arrangement of exempla have been demonstrated only recently (see Krasne 2012 and 2013, along with Battistella 2013).

14. Most couplets are connected by some sort of coordinating conjunction, typically et, aut, vel, nec, or -que, while various correlatives (generally tam ... quam or sic ... ut) provide additional methods of linking couplets. Bernhardt 1986: 333 provides some statistics.

15. Simple syntactic disjunction, unrelated to a thematic continuation, is far more common; the first several instances are at 259, 263, 269, and 273.

16. Ib. 337–38, 413–14, 421–24, and 625–26. Three of the four have a closural aspect, hence my term for them. Each is unique: the first sums up the three preceding couplets, the second reprises language from critical points in the introduction and the beginning of the catalogue, the third devotes two couplets to a single curse, and the fourth provides a conclusion for each of the two couplets it follows; I discuss all of these in detail below.

17. Although Williams 1996: 91 reads this as an allusion to the Iliad specifically, there seems to me no reason to omit the Trojans’ post-Iliadic woes—namely, the stuff of the Aeneid—from the suggestive scope of the curse.

18. All translations are my own.

19. Ovid protests that he does not and will not write iambic but may be forced to do so later: Ib. 45–46, 53–54, 643–44. On the catalogue’s opening pes-pun, see Krasne 2012: ¶¶31–37, where I also discuss the addition of Bellerophon to make a crippled, tragic, and ultimately metapoetically choliambic trio (cf. schol. vet. in Ar. Ran. 846 on the moniker χωλοποιός, “the cripple-maker”). In a related vein, see now Hawkins 2014: 32–81 on Ovid’s exaggerated protestation in the Ibis that he is not an iambic poet, as well as my discussion below.

20. Ovid wishes mala on Ibis at Ib. 22, 120, 196, 203, 252, and 414; he laments his own mala at Ib. 22 and throughout the exile poetry.

21. Cf. Fast. 4.5; see Pichon 1902: 302 and Videau-Delibes 1991: 289–307.

22. On the importance of middles in general, see Conte 1992 and Fowler 1997: 15–22; see Hardie 2004 on Ovidian middles specifically.

23. See figs. 23 for the exempla of Ib. 365–412.

24. The only closural couplet prior to this one (Ib. 337–38), to which we shall turn below, concludes the curses of the previous three couplets by reiterating their theme, that Ibis’s corpse be dragged by horses.

25. However, note the similarity to Ovid’s repetition of Fast. 1.1–2 halfway through his (surviving?) work, at 4.11–12; see Barchiesi 1997: 56 for the Fasti repetition.

26. The two couplets which close the second section and open the third section, Ib. 125–28 (actually lines 123–26; see n5 for discussion of the poem’s numeration), really do stand at the exact center of the introduction, unless other transpositions are accepted.

27. Although he structures the poem differently, von Albrecht 2012: 672 also sees evenient as linking 413–14 back to 127 and understands both couplets as central to their sections. With less specificity (and some small inaccuracy), Green 2002: 64 observes that the curses are “in two groups (251–410, 413–638, with a linking couplet at 411–12).”

28. Evenient in fact occurs only one other place in all of Latin literature, at Plaut. Capt. 971. The form eveniant (although some MSS read evenient here as well) also occurs once in the Ibis, at almost the exact center of the curse-catalogue-plus-coda (Ib. 448), in a couplet that likely wishes Hipponax’s iambic curses on Ibis.

29. Mozley–Goold reads spe for quae and does not obelize the phrase.

30. While translators and commentators, in their efforts to make sense of this frequently emended and possibly corrupt hemistich (La Penna 1957: 106), tend to understand [fortuna] maior as referring to the comparably “better” fortune of Achaemenides and Irus, I take it as meaning that Ibis’s fortune is “more excessive.” I do not agree with La Penna that, due to a lack of comparanda, maior cannot here in some fashion parallel the sense of gravior; fortuna clearly already has a negative connotation in the passage, and on a syntactic level, quae tibi maior erit is most clearly understood as meaning that Ibis’s fortuna, not the fortuna of Achaemenides and Irus, will be maior. Whether the half-pentameter is correct at all is a different question.

31. Williams 1996: 97–98.

32. Keith 1992: 341: “Ovid’s witty play on pedem in the sense of ‘metrical foot’ [at Am. 1.1.4] ... may derive from his recognition of the rarely noticed Propertian pun et caput impositis pressit Amor pedibus (1.1.4).” She provides bibliography ad loc. of others who have commented on this pun.

33. Harena, too, may bear poetic meaning, as Chiara Battistella has argued of the word and its context at Ov. Her. 10.20 (2010b: 5–7); thanks to TAPA’s anonymous reader for suggesting the connection. See also n67 on this couplet.

34. alternus of elegiac couplets: Tr. 3.1.11 (clauda quod alterno subsidunt carmina versu), Tr. 3.1.56 (aspicis alternos intremuisse pedes?), Tr. 3.7.10 (aptaque in alternos cogere verba pedes), Her. 15.5–6 (forsitan et quare mea sint alterna requiras/ carmina), Fast. 2.121 (reading alterno carmine). Cf. also Fast. 4.484–86, which Hinds 1987: 119–20 proposes as one of the metrically-relevant sections of the Persephone story.

35. For example, Ib. 107–26, segment 2B of the introduction. McGowan 2009: 191 draws an analogy between the beggar and the exile, in the context of Homeric poetry and by extension in Ovid’s exile poetry; however, Barchiesi 2001: 157 observes that poverty and questions of a poet’s “economic status” are also iambic conceits. Joy Reeber suggests to me that the description of beggars as quique tenent pontem (Ib. 418) might be heard as an aural impression of quique tenentPontum,” thus bringing exile and poverty directly face-to-face and placing a hint of Ovid’s own fate into the center of the poem; this idea is supported by the parallel phrase at Tr. 1.10.31, quaeque tenent Ponti Byzantia litora fauces (“and the Byzantian shores which contain the opening of the Black Sea”).

36. Ovid elsewhere represents Irus as the most destitute of all, at the nadir of monetary fortune: Irus et est subito, qui modo Croesus erat (“and he is suddenly an Irus who was just now a Croesus,” Tr. 3.7.42).

37. Similarly, too, the instability wished on Ibis’s foot can be taken as an iambic conceit as well as elegiac; see, for instance, Ib. 523, where Hipponactean choliambic is referred to as parum stabili ... carmine (“a song too little stable”).

38. These lines are also not too far from the overall poem’s numerical center, whether or not this fact is relevant. See the Appendix for an account of some textual difficulties with this section.

39. See fig. 4 for the overall thematic scheme of Ib. 339–48.

40. See Krasne 2012: n123 for a justification of understanding Ib. 343–44 as a reference to Telamonian Ajax, to which I would now also add what I think is the most decisive evidence (a passage which I overlooked before), Met. 13.266–67: at nihil impendit per tot Telamonius annos/ sanguinis in socios et habet sine vulnere corpus (“But the son of Telamon, throughout so many years, sheds no blood amidst his companions and has a body without a wound”). Ulysses has glibly taken Ajax’s (unmentioned) invulnerability and turned it into a slight, humorous for the learned reader and now made even more humorous by this belated transformation (almost a punch-line) of the jibe.

41. Epic, about to be transformed into elegy, is par at Am. 1.1.3–4, while elegiacs are dispar at Pont. 2.5.1–2 and travel on disparibus rotis at Pont. 3.4.85–86; cf. also Hor. Ars P. 75 (versibus impariter iunctis querimonia primum, “lines unequally joined first held complaints”). We may also think of suggestively elegiac phrasing such as dimidia parte decoris at Fast. 5.122, describing Amalthea’s goat’s loss of one horn.

42. While Williams 1996: 56 rightly observes that exile and starvation are hackneyed curses, the majority of those who compose curse poetry are not themselves exiles. On Ovid’s interest in his own failed nostos, expressed particularly through comparisons with Ulysses, see Rahn 1958: 115–18; Videau-Delibes 1991: 51, 68; Tola 2004: 260–78; and McGowan 2009: 169–201.

43. Hinds 2007: 206. Cf. Hinds 1999: 65: “Ovid often in this elegy makes Ibis a kind of double of himself by wishing on his persecutor the same sufferings—and the same mythological analogies—which he himself suffers in the Tristia.”

45. The precise number depends on what deletions or transpositions we accept, but without question the catalogue’s numerical middle is in this neighborhood.

46. See fig. 5 for a thematic sketch.

47. This couplet may belong elsewhere; see the Appendix.

48. Whether it was Atreus’s or Thyestes’ part in the gruesome feast (or Thyestes’ subsequent incest with his daughter, or the whole sequence of events) that caused the Sun to change his course is unknown, and it may have been unknown to Ovid as well.

49. The popular reading of the MSS, Tereique puer (which would be Itys), is metrically impossible, coming as it does in the second half of the pentameter; most editors therefore accept the reading Teleique puer, attested by one MS. This reading is contextually feasible if we understand it to mean the grandson of Teleus, or if (as Williams 1996: 111n99 suggests) we see Ovid as reverting to the theme of those who consumed human flesh, rather than the theme of those being consumed: Teleus’s son Clymenus raped his daughter Harpalyce, who took revenge by feeding her younger brother (possibly the same as her own son, the product of the rape) to their father. (Lightfoot 1999: 446–54 discusses multiple versions of the myth.)

50. Tr. 3.9.27–34; membra per agros is at 3.9.27. The exemplum of Lycaon, a few lines earlier, also quotes Ovid’s earlier material: foeda Lycaoniae repetes convivia mensae (Ib. 431) appropriates foeda Lycaoniae referens convivia mensae (“recalling the foul banquets of Lycaon’s table,” Met. 1.165), perhaps reminding us not only of the deed itself, but of Jupiter’s subsequent anger.

51. Oliensis 1997: 186–90; Hinds 2007: 198–207. Curtis 2015 now also investigates Ovid’s exilic use of the Absyrtus story in Tr. 3.9; thanks to the author and Craig Gibson for enabling me to see a copy prior to publication. Many of Curtis’s observations are profitable for this paper; I have added a few specific citations in what follows.

52. Hinds 2007: 202. He therefore draws a further passage of the Ibis into this nexus, one which wishes on Ibis the fate of Cinna (Ib. 539–40), whose dismemberment quotes Orpheus’s own (Hinds 2007: 206–9); on this later couplet, see also Krasne 2012: ¶¶74–75, 82–83, and see below for its relevance to this paper. The phrase membra per agros also occurs in Polyphemus’s speech to Galatea in the Metamorphoses, where he threatens to tear her lover Acis to pieces and scatter him over fields and waves: viscera viva traham divisaque membra per agros/ perque tuas spargam (sic se tibi misceat!) undas (“I shall drag his living entrails and divided limbs through the fields, and I shall scatter them through your waves (thus he may mix himself with you!),” Met. 13.865–66). If, as Curtis 2015: 434n54 suggests, Ovid is alluding to a specific tragic antecedent via membra per agros, then further dimensions of meaning might have been added by consulting the source text, an extratextual augmentation which we see operative elsewhere in the Ibis (in addition to several examples discussed in this paper, see also Krasne 2012: ¶¶79–81).

53. Although Ovid repeats the general sentiment of having been destroyed by his poetry in various places, this is the closest verbal parallel by far to Ars am. 1.655–56; Tr. 3.14.6 is the next closest.

54. Curtis 2015: 436 also observes (courtesy of Tom Zanker) the literariness inherent not just in Absyrtus’s membra, but in the etymologized name of Tomis itself: τόμοι is regularly used of book-rolls.

55. Krasne 2012: ¶76, n170.

56. Rimell 2015: 299–307 also reads Perillus’s bull in both Tr. 3.11 and the Ibis as pro-grammatic for Ovid’s exile, thus confirming even more strongly the poetics of the section.

57. See n19; see also Schiesaro 2001 and 2011, degl’ Innocenti Pierini 2003. Most recently, Hawkins 2014: 32–81 discusses and develops Ovid’s iambic recusatio in great detail. On Ovid’s overall obsession with meter, see also (among many others) Hinds 1985; Gildenhard and Zissos 2000.

58. postmodo plura leges et nomen habentia verum, / et pede quo debent acria bella geri (“Afterwards, you will read more things, both having your true name and in the meter in which harsh wars ought to be waged,” Ib. 643–44).

59. I do not follow Mozley–Goold here, who accept Housman’s suggestion of Pitthides. It is, I think, safe to say that Housman’s emendation, while characteristically ingenious, is incorrect; while I favor Rosen’s 1988 argument for reading Pytheides, namely Hipponax, I would not be averse to a well-reasoned justification for accepting the reading Battiades, attested by a small group of MSS. Nonetheless, La Penna 1957: 113 is right to call this “[f]orse il distico piú spinoso dell’Ibis.”

60. Heyworth 1993 sees Callimachus’s Ibis as a near antecedent of Horace’s Epodes.

61. The scholia all insist that cuius ab inferiis culter abesse solet is Menedemus, a hero of the Trojan war who died from multiple stab wounds and was worshipped, according to them, on Crete; they attribute the information to Callimachus (fr. 663 Pf.), and Cameron 2004: 181–83 argues for accepting their testimony (although he proposes that the Diegesis was their more immediate source). As Clement of Alexandria (Protr. 40.2) refers to a Menedemus who was given hero-cult on the Cycladic island of Cythnos, most scholars adjust Menedemus’s place of worship accordingly (André 1963: 45 suggests that the scholiasts’ relocation of Menedemus to Crete was “sans doute” due to their “ignorance de la situation géographique de l’île de Kythnos”). Without further evidence, however, it is impossible to say precisely how Menedemus fits into this section of the catalogue.

62. First noticed by Dawson 1946: 12, who also suggests that Ovid may here be influenced directly by Callimachus as well as by Tibullus.

63. Cf. Ars am. 1.507–8 (quorum Cybeleïa mater/ concinitur Phrygiis exululata modis, “by whose Phrygian strains the Cybelean mother is hymned, to the sound of ecstatic yells”). The actual derivation of the galliambic line and whether or not it had any original association with iambic is (fortunately) entirely immaterial for the purposes of this argument; all that matters is that Ovid would have made some association between galliambic and iambic. Although the term itself is not attested until writings attributed to Caesius Bassus in the Neronian period, it seems to me unlikely that Roman metrical terminology would shift vastly in the course of fifty years. Bassus claims a close connection between galliambic and iambic trimeter, such that galliambic can legitimately be called “iambic”: siquis autem quaesierit, quid ita, cum sit galliambicus versus, iambici quoque nomen acceperit, hoc versu, qui est apud Maecenatem, lecto intelleget eum ex iambico quoque trimetro nasci ‘hic nympha cingit omnis Acheloum senem’. adice syllabam Acheloo, fiet galliambicus sic ‘hic nympha cingit omnis Acheloium senem’ (“but if anyone asks why, although a verse is galliambic, it also receives the name of iambic, after he reads this verse, which is by Maecenas, he will understand that it is also derived from the iambic trimeter ‘here every nymph circles around old Achelous.’ Add a syllable to ‘Achelous,’ and it will become galliambic, as follows: ‘here every nymph circles around old Acheloïus,’” Mazzarino, Gramm. Rom. Frag. fr. 6.205–12). Fantuzzi and Hunter 2004: 478 note the likelihood that “hymns to the Great Mother ... as the very name suggests ... [were] the context in which the metre had been first invented”; presumably the “iambic” part of the name was also meaningful (whether as meter or mockery), as Mulroy 1976: 62n3 and 70 observes.

64. There are other references to both feet and swiftness throughout the poem, although nowhere else in conjunction; see Heyworth 2001: 133 and Oliensis 2009: 121. Catullus’s repeated metrical jest seems to echo an emphasis on swiftness found in earlier galliambic poetry such as Varro’s Menippean satire Cycnus, which included the line tua templa ad alta †fani† properans citus itere (“hurrying swiftly to your lofty temples along the precinct’s path,” fr. 79 Astbury).

65. Oliensis 2009: 121 already draws this further connection between the galliambic and iambic meters: “If the iamb is a pes citus, as Horace describes it in the Ars Poetica (Ars 252), the galliamb, with its characteristic runs of light syllables ... is the ultimate pes citatus.” Ovid, too, observes the swift foot of pure iambic (in contrast with the dragging final foot of choliambic): liber in adversos hostes stringatur iambus, / seu celer, extremum seu trahat ille pedem (“let unrestrained iambus be wielded against opposed enemies, whether it be swift or drag its final foot,” Rem. am. 377–78). Even without accepting the allusion to galliambics, therefore, the “swift foot” here in the Ibis can still hold iambic import, but I rather think that this conjunction of themes further supports the suggestion of galliambic.

66. per medias ... manus (Ib. 424); in medii ... voragine caeni (Ib. 443).

67. Erysichthon serves as a hinge between the two sections (see Krasne 2012: ¶¶25–26 on this organizational principle): his act of autophagy heads the catalogue of human flesh consumption, but the destitution caused by eating himself out of house and home, hinted at by mention of his daughter Mestra’s shape-changing (he had managed to feed his voracious habit by repeatedly selling her), connects back to the poverty theme of the medial interlude (a shared function also noted by Bernhardt 1986: 363). Moreover, the transition from the medial interlude into the next section of the catalogue is verbal as well as thematic: the first pentameter of the two-couplet pause prior to the exemplum of Erysichthon (subtrahitur presso mollis harena pedi , Ib. 422) closely echoes Met. 8.869 (credidit et verso dominus pede pressit harenam , “her master believed her and pressed the sand with his foot turned”), which refers to the first man to buy Erysichthon’s daughter. The progression is, effectively, as follows:

68. On the importance of this theme in the Ibis, see Krasne 2012: ¶¶87–94. For the general conceit, see Farrell 1999; Keith 1999; and Most 1992: 407–8, among others. Tola 2004 is most thorough on Ovid’s exilic use of the trope. See also n85.

69. Ib. 263–72; see Krasne 2012: ¶¶8–14.

intertextual allusion to Erysichthon’s poverty => poverty => Erysichthon poverty || autophagy => anthropophagy
(Ib. 421–22) (Ib. 421–26) (Ib. 425–26) (Ib. 425–34)

70. For the sake of space, I do not quote the passage in its entirety. The artists (etc.) are: Callisthenes, an invective historian in Alexander’s company; Archilochus; Hipponax; an unknown lyrae vates severae (“bard of the stern lyre”); Lycophron; Philomela (an artist-figure in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, whose name also embodies song); Cinna; an unknown vates Achaeus; Prometheus (foresight embodied); Mamertas (or Mamercus), generally identified as the 4th c. tyrant of Catania, whom Plutarch records as a self-vaunted poet and tragedian (Plut. Tim. 31.1; for his death see 34.6–7); an unknown Syracosius poeta, possibly Theocritus; Marsyas; Socrates; the philosopher Anaxarchus; Amphion; an unknown comicus; Euripides; Empedocles; and Orpheus. In addition, while Eupolis (Ib. 529–30) is not the poet Eupolis, he may well be meant to evoke both his homonym and Orpheus’s wife Eurydice (see Krasne 2012: ¶¶67–71); Glaucus the sea-god (Ib. 556) is prophetic in Apollonius’s Argonautica (ὑποφήτης, 1.1311); Glaucus the son of Minos (Ib. 557–58) is taught prophecy by Polyidus after being resuscitated, although he is subsequently deprived of the knowledge; and the petrifaction caused by Medusa’s head (Ib. 553–54), especially with the adjective saxi ficae (“stone- making ”), may be intended to put one in mind of a sculptor, as “Medusa” was evidently used earlier in the poem (Ib. 447) as a nickname for the stone-carver Boupalos or Athenis (see Rosen 1988). Rimell 2006: 61 also points out that, as the mother of Pegasus, Medusa is in fact the origin of poetry, and she argues for the figure of Medusa as inherently intertwined with Ovid’s poetic program; likewise, Young 2008: 16–19 ties the deaths of both Hyacinthus and Adonis (mentioned at Ib. 587–88 and 565–66, respectively) in the Metamorphoses to textualization and authorial creation, although these effects are particularly pronounced in the case of Hyacinthus.

71. Unquestionably, episodes of divine vengeance include Pentheus, Prometheus, Marsyas, Glaucus of Potniae, Adonis, Ulysses, Crotopus and the Argives, Hippolytus, Niobe’s children and presumably Niobe herself, Battus, Orpheus, and Meleager (whose fate quotes Fast. 5.305, where Diana’s anger is explicitly responsible). Possibly included are Hyacinthus (was the discus accidentally off-course, or blown by a jealous Zephyrus?); Orestes, the cause of whose death by snake-bite has been lost to the ages; and Palinurus, whose death was ultimately the result of actions of the gods, although not of their vengeance per se. If the vates Achaeus (Ib. 541) is Rhoecus, who was blinded by a nymph for being unfaithful to her or for being rude to her bee-messenger (see Lightfoot 1999: 528), then that exemplum will also fit the theme of divine vengeance.

72. Bernhardt 1986: 370–74 observes that the first four exempla are artists whose punishment results from their own works; these same authors, I would point out, also all seem to be writers of invective.

73. Cadmus (Ib. 446), as an inventor of writing, may also belong to this medial group; the juxtaposition of Sidonia with Graeca puts the reader in mind of both writing and exile. See n54 for the potential relevance of Absyrtus, as well.

74. See Bernhardt 1986: 280–300 on catalogues of artists elsewhere in the exile poetry.

75. His technique is proven to work: although there are four exempla which we cannot securely identify, we do know that they fit the theme, thanks to Ovid’s pointed use of vates, poeta, and comicus. The same is true for several more that we can identify: conditor historiae (Ib. 520), repertori ... pugnacis iambi (Ib. 521), parum stabili qui carmine laesit (Ib. 523), coturnatum (Ib. 531), fidicen (Ib. 583), coturnatum vatem (Ib. 595). In addition, the use of opifex for a bee (Ib. 541), a word that Ovid uses elsewhere only of his mundi fabricator (Met. 1.79) and of Daedalus (Met. 8.201), adds even more artistic flavor.

76. The adjective noxia is transferred from the criminal eyes in the Tristia to the means of their punishment in the Ibis. On Ovid’s guilty gaze, see Ingleheart 2006.

77. McGowan 2009: 39–45, 56–59, stresses the importance of this role for Ovid.

78. See the discussion above; Hinds 2007: 206 calls Cinna’s death an “immediately Roman story of poetic victimization.”

79. See Forbis 1997. Claassen 2008: 222–23 discusses professed loss of control over language as symptomatic of exile, while Rimell 2015: 280 notes specifically the prevalence of “blocked or pierced throats and stifled voices” in the Tristia as the product of both political censorship and exilic trauma; these images are, clearly, equally prominent in this section of the Ibis.

80. The wish that Ibis will be like Astyanax, watching Troy in flames (Ib. 563–64), may also make us think of Huskey’s observation that Ovid in Tr. 1.3 “maps the fall of Troy onto himself” (2002: 102).

81. See Krasne 2012: ¶¶74–5, 82–83.

83. The reference to Broteas (Ib. 517–18) is, to my mind, still unsolved by scholars and quite possibly corrupt (thus I have chosen to obelize the text), and it therefore could, as easily as not, belong to the umbrella-catalogue of artists; Meleager’s death, while coming after the last exemplum of the artist catalogue, continues and seems to bring to a close the theme of divine retribution.

84. Tr. 1.7.18 echoes Met. 8.475 (incipit esse tamen melior germana parente, “however, she began to be a better sister than parent”), and Tr. 1.7.20 echoes Althaea’s exclamation, rogus iste cremet mea viscera (“let that pyre burn my innards,” Met. 8.478).

85. Hinds 1999: 63n61 observes a “suggestive parallel” between Ibis’s and Meleager’s births (specifically, Ib. 241–42 and Met. 8.452–56) and also Meleager’s death (Met. 8.481–82) but leaves any conclusions up to the reader; my own conclusion, or at least one of them, is that there is also a close analogy between Ibis’s limbs and those of Ovid’s poetry (see Krasne 2012: ¶¶86–94). See n68 for bibliography on Ovid’s analogizing between his physical and poetic corpora. Hawkins 2014: 60–62 sees a particular concern for “an author’s texts as orphaned children” and for “the ‘life,’ perspective, and volition of the textual offspring” in Aristophanes, Plato, and Ovid’s exile poetry; these authors and Callimachus are the surviving participants in Hawkins’s tradition of ibidic invective. Rimell 2015: 280, in a similar vein, points specifically to motherlessness as a theme of the exile poetry.

86. One derivation of “iambos” was from ἰὸν βάζειν, “to speak an arrow,” but also “to speak poison”; Heyworth 2001: 132 sees this second interpretation behind Catullus’s reference to iambic poetry as venena (Catull. 14.19). The Etymologicum Magnum, which provides us with the phrase (K463.27), considers only the “arrow” meaning, clarifying its etymology with ὡς βέλη βάλλειν τὰ λεγόμενα (“that is, to hurl words like shafts,” Etym. Magn. K463.28), but a fragment of Callimachus preserves the other: εἴλκυσε δὲ δριμύν τε χόλον κυνὸς ὀξύ τε κέντρον/ σφηκός, ἀπ’ ἀμφοτέρων δ’ ἰὸν ἔχει στόματος (“but he drew the bitter gall of a dog and the sharp goad of a wasp, and he has the mouth’s poison from both,” Callim. fr. 380 Pf.). As a fanciful conjecture, is it possible that Ovid is toying throughout the Ibis with a pun on the similarities between χόλος, χωλός, and κῶλον?

87. The bee’s venomous spicula in fact fuse the two etymologies; see n86.

88. postmodo, si perges, in te mihi liber iambus/ tincta Lycambeo sanguine tela dabit (“afterwards, if you continue, unrestrained iambus will launch against you, on my behalf, shafts dyed with Lycambes’ blood,” Ib. 53–54). The verb iaculabere at Ib. 587, although used of throwing a discus, also echoes Ovid’s assertion that he will not yet launch an iambic attack against Ibis (sic ego te nondum ferro iaculabor acuto, “thus I shall not yet hurl at you with sharp iron,” Ib. 49). In the same couplet, ictus (Ib. 588), too, may have an iambic connotation (as well as smacking of exile; cf. Videau-Delibes 1991: 293–95). While Ovid, of course, uses ictus of Pegasus’s hoof-blow that drew forth the wellspring of poetry (see Hinds 1987: 16–18), Horace used it specifically of iambus’s six beats (Ars P. 253), and as Barchiesi 2001: 145 remarks on that passage, “ictus, in Horace’s time was a metrical neologism, but also ... a very iambic word, and conveniently an anagram of citus.”

89. Unlike closural couplets, disjunction appears to occur both more frequently and less significantly in the second half of the catalogue, which is much more syntactically fractured than the first and where we do not have the same extensive swathes of themes to guide us; what has been a wild ride of a carmen perpetuum now begins to stumble and move jerkily, asking us to stop, regroup, and reconsider far more frequently. Interestingly, Bernhardt 1986: 331 also observes a much higher incidence of what she calls “Einzelexempla” in the second half of the catalogue. However, as she only groups exempla according to their specific mode of death, whereas I see many and overlapping ways of grouping exempla, her actual statistics are immaterial to my discussion.

90. None of our surviving references to this aetion from Aetia 3 in fact makes clear whether the murderer was the host or the guest, as hospes is ambiguous (all our references are in Latin, although ξένος would be equally ambiguous)—accordingly, some scholars refer to this aetion (fr. 78 Pf.) as the “Isindian guest” (e.g., Krevans 1984: 241; Massimilla 2011: 52) and others as the “Isindian host” (e.g., Bulloch 2006: 504; Harder 2012: 668). See Curtis 2015: 428–29 for the possible programmatic significance of hospes in Ovid’s exile poetry; Rimell 2015: 313–14 likewise notes a meaningful ambiguity as operative in the specific use of hospes at Ib. 579–80.

91. See Callim. Aet. fr. 102 Pf.

92. If these tela are metapoetically-flavored, can we see a pun in im ped iare, as well? Viscera, however, is attested by only one manuscript, although the reading is generally accepted; the most common reading is pectora.

93. Diod. Sic. 14.11.4: τοὺς δὲ καταλαβόντας αὐτὸν τῆς Φρυγίας ἔν τινι κώμῃ κατ­εσκηνωκότα νυκτὸς περιθεῖναι ξύλων πλῆθος· ἀναφθέντος οὖν πολλοῦ πυρὸς τὸν Ἀλκιβιάδην ἐπιχειρῆσαι μὲν ἀμύνεσθαι, κρατηθέντα δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς καὶ τῶν εἰς αὐτὸν ἀκοντιζόντων τελευτῆσαι (“But having caught him in residence in some Phrygian hamlet, they put a lot of wood around during the night; and so with much fire having been kindled, Alcibiades attempted to ward it off, but having been overcome by the fire and with them throwing javelins at him, he died”).

94. See nn68 and 85. In addition to (or leading to) the prevalence of literary analogies between text and body, we should again recall that membra are μέλη and μέλη are carmina.

95. It may also be worth drawing attention, conversely, to the combat-related adjectives that Ovid applies to his poetry in the opening lines of the Ibis: his carmen has always been inerme and his littera[e] have never been sanguinolenta[e].

96. The identification is not certain, nor is the reading of Minervae.

97. Dué and Ebbott 2010: 77: “The success or failure of a surprise attack is expressed in terms of returning home, and it is through this concept that ambush shares thematic language and details with the theme of the journey, especially the nostos, the journey of homecoming. For spying missions or ambushes seem to be conceived of as having the same overall structure of a journey, and the two themes share the particular spatial structure of going out and, more importantly, coming home.”

98. In addition, Nisus and Euryalus’s raid is referred to several times as a journey (iter, Aen. 9.321, 377, 391). Most importantly, quove tenetis iter? (“or whither do you hold your course?” Aen. 9.377), addressed to Euryalus by Volcens, echoes precisely Venus’s disingenuous question to Aeneas on the shores of Carthage (Aen. 1.370).

99. Casali 2004: 346. While the Rutulians who meet their death immediately after Rhamnes and Remus have names that most scholars have linked with various Roman gentes (see Hardie 1994: 133–34 ad loc.), it seems to me that the pair Lamyrus and Lamus create yet another recollection of Romulus and Remus: the liquids “r” and “l” are metathesized and the vowels are shifted, but the echo is nonetheless precise. (Ahl 2007: 414 ad loc., however, wishes to see in the nominative Lamirusque Lamusque an anagram of “Marius and Sulla.”)

100. nam mi calido dabis sanguine poenas (“for you will pay me penalties with warm blood,” fr. 95Sk.); see Casali 2004: 346–47.

101. While we may of course understand tela here simply to mean “weapons” (OLD s.v. telum 3) rather than “missiles” and compare the inescapably rustic rutrum used by Celer at Fast. 4.843, Ovid’s choice of words is always marked.

102. Casali 2004: 321n8: “Even before Macrobius (5.2.15) and Servius (on Aen. 9.1), the parallel is noticed by Ovid, Ibis 625–630.”

103. See Videau-Delibes 1991: 295–99 and Theodorakopoulos 1999: 160–61. Tola 2004, too, catalogues many of the aforementioned themes, as well as others of clear relevance to this paper (such as fluidity and instability), as key “metamorphic” themes of Ovid’s exile poetry.

104. Nagle 1980: 55–61; worth particular note is Ovid’s frequent stress on these arrows being poisoned (see Nagle 1980: 56–57), which recalls the dual interpretation of the etymology of “iambos.”

105. I plan, in a future paper, to extend my investigation of metapoetics in the Ibis into the 250-line introduction.