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R. Hunter: The Divine and Human Map of the Argonautica 13 The Divine and Human Map of the Argonautica Richard Hunter Epic poetry seeks to map the world, both as a physical and as an ideological construct. Just as Homer was the source of all literature, all philosophy, and all political science, so epic is the all-encompassing literary embodiment of all that is known. If it was the Shield of Achilles—itself both microcosm and macrocosmwhich was for later ages the most obvious epic site where spatial and cultural dispositions were clearly inter-dependent,1 it was the Odyssey which taught for all time how geographic and cultural maps could never be totally distinct entities. The persistence ofdiis pattern of thought in later Greek science (especially medicine) and ethnography has often been documented. Recent years have explored to excellent effect the consequences which diis aspect of the Greek heritage had in Roman epic and in the Aeneid in particular, one need only think of the complementary, though very different, books of Philip Hardie and Claude Nicolet.2 It is now well understood that the Aeneid does not merely plot the foundation of Roman imperial power, but also marks out the space of that power, geographically, morally, and politically. A fundamental technique in Vergil's project is the interplay of "epic time" and "historical time:" the institutions and ideology of Augustan Rome are retrojected into (or, perhaps, mapped on to) the epic past, thus confirming that the new order, far from being "new" in an absolute sense, is of pristine antiquity. In seeking to understand the earlier history of this process, the Argonautica of Apollonius seems an obvious starting-point. The Argonautica-oi so I have argued elsewhere~was a crucial text in the development of Vergil's strategy, both because some of Apollonius' concerns are similar to those of Vergil, and because the Roman poet chose to read the Greek epic 1 Cf., e.g., P.R. Hardie, "Imago mundi: Cosmological and Ideological Aspects of the Shield of Achilles," JHS 105 (1985) 11-31. 2 PJl. Hardie, Virgil's Aeneid: Cosmos and Imperium (Oxford 1986); C. Nicolet, Space, Geography, and Politics in the early Roman Empire (Michigan 1991) translating L'inventaire du monde: géographie etpolitique aux origines de l'Empire romain (Paris 1988). There is also much of interest on this subject in D. Quint, Epic and Empire. Politics and Generic Formfrom Virgil to Milton (Princeton 1993). 14Syllecta Classica 6 (1995) in such a way as to fashion the prior text to his own purpose.3 Moreover, there are good reasons to dunk diat the Argonautic story had always been a narrative in which the boundaries of "history" and "myth" were available for negotiation; the aetiological dimension was fundamental to the whole narrative, not merely a casual offshoot of it.4 More specifically, the Argonautica of Apollonius yields close parallels to some of Vergil's techniques of "mixing time." Thus, for example, it is now generally accepted diat the account, in the mouth ofLykos, of the history of the Mariandynoi reflects recent events and, in particular, the political aspirations of the people ofHeraclea Pontica (2.774-810);5 whatever the details, it is clear diat mythic history is in this passage accommodated to recent history in a way diat becomes very familiar in the Roman epic. Moreover, Apollonius lived in a period of considerable interest in geography and geographical writing, some of which is doubtless reflected in his epic.6 There are, therefore, reasons to hope that wider enquiries concerning the relation between the Argonautica and the political and social world in which it was written may not be fruitless, although this relation has, until recently, attracted remarkably little critical attention.7 In diis paper I shall examine two different aspects of the Argonautic "map," in both of which, however, we can see how the geographical and the moral or cultural parameters of the poem run together. In Section I, I shall deal briefly with the passage of the Argo through the Symplegades and the voyage along the southern Pontic shore, and in Section II, I shall be concerned with the religious horizons of the epic. I Much...


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