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Reading models and the homeric program in Valerius Flaccus's Argonautica.

I. Introduction

In a recent study of Valerius Flaccus's Argonautica, Debra Hcrshkowitz raises the issue of "meta-dissimulation" in the poem, that is, the way in which the text seems to strive to mislead the reader at certain points in the narrative. (1) Dissimulation, Hershkowitz notes, "is not only a strategy employed by characters in the epic to deal with their own and others' uncertainties, but also a poetic strategy employed by the Argonautica to deal with its own potentially uncertain situation in the literary tradition" (1998b: 271). This is a valuable observation, for it has the potential to elucidate important aspects of Valerius's poetic program. (2) After a promising start, however, Hershkowitz concludes by assessing the use of this device in slightly reductive terms, namely, it signifies "an epic trying to be the Aeneid but dissimulating as an Argonautica." The underlying assumption here is that Valerius's poem manifests a fundamentally dual literary genealogy, insofar as it is indebted simultaneously to the epics of both Apollonius Rhodius and Vergil. This assumption has, in fact, been one of the principal orthodoxies and preoccupations of scholarship on the Flavian Argonautica for the past century, and it is easy to see why it has wielded such a strong influence. (3)The systematic and self-reflexive use of allusion was a defining feature of imperial poetry, a presupposition shared by writer and reader alike. All epicists in this period strove self-consciously to locate their work within a precise matrix of literary conventions and traditions. Thus, in writing an Argonautica in the second half of the first century C.E., Valerius would have been confronted with two programmatic possibilities: to proceed along the lines of Varro of Atax, that is, to write an Argonautica that would be pervasively and systematically indebted to the Hellenistic epic of Apollonius Rhodius, (4) or to follow in the footsteps of Lucan by refashioning a preexisting, non-Vergilian narrative along essentially Vergilian lines. (5) Valerius, it ha s been assumed, chose to combine both approaches by grafting on to the body of Apollonius's epic the poetic language and thematic concerns found in the Aeneid. (6) Thus, Hershkowitz's characterization of Valerius's poem as "an epic trying to be the Aeneid but dissimulating as an Argonautica" captures very well the prevailing scholarly view of the poem. This view sees the Argonautica as oscillating between two poles-Vergilian and Apollonian-and constantly negotiating the tensions that arise from these contrasting modes of literary indebtedness. (7) To be sure, critics have pointed out the influence of other works on Valerius's poem, (8) but such texts are generally treated as less important and as having a sporadic, localized significance in comparison with the more pervasive influence of Vergil and Apollonius.

It would, of course, be absurd to dismiss either the importance of Apollonius as a narrative model or the profound influence of Vergil's Aeneid; however, critical understanding of Valerius's epic poem has reached the point at which some pressure might usefully be applied to this fundamentally bipolar view. (9) Despite its obvious appeal, the notion of the Flavian poem as an Argonautica striving against all odds to be an Aeneid no longer seems to do full justice to Valerius's complex artistry or to the richness and subtlety of his poetic program. In Section II below, I will argue that Valerius goes to considerable lengths to anticipate and resist such a reading in the opening scenes of his epic, and that he does so by using the very technique of metadissimulation that Hershkowitz has so usefully identified. Then, in Section III, I will identify a complex and sustained pattern of allusive strategies in the subsequent narrative of the epic, a pattern that occupies the thematic and referential space opened up by these initial negative programmatic gestures. Through a wide-ranging examination of Valerius's mythographic and intertextual manipulations, I will show that the Argonautica is pervasively informed by and dialectically engaged with a third major source of inspiration, namely, Homeric epic.

II. Reading Models

In order to demonstrate the poem's resistance to its conception as a "Vergilian Argonautica," I will examine two complex and deceptive programmatic gestures that occur in a brief stretch of narrative very early in the first book of the poem. My goal will be to elucidate, by highlighting the instability of the intertextual relationship with Vergil and Apollonius, the manner in which this passage complicates the reader's natural assumptions. Through ostentatious disruption of its own assimilation to its "inevitable" artistic paradigms, the text unbalances and complicates the process of reception, and by compelling the audience to acknowledge and reassess its own metaliterary assumptions, promotes more sophisticated strategies of reader response. (10) In other words, through its elaborate misguiding of the reader, the poem forestalls and problematizes its conception as a "Vergilian Argonautica," before that conception can become firmly entrenched in the reader's mind. Thus, it is not by chance that the instances of metadissimulation in question occur in close proximity at the start of the narrative. The epic produces these two metaploys in the course of a single scene, the moment when Hercules and his stepmother Juno, two well-known antagonists, enter into the narrative. It is to an examination of this passage that I now turn.

11.1 Cataloging Exclusion

Early in Book 1, Jason, shortly after being directed by Pelias to retrieve the golden fleece, prays to Juno and Minerva for assistance in tackling this daunting enterprise (71-90). The goddesses hear his prayer and promptly spring to action. While Minerva organizes the building of a ship, Juno spreads the news of the expedition about Greece in order to recruit a crew of heroes to accompany Jason. (11) Following the announcement of the expedition, various Greek heroes flock to Thessaly to join Jason. This sequence, which occupies roughly the first one hundred lines of the poem, shows a general indebtedness to the opening twenty lines of Apollonius's Argonautica. (12) Though considerably more expansive, it touches on the same basic material as its Hellenistic predecessor, including a proemic encapsulation of the narrative, oracular announcements of the long-term threat that Jason represents for Pelias, the tyrant's consequent scheme to eliminate Jason through a perilous mission, and the immediate assistance of the goddesses Hera and Athena.

The Flavian Argonautica, then, opens with a marked "Apollonian" feel to it, and the circumstantial parallels invite the assumption that Valerius is proceeding analogically vis-a-vis his Hellenistic model. Consequently, the mention of the various heroes flocking to Thessaly to join the expedition (100-06) at once suggests itself as the appropriate narrative moment for a catalog of Argonauts, for it is precisely at this juncture in his poem that Apollonius launches into his own catalog. (13) Thus, the erudite contemporary reader reaches this point in the narrative with a precise horizon of expectation, namely, that the requisite enumeration of heroes has been "cued" and is next on the textual agenda. (14) And indeed, Valerius appears to initiate a catalog here with the mention of Hercules and his young companion Hylas: (15)
protinus Inachiis ultro Tirynthius Argis
advolat, Arcadio cuius flammata veneno
tela puer facilesque umeris gaudentibus arcus
gestat Hylas; velit ille quidem, sed dextera nondum
par oneri clavaeque capax ... (107-11)


At once the Tirynthian hero hastens forth from Inachian Argos; the boy Hylas carries his arrows, blazing with Arcadian poison, and his bow, an easy burden for glad shoulders. He would like to bear the club as well, but his hand is unequal to its weight and his grip too slight. . .

This carefully particularized description of Hercules and Hylas hastening to join the expedition constitutes an unmistakable echo of their joint catalog notice in the Greek Argonautica. (16) Nearly every detail in these four lines corresponds to the treatment of this pair in the earlier poem:

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Nor do we learn that Heracles of the mighty heart disregarded the eager summons of Aeson's son. But when he heard a report of the heroes' gathering and had reached Lyrceian Argos from Arcadia by the road along which he carried the boar alive that fed in the thickets of Lampeia, near the vast Erymanthian swamp, the boar bound with chains he put down from his huge shoulders at the entrance to the market-place of Mycenac; and himself of his own will set out against the purpose of Eurystheos; and with him went Hylas, a brave comrade in the flower of youth, to bear his arrows and to guard his bow. (Trans. Seaton)

Before Apollonius, the question of Hercules' participation in the Argonautic mission had been much disputed within the poetic tradition. Some early accounts did not number him among the Argonauts at all, or made the Argo refuse to carry him because he was too heavy; others insisted on his full participation. (17) Apollonius devised an elegant compromise by having Hercules join the expedition while in the midst of his Labors, only to be left in Mysia when his young companion Hylas was abducted by a nymph and he remained behind to search for him (1.1207-362). (18) Apollonius thus made Hylas integral to Hercules' status as an Argonaut and emphasized the inseparability of the two by casting the youth as Hercules' eromenos and by frequently mentioning them together, beginning with the catalog. (19)

Given this literary-historical background, Valerius's mention of Hercules travelling together with his young companion Hylas establishes at the outset a general affiliation to his Hellenistic predecessor. This broad thematic allegiance is reinforced by a more precise intertextual relationship, which arises from a series of echoes on the level of descriptive detail. To take one example: Hylas is described carrying both Hercules' bow and his arrows (1.108-09), just as in the earlier poem. To this description Valerius adds a pair of psychological observations that elaborate on the Apollonian picture, namely, that Hylas's enthusiasm makes the task of weapon-bearer an easy one, and that the same ardor makes the young boy eager to carry Hercules' massive club, a task to which he is not yet equal (1.110-11). These psychological details, of course, serve to reinforce and confirm the importance of the intertextual relationship by elaborating upon and explicating the model. In other words, through the emphasis on the relative weakness of Hylas and the massive weight of Hercules' club, Valerius offers an "explanation" as to why Apollonius had failed to mention the latter. At this point in the narrative, then, the poem signals a programmatic indebtedness to Apollonius's catalog notice through its careful reproduction of and elaboration upon details and formulations found in the earlier passage.

Besides these overt echoes, the passage aligns itself with its Hellenistic predecessor through the use of more subtle gestures of accommodation and congruence. For example, the passage is vague in specifying how Hercules came to hear of the mission, just as was the case in Apollonius's account where the hero is simply said to have heard a "report of the heroes gathering" ([LANGUAGES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1.124). More importantly, as Langen notes, the adverb ultro ("of his own accord") constitutes an echo of the Greek Argonautica, where Hercules joins the expedition "of his own accord" ([LANGUAGES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 130-31), and against the will of Eurystheus. (20)

Valerius provides another suggestive detail in that Hylas is said to be carrying "arrows burning with poison from Arcadia" (Arcadio . . . flammata veneno / tela, 108.09). (21) The explanation for this enigmatic expression, which has vexed commentators on the poem, appears to lie in a poisonous plant called smilax (or less commonly milax) indigenous to Arcadia, into whose extracted juices arrows were dipped. (22) More important than the arcane reference itself, however, is its metaliterary function, which is to provide an intricate cross-reference to the model passage. In Apollonius, Hercules joins the mission "after crossing from Arcadia into Lyrceian Argos" ([LANGUAGES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1.125) as he carries the Erymanthean boar to Mycenae. An exact repetition in Valerius's narrative of Apollonius is not possible, however, since Valerius does not have Hercules joining the mission while still on his Labors. (23) Nevertheless, despite using an entirely different relative chronology, the Flavian poem do es manage to maintain contact with the Apollonian version by having Hercules literally follow in his own footsteps in the Greek Argonautica. That is to say, the need for the poisonous plant extract provides a plausible alternative explanation for Hercules' initial point of departure in Arcadia, from which he proceeded to Argos and then to Thessaly. (24) This sophisticated intertextual gesture thus encodes a complex literary encounter between Valerius and his Hellenistic predecessor, providing a compellingly literalized exposition of what Alessandro Barchiesi has called "la traccia del modello." (25) The presentation of Valerius's Hercules retracing, but in altered narrative circumstances, his own footsteps from the earlier poem thus serves as a self-conscious gesture of allegiance. All in all, this oblique reference constitutes a tour de force of learned allusion that highlights an imperative to maintain, even at points of narrative divergence, intertextual continuity with the model passage.

The description of Hercules and Hylas in the Flavian Argonautica is, therefore, designed to make the reader recall, through an intricate network of echoes and allusions, the corresponding passage in the Hellenistic Argonautica. This effect is evidenced on a number of different levels, from straightforward verbal echoes to almost impossibly erudite references. Since the model passage in Apollonius is a catalog notice, the detailed correspondences between the two passages, as well as their similar narrative positions, naturally elicit an assumption from the reader that Valerius's text is likewise part of a catalog. (26) But this is not the case, for the poem abruptly effaces the horizon of expectation that has been so scrupulously established in this textual sequence. The ostensible catalog is cut short when Juno, seeing her hated stepson about to join the expedition, delivers a venomous monologue against him (1.111-20, for which see below). Following this interruption the text does not revert to the gathering of the heroes and a catalog, but rather continues with an account of the construction of the Argo. The authentic catalog of Argonauts occurs more than two hundred lines later in the text (350-486), when the heroes take their places on the ship prior to setting sail." (27)

What has unfolded in this rather intricate sequence is an elaborate instance of guiding trickery. Through a complex series of allusions, the text elicits or encourages the expectation of a faithful reproduction of Apollonius's catalog, but then abruptly confounds that expectation; this is a particularly sophisticated instance of what Hershkowitz has identified as the epic's metadissimulation. To this I would add that the purpose of this technique is not simply to trick the reader in a purely ludic manner, but rather to offer guidance and to alert her to the dangers of reading the poem complacently as a straightforward reworking of Apollonius's epic.

A further subtlety is at work in this intriguing textual sequence. Juno's intervention at this point has the effect of structurally isolating Hercules and Hylas by reproducing their Apollonian catalog entry as a detached textual fragment that is removed by hundreds of lines from the catalog proper, where the pair is not mentioned. (28) Through this device, the poem anticipates on the structural level the narrative fact of the separation of Hercules and Hylas from the mission. In other words, poetics and narrative here reinforce each other through a mutually enhancing symmetry of design. This symmetry is further enriched by the fact that the goddess Juno functions as both the narrative and the metanarrative agent of separation. The result is a meaningful and effective deviation that self-consciously transforms the Apollonian poetic inheritance.

II.2 Writing Out the Storm

Appropriately enough, it is the sudden appearance of Juno that suspends the faux catalog and conjures up at this point in the epic narrative an entirely new set of metaliterary expectations. To be more precise, the appearance of a vengeful Juno early in the poem signals a specifically Vergilian treatment of the divine machinery. Like her counterpart in the Aeneid, Valerius's Juno is the first deity directly to intervene in the narrative, and she immediately establishes herself as the dominant goddess of the poem. In this case, the allusion to the model passage is in part situational: the close correspondence in narrative position and circumstance creates an analogical relationship between the two texts that is easily identified by the reader. (29) In particular, both scenes contain the sight of long-standing enemies approaching their destination in good spirits (Iaeti, Aen. 1.35; gaudentibus, Arg. 1.108), thereby prompting a bitter outburst from the goddess and thoughts of interference. As in the Aeneid, Vale rius's Juno delivers an opening monologue that portrays her as a goddess both consumed by hatred and outraged at her inability to persecute freely her enemies:
                     ... quos talibus amens
insequitur solitosque novat Satumia questus;
"o utinam Graiae rueret non omne inventae
in nova fata decus nostrique Eurystheos haec nunc
iussa forent, imbrem et tenebras saevumque tridentem
iamiam ego et inviti torsissem coniugis ignem.
nunc quoque nec socium nostrae columenve carinae
esse velim Herculesis nec me umquam fidere fas sit
auxiliis comiti et tantum debere superbo." (1.111-19)


This pair the maddened daughter of Saturn rebukes with the following words, making anew her habitual complaints: "Oh if only all the glory of Greek youth were not rushing toward new destinies, and these were now the commands of Eurystheus. Then would I long since have hurled forth rain storms and darkness, the fierce trident, and the firebrand of my husband--even against his will. Even now I do not wish this man to be the ally or mainstay of my ship; nor let it ever be right for me to trust in the help of Hercules or to owe so much to so arrogant a comrade."

Juno's complaints about her enemies were, of course, a commonplace in Latin poetry, (30) and Valerius archly signals his deployment of the topos here by referring to Juno's outburst as solitos . . . questus ("habitual complaints"). The metaliterary sense of repetition is also brought out in the verb novat ("renews"), a somewhat ironic acknowledgment of belatedness typical of Valerius's style. (31) Nevertheless, the Argonautica passage signals an unmistakable imitation of Juno's first intervention in the Aeneid and, more generally, the Vergilian storm scene. (32) For example, Juno's assertion that if Hercules were not in the company of her favorites she would already have made use of her husband's thunderbolts (inviti torsissem coniugis ignem) recalls her speech at Aeneid 1.37-49, in which the goddess angrily observes that whereas Minerva was permitted to use her father's bolts (Iovis . . . iaculata . . . ignem) against a single individual, she herself could not act against a whole people. As Philip Hardie has observed, with these words Valerius's Juno makes an intertextual foil of her own Vergilian speech. (33) The goddess reverses her own formulation in the Aeneid, observing that although she might be free to act against a single individual (Hercules), it would be at the risk of damage to a whole people (cf. omne . . . Graiae iuventae . . . decus).

Although the target of Juno's wrath in Valerius's text is Hercules, the initial treatment of the passage is markedly Vergilian and reminiscent of the goddess's persecution of Aeneas. Juno's allusion to the possibility of an attempt to subsume the functions of Jupiter and Neptune corresponds to her generation of a storm in Aeneid 1. As in the model passage, Juno contemplates what would amount to a momentary subversion of the Olympian power hierarchy and a disruption of the unfolding of Jovian fata. Specific verbal echoes underscore the Vergilian affiliations of the scene; the expression saevumque tridentem, for example, which alludes to Neptune's power over the sea, is repeated (with retention of metrical sedes) from Aen. 1.138, where Neptune rebukes the wind god Aeolus for usurping his authority. The echo is pointed, since in the Vergilian passage Aeolus's actions were secretly instigated by Juno, and so, with characteristic metaliterary competence, she is referring here in the Valerian text to her activity i n the Aeneid. (34)

The close correspondence of Juno's speech in the Argonautica with the goddess's opening monologue and the subsequent narrative of the Aeneid is striking, and also naturally raises the possibility of a storm scene; that is, after flirting with the well-known opening of Apollonius's epic (a catalog of heroes), the text now engages in a second intertextual gesture, this time with the celebrated opening of the Aeneid, a sea storm. As noted above, poetry of the Silver Age shows a remarkable propensity for reflecting upon its own position within a system of literary conventions and traditions. Among the topoi and type-scenes available to the poet, perhaps nothing was more conventionalized in post-Vergilian epic than the storm sequence in Aeneid 1, which had quickly achieved a kind of paradigmatic status, becoming both an exemplar for and a challenge to subsequent poets. A storm scene, then, was all but inevitable in any post-Augustan Latin epic involving adventure on the high seas. (35) In the Valerian passage, the appearance of a wrathful Juno at the very opening of the narrative and her immediate contemplation of raising a destructive sea storm signals a precise Vergilian treatment. (36)

The intertextual dynamic at work in Valerius 1.111ff., therefore, briefly raises in the mind of the reader the possibility of a Vergilian storm scene. But, as in the case of the catalog, the gathering storm is illusory, for it is short-circuited when Juno fails to take concrete action (as she does after her speech in Aeneid 1) and instead redirects her gaze to the shores of Thessaly. At this point, the goddess, assuming the status of a narrative focalizer, causes the "gaze" of the epic to be similarly redirected, (37) effectively putting an end to the storm that once was looming on the textual horizon but then turns out to have been a mere narrative simulacrum. As with the catalog, a storm will appear much later in the first book--and then it will prove to be markedly Vergilian in form--but for now, the fleeting possibility evoked by the intertextual engagement of the Aeneid has been nullified.

Before leaving this scene, we should note that the Vergilian affiliations conjured up by Juno's speech are reinforced by the very incongruity of the narrative situation. The scenario imagined by Juno is, to say the least, bizarre, since it seems to correspond very poorly to the narrative universe of the Argonautica and only too well to the initial context of the Aeneid. For example, since sea navigation has yet to be inaugurated, the possibility of Juno persecuting anyone with a sea storm should not yet exist. Moreover, Hercules is clearly travelling to Iolcus by land (107-08), not by sea. Finally, since Hercules has not yet arrived at Iolcus, no obstacle to an aggressive intervention against him would seem to exist at this point. In the context of the Argonautica, then, Juno's wishful thinking operates according to a metaliterary logic that loses contact with the actual narrative milieu; only with the utterance nunc quoque does the goddess return from her intense Vergilian reverie to the narrative world of t he Argonautica. It is at this point that the contemporary reader would be most likely to become aware of the extent of Valerius's metaliterary duplicity, for the appeal to Vergilian authority has resulted in a number of intertextually-induced aporias. There can be no destructive storm at sea here: there are as yet no ships to be destroyed, because sea navigation has not yet been inaugurated. (38) In short, there can be no storm at sea because this is emphatically not the Aeneid. The irony of the situation thus functions on both a narrative and a metanarrative level, leaving the reader with the difficult task of assimilating the indices of unreality, as well as sorting through the intertextual debris. (39) Juno's speech articulates a fantasy about the destruction of Hercules, and this fantasy, unrealizable in the fictional world of the Argonautica, constitutes a curiously self-effacing metaliterary gesture. In the final analysis, then, the connection to the opening of Aeneid 1 turns out to be illusory, a form of negative intertextualiy. (40)

III. The Homeric Program

Now that we have examined the complex allusive texture of the two parts of Valerius's opening lines, we can identify in more general terms what is occurring--or, better, what is encoded as meant to occur--in the realm of reader-reception. In both sequences the shape of the reader's experience is structured around two self-consciously programmatic modes operating with respect to a particular model passage. The first mode, through an accumulation of allusions and congruences to the Apollonian or Vergilian model, encourages the reader to assume an analogical narrative development; the second abruptly subverts and undermines this very same assumption, thereby bringing about a kind of "Pavlovian deconditioning" of the Apollonius- or Vergil-prone reader. (41) In other words, a clear play with intertextually-authorized expectation operates through the initial invocation and subsequent repudiation of well-known epic paradigms. The passage seeks to resist and subvert the reader's efforts to make sense of the text by r elying on its "inevitable" epic models.

As noted above, the point of these gestures is emphatically not to dismiss altogether the importance of Vergil and Apollonius as poetic models; after all, the Roman Argonautica does have a catalog in the Apollonian manner and likewise a storm scene in the Vergilian. But the poem incorporates these elements on its own terms, hundreds of lines later and in completely altered narrative circumstances. The intertextual ruptures at the opening of the epic, then, operate within a specific poetic context and are meant to enact a kind of dialectical engagement with the reader. Their purpose is to foster a sophisticated critical competence, to help the reader overcome his or her own presuppositions about the epic, by encoding an "alienation effect" that creates a perceptual distance between the epic and its natural models.

The deliberately mobile and elusive intertextual approach of the poem's opening passage inevitably raises a further question about its allusive strategies. The refusal of properly reconstituted Apolllonian and Vergilian scenes signals the poet's striving for innovation; this opens up a space for other influences to operate upon the text. But is this anything more than a sophisticated gesture? To put it another way, if Valerius's text resists straightforward assimilation to Vergil's Aeneid and to Apollonius's Argonautica, how does this densely intertextual poem offset its two "inevitable" models?

The answer, in brief, is that while the poem manifests a broad proliferation of allusive modes, the most significant and sustained device deployed as a counterweight to Vergilian and Apollonian influence is a systematic infusion of Homeric elements. (42) This infusion constitutes nothing less than an appeal to the foundational authority of the "first and greatest" of the epic poets, and inevitably results in a significant reconceptualization of the Argonautic myth. Although a measure of Homer's influence on Valerius has long been recognized, it is generally considered as far less significant than Vergil's or Apollonius's influence and is put roughly on the same level as, say, that of Ovid's Metamorphoses or Lucan's Bellum civile. (43) In what follows I will argue that Homer influenced Valerius to such an extent that he should be seen as a primary model for the Argonautica. I will look at two allusive strategies in particular. The first consists of the poet's thoroughgoing efforts to endow his poem with a (bel ated) originary status by establishing a close causal and temporal relationship with the events of Homeric epic and with the Trojan war specifically. The second involves the persistent refashioning of traditional Argonautic episodes along Homeric lines.

III.1 The Homeric Pretext

In an important recent article (1993), Alessandro Barchiesi has discussed instances of allusion where an older text enters a newer one as a vision of the future. This type of highly self-conscious gesture constitutes a major element in Valerius's poetic program. In particular, the poet's pervasive deployment of proleptic Iliadic and Odyssean allusions establishes the Flavian Argonautica as a belated "pre-text" for Homeric epic. (44) Here, Valerius takes advantage of the fact that widely-accepted chronologies of mythological time put the voyage of Argo a generation or two before the Trojan war. He also follows the lead of certain earlier writers, including Herodotus and Lycophron, who adduced the Argonautic expedition as one of the causes of the Trojan war. (45)

The scene at 1.255-70, when Chiron brings the infant Achilles to say farewell to his father Peleus on the eve of the expedition's departure, provides a good example of this kind of anticipatory device. The presence of the central figure of the Iliad, in infant form, brings the poem into a precise temporal relationship with the events of Homeric epic, and adumbrates the more detailed causal relationship that is developed in the subsequent narrative. Although a similar farewell scene is found in the Greek Argonautica, where Chiron's wife brings the baby Achilles to the shore to see his father off (1.556-58), Apollonius does not exploit the intertextual possibilities for the same kind of proleptic effect. By contrast, Valerius's description of the infant Achilles' intrepid fascination with the various heroes and their weapons (1.260-63) looks forward with almost disarming charm to the Trojan War. This effect is strengthened by the subsequent speech of Peleus who urges Chiron to provide his son with a good martia l education:
                   "... tu cetera, Chiron,
da mihi. te parvus lituos et bella loquentem
miretur; sub te puerilia tela magistro
venator ferat et nostram festinet ad hastam." (1.267-70)


"...you, Chiron, take care of the rest for me. May my little son [sc. Achilles] marvel as you speak of battles and cavalry trumpets; under your guidance may he bear his childish weapons as he hunts, and may he quickly learn to wield my spear."

Peleus's mention here of Achilles' future wielding of his spear (1.270) anticipates the emphasis placed on that weapon in the Iliad. (46) The passage also alludes to, and retrospectively anticipates, in particular II. 16.140-44, which reports that Achilles inherited the spear from his father who had received it as a gift from Chiron. (47) In Homer, the spear proves to be the only piece of Achilles' armor not fashioned by Vulcan and hence, as Nagy notes, serves as a crucial "emblem" of the hero himself. (48) By focusing on this unique symbol of the Iliadic hero-to-be, Valerius makes of this passage a belated "myth of poetic origins," fashioning his narrative as an anticipatory supplement to Homeric epic. (49)

An Iliadic future is likewise constellated in a series of six catalog notices, namely, those of Peleus, Menoetius, Nestor, Nauplius, Philoctetes, and Oileus (1.380-410). (50) Peleus's entry (1.403-06) simply recapitulates the importance of that hero's massive spear and hence his paternal bond to Achilles, but Menoetius's notice enhances the picture of the future Iliadic warrior in a more provocative, if closely related, manner. In a stark departure from Apollonius, Valerius says nothing of Menoetius's participation in the mission per se, but focuses instead on the entrusting of his son Patroclus to Chiron's care. (51)
linquit et Actorides natum Chironis in antro,
ut socius caro pariter meditetur Achilli
fila lyrae pariterque leves puer incitet hastas. (1.407-09)


And the son of Actor left his child in the cave of Chiron, so that as the companion of his dear Achilles he might practice the strings of the lyre and fling the light spears that befit a boy.

The proto-Iliadic force of the description of the childhood friendship between Patroclus and Achilles is unmistakable. In a yet more compelling gesture, Valerius includes Nestor among the Argonauts, a notable innovation within the tradition. (52) Moreover, Nestor's catalog notice offers an even more explicit forecast of the Trojan war:
te quoque Thessalicae, Nestor, rapit in freta puppis
fama, Mycenaeis olim qui candida velis
aequora nec stantes mirabere mille magistros. (1.380-82) (53)


The fame of the Thessalian vessel also draws you into the ocean, Nestor, who one day will marvel at the waters white with Mycenaean sails and yet a thousand helmsmen do not stand ready at the helm.

With mille magistros the poet offers an attractive variation on the more familiar expression mille carinae for the number of Greek ships sent to Troy. (54) Further, the use of magistros ("helmsmen") subtly underscores the importance of Argo as a crucial technological prerequisite for the Trojan expedition: because the Argo in Valerius's account is the first ship to sail to the east, its magister paves the way for the thousand magistri of the Trojan War. (55)

A somewhat more opaque prolepsis is offered in the catalog notice for Nauplius: Et face saeva / in tua mox Danaos acturus saxa, Caphereu, / Nauplius ("and Nauplius, who would soon drive the Greeks with a savage beacon onto your rocks, Caphareus," 1.370-72). A highly suggestive and yet easily overlooked feat of mythographic legerdemain is at work in these lines, for the Nauplius here, a king of Euboea, is quite distinct from the Argonaut of the same name mentioned by Apollonius (1.133-38) who was from Argos. (56) Given that both figures are minor Argonauts with no narrative role as such, the homonymic transposition clearly has no significance whatsoever on the level of plot. (57) Rather, the crucial point is that the son of Valerius's Nauplius is Palamedes, who will fight for the Greeks at Troy. The cataclysmic catalog notice alludes to the father's actions following the war, which in this case serve to supplement, and even emend, the Homeric narrative. According to a well-known variant of the myth, Palamedes dies at the hands of the Greeks during the siege of Troy, thanks to the scheming of Odysseus (whose initial attempt to avoid joining the expedition Palamedes had exposed). (58) Valerius alludes here to the subsequent revenge that Nauplius inflicted upon the Greeks for his son's death. Following the capture of Troy, he set up false beacons for the returning Greek ships on Caphareus, a southeastern rocky promontory of Euboea. The Greeks, utterly deceived by these fraudulent signal fires, met with disaster when attempting to land. Valerius's text, then, subtly engages with Homeric epic, supplementing and modifying the Iliadic account and thereby obliquely effecting the one vital and near-universal shift in the Roman literary reception of Homer, namely, the "reinvention" of Odysseus as arch villain. (59)

The very concentration of these notices--six in the span of thirty lines--and their location close to the beginning of the catalog affords them an undeniable density and significance. Taken cumulatively, they assume the force of a meaningful programmatic gesture, establishing an Iliadic frame of reference and projecting a Homeric future.

The same practice of "allusion in the future tense" is repeatedly in evidence in the narrative proper. (60) To cite one example: Valerius deviates from Apollonius in adding to the Argonauts' itinerary an extended stopover at Troy (2.445-578), and inscribes within the episode numerous references to the later Trojan war. (61) As W. R. Barnes ingeniously notes, with tunc primum the poet alludes to the subsequent Trojan expedition even as he describes the Argo touching shore: Thessala Dardaniis tunc primum puppis harenis / appulit et fatis Sigeo litore sedit ("Then for the first time a Thessalian ship landed upon the Dardanian sands, and in compliance with fate rested on the shore of Sigeum," 2.445-46). (62) Among other proleptic touches in this passage are an allusion to the later Greek camp at the siege of Tray and the oblique mention of a young Priam. (63) The episode concludes, moreover, with an overt reference to the later sack of the city (manet immotis nox Dorica lustris, 2.572). Thus, Valerius not only pr ovides a pre-Homeric Trojan narrative, but also creates a complex web of cross-references to, and anticipations of, the later mythological event.

The same principle can also be seen to operate in the description of Venus's efforts to inflame Medea with erotic passion for Jason. In Apollonius's celebrated treatment, which found a close imitation in Vergil's Aeneid, the goddess induced her son Eros/Cupid to arouse Medea's passion; Valerius, by contrast, has Venus herself visit the Colchian princess in disguise as her sister Circe. The opening words of this false sibling have a distinctly Odyssean flavor:
"cum levis Hesperiis ad te modo laberer oris,
forte ratem primo fugientem litore cerno,
qualem nostra suo numquam dimittere portu
vallet, adhuc quae detinet insula nautas." (7.259-62)


"When I was gliding lightly to you from Hesperian lands I saw by chance a ship leave its shore, the kind of ship my island, which even now detains all sailors, would never wish to send forth from its harbor."

Here the goddess seems to contradict the poem's widespread emphasis on the Argo as the first ship. This rift again highlights the underlying metaliterary imperative, (64) that is to say, the crucial feature of Venus's report is its obvious "preparation" of Odysseus's sojourn on Circe's island as described in Books 10-12 of the Odyssey. Once more, Valerius has transformed his Apollonian model in order to anticipate retrospectively Homeric epic.

Such small-scale Homeric prefigurations are found throughout the poem, and their collective impact on the thematic economy of the poem is considerable. (65) At the same time, an examination of the poem on a more global level reveals that the same artistic agenda operates decisively on the larger mythographic patterns as well. This is particularly evident in the careful measures taken to establish the voyage of the Argo as a pivotal moment in human history. In one of the poem's most insistent thematic formulations, the abduction of Medea is established as the principal aition for the Trojan War. This leitmotif helps to position the Argonautica as a foundation myth for Homer's Iliad and for the Trojan war more generally. (66) The causal relationship is most forcefully articulated by Valerius's Jupiter, who adopts the Herodotean claim that the rape of Medea caused the retaliatory rape of Helen by Paris, thereby precipitating the Trojan War:
                  "... nee vellera tantum
indignanda manent propiorque ex virgine rapta
ille dolor, sad--nulla magis sententia menti
fixa meae--veniet Phrygia iam pastor ab Ida,
qui gemitus irasque pares at mutua Grais
Dona ferat." (1.546-51)


" ... nor is the fleece to be the only source of anger: the abduction of the maiden shall furnish more immediate grounds for indignation. For on no other matter is my mind's purpose more firmly set than on this point--that there shall come a shepherd from Phrygian Ida, who will visit upon the Greeks a like sorrow and wrath, thereby repaying their gifts."

The sequence of rape and counter-rape recalls the famous passage at Herodotus 1.1-5, which offers an account of the origin of hostilities between Greeks and Persians. Following the abductions of Europa and Jo, the rape of Medea is cited by Herodotus's "Persian" sources as a crucial provocation to the Asians:

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For the next outrage [i.e. following the abductions of Europa and Io] it was the Greeks again who were responsible. They sailed in a long ship to Aea in Colchis on the river Phasis, and, having completed the regular business which had brought them there, they abducted the king's daughter Medea.

As I mentioned earlier, Valerius takes from Herodotus and other Greek writers the notion of the abduction of Helen as a retaliation for the abduction of Medea. Herodotus establishes a precise chain of causation:

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They say that two generations later Paris, the son of Priam, was inspired by these stories to steal a wife for himself out of Greece, being confident that he would not have to pay for the venture any more than the Greeks had done. And so he carried off Helen...

Valerius, however, removes the first two abductions from his own causal chain by fully "remythologizing" them. He does this by retaining the more familiar role of Jupiter in the rapes of Io and Europa rather than locating them in the human realm. In the case of Io, Valerius achieves this by having Orpheus relate the story of her rape by Jupiter at 4.351-421. The seer's internal narrative describes her initial assault, her subsequent persecution by Juno, and finally her apotheosis in Egypt. There is thus a clear contrast between Jo's story, which Orpheus vaguely locates in a former age of divine myth (4.351) and unfolds almost exclusively on the supernatural level, and Medea's rather more mundane situation. In the case of Europa, the "remythologizing" of the legend is contained in Absyrtus's exhortation to his Colchian troops as they pursue the Argonauts in the final book of the poem:
"... hanc, o siquis vobis dolor iraque, Colchi,
accelerate viam, neque enim fugit aequore raptor
Iuppiter aut falsi sequimur vestigia tauri." (8.264-66)


"... Increase your speed, Colchians, if you have any grief or anger over this deed. For this is no Jupiter who flees before us over the sea, and we are not following the tracks of a false bull."

With this reference, Valerius completes his scattered inventory of Herodotean rape stories. In terms of the larger historical picture, his typological differentiation establishes an unbridgeable distance between the immediate narrative domain and the tales of Io and Europa. By presenting the latter as legendary figures even from the perspective of characters within the epic, the poet decisively disconnects the rapes of 10 and Europa from the chain of causation, thereby establishing Jason's abduction of Medea as a crucial foundational event in human history, as the decisive trigger for setting in motion the sequence of events that brings about the Trojan War. This hermetically-sealed pattern of causality remains prominent right to the very end of the poem as we now have it. Less than one hundred lines before the text breaks off, the Argonauts, now homeward bound, beg Jason to surrender Medea to the pursuing Colchians:
                   ... sat vellera Grais
et posse oblata componere virgine bellum.
quemque suas sinat ire domos nec Marte cruento
Europam atque Asiam prima haec committat Erinys. (8.393-96)


For the Greeks the fleece was enough; [Jason] could put an end to the war by giving back the maiden. He should permit each to return home, and not let this Fuiy first pit Europe and Asia in bloody conflict.

The description of Medea as a Fury drawing Europe and Asia into conflict recalls Vergil's portrait of Helen as Troiae etpatriae communis Erinys (Aen. 2.573), and Establishes a vital link between the two figures. (67) The connection between Medea and Helen is further strengthened by the adjective prima, which anticipates a second Fury to follow the first. (68) Indeed, the causal relationship between the two abductions is now for the first time explicitly articulated by the prophet Mopsus:
namque datum hoc fatis trepidus supplexque canebat
Mopsus, ut in seros irent magis ista nepotes
atque alius lueret tam dira incendia raptor. (8.397-99)


Mopsus sang in supplication and fear that this was decreed by fate, that the quarrel should pass to the latest generation and that another abductor would expiate so dire a conflagration.

This second raptor is of course Paris, and tam dira incendia refers to the sack of Troy, (69) while alius underscores the causal link between Jason and Paris in Valerius's emended Herodotean prehistory. As the narrative to its premature close the inevitability of the Trojan War not only becomes known to the trans-historical perspective of Jupiter (and the reader), but also looms on the perceptual horizons of the Argonauts themselves.

It is through such strategies that Valerius establishes his own text as the essential "prequel" to Homeric epic, positing a direct and self-contained causal relationship between his own narrative and that of the Iliad. The strategy is so insistently pursued and is so pervasively applied as to effect something like a reversal of the conventional readerly experience of intertextuality. (70) In this sense, Valerius is repositioning his narrative with respect to the literary tradition, and the literacy tradition with respect to his narrative. Through the strategy of Homeric prolepsis, then, Valerius achieves a kind of "return to origins" for the epic genre as a whole.

III.2 Homeric (Re)Constructions

In addition to fashioning his narrative as a Homoeric "pre-text," Valerius reformulates many Argonautic episodes along precise Homeric lines, (71) by using the Iliad and the Odyssey as vast reservoirs of archetypal scenes and episodes to be reappropriated according to the aesthetic or thematic exigencies of the narrative moment. Such reappropriation was of course a longstanding convention in the poetic tradition, but the extent to which Valerius recasts his mythological raw materials along Homeric lines is nonetheless striking.

This transformational operation sometimes works on a relatively small scale, though it can be with profound results. A good example is Valerius's narrative prelude to the episode of the Lemnian women:
tempore quo primum fremitus insurgere opertos
caelicolum et regni sensit novitate tumentes
Iuppiter aetheriae nec stare silentia pacis,
Iunonem volucri primam suspendit Olympo
horrendum chaos ostendens poenasque barathri.
mox etiam pavidae temptantem vincula matris
solvere praerupti Vulcanum vertice caeli
devolvit. ruit ille polo noctemque diemque
turbinis in morem, Lemni dum litore tandem
insonuit. vox inde repens ut perculit urbem,
adclinem scopulo inveniunt miserentque foventque
alternos aegro cunctantem poplite gressus.
hinc, reduci superas postquam pater adnuit arces,
Lemnos cara deo ... (2.82-95)


What time Jupiter first heard the rising tide of secret girdings, and felt the anger of the gods kindle against his new sovereignty, and that the calm and peace in heaven could not last, first he hung up Juno from the wheeling sky and showed her chaos in its horror and the doom of the abyss. And presently when Vulcan would have undone his trembling mother's fetters, down from the sheer height of heaven he cast him; and from the sky daylong and nightlong he fell as in a whirlwind, until at length he thundered upon the shore of Lemnos. Then when his sudden cries thrilled the city, men found him leaning against a rock; they took compassion on him and nursed him, as on weak knees he moved slowly step by step. Hence, ever since the father suffered him to return to the heights of heaven, Lemnos has been dear to the god. (Trans. Mozley)

In this text, Valerius elaborates upon the brief preamble to the episode provided by Apollonius which merely attributed the anger of Venus to a lack of worship on Lemnos (1.614-15). Valerius delves into the mythic past in order to explain fully the close bond between Vulcan and the Lemnians, which caused the latter to spurn Venus in the wake of her notorious liaison with Mars (2.98-100). (72) But the crucial point is that the passage just quoted is in fact a collage of divine "flashbacks" from the Iliad: Vulcan's ejection from Olympus by his angry father (1.590-94), the short-lived rebellion of the Olympians against Jupiter (1.396-400), and Juno's consequent punishment by her husband (15.18-24). These scenes, in conjunction with an allusion to the tale of Venus and Mars (Od. 8.266-366), are used by Valerius to explain the unpopularity of Venus among the Lemnians. (73) As Poortvliet rightly observes, the passage constitutes "a very skilful refashioning of mythological data into a new whole." (74) More importan tly for our purposes, Valerius's ingenious consolidation of these disparate tales serves to ground the episode of the Lemnian women in a careflully articulated Homeric prehistory. (75)

At other times, such as the account of the attempted erotic engulfment of Medea by Juno in Book 6, the transformative operation involves the systematic reworking of a series of major Homeric episodes; here Valerius transforms the Apollonian material completely by reconfiguring the episode in an overtly Iliadic fashion. (76) Thus, in a scene that overtly replays II. 14.188-223, Juno borrows the familiar amatory ammunition, Venus's famous girdle, in order to overwhelm Medea with passion (6.454-74), (77) while in a reworking of the famous Iliadic teichoscopia, Juno, disguised as Chalciope, leads Medea to the city walls and encourages her to watch Jason as he fights on behalf of Aeetes (6.575-601). (78) The most thoroughgoing of all Homeric reconstructions in Valerius's narrative, though, may well be the account of the boxing match between Pollux and Amycus at Bebrycia (4.99343). The essential details of the complex transformation of this quintessentially Apollonian episode have been extensively discussed elsewhe re, but it will be useful to summarize them here. (79) When the Argonauts land at Bebrycia, the monstrous king Amycus challenges them to a boxing match, and it is Pollux who answers the call. After a difficult struggle, Pollux's superior boxing skills overcome the brute force of Amycus, and the giant is slain by an accumulation of blows. In Apollonius's text, as Richard Hunter has shown, the overarching symbolic code for this episode is that of gigantomachy, (80) but in Valerius, the gigantomachic symbolism of the Greek Argonautica is largely displaced, so that the scene can be recast around Homer's Cyclops episode. (81) The text explicitly signals this new emphasis at the beginning of the episode with a simile that likens Amycus to Polyphemus:
quales Aetnaeis rabidi Cyclopes in antris
nocte sub hiberna servant freta, sicubi saevis
advectet ratis acta notis tibi pabula dira
et miseras, Polypheme, dapes, sic undique in omnes
prospiciunt cursantque vias, qui corpora regi
capta trahant. (4.104-09)


As the Cyclopes in Aetna's caves watch the straits during stormy nights in case a ship, driven by savage winds, might sail in, bringing you, Polyphemus, grim food and a wretched feast, so [Amycus's subjects] look all about and hasten in all directions to drag captive bodies to their king.

Valerius's portrayal of Amycus in Book 4 contains numerous points of contact with Homer's Polyphemus. For instance, unlike his counterpart in Apollonius Rhodius, Valerius's Amycus lives in a cave. (82) Like Polyphemus, he is depicted as a monster possessing enormous size and strength, and the description of Valerius's Amycus as he approaches his cave echoes precisely Homer's comparison of Polyphemus to a mountain top (cf. 4.201-03 with Od. 9.190-92). (83) Another point of contact is Amycus's utter lack of piety and his lawless behavior. As the Argonauts are told when they land, Amycus's realm is characterized by a lack of reverence for any rites (non hic ullos reverentia ritus / pectora, 146-47). The savage king's total lack of regard for the rule of the gods is expressed in his dismissive rejection of any appeal to the authority of Jupiter (218-19), which echoes the scorn Homer's Polyphemus expresses for Zeus and the Olympian gods when Odysseus appeals to the giant's piety (Od. 9.275). (84) In both accounts, this lack of respect for the Olympian gods has a single exception: Neptune/Poseidon, the monster's father, to whom Polyphemus prays and to whom Amycus dedicates his human sacrifices. In each passage, Neptune is presented as a benefactor and protector of his monstrous child. Along with Amycus's lack of piety, there is an overwhelming sense of lawlessness in his behavior; indeed, as Valerius states explicitly, there are no laws in his domain (102-03). This is contradicted ironically only by Amycus's references to lex (209) and foedera (215); (85) the lex to which he refers is simply the rule of violence, while the foedera are merely guarantees of death. The Bebrycian king is, in other words, a determined violator of civilized practice, his lawless realm closely resembling the land of the Homeric Cyclopes, who are likewise without social law. (86) The ironic mention of hospitia (212) recalls the theme of violated xenia in Odyssey 9, where Polyphemus mocks the laws of hospitality by making Odysseus's "gift" the promise that he will devour him last (9.369-70). (87) Valerius clearly has the latter episode in mind when he has Amycus ask who among the Argonauts is to receive the first gift (prima manu cui dona feram? 4.216). (88) As with the Homeric Polyphemus, Amycus's intended "gift" is a brutal death.

Through his "Cyclopean" characterization of Amycus, then, Valerius clearly distances his narrative from Apollonius's version of the episode and establishes new figurative and intertextual affiliations, thereby effectively pursuing the Homeric agenda and establishing independence vis-a-vis his primary narrative model. Speaking more broadly, the "Odyssean" patterning of the Amycus episode builds upon other Homeric features found earlier in the poem. For example, Valerius has already introduced the theme of the wrath of Neptune in Book 1, a theme wholly absent from the Hellenistic Argonautica; indeed, the sea god is almost immediately established in the text as the principal divine antagonist of Jason and his followers. (89) Thus, at the very opening of the narrative, Jason is pitted against the ira maris (1.37), and only the timely intervention of Juno and Minerva saves the Argonauts from destruction at the hands of Neptune (1.640-44). (90) Again, this points to a consistent, large-scale, and highly sophisticat ed intertextual engagement with Homeric epic.

Another suggestive feature of the Amycus episode is its careful self-positioning against Vergilian precedent. As with the ostensible storm scene at the beginning of Book 1, the poem here evokes the precedent of the Aeneid, only to reverse the latter's Homeric praeteritio through a complex reworking of the earlier tradition. This is achieved at the beginning of the episode when, as with Vergil's Polyphemus, Amycus is described to the protagonists through the figure of a castaway (4.133-73). Behind this passage lies a rich literary genealogy of Roman epicists's treatment of Homer's Cyclops episode. At Aen. 3.587-691, Vergil established a normative pattern for handling the Polyphemus theme. Aeneas and his men land in Sicily, where they are met by the desperate figure of Achaemenides, who was a companion of Odysseus accidentally left behind. He tells them briefly of the horrors of the Cyclops, and of his own secret subsistence on the island. Heeding his warnings, the Trojans quickly depart, taking the Greek casta way with them. This Cyclopeanpraeteritio is afforded an almost canonical status when Ovid rather mischievously retells the tale with a further degree of narrative indirection in the Metamorphoses. (91) Thus, there is a certain sense of deja-vu when the Argonauts land in Bebrycia and encounter the castaway Dymas, a fugitive on the island who lives in fear of his life:
              ... paulumque egressus Echion
invenit obscura gemitus in valle trahentem
calm juvenem et caesi maerentem nomen amici.
ille virum ut contra venientem umbrataque vidit
tempora Parrhasio patris de more galero
paciferaeque manu nequiquam insignia virgae,
"heu fuge" ait "certo quicumque es, perdite, passu
dum dautr!" (4.134-41)


... Echion, proceeding forward a short distance comes upon a youth in a hidden vale, secretly groaning and lamenting the name of a slain friend. The youth, when he saw the hero walking towards him and saw that his head was covered by an Arcadian hat after his father's [i.e. Mercury's] fashion, and recognized in his hand the vain emblem of a peace-bearing branch, cried out--"Whoever you are, doomed man, flee now with unhesitating stride, while you still can!"

Because no such scene exists in the Greek Argonautica, where Amycus runs down to meet the ship as soon as it lands (2.8), or elsewhere in extant literature, the encounter with Dymas and his tale of woe are likely inventions of Valerius. (92) The passage clearly echoes the Cyclops scene in Aeneid 3 where the Trojans meet Achaemenides. In both cases the castaway, upon seeing the strangers, immediately urges the sailors to flee for their lives, but unlike the Trojans in the Aeneid, the Argonauts ignore these warnings and resolve to confront the monster. (93) This sequence encodes a dialectical moment within the process of narrative creation: through this gesture the possibility of a Vergilian treatment--a praeteritio--is raised fleetingly, only to be rejected. In other words, in this scene Valerius signals his "Homeric" patterning of the narrative and at the same time positions his treatment against both Apollonius and Vergil.

IV. Conclusion

I want to conclude by returning briefly to the pair of deceptive authorial gestures discussed in Section I above, and examine how the narrative unfolds in their immediate aftermath. In the wake of Juno's impressive redirection of authorial focus, the narrative resumes with an elaborate description of the building of Argo (1.131-48). Apollonius had notoriously elided from his own account the story of the boat's construction:

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The ship, as former poets relate, Argus fashioned under the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and names of the heroes ...

These several lines of praeteritio immediately precede Apollonius's catalog of heroes, and so Valerius, in cutting off his heroic catalog and offering in its place a detailed description of the building of Argo, offers an inversion of Apollonius's narrative approach. Valerius has reversed Apollonius's artistic priorities, thereby making a forceful statement of independence from his principal narrative model. (94)

More suggestively, Valerius includes in his account of the construction of the Argo an ecphrasis describing the paintings adorning the sides of the vessel (1.130-48). (95) The passage, an impressive innovation within the poetic tradition, carries an obvious metapoetic charge. (96) The ecphrasis, which stands as an emblem for the poetic undertaking itself, enjoys a reflexive status that is almost overdetermined by the content of the ecphrasis, its strikingly allusive nature, and its presence on a ship (itself a standard metaphor for the process of poetic creation). (97)

The ecphrasis describes three separate scenes: Thetis's conveyance on a dolphin to her wedding; the marriage of Peleus and Thetis; and the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs. I shall examine here only the first scene, in which an evidently unhappy Thetis is carried to her mortal husband, regretting as she goes that she is now destined to bear a human. rather than a divine, child:
hic insperatos (98) Tyrrheni tergore piscis
Peleos in thalamos vehitur Thetis; aequora delphin
corripit, ipsa sedet deiecta in lumina palla
nec love maiorem nasci suspirat Achillen.
hanc Panope Dotoque soror laetataque fluctu
prosequitur nudis pariter Galatea lacertis
antra petens; Siculo revocat de litore Cyclops. (1.130-36)


On this side Thetis is borne on the back of a Tyrrhenian fish to the unwanted marriage chamber of Peleus: the dolphin drives through the water. Thetis sits upon it, a veil covering her face, and she sighs that Achilles will not be born greater than Jupiter. Her sisters accompany her towards the caverns--Panope, Doto, and, reveling bare-armed in the waves, Galatea, whom the Cyclops calls back from the shores of Sicily.

We see, once again, an anticipation of the Trojan war, this time in Thetis's sigh over her future progeny. The force of the prolepsis is strengthened by the fact that Achilles is actually named by the poet even though in this scene he has yet to be conceived in the biological sense, thereby reinforcing the sense of Iliadic inevitability that pervades Valerius's text. (99) More striking still is the following description of a love-sick Polyphemus calling out to Galatea as she swims alongside Thetis. The programmatic force of these ingeniously combined scenes is clear enough. Valerius brings into focus two important Homeric figures, the first from the Iliad and the second from the Odyssey, and he does so with a clear anticipatory force: Achilles is mentioned before he has been born, while Polyphemus is presented in his "pre-Odyssean" form as a disappointed lover whose power of sight is still very much intact. Here the geographical implausibility adds to its metapoetic force, underscoring the curious juxtapositi on of two distinct narrative strands.

Through these interrelated images, and the complex literary relationship between them, the ecphrasis emblematizes the hypertextual nature of Valerius's epic. The dense, multilevel allusivity of the Argonautica is here presented as a defining and constitutive feature of the poem, as an aesthetic mode in its own right, and as a realm in which artistic innovation can be pursued. In contemplating the various ecphrastic scenes, the reader's awareness of earlier poetry, and of Valerius's reception and reworking of that poetry, is a crucial determinant of the aesthetic effect.

There are even more intertextual shadings to be recovered here, however. Polyphemus, in his pre-Odyssean, elegiac form, is also Ovidian and Theocritean rather than purely Homeric; (100) that is to say, the ecphrasis presents the young, lovesick Cyclops of Metamorphoses 11 and Idyll 11, which are themselves belated prequels to Homeric epic: What we have, therefore, are representations of Homeric raw materials already mediated by intervening texts. The ecphrastic panel thus constitutes a kind of mise en abyme, which captures in markedly self-conscious terms the strategy of Homeric prolepsis that is such a central aspect of the Flavian epic's artistic design. At the same time, Valerius presents his own poetry as but the last in a long sequence of acts of reception which take Homeric epic as their point of departure. What Valerius proffers here is the process of literature engendering literature, and his conviction that all epic after Homer necessarily involves an act of reading as well as an act of writing. (101)

(1.) Hershkowitz 1998b: 271-74. Other scholars have considered dissimulation as a theme on the narrative level: Davis offers a sporadic treatment in her pessimistic reading of the poem, while McGuire takes important strides towards historicizing die pervasive theme; Hershkowitz 1998b: 242-74 provides a useful overview. These studies all explore the heightened interest in the emphasis on a disjunction between outward appearance and inner reality found in much imperial epic. Cf. Hershkowitz 1998b: 270: "Like the characters themselves, the epic world in which they live has been Romanized, and the Greek-style cunning, admirable if morally ambiguous when employed by Apollonius' men and women, has been replaced by Roman Empire-style dissimulation, with all the difficulties and dangers it entails, accompanied by a longing for a return to Roman Republican self-control, exemplified by figures like Aeson and Hypsipyle."

(2.) Cf. the analysis of 3.439-58 at Hershkowitz 1998b: 271-72.

(3.) The crucial importance of the Aeneid as a poetic model for Valerius was already a commonplace for eighteenth-century scholars; cf, Baehrensv: "Scripta esse Argonautica tota ad exemplar Aeneidos Vergilianae notum est." On the privileged status of Apollonius and Vergil as narrative and poetic models for Valerius, see, e.g., Summers 26-28; Nordera; Adamietz 1; Burck 213; Eigler 2; Hardie 1990: 5: Taylor 221; Liberman xxxii-xxxiii; Manuwald 32; and cf. The formulation of Liberman xl that Valerius follows the canvas of Apollonius while inflecting it to match the structure and themes of the Aencid.

(4.) On the Argonautica of Varro of Atax, cf. Quintillian, Inst. 10.1.87 and Blansdorf 226-34. The observations of Summers 19 are also still apt: "In Varro the four-book division of the original was retained, and the fragments (e.g. 1.1, 1.3, 3.1) show that the rendering was generally very close. On the other hand, freedom does occur: in 2.1 tendentem spicula and O Phoebe have no representative in the Greek, and in 4.2 Varro's love of an Ennian line has led him to forget Apollonius."

(5.) The Bellum civile unfolds as a process of pattern-negation, creating an antithesis of Vergil's epic of Roman glory, an anti-Aeneid. For Lucan's close episodic mirroring of Vergil's epic, see, e.g., Ahl 209-30.

(6.) On this point, cf. Perutelli 1982: 127: "L'Eneide non e per le Argonautiche solo un modello litterario privilegiato che le condiziona dalle piu ampie sequenze narrative fino ai minimi particolari di forma dell'espressione, ma fornisce anche i modelli etici in grado di assicurare l'eroicita dei personaggi, la loro rispondenza all' ideale che costistuisce le reconosciute aspirazione del poema.

(7.) For those who accept the prevailing scholarly view that the intended length of Valerius's poem was eight books, it is perhaps suggestive that this total represents a perfect compromise between Apollonius's four and Vergil's twelve.

(8.) E.g., Garson 1969, von Albrecht, Barnes, Perutelli 1982, Fua, Davis, Feeney 326, Fucecchi 1996, Hershkowitz 1998b.

(9.) A number of recent studies have begun to adumbrate a more complex picture of Valerius's allusive program by allowing for other profound and systematic influences on his epic; see, e.g., Barchiesi 1995, Fucecchi 1996, and, in places, Hershkowitz 1998b (e.g., 67-95).

(10.) Cf. the observation of Iser 30 that in order to transform the reader into the image desired by the author, "the reader has to be stimulated to certain activities, which may be rhetorically sign-posted, but which lead to a process that is not merely rhetorical."

(11.) This heraldic role of Juno/Hera is not specifically mentioned by Apollonius. In Pindar, it is Jason himself, rather than the goddess, who broadcasts the news of the expedition in order to assemble a crew by dispatching heralds throughout Hellas (Pyth. 4.169-70); Hera, though, does kindle eagerness for the expedition in the heroes (184-87). Throughout the Roman Argonautica, Juno enjoys heightened activity in the human realm, where she often shapes the course of events directly. This level of prominence is found in no other version of the Argonautica myth.

(12.) Indeed, as many have noted, even the announced topic of veterumque . . . facta virum (1.11-12) echoes Apollonius's [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1.1) and seems to underscore the importance of Apollonius's poem as a narrative model for Valerius's epic undertaking.

(13.) Apollonius was himself following the precedent of Pindar (Pyth. 4.172-88).

(14.) In addition, the expectation of a catalog is evoked by the precise wording of Juno's announcement at 1.98-99, iam stare ratem remisque superbam / poscere quos revehat rebusque in saecula tollat, as well as by the broad taxonomy of the individuals comprising the turba ducum at 1.100-06.

(15.) Latin quotations are from Liberman (Books 1-4) and Ehlers (Books 5-8), with significant deviations, if any, noted. Translations are my own unless otherwise indicated.

(16.) Cf. Hershkowitz 1998b: 39.

(17.) According to Herodorus (31F41), Hercules did not join the mission because he was in the service of Omphale at the time. In Pherecydes' version (3F111), also attested by Antimachus (Frag. 58 Wyss) and Apollodorus (1.9.19), Hercules was left behind at Aphetae in Thessaly because the Argo itself complained about his weight. In Theocritus 13, Hercules again gets separated from the Argonauts, but completes the journey to Colchis on foot. Other accounts, such as those of Demaratus (42F2) and Dionysius of Mitylene (32F6), had him complete the journey to Colchis on the Argo.

(18.) On this matter Valerius follows Apollonius's lead, using the same narrative mechanism to generate Hercules' separation from the expedition in Mysia (3.508-740).

(19.) Apollonius appears to have been the first to make Hylas an Argonaut and to have invented the sexual bond between the youth and Hercules. In some poets (e.g., Euphorion, Frag. 81 Groningen), Hylas was the eromenos of the Cyclops Polyphemus.

(20.) Langen ad loc. There may be an even more subtle gesture of continuity in the morphological form Eurystheos at 1.114. Eurystheus is regularly a Greek noun fluctuating between the second and third declensions (like Orpheus). but this particular "Greek" genitive is not found elsewhere (cf. Eurysthei in Cicero, Luc. 89.7 and Hyginus, Fab. 30.5). The point of the unusual transliterated form may be to create a precise echo of Apollonius ([LANGUAGES NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 1.130), thereby signaling particular faithfulness to the Hellenistic model passage at this point.

(21.) This does not refer to flaming arrows, as Langen thought, but rather to arrows dipped in poison; the metaphor of poison as fire is fairly common (e.g., Sophocles, Trach. 840; Ovid, Met. 9.171; Statius, Theb. 5.521). The suggestion by Kleywegt 2468 of a connection with rutilis . . . venenis (5.450)--that is, the flame image evokes the color of the poison rather than the experienced effect--is unconvincing.

(22.) The plant is mentioned at Pliny, HN 16.51: hanc Sextius milacem a Graecis vocari dicit et esse in Arcadia tam praesentis veneni, ut qui obdormiant sub ea cibumve capiant moriantur. sunt qui et taxica hinc appellata dicant venena quae nunc toxica dicimus, quibus sagittae tinguantur.

(23.) Indeed, at 1.374-76, the Labor of the Erymanthean boar is specifically mentioned as being accomplished prior to the time of Valerius's narrative. More generally, in Valerius's version Hercules' Labors have been completed when he joins the Argonauts. Cf. the regret of Pelias at 1.33-36 that all terrestrial monsters have long since been eliminated: sed neque bella videt Graias neque monstra per urbes / ulla: Cleonaeo iam tempora clausus hiatu / Alcides, olim Lernae defensus ab angue / Arcas et ambobus iam cornua fracta iuvencis. Here olim has its familiar Silver Latin sense of "long since" (equivalent to iamdudum as Langen notes ad loc.).

(24.) The best known poison for Hercules' arrow tips, of course, was the blood of the Lemian Hydra (e.g., Sophocles, Trach. 573-74, 831-40: Hyginus, Fab. 30.3), but that would not have solved the geographical problem here.

(25.) Barchiesi 1984, passim.

(26.) Cf. Hershkowitz 1998b: 39-40. It is also possible that the first word in this passage, protinus (1.105), is meant to serve as an echo of the opening phrase of Apollonius's catalog, [phi][rho][omega][tau][alpha] [nu][upsilon][nu] (1.23); but this is an admittedly more speculative claim.

(27.) The postponement of the catalog wins praise even from Valerius's less enthusiastic critics, e.g., Butler 186.

(28.) That is, the catalog contains no mention of Hylas. Hercules, though never individuated, is mentioned in passing several times, either as a kind of positional "marker" (1.353-54,395) or to provide a mythological cross-reference for other Argonauts (1.374-75, 401, 434-35).

(29.) For such "situational" allusion, see Alter 122-23.

(30.) E.g., Aen. 1.37-49, 7.293-322; Ovid, Met. 2.508-30, 3.259-72, 4.420-31; Seneca, HF 1-124. All of these, except the first Ovidian passage, are monologues.

(31.) On Valerius's belated poetics, see Malamud and McGuire; Hershkowitz 1998b: 35-104; Zissos 1999.

(32.) Hardie 1990: 17. It is probable, of course, that Juno's role in the Aeneid is itself indebted to earlier Latin epic (possibly including Naevius's Bellum punicum; see, e.g., Buchheit 54), so that Valerius would be situating himself very much within the mainstream of the Roman epic tradition by setting the wrath of Juno at the opening of his poem.

(33.) Hardie 1990: 17.

(34.) For the metaliterary competence of characters in the Argonautica, see Feeney 319-20; Malamud and McGuire 198; Hershkowitz 1998b: 26-29; Zissos 1999: 293-94. For the metaliterary competence of Juno in the Aeneid, see Hershkowitz 1998a: 95-124.

(35.) Jason's remark at 1.197 that he "deserves a storm" (hiememque mereri) signals the topos with characteristically arch self-consciousness. At this stage, that is, prior to man's first experience of the sea, Jason cannot possibly know that the Argonauts will face a storm once they disembark. This small inconsistency or narrative rift points to the function of the remark as a metaliterary reference to the inevitability of a storm scene in post-Vergilian epic. Summers 29 correctly notes that the later storm scene itself is "largely Vergilian." But his subsequent complaint (58) that "the inevitable storm might have been spared us" misses the self-conscious humor of Jason's demonstration of metaliterary competence here. For play on Vergil's storm scene in earlier epic, cf. Ovid, Met. 1.275-76, where Neptune, with equal metaliterary adroitness, utters a praeteritio of his own lengthy speech in Aeneid 1: "non est hortamine longo / nunc" ait "utendum..."

(36.) The Vergilian affiliations of Valerius's scene are strengthened in this case by the fact that Apollonius had not included a storm scene in his Argonautica.

(37.) Hershkowitz 1998b: 160.

(38.) For Valerius's emphasis on the Argo as the first ship, cf. Feeney 315.

(39.) It is curious that, to my knowledge, these particular narrative discontinuities have not been mentioned in earlier scholarship. For such discontinuities elsewhere in Book 1, see Perutelli 1982: 123-40.

(40.) For Valerius's use of negative intertextuality, or "negative allusion," see Zissos 1999.

(41.) For the notion of "Pavlovian deconditioning," see McHale 61.

(42.) Hershkowitz 1998b: 38-100 usefully catalogs a good many of Valerius's lesser poetic models. For the importance of prose sources such as Diodorus Siculus, see Summers 16.

(43.) E.g., Summers 33-35; Garson 1969: 362-66; Nordera 91; Adamietz 1; Fua 23-53; Smolenaars 57-72; Talierco 17-21; Perutelli 1997: 34-49; Manuwald 32.

(44.) The groundwork for this approach is the insightful analysis of Barnes. For Apollonius's much more limited use of this allusive technique, see Goldhill 284-301.

(45.) Herodotus 1.3 and also Lycophron, Alex. 1291-93, as cited in Barnes.

(46.) Barnes 365. The idea of the young Achilles measuring his progress against his father's spear is subsequently imitated at Statius, Achil. 1.41: patria...se metitur in hasta.

(47.) Homer describes this spear, cut from an ash-tree on Mount Pelion, as without equal (Il. 16.143); cf., e.g.. Pindar, Nem. 358 and Catullus 64.1. For a richly suggestive discussion of the Iliadic connection of Peleus's Pelian spear with the Pelian wood of the Argo in Catullus, see Stoevcsandt.

(48.) Nagy 158-59.

(49.) Barnes 365 suggests that the scene also alludes to Hector and Astyanax (Il. 6467ff.) and by implication contrasts Achilles with Astyanax.

(50.) Barnes 365 observes that Apollonius's catalog, by contrast, only alludes to the Trojan War once, in the notice for Oileus.

(51.) Cf. Apollonius 1.69, which makes no mention of Menoetius's son Patroclus.

(52.) No other extant version includes Nestor among the Argonauts. Perhaps in reaction to Valerius, and as an attempt to harmonize the discrepancy he had created, Quintus Smyrnaeus reports (12.266-70) that Nestor wanted to join the mission, but was prohibited by Pelias.

(53.) A question arises here as to the application of the negation nec. Liberman 159 understands nec... mirabere as meaning that Nestor, as an ex-Argonaut, will not be amazed to see one thousand ships; but this does not seem wholly persuasive, given the remarkable sight that the Greek armada clearly would have constituted. In my translation I have followed the more convincing (but overlooked) suggestion of Noble ad loc. that Valerius is alluding here to the detention of the Greek ships by unfavorable winds at Aulis: thus, nec stantes refers to the fact that the helmsmen have not taken their positions on the decks because the ships cannot sail. This would be a characteristically erudite and demanding allusion by Valerius.

(54.) For mille carinae, cf. Vergil, Aen. 2.198 and Ovid, Met. 12.37, 13.182. For the "poetic" total of one thousand ships, cf. Aeschylus, Ag. 45; Euripides, Andr. 106, Orest. 352; Vergil, Aen. 2.198; Seneca, Tro. 27. The actual number in Homer's catalog has been reckoned at somewhat more, but as Austin ad Aen. 2.198 observes, "Could Helen's face have launched 1186 ships?"

(55.) As Barnes 366 and Fua 37 note, Nestor's subsequent behavior is markedly Iliadic in character. During the battle scene at Cyzicus in Book 3, for example, Nestor, though a young and vigorous man, is made to anticipate his Iliadic role as advisor and battlefield cheerleader through his exhortation to the other Argonauts to postpone the taking of spoils, so as not to lose the tactical advantage of the moment (143-47). A similar anticipatory device, in this case involving a father and son, occurs in valerius's "Iliadic" battle narrative in Book 6 where Telamon is described defending the dead body of his comrade Canthus (343-49). This heroic action serves to anticipate the behavior of Telamon's son Ajax who, like his father, defends the body of Patroclus following the latter's death at Troy (Il. 17.123-37). Valerius makes the "genetic" relationship between the two scenes explicit by reproducing the lion simile used of Ajax at Il. 17.133-37 in his description of Telamon at 6.346-49; see further Wijsman 142-43.

(56.) At Hyginus, Fab. 14, the Argonaut Nauplius is identified as a son of Neptune. This identification would appear to arise from a confusion of Apollonius's Nauplius with his great-great-great grandfather, also named Nauplius, who was indeed a son of Neptune. Thus, Hyginus might be said to support indirectly the Hellenistic Argonautica on this point.

(57.) The only subsequent mention is when Nauplius volunteers to become helmsman of the Argo after the death of Tiphys and then is rejected in favor of Erginus (5.63-65). Given the Euboean Nauplius's notorious future role as a misguider of ships, Valerius may have introduced a slight metaliterary irony here.

(58.) The variant is recorded most notably at Ovid, Met. 13.56-62; other accounts at, e.g., Hyginus, Fob. 105 and Xenophon, Mem. 4.2.23.

(59.) For the denigration of Odysseus in Roman literature, cf. Vergil, Aen. 2.90-93 and Ovid, Met. 13.1-127.

(60.) The expression is taken from Barchiesi 1993: 336.

(61.) The stop at Troy is recorded also in Diodorus Siculus 4.42.9, who likely was Valerius's source for the episode.

(62.) Barnes 366.

(63.) Ibid. For the identity of the parvum . . . natum at 2.55 1 as Priam, see also Poortvliet 284. The attendant contradiction of making Achilles and Priam roughly the same age explains Valerius's coyness on this question, even as it points to his larger intertextual strategy.

(64.) The rupture is not absolute, since this false Circe is hardly a reliable internal narrator and is in any case here promulgating an evident fiction; cf. Perutelli 1997: 294. The recent attempt by Manuwald 134-35 to explain away the contradiction is unconvincing.

(65.) For further examples see Barnes, passim

(66.) this point, see ibid.

(67.) Here, as often, Valerius uses a Vergilian allusion as a mediating term to establish a more profound relationship with Homeric narrative; similarly, Aen. 7.224 and 10.91 inform the notion of the Trojan War as a struggle between Europe and Asia. In such cases, it is helpful to apply Conte's (31) distinction between the "code model" (in this case, Homer) and the "exemplary model" (Vergil). For a good discussion of this distinction in Valerius, see Fua 41; cf. Hershkowitz 1998b: 94 and see below, pp. 93-95.

(68.) Cf. above, p. 84.

(69.) See Mozley ad loc.

(70.) For this notion, see Barchiesi 1993; Fowler; Hershkowitz 1998a: 153-60.

(71.) Important preliminary studies are Garson 1969 and Fua; the latter in particular, though its analysis is generally on the level of diction and narrative detail, provides much of the groundwork for this section.

(72.) For elements of physical allegory in the scene, see Feeney 329.

(73.) See Poortvliet ad loc.

(74.) Ibid. ad loc., noting further that the association of these individual mythic tales appears to be Valerius's own invention.

(75.) With this "synthetic" intertextuality we might compare Valerius's treatment of the lament of Jupiter over the impending death of his son Colaxes, as Jupiter briefly considers working against the decrees of fate in order to save his doomed child (6.621-30). As many scholars have noted, this passage is a reworking of the lament of Homer's Zeus over Sarpedon (II. 16.429-59). But the intertextual operation that Valerius carries out here can only be fully grasped when considered in conjunction with Neptune's lament for his doomed son Amycus at 4.118-32, where the sea god, again like the Iliadic Zeus, weeps tears of blood. In essence, Valerius has reworked the Iliadic model passage into two separate, but coordinated scenes of divine laments for doomed mortal progeny. Each Argonautica passage reelaborates a different element of Homer's Sarpedon scene, thereby creating a kind of "compound" allusion. Moreover, Jupiter's lament in 6.624-29 underscores Valerius's conscious coordination of the two passages by expli citly alluding to the earlier scene (frazer adhuc Amyci maeret nece, 6.626). The second passage, then, through this pointed intratextual gesture to Neptune's lament in Book 4 effectively completes it.

(76.) See in particular Fua 33-36 and Fuceechi 1997: 14-17, 107-21. It is worth noting in passing that from the perspective of the Argonautica tradition, a great deal of Book 6 is devoted to the generation of innovative narrative content from the often "dubious" substance of Iliadic eros and violence. This follows upon the initial meeting of Jason and Medea in the previous book (5.339-406), which is largely Odyssean in its affiliations and modeled on Odysseus's encounter with Nausicaa in Odyssey 6: see further Adamietz 72-73; Fua 28-30; Hershkowitz 1999b: 95-97.

(77.) See Fua 36; Feeney 326; Fuceechi 1996: 135-37. As has frequently been noted, Juno pretends to need the kestos for the same reason she had borrowed it--or, more properly, will borrow it--in the Iliad, namely, to arouse her husband Jupiter (II. 6.462-46).

(78.) As Feeney 327 observes, the scene is modeled in reverse from the Homeric narrative sequence in which Aphrodite meets Helen on the walls of Troy and compels her to return to the bedchambers of Paris (II. 2.383-420).

(79.) Korn; Zissos 1997: 149-77, from which the present analysis is extracted; Hershkowitz 1998b: 78-85.

(80.) Hunter 28-29.

(81.) With this reading of the episode, cf. Hardie 1993: 83-85, who emphasizes continuity with the model passage.

(82.) Valerius seems to imply that only Amycus himself lives in a cave (antra, 4.201, in addition to the passage cited above). In the opening passage of the episode, there is a clear implication that the other Bebrycians live in houses: non murk cinxere domos (102). The comment that the "homes" lack surrounding walls would make little sense if caves were meant.

(83.) Korn 144.

(84.) It would appear from Od. 9.409-11 that the other Cyclopes have slightly more respect for Zeus than Polyphemus does.

(85.) These lines recall Valerius's initial description of the Bebrycians: non foedera legum / ulla colunt (4.102-03). There is a mild "Romanizing" touch here, for foedera are what define civilization for Romans, rather than for Greeks.

(86.) Cf. Od. 9.106-07.

(87.) Cf. Luthje 149, who suggests that Pollux is specifically an "anti-Cyzicus."

(88.) Korn 151. In the Theocritean account, the ogre-like Amycus retorts, "I wouldn't expect guest-gifts from you, so don't expect any from me" (LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Id. 22.61), probably also with an eye on Homer's Cyclops.

(89.) It is also worth noting in passing that Valerius's stress on the support of Minerva enhances the Odyssean configuration of the deorum ministeria.

(90.) To be sure, the sea god's anger is not due to any injury done to his son, but rather his opposition to the inauguration of navigation. Nevertheless, the divine wrath is initiated by Pelias, a son of Neptune. Moreover, in the Bebrycia episode the fact that Amycus is a son of Neptune is repeatedly stressed, which allows a reenactment of the original Odyssean theme through a kind of "compound allusion." Amycus does not introduce himself to the Argonauts by his own name, but simply as Neptunia proles (4.213). This helps assimilate Amycus to the Homeric Polyphemus, whose familial link to Poseidon is of course one of the defining narrative facts of the Odyssey.

(91.) Met. 14.158-222: on Ovid's retelling of Achaemenides' retelling of Homer, see Hinds 111-15.

(92.) Langen 286: "Narratio ... de Otreo et Dymante non legitur apud Apollonium ... Rem ipse Valerius finxit, nomina sumpsit ab Hom. Il. 3.186, 16.718."

(93.) The urgent warning of Vergil's Achaemenides, "sed fugite, o miseri, fugite" (Aen. 3.639), has a counterpart in the outburst of Valerius's Dymas (3.140-41, quoted above).

(94.) Cf. Barchiesi 1995: 62.

(95.) For the ecphrasis, see Frank 837-38 and Davis 65-68.

(96.) For the innovative idea of an ecphrastic description of the decorations of a ship, see Langen ad loc.

(97.) Cf. the remark of Davis 48 that in this scene the image-laden vessel "is the symbol of the poet's process of composition and its result, the poem itself....A merging of form and content is thus achieved through the mediation of the mythic Argo."

(98.) I follow Liberman's recent edition in adopting insperatos. The higher status granted to Carrio's manuscript C (which has insperato) as a result of Liberman's analysis helps to support Grovinius's conjecture over sperara deo, preferred by earlier editors like Mozley (Ehlers and Courtney have sperata followed by an iamb). Liberman is on somewhat shakier ground, however, in asserting that nudis at 135 is otiose and in adopting (with Kramer and Mozley) Wittenbach's conjecture of nitidis. This emendation is unnecessary, since nudis is not otiose in the context: it underscores Galatea's visual attractiveness for Polyphemus; cf. Catullus 64.17, nudato corpore Nymphas, which may well have been Valerius's inspiration here.

(99.) For the proleptic effect, cf. the description of Peleus's rape of Thetis at Ovid, Met. 11.265: ingentique implet Achille.

(100.) Likewise, the debt of 130-36 to Ovid, Met. 11.224-28 is signaled in the description of Thetis's conveyance by a dolphin to her scene of marriage (Peleos in thalamos vehitur Thetis; aequora delphin / corripit, ipsa sedens, 1.131-32), which echoes the Ovidian account (cf. frenato delphine sedens, Theti, Met. 11.237), where Thetis is likewise being conveyed to a sexual encounter with Peleus in a sea cavern. The three echoed words (delphine sedens, Theti) suggest a specific engagement of Ovid's account. A further point of contact is the presence of the sea gods (aequoreos. . . divos), whose attendance in Valerius's wedding scene seems to recall Peleus's prayer to the same gods (deos pelagi, Met. 11.247) for assistance in raping Thetis in the Ovidian narrative. In each passage, moreover, Thetis's knowledge of the oracle predicting that she would bear a son greater than her husband is mentioned; in addition, her sighing realization, nec Iove maiorem nasci . . . Achillen (1.131), pointedly echoes Ovid's refer ence to Thetis's child as ne quicquam. . . Iove maius (Met. 11.224).

(101.) An early version of this paper was presented at the Institute of Classical Studies in London in 1999; I am grateful to the members of the audience on that occasion for their helpful comments. I am also much indebted to the two anonymous referees of Helios, who offered a number of very useful suggestions for improving both the content and overall structure of the paper.

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ANDREW ZISSOS is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of California, Irvine, and for the past year was recipient of the Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome. He is currently writing a commentary on Book 1 of Valerius Flaccus's Argonautica, as well as a monograph on Ovid's Metamorphoses, co-authored with Ingo Gildenhard.
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Publication:Helios
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Date:Mar 22, 2002
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