Classical Studies 3612F/G Lecture Notes - Homeric Hymns, Argonautica, Museon

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Argonautica
Interested in writing epic, but written from a very different perspective; reflects the
preoccupations of the museum in Alexandria, and the preoccupations of writing epic, but
by redefining it
Much better defined notions of genre
Although Hunter translates it in verse, it was written in the same metre as the Homeric
texts
Some language differences (i.e. in rhetoric); very interested in “showing off”
obscure learning much more so than Homer
Virgil strongly engages Apollonius strongly in his poems, which is why he is so important
Alexandria
Founded to commemorate Alexander
In North Africa
Site of the first site for advanced intellectual study; the museon (museum)
After the conquests of Alexander, Greek culture gets pushed further and further out
into the world; Alexandria becomes the real cultural centre of Greece, so all the
major texts got brought over to Alexandria; collected them all, but also pulled them
out of their cultural context; as a result, poets start to experiment with common
stories in novel ways (i.e. hybrid genres), so get lots of engagement with epic-epic,
epic-lyric, epic-tragedy, and others
Apollonius
We are now dealing with a specific author, not a committee or tradition; although
we don’t know why he is called “Rhodius” because most agree he was born in
Alexandria
Wrote scholarly works as well in which he tried to make sense of other texts; the
Argonautica seems to be his creative spin on these other texts
He was a scholar & poet; worked as librarian (sometimes the head librarian) at the
Library of Alexandria; library marked a huge transformation in how literature was
read; engaged the text in a much more minute and precise level (i.e. verbal
similarities not seen in the Odyssey)
Probably responsible for the divisions (books) in the poem, as well as the
arrangement; plays with the Aitia by Callimachus; collection of poem of similar type
arranged in an artistic way; different invocations at the beginning of Book 1, Book 3,
and Book 4 may reflect how the poem was originally published
Writes about a topic that preceded the Homeric tradition
Other poets
Theocritus: poet who may have begun pastoral poetry (shepherds, vaguely
mythical landscape); sometimes mini-epic episodes that draw on Apollonius &
Callimachus
Apollonius’ treatment of the Argonautica
Books 1 and 2: take us from the onset of the voyage to the arrival at Colchis
Very episodic; lots of digressions that could be pulled out of the poem and
not miss them; as a result, there is a lot of literary criticism levelled against
it; part of the problem with this episodic nature is that this poem is not bound
together by a powerful central figure, as the Odyssey is
Argonautica is concerned with showing the prowess of the other members of
the voyage, which reinforces the fragmentary nature of the poem; hard to
determine what he was up to, the expectations of his audience, etc.
Book 3: challenge faced by Jason, growing love of Medea for Jason
Book 4: Jason obtains the Golden Fleece and the Argonauts travel home by a
different route than they came
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