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Propertius and 'Coan Philitas.'

This is our well received text of Propertius' celebrated address to the shades of Callimachus and Philitas at 3.1.1-2:

Callimachi Manes et Coi sacra Philitae,

in vestrum, quaeso, me sinite ire


Well received it may be, but scholarly worries and disagreements about the precise meaning of sacra, and indeed about the real purpose of the address, perhaps have diverted editors' eyes from a possible corruption. I would like to suggest that the pairing of ethnic adjective and personal name, Coi and Philitae, in line I may not be Propertian.(1)

In general, of course, the use of `Coan' with personal names is quite unobjectionable; cf e.g. Hor. Epod. 12.18 `Cous...Amyntas' and Ov. Ars 3.401 `Cous Apelles'. In the case of Philitas, however, the practice of Latin elegy would seem to require that when 'Coan' is used `Philitas' is not used; he is then the `Coan poet' or simply the `Coan': antonomasia appears to be the rule.(2) Thus Ovid speaks of the `Coan poet' at Ars 3.329,

sit tibi Callimachi, sit Coi note poetae,

sit quoque vinosi Teia muse sends,

and twice of the `Coan', at Rem. 760,

Callimachum fugito, non est inimicus

amori, et cum Callimacho tu quoque,

Coe, noces,

and Trist. 1.6.2,

nec tantum Clario est Lyde dilecta poetae

nec tantum Coo Bittis amata suo est.

And while one cannot be absolutely sure that the poeta apostrophized by Propertius at 3.9.44 is in fact Philitas, since the manuscripts identify him only with an impossible cure, most editors think that it is and emend that cure to Coe (Beroaldus):

inter Callimachi sat erit placuisse

libellos et cecinisse modis, Coe

poeta, tuis.

In 3.1.1. therefore, we might expect Propertius to have written:

Callimachi Manes et Coi sacra poetae

The manuscripts' Philetae would then be an early gloss on poetae which had found its way into the text.

Against poetae, it might be objected that Philitae better balances Callimachi at the beginning of the line. Yet it may be worth considering that Propertius could have inherited--from Callimachus surely, if from anybody--the established antonomasia which we find in Ovid's references to the `Coan' and the `Coan poet'; Callimachean allusiveness will then have been more desirable than a nice balance of personal names. There is no reference to the `Coan' in Callimachus' surviving works, although Wimmel and others have supplied [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in line 9 of the lacunose Aetia prologue (I fr. 1 Pf.).(3) But Callimachus almost certainly refers to the poetry of Philitas by a sort of antonomasia in his tantalizing mention of `Coan writing' (fr. 532 Pf., [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), `and it is not hard to imagine that he may have referred elsewhere to Philitas himself simply as the `Coan'.

(1) Let me thank Dr S. J. Heyworth for helpful criticism of an earlier draft of this note.

(2) On antonomasia in Latin poetry, and its precedents in Greek poetry, see J. Farrell, Vergil's Georgics and the Traditions of Ancient Epic (Oxford, 1991), 27ff.

(3) Wimmel, 'Philitas im Aitienprolog des Kallimachos', Hermes 86 (1958), 346-54, at 352. W M Edwards, CQ 23 (1930), 110, first thought of it.

(4) See Pfeiffer's notes ad loc., including his observation that `Ovidius semper Coum poetam sine nomine proprio significat'. And on the likehhood that Prop. 2.1.5-6 (`sive illam Cois fulgentem incedere ... / totum de Coa veste volumen erit') is indebted to this Callimachean comparison, see S. J. Heyworth, CQ 36 (1986), 209.

(1) Cic. Q Rosc. 66, cited in ThLL, is irrelevant.

(2) Discussed most recently in A. Perutelli, `Lutazio Catulo poeta', Riv. Fil. 118 (1990), 257-81, and in H. Dahlmann, `Das rosciusepigramm des Q. Lutatius Catulus', gymnasium 88 (1981), 24-44. There is a new commentary on the poem in E. Courtney, The Fragmentary Latin Poets (Oxford, 1993), pp. 77-8. These works are cited below by their author's name.

(3) Interpreted otherwise in ThLL IV, 46S.61-2. Mistranslations of this word are legion, e.g. H. C. P. McGregor, trans., Cicero: `The Nature of the Gods' (Harmondsworth, 1972), p. 101.

Perutelli p. 272 subscribes to Dahlmann's thesis that line I refers to the allegedly widespread observance of salutatio solis; but Tac. Hist. 3.24.3 (`ita in Syria mos est') and Hdn. 4.15.1 [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], referring to non-Romans) only confirm the impression left by the other sources cited by Dahlmann, which are fairly extensive for barbarians, but scanty for Greece, and essentially non-existent for Rome (Dahlmann pp. 35-6): salutatio solis was a non-Roman custom and thus would be alien to so thoroughly Roman a context as that of the Roscius epigram (ibid. p. 32). Courtney p. 77 also posits `morning adoration of the sun'.

(4) There is a familiar example in Hor. Sat. 1.9. This satire begins Ibam forte via sacra, whereupon Horace's encounter with The Pest ensues two lines later.

(5) That Aurora is to be included among these is clear not only from the first line of Catulus' epigram, but also from Lucr. 4.538, Catull. 64.271, Amm. Marc. 20.3.1, 27.2.5, and Martianus Capella 9.902. In all of these, exorior or its noun exortus is applied to Aurora.

(6) Of an actor impersonating Arcturus, and hence an exception that proves the rule. Ribbeck actually took exoritur of Roscius literally (se. in scaenam) and concluded from Catulus' lines that performances of Roman tragedy must have begun at dawn (Dahlmann pp. 36-7, n. 21).

(7) For exorior used of the sun, see the citations in ThLL V.2, 1571.12-31.

(8) In A.P. 12.1Z7, the rays of the sun are no match for the sunbeams in Alexis' eyes. In A.P. 12.59, Myiscus outshines his peers as the sun obliterates the stars. See Dahlmann p. 42, Perutelli p. 272.

(9) Dahlmann devotes five dense pages (36-40) to arguing for an eastern advent; but quot homines tot sententiae.

(10) Roman writers perceive stars and constellations as also rising on the left (see Man. 1.380 and the additional sources cited in A E. Housman, M. Manilii Astronomica [London, 1903 - 31] 1 37-8 [ad 1.380]). So too is exorior regularly used of their rising, not to mention the long tradition of comparing a beautiful young person to a star (see Dahlmann pp. 41-2) All this notwithstanding, stars and constellations do not come up after dawn, but the sun and Roscius do.

(11) So Dahlmann pp. 37-40, Courtney p. 77.

(12) The formal ramifications of the epigram s argument are detailed in Dahlmann p. 32 and Perutelli p. 275.

(13) R. Reitzenstein, s.v. `Epigramm, RE VI.1.96, where the comparison with Aurora is termed `recht ungeschickt . The referee culls my attention to R. Pfeiffer, Callimachus (Oxford, 1949- 53), 1 73 (ad fr. 67.13 i: it is beautiful girls whom Callimachus and later poets compare to the dawn.

(14) See, for example, Dahlmann pp. 33, 40.

(15) After completing a first draft of this paper, I found in Perutelli p. 271, n. I that the possibility of a play on words between Roscius and roscidus had also occurred to Gabriella Moretti. That she and I have independently reached the same conclusion would seem a point in its favour.

In verse dating the age of Ovid or later, roscida as an epithet of Aurora recurs in Epic. Drusi 281; Sen. Thy. 817; sil. 1.576, 15.439; Corripus, Iohannis 1.243, 7.83, and In laudem Iustini Augusti 2.11 cf. Ov Am. 1.13.10, where Aurora's reins are roscida, and Sen. Med. 101, where, unusually, roscidus is applied to a human being (a shephered beholding the dawn). (16) For retrieving these data from the PHI computer concordance, I wish to thank Philip Forsythe of the Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies at the Ohio State University.

(17) This is predicated on the assumption that Roscius, born c. 135 B.C., is unlikely to have been pulchrior deo much later than 115 B.C.; so Dahlmann pp. 24-5, Courtney p. 78.

(18) See F. Bomer, P. Ovidius Naso. Metamorphosen (Heidelberg, 1969-86), IV 387; VI 360. For dew and the dawn in Latin poetry, see, in addition to the citations in n. 15 above, Cic. Arat. Progn. 4.7 Soubiran; Ov. Met. 13.621, Fast. 3.403; Sil. 3.332; and Stat. Theb. 2.135-6, Silv. 5.1.34-5. On the Greek side, in D. Boedeker's monograph Descent from Heaven: Images of Dew in Greek Poetry and Religion (Chico, CA, 1984), mention of the dawn is confined to p. 49.

(19) Soubiran, Ciceron. `Aratea', fragments poetiques (Paris, 1972), p.233.

(20) For the same etymology implied centuries later in a Christian epigram, see E Diehl, Inscriptiones Christianae veteres (Berlin, 1925-31),111585 s.v. ros. In this paragraph I have relied on the references cited in Bomer, op. cit. in. 18), IV 387.

(21) Attested ancient etymologies derived aurora from aurum (Varro), aura (Priscian), and *eorora (Isidore). references in ThLL 11,1522.66-76 and in R Maltby, A Lexicon of Ancient Latin Etymologies (Leeds, 1991), p. 68.

(22) For this aspect of Catulus' life, see the documentation in H Bardon, La litterature latine inconnue (Paris. 1 952), I 115-17; also D. O. Ross, Jr., Style and Tradition in Catullus (Cambridge, MA, 1969). pp.142-3,151-2.

(23) E. Fraenkel, Aeschylus. `Agamemnon' (Oxford, 1950). 11 83; see also J Henderson, The Maculate Muse (New York and Oxford, 21991). p. 145, n. 194 (`dewiness is frequently associated by the Greeks with freshness and innocence').
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Author:Allen, Archibald
Publication:The Classical Quarterly
Date:Jan 1, 1996
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