Printer Friendly

'He smiles and is gentle': the lighter side of Palladas of Alexandria.


We recall the verdict of Georg Luck, who criticised Palladas' epigrams for their shallow pessimism and eccentric invective, which he regarded as 'not balanced by a sense of values which recognizes the good and the beautiful next to the corrupt and the ridiculous in human life', and rather the symptom of a disease or neurosis which distorted life like a carnival mirror. (1) It is true that the overwhelming majority of Palladas' epigrams are serious, highly critical and pessimistic. However, earlier in his article, Luck also acknowledged Palladas' popularity in antiquity and quoted the anonymous epigram AP 9.38 as evidence, concluding with this observation: 'In view of this, the traditional portrait of Palladas as the gloomy outsider who nurses a grudge against everyone and everything, needs a few corrections.' (2)

There are certainly a number of epigrams that have a happier, more forgiving and accepting content and tone, which, although not sufficient to restore the 'balance' that Luck sought, nevertheless reveal to us a much more sympathetic side of the poet which he deliberately or instinctively chose for the most part to conceal. This article takes a closer look at these 'more sympathetic' epigrams which have not received the analytical attention they deserve. (3)


There is no better place to start in the process of uncovering the smiling and gentler nature of Palladas than the two epigrams dedicated to his pear-tree:

   This pear-tree is the sweet product of the toil of my hand,
   with which I tied a graft in its wet bark in summer. The shoot,
   rooted on the tree by cutting the tree, has changed its fruit:
   below it's still a wild pear-tree, but above a fragrant
   pear-tree. (9.5) (4)

Palladas expresses his pride in having pruned a pear-tree. The epigram is composed in dactylic hexameters, which give it a mock-heroic tone and also a fluent narrative instead of the antithetical statements of the epigrammatic couplet. The clear formulation is enhanced by a few linguistic features. First, the reader is meant to distinguish between two types of pear-tree, the grafted or cultivated version ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the first and last word) and the wild version ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). However, the ancient terminology is not quite as clear. The term [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is a later form of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and refers to what is today called pyrus (or pirus) communis, the European wild pear. The latter is found in Homer (Od. 7.115; 11.589; 24.234), the former in Theocritus (1.134 and 7.144). Palladas contrasts this with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a term used by several ancient scientific writers (5) and referring to a kind of wild-pear, now called pyrus amygdaliformis. Next there is the elliptical use of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], in the sense of 'the result of labour', (6) which creates an apparent oxymoron with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Apart from the alliteration with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], normally in the plural in epic, is here used (perhaps metri causa) not of a leaf or plant in general, but specifically of a grafted slip, a sense not given in LSJ. The tautology of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] creates emphasis which in turn suggests the poet's pride in his achievement and the intensity of the effort. The genitive form [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] also provides a Homeric touch. The epigram closes with the antithesis between the wild pear-tree and the cultivated one that bears proper fruit. As a whole it is a testament to honest and productive toil.

In the next epigram, the pear-tree replies:

   I was a wild pear; with your hand you made a fragrant pear-tree,
      implanting graft on the tree. I bear a return favour for you.

The response of the 'grafted tree' picks up some of the vocabulary of the 'grafter/poet', but with differences. Where the former started with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the tree begins with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; from the last line of 9.5; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] becomes [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is then taken up by [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], indicating that the fruit is a gift of thanks from the tree to the pruner. The adjective [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is attested only here and in Archytas of Amphissa (3rd century BC). (7)

Taken together, the two epigrams display the technical skill and witty use of language to amuse the reader--and the poet too, one may suppose.

The poetic exercise is intended to convey the poet's pride in his craft as a 'grafter' both of the pear-tree and of his poems. In this reading there need not have been a real tree at all (in Alexandria and in the poet's garden?); it is a symbol of his poetic craft. Then the phases of pleasant labour, grafting, new fruit and reward become metaphors for composing verse, grafting new shoots on to the old stock of the Greek poetry of the past.

In the 1st century AD, Cyllenius wrote an epigram on the same theme:

   Formerly a wild-pear in the woods, alien of a fruitful
      harvest, stem of the animal-feeding solitude,
   grafted with foreign shoots, I now flourish tamed,
      bearing on my branches a load not my own.
   Many thanks to you, gardener, for your toil; through you
      I am enrolled as a pear-tree among fruit-trees.
   (AP 9.4)

Palladas--if he knew this particular epigram--has reworked it into something entirely new. Apart from the obvious paring down in length and presentation of two perspectives, the poet/gardener's (9.5) and the pear-tree's (9.6), there is a more striking difference. In both his epigrams, Palladas makes a semantic distinction between the wild pear-tree ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 9.5.4; 6.1) and the cultivated one ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 9.5.1, 4; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 6.1). Cyllenius uses only [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

The following epigram is a dedicatory inscription for a girl's hair.

   Instead of a bull and golden offering to Isis
      Pamphilion dedicated these shining locks.
   The goddess is more delighted in these than Apollo
     in the gold Croesus sent the god from Lydia.

Cameron found this epigram, on the offering of a lock of hair, 'a rather banal piece' and suggested that it was not by Palladas, but by some other poet whom Palladas included in his Sylloge (his own collection of his poems which were absorbed into the Greek Anthology by Constantine Cephalas) and then parodied in the next epigram, 6.61, a hymn to the razor that cut the hair. (8) This in itself is no reason for questioning the ascription. The first couplet of the epigram does have the dispassionate tone of such real or imaginary votive inscriptions ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and there are even precedents. (9) In the second couplet, however, there is a kindness towards the young girl: the poet compliments her by claiming that her hair is more precious than gold offered to Apollo by Croesus. Herodotus records such an offering by Croesus in detail (1.50): four ingots of solid gold, measuring about 46 x 23 x 8 cm and weighing about 64 kg; 113 ingots of gold alloy weighing about 51 kg; and a solid gold lion weighing more than 258 kg. (10) This couplet is unlikely to have been commissioned by a real person; there is a bit of hubris in the claim that Croesus' offering of gold to Apollo was worth less than the girl's hair. The epigram itself is a mock dedication and Pamphilion probably imaginary.

The presence of Isis is easily accounted for, as she was the leading deity in Egypt at the time and worshipped as the protectress, particularly of maidens and women, who offered a variety of objects (chiefly jewellery) to her. Her particular icons were the throne, sun disk with cow's horns and a sycamore tree. She is sometimes portrayed as a cow or with a cow's horns. Although in Greek and Roman rituals it was normal practice to sacrifice a male animal to a god and a female one to a goddess, (11) Palladas is referring to Egyptian practice, where a bull or heifer was sacrificed to Isis, since the cow was sacred to her. (12)

The following epigram also purports to be a dedication of a girl's hair, but turns into an extravagant eulogy of the razor that was used to cut off her locks:

   O celestial razor, happy razor with which Pamphilion
      cut off her plaited locks and dedicated them,
   no one among humans forged you, but beside the furnace
      of Hephaistos, having raised the golden hammer,
   she of the shining head-band, if I may quote Homer,
      fashioned you with her own hands--a Charis.

Epic grandeur is shed on the humble razor by the direct apostrophe ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), the anaphora with hyperbole and personification in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the assertion that a Grace herself forged it in Hephaestus' furnaces, and the use of the epic epithet [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] from Il. 18.382. (13) Palladas, ever the grammatikos, draws attention to this Homeric reference in the words that follow. (14) The Charites usually come in a group of three; here one is singled out and her name left unmentioned until the last word. From the detail of her being beside Hephaestus' forge and the reference to Homer the reader can identify her as Aglaia, wife of Hephaistos. (15) The total effect is one of literary fun, with the poet playing with the serious form of the dedicatory epigram and learned literary references. (16)

The following epigram describes a painting of Eros holding a dolphin and flower:

   Eros is unarmed; because of this he smiles and is kind,
      for he does not hold his bow and fiery arrows.
   Not in vain does he hold in his hands a dolphin and flower,
      for in one he holds the land, in the other the sea.

A different Eros is described, one who has set aside the weapons he discharges at immortals and mortals alike and instead, smiling and gentle, holds a dolphin and flower, the symbolism of which is elucidated for the reader. The epigram is a miniature ecphrasis, a literary description of a work of art, here probably a picture of Eros painted on a vase. (17) The description is direct, guiding the viewer and pointing out the details; one notes the repetition of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (2, 4) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (3) and the chiastic arrangement of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (A) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (B) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (B), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (A).


Here we examine a few types that Palladas adds to his human menagerie. In many of his epigrams he scathingly targeted persons and types; (18) the types discussed below are treated with markedly more indulgence, resignation and even amusement. (19) The following epigram features a puzzling and most unusual duel:

   A barber and a cobbler competed against each other,
      and the needles quickly beat the razor.

The first problem to be addressed is the text. The codex Palatinus reads [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which LSJ gloss as an 'embroiderer' and found only in a Wurzburg papyrus of the 4th century. From the earliest editions this reading has been emended to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which LSJ record as occurring only in this epigram and equivalent to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 'stitcher, patcher, cobbler' as in Pollux 7.42. Drew-Bear has defended the Palatine's reading and proposed the meaning 'cobbler' for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (20) This is the difficilior lectio, but it still does not clarify the meaning of the epigram. The problems of text and interpretation have arisen, of course, from the rarity of all three words ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which share the act of sewing or stitching. I settle for 'cobbler', but the other crafts (embroiderer, tailor) are equally applicable.

In a duel between a barber and a cobbler, in which they use the tools of their trade, a razor and needles, the latter wins easily. Two questions arise: Why does the cobbler win? and: What is the point of the argument? Diibner, Paton and Beckby believed that the barber was being ridiculed for his blunt razor, i.e. the cobbler wins because his weapons are sharper. (21) This explanation would satisfy the principle of Occam's razor (as one referee aptly suggested), but that is not the way a cryptic epigram such as this works. There is no indication in the text that bluntness or sharpness is the issue; in fact, it would be a bad barber indeed who allowed his razors to be blunt. Also, this view may apply if one visualises the razor referred to here as the familiar semilunar or triangular iron or bronze blades used by Romans. (22) However, there are examples of the elongated version similar to the modern barber's razor dating from 100 BC; and a rare example of a Roman-Byzantine one, 95 mm long, was recently advertised on e-Bay. (23) If the razor here is the long version, it would be equally efficient at cutting an opponent wielding needles. The plural [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] should, however, be taken into account: the slashing and cutting of a razor vs. the pricking and stabbing of multiple needles.

The point, I think, is that this is not some actual and bizarre duel with razor and needles; that would be ludicrous. We need to move from the realia to interpretation. Peek seems to me to have got it right: the epigram is a parable. (24) Both [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] were used metaphorically, the former for a gossip (Plut. 2.177a, 509a), the latter for a schemer or planner (Aesch. Ag. 1604). To elaborate this reading: the barber performs his job of cutting hair and shaving beards in a repetitive, almost causal and automatic manner while indulging in idle talk with his customers; (25) the tailor or cobbler is a meticulous and focused worker with precise skill and the ability to plan; the barber simply takes away, the tailor/cobbler creates. (26) He wins the contest on this basis. The two professions are used to make an observation on two types of people: the casual, nonchalant person who does a job that does not require much skill and concentration and involves gossip, and the hard-working, highly skilled and dedicated person who plans ahead. Their respective tools symbolise their roles and temperaments. It is not unlikely that our poet was thinking of his own craft and identifying himself with the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--skilled, precise, focused and creative.

Monks also come in for some gentle mocking:

   If solitaries, why so many? If so many, how again solitary?
      O crowd of solitaries giving the lie to solitude! (27)

The etymological punning on [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is difficult to capure in English, but the irony in the name (people who live in solitude) and practice (living together in isolated communities) is not lost on a modern reader. The pentameter encapsulates it with the juxtaposition of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and the moral conclusion in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The focus of the epigram is solely on this aspect: mockery of the contradiction in monks seeking solitude in numbers. (28) Palladas is not concerned with other aspects such as the vow of silence or the isolation in small cells.

Bowra associated this epigram with the damage wrought by monks on pagan monuments and statues after Theodosius' law of 391, damage which Theodosius himself tried to restrain with a law passed in 390: quicunque sub professione monachi repperiuntur, deserta loca et vastas solitudines sequi adque habitare iubeantur ('whoever is found professing to be a monk, let them be ordered to seek and inhabit deserted places and vast areas of solitude', Cod. Theod. 16.3.1). (29) Although such specific contextualising is suspect, Bowra does note the poem's pointedness, double meanings, and the 'relatively kind' mockery of the monks for their inconsistency when compared to Eunapius. (30) Cameron also places the epigram in the context of the plight of pagans after the Theodosian legislation, considers the epigram as 'one of the neatest of all his epigrams', and emphasises the irony in the practice of the Christian ascetics 'who flocked to the desert in their thousands [and] called themselves of all things solitaries' (31) He further remarks that Palladas' irony would have amused his friends, but probably have been 'safely lost on the ignorant monks of Alexandria'. (32) Baldwin considered the epigram 'arguably his best joke' and pointed out the contrast with the solemnity of Rutilius Namatianus:
   ipsi se monachos Graio nomine dicunt,
      quod soli nullo vivere teste volunt.

   They themselves call themselves by the Greek name 'monachi',
      because they wish to live alone without a witness.
   (De Reditu Suo 9)

Wilkinson comments on the uses and meanings of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Greek literature (mostly in philosophical texts) and in the papyri (in various technical senses of 'having only one copy or layer') before focusing on its novel meaning of 'monk' in late antiquity and in this epigram. (33) He then rejects Reiske's dating of the epigram before Theodosius I, moving it back to the first half of the 4th century, a time when monasticism was already firmly established in Egypt. (34) The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] meaning 'monk' appears first in a papyrus dated 6 June 324 (PCol 7.171.15) and in literature, possibly first in Eusebius (Comment. in Psalm. = PG 23.689b), c. 330, and then frequently in Athanasius. (35) Palladas, writing around the same time, therefore seems again to be employing a novel, colloquial term, this time to poke fun at the oddities of Christianity. The epigram, 'not especially hostile', is altogether different from the later attacks on destructive monks during the reign of Theodosius. (36)

Wilkinson's carefully constructed and documented argument is cogent and convincing, in particular on the dating, theme and tone of the epigram. It could, however, be pointed out that Palladas' use of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is not necessarily contemporary or all that soon after the earliest occurrences. The one solid detail in the epigram itself, namely the absurdity of a monastic existence, in itself cannot be attached to a particular time or event. As critics we can only set up plausible constructs and contexts to aid our understanding of the text.

Then there is an epigram on incompetent and corrupt officials:

   No official has come here both honest and benevolent,
      for one notion seems to wrestle against the other.
   Niceness is typical of the stealer, purity of the arrogant.
      These qualities are the two tools of government.

Palladas attacks particular officials in other epigrams, (37) and in one epigram he praises a magistrate for his linguistic skill in judgements and arguments ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and promises to send him some poems (10.92). (38) In the above epigram he gives a general assessment of political officials, with which many people today would agree.

The thought is built on a basic antithesis: either clean government (but strict and harsh), or benevolent government (but lax and corrupt). The antithesis involves a paradox, indicated by the unspoken but implied implications in brackets: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are presented as opposites, the former metaphorical of cleanliness and honesty, (39) the latter of gentleness and kindness. (40) The antithesis is sustained in the metaphor of wrestling ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to express the conflict between the two. (41) The metaphor is not uncommon with abstract nouns: Pindar uses it of the 'courage | to wrestle against old age' ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Ol. 8.70-71; transl. Race 1997:1.145), Euripides of weeping contending with marriage hymns ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Alc. 922), Sophocles of the difficulty of the struggle against 'the dragon', Thebes ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Ant. 126), and Thucydides of opposing motions ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 'but when the opinions had been expressed so in conflict with each other', 3.49). Palladas himself elsewhere employs the metaphor in a different way when he describes Odysseus' remedy against Circe's spell ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 10.50).

The second couplet expands the thought in similar metaphorical language, but in reverse, chiastic order. Whereas the concept of cleanliness ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) precedes that of kindness ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), now pleasantness ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], via a phonetic association with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]?) precedes purity ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (42) The specific crimes are then linked to these types of government: theft in the lax, corrupt form, arrogance in the harsh, strict form. The two extreme forms of government function on these two principles which each produces its own defects.

The otherwise unknown Patricius is the target of our poet's teasing in the following epigram:

   When a man saw a gloomy Nike in town yesterday,
      he said: 'Divine Nike, what have you suffered, then?'
   Lamenting bitterly and blaming the event, she said:
      'Do you alone not know? I've been given to Patricius.'
   So even Nike was deeply pained: contrary to law
      the sailor Patricius had caught her like a breeze.

Nike explains to a bypasser that her depressed state of mind is due to a victory achieved by a certain Patricius. The little drama is skilfully constructed: action and dialogue alternate in the first two couplets before the denouement comes in the last couplet. (43) Several words are used to exaggerate Nike's misery: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (2), [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (3) and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (5, a rare usage). (44) In contrast, Nike's explanation is short and simple: as everyone but her questioner knows, Patricius has been victorious. The poet explains in seafaring language: the 'sailor' Patricius' victory upset Nike because it was contrary to divine law and thus undeserved since he had won by snatching Victory like a sailor catches a breeze. Various identities have been given to 'Patricius'. Reiske thought he was a iudex iniquum. (45) Alan Cameron argued that Patricius was an Alexandrian charioteer who had won undeservedly or unexpectedly, because he grasped opportunity. (46) The nautical imagery in the last line encapsulates this fortuitous event.

The next epigram, as we learn from the lemma [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Sylloge B), pokes fun at a poet who gambles:

   The goddess of all minstrels is Calliope;
      your Calliope is called Tabliope

The comic effect of the witty punning on [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a coinage from [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a dicing-table, is apparent. (47) What is not so apparent is why a dice-playing poet is targeted for our poet's humour. Perhaps he spends too much time dicing or gambling instead of writing poetry; or perhaps it is only about the clever substitution of Calliope, the one with the beautiful face, with Tabliope, the one with the dicing-table face. The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] occurs often as and adjective to indicate subservience to or association with the Muses. Sappho applies it to her home ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Fr. 150 Lobel-Page), Euripides to a dirge ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Ph. 1499), Marcus Argentarius to hands ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], AP 9.270.4), Meleager to a garland ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], AP 12.257.6) and Castorion to the animal-like Pan ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 2.5 Bergk = 310 Campbell 1993). However, its use here as a substantive for minstrels or poets is rare. It is attested only in Euripides (Alc. 445) and in a few inscriptions. (48)

Two epigrams are difficult to interpret because of lack of context. The first sets a dramatic situation which is easy enough to understand:

   In a dream Menander stood by the comedian Paulus and said:
      'I spoke nothing against you, yet you speak me badly.'

A comic actor named Paulus is visited in a dream by the ghost of the great Menander who rebukes Paulus for acting badly in his plays. Although [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] can mean comic actor or comic poet, (49) it seems preferable to take [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] literally of speaking or playing a role badly, rather than of 'bad-mouthing'. (50) It makes more sense that Menander complains about an actor not enunciating words in his own plays than of a rival comic poet attacking him. We know that Menander is the comic poet most often mentioned or quoted in the Greek Anthology. (51) Who Paulus was and what caused Palladas to write this criticism, is, however, lost to the modern reader. All we can appreciate is the assonance on to, and the antithesis in the last line.

In the second epigram, the plot is again clear, but the players unknown.

   Hermolycus' daughter slept with a great ape
      and gave birth to lots of Hermo-apes.
   But if Zeus, disguised as a swan, begot from Leda
      Helen, Castor and Pollux, at any rate a Crow
   slept with Hermione. And she, poor woman, gave
      birth to a Hermae-herd of awful demons.

Paton comments: 'The epigram seems very confused. Is Hermione the same as Hermolycus' daughter, and how did she manage to have such a variety of husbands?' (52) The puzzle depends on etymological punning on the names (paranomasia). The father's name, Hermolycus, means Hermeswolf; his daughter sleeps with an ape of a man and produces Hermes-apes; whereas Zeus (swan), in contrast, mated with Leda who brought forth Helen, Castor and Pollux, and Hermione (not the daughter) mated with the Crow (Korax, his actual name or a man like a crow, and not like a swan) to produce a horrific brood of herms of terrifying demons (poor woman!). (53)

The punning, starting from the name Hermolycus, generates two sets of hybrid creatures and words: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (instead of an expected fusion of Hermione and Korax). [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are hapax legomena, coined by Palladas as a literary tour de force. At the centre, in the middle couplet, the example of Zeus stands in contrast to human hybrids on either side: the god produced Helen, Castor and Pollux; the humans produced only horrible freaks. The poet has exploited the ability of Greek to create such hybrid terminology. It does not matter who the persons in this epigram are; what counts is the poet's linguistic virtuosity.

The unfortunate

Victims of misfortune, since it is beyond the control of human beings, sometimes arouse the poet's sympathy rather than psogos. A general, universal truth (gnome) is stated:

   Many things come between the cup and the lip's edge.

This is the idiom familiar in English as 'there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip.' It was a very old idiom already in Palladas' day. (54) Gellius (c. 130-c. 180) records that Cato used the expression inter os et offam ('between the mouth and a morsel', 13.18.3). (55) He explains that Erucius Clarus asked Sulpicius Apollinaris, the second-century grammarian and teacher of Gellius, the meaning of the expression and then continues:

Saepe audivi inter os atque offam multa intervenire posse...Tum Apollinaris ... rescripsit Claro, ut viro erudito, brevissime, vetus est proverbium inter os et offam, idem significans quod Graecus ille [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

I have often heard that many things can happen between the mouth and a morsel...Then Apollinaris wrote back to Clarus, as being a learned man, very briefly, that the proverb inter os et offam was old, signifying the same as that Greek proverbial verse [then the Greek line above], Gellius 13.18. (56)

The context and application of the line here are obscure, though it is unusual for Palladas not to add his own variation or application. (57)

A lame blacksmith is the subject of the next epigram:

   You have a son called Eros and a wife called Aphrodite;
      it's not unfair, blacksmith, that you have a lame leg.

An unnamed blacksmith with a wife called Aphrodite and a son called Eros ought to consider himself most fortunate, even if he is crippled. The reader immediately thinks of the blacksmith Hephaestus, who was portrayed on vases or other objets d'art. (58) It is unlikely that the epigram refers to a real blacksmith; a crippled blacksmith who deliberately married a woman called Aphrodite and named his son Eros would be inviting ridicule. Such ridicule of persons with a disability, which seems cruel to modern sensibilities, was widespead in antiquity; familiar in the grotesque costumes and gestures of Attic comedy, it is found, for example, in the scoptic epigrams of Lucillius and Nicarchus, and elsewhere in Palladas. (59)

Palladas is here far less nasty. The epigram could even have been addressed to Hephaestus, the moral of the story still being that you can't have everything.

Equally unreal is the treatment of a disastrous wedding:

   Someone carried off a bride, and fate carried off a wedding,
      stripping the merry company of their lives.
   One wedding filled the graves of twenty-four dead,
      and one chamber became their shared morgue.
   Mournful bride Penthesilea, bridegroom Pentheus,
      the wedding of you two was rich in deaths.

The event is easily reconstructed from the carefully selected details in the brief narrative. The roof of a wedding venue collapsed, killing twenty-four guests; the bride apparently escaped (presumably with the groom), but her wedding chamber was converted into a temporary mortuary. The happy occasion turned into a tragic disaster, and the bridal couple, instead of delighting in the rich gifts they have received, grieve for the deaths of their relatives and friends.

The epigram is of a high literary quality. There is the overall irony in the occasion of happiness and celebration of love and life being turned into a place of burial and grief. This is enforced by chiasmus ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 1); the different meanings of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the one benevolent, the other destructive; the contrast and epic metaphor in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (2); (60) the framing of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] with the antithetical [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (3); the restatement of the outcome in inverted order ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 4); the etymological punning on the names of the bride, Penthesilea, and groom Pentheus (5), with the root [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('mourn') in both names linking bride and groom in the grief, but also recalling the tragic figure of Pentheus; (61) and the closing irony and deep tragedy of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (6), emphasised by the punning on [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the marriage 'rich', but in deaths.

The presence of the mythological names enforces the notion that we are dealing with literary play. Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, slain by Achilles; Pentheus, the unfortunate son of Agave who resisted the new cult of Dionysus and was torn to pieces by bacchant women among whom was his mother--the plot of Euripides' Bacchae. Though we cannot be sure, it is difficult not to accept that Palladas meant his reader to make these connections--they are so prominent in the epigram.

Although 'of course fictitious', (62) it is really quite irrelevant whether the poem's narrative relates to a specific historical event. Such catastrophes were not unknown in antiquity, probably the most famous example being the collapse of the roof of the banqueting hall in which many members of the Scopad family of Thessaly were killed. (63) Other examples, variations on the theme, are found in several Hellenistic epigrams. An anonymous poet (AP 7.298) describes as 'the worst thing' ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) the death of either bride or groom on their wedding day, but far worse the grief caused by the death of both a bride (Lycaemon) and bridegroom (Epolis) when the roof of the bedroom collapsed on their wedding night. Agathias Scholasticus (AP 7.572) was less sympathetic towards adulterers punished in this way. Likewise, Constantinus of Rhodes (or an anonymous poet, AP 15.19) denounces a physician called Asclepiades (the name is ironic rather than real) who kidnapped a girl, raped her and forced her into a marriage which was attended by a crowd of dancers and lewd women; their chamber's roof also collapsed, leaving bloodied bodies and bouquets. Less heinous perhaps, but equally culpable, was the fate of a man who remarried after his wife's death, despite her ghost's warning him not to do so. On the wedding night, groom and bride died when the roof collapsed (Apollonidas, AP 9.422).

Another kind of unfortunate victim of circumstance is the 'dinnerguest' who suffers a particularly bad 'culinary' experience.

   Invited, we men ate some wretched poultry,
      having become food for other birds.
   And two vultures eat Tityus under the earth,
      but four vultures eat us alive.

The plot of the epigram seems simple: men in a banquet setting are eating some unsavoury poultry dish. Previously they themselves had become ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) meat for other birds. While two vultures gnawed at Tityus in the Underworld, in contrast four vultures eat the guests, among whom is the poet ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 1; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 4), alive. Various interpretations have been offered to fit this rather obscure and enigmatic scenario. A literal interpretation, that the men are dinner- guests actually dining on badly prepared fowl, after having themselves been victims at another banquet, does not explain the rest of the epigram. Who are the other birds (presumably the four vultures) that feed on them? A metaphorical reading seems a better solution, but the identity of the birds, whether slanderers, thieves or parasites, is still a mystery. The meaning is almost totally lost to us. (64)

What we can see in the text is the theme of some sort of reciprocal and incremental physical, psychological or mental violence cast metaphorically as a banquet, in which certain persons 'feed' on one group (including our poet), only to end up on the menu of another group. The feeding frenzy in which the poet is a victim is then exaggerated in comparison to the situation of the mythical Tityus, the giant punished for assaulting Leto (Hom. Od. 11.576-81). He only had two vultures pecking at his innards; Palladas' group has four! Moreover, the second word used for the vultures ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], also in the final position) is older and more poetic than the generic [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (65) The vultures feeding on Tityus are, in other words, half as destructive and painful as those feeding on the poet and his companions. There is a progression from the nondescript bird ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to the vultures in the second couplet.

To my mind, it seems that the banquet setting and imagery exclude slanderers and thieves as the persons referred to; such individuals would simply not be invited back and forth, even to a metaphorical banquet. Parasites, on the other hand, were notorious for their ability to get themselves invited and reinvited, as Petronius' Satyrica 3 and Lucian's De Parasito (esp. 5-6, 13, 51, 58), as well as Greek and Roman comedies attest. The 'sympotic' groups that act and react here would likely be within the same social class, or at least sharing common interests, though obviously not without rivalry and strife. Such groupings could be sociopolitical (the Hellenes) or literary (fellow poets). Palladas' contemporary readers probably recognized the references; in any case, he chose not to put clearer clues in the epigram, thus making its meaning at once more universal and (for us) more enigmatic.

A proverb is changed by the poet in the next epigram:

   The proverb says: 'Even a pig would bite a wicked man.'
      But, I say, we ought not to say that but instead,
   'A pig would even bite good and unmeddlesome men.'
      But a snake, out of fear, will not bite an evil man.

It is uncertain whether the poet's rephrasing of the proverb is limited to line 3 (Beckby), or continues to the end (Paton). My interpretation follows the former. The proverb means something like: even the lowly, greedy, omnivorous pig will bite an evil man--because it will bite anything. The poet 'corrects' this to mean: a pig would even bite a good and righteous person--again because it does not discriminate. A snake, on the other hand, would be too afraid to bite an evil person--presumably because it could itself be 'poisoned' by the villain. The 'correction' of the idiomatic expression then conveys what the poet believes to be a truer situation: the wicked are difficult to punish. (66)

In transforming the proverb Palladas has drastically altered the word order in the two hexameters. In the first the order is: conjunction ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--subject ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--verb ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--object ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--adjective ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); in the second it is: verb ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--conjunction ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--subject ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--adjectives ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--object ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). This variation continues in the last line, beginning with the object and ending with the subject: object ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--adjective ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--verb ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--subject ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The metrical dexterity is impressive.

In some epigrams serious matters are dealt with in a humorous manner. Such is the case in an epigram relating the fate of a murderer:

   They say that Sarapis appeared at night in a dream
      to a murderer sleeping beside an unsound wall
   and said oracularly: 'You, lying asleep there, rise up,
      move along and sleep elsewhere, poor man.'
   The man awoke and left. And that unsound wall
      suddenly all at once lay on the ground.
   At dawn the glad killer offered thanks to the gods,
      thinking that the god delighted in murderers.
   But Sarapis appeared at night and prophesied again:
      'Do you think, wretch, I look after criminals?
   If I did not let you die now, you now escaped a painless
      death, but know you're being kept for the cross.'

A murderer dreamt that Sarapis warned him to move away from a wall against which he was sleeping. Immediately after he had moved away, the wall collapsed. His joy next morning was short-lived; the next night he dreamed Sarapis reappeared to inform him that the reprieve from a sudden death was only in order to save him for the slower and more painful death of crucifixion.

This narrative of crime and divine punishment is presented as a reported story, since, of course, there were no witnesses. It is, in fact, a kind of urban legend, but, more importantly, also a little drama. This is another example of the epigrammatic form being fused with both epic and drama, a recurrent and characteristic phenomenon of Hellenistic poetry. (67) Narration (setting, events and comment) and drama (dreamt monologue) alternate with each other, building up to the climax. The tone of Sarapis' two speeches differs. The first gives instructions (the imperatives and participle [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and seems sympathetic and helpful ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The second speech is reproachful and angry as the goddess hurls the murderer's own thoughts ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) back at him ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). There is now no sympathy in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Variation is also at work: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

The poem's message is that punishment will eventually follow crime; the murderer's plight may have its humorous side, but the final divine retribution is harsh and cruel. The reader's sympathy may even devolve upon the murderer. Some scholars have related the incident to the destruction of the Serapis temple in 391, (68) but, although it is unnecessary to resort to such historical referencing to give the epigram meaning, the poem itself presumes a date when the Serapeion still stood.

The doctus poeta at play

We close this discussion with three witty and light-hearted epigrams. The first concerns the use of writing.

   Nature, loving the rules of friendship, invented
      instruments for what happens to those abroad:
   the pen, parchment, ink, the characters of the hand,
      tokens of the soul that grieves far away.

Writing and reading were prominent, even defining, features in the Alexandrian 'book culture' that developed around the libraries and infused later centuries. (69) Palladas' attention is on written correspondence, not, of course, unknown in earlier times, and especially abundant at Alexandria, even among ordinary people, as attested by papyrus finds. For him, it was Nature herself who, in her love for the conventions of friendship, invented writing and provided the necessary tools. In the last line the poet narrows down the type of correspondence to letters written by those who feel the pain of being far from home. To enforce this idea he employs the metaphor of the writing-instruments and script as symbola of the soul. The image is unique and rich in associations: symbolon signifies one of two halves of an agreement, such as a contract, or a token or seal of identity, or a token of goodwill. (70)

The second is about the medicinal use of conditum:

   I need conditum. From where did conditum get
      its name? For its sound is foreign to that
   of the Greeks. But if it is named from the Latin,
      you will know yourself, being so very Latin.
   So prepare it for me; for this disease of the stomach
      has grabbed me and, they say, needs this potion.

Afflicted with some stomach ailment, the poet begs a friend to supply him with conditum, which he knows is not Greek but suspects to be Latin and which he has heard is the required medicine. In the midst of his discomfort (if it is real) he has time to ponder and speculate on the origin of the word and explain why he is approaching his unnamed addressee (if he is real) for help, namely because the word is Latin and the addressee is an expert on Latin.

Conditum was a mixture of wine, honey and pepper, used for preserving fruits and other perishable foods. (71) Apicius gives a recipe for a conditum which was used for digestive disorders, sales conditi ad digestionem, ad ventrem movendum (salts for digestion and bowel movement)--exactly what Palladas is complaining about. The recipe is made up of the following: common salt, sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride), white pepper, black pepper, ginger, cumin, thyme, celery seed (or parsley), origano, rocket-seed, saffron, hyssop from Crete, bay-leaf, dill and parsley. The mixture was also effective against omnes morbos et pestilentiam et omnia frigora. (72) This was strong medicine, called for by a serious ailment; the metaphor of the disease taking hold of him ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) suggests as much.

The question arises whether conditum as a word or culinary and medical concoction really was that unknown to Palladas. He must have known the Greek version [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (73) Certainly, he plays with the Greek transcription, repeating it in the first line and perhaps savouring its novelty. It occurs here for the first time in extant Greek literature. (74) It is a safe assumption that he also knew the Latin well enough. During the early 5th century, Egyptians generally were reading Latin for practical and literary purposes; and the Alexandrian elite were reading Latin literary works for pleasure and their interest in the literary life of the West. (75) Wilkinson is surely right to suggest that Palladas is faking ignorance of the word's derivation, as his use of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Greek for condito) shows. Palladas is using the word, perhaps a relatively recent arrival in everyday speech, to give a colloquial flavour to his epigram. (76)

The tone is more difficult to assess, since it depends on how one reads the text aloud or mentally; there are few objective markers in the text itself. The only emotive words are [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], suggesting the urgency of the appeal. Between these phrases the tone is one of calm curiosity and pondering, and teasing explanation for his choice of addressee. The repeated ou-sound in the last line could be intended to imitate cries of pain: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the first rare and the second unique, draw attention by the repetition so close to each other and by their strangeness. Coming immediately after [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], they also set up an antithesis of Greek and Roman culture. Wilkinson interprets this antithesis as an expression of Palladas' sense of the superiority of Greek over Roman culture. For him, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are 'dripping with disdain' and symptomatic of the invasiveness of Roman culture. (77) Wilkinson also asks whether this has, in fact, caused the pain in his stomach. This is an attractive interpretation, especially since it is very likely that the stomach-ache is metaphorical or at least imaginary. But one is bound to ask: Why would Palladas beg for a Roman cure if he suffered from a disease caused by Romans? In order not to push the text too far and charge it with an emotive load it cannot bear, I prefer to take the tone down from disdain and dislike to gentle leg-pulling and intellectual sparring. (78)

The third epigram also concerns a medicine, this time the unknown dizyphon:

   I did not wrongly say that in dizyphi there is some
      divine power. Yesterday, at least, I applied
   dizyphon to a man afflicted with chronic quartan fever,
      and he became at once as healthy as a tick.

The word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is recorded elsewhere only once, in a papyrus dated to the 2nd/3rd century AD (POxy 6.920.1), and is equated with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], a tree bearing the jujube berry. (79) In the epigram Palladas claims he was correct in believing in the healing power of this plant since it immediately cured a man suffering from a fever that recurred every fourth day, which sounds like malaria. Having impressed his reader with the learned medical diagnosis and cure ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), Palladas closes with a witty and lively simile: the man became as healthy as a tick ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The Suda lexicon reports a similar expression, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('sicker than a tick') as being proverbial, and cites Zenobius, who explains the proverb and refers to Menander as an example. (80) For Zenobius, active in Rome during the reign of Hadrian (117-138), the expression was already a proverb; the occurrence in Menander of Athens (342/41-293/89), two centuries later and in another locality, is an indication of the widespread use of the proverb before it was adapted by Palladas.


Literary analysis of the twenty-two epigrams above shows that Palladas did not limit himself to serious and harsh criticism and negative judgements. In the discussed epigrams he is seen advocating positive values, such as honest labour (9.5, 6; 11.288), the inevitable punishment of crime (9.378), friendship advanced by the art of writing (9.401), and the lesson that one should be content with what one has (11.307). He also exhibits feelings such as kindness and humour (6.60, 61; 16.207), amused contemplation of certain types of people (11.288, 373, 377, 386), mild contempt (9.393; 11.384), sympathy (10.89), while also exhibiting his linguistic virtuosity in punning (11.353, 373, 384), irony (7.610; 9.393), neologisms (9.502, 503) and exploiting the proverbial (9.379).


Albiani, M.G. 2007. 'Palladas.' Brill's New Pauly 10:390-391. Leiden: Brill.

Baldwin, B. 1984. 'Palladas of Alexandria: a poet between two worlds.' L'Antiquite Classique 54:267-273.

Baldwin, B. 1985. 'Latin in Byzantium.' In V. Vavrinek (ed.), From Late Antiquity to Early Byzantium. Proceedings of the Byzantinological Symposium in the 16th International Eirene Conference, 237-241. Prague: Academia.

Beckby, H. 1967-1968. Anthologia Graeca. Vols. 1-2 (1967), 3-4 (1968). 2nd ed. Tusculum Series (Greek-German). 2nd revised edition. Munich: Ernst Heimeran Verlag.

Bergk, T. 1867. Poetae Lyrici Graeci. Leipzig: Teubner.

Bidez, J. & Hansen, G.C. (edd.) 2005. Sozomene, Histoire Ecclesiastique. Livres V-VI. Sources Chretiennes no. 495. Paris: Les editons du Cerf.

Boon, G.C. 1991. '"Tonsor humanus": razor and toilet-knife in Antiquity.' Britannia 22:21-32.

Bowra, C.M. 1959. 'Palladas and Christianity.' Proceedings of the British Academy 45:255-267.

Bullock, A.W. 1985. 'Hellenistic Poetry.' In Easterling & Knox 1985:541621.

Burkert, W. 1983. Homo Necans. The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth. Transl. by P. Bing. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Burkert, W. 1985. Greek Religion. Transl. by J. Raffan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Cameron, A.D.E. 1964. 'Palladas and the Nikai.' JHS 84:54-62.

Cameron, A. 1965a. 'Palladas and Christian polemic.' JRS 17:17-30.

Cameron, A. 1965b. 'Notes on Palladas.' CQ 15:215-229.

Cameron, A. 1995. Callimachus and his Critics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Campbell, D.A. 1993. Greek Lyric, vol. 5: The New School of Poetry and Anonymous Songs and Hymns. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press.

Davison, J.A. 1968. From Archilochus to Pindar. Papers on Greek Literature of the Archaic Period. London: Macmillan.

Drew-Bear, T. 1972. 'Anth. Pal. xi.288 (Palladas).' CR 22:6.

Diibner, F. (1888). Epigrammatum Anthologia Palatina cum Planudeis et appendice nova epigrammatum veterum ex libris et marmoribus ductorum, vol. 2. Paris: Editore Ambrosio Firmin-Didot.

Easterling, P.E. 1985. 'Books and readers in the Greek world: 2. The Hellenistic and Imperial periods.' In Easterling & Knox 1985:16-41.

Easterling, P.E. & Knox, B.M.W. 1985. The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, vol. 1: Greek Literature. Cambridge: University Press.

Fantuzzi, M. & Hunter, R. 2004. Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry. Cambridge: University Press.

Flower, B. & Rosenbaum, E. 1958. The Roman Cookery Book. A Critical Translation of The Art of Cooking by Apicius. London, Toronto, Wellington & Sydney: Harrop.

Franke, A. 1899. De Pallada Epigrammatographo. Diss. Leipzig: Teubner Verlag.

Galli Calderini, I.G. 1987. 'L'epigramma greco tardo-antico: tradizione e innovazione.' Vichiana 16:103-134.

Garland, R. 1995. The Eye of the Beholder: Deformities and Disabilities in the Graeco-Roman World. Repr. 2012. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Gutzwiller, K.J. 2007. A Guide to Hellenistic Literature. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Harris, W.V. 1989. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Harrison, T. 1975. Palladas: Poems. A Selection in Versions. London: Anvil Press.

Henderson, W.J. 2008a. 'Epigrammatic psogos: censure in the epigrams of Palladas of Alexandria.' AClass 51:91-116.

Henderson, W.J. 2008b. 'The iambic epigrams of Palladas of Alexandria.' Ekklesiastikos Pharos 90:115-138.

Henderson, W.J. 2009. 'Palladas of Alexandria on women.' AClass 52:83100.

Henderson, WJ. 2010. '"This is life": transience and carpe diem in Palladas of Alexandria.' Ekklesiastikos Pharos 92:243-263.

Henderson, W.J. 2012. 'Life's like that: Palladas of Alexandria on human weakness.' Ekklesiastikos Pharos 94:1-22.

Herington, J. 1985. Poetry into Drama. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Hurschmann, R. 2008. 'Razor.' Brill's New Pauly 12:413. Leiden: Brill.

Irmscher, J. 1961. 'War Palladas Christ?' Studia Patristica 4.2:457-464.

Keydell, R. 1972. 'Palladas.' In Der kleine Pauly, 4.430. Munich: Alfred Druckenmiller Verlag.

Knox, B.M.W. 1985. 'Books and readers in the Greek world: 1. From the beginnings to Alexandria.' In Easterling & Knox 1985:1-16.

Kock, T. 1880-1888. Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta. 3 vols. Leipzig: Teubner Verlag.

Koerte, A. (ed.) 1959. Menander. Reliquiae. Pars II. Leipzig: Teubner Verlag.

Kroll, W. 1964. 'Die Kreuzung der Gattungen.' In Kroll, Studien zum Verstdndnis der romischen Literatur, 202-224. Darmstadt: Georg Olms.

Labarbe, J. 1967. 'Aspects gnomiques de l'epigrarnrne grecque.' In O. Reverdin (ed.), L'Epigramme Grecque, 349-383 (Discussion 384-386). Fondation Hardt. Geneva.

Lampe, G.W.H. (1961-68). A Patristic Lexicon. Oxford.

Lauxtermann, M.D. 1997. 'The Palladas Sylloge.' Mnemosyne 50.3:329-337.

Luck, G. 1958. 'Palladas. Christian or pagan?' HSCP 63:455-471.

Nisbet, G. 2003. Greek Epigram in the Roman Empire. Martial's Forgotten Rivals. Oxford: University Press.

Paton, W.R. 1958. The Greek Anthology, vol. 3. Loeb Series. Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press.

Paton, W.R. 1960. The Greek Anthology, vol. 2. Loeb Series. Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press.

Paton, W.R. 1963. The Greek Anthology, vol. 4. Loeb Series. Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press.

Powell, J.U. 1925. Collectanea Alexandrina. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Peek, W. 1965. 'Palladas.' RE 18.3:158-168. Stuttgart: Alfred Drucken miller Verlag.

Race, W. H. 1997. Pindar. Nemean Odes, Isthmian Odes, Fragments. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass. & London.

Raines, J.M. 1946. 'Comedy and the comic poets in Greek epigram.' TAPhA 77:83-102.

Reiske, J.J. 1766. Anthologiae Graecae a Constantino Cephalo conditae libri tres: Notitia Poetarum, 1-98. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Solmsen, F. 1979. Isis among the Greeks and Romans. Martin Classical Lectures, vol. 25. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Stella, L.A. 1949. Cinque poeti dell'Antologia palatina. Bologna: N. Zanichelli.

Stephanus, H. 1954. Thesaurus Graecae Linguae. Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt.

Von Leutsch, E.L. & Schneidewin, F.G. 1839. Corpus Paroemiographorum Graecorum, vol. 1: Paroemiographi Graeci: Zenobius, Diogenianus, Plutarchus, Gregorius Cyprius cum Appendice Proverbiorum. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Rupprecht. Reprinted Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Waltz, P. 1960. Anthologie Grecque, Vol. 1. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

Wilkinson, K.W. 2009. 'Palladas and the age of Constantine.' JRS 99:36-60.

Wilkinson, K.W. 2010. 'Some neologisms in the epigrams of Palladas.' GRBS 50:295-308.

William Henderson

University of Johannesburg

* I am most grateful to the anonymous referees for comments, corrections and suggestions.

(1) Luck 1958:467. Negative criticism of Palladas was already expressed by Salmasius (1588-1653); cf. Franke 1899:8: Salmasius, qui omnino Palladae saepissime maledixit.'

(2) Luck 1958:456. He also has other positive things to say of Palladas: his competent handling of the epigram, imagination, 'feeling for felicitous sound values' and enjoyment of life in spite of his hopeless situation.

(3) See also Henderson 2012. In correspondence, Luis Arturo Guichard has informed me that his critical edition of Palladas, with full critical apparatus, loci similes, indexes, etc. is nearing completion.

(4) Palladas' epigrams are numbered according to their position in the Anthologia Palatina (AP); the edition used is that of Beckby 1967-1968.

(5) Aristot. Ec. 355; HA 627b17; cf. 595a29; Dioscor. 1.116; Theophrast. HP 1.4.1, where the wild pear is among the trees that bear more but less sweet fruit than the cultivated ones; CP 2.8.2, where the wild pear is among the fruit-trees that are earthy ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), astringent ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and strong ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). A rarer term is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Hom. Od. 14.10; Soph. OC 1596; Theocr. 24.90). In his translation Paton (1958:3.5) uses the subspecies term 'pyraster' for the ungrafted wild pear.


(7) Archyt. Amph. 1 (Powell 1925:23); the variant [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is also quite rare: Meleager, AP 12.15; Marcus Argentarius, AP 5.15; cf. LSJ.

(8) Cameron 1965b:217; but see Baldwin 1984:268. On Palladas' Sylloge see Waltz 1960:LII-LVIII; Beckby 1967:1.82-84; Lauxtermann 1997; Albiani 2007.

(9) Cf. Galli Calderini 1987:110, who mentions Archilochus, AP 6.133.

(10) Beckby 1967:1.687-88.

(11) Cf. Hom. Il. 11.728; Od. 13.181; Burkert 1985:133 (cow for Hera); 63-64, 230-31 (bull for Zeus).

(12) Cf. Hdt. 2.38-41; Solmsen 1979:17; Burkert 1983:81.

(13) The epithet is also used of Ceres (h.Cer. 25, 459).

(14) Contra Cameron's view (1965b:217) that the prosaic [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] intentionally ruins the solemnity of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(15) Hom. Il. 18.383: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Also Hes. Theog. 945; cf. Beckby 1967:1.688.

(16) Thus also Galli Calderini 1987:110, who regards the two epigrams as 'meri esercizi retorici'. She also observes that the three votive epigrams ascribed to Palladas (6.60, 61 and 85) represent 'una prima, timida rinascita della poesia anatematica' between the Hellenistic period and the age of Justinian. The authenticity of epigram 85, which she considers more worthy, was questioned by Peek 1965:160.

(17) Franke 1899:16: 'Amoris imaginem a recentiore artifice factam describit'; Beckby 1968:4.564.

(18) Gessius (7.681-88; 16.317), women (9.165-68; 10.55, 56; 11.286, 287, 381), the wealthy (10.60, 61, 93), the Hellenes (10.82, 89), Sestius (10.99), the rhetor Maurus (11.204), the actor Memphis (11.255), the surgeon Gennadius (11.280), the prefect Damonicus (11.283-85), philosopher (11.292), Pantagathus (11.340).

(19) Also treated more gently are Psyllo (7.607), the physician Magnus (11.281) and Olympius (11.293); cf. Henderson 2008a:102, 105, 100.

(20) Drew-Bear 1972:6.

(21) Dubner 1888:384 ('Tonsorem obtusa novacula utentem ridere videtur'); Paton 1963:4.204 n. 3; Beckby 1968:3.844.

(22) For the three shapes (the spatula or crescent, the broad triangular, and the long, slender version with straight or curved blade), cf. Boon 1991:27-32 (with drawings); Hurschmann 2008 (with additional literature).

(23) Accessed 25 March 2013.

(24) Peek 1965:162.41-44.

(25) Theophrastus (ap. Plut. Mor. 5.679a) called barber-shops 'wineless symposia... because of the chatter of those sitting there' ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); cf. Boon 1991:27, who does, however, mention (26) the great skill required in the use of the twin blades for cutting hair, as Martial 6.52 implies.

(26) A referee suggested (without any references) that cobblers were (the cobbler who criticised Apella's rendition of a shoe?) and still are notorious as troublemakers and even revolutionaries (Stalin?). But if such a baddy wins, what is the point of the victory or the moral of the story?

(27) Transl. Paton 1963:4.255, slightly altered.

(28) Sozomen (6.29) mentions that Apollos of Hermoupolis became famous and ruled 'beaucoup de moines', to which Bidez & Hansen 2005:393 n. 3 append a footnote specifying 500 monks. The mocking tone and word-play are captured by Harrison 1975 in his translation (no. 68).

(29) Bowra 1959:255-56; also Irmscher 1961:460, who speaks of the 'terror' and 'fanatical monks'.

(30) Eunap. VP 472: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('Next they [Theophilus, Evagrius and Romanus] brought into the holy places those called "monachi", men according to their appearance, but whose lifestyle was like pigs, and who ate in public and committed thousands of evil and unutterable deeds'). Cf. also Wilkinson 2010:305, who adds Libanius Or. 30.8.

(31) Cameron 1965a:29.

(32) Cameron 1965a:30.

(33) Wilkinson 2010:302-03, with further literature.

(34) Wilkinson 2010:303-04.

(35) Wilkinson 2010:304-05.

(36) Wilkinson 2010:305-06.

(37) Gessius and Damonicus; cf. Wilkinson 2010:304-05 n. 34.

(38) Cf. Henderson 2008b:134-35.

(39) LSJ s.v. 3b and II Adv. 1.

(40) LSJ s.v. I.

(41) For the literal meaning, cf. e.g. Pind. Nem. 11.26: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('a more noble homecoming than his wrestling opponents', transl. Race 1997:2.127).

(42) LSJ s.vv.

(43) Palladas' predilection for anecdotal structure was noted by Galli Calderini 1987:132.

(44) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is attested in the passive only here and at AP 4.111 (Glaucus) (LSJ).

(45) Reiske 1766:76; Franke 1899:41.

(46) Cameron 1964:58-59, against Jacobs' proposed quaestor at Constantinople in 390 (followed by Bowra 1959:266; and Stella 1949:379-83). The connection between Nike's depression and the 'Christianised' Nikai figures in 16.282 is, at most, tenuous: it is difficult to see how the nautical imagery would apply in the latter case. Cf. Henderson 2008b:132-34.

(47) Cf. also Agathias, AP 9.482. Raines 1946:99, who appropriately translates [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as 'Gambliope', points out that the paronym is formed by 'clipping and addition'.

(48) LSJ s.v.; Stephanus s.v. To the two inscriptions (one from Iconium, the other from Ostia) cited by LSJ, one might add another from Athens: CIG 425.

(49) LSJ s.v. 2 and 3.

(50) Cf. Raines 1946:86-87, who refers to other epigrams on bad actors: Phalaecus, AP 13.6; Crinagoras, AP 9.513.

(51) Raines 1946:84.

(52) Paton 1963:4.237 n. 2.

(53) There is no apparent reason for viewing this Hermione as the daughter of Menelaus and Helen. According to most ancient sources, her husband was Orestes, her son Tisamenus (Paus. 2.18.6), hardly horrific creatures.

(54) Paton 1963:4.21 n. 1 claims that 'some' think the idiom goes back even to Homer, but gives no details.

(55) Beckby 1968:3.824.

(56) LS s.v. offa; Beckby 1968:3.824. Franke 1899:14-15 expressed amazement at the number of proverbs in Palladas ('Miramur quod tanta multitudo proverbiorum Palladae adscribitur', 14), and added that the proverb was included in Zenobius' epitome and predated Palladas.

(57) Cf. Labarbe 1967:377, who says that the line 'n'est pas autre chose qu'un ancien proverbe'.

(58) See, for example, Garland 1995: plates 18 and 19 (on a sixth-century vasepainting) and plate 17 (on a ring, dated c. 530-520).

(59) E.g. Lucill. AP 11.87-109 (tall, short and skinny men), 196-97 (ugly man); Nicarch. AP 11.110 (skinny man), 406 (man with a crooked nose); Pallad. 11.204 (man with an elephantine nose); also, after Palladas: Julian Antecessor, AP 11.368 (ugly man); Agathias, AP 11.372 (feeble, insubstantial man); Luxorius 295 (effeminate advocate), 296 and 310 (dwarfs), 300 (obese man), 357 (blind man), 358 (hairy man). See further Galli Calderini 1987:132; Nisbet 2003:29-34. On the phenomenon, see Garland 1995, who quotes as examples from comic theatre a skinny man in a lost Aristophanic play mentioned by Athenaeus (12.551a-c = CAF I, fr. 428) and a tall man who used a plank to keep himself upright in Aristoph. Av. 1377 (Athen. 12.551d) (77). His plates vividly illustrate the portrayal of, among others, cripples (including Hephaestus, Cheiron and 'Aesop', plates 17-19, 21 and 26 respectively), hunchbacks and dwarfs (plates 26, 45, 46) on vases and in marble or terracotta statuettes and bronze figurines.

(60) The verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is used especially of stripping armour off an enemy slain in battle (LSJ).

(61) Cf. Eur. Bacch. 367, where Pentheus' name is directly linked to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 367-68. Beckby 1967:2.602 compares AP 7.444 (Theaetetus; on eighty persons consumed by a fire), 15.19 and 7.298, but, of course, Alexandrian variation produces different results.

(62) Paton 1960:2.327 n. 1.

(63) Cf. Simon. Fr. 521 PMG, which Stobaeus, citing Favorinus (2nd century AD) as his source (4.41.9 and 62), connects to the event; Callim. Fr. 64.1-15 Pfeiffer; and Quintilian 11.2.11-16, who supplies the details of the disaster, but doubts that Simonides was writing about it.

(64) Cf. Beckby 1968:3.848, who resignedly says 'Erklarung unbekannt', and records the views of Opsopoeus [Grecized name of Johannes Koch, 1556-1596] (slanderers), Boissonade (thieves), Jacobs (guests) and Zerwes (parasites). Paton 1963:4.251 n. 1 understands the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as banqueters.


(66) Cf. also Labarbe 1967:382: 'la mechancete toujours epargnee'.

(67) Cf. Kroll 1964:2002-03; Cameron 1995:146-54; Fantuzzi & Hunter 2004:vii-viii, 17-41, 457-61.

(68) See Beckby 1968:3.795.

(69) The phrase is Herington's (1985:3-40); see further, for example, Davison 1968:86-128; Bullock 1985:541-42, 549-50; Knox 1985; Easterling 1985:16-41; Harris 1989:7-13.


(71) LS s.v. condo B1; conditus 4; OLD s.v. condo 2b; also conditura. For recipes, see Flower & Rosenbaum 1958:43-44, nos. I.1 and 2.

(72) Flower & Rosenbaum 1958:54-55, no. XIII.

(73) LSJ s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Aristot. Mete. 359a16 ('they do the same thing also in the case of salting fish'); [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], HA 607b28 ('and indeed, even tunny that are old are bad even for salting'); [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Poxy 4.736.5 (1st century AD); [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 2: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Plato, Symp. 190d ('So saying, he [Zeus] cut the humans in half, just as people cut sorb-apples for pickling them'); PRyl 2.23 1.5 (1st century AD): [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(74) First attested in PRyl 4.629.367 (AD 317-323); also in Orib. Coll. Med. 5.33.8-9 (4th century) and Macar. Aegypt. [?] (ob. c. 390), Hom. 16.9; cf. also Wilkinson 2010:297. It appears again in the 6th century, in Alexander Trallianus 8.2; 11.1; see LSJ Suppl. s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Lampe 1961-68:767.

(75) See Baldwin 1985:237-40, who traces the beginning of the Byzantines' familiarity with Latin literature from the 4th century to its decline in the 7th or 8th century.

(76) Wilkinson 2010:297.

(77) Wilkinson 2010:298.

(78) Harrison 1975 captures this in his witty translation (no. 35).

(79) LSJ; cf. Paton 1958:3.279 n. 1; Beckby 1968:3.802.

(80) Zenobius, Paroemiae Centuria 6.27: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. ('healthier than a tick: the proverb relating to the extremely healthy, from the life of the tick. For it is entirely smooth, without a scratch and having no damage. There is mention of this in Menander's Locrx); Von Leutsch & Schneidewin 1839:169. Strabo 6.262 credits the provenance of the proverb to the healthful town of Croton in Sicily ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 'and they say that the proverb "healthier than Croton" arose from there'). Cf. also Stephanus s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: 'proverbio dici coepit'; LSJ s.v., who refer only to 'Men. 3 18'= Fr. 318 Kock, 263 Koerte).
COPYRIGHT 2013 Classical Association of South Africa
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Henderson, William
Publication:Acta Classica
Article Type:Author abstract
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Previous Article:Casperius Aelianus, Trajan and the mutiny of 97.
Next Article:Laispodias Andronymios PAA 600730.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters