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The Pedant’s Curse: Obscurity and Identity in Ovid’s Ibis

Darcy Krasne

Résumé

This paper investigates the extended catalogue of curses in Ovid’s Ibis, in particular the catalogue's literary significance and the reasons and methods behind Ovid's organizing principles and choice of themes. I demonstrate how the Ibis plays with presenting itself in the manner of mythographic texts while exploiting the polyvalency of the mythic tradition’s inherent mutability and syncretism. I also discuss how major themes of the poem, such as a prevalent emphasis on names and their suppression, and an identification of the poetic corpus with the poet’s own body, echo the thematic concerns of Ovid’s other exile poetry. Finally, I argue for identifying Ovid’s pseudonymous enemy “Ibis” with the Muses, whose “love/hate” relationship with Ovid is clearly expressed in the exile poetry.

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POOH-BAH: No, of course we couldn’t tell who the gentleman really was.
PITTI-SING: It wasn’t written on his forehead, you know.
- W. S. Gilbert, The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu, Act II

FOURTH PLEBEIAN: It is no matter, his name’s Cinna. Pluck but his name out of his heart and turn him going.
- W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 3

Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère !
- C. Baudelaire, “Au Lecteur,” Les Fleurs du Mal

  • 1  Thanks are due to Isabel Köster, Lauren Donovan Ginsberg, Liz Gloyn, Caroline Bishop, Alessandro B (...)
  • 2  Ib. 7–22. Scholars may be broken into two camps: the “identity-theorists” (Williams 1996, 20), who (...)
  • 3  Ib. 55–62. Nothing of Callimachus’s Ibis survives. The tradition holds that it was composed agains (...)

1The Ibis, composed during Ovid’s exile, is the red-haired stepchild of Ovidian scholarship.1 Its neglect derives primarily from the highly periphrastic and allusive mode in which it is written, for even a casual attempt at reading the poem turns, of necessity, into a prolonged exercise of scholarly research and investigative cross-referencing. Moreover, we know nothing of the poem’s true context. If we are to take Ovid’s assertions within the Ibis at face value, the poem was written as an attack against an ex-friend at Rome who had been blackening Ovid’s name in his absence and making hay with his misfortunes.2 Ovid conceals the name of this enemy under the pseudonym “Ibis,” following in the footsteps of Callimachus, who had also written a curse poem entitled Ibis against an anonymous enemy.3

  • 4  Williams (1996) 3. Another, similar, list of favorites, this time compiled by Watson (1991) 79–80, (...)
  • 5  Watson (1991) 80.
  • 6  In fact, the decoding of exempla is an integral part of reading the poem, as I hope to show; howev (...)

2Ovid’s Ibis consists of two main parts. There are two hundred and fifty lines of introductory ritual cursing of Ibis, including an extensive description of his ill-omened birth, followed by a further nearly four hundred lines of catalogue in which Ovid wishes on Ibis the fates suffered by mythological and historical figures, citing one or more per couplet. The majority of these figures are named only through extreme periphrasis. Reactions to this catalogue of exempla have been generally unfavorable, and consideration of Ovid’s program in the Ibis has frequently been sidelined by scholars in their eagerness to ask, repetitively, a limited series of questions, summarized by Gareth Williams as: “Who is Ibis? What had he done to provoke Ovid’s curse? What can be inferred from the Ovidian poem about the length, metre, and (extra‑)literary purpose of Callimachus’s Ἶβις? Who was Ἶβις?”4 Another favorite scholarly pursuit is the clarification of exactly which myth each couplet obliquely refers to, to the exclusion of all other concerns. Lindsay Watson observes that “this tendency has been reinforced by the wanton obscurity of Ovid’s Ibis, which has meant that the thrust of scholarly research upon the poem has of necessity been directed towards elucidating the frequently abstruse details of Ovid’s mythology.”5 In all this, few have stopped to consider the Ovidian, exilic, and poetic contexts of the poem.6

  • 7  See particularly Williams (1992) and (1996).
  • 8  Williams (1996) 5.
  • 9  Williams (1996) 5.
  • 10  Williams devotes a whole chapter of his 1996 monograph to the catalogue, but I see this as only th (...)

3In recent years, Williams in particular has endeavored to fill this gap,7 arguing that the Ibis “plays an integral role in creating the ‘wholeness’ of the poetic persona featured so centrally in the exilic corpus; for in the broader context of an all-pervading melancholy, the curse takes on a special significance as the expression of a manic, desperate and inevitably futile frustration.”8 He adds that “any understanding of Ovid’s exile poetry is incomplete without recognition of what the Ibis contributes to the overall collection.”9 I agree that the Ibis is an integral piece of Ovid’s exilic corpus, and I find Williams’ idea of the Ibis as a study in deranged poetic mania convincing. However, I feel that the Ibis’ extended catalogue of curses, in particular, merits further attention.10

  • 11  Williams (1996) 90: “Ovid is experimenting with a new kind of carmen perpetuum – a spell whose com (...)
  • 12  Requiring a reader to supply extra information that is necessary for understanding the narrative i (...)
  • 13  See Krasne (forthcoming). The Ibis is highly reminiscent of mythographic catalogues as found in Hy (...)
  • 14  Some work has been done in this direction by La Penna (1957) xlvi–xlix, Bernhardt (1986), García F (...)
  • 15  Gordon’s unpublished 1992 dissertation remains the only modern commentary in English on the Ibis ( (...)

4As Williams himself briefly suggests, the catalogue forms a sort of carmen perpetuum,11 driven on by links of grammar, mythology, genealogy, vocabulary, nominal coincidence, and more. Unlike Ovid’s Metamorphoses, however, this carmen perpetuum is not propelled by the pressures of narrative, of which there is none; instead, it is the precise arrangement of Ovid’s exempla and the reader’s own active supplementation of the catalogue which allows the poem to move unceasingly forward.12 I have discussed elsewhere how recognizing Ovid’s cataloging process as akin to mythographic techniques can benefit our understanding of his organizational principles and the interconnectedness between exempla and mini-catalogues.13 In this paper, I further investigate the reasons and methods behind Ovid’s organization and choice of themes in the catalogue,14 the catalogue’s literary significance, and its relationship to the poem’s 250-line prologue.15 In addition, I attempt to provide a more detailed reading of certain parallels between the Ibis and the rest of Ovid’s exilic corpus.

A Method in the Madness

  • 16  Williams (1996) 91.
  • 17  Williams (1996) 91–2. See below for my discussion of the particular exempla to which Williams is r (...)

5The first lines of the catalogue are couched in an epic context, which Williams sees as a tactic meant to scare Ibis: “As the catalogue begins, Ovid sets out to intimidate the enemy by ostentatiously displaying its epic credentials. . . . The stage is set for an epic performance in the catalogue, and Ovid duly obliges by taking his starting-point from Troy.”16 Williams takes a dimmer view of the subsequent exempla, however, asserting that they “follow no particular order or pattern” and include “discordant . . . elements” with “only loose coherence.”17 Based primarily on an assumption that the tragic genre is the driving force behind the passage, Williams’s claim underestimates Ovid. In fact, these exempla have a good deal of coherence within their distichic ranks.

6Philoctetes, Telephus, and Bellerophon, the first exempla of the catalogue after the Trojans, comprise a mini-catalogue of those who were crippled, and they are followed by a mini-catalogue of those who were blinded:

neve sine exemplis aevi cruciere prioris,
    sint tua Troianis non leviora malis,
quantaque clavigeri Poeantius Herculis heres,
    tanta venenato vulnera crure geras.
nec levius doleas, quam qui bibit ubera cervae,





    255

  armatique tulit vulnus, inermis opem;
quique ab equo praeceps in Aleïa decidit arva,
    exitio facies cui sua paene fuit.
id quod Amyntorides videas, trepidumque ministro
     praetemptes baculo luminis orbus iter,





    260

nec plus aspicias quam quem sua filia rexit,
     expertus scelus est cuius uterque parens.
qualis erat, postquam est iudex de lite iocosa
     sumptus, Apollinea clarus in arte senex,
qualis et ille fuit, quo praecipiente columba





    265

  est data Palladiae praevia duxque rati,
quique oculis caruit, per quos male viderat aurum,
inferias nato quos dedit orba parens;
     pastor ut Aetnaeus, cui casus ante futures
Telemus Eurymides vaticinatus erat;





    270

ut duo Phinidae, quibus idem lumen ademit,
    qui dedit; ut Thamyrae Demodocique caput.

(Ovid, Ibis 251–72)

Or, so that you may not be tortured without the examples of an earlier age, may your misfortunes be no lighter than the Trojans’, and may you endure just as many wounds in your envenomed leg as Poeas’s son [=Philoctetes], the heir of club bearing Hercules, endured. Nor may you be more lightly pained than he who drank at the hind’s udder [=Telephus] and endured the armed man’s wound, the unarmed man’s aid; and he who fell headlong from his horse into the Aleïan fields [=Bellerophon], whose face was nearly the cause of his destruction. May you see just what Amyntor’s son [=Phoenix] saw, and may you fumble at your trembling journey with a staff to guide you, deprived of sight; and may you see no more than he who was guided by his daughter [=Oedipus], each of whose parents experienced his iniquity. May you be such as he was, after he was appointed judge over the playful debate, the old man famed for his Apolline art [=Tiresias]; and such as he was, at whose instruction a dove was used as forerunner and leader for Pallas’s ship [=Phineus]; and he who lacked the eyes through which he had evilly seen the gold [=Polymestor] and which the bereft parent gave as a funeral sacrifice to her son; like the shepherd of Aetna [=Polyphemus], to whom Telemus the son of Eurymus had previously prophesied his future misfortunes; like the two sons of Phineus, from whom the same man took away the light as gave it; like the head of Thamyras and Demodocus.

  • 18  Williams (1996) 92: “The theme of blindness gives only loose coherence to . . . lines 259–72.”
  • 19  Williams (1996) 92.
  • 20  e.g., Hyg. Fab. 57.4; cf. Hom. Il. 6.200–2.
  • 21  e.g., scholia ad Lycophron, Alexandra 17.
  • 22  True in Homer Il. 9.453 (τῇ πιθόμην καὶ ἔρεξα, “I obeyed her and did it”); false in ps-Apollod. Bi (...)

7Williams, who is well aware of the overarching theme of blindness, does not think it a suitably unifying feature.18 What draws his attention instead is Ovid’s “discordant tone” and “undiscriminating reference,” along with other “incongruities.”19 How indiscriminate and incongruous are the exempla really, though? The first level of comprehension breaks the passage into two catalogues: “those crippled” and “those blinded.” But Bellerophon, in fact, fits into both catalogues—in some versions of his story he is lamed by his fall into the Aleïan fields,20 while in others he is blinded.21 So Bellerophon, who appears at the end of the first mini-catalogue, or the beginning of the second, may serve as a lynchpin between the two. In addition, Bellerophon has more than just blindness in common with the two figures who immediately follow his exemplum. Bellerophon, Phoenix, and Oedipus are each accused of committing adultery with their father’s or host’s wife or mistress—in the case of Bellerophon, the accusation is false; in the case of Phoenix, the truth or falsity varies with the version of the story;22 and in the case of Oedipus, the accusation is well known to be true.

  • 23  Gordon (1992) 105.

8At this point, another sub-catalogue begins, as all but one of the remaining exempla in the blindness catalogue either are vates or are connected with a vates (in its poetic or prophetic sense). Tiresias heads the list, presumably through associative logic: he delivered the prophetic accusation of Oedipus’s incest, and he follows Oedipus as the next exemplum in the catalogue. In addition, he is “the most famous prophet of ancient literature,”23 and he is followed by Phineus, a seer who holds nearly equal fame.

  • 24  Gordon (1992) 106.

9Gordon has observed several structural features of the catalogue which are centered on Phineus:24

Phineus, who occupies the central position in this mini-catalogue of victims of blindness, has connecting links with both the exemplum which opens the series (257-258, Phoenix) and with the concluding couplet of the series (269-270, the Phinidae); for although Phineus was usually said to be the son of Agenor (A.R. 2.237; Apollodorus Bib. 1.9.21; Hyginus 19), there was a tradition (scholia ad A.R. 2.178) that Phineus was the son of Phoenix, and we thus have an interwoven structure of Phoenix being blinded by his father, for allegedly seducing his father’s concubine, Phineus, the son of Phoenix, and Phineus’ sons, blinded by their father on a charge remarkably similar to that brought against Phoenix. The exemplum of Phineus also has connecting links with the couplet which precedes it, since like Tiresias he had prophetic skills and lived to a very old age, and with the couplet which follows it, since he, like Polymestor, was a Thracian monarch.

  • 25  “Die Vermutung, daß P[hoinix] aus der Kadmossage stamme . . . , gewinnt noch an Wahrscheinlichkeit (...)
  • 26  See paragraph 44ff and Krasne (forthcoming). I would suggest that part of the trick of reading Ovi (...)

10The Phoenix who is sometimes named as the father of Phineus is not, in fact, usually understood to be the same as Amyntor’s son Phoenix, who served as Achilles’ nurse and guardian and accompanied him to Troy (he is instead from a much earlier generation, Sidonian, and the son of Belos). That said, not only may they have originated as a single figure which later evolved into two unique characters,25 but in addition we will eventually see that, in the Ibis, shared names allow for some level of shared identity.26

  • 27  Ovid has an apparent predilection for exempla situated in or deriving from Thrace, Epirus (particu (...)
  • 28  The repetition of Poly- in their names may also have something to do with their juxtaposition—of c (...)
  • 29  A flight of fancy, but in both the Aeneid (3.13ff) and Metamorphoses (13.628ff), the death of Poly (...)
  • 30  The prophecy is narrated in detail at Od. 9.507–12, as well as at Met. 13.771, where Ovid has alre (...)
  • 31  Although Phineus is placed earlier in the text than Polymestor, who is at the center of the vatic (...)

11Gordon’s suggestion that the point of connection between Phineus and Polymestor is that both are Thracian monarchs may well be correct,27 and it seems to me that Polymestor is followed by Polyphemus in order to highlight their shared role as violators of xenia (one by murdering his guest and the other by eating several of his).28 While Polymestor is neither a poet nor a prophet, he sits at the center of the vatic catalogue, balancing the two couplets on either side.29 Polyphemus also lacks vatic skill, but Ovid specifically identifies him through the prophecy of his blinding, delivered by Telemus son of Eurymus: cui casus ante futuros / Telemus Eurymides vaticinatus erat (269–70).30 Then, as Gordon has noted, the catalogue shifts its weight and returns to the family of Phineus, belatedly positioning him as a second, genealogical fulcrum.31

Table 1. Catalogue opening by theme.

Table 1. Catalogue opening by theme.
  • 32  Williams (1996) 92. In some ways, of course, their vatic differences matter very much, and the exe (...)

12Table 1 provides a schema of the connections between exempla, including Gordon’s suggestions of the recurrent Phineus-centric genealogy and the link of shared Thracian monarchy between Phineus and Polymestor. The shape of the catalogue, as can be seen, is not entirely balanced, but the progression of exempla has a demonstrable logic even if on the surface it seems haphazard and chaotic. It does not matter if the vates are “bards of very different distinction”;32 what seems to matter for the purpose of the catalogue’s arrangement is their basic classification as vates, while the non-vatic aspects of their characters play an additional role in determining their precise ordering within the mini-catalogue.

  • 33  Or Tesatas, Thetillas, Thirilas, or Terilas.
  • 34  The P-scholia (= Phillippicus 1796 / Berolinensis Latinus 210) at 271. Other scholia supply the na (...)
  • 35  Devereux (1973) 41 suggests that Thamyras’s crime was originally an incestuous one, much like Oedi (...)
  • 36  κῆρυξ δ’ ἐγγύθεν ἦλθεν ἄγων ἐρίηρον ἀοιδόν, / τὸν περὶ Μοῦσ’ ἐφίλησε, δίδου δ’ ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε· (...)
  • 37  In dealing with the scholia, it is difficult to know where to draw the line—do they preserve vesti (...)

13The scholiasts on this passage prove their understanding, on some level, of the closely intertwined nature of the exempla, but they confusedly attempt to further the connections, providing more correspondences than actually exist. They claim that Phoenix blinded his sons Thirtilas33 and Dorilas (who appear to be invented out of whole-cloth, presumably by analogy with Phineus’s sons) for a false accusation of adultery by their stepmother Licostrata, daughter of the Gothic king Regulus; and the names Polymestor and Polydorus are given to Phineus’s sons by one set of scholia,34 clearly brought to mind by the earlier exemplum of Polymestor. They treat the exempla of the final line similarly: while traditionally Thamyras is blinded for a hubristic offence against the Muses35 and Demodocus is said to be beloved by the Muses,36 the scholia claim that both engaged in contests of song and were similarly punished accordingly.37

  • 38  Cf., e.g., Ib. 347–8 and Ib. 407–8.

14It is also worth noting that the exempla of Phineus’s sons, Thamyras, and Demodocus all occupy a single couplet; such a clustering towards the end of a mini-catalogue is not unique to this passage,38 and these three exempla manage, cumulatively, to tie their couplet back into much of the preceding blindness catalogue. The genealogical relevance of Phineus’s sons to their father has already been noted; Phineus’s sons are punished (by blinding) for the same purported crime that caused the blindness of Bellerophon and Phoenix; and Thamyras and Demodocus round off the vatic theme.

15So much for how these final exempla point backwards; how do they serve to propel the catalogue forward? The following couplet (Ib. 273–4) invokes Uranus’s castration by Saturn. Many have scratched their heads over the relevance of this exemplum, which seems not to fit into either the preceding or following mini-catalogues:

sic aliquis tua membra secet, Saturnus ut illas
    subsecuit partes, unde creatus erat.
nec tibi sit melior tumidis Neptunus in undis,
    quam cui sunt subitae frater et uxor aves ;
sollertique viro, lacerae quem fracta tenentem
    membra ratis Semeles est miserata soror.
(Ovid, Ibis 273–8)



    275



Thus may someone slice off your “piece” (membra), as Saturn cut off those parts whence he had been created. And may there be no kindlier Neptune for you in the swollen waves than there was for him whose brother and wife were suddenly birds [=Ceyx], and also for the crafty man [=Ulysses], on whom Semele’s sister took pity as he held onto the shattered pieces (membra) of his raft.

  • 39  Bernhardt (1986) 339. Other scholars similarly have trouble discerning Ovid’s thought process on o (...)

16Bernhardt lists the couplet as the first of her Einzelexempla.39 But there are in fact links, both backwards and forwards, both verbal and thematic; the Uranus/​Saturn couplet is closely attached to its surroundings in a number of ways.

  • 40  Emphasis may be placed on the precise nature of that membrum by Ovid’s explicit use of the name Sa (...)
  • 41  E.g., Ovid moves from periphrasis involving a brother (cui frater, “the one whose brother,” Ib. 27 (...)

17Where the sons of Phineus suffered removal of a body-part by the one who created it (quibus idem lumen ademit, / qui dedit [Ib. 271–2], with apt word-choice in lumen, playing on its literal and figurative meanings), Uranus suffers the same dismemberment at the hands of the one whom that body-part created (subsecuit partes, unde creatus erat [Ib. 274]).40 Such verbal or notional echoes often serve to link couplets within the Ibis catalogue.41

  • 42  Lightfoot (1999) 234–5, referring to Devereux (1973).
  • 43  Gordon has noted both the inverse parallel between 271f and 273f and the connection between castra (...)

18On a thematic level, the couplet’s apparently unique theme of castration (preceded by those who were blinded and followed by those who drowned or nearly drowned) does not actually cause it to stand on its own in extra-catalogic fashion as Bernhardt suggests. Castration can, in fact, be seen as isomorphic to blinding. Devereux has demonstrated that in mythology one finds “the frequent substitution of blinding for castration, and vice versa, as if the two were somehow analogous.”42 So Ovid makes a logical leap here, within the context of mythic thought.43 Moreover, in Greek, the ideas are further analogized through their collocation under the term πηρόω, which can be used for maiming or crippling, but also specifically for castrating or blinding; Thamyras is an excellent case in point. The essentials of his story are narrated briefly in the Iliad:

Δώριον, ἔνθά τε Μοῦσαι
ἀντόμεναι Θάμυριν τὸν Θρήϊκα παῦσαν ἀοιδῆς
Οἰχαλίηθεν ἰόντα παρ’ Εὐρύτου Οἰχαλιῆος·
στεῦτο γὰρ εὐχόμενος νικησέμεν εἴ περ ἂν αὐταὶ
Μοῦσαι ἀείδοιεν κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο·
αἳ δὲ χολωσάμεναι πηρὸν θέσαν, αὐτὰρ ἀοιδὴν
θεσπεσίην ἀφέλοντο καὶ ἐκλέλαθον κιθαριστύν
(Homer, Il. 2.594–600)

    595





    600

Dorium, where the Muses, encountering Thamyris the Thracian by the Oechalian Eurytus as he came from Oechalia, stopped him from singing; for he declared, boasting, that he would be victorious even if the Muses themselves, daughters of aegis bearing Zeus, should sing; and they, having grown angry, made him pērós, and in addition they took away his divine singing and made him forget the art of playing the cithara.

  • 44  RE 5A:1, 1241.28–1242.23.
  • 45  μὴ πειθομένου γὰρ αὐτοῦ συμβήσεσθαι τὰς ὄψεις ἀποβαλεῖν. . . . καὶ οὗτος ἐκ τοῦδε ὁμοίως Θαμύρᾳ τῷ (...)
  • 46  Rhoecus’s crime, however, may have been something other than or in addition to infidelity (as seem (...)
  • 47  Cf. Cybele’s consort Attis, whom the goddess forced to castrate himself following his infidelity.

19The result of Homer’s use of this potentially ambiguous word πηρός (2.599)—that is, crippled in some fashion—has caused some to suggest, now as in antiquity, that Homer’s account of Thamyras’s punishment does not in fact imply his blinding at all, but rather the laming of his limbs.44 However, Parthenius uses the word of Daphnis’ punishment for infidelity to a nymph and specifically compares Daphnis’ fate of blinding with Thamyras’s fate,45 while the historiographer Charon of Lampsacus uses the word in recounting the similar story of Rhoecus.46 In both contexts, the unfaithful lover is apparently blinded (definitely in the case of Daphnis), but one might imagine castration to be a punishment better fitting the crime.47

  • 48  The confusion as to Bellerophon’s fate may well come from use of the word πηρόω, which certainly a (...)

20Although Uranus is the only mythic figure in this part of the Ibis catalogue who is actually castrated, the contiguity between his fate and the blindness catalogue is clear. The Uranus couplet also connects with the subsequent chain of couplets, which concerns the separation and dispersal of body parts (or, more accurately, of membra), in clear association with sic aliquis tua membra secet (Ib. 273). This chain, too, contains several mini-catalogues that aggregate according to different rules, just as “those made πηρός” could be said to cover all of the smaller groupings of exempla from 253–74.48

  • 49  I include in the term “intertextuality” other versions of myth, which can be considered as “texts. (...)
  • 50  Might these waves be tumescent in the fashion of Uranus’s severed membra, which they received?  Ov (...)

21The overarching theme of dismemberment only becomes available through wordplay and intertextuality.49 In the context of the myth, Uranus loses his genitals while he is engaged in sex with Gaia, and the genitals fall into the sea and create Venus. In the poem, however, they “fall” into the next couplet, where we find tumidis Neptunus in undis (“Neptune amidst swollen waves,” Ib. 275) as the agent of destruction.50 The poem moves downward along the same vertical axis as Uranus’s detached membra.

  • 51  The phrase partes et membra, which occurs in the description of Ceyx’s shipwreck (and is recalled (...)

22In Uranus’s couplet, membra is used in a strictly anatomical sense (although it is a slightly transferred usage, from limbs to the membrum virile). Two couplets later, the word resurfaces with a more metaphorical flavor, as Ulysses clings to the broken membra of his ship. This usage is implicit in the intervening couplet, featuring Ceyx, whose story as told in the Metamorphoses is rife with the rent membra of his shipwreck (and other words of breaking):51

frangitur incursu nimbosi turbinis arbor,
frangitur et regimen . . .
. . . alii partes et membra carinae
trunca tenent ; tenet ipse manu, qua sceptra solebat,
fragmina navigii Ceyx
(Ovid, Met. 11.552–3, 559–61)

    560

The tree is broken by the cloudy turbine’s onslaught, and the steerage is broken. . . . Some hold onto pieces and chopped off bits of the craft; Ceyx himself holds the fragments of his vessel with the hand that was accustomed to a scepter.

  • 52  Hinds (1985) 26.

23The broken membra of ships are also found at both Tristia 1.2.1–4 and Ibis 17–18, the former describing Ovid’s stormy journey to Tomis and “allud[ing] to his own account of the storm which kills Ceyx in Metamorphoses 11”52 and the latter a passage from the very beginning of the Ibis:

di maris et caeli—quid enim nisi vota supersunt ?—
    solvere quassatae parcite membra ratis.
(Ovid, Tristia 1.2.1–2)

Gods of sea and sky—for what do I have left except for prayers?—refrain from breaking apart the pieces of my shaken raft.

cumque ego quassa meae complectar membra carinae,
    naufragii tabulas pugnat habere mei
(Ovid, Ibis 17–18)

And while I clasp the shaken pieces of my craft, he fights to possess the planks of my shipwreck.

24The specific connections between the prologue and the catalogue of the Ibis will concern us shortly, but for now I wish to stress the similarity of language between these three passages and the excerpt from Metamorphoses 11 quoted above: the death of Ceyx and the membra of shipwrecks are well associated in Ovid, and thus the exemplum of 276 is imbued with intertextual imagery of shattered and scattered membra.

  • 53  Mettius Fufetius and M. Regulus are a contrasting pair drawn from Roman history, the former one wh (...)
  • 54  A number of these also suffer death specifically as a result of betrayal, although the groupings o (...)
  • 55  On conscious poetic associations with the meaning of Regulus’s name, cf. Hardie (1993) 9 on Regulu (...)
  • 56  The Vergilian description of Priam’s death, with its recollection of Pompey, may also provide a tr (...)

25Following the exempla of Ceyx and Ulysses come three further exempla (279–84) which apparently cap the dismemberment catalogue. Of these, the first two (Mettius Fufetius and M. Regulus) are drawn from Roman history and the third (Priam) from mythology.53 The next twenty-four couplets form a mini-catalogue that holds together as a list of historic and mythic kings and tyrants, the majority of whom ruled over Thessaly and Epirus, with some Macedonian, Pontic, Persian, and Asian rulers thrown in for good measure.54 At the same time, however, the division is not so clean-cut. Recurrences of the dismemberment theme are (appropriately) scattered throughout at least the first ten couplets of the catalogue of kings. Regulus (“Little King”)55 and Priam himself, the ruler of all Asia, whose death (as famously recounted in Vergil) involved the separation of his head from his corpse (Aen. 2.557–8), serve as the hinge between these two mini-catalogues.56

  • 57  It appears that Callimachus employed a similar organizational principle in the Aetia. Fantuzzi and (...)
  • 58  E.g., Telephus’s wounded leg, and therefore his crippling, is not mentioned at all, just his vulnu (...)

26At this point, we have a general understanding of the exempla and their interconnections. I have demonstrated how the structure of the catalogue is baroque but comprehensible; how many exempla face backwards and forwards in Janus-like fashion but with entirely different aspects of their story (or wording) active in either case;57 and how sometimes the aspect of an exemplum which is the most relevant for its connection to surrounding exempla turns out to be completely absent from the text.58 With these things in mind, let us return to the beginning of the catalogue.

The Curse of Pedantry: The program of the Ibis

27The ten lines preceding the catalogue serve as a bridge between prologue and catalogue, in many ways allowing the opening of the catalogue to function as a complete restarting of the poem:

flebat, ut est fumis infans contactus amaris,
    de tribus est cum sic una locuta soror :
“tempus in inmensum lacrimas tibi movimus istas,
    quae semper causa sufficiente cadent.”
dixerat ; at Clotho iussit promissa valere,
    nevit et infesta stamina pulla manu,
et, ne longa suo praesagia diceret ore,
    “fata canet vates qui tua,” dixit, “erit.”
ille ego sum vates : ex me tua vulnera disces.
    dent modo di vires in mea verba suas,
carminibusque meis accedent pondera rerum,
    quae rata per luctus experiere tuos.
(Ovid, Ibis 239–50)


    240




    245




    250

The infant was weeping, as he was touched by the bitter smoke, when one sister of the three spoke thus: “For time without end have we provoked those tears for you, which will always fall with sufficient cause.” She had spoken but Clotho commanded her promises to flourish and spun the dark threads with a hostile hand and, that she not speak the long prophecies with her own mouth, she said, “There will be a bard who will sing your fates.” I am that bard: from me you will learn your wounds. May the gods only grant their own strength to my words, and the weight of realities will be added to my songs, which, granted fulfillment, you will experience through your own sorrows.

  • 59  Hinds (1999) 64.

28Ovid here repeats the first word of the Ibis, tempus, as the first word of the speech delivered by a Fury who has been tending to the baby Ibis. As Stephen Hinds has observed, “the metapoetic force [of the repetition] . . . is at once inescapable. Lines 241–2 mark an incipit for ‘Ibis’ the life, just as lines 1–2 marked the incipit of Ibis the poem.”59 With the repetition of tempus, Ovid creates a temporal hall of mirrors: the tempus of the Fury’s speech, promising a future eternity of tears for the infant Ibis, doubles reflexively back to tempus as the opening word (and therefore the alternate title) of the much later (temporally speaking) poem-Ibis.

  • 60  Hinds (1999) 63 takes the transitional passage as “a kind of second proem for the Ibis: not so muc (...)
  • 61  The Muses only appear in the very first couplet, and then only with reference to Ovid’s previous p (...)

29The repetition of the Ibisincipit at the beginning of the Fury’s speech marks the restarting of the poem on a purely verbal level. The subsequent lines further this idea of a new beginning but simultaneously mark a mid-point transition.60 Many works of poetry feature a medial re-invocation of the Muses, modeled on Homer’s re-invocation of the Muses prior to the catalogue of ships at Iliad 2.484–93. In the Ibis, however, where the Muses were not invoked in the first place and are conspicuously absent from the rest of the poem,61 the medial invocation does not (and cannot) adhere to convention: what has not happened once cannot happen a second time.

  • 62  This, of course, is theoretically the same Fate (or one of the three) who sang the extensive fifty (...)
  • 63  Hinds (1999) 64.
  • 64  See Newman (1967) for the concept of the vates, essentially the poet’s self-projection into his po (...)
  • 65  The anonymous reviewer also points out to me that the collocation dent ... di (248), based on a pu (...)

30Rather than solemnly requesting that the goddesses of poetry aid him because his mortal mouth is not up to the task of singing so great a catalogue, Ovid replaces the Muses with a mixed-up pair of triplicate sisters, ambiguously analogized Fury-Fates. And where normally the poet invokes the goddess’s aid, here the usually-longwinded Clotho casually passes off to her newly-minted vates the boring task of singing the catalogue ne longa suo praesagia diceret ore (“so that she doesn’t have to deliver the extensive prophecy with her own mouth,” Ib. 245).62 Hinds calls Ovid’s assumption of the vatic role here “Roman poetry’s most overt (or perverted) enactment of the uates-concept.”63 By repeating the poem’s incipit, by parodying the traditional invocation (and re-invocation) of a goddess’s aid, and by self-consciously assuming, after a full 245 lines, the vatic role that a poet usually adopts at the outset of his work,64 Ovid leaves the reader with no doubt that his poem is, in many ways, beginning anew.65

  • 66  See, e.g., Keith (1992). Hinds (1992a) 90 also advances the idea that “Augustan poetry contains mo (...)
  • 67  Williams (1996) 91 sees “the tragedy of the Iliad” as the epic subject of the line, but while this (...)
  • 68  Ovid has had epic openings to his various works before now. In the Amores, he began with the epic (...)
  • 69  See, e.g., Harrison (2002).

31The prefatory nature of this ten-line bridge, together with the well-recognized presence of programmatic material at the beginning of a poem,66 justifies a search for statements of programmatic intent in the lines that follow. The catalogue begins in an overtly epic fashion with the catalogue’s first curse, sint tua Troianis non leviora malis (“may your misfortunes be no lighter than the Trojans’,” Ib. 252), which effectively alludes to the events of both the Iliad and Aeneid.67 Given the storied history of Ovid and epic, however, this very epic flavor of the Ibis catalogue’s opening, along with the restriction of Trojan woes to a non-epic pentameter, should put the Ovidian reader on alert.68 Ovid’s refusal to maintain any genre, let alone the epic genre, is practically proverbial,69 and here his generic foibles again come into play.

  • 70  On Ovid’s previous markers of generic affiliation and proemial metrical jests, from the Amores thr (...)
  • 71  As exempla of incurable wounds: Tr. 5.2.9–20 (Telephus & Philoctetes); ExP. 1.3.3–10 (Philoctetes) (...)
  • 72  Cf. Gordon (1992) 98: “[Ovid] moves by association to the man whose weapons were destined to end t (...)

32Like the Amores, the second part of the Ibis opens with an emphasis on crippled feet.70 Following the Trojans’ epic afflictions come Philoctetes and Telephus, who occur elsewhere in Ovid’s work, sometimes as a pair, usually as exempla of incurable wounds.71 Here they are generally understood as exempla associated with the epic Trojan War context that Ovid has just set up.72 But taken together with the pseudo-epic context of the first exemplum, their respective wounds can also serve another, very different, purpose. Philoctetes was wounded in his foot, and Telephus was wounded in his leg (ultimately as the result of catching his foot in a vine-shoot). Both of them, therefore, limp, and their injured feet cripple the epic nature of Ovid’s first exemplum far more definitively than its simple confinement to an elegiac pentameter.

33This is, I submit, another pes-pun, like the many which riddle Ovid’s earlier and contemporary work. In the Ibis catalogue, the precise location of Philoctetes’ wound is not mentioned; rather, in keeping with the Ibis’ general obscurity, Ovid simply notes that his crus was afflicted. But his foot was famous as the location of his wound, and Ovid, who loves to mention the “foot” of his meter, can scarcely have ignored this. Philoctetes’ wounded foot therefore echoes the stolen foot of Amores 1.1 and the shortened foot of Amores 3.1, as well as the limping foot of Tristia 3.1. Telephus’s wounded leg, in association with Philoctetes’ foot, functions similarly.

  • 73  E.g., Hinds (1992a), (1992b). Ovid is, of course, by no means the only Augustan poet to play with (...)
  • 74  The saeva Cupidinis ira (Met. 1.453) and its subsequent amatory perversion of the work were presum (...)
  • 75  Nagle (1980) 22.

34Ovid’s playing in the Amores with the foot-discrepancy between hexameter and pentameter (1.1, 3.1) is flamboyant and self-conscious and hence widely remarked, and the frequency with which he comments on the near-epic weight his slender elegiac verses must bear in the Fasti has also garnered scholarly attention.73 Although the apparent gravitas of the Metamorphoses’ fully epic meter did not allow for such obvious metrical puns,74 with Ovid’s exilic return to elegiacs came a concomitant return to metrical games. Betty Nagle observes that Ovid’s predilection for punning remarks about the elegiac meter, in the exile poetry as well as the Amores (e.g., Tr. 1.1.16, 3.1.11–12), ensures that “the reader realizes its role as a constant” in poetry of love and poetry of pain. She notes that “all Ovid’s pes-puns contain a statement of poetics”;75 it is up to Ovid’s reader to determine where the less obvious puns are lurking.

  • 76  Williams (1992) 172: “Ovid’s military strategy begins on the wrong metrical footing. . . . Accordi (...)
  • 77  Debate rages over whether hoc . . . modo (Ib. 56) can be taken to mean that Ovid’s Callimachean mo (...)

35Within the Ibis, Ovid has already placed a great deal of stress on his meter, including the potential unsuitability of its pes. A major concern of the prologue is the discrepancy between meter and content: prima quidem coepto committam proelia versu, / non soleant quamvis hoc pede bella geri (“Indeed I shall join the first battles with my verse begun, although wars are not standardly waged in this meter,” Ib. 45–6).76 His elegiacs are not the proven bloodletting iambics of Archilochus; that would take, he claims, another poem:77 postmodo, si perges, in te mihi liber iambus, / tincta Lycambeo sanguine tela dabit (“Afterwards, if you continue, my iambic book shall send against you missiles dyed with Lycambean blood.” Ib. 53–4). Emphasis on the Ibis’ inappropriate pes recurs in the poem’s coda, echoing the sentiments and language of the prologue: postmodo plura leges et nomen habentia verum, / et pede quo debent acria bella geri (“afterwards, you will read more things, things that have your true name and are in the meter in which bitter wars ought to be waged,” Ib. 643–4).

  • 78  Nagle (1980) 41: “A considerable part of the Catullan corpus consists of invective, much of it in (...)
  • 79  The difference in tela is irrelevant to my point—whether Ovid’s elegiac weapons are dainty triolet (...)
  • 80  See Barchiesi (1994), Heyworth (2001), Schiesaro (2001) and (2011), degl’Innocenti Pierini (2003).

36However, Ovid’s harping on the unsuitability of elegy to warfare is disingenuous on several levels. First, Catullus used elegiacs as well as hendecasyllables in an iambic mode,78 so even Ovid’s application of them to verbal warfare is not so unprecedented as he claims. Moreover, Ovid’s own elegiac lover is a soldier, albeit in the camp of Cupid: militat omnis amans, et habet sua castra Cupido (“every lover is a soldier, and Cupid has his own encampment,” Am. 1.9.1). For all that the elegiacs of the Ibis are not amatory, the “bellicose” element established by militat omnis amans adheres to the meter at large. And although Ovid claims that his hands are unaccustomed to weapon-like poetry (cogit inassuetas sumere tela manus, Ib. 10), in the Amores he had referred to his own elegies as tela: blanditias elegosque levis, mea tela, resumpsi (“I have once more taken up my weapons, flatteries and light elegies,” Am. 2.1.21).79 Finally, Ovid’s favorite metrical pun associates elegiacs and iambics. Elegiacs “limp” in a similar way to a famous iambic cursing meter, Hipponactean choliambics (“limping” iambs), which Ovid himself calls parum stabili . . . carmine (“a very unstable song,” Ib. 523). The limping pes, then, which is such a crucial part of Ovidian elegiac poetics, can be perceived as interchangeable with the iambic pes.80

  • 81  τὸν χωλοποιὸν: διὰ τοὺς τρεῖς, Βελλεροφόντην, Φιλοκτήτην, Τήλεφον (“‘cripple-maker’: on account of (...)
  • 82  Can we further imagine the trio to provoke a jesting play on tragedy’s iambic trimeters?  On the i (...)

37Philoctetes and Telephus are not alone in their limping gait, however, as their mini-catalogue is rounded off by another cripple, Bellerophon. This may, in fact, be an Ibis-specific variation on the elegiac pes-pun. Since Philoctetes’ wounded foot alone would suffice to elegize the epic theme of the preceding exemplum, by grouping all three exempla together Ovid is clearly stressing their lamed and limping gait, not just the wounded foot. In addition, these three appear together outside of Ovid’s poetry: they form a Euripidean trio which the scholia to Aristophanes’ Frogs claimed were the reason that Aristophanes called Euripides χωλοποιός (“cripple-maker”).81 Thus, I suggest, the traditional foot pun has evolved, in an echo of the prologue’s metrical dilemmas. Through their collective limping nature, the three lame men together move Ovid’s elegiac invective into a quasi-choliambic mode, appropriate for cursing.82

38We may derive two lessons from the opening of the Ibis catalogue. First, there are thematic (and suppressed verbal) connections between the prologue and the catalogue, and we shall see more evidence of this shortly. Second, the Ibis is a fully functional part of Ovid’s poetic corpus and the exilic corpus specifically, not only drawing on themes that occur throughout Ovid’s work, but modifying them in ways that find resonance in the other exile poetry. This is particularly true of Philoctetes and Telephus, whom Ovid can use to make a self-reflexively programmatic statement about the genre in which he is writing because he has used them before. Their presence also recalls his exilic use of elegy in a non-amatory vein.

  • 83  See Hinds (1992a).
  • 84  Addressed by Hinds (1992a), (1992b). Heyworth (1993) 86 makes the point that the first word of Fas (...)
  • 85  Aid, not wounding, came from the inermis party, signifying either the healer Machaon or Achilles, (...)

39Wounds, no matter their source (love or grief), cause elegy. Ovid’s conversation with Venus at the opening of Fasti 4 posits her (and by extension her son or sons, the gemini Amores) as the source of all wounds, and therefore all elegy.83 In the previous book of the Fasti, Ovid had handily disarmed bellicus Mars to make him exclusively an inermis lover (Fasti 3.1–10), adding to the conceit of love as the only source of wounds.84 That, however, was likely written before Ovid had to face the alternate wound of exile. Here in the Ibis, where the wounds at issue are not amatory (Philoctetes was wounded by a snake bite, and Telephus was wounded by Achilles’ spear),85 I also see a further statement of poetics.

  • 86  omne fuit Musae carmen inerme meae (“every poem of my Muse was unarmed,” Ib. 2). I have mentioned (...)
  • 87  nullaque, quae possit, scriptis tot milibus, extat / littera Nasonis sanguinolenta legi: / nec que (...)
  • 88  See note71.
  • 89  Cf. Nagle (1980) 42–3: “He shows that even in its highly specialized subjective-erotic Augustan fo (...)
  • 90  Given Ovid’s extensive program of correlation between his poetry and his exilic wound, it seems po (...)
  • 91  It is possible that the exemplum of Telephus at Tr. 2.19–22 follows another unnoticed pes pun at 2 (...)
  • 92  pedibus vitium causa decoris erat (“the defect in her feet was the cause of her beauty,” Am. 3.1.1 (...)
  • 93  In addition to shifting the elegiac pair of Philoctetes and Telephus into a choliambic context, Be (...)

40All of Ovid’s previous poems, he claimed in the Ibis’ opening couplet, whether amatory, aetiological, epic, or tragic, were completely harmless.86 However, one of those harmless poems paradoxically wounded Ovid by causing his exile,87 inextricably intertwining his poetry with the incurable exilic wound and leading to an extensive program of correlation between the two. In fact, for the exiled Ovid, his previous poetry has become the very cause of his wound, and he repeatedly uses both Philoctetes and Telephus as exempla to discuss this fact, where previously he had invoked the pair as exempla for the incurable wounds of love.88 In accordance with this transference of exemplary signification, Ovid continues to insist in the Tristia and Ex Ponto that the wounded, limping elegiac meter is the appropriate meter for his exilic verses;89 and in the Ibis’ resurgence of the elegiac foot pun, Philoctetes and Telephus (cripples) replace Cupid (crippler).90 As their wounds had previously been likened to the equally incurable wounds of love, so their new programmatic function echoes the replacement of love’s pain with exile’s pain that allows Ovid an explicit justification for maintaining the elegiac meter in his exilic lamentations.91 Ovid’s short-footed Elegy in Amores 3.1 was beautiful because of her “foot problem,”92 but the respective crippling wounds of Telephus and Philoctetes cause them nothing but pain.93

  • 94  nunc quo Battiades inimicum devovet Ibin, / hoc ego devoveo teque tuosque modo, / utque ille, hist (...)
  • 95  E.g., Bernhardt (1986) 335: “der Reihe der caecae historiae”; Guarino Ortega (2000) 93: “la larga (...)
  • 96  Williams (1992) 181.
  • 97  Ingleheart (2006) 67. And again: “The reader perhaps thinks of the role which sight has already pl (...)

41The Ibis catalogue continues, as we have seen, with exempla of blind men, and here again we find a connection with the Ibis prologue. Early on in the prologue, Ovid threatened to wrap his poem in historiis caecis (Ib. 57) as Callimachus had.94 While most scholars apply the label to all of Ovid’s riddling exempla,95 Williams points out that the nine blind men who appear at the start of the catalogue literally exemplify those promised historiae caecae,96 thus creating another link between the two halves of the poem. The emphasis on blindness also activates a “vocabulary of sight”97 which Jennifer Ingleheart argues is present throughout the exilic corpus, with the result that traces of Ovid’s greater exilic and poetic program can again be seen.

  • 98  This imagery is not limited to the exile poetry (cf. Ars Am. 1.412: vix tenuit lacerae naufraga me (...)

42The first eleven couplets of the catalogue, then, the cripples and the blind men, connect with the clearly programmatic language and sentiments of the prologue and with the broader scheme of imagery which marks Ovid’s exilic poetic corpus. What about the couplets that follow? We have already touched on this issue. The mangled and broken membra of the next six couplets, especially given Ovid’s early emphasis on their connection with shipwrecks (Ib. 275–8), also pick up a couplet from the prologue (Ib. 17–18), yet again linking prologue with catalogue. In addition, since the fragments of Ovid’s own poetic shipwrecks appear elsewhere in the exile poetry (Tr. 1.2.2), here too we glimpse Ovid’s pan-exilic program within the Ibis.98

  • 99  On the exilic trope, see Farrell (1999). To name but a few important instances: Tr. 1.2.1–4 (discu (...)
  • 100  Hinds (2007) 198.
  • 101  Tr. 1.2.2, 1.3.64, 1.3.73, 1.3.94, 3.8.31, 3.9.27, 3.9.34, 4.10.48, 5.6.20; ExP. 1.10.28, 2.2.74, (...)
  • 102  Ib. 17, 149, 192, 233, 273, 278, 364, 366, 435, 454, 518, 548, 634. Not in the context of dismembe (...)
  • 103  This projection of a fragmented poetic corpus through fragmented physical corpora may find resonan (...)

43The trope of Ovid’s poetic corpus as his physical corpus surfaces time and again in his poetry, particularly following his exile, and numerous times in the Tristia Ovid is concerned with the idea or language of dismemberment.99 Ovid’s “heavy and overt use of mythic victimology . . . give[s] some circumstantial encouragement to the idea that all stories told in the exile poetry, including stories of bodily mutilation, are really about Ovid’s own relegation,”100 so it is no surprise to find the topos repeated several times in the Tristia. Forms of the word membrum appear fourteen times in the Tristia and Ex Ponto together, only four in the context of dismemberment;101 there are thirteen uses in the Ibis, and only three do not occur in the context of dismemberment or mutilation of limbs.102 The Ibis, then, although less obviously “about” Ovid’s exile than his other exile poetry, is even more overwhelmingly obsessed with the idea of dismemberment.103

Onymous, Anonymous, Pseudonymous: The Ibis’ “rhetoric of nomina

  • 104  Hinds (2007) 207.
  • 105  nam nomen adhuc utcumque tacebo (“for as yet I shall remain silent as to his name,” Ib. 9).

44We have not yet considered one very important aspect of the prologue, and that is Ovid’s emphasis on Ibis’ name and its pseudonymity. In the rest of the exile poetry, Ovid is “programmatically obsessed”104 with names, and we have now witnessed several times both how the program of the Ibis matches Ovid’s larger exilic program and how reflections of the prologue pervade the catalogue. Thus it is reasonable to assume that the function of names in the catalogue of the Ibis might also be important. In the prologue, Ovid’s stress is on his silence regarding Ibis’ real name,105 the pseudonymous nature of the name “Ibis,” and its ability to function in lieu of Ibis’ real name for the purposes of targeting his curses:

et, quoniam, qui sis, nondum quaerentibus edo,
    Ibidis interea tu quoque nomen habe.
(Ovid, Ibis 61–2)

And since I am not yet professing who you may be to those who ask, in the meantime you, too, have the name of Ibis.

neve minus noceant fictum execrantia nomen
    vota, minus magnos commoveantve deos :
illum ego devoveo, quem mens intellegit, Ibin,
    qui se scit factis has meruisse preces.
(Ovid, Ibis 93–6)



    95

Nor may my execrating prayers harm his name less because it is fictitious, nor may they stir the great gods any less: him I curse as “Ibis” whom my mind understands to be him, he who knows that he has deserved these prayers by his deeds.

  • 106  See, e.g., Watson (1991) 204–6, Garriga (1989). On the possible associations between the Ibis and (...)
  • 107  Hinds (2007) mentions the importance of Cinna (Ib. 539–40), whose ambiguous cognomen led directly (...)

45The correspondence between this need for a name and the standard practice of defixionum tabellae to precisely express their target’s identity has often been highlighted,106 but Ovid’s continued focus on the importance of nominality in the catalogue of the Ibis has been less remarked.107

  • 108  See especially Oliensis (1997), Hardie (2002), and Hinds (2007).

46Like the other aspects of Ovid’s program which we have identified within the Ibis, a focus on naming and not naming also corresponds with Ovid’s pan-exilic program—the importance of names (or their absence) in the exile poetry has been frequently discussed.108 The shift from anonymous to named addressees between the Tristia and Ex Ponto is certainly an explicit part of Ovid’s program in the Ex Ponto; he expresses the sole difference of these later poems from the Tristia as follows:

     non minus hoc illo triste quod ante dedi.
rebus idem titulo differt ; et epistula cui sit
    non occultato nomine missa docet
(Ovid, ExP. 1.1.16–18)

This [work] is no less sad than that which I delivered previously. The same in subject, it differs in title, and the letter professes to whom it has been sent since the addressee’s name is not hidden.

  • 109  Hinds (2007) 207.
  • 110  Hinds (1986) 321. Similar blurring of identity has been discussed by Ahl (1976) 140–5 and Feeney ( (...)

47While the poet of the Tristia is “programmatically obsessed . . . with the dangers that come from naming people’s names,”109 the poet of the Ex Ponto is obsessed with the flexibility of shared nomina. As Hinds has argued, the first two poems of the Ex Ponto (along with several others) make explicit or implicit comparisons between their addressees and (in)famous homonymous historical individuals, often with little apparent regard for the effect this will have on public (or Augustan) perception of the addressee.110

  • 111  See below; also cf. Krasne (forthcoming), where I discuss the polyvalent name of Linus (Ib. 480ff)
  • 112  Cf., e.g., André (1963) vi: “Les concordances formelles de Trist., 1, 6, 13, et Ibis, 9, suggèrent (...)
  • 113  Williams (1996) 132n52 collects bibliography proposing “a date of composition for the Ibis no late (...)
  • 114  The phrase is borrowed from the title of Oliensis (1997).

48It seems to me, however, that even prior to the Ex Ponto, the same duality of shared names is already functioning within the catalogue of the Ibis.111 By contrast, Ovid’s pseudonymous appellation of “Ibis” to his enemy appears to fall more under the aegis of the Tristia’s anonymous form of address (and indeed, many have seen in Ibis the anonymous enemies of Tristia 1.6, 3.11, and 4.9, among others).112 Both the prologue and the catalogue emphasize the suppression of names, the catalogue doing so most obviously through the poet’s tendency not to name the subjects of his exempla. The generally accepted theory is that the Ibis was likely published in between the Tristia and the Ex Ponto,113 and its “rhetoric of nomina114 would seem to confirm this relative date, as its mode of flexible nominality places it between the Tristia’s anonymity and the Ex Ponto’s onomastic freedom.

49Ovid’s name-games within the catalogue manifest in a wide variety of forms, in particular:

1.encoding into the text puns, etymological and otherwise, on the names of mythical figures (a very Alexandrian and Augustan gesture);
2.employing a shared (but usually unstated) name as the method of connecting two exempla, more or less explicitly;
3.using an exemplum to evoke a homonymous mythic figure who fits the context of the catalogue better or who can create associations with surrounding exempla (in this case the name of the figure tends to be stated explicitly);
4.choosing exempla which themselves actually focus on the idea of names, lack of names, and transference of names.

50In all of these cases, what ultimately concerns Ovid seems to be the dynamics of anonymity and “onymity.” In particular, he strives, with nearly paradoxical effort, to make fully comprehensible to his reader a purportedly anonymous reference, while simultaneously exploiting homonymy (explicit or implicit) to blur the precisely delineated edges of figures’ individual integrity.

  • 115  For the functional rules of puns and other etymological play in Latin poetry, see in particular Ah (...)

51Puns are the easiest feature to spot and the most in accord with the mode of Alexandrian poetics to which all of Ovid’s poetry more or less adheres.115 The most frequently remarked of these appears in a couplet on the death of Ulysses, who was killed with a spear made from a stingray’s barb. Ovid refers to the agent of Ulysses’ death as teli genus:

ossibus inque tuis teli genus haereat illud,
    traditur Icarii quo cecidisse gener.
(Ovid, Ibis 567–8)

And may that kind of poker fix in your bones, from which Icarius’s son-in-law is said to have fallen.

  • 116  See, e.g., La Penna (1957) 152–3 ad loc., André (1963) 54, Gordon (1992) 233 ad 565–566. Telegonus (...)

52It has been pointed out by most commentators that teli genus is sounded out, approximately, as “Telegonus,” thus also indicating the human agent of Ulysses’ death to the ear of the Roman reader.116

  • 117  O’Hara (1996) 79–80: “Vergil and other Augustan poets often suppress or omit a name or word that m (...)
  • 118  See Cameron (2004). On the specific usefulness of mythographic texts for the Ibis, see Krasne (for (...)

53Another pun appears in one of Ovid’s first exempla. His reference to Telephus as qui bibit ubera cervae (“he who drank at the hind’s udder,” Ib. 255) precisely translates the ancient etymology for Telephus’s name, given by the Etymologicum Magnum as ἐκλήθη δὲ διὰ τὸ θηλάσαι αὐτὸν ἔλαφον (“and he was called that on account of a deer nursing him,” 756K.54–5). This is a pun that only functions if the reader is already aware of Telephus’s identity,117 but the potentially appreciative audience is larger than one might initially imagine. We must remember that Roman readers would have had recourse to mythographic texts for clarification, and as it happens, a catalogue recorded in Hyginus gives the names of Qui lacte ferino nutriti sunt (“Those who were nourished by the milk of a wild animal,” Fab. 252), the first line of which reads: Telephus, Herculis et Auges filius, ab cerva (“Telephus, son of Hercules and Auge, by a hind”). Thus, were a reader to be consulting mythographic handbooks for aid, as seems eminently plausible given their apparent popularity, he would have a high chance of appreciating the pun.118

  • 119  As best I can tell, this pun remains unremarked by commentators.
  • 120  O’Hara (1996) 82–8.

54A third pun119 is even more in line with standard Augustan poetic practice, which has a tendency to place bilingual puns and etymologies at the ends of lines, framing a passage.120 At Ib. 419–20, Ovid prays that Ibis’ fortunes will never increase but always diminish:

filius et Cereris frustra tibi semper ametur,
    destituatque tuas usque petitus opes.
(Ovid, Ibis 419–20)


    420

And may Ceres’ son always be loved by you in vain, and may he, sought continually, forsake your wealth.

55Ceres’ son is the blind god Ploutos, or wealth; the last word of the couplet is opes, namely the Latin equivalent of πλοῦτος. Again, the reader needs to understand the exemplum to appreciate the pun, but Ovid has put the answer to his “riddle” in plain sight. Puns such as these are the most comprehensible and “normal” aspects of Ovid’s onomastic play. His other three types of name-game require a fuller understanding of the exempla—and of mythology in general—in order for appropriate connections to be drawn.

  • 121  Ellis (1881) xlvi and Guarino Ortega (1999) 276 point out Ovid’s use of shared names as a connecti (...)
  • 122  Both of these juxtapositions are debatable, once due to scholarly disagreement over identification (...)

56The case of names shared by contiguous exempla is another reasonably obvious game of Ovid’s.121 As our understanding of the catalogue’s exempla currently stands, this is a device which Ovid employs four times, twice in order to join separate mini-catalogues and twice in the form of mini-catalogues whose central theme is the shared name. He juxtaposes Ajax the Lesser and Ajax the Greater at Ib. 341–4, joining the homeward-bound Greeks to a list of insane men, and two figures named Hippomenes at Ib. 457–60, joining Cybelean associates to those who were shut away.122 In all four of these exempla, none of the relevant figures is named outright:

utque ferox periit et fulmine et aequore raptor,
    sic te mersuras adiuvet ignis aquas.
mens quoque sic furiis vecors agitetur, ut illi,
    unum qui toto corpore vulnus habet.
(Ovid, Ibis 341–4)

And as the fierce rapist [=Oïlean Ajax] perished by both lightning and water, thus may fire assist the waters that are about to drown you. Also, may your mind thus be driven insane by furies, as for that one who has a single wound in his entire body [=Telamonian Ajax].

inque pecus subito Magnae vertare Parentis,
    victor ut est celeri victaque versa pede.
solaque Limone poenam ne senserit illam,
    et tua dente fero viscera carpat equus.
(Ovid, Ibis 457–60)




    460

And may you suddenly be turned into a beast of the Great Parent, as was the winner [=Hippomenes] and the loser [=Atalanta], diverted on her swift foot. And lest Limone [=Hippomenes’ daughter] alone experience that punishment, may a horse pluck at your entrails with fierce tooth.

  • 123  In the context of those driven mad (stated explicitly at Ib. 343), unum qui toto corpore vulnus ha (...)
  • 124  Milanion at Am. 3.2.29; Ars Am. 2.188, 3.775; Hippomenes at Her. 16.265, 21.124; Met. 10 (passim). (...)

57In the former case, the anonymity has led to a great deal of scholarly debate as to whether or not Telamonian Ajax is even the subject of the second exemplum, although I think the identification is indisputable.123 In the latter case, the first Hippomenes cannot actually be given a name until the following exemplum is understood, as Atalanta’s husband has two names (Hippomenes and Milanion), even within Ovid’s poetry.124

58In the other two passages, a catalogue of Pyrrhi at Ib. 301–8 and of Glauci at Ib. 555–8, we should again observe Ovid’s pattern of naming, misnaming, and not naming, together with his use of nomen in each instance.

aut ut Achilliden, cognato nomine clarum,
    opprimat hostili tegula iacta manu,
nec tua quam Pyrrhi felicius ossa quiescant,
    sparsa per Ambracias quae iacuere vias.
nataque ut Aeacidae iaculis moriaris adactis;
    non licet hoc Cereri dissimulare sacrum.
utque nepos dicti nostro modo carmine regis,
    Cantharidum sucos dante parente bibas.
(Ovid, Ibis 301–8)





    305



Or like “the son of Achilles” [=Pyrrhus I the Great], famous from a related name, may a tile thrown by enemy hand fall on you, and may your bones rest no more fruitfully than Pyrrhus’s, which lay scattered through the Ambracian streets. And may you die like the daughter of Aeacides [=Deidamia?], with javelins thrust at you Ceres is not permitted to conceal this sacrifice. And like the grandson of the king just now spoken of in our song [=Pyrrhus II?], may you drink the Spanish flies’ juices with a parent providing them.

  • 125  Readers who do not wish to immerse themselves in the tangled and irreconcilable genealogy of the E (...)
  • 126  Pausanias (1.11.1) says that there are fifteen generations between Achilles’ son Pyrrhus and Pyrrh (...)
  • 127  What exactly Ovid’s point is is uncertain; see below. Sources disagree as to whether Pyrrhus or Ne (...)

59We have, here, four couplets which concern the genealogical nightmare that is the kings of Epirus and their extensive network of name-sharing relatives. The first two couplets are much more intelligible to a modern reader than the second two, and this is only partially due to Ovid’s periphrastic mode; far more problematic for our comprehension is the utter confusion and patchy nature of our sources.125 Since we can definitively establish the identity of the exempla in the first two couplets, let us begin there. Achillides (301) is not in fact the son of Achilles, but his very distant descendant,126 Pyrrhus I the Great, and the first joke is that he shares a name with Achilles’ actual son, who is himself named outright in the next couplet. Achilles’ son Pyrrhus, in turn, had two names, Pyrrhus and Neoptolemus; Ovid seems to be making a point by explicitly stating one.127 Does cognato nomine (301), then, refer to Pyrrhus I’s ancestor Achilles, or to Pyrrhus I’s ancestor and namesake, Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, himself the subject of the next couplet? Ovid evidently leaves the question as an exercise for his reader; nonetheless, we can definitively say that this run of exempla begins with a historical Pyrrhus and a mythical Pyrrhus. The figures who follow are far less certain.

  • 128  As a patronymic, Aeacides is really a general allusion to the dynasty of Aeacidae, the kings of Ep (...)
  • 129  According to Plutarch, this Deidamia was originally engaged to Alexander the Great’s son Alexander (...)
  • 130  Williams (1996) 108n64 and Gordon (1992) 125, probably mistakenly, call Deidamia the daughter of P (...)
  • 131  Polyaenus 8.52, Justin 28.3.5–8. Justin, who calls the woman Laodamia, recounts how the Epeirots s (...)
  • 132  Gordon (1992) 125.
  • 133  Gordon (1992) 125; also cf. La Penna (1957) 69 ad loc.: “Ma l’avvenimento poté essere considerato, (...)
  • 134  Williams (1996) 108n64. La Penna (1957) 69 also rejects the need for a temple-location, instead se (...)
  • 135  I do not mean to imply that she is not the subject of the couplet, simply that a lot of stretching (...)
  • 136  Paus. 9.7.2. Diodorus Siculus 19.51.5 similarly records that she was murdered by a group of Macedo (...)
  • 137  Williams (1996) 108n64 thinks that this phrase “hardly suggests stoning,” but according to the TLL(...)
  • 138  Ellis (1881) 173–4 gives a convoluted explanation involving the worship of Demeter and Kore at Sam (...)
  • 139  Should we subscribe entirely to the communis opinio on 305–8, we may understand 307–8 as “Pyrrhus (...)

60Our confusion centers not only around the identity of the woman periphrastically identified as nata . . . Aeacidae (305), but around the identity of her father. “Aeacides” could be a patronymic or a proper name,128 and there was, in fact, a member of the Aeacid dynasty who was actually named Aeacides: he was the father of Pyrrhus I and also of a woman named Deidamia.129 This Deidamia cannot be the subject of 305–6, but just as we first passed from one Pyrrhus to another Pyrrhus, so the hint given by nata Aeacidae, literally understood as “Deidamia,” may imply a different Aeacid Deidamia, who is in fact the daughter of yet a third Pyrrhus (Pyrrhus II). Most scholars do understand the couplet as an allusion to this younger Deidamia.130 This interpretation is not impossible, but it leaves us with a number of unanswered questions. First of all, according to our sources, this Deidamia was killed in a temple of Artemis Hegemone by an assassin named Milo, not by a barrage of spears, and not in any sort of connection with Demeter.131 Scholars usually gloss over this problem by suggesting that Ovid may be our only surviving source for Deidamia’s death in a temple of Demeter,132 or by positing “a desire on Ovid’s part to draw a connexion between Ceres’ role in Pyrrhus I’s death, and Deidamia’s death in her temple.”133 Williams lets everyone off the hook by allowing that “the pentameter need not . . . mean that the death occurred in the temple of Ceres,”134 simply that the goddess’s finger was in the Aeacid pie; but the fact remains that Deidamia only really works as the subject of this couplet because scholars want her to, not because her story is a good match.135 As an alternative, Ellis posits that nata Aeacidae is in fact Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias, who according to Pausanias was stoned to death.136 This would solve the phrase iaculis adactis (Ib. 305),137 but it does not (to my mind) clarify the mention of Ceres.138 However, it fits beautifully in another way: Olympias was the daughter of a Neoptolemus. This again continues the run of Pyrrhus-figures—we moved from Pyrrhus I to Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, and now we would move from Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus to Neoptolemus. Regardless of which interpretation we follow, then, we can see Ovid moving between homonyms.139 Both interpretations leave us with a similar sense of Ovid’s onomastic play.

  • 140  He was slain in the streets of Leontini by a band of Sicilian conspirators (Livy 24.7.1–7, 26.30.1 (...)
  • 141  See Fig. 1d for a different suggestion of their genealogy.
  • 142  Πύρρου δὲ τοῦ Ἠπειρωτῶν βασιλέως, ὃς ἦν τρίτος ἀπὸ Πύρρου τοῦ ἐπ’ Ἰταλίαν στρατεύσαντος, ἐρωμένη ἦ (...)
  • 143  ὅτι ὄνομα θεραπαίνης Πηλούσιον ἦν, δι’ ἧς ὁ Μολοσσὸς Πύρρος ἀνεῖλε φαρμάκῳ τὴν μητέρα (“[Helladius (...)
  • 144  Justin, Epit. 28.3.

61The fourth couplet is just as inscrutable as the third, and our sources are just as ill-matched. Dicti nostro modo carmine regis (“the king just now mentioned in our song,” Ib. 307), purportedly the grandfather of the subject of 307–8, must be one of the three kings mentioned previously, either Pyrrhus I the Great (subject of 301–2), Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus (subject of 303–4), or the periphrastically-identified “Aeacides” of 305–6 (presumably either Pyrrhus II or Neoptolemus). Because Deidamia is usually understood as the subject of the third couplet, and because the only conceivable grandson of her putative father, Pyrrhus II, is Hieronymus, the son of Nereis and Gelo (who is well-attested to have died in extremely different circumstances),140 the unnamed rex is usually taken to be Pyrrhus I. Pyrrhus I’s only known grandsons are Pyrrhus II and Ptolemy, both generally thought to be the sons of Alexander II of Epirus.141 As with the previous couplet, we have stories that are close enough for scholars to latch onto them, but nothing definite. Most scholars identify Pyrrhus II as the subject of 307–8 because our sources preserve stories connecting him with poison: Athenaeus tells us that Pyrrhus’s mother, Olympias, poisoned Pyrrhus’s mistress, a Leucadian woman named Tigris,142 while Photius records that Helladius mentioned Pyrrhus poisoning his mother, Olympias.143 Justin, however, says that Olympias herself died of grief after both her sons had died and makes no mention of poison.144 Justin’s account is irreconcilable with that of Photius and Helladius (at least as we have it), while Athenaeus’s account could be thought to work with either one of the other two sources. Although the versions given by Athenaeus and Justin can work with Ovid’s version, Ovid’s account is, again, so unique that we must wonder if it really refers to this parent and son.

  • 145  Ellis concludes that the subject of 307–8 could be Heracles, the son of Alexander the Great by the (...)

62However, nepos can also simply mean “descendant,” which allows us to include in our consideration any descendant of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus—that is a broad range of figures to deal with, and we have very little information about most of them. Even narrowing the scope to just a few generations, this broader application of the term allows us to include all descendants of Pyrrhus I (which still makes Pyrrhus II a plausible candidate even if Deidamia is not the subject of 305–6)—or, if we follow Ellis in treating Olympias as the subject of 305–6, a broad view of nepos allows us to include not only all of Pyrrhus I’s descendants, but all the descendants of Neoptolemus, the grandfather of Alexander the Great.145 Of course, just as nepos can mean “descendant,” parens can be used for most earlier generations, so that we begin to wonder just how many generations removed this internecine poisoning may in fact be.

  • 146  See Dakarēs (1964) on the mythological origins of the various names used by the members of this dy (...)
  • 147  Another instance of Ovid purposely invoking a case of confused and irreconcilable identity and gen (...)

63In short, we have two unsolvable couplets, which scholars like to tie off neatly by calling them solved, but which in fact resist modern attempts at a solution. Nonetheless, even unsolved, they allow us to say a great deal about Ovid’s modus operandi. The precise genealogy of the Epeirot kings, with their profusion of recurring mythological names, was likely already a hopeless tangle in Ovid’s day,146 and it is precisely the dynasty’s penchant for onomastic repetition that I believe Ovid was exploiting.147

64By contrast with the barely-named mess of the Aeacid dynasty, the names of the three Glauci at 555–8 are made very explicit:

Potniadum morsus subeas, ut Glaucus, equarum,
    inque maris salias, Glaucus ut alter, aquas,
utque duobus idem dictis modo nomen habenti,
    praefocent animae Cnosia mella viam.
(Ovid, Ibis 555–8)

     555



May you undergo the bites of Potnian horses, like Glaucus, and may you leap into the waters of the sea, like another Glaucus and like the one who has the same name as the two just mentioned, may Cnossian honey choke up your breath’s passage.

65These three Glauci, despite sharing a name and being named in conjunction, each suffer a distinctly different fate and are never confused with each other in poetry or myth. I propose, however, that Ovid does his best to conflate the first two by the similarities of his hexameter and pentameter:

potNIadum MORsUS SUbEAS, UT GLAUCUS, EQUARum,
    INque MARIS SAlIAS, GLAUCUS UT altER, AQUas.

  • 148  See Ahl (1985) 57–9.
  • 149  This is a normal feature of ancient linguistic play and etymologizing. Ahl (1985) 44–54 shows a nu (...)

66The lines share a high density of phonemes, arranged in the same order, with occasional anagrammatic transpositions. For Roman poets’ linguistic play, consonants mattered more than vowels,148 and thus MORsus and MARis begin with essentially the same syllable. Glaucus ut is a reflection of ut Glaucus, while the very letters of EQUARum become rearranged as altERAQUas.149 The alliterative, assonant, and anagrammatic nature of the lines may reflect the similar titles of two tragedies by Aeschylus on these characters, Γλαῦκος Ποτνιεύς and Γλαῦκος Πόντιος; or it may be an effort on Ovid’s part to demonstrate how similar and yet different those who share a name can be; or Ovid may just be having some fun. Regardless, in all these cases of juxtaposed homonymous individuals, the characters manage (more or less) to retain their integrity, despite sharing their names.

  • 150  For the four main types of name-game that Ovid employs in the Ibis, see p.21.
  • 151  Hardie (2002) 249.
  • 152  Hardie (2002) 250–1 cites Fasti 4.941–2: pro cane sidero canis hic imponitur arae, / et quare pere (...)
  • 153  I have demonstrated elsewhere (Krasne [forthcoming]) the ability of a polyvalent name to create as (...)

67The third method of playing with names hinges on Ovid’s actually naming a character in the text.150 Frequently, such an explicitly-named figure will happen to share a name with another, unrelated, individual from myth or history who would actually fit the context well. Shared names have resonance in Ovid’s earlier poetry; for example, in the Metamorphoses, shared names seem to retain “an association from the first bearer of the name that exerts a pressure on the kind of fate experienced by the second bearer,”151 while in the Fasti shared names can act in the service of sympathetic magic.152 In the Ibis, nominal transference allows the fleeting doubling of Ibis’ prophesied fate, a bifurcated future of which the road not taken remains in the traveler’s (or reader’s) memory.153 I will touch on two instances of what I see as doubly-functioning names, their “correct” reading in stark contrast to a context that is detectable below (or perhaps just above) the surface.

68Within a section on the deaths of poets, Ovid briefly steps out of the context of the mini-catalogue and wishes on Ibis the death of Orestes, who died from a snake bite; his next exemplum is Eupolis, who died on his wedding-night:

utque Agamemnonio vulnus dedit anguis Oresti,
    tu quoque de morsu virus habente cadas.
sit tibi coniugii nox prima novissima vitae :
    Eupolis hoc periit et nova nupta modo.
(Ovid, Ibis 527–30)




    530

And as a snake gave a wound to Agamemnonian Orestes, may you too fall from a bite possessing poison. May your first night of married life be your very last: Eupolis and his new bride perished in this way.

  • 154  Cf. Watson (1991) 178–9: “Ovid . . . will sometimes deliberately insert an alien myth into a homog (...)
  • 155  The G-scholia also wish to interpret the incomprehensible Ib. 525–6 as a reference to Orpheus.
  • 156  For lengthy discussion of the comic poet Eupolis’ death and other possibilities for Ib. 591–2, see (...)

69This transition is surprising, to say the least.154 The combination of poetic deaths and snake-bites in the hexameter instantly draws the reader’s imagination to Eurydice,155 who died of a snake-bite earlier in the Ibis. The illusion is left intact until the second syllable of the pentameter, where it turns out, to the reader’s presumably immense surprise, that the figure actually being alluded to is Eupolis. There is a famous Eupolis who fits the thematic poetic context—the comic playwright Eupolis—and for a brief moment the reader’s world makes some sense, until he realizes that this is not, in fact, the comic poet Eupolis, who probably died at sea (and may in fact be the subject of Ib. 591–2).156 Instead, it is Nicias’s son Eupolis, whose death is lamented in an anonymous epigram from the Palatine Anthology:

αἰαῖ, τοῦτο κάκιστον, ὅταν κλαίωσι θανόντα
    νυμφίον ἢ νύμφην· ἡνίκα δ’ ἀμφοτέρους,
Εὔπολιν ὡς ἀγαθήν τε Λυκαίνιον, ὧν ὑμέναιον
    ἔσβεσεν ἐν πρώτῃ νυκτὶ πεσὼν θάλαμος,
οὐκ ἄλλῳ τόδε κῆδος ἰσόρροπον, ᾧ σὺ μὲν υἱόν,
    Νῖκι, σὺ δ’ ἔκλαυσας, Θεύδικε, θυγατέρα.
(AP 7.298)





    5

Alas, this is the most evil thing, whenever they lament the death of a bridegroom or a bride; but when it is both, like Eupolis and noble Lycaenion, whose wedding song their bedchamber, having fallen, extinguished on the first night, this is a grief matched by no other, with which you, Nicias, bewail your son, and you, Theudicus, your daughter.

  • 157  cadas at 528 followed by the collapse of a chamber is reminiscent of a linguistic play on cadas th (...)

70The reader’s most logical explanation at this point might be to imagine that Ovid has quit his catalogue of poets in order to turn to another catalogue of those who died from collapse in one way or another, as he has done elsewhere;157 but the following exemplum features the tragic poet Lycophron, who was killed by arrows, and the catalogue of vatic deaths resumes just a few couplets further on.

  • 158  Two critical concepts can be applied to this process of reading. One is Peter Bing’s term “Ergänzu (...)
  • 159  See Krasne (forthcoming) on the shifting identity of Linus amidst the themes of Ib. 477–500.
  • 160  Gordon (1992) 219: “Ovid may have been thinking of a link with the playwright Eupolis.”  La Penna (...)

71In making sense of the Eupolis exemplum, the reader likely passed through two identifications—identifications which could almost seem to be intentionally provoked by Ovid—before arriving at the “correct” readings of the passage and the name.158 Does this correct reading invalidate the earlier interpretations? If Linus can die as a baby and be killed as an adult by Hercules,159 it seems reasonable to imagine that the poetry-associated figure who dies (possibly of a snake-bite) on his or her wedding-night can also be Eurydice, and that the Eupolis who dies in a vatic context can also be the comic poet, even if the couplet taken as a whole implies a different figure entirely.160

  • 161  After Polyidus revived Minos’s son, the Cretan king forced him to teach his prophetic skill to the (...)

72My other example is more readily “accurately” identifiable within its context, but the name is equally transferable. The catalogue of vatic deaths fades away at approximately Ib. 552 but returns for a final hurrah somewhere around Ib. 591, before reaching its logical endpoint at Ib. 599–600 with the death of Orpheus. The reason for my vagueness in the start and end points of the break is that the catalogue of vates (which includes musicians and philosophers in its ranks) never disappears completely—between Ib. 553 and 590 come the proto-seer Glaucus (Ib. 557–8),161 the philosopher Socrates (Ib. 559–60), the philosopher Anaxarchus (Ib. 571–2), two exempla (Crotopus and the Argives) associated with the inherently musical Linus (Ib. 573–6), and the lyre-playing Amphion (Ib. 583–4). Amphion’s death comes within the context of several exempla relating the death of his family (Ib. 581–5), and Niobe’s death by petrifaction (Ib. 585) is followed by the similar fate of the tattling Battus (Ib. 586), whose story Ovid had recounted at fuller length in the Metamorphoses (2.676ff).

  • 162  Cameron (1995a) 8, together with White (1999), argues that Battiades in Call. Epigr. 35 = AP 7.415 (...)
  • 163  Bömer ad Met. 2.688 associates βαττολογία with the tattling, not the stuttering, Battus, evidently (...)

73Because Battus shares a couplet and a fate with Niobe, it is obvious that he is the loose-tongued old man who attempted to snitch on Mercury’s cattle-rustling. However, an equally famous Battus, especially in Neoteric and Augustan poetry, is the founder of Cyrene, whose name is preserved in Callimachus’s frequently-used patronymic Battiades and therefore is suited to the quasi-vatic context of the passage.162 The descriptive phrase laesus lingua, which precedes Battus’s name, not only holds a faint echo of the Cyrenean Battus’s famous speech defect but also, according to Hesychius’s gloss on Βάττος (i.e., τραυλόφωνος, ἰσχνόφωνος), is nearly a calque on the name. If the text almost reads laesus linguam, if the nasal is almost aurally implicit before the B- of Battus, Ibis narrowly avoids being cursed with, perhaps, the same fate that the stammering Battus narrowly avoided by overcoming his βαττολογία163—he will not, for now, nearly be eaten by a lion.

  • 164  Once thought to be the possible invention of Plutarch (Brutus 20.8–11, famously adopted in turn by (...)

74My last category of Ovidian name-play involves exempla which are themselves concerned with names, and my first example is one in which the name itself was the cause of death. At the funeral of Julius Caesar, the poet and tribune C. Helvius Cinna was mistaken for the conspirator L. Cornelius Cinna and, on no more grounds than this nominal coincidence, was torn apart by an angry mob:164

conditor ut tardae, laesus cognomine, Myrrhae,
    urbis in innumeris inveniare locis.
(Ovid, Ibis 539–40)

Like the creator of slow Myrrha, harmed by his surname [=Cinna], may you be found in countless areas of the city.

  • 165  Hinds (2007) 207.
  • 166  A control not possessed by Ovid’s Muse in the Tristia, who se, quamvis est iussa quiescere, quin t (...)
  • 167  Oliensis (1997) 186: “To be an author is to be able . . . to speak of oneself by name and in the t (...)

75The resonances of this couplet are multifold. Hinds observes that “it is Cinna’s name which puts him in harm’s way, as a kind of rogue signifier.”165 The exemplum shows that names can be dangerous, a sentiment which serves as the refrain of the Tristia. In the Ibis, however, unlike in the thoroughly anonymized Tristia, Ovid makes clear the control he can retain over names if he so desires.166 Who is the conditor . . . tardae, laesus cognomine, Myrrhae (539)? It is Cinna-the-poet, but not Cinna-the-conspirator. Ovid both identifies and specifies without saying the name at all, perhaps because history had already proven the danger of naming that particular name. Possession of a name is potentially problematic, but it can also serve to aid in a form of immortality, which is how a poet’s name should function;167 Cinna is an example of the malfunctioning of that norm. Once his name is said aloud, the name that should win him fame instead wins him death. Suppression of the name would have saved Cinna’s life—but also would have deprived him of poetic immortality.

  • 168  To some extent, the Vicus Sceleratus (Ib. 363–4) also fits into this category, although there it r (...)
  • 169  There may also be a hint of the ultimate anonymity of the Lacus Curtius’s namesake—Varro provides (...)

76Immortality through the name can also function in a non-poetic context. A number of Ovid’s exempla transfer their names to geographic features that survive their namesakes’ deaths and will potentially last in perpetuum. These include the rivers Evenus, Tiberinus (Ib. 513–14), and Marsyas (Ib. 551–2), and a Roman landmark, the Lacus Curtius (Ib. 443–4).168 In each of these cases the word nomen is highlighted by placement either at the beginning of a pentameter or following the pentameter’s caesura, but in each case it functions differently. In the case of Curtius, his fate of publicly drowning (or wallowing, cf. Livy 1.12.10) in muck is wished on Ibis, but Ovid explicitly deprives his enemy of the resultant fame: dummodo sint fati nomina nulla tui (“provided that no name is derived from your fate,” Ib. 444).169 In the case of Evenus and Tiberinus, it is not so much their deaths by drowning that Ovid curses Ibis with, but rather the transference of their names to the rivers in which they drowned (nomina des rapidae . . . aquae, “may you give your name to the rushing water,” 514); while for Marsyas, the transference of his name to the river appears to be only incidental and not clearly intended to be part of Ibis’ fate at all. However, in all three of these cases, Ovid can in fact be understood as, yet again, wishing for the evanescence of Ibis’ name—as Catullus famously opined (70.4), what is written on the rapida aqua is only temporary.

  • 170  Pleasingly, the exemplum falls at the exact center of the catalogue, barring deletions and transpo (...)
  • 171  Schiesaro (2001) 125, Schiesaro (2011) 84–6, and Williams (1992) 181–4 see the dark (caecus) obscu (...)

77The death of Curtius, reinforced by the exempla of the rivers, speaks the most loudly to Ovid’s wishes for Ibis.170 Although he is to be famous (after all, he is the subject of this poem), he is not to have any fame from his fame. No one (except Ovid and Ibis himself) is to know his identity, but his fate will be remembered. As the impossibility of identifying even some of Ovid’s named exempla shows, an individual’s name is not always his most important feature, but as the ease of identifying anonymous others proves, names are not always a necessary factor for identification. Two other exempla further aid Ovid in his paradoxical endeavors both to blacken Ibis’ name (a fair exchange for the candor of which Ibis has been depriving Ovid’s own name, cf. Ib. 7–8) and to deprive him of one altogether.171

  • 172  παρὰ τὴν ἀρὰν, ἀραῖος· καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦν Ν (“derived from ará (prayer, curse), meaning araîos (pr (...)
  • 173  ηὔχον το γὰρ αὐτοῦ οἱ γονεῖς γεννηθῆναι (“for his parents prayed that he be born,” B-scholia at Od (...)
  • 174  Williams (1996) 53n61, citing Barchiesi (1993) 79.

78At Ib. 417, Ovid curses Ibis with the fate of binominis Iri. The very obvious result of using the epithet binominis combined with one name is to make the reader dredge up from his memory (or look up in Homer) Irus’s other name, which turns out to be Arnaios. Irus is the nickname (due to the beggar’s habit of carrying messages) and Arnaios the given name (Hom. Od. 18.1–7). One school of etymological thought in the ancient world held that the name Arnaios came from ἀραῖος, with a pleonised n.172 Although this was understood by the ancients (or at least the scholiasts) as a favorable name,173 the adjective was derived from the primarily unfavorable ἡ ἀρά. Ovid may well be schooling his readers to think of this association, just as in the prologue funeris ara (Ib. 104) is possibly a play on ἀρά.174 Names invariably have more than a single facet.

  • 175  Alternatively, the preceding exemplum, Regulus, can be seen as the first in the list of kings—anot (...)

79My final example of Ovidian name-play is the death of Priam (Ib. 283–4). It occurs early in the catalogue as the first exemplum in a list of historic and quasi-historic kings,175 in addition to being located in an overlapping mini-catalogue of those who were dismembered. Priam’s dismemberment is perhaps not the most overridingly obvious aspect of his death, and Ovid makes no mention of it in the Ibis, but Priam is easily identifiable as the one whose altar of Zeus Herkeios did him no good:

nec tibi subsidio praesens sit numen, ut illi,
    cui nihil Hercei profuit ara Iovis.
(Ovid, Ibis 283–4)

And may a divinity, though present, afford you no protection, as for that one whose altar of Jupiter Herceus profited him nothing.

  • 176  On this point, see Hinds (1998) 8–10, Narducci (1979) 44–7, Bowie (1990). Pompey’s beheading is a (...)

80For the Ovidian/​Augustan reader, of course, the automatic literary reference for this death would have to be Aeneid 2.547–58—a celebrated passage which, according to tradition, is meant to echo the death of Pompey:176

haec finis Priami fatorum, hic exitus illum
sorte tulit Troiam incensam et prolapsa videntem
Pergama, tot quondam populis terrisque superbum
regnatorem Asiae. iacet ingens litore truncus,
avulsumque umeris caput et sine nomine corpus.
(Vergil, Aeneid 2.554–8)


    555



This was the end of Priam’s destiny this allotted destruction carried him away, seeing Troy burned and Pergama collapsed, once the proud ruler, over so many peoples and lands, of Asia. His huge trunk lies on the shore, and his head is torn from his shoulders and his body without a name.

  • 177  Ovid was no doubt pleased to discover that the first line of Pyrrhus’s address to Priam contained (...)
  • 178  See, e.g., Hardie (2002).

81The last three lines are relevant to the broader themes of the Ibis catalogue at this point, dismemberment and kings, making it clear how the exemplum fits into the Ovidian context. More importantly for our current discussion, however, the body’s lack of name (sine nomine corpus, Aen. 2.558) recalls the active namelessness of the Tristia and the ambiguous anonymity of the Ibis itself.177 Priam’s death is the Cheshire Cat of Ovidian metamorphoses, which usually result in a name without a body, not a body without a name. But the nomen, like any other member of the body, is detachable; this is seen over and over in the Metamorphoses.178

  • 179  Hinds (2007) 206.
  • 180  Hinds (2007) 206 also points out that in innumeris inveniare locis “remakes—or premakes—the pentam (...)
  • 181  The set-up for the joke is only viable if one follows the majority of MSS in reading pedes; G (Cod (...)

82Let us return to the exemplum of Cinna, which has a clear resonance with Ovid’s programmatic interest in names. Hinds, while interested in the exemplum’s nominal relevance, also calls it a “post-Orphic story of the author-as-victim,”179 rightly seeing the intersecting themes of poetry and dismemberment which coalesce at this point in the catalogue. However, poetry and dismemberment fuse into poetic dismemberment through Ovid’s verbal play: Cinna’s dismembered limbs are found in innumeris . . . locis (Ib. 540), a word-choice which suggests the death of poetry as well as poet.180 One can even possibly spot the poet’s limbs in the surrounding verses (Ib. 537–52), as every couplet of the dismemberment mini-catalogue—apart from Cinna’s own—includes a body part. Immediately before Cinna’s death, Philomela’s lingua falls before her pedes (Ib. 538), which could additionally be construed as a clue to the metrical pun (innumeris) in the following couplet.181 Subsequently, the Achaean poet’s lumina are blinded (Ib. 541–2); Prometheus’s viscera are put on display (Ib. 543–4) and the viscera of Harpagus’s and Thyestes’ children are consumed (Ib. 545–6); the membra of Mamertas (or Mamercus or possibly Mimnermus) are mutilated by a sword (Ib. 547–8); the faux of the Syracusan poet (Theocritus?) is constricted with a noose (Ib. 549–50); and Marsyas’s viscera are also put on public display (Ib. 551), in addition to his nomen being detached and given to a river (Ib. 552).

  • 182  A further poetic association of limbs is the Greek μέλη, meaning “limbs” or “songs,” putting an a (...)
  • 183  Keith (1999) 41. This paper contains a particularly in-depth discussion of the trope with regards (...)
  • 184  See Farrell (1999) on this Ovidian conceit as applied to the Metamorphoses.

83Ultimately, all the surrounding verses’ membra, which suggest the strewn limbs of Cinna’s dismembered body, belong to Cinna’s poetic corpus as well as to his physical one through the metaphorical transference of rhetorical limbs.182 The transference of various body parts to rhetorical terminology is a widespread occurrence that provides what Keith terms “a conventional literary vocabulary that metaphorically figures texts and parts of texts as their authors’ bodies and limbs.”183 In this instance, Cinna’s dismemberment is akin to his poetry’s destruction, resulting in his and its membra being scattered through Ovid’s numeri just as the locations in which Cinna’s own limbs were found were innumeris, a reversal of Horace’s claim that Lucilius’s dismembered hexameters would not even produce disiecti membra poetae (Sat. 1.4.63). As with Ovid’s conceit of his own poetry as his viscera (Tr. 1.7.20), there is an identification between the two corpora.184

Cursing the Hand That Feeds You

  • 185  Williams (1996) 27n51: “For lists of candidates see Ellis xix–xxvii, La Penna xvi–xix and André xx (...)
  • 186  Housman (1920) 316.
  • 187  I called this a recent suggestion, but it in fact dates back as far as the early 13th century huma (...)
  • 188  As with Williams’s ([1996] 23) suggestion that the entire poem is a “contrived display of an irrat (...)

84Who is Ibis? That is a question which nearly every reader of the poem has asked and many have answered, with a dizzying array of results. I shall refrain from recounting most of the frequently colorful suggestions that have been made in an effort to reach an answer, but there are two, one old and one recent, which are worth mention.185 The former is the frequently cherished suggestion of Housman that Ibis, who was too perfect an enemy to exist, was, in fact, “Nobody.”186 Like Ibis himself, this suggestion is too good to be true, too facile a solution to accept as the final answer to Ovid’s riddles; but it has a grain of what I perceive as truth, as I shall shortly discuss. The latter, a suggestion made by Sergio Casali and Alessandro Schiesaro, is that Ibis represents Augustus.187 This is an excellent assessment of much of the evidence provided in the Ibis itself and in Ovid’s other exile poetry.188 However, I think that Ovid’s employment of his exilic program in the Ibis, as I have laid it out in this paper, suggests a slightly different (and very interesting) conclusion which fits the evidence even better. Let me recapitulate some of my main points.

  • 189  See above (pp. 3 and 23) and Krasne (forthcoming).
  • 190  We may recall the exempla of Ceyx and Priam in their contexts of dismemberment, as well as Priam’s (...)

85On the surface, the catalogue of the Ibis can be understood as a collection of short mythographic catalogues, but the text ultimately defies that basic understanding of its arrangement.189 Contradicting its deceptively mythographic appearance, the poem asks its readers to be armed with real mythographic treatises (or to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of mythology) before they approach its labyrinthine structure, and what it gives with one hand as the reader solves its riddles (comprehension), it takes away with the other as the catalogue changes course in midstream (uncertainty). Mythography’s reductive prose stands alone and serves to make sense of other works, while the Ibis, with its lines of poetry that are reduced far beyond any prose text and far beyond simple comprehension, relies on other works to make sense of it. Without active reference to other works, in fact, whether Ovid’s own or the works of others, understanding of it would be limited.190

  • 191  Hinds (1986) 321, Oliensis (1997), Gowing (2002).
  • 192  Forms of nomen occur fourteen times in the Ibis.

86The double functioning of names is another basic characteristic of the Ibis, a gesture repeated frequently in the Ex Ponto,191 whereas Ovid’s concurrent emphasis on the suppression of names underscores the poetics of his anonymous mode of address as featured in the Tristia. However, with all this consideration of anonymity, pseudonymity, and nominal doublets, there is one name in the poem, invisible for its omnipresence, that I have so far ignored: Ibis, or Ibis. The name is scattered throughout the text, six times as the pseudonym or title itself (55, 59, 62, 95, 100, 220), another four times suppressed into the anonymizing “nomen” (9, 51, 93, 643),192 and once as the riddling answer to an exemplum (449–50). “Ibis” is a pseudonym and Ibis a literary title, but the poem and its addressee are therefore homonymous nomina, just as the poem and its author are traditionally interchangeable corpora.

  • 193  These two intriguing points were made to me by Robin McGill and Gareth Williams, respectively.
  • 194  See above (p. 13) and Hinds (1999).

87I would not go so far as to say that “Ibis” actually designates the Ibis itself, in a recursive snarl of ultimately pointless metapoetic self-reference. That said, there are hints—pure coincidence?—that might make us think twice: read backwards, Ibis becomes sibi, and a possible accusative of Ibis is Ibidem.193 At any rate, Ovid’s plays on shared names within the Ibis cannot be ignored in the case of the name, intrinsically doubled, and it is worth investigating the results of this subsidiary echo. Ibis and Ibis must inevitably become identified with each other through Ovid’s program of homonymy that is active in the Ibis, especially given the shared incipit of tempus that begins both Ibis the poem and Ibis the person.194 It must be stressed, however, that none of this deprives Ovid’s poem of a potentially flesh-and-blood target—even if Ibis is to be read under “Ibis,” “Ibis” is still ultimately a pseudonym, not simply a self-reflexive title. But what is Ibis other than a poem of Ovid’s, and therefore one membrum of his poetic corpus?

  • 195  E.g., Hinds (2007) 206ff, Casali (1997) 105ff.
  • 196  Hinds (2007) 206.
  • 197  See Watson (1991) 42–6.
  • 198  Pace Schiesaro (2011). Among his many other points, Schiesaro observes that the Ibis functions as (...)

88It has frequently been noted that much of what Ovid wishes on Ibis is identifiable with his own fate, in a form of lex talionis.195 “Ovid treats the pseudonymous Ibis as a kind of evil twin, cursing him with a catalogue of mythological fates which often invite identification with the terms in which the poet describes his own fate in the Tristia.”196 This makes sense, in terms of ancient curse-practice’s eye-for-an-eye theory,197 because Ibis, as the one who has harmed him, is far more deserving of Ovid’s fate than is Ovid himself: heu! quanto est nostris dignior ipse malis! (“Alas! How much worthier is he himself of my own sufferings!” Ib. 22). But, we must ask, who exactly has harmed Ovid, and how has he done it? Despite occasional poems addressed to anonymous enemies who have inflicted some outrage on the absent Ovid, the primary answer from nearly every other poem, and from the Ibis itself, is that the persistent cause of Ovid’s suffering is his own poetry, his own Muse:198

nec quemquam nostri nisi me laesere libelli,
    artificis periit cum caput arte sua.
(Ovid, Ibis 5–6)

    5

nor have my books harmed anyone except myself, since the head of the artist has perished by his own art.

  • 199  Tr. 1.1.97–100, Tr. 2.19–22.
  • 200  Williams (1996) 124: “In cursing the exilic Muses (Tr. 5.7.31–3) and burning his poetry (Tr. 4.1.1 (...)

89Twice, speaking of his own exilic wound, he uses the exemplum of Telephus as one who may be cured only by his wound’s inflictor, and in each case his poetry or his Muse is designated as the offending party.199 Elsewhere, he admits to cursing his Muses and verses at the same time as he, an addict, cannot abandon them:200

non tamen ingratum est, quodcumque oblivia nostri
    impedit et profugi nomen in ora refert.30
quamvis interdum, quae me laesisse recordor,
    carmina devoveo Pieridasque meas,
cum bene devovi, nequeo tamen esse sine illis,
    vulneribusque meis tela cruenta sequor.
(Ovid, Tristia 5.7.29–34)


    30




Still, it is not displeasing, whatever prevents my being forgotten and puts the exile’s name back into mouths. Although in the meantime, I curse my songs and my Pierides, which I recall have harmed me when I have cursed them soundly, still I am unable to exist without them, and I chase after weapons that are bloody from my own wounds.

  • 201  See p. 34, n. 167.
  • 202  This accusation comes immediately after Ovid’s announcement that he alone has been harmed by his a (...)
  • 203  Another aspect of Ibis which could potentially be seen as poetic is his doglike nature. Ahl (1985) (...)

90Ibis may have many possible faces, but one is most certainly the nine-fold face of the Pierian sisters, or even perhaps specifically Ovid’s own Ars Amatoria. Ibis’ alleged crimes do not stand in the way of this alternate reading—several of them, in fact, correspond well with the effects which Ovid attributes (rather gratefully) to his other poetry in the above passage. Of course Ovid’s poetry must make his name heard in the Forum (Ib. 14),201 and the continued existence of the Ars deprives Ovid of an untainted claim to candor (Ib. 7–8),202 thanks to Augustus’s condemnation of it, even if the accusation is unjust (Tr. 2.239–40).203

  • 204  The primary mini-catalogues of those who suffered dismemberment as (part of) their fate are found (...)

91The exemplum of Cinna, with its composite dismemberment of the poet’s corpus and his poetic corpus, aids in this overtly poetic reading of the Ibis. The proliferation of exempla of dismemberment and vatic deaths,204 not infrequently overlapping, becomes a further prayer for the destruction of Ovid’s poetry; he has already tried, he claims, a more traditional method of destroying his poetry, namely burning it, but to no effect (cf. Tr. 1.7.23–4). So now, much like Hercules’ skinning of the Nemean lion with its own claws, Ovid attempts to turn his poetic tela, already bloodied from Ovid’s own vulnera (Tr. 5.7.34), back against themselves. If Ovid’s verses can harm the poet’s corpus, surely they can harm themselves, the poetic corpus, or the goddesses who inspire them.

  • 205  Casali (1997) 107 similarly notes the absence of the words Caesar and Augustus in the Ibis.
  • 206  The Cinyps is a river in Libya.
  • 207  The Ambracian Muses have featured in Ovid’s poetry before: they and Hercules close the final (medi (...)

92Indeed, the Muses’ complete absence from the poem (excepting their historical mention in the context of Ovid’s other poetry at line 2) is suspicious.205 If I were to go out on a very precarious limb, I might point out the preponderance of exempla connected with Thrace, Ambracia, and Pieria (near Larissa in Thessaly or Macedonia), all of which hosted major cults of the Muses. Many who wish to pin an identity on Ibis have made much of Ib. 501–2 (feta tibi occurrat patrio popularis in arvo / sitque Phalaeceae causa leaena necis, “may a broody lioness encounter you, a fellow-countryman, in your native soil, and may she be the cause of a Phalaecus-style death”), noting that the lion’s native soil is Africa and connecting this with Cinyphiam . . . humum (“Cinyphian soil,” 222) in the prologue,206 supposedly the site of Ibis’ ill-omened birth. Phalaecus’s native soil, however, was Ambracia, where he was tyrant; can we perhaps think particularly of the cult of the Muses which Fulvius Nobilior brought to Rome from their “native soil” of Ambracia (along with statues of the Muses, which were installed in the temple of Hercules Musarum)?207

  • 208  The assimilation of Ibis’ birth to Meleager’s that we saw above (p. 14, n. 62) aids in this analog (...)
  • 209  Watson (1991) 138.

93Through Ovid’s curses, Ibis is treated ipso facto in the same fashion as Ovid claims to treat his verse in exile.208 His foot is to be lamed (cf. Tr. 3.1.11ff), his limbs are to be dismembered and burned (cf. Tr. 4.1.95–102), his name is to be removed and his identity thereby lost (cf. ExP. 1.1.30)—and yet still he will survive unscathed to launch further attacks on Ovid, an aspect of the Ibis that has troubled some:209

If Ovid sets any store by his curses, ‘Ibis’ ought by rights to have been dead a hundred times over by the end of the poem. The effect of the couplet [643–4] – threatening ‘Ibis’ with further literary invective – is to debunk all that has gone before, or at least to reduce it to the status of a mere literary exercise.

  • 210  Williams (1996) 132n44: “Since Ovid goes on in Tr. 5.12 to wish that the Ars amatoria had been des (...)
  • 211  Boyd (2000) 65; also cf. Barchiesi (1991). In Fasti 5, the Muses disagree with each other, leaving (...)

94Again, this freakish, cockroach-like survival ability beckons the reader irresistibly to look towards Ovid’s resilient Muse, who continually prompts Ovid to write verses even as he destroys earlier incarnations of that corpus, and whom Ovid repeatedly blames even as he again seeks her out.210 At the same time, the surface chaos of the Ibis-catalogue may reflect the chaos of “a world without Muses,” similar to that which Boyd sees in the “studied chaos” of Fasti 5, “even as it makes meaning emerge from the Muses’ dissent.”211

  • 212  Williams (1996) 121–5 connects Ovid’s cursing of the Muses at Tr. 5.7.31–3 with the general cursin (...)
  • 213  See p. 14, n. 62. I should also note that if we peel back another layer of Ibis’ onomastic onion w (...)
  • 214  Cf. Feeney (1986) 9: “It was possible simply to suppress mention of Remus.”  See also Oliensis (20 (...)
  • 215  Catullus had paved the way for plays on Allia and alia: ne vestrum scabra tangat robigine nomen [s (...)

95At this point, it would be prudent to stress again the probable secondary nature of all this identification, whether or not one chooses to assign a specific flesh-and-blood identity to Ibis.212 It is the echo, the almost-but-not-quite, the Eurydice and comic Eupolis who can be read peering through the lines of the epigrammatic Eupolis (529–30). The Ibis is, in many ways, about interchangeable doublets—Ibis and Ibis, Ibis and Ovid, the Fates and Furies.213 The death of Remus is appropriate as the penultimate exemplum, a twin killed by his twin, the biggest difference between them being the propagation of one name and the suppression of the other (here inverted)214—capped only by the exemplum of Ovid himself. Finally, we must acknowledge that the ill-starred dies Alliensis (219–20) is, surely, a birthday eminently suited to a figure that is, ultimately and inherently, both alias and Other.215

Figure 1a. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Pausanias (1.11.1–4, 4.35.3–4, 6.12.3, 9.7.2).

Figure 1a. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Pausanias (1.11.1–4, 4.35.3–4, 6.12.3, 9.7.2).

Figure 1b. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Plutarch, Pyrrhus.

Figure 1b. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Plutarch, Pyrrhus.

Figure 1c. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus (7.6, 17.3, 18.1, 28.1, 28.3).

Figure 1c. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus (7.6, 17.3, 18.1, 28.1, 28.3).

Figure 1d. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus : Cross’s (1962) reconstruction of a possible family tree.

Figure 1d. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus : Cross’s (1962) reconstruction of a possible family tree.

Figure 1e. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, as agreed on by more than one ancient author and not contradicted by any.

Figure 1e. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, as agreed on by more than one ancient author and not contradicted by any.
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Notes

1  Thanks are due to Isabel Köster, Lauren Donovan Ginsberg, Liz Gloyn, Caroline Bishop, Alessandro Barchiesi, Andrew Zissos, and Nelly Oliensis, as well as to the two anonymous reviewers for Dictynna.

2  Ib. 7–22. Scholars may be broken into two camps: the “identity-theorists” (Williams 1996, 20), who postulate a real Roman behind Ibis’ inscrutable mask, and the so-called “Housmanians,” including Williams himself, who subscribe to Housman’s ([1920] 316) declaration that Ibis is, in fact, “Nobody.”  I shall return to this issue in the final section of this paper, at paragraph 49ff; in the meantime, I want to present my analysis of the poem without the muddying bias of an “answer” to this question.

3  Ib. 55–62. Nothing of Callimachus’s Ibis survives. The tradition holds that it was composed against Apollonius Rhodius, although there is little ancient evidence to support this. For an in-depth and balanced discussion of the possibility, with bibliography, see Watson (1991) 121–30. Although the links between Ovid’s Ibis and the broader category of curse-poems, particularly Hellenistic Arae, are undeniable, the tightly compact and interwoven structure of the Ibis does not seem to adhere to what we know of these curse-poems’ physical arrangement. For a thorough discussion of these Hellenistic Arae and their connection with Ovid’s Ibis, again see Watson (1991). It is, of course, impossible to know where Callimachus’s Ibis stood in relation to its fellow Hellenistic texts on the one hand and to Ovid’s Ibis on the other.

4  Williams (1996) 3. Another, similar, list of favorites, this time compiled by Watson (1991) 79–80, includes “the relationship of Ovid’s Ibis to its Callimachean prototype; the sources of the two Ibides, particularly Ovid’s; . . . the worth of the various scholia to the Latin Ibis; the significance of the sobriquet ‘Ibis’ which the two poets attached to their respective enemies; the identity of the persons so named; . . . the admixture of Greek and Roman elements in Ovid’s Ibis.”

5  Watson (1991) 80.

6  In fact, the decoding of exempla is an integral part of reading the poem, as I hope to show; however, it is not and should not be the poem’s telos.

7  See particularly Williams (1992) and (1996).

8  Williams (1996) 5.

9  Williams (1996) 5.

10  Williams devotes a whole chapter of his 1996 monograph to the catalogue, but I see this as only the tip of the iceberg. Some scholars have taken Williams’s work too far in one direction; cf. Claassen (1999) 288n40: “An understanding of why the poem was produced [is] more important than the deciphering of puzzles deliberately created by our poet to baffle his readership.”  I hope that the following study will show the misguidance of such assertions. Recent in-depth work on the intertextuality of the introductory section has been done by Chiara Battistella (2010), and Samuel Huskey is preparing a critical edition and commentary of the entire poem. A valuable reading of the poem is Schiesaro (2011), which appeared only after I had initially written this piece; I have made reference to it where possible.

11  Williams (1996) 90: “Ovid is experimenting with a new kind of carmen perpetuum – a spell whose composite elements are interwoven in unbroken, unexhausted sequence, but one in which we find a drastic pruning of the familiar narratival devices employed in that earlier carmen perpetuum, the Metamorphoses.”  Hutchinson (2006) 74 elucidates two “types” of catalogue in both poetry and prose, “either a) formally continuous or b) formally discontinuous.”  Ovid’s catalogue of curses in the Ibis, despite their brevity and apparent disorder, definitely fall under type a), as do the stories of the Metamorphoses. Compressed catalogues occur in the Metamorphoses—the most extensive is at Met. 7.351–90—but there is no evidence that these do not, for instance, directly summarize a section of Nicander, such that the stories would have been readily accessible in a single—and obvious—source. In this case, Ovid’s summaries may amount to a mythographic praeteritio—he will, explicitly, not write these stories that others have told.

12  Requiring a reader to supply extra information that is necessary for understanding the narrative is a technique familiar from Hellenistic epigram; cf. Bing (1995), who labels the practice “Ergänzungsspiel,” essentially “a game of supplementation.”  Also see Cameron (1995a) 80–1 on the genre of riddling epigrams.

13  See Krasne (forthcoming). The Ibis is highly reminiscent of mythographic catalogues as found in Hyginus and a number of mythographic papyri (collected in van Rossum-Steenbeek [1998]). These sub-literary texts appear to have been popular in the ancient world, and Cameron (2004) 269ff argues that Ovid used them and other types of mythographic treatises as research material for his poetry, particularly the Metamorphoses and Ibis. I suggest that research is not Ovid’s only engagement with this genre, however.

14  Some work has been done in this direction by La Penna (1957) xlvi–xlix, Bernhardt (1986), García Fuentes (1992a) and (1992b), and Gordon (1992). All these were anticipated, to some extent, by Ellis (1881) xliv–xlviii, who observes a number of mini-catalogues and a number of recurring themes, as well as perceiving some of the methods of connection between mini-catalogues.

15  Gordon’s unpublished 1992 dissertation remains the only modern commentary in English on the Ibis (although one is in preparation by Samuel Huskey). In it, she occasionally notes aspects of structural correspondence within the catalogue (see, e.g., her comments on lines 263–4 and 345–6) and also marks some of Ovid’s methods of transition from one mini-catalogue to another (e.g., on 271–2).

16  Williams (1996) 91.

17  Williams (1996) 91–2. See below for my discussion of the particular exempla to which Williams is referring.

18  Williams (1996) 92: “The theme of blindness gives only loose coherence to . . . lines 259–72.”

19  Williams (1996) 92.

20  e.g., Hyg. Fab. 57.4; cf. Hom. Il. 6.200–2.

21  e.g., scholia ad Lycophron, Alexandra 17.

22  True in Homer Il. 9.453 (τῇ πιθόμην καὶ ἔρεξα, “I obeyed her and did it”); false in ps-Apollod. Bibl. 3.13.8§175 (οὗτος ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐτυφλώθη καταψευσαμένης φθορὰν Φθίας τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς παλλακῆς, “he was blinded by his father, since his father’s mistress Phthia lied because of a grudge”). Whether or not Phoenix was blinded also depends on the version; in Homer, for instance, his father only curses him with infertility (also relevant, see paragraph 18ff).

23  Gordon (1992) 105.

24  Gordon (1992) 106.

25  “Die Vermutung, daß P[hoinix] aus der Kadmossage stamme . . . , gewinnt noch an Wahrscheinlichkeit, wenn man sieht, wie er mit Kadmos einen ganz wesentlichen Zug gemein hat, nämlich daß er ebenfalls nach dem Osten versetzt zum großen Kolonisator wird. . . . Denn P., der Vater der Europa, ist wohl kein anderer als der homerische P.” (RE 20:1, 411–2). Ovid also mentions Amyntor’s son Phoenix and Phineus with his sons in successive couplets at Ars Am. 1.337–40, separated only by Hippolytus. There the connection is explicitly stated to be crimes caused by a woman’s lust (omnia feminea sunt ista libidine mota, Ars Am. 1.341), a variant of the stepmother-connection in these verses.

26  See paragraph 44ff and Krasne (forthcoming). I would suggest that part of the trick of reading Ovid (and other Roman poets) is allowing variant myths to exist simultaneously; for a brief illustration of this, see Edmunds (2001) 147–8.

27  Ovid has an apparent predilection for exempla situated in or deriving from Thrace, Epirus (particularly Ambracia), and Thessaly or Macedonia. Of course, it could be argued that a preponderance of Greek myth simply takes place in those hinterlands, and that other regions such as Thebes, Athens, Sicily, and Troy are, proportionally, equally well represented within the Ibis. For another explanation of the northern region’s popularity, see paragraph 92.

28  The repetition of Poly- in their names may also have something to do with their juxtaposition—of course, neither is actually named in the text, so the jingle is only apparent after the reader has “solved” the riddling exempla. The impact of the silent repetition is enhanced by “solving” Polymestor’s victim, another Poly- (Polydorus), named only as nato in the text (Ib. 268).

29  A flight of fancy, but in both the Aeneid (3.13ff) and Metamorphoses (13.628ff), the death of Polydorus at the hands of Polymestor is followed immediately by the arrival of the Trojans to Delos and the vates Anius, which would (very remotely) create a vatic link for this exemplum.

30  The prophecy is narrated in detail at Od. 9.507–12, as well as at Met. 13.771, where Ovid has already used the half-line Telemus Eurymides.

31  Although Phineus is placed earlier in the text than Polymestor, who is at the center of the vatic couplets, Ovid constantly urges the reader to revisit and reconsider earlier exempla after encountering later ones.

32  Williams (1996) 92. In some ways, of course, their vatic differences matter very much, and the exempla seem to be grouped accordingly (see Table 1).

33  Or Tesatas, Thetillas, Thirilas, or Terilas.

34  The P-scholia (= Phillippicus 1796 / Berolinensis Latinus 210) at 271. Other scholia supply the names Polydector and Polydorus. Within the broader tradition of scholia and mythographers, many other names are given. See the editors’ note on Sophocles fr. 704 J–P and Levin (1971) 152–5.

35  Devereux (1973) 41 suggests that Thamyras’s crime was originally an incestuous one, much like Oedipus’s; he calls it a “very cleverly expurgated” story and comments that “in versions in which Thamyris is the son of a Muse, the prize he competes for is not a sexual one; where it is sexual, his mother is not a Muse.”

36  κῆρυξ δ’ ἐγγύθεν ἦλθεν ἄγων ἐρίηρον ἀοιδόν, / τὸν περὶ Μοῦσ’ ἐφίλησε, δίδου δ’ ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε· / ὀφθαλμῶν μὲν ἄμερσε, δίδου δ’ ἡδεῖαν ἀοιδήν (“And a herald approached, leading the outstanding singer, whom the Muse loved exceedingly, but she gave him both good and evil; she robbed him of his eyes, but she gave him sweet song,” Hom. Od. 8.62–4).

37  In dealing with the scholia, it is difficult to know where to draw the line—do they preserve vestiges of lost evidence or are they total fabrications?  It is best to take them all with a tablespoon of salt and to judge each one individually, as we have evidence of both possibilities being the case.

38  Cf., e.g., Ib. 347–8 and Ib. 407–8.

39  Bernhardt (1986) 339. Other scholars similarly have trouble discerning Ovid’s thought process on one or both transitions. On the transition from blind men to Saturn, cf. Williams (1996) 92: “initial expectations are confounded when Ovid suddenly departs [at line 273] from the theme of blindness to a very different form of punishment. . . . Through this early example of abrupt transition, the pattern is set for the rest of the catalogue.”  On the transition from Saturn to Ceyx, cf. Gordon (1992) 111 ad loc: “Ovid here makes a rather forced association, as he turns from Saturn, to the myth of Ceyx, in which Saturn’s son, Neptune, plays a role.”  La Penna (1957) justifies including Saturn with the preceding group of “accecati” (xlvi) by calling him “gravemente mutilato” (xlvii).

40  Emphasis may be placed on the precise nature of that membrum by Ovid’s explicit use of the name Saturnus; Macrobius (Sat. 1.8.9) preserves a supposed etymological connection with Greek σάθη (penis). (Thanks to Dictynna’s anonymous reviewer for this reference.)

41  E.g., Ovid moves from periphrasis involving a brother (cui frater, “the one whose brother,” Ib. 276) to periphrasis involving a sister (Semeles soror, “Semele’s sister,” Ib. 278); from Achillea humo (“Achillean soil,” Ib. 330) to Larisaeis (“of Larissa [Achilles’ homeland],” Ib. 332); and he ends lines with ipsa parens at Ib. 616 and 624. Rhyming and alliterative jingles on the level of syllabification, within and across couplets, are also common.

42  Lightfoot (1999) 234–5, referring to Devereux (1973).

43  Gordon has noted both the inverse parallel between 271f and 273f and the connection between castration and blinding as per Devereux (1973).

44  RE 5A:1, 1241.28–1242.23.

45  μὴ πειθομένου γὰρ αὐτοῦ συμβήσεσθαι τὰς ὄψεις ἀποβαλεῖν. . . . καὶ οὗτος ἐκ τοῦδε ὁμοίως Θαμύρᾳ τῷ Θρᾶκὶ δι’ ἀφροσύνην ἐπεπήρωτο (“For [she said that] if he did not obey, it would come about that he lose his eyesight. . . . And because of this, he was crippled similarly to Thamyras the Thracian on account of his folly,” Parth. Erot. Path. 29).

46  Rhoecus’s crime, however, may have been something other than or in addition to infidelity (as seems to be the case in this version): καί ποτε πεττεύοντος αὐτοῦ περιίπταται ἡ μέλισσα· πικρότερον δέ τι ἀποφθεγξάμενος, εἰς ὀργὴν ἔτρεψε τὴν νύμφην, ὥστε πηρωθῆναι (“And once the bee flew around him while he was playing at draughts; and having addressed it a bit sharply, he made the nymph angry, so that he was crippled,” Charon Lampsacenus FGrH 262 F 12).

47  Cf. Cybele’s consort Attis, whom the goddess forced to castrate himself following his infidelity.

48  The confusion as to Bellerophon’s fate may well come from use of the word πηρόω, which certainly appears in the Iliad D-scholia (citing Asclepiades’ Tragoidoumena): ὥστε ἐκπεσεῖν μὲν τὸν Βελλεροφόντην καὶ κατενεχθῆναι εἰς τὸ τῆς Λυκίας πεδίον τὸ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ καλούμενον Ἀλήιον πεδίον, ἀλᾶσθαι δὲ κατὰ τοῦτο πηρωθέντα (“with the result that Bellerophon fell off and tumbled down onto a plain of Lycia, which was called the Aleïan plain from him; and he wandered around after this, having become pērós,” ad Il. 6.155).

49  I include in the term “intertextuality” other versions of myth, which can be considered as “texts.”

50  Might these waves be tumescent in the fashion of Uranus’s severed membra, which they received?  Ovid certainly uses tumidus in a sexual sense elsewhere—his description of Faunus’s attempt to rape Omphale/​Hercules at Fasti 2.345–6 (ascendit spondaque sibi propiore recumbit, / et tumidum cornu durius inguen erat, “he climbed up and lay down on the bed that was nearer to him, and his swollen groin was harder than horn”) leaves no room for doubt as to the sexual relevance of the word. This playful connection obviates a need for Gordon’s ([1992] 111) complaint of “a rather forced association, as he turns from Saturn, to the myth of Ceyx, in which Saturn’s son, Neptune, plays a role.”  Between the several connections of membra and oceans, no forcing is needed.

51  The phrase partes et membra, which occurs in the description of Ceyx’s shipwreck (and is recalled by membra . . . partis at Ib. 273–4), is repeated at Met. 14.541, again with respect to ships, but specifically ships created from Cybele’s groves (nemorum partes et membra meorum). The origins of Cybele’s groves are the metamorphosed, castrated Attis (Ov. Met. 10.103–5).

52  Hinds (1985) 26.

53  Mettius Fufetius and M. Regulus are a contrasting pair drawn from Roman history, the former one who betrayed his Roman allies (cf. Livy 1.28) and the latter one who upheld Roman ideals (cf. Cic. In Pis. 19.43). Mettius Fufetius was torn apart by horses (Livy 1.28.10–11), while Regulus’s dismemberment was restricted to the removal of his eyelids.

54  A number of these also suffer death specifically as a result of betrayal, although the groupings of the catalogue are more along genealogical and onomastic lines.

55  On conscious poetic associations with the meaning of Regulus’s name, cf. Hardie (1993) 9 on Regulus in the Punica: “His name itself is perhaps significant, ‘little king’, the greatest Roman hero of his day but who presents the least risk of aiming at sole rule.”  Also cf. a pun on Regulus’s name at Punica 6.257: ablato ni Regulus arte regendi (“had Regulus, not deprived of his art of rei(g)ning, . . .”).

56  The Vergilian description of Priam’s death, with its recollection of Pompey, may also provide a transition from the Roman to the non-Roman; see Bowie (1990) 475 on the hints of Pompey generated by the phrase regnatorem Asiae (Aen. 2.557). On Priam’s dismemberment, see paragraph 79ff.

57  It appears that Callimachus employed a similar organizational principle in the Aetia. Fantuzzi and Hunter (2004) 45: “At one point . . . the poet asks the Muses a double question: ‘He enquires why people accompany sacrifice to Apollo in Anaphe with mutual mockery and sacrifice to Heracles at Lindos with curses.’ . . . The cataloguing instincts of the young pedant’s mind have already grouped similar cult practices together . . . , but the answers to the related questions would seem to have had nothing to do with each other. . . . Be that as it may, the Lindian story looks both forwards and backwards, for it is followed by a similar story of how Heracles killed an ox.”

58  E.g., Telephus’s wounded leg, and therefore his crippling, is not mentioned at all, just his vulnus in general, nor is Bellerophon’s crippling or blinding mentioned, just his fall.

59  Hinds (1999) 64.

60  Hinds (1999) 63 takes the transitional passage as “a kind of second proem for the Ibis: not so much a proemio al mezzo . . . but rather a kind of anterior or pre-textual preface.”  See Conte (1992) for the proemio al mezzo.

61  The Muses only appear in the very first couplet, and then only with reference to Ovid’s previous poetry. He does not invoke them even where he easily could, with justifiable poetic precedent (e.g., at Ib. 203–4, where he employs what Hinds [1998] 45 terms the “‘many mouths’ topos”). Their absence is reminiscent of their absence in the Metamorphoses, where they appear in propria persona in Book 5 but are only invoked by the poet when the epic has nearly run its course, at 15.622–3. On Ovid’s sidelining of the Muses in both the Metamorphoses and the Fasti, see Barchiesi (1991).

62  This, of course, is theoretically the same Fate (or one of the three) who sang the extensive fifty-nine-line prophecy of Achilles’ future supremacy at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (Cat. 64.323–81). These are also the same Fates who uttered dark intimations of Meleager’s death in Metamorphoses 8—a death that was, in Homer, ultimately fulfilled by the Erinyes. Cf. Hinds (1999) 63n31: “It seems not unlikely that the vexed reference to ‘one sister of the three’ in the transitional passage is precisely intended to highlight the mythological doubling between Fury and Fate. . . . The abiding impression will be of the ominous overlap between the two sets of sisters.”  Hinds (1999) also remarks on “the affinity in the Latin literary imagination between Parcae and poets as spinners of extended tales” (64), citing Rosati (1999) for further discussion, but the complete absence of the Muses, especially together with their replacement by these syncretized Fury-Fates, seems sinister to me.

63  Hinds (1999) 64.

64  See Newman (1967) for the concept of the vates, essentially the poet’s self-projection into his poetry as a poet-prophet figure, in Augustan poetry. The phrase ille ego (sum) in Ovid also has recurrent associations with his literary production and poetic career; see Farrell (2004).

65  The anonymous reviewer also points out to me that the collocation dent ... di (248), based on a putative etymology that derives deus from do, is a topos indicative of invocation (cf. Michalopoulos [2001] 66–7). There is perhaps also, therefore, a suggestion at the end of the poem, where di dent is revived (Ib. 641), that the catalogue could in fact go on ad infinitum if necessary.

66  See, e.g., Keith (1992). Hinds (1992a) 90 also advances the idea that “Augustan poetry contains more or less continuous strata of programmatic discussion.”

67  Williams (1996) 91 sees “the tragedy of the Iliad” as the epic subject of the line, but while this is certainly a logical reading of Troianis . . . malis (252), in Ovid’s Augustan and post-Vergilian world another logical reading—perhaps the more logical and immediate reading—would be the woes endured by the Trojans after the fall of Troy. This seems especially borne out by the parallel imprecation of Ib. 339–40, which deals with the post-Iliadic fate of the Greek fleet.

68  Ovid has had epic openings to his various works before now. In the Amores, he began with the epic arma (weapons) and meter of Vergil’s Aeneid, only to find that Cupid was crippling his poetry by stealing a foot and thus turning epic meter into elegiac (Am. 1.1.1–4). A short-footed and limping elegiac Muse subsequently reared her head in Book 3 of the Amores (Am. 3.1.7–8), and similar metrical jests appear elsewhere in the Ovidian corpus, playing on the shared dactylic line of the epic and elegiac meters.

69  See, e.g., Harrison (2002).

70  On Ovid’s previous markers of generic affiliation and proemial metrical jests, from the Amores through the Metamorphoses, see Gildenhard and Zissos (2000). Hinds (1985) discusses several programmatic foot-puns in Book 1 of the Tristia, not least one that is very pertinent to my discussion here—Hinds points out that Oedipus (“Swollen Foot”) is a perfect parricidal analogy for Ovid’s Ars Amatoria because he has misshapen feet, just like the elegiac Ars.

71  As exempla of incurable wounds: Tr. 5.2.9–20 (Telephus & Philoctetes); ExP. 1.3.3–10 (Philoctetes). Telephus as an exemplum of a wound which could only be cured by its cause: Tr. 1.1.97–100; Tr. 2.19–22. Previously, both their wounds had been likened to the wounds of love: Rem. 111–16 (Philoctetes), Am. 2.9.7–8 (Telephus), Rem. 47–8 (Telephus).

72  Cf. Gordon (1992) 98: “[Ovid] moves by association to the man whose weapons were destined to end the Trojan war.”

73  E.g., Hinds (1992a), (1992b). Ovid is, of course, by no means the only Augustan poet to play with the double meaning of pes (see especially Keith [1999]), and the tradition of such punning in Latin stretches back at least as far as Catullus, with (for example) his allusion in C.63 to the swiftness of the galliambic meter (citato . . . pede, 63.2). For Greek punning on ποῦς, see Bassi (1989) 229–31 and Barchiesi (1994).

74  The saeva Cupidinis ira (Met. 1.453) and its subsequent amatory perversion of the work were presumably enough generic confusion, although the ictus of Pegasus’s equine pes as the source of the Muses’ poetry in Book 5 has been well noted by Hinds (1987).

75  Nagle (1980) 22.

76  Williams (1992) 172: “Ovid’s military strategy begins on the wrong metrical footing. . . . According to the Roman generic code the obvious metre for war is of course the hexameter. . . . The iambus is also implied in line 46 as the more usual medium for poetic battle. Whichever metre is eschewed in lines 45–6 – the hexameter, the iambus, or both – the main point is that in the Ibis Ovid creates a correspondence between his own alleged unfamiliarity with abuse and the unfamiliar medium in which he presents that abuse.”

77  Debate rages over whether hoc . . . modo (Ib. 56) can be taken to mean that Ovid’s Callimachean model was written in elegiacs, or whether modus merely refers to style. If the latter, Ovid may be suffering from “anxiety of influence” with regard to his revolutionary choice of meter. Heyworth’s (1993) idea of Horace’s book of Iambi/​Epodes as his own Ibis is as good a reason as any for suggesting that Callimachus’s invective poem really was written in iambics; he also argues that Callimachus’s meter was “presumably not elegiac: given the proximity of Ov. Ibis 43f. . . . , modo in Ibis 53f. . . . means ‘manner’, not ‘metre’” (94n10). The English derivative “mode” serves to ambiguously translate Ovid’s modo such that manner or meter could be understood. Regardless of the potential Callimachean precedent, however, the choice of versatile elegiacs for the Ibis’ meter fits well with Ovid’s use of the meter elsewhere.

78  Nagle (1980) 41: “A considerable part of the Catullan corpus consists of invective, much of it in elegiac epigrams, rather than in iambs”; also see Heyworth (2001). On the generic implications of iambic in Latin poetry, see, conveniently, Harrison (2005).

79  The difference in tela is irrelevant to my point—whether Ovid’s elegiac weapons are dainty triolets or bloodletting darts, they are tela all the same, as we can observe from Tr. 5.7.34 (vulneribusque meis tela cruenta sequor, “I pursue tela bloody from my own wounds”). (For the mixture of metaphorical weapons and love-songs, cf. the song of Hilarion, Cyril, and Florian in Act 1 of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida, where they vow to woo and win the princess and her maidens “with verbal fences, / with ballads amatory,” and so forth.)

80  See Barchiesi (1994), Heyworth (2001), Schiesaro (2001) and (2011), degl’Innocenti Pierini (2003).

81  τὸν χωλοποιὸν: διὰ τοὺς τρεῖς, Βελλεροφόντην, Φιλοκτήτην, Τήλεφον (“‘cripple-maker’: on account of these three, Bellerophon, Philoctetes, Telephus,” Schol. vet. ad Aristoph. Frogs 846).

82  Can we further imagine the trio to provoke a jesting play on tragedy’s iambic trimeters?  On the importance of Ovid’s denial of the poem’s affiliation with iambic, see Schiesaro (2001), (2011). An additional possible reading of the Bellerophon exemplum involves the implicit presence of the winged horse Pegasus, whose equine pes Ovid had presented in the Metamorphoses (5.256–68) as the ultimate source of the Muses’ poetry. Bellerophon’s crippling was due to being bucked from Pegasus’s back while aloft, which has rather Icarian overtones for a fallen poet like Ovid.

83  See Hinds (1992a).

84  Addressed by Hinds (1992a), (1992b). Heyworth (1993) 86 makes the point that the first word of Fasti 4 is alma, rather than arma, effectively disarming the martial Aeneid, which concerns Venus’s other son, Aeneas.

85  Aid, not wounding, came from the inermis party, signifying either the healer Machaon or Achilles, now without his wounding spear (which instead functions as Telephus’s cure).

86  omne fuit Musae carmen inerme meae (“every poem of my Muse was unarmed,” Ib. 2). I have mentioned Ovid’s disingenuity in making this declaration (see paragraph 36). Williams (1992) 171 has pointed out the metrical and verbal coincidence between carmen inerme here and in Propertius 4.6, his Actium poem, marking Ovid’s “move into bellicose poetics.”  Propertius’s line, aut testudineae carmen inerme lyrae (4.6.32), had depicted Apollo’s substitution of harmless lyre for devastating bow in order to bring Octavian victory. Keith (1992) has discussed the resonances between Amores 1.1 and Propertius’s elegy.

87  nullaque, quae possit, scriptis tot milibus, extat / littera Nasonis sanguinolenta legi: / nec quemquam nostri nisi me laesere libelli, / artificis periit cum caput arte sua (“And there exists not a single letter of Naso’s, out of the thousands that have been written, which could possibly be read as bloodstained: nor have my books harmed anyone except me, since the artist’s head has perished by his own art,” Ib. 3–6).

88  See note71.

89  Cf. Nagle (1980) 42–3: “He shows that even in its highly specialized subjective-erotic Augustan form, elegy is an appropriate medium for his response to his situation in exile. He does this by analogizing the dolores exilii to the dolores amoris to suggest that an analogous situation warrants an analogous response.”

90  Given Ovid’s extensive program of correlation between his poetry and his exilic wound, it seems possible that he intends the vulnus inermis of Ib. 256, occurring in the same metrical position as carmen inerme (although not a grammatically intact unit), to pick up an echo of carmen inerme and to substitute the poem with a wound. The Ibis, then, would actively maintain the same rhetoric of analogized exilium and amor that is visible elsewhere in the exile poetry, with vulnus replacing carmen.

91  It is possible that the exemplum of Telephus at Tr. 2.19–22 follows another unnoticed pes pun at 2.15–16.

92  pedibus vitium causa decoris erat (“the defect in her feet was the cause of her beauty,” Am. 3.1.10).

93  In addition to shifting the elegiac pair of Philoctetes and Telephus into a choliambic context, Bellerophon may serve a similar pan-exilic programmatic function to the other two: his lameness was caused by falling from the back of Pegasus, the original source of poetry (see note 82).

94  nunc quo Battiades inimicum devovet Ibin, / hoc ego devoveo teque tuosque modo, / utque ille, historiis involvam carmina caecis, / non soleam quamvis hoc genus ipse sequi (“now, in the same mode as Battiades cursed his enemy Ibis, I curse you and yours, and as he did, I shall wrap my songs in obscure stories, although I myself am not used to writing in this genre,” Ib. 55–8).

95  E.g., Bernhardt (1986) 335: “der Reihe der caecae historiae”; Guarino Ortega (2000) 93: “la larga serie de caecae historiae o dirae.”  While Ovid does of course intend historiis . . . caecis to refer to the entirety of the catalogue, it has particular relevance to this opening mini-catalogue.

96  Williams (1992) 181.

97  Ingleheart (2006) 67. And again: “The reader perhaps thinks of the role which sight has already played in Ovid’s exile when reading Ibis 259-272, a passage in which Ovid imagines blindness as a possible punishment for ‘Ibis’ for his involvement in Ovid’s exile; the punishment seems particularly fitting, although Ovid fails to make the connection with what he himself saw explicit” (68n6).

98  This imagery is not limited to the exile poetry (cf. Ars Am. 1.412: vix tenuit lacerae naufraga membra ratis), but elsewhere it does not have so potentially literary an application. See paragraph 22ff for discussion of Ovid’s shipwrecks.

99  On the exilic trope, see Farrell (1999). To name but a few important instances: Tr. 1.2.1–4 (discussed above, paragraph 23ff); Tr. 1.3.73–6, where he envisages himself as Mettius Fufetius; and Tr. 3.9, where he etymologizes the name of Tomis from Medea’s tmesis of her brother Absyrtus. See particularly Oliensis (1997) and Hinds (2007).

100  Hinds (2007) 198.

101  Tr. 1.2.2, 1.3.64, 1.3.73, 1.3.94, 3.8.31, 3.9.27, 3.9.34, 4.10.48, 5.6.20; ExP. 1.10.28, 2.2.74, 2.7.13, 3.3.8, 3.3.11. Those in the context of dismemberment are: Tr. 1.2.2, 1.3.73, 3.9.27, 3.9.34. Hinds (2007) 199–200 connects the corporal dissolution of Tr. 3.8.23–36 with the dismemberment of Tr. 3.9, in which case the poet’s membra there, too, are in danger of a similar fate to Absyrtus’s, as “Ovid’s body (corpora) is . . . weakened by exile” (200). I use membrum as a sample because of its relevance to the programmatic language of the Ibis and because it is likely the most relevant term. Viscera and artus (used eleven and six times in the Ibis, respectively) are other terms which would be worth investigating.

102  Ib. 17, 149, 192, 233, 273, 278, 364, 366, 435, 454, 518, 548, 634. Not in the context of dismemberment are: Ib. 192, 233, 518. Arguably only the first two, both in the prologue, are external to this context, as the myth alluded to at Ib. 517–8 (Brotean) is to a large extent unknown. The best suggestion may be to combine the accounts of ps-Apollodorus E.2.2 and Pausanias 3.22.4 and conclude that this Broteas was a son of Tantalus and a sculptor, who offended Artemis and as a result was driven mad, immolating himself. (However, I do not in fact believe that we should read Brotean here at all, as I hope to discuss elsewhere.)  Burning one’s living limbs on a funeral pyre seems somewhat akin to mutilation, as well as akin to Ovid’s burning of his poetic viscera on a pyre (Tr. 1.7.19–20).

103  This projection of a fragmented poetic corpus through fragmented physical corpora may find resonance in later authors such as Lucan; see Bartsch (1997) 10–29 on the fragmentation of bodies as a marker of dissolved boundaries that equate to civil war. For other resonances of dismembered membra, see p.37, n.182.

104  Hinds (2007) 207.

105  nam nomen adhuc utcumque tacebo (“for as yet I shall remain silent as to his name,” Ib. 9).

106  See, e.g., Watson (1991) 204–6, Garriga (1989). On the possible associations between the Ibis and defixionum tabellae at large, see especially Watson (1991) 194–216 and Zipfel (1910).

107  Hinds (2007) mentions the importance of Cinna (Ib. 539–40), whose ambiguous cognomen led directly to his death, with regards to Ovid’s obsession with names in the exile poetry at large; but this is only one of many such instances in the Ibis.

108  See especially Oliensis (1997), Hardie (2002), and Hinds (2007).

109  Hinds (2007) 207.

110  Hinds (1986) 321. Similar blurring of identity has been discussed by Ahl (1976) 140–5 and Feeney (1986) in the context of the parade of heroes in Aeneid 6; I thank John McDonald for suggesting to me this parallel.

111  See below; also cf. Krasne (forthcoming), where I discuss the polyvalent name of Linus (Ib. 480ff).

112  Cf., e.g., André (1963) vi: “Les concordances formelles de Trist., 1, 6, 13, et Ibis, 9, suggèrent l’identité du personnage”; more recently, scholars such as Helzle (2009) have taken up the mantle of this argument. Casali (1997) 103 rightly notes that “it is impossible to establish who out of the other enemies assailed by Ovid in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto could be identified with ‘Ibis’. . . . A complex pattern of echoes and correspondences can always be discerned between one ‘enemy poem’ and another, but no coherent system can be constructed out of this network of cross-references.”  On the poetics of the pseudonym “Ibis,” see pp. 36ff.

113  Williams (1996) 132n52 collects bibliography proposing “a date of composition for the Ibis no later than A.D. 12, when Ovid was well into Tristia 5 if not already embarking on the Epistulae ex Ponto.”  Herrmann (1945) labored under the theory that the Ibis and Tristia 2 were published in the same book roll, although later (Herrmann [1965]) he rejected that idea in favor of proposing that the Ibis was not in fact an Ovidian text at all but was rather the work of one C. Caesius Bassus in the early Flavian period. Schiesaro (2011) sees Tristia 2 and the Ibis as a matched pair, but he does not argue for their simultaneous composition.

114  The phrase is borrowed from the title of Oliensis (1997).

115  For the functional rules of puns and other etymological play in Latin poetry, see in particular Ahl (1985), O’Hara (1996), Michalopoulos (2001), and Hinds (2006).

116  See, e.g., La Penna (1957) 152–3 ad loc., André (1963) 54, Gordon (1992) 233 ad 565–566. Telegonus was Odysseus’s son by Circe. He arrived on Ithaca and unknowingly killed his father with a stingray-tipped spear; subsequently, he married Penelope and Telemachus married Circe. For versions and sources of the Telegonus story, see Gantz (1996) 710–12.

117  O’Hara (1996) 79–80: “Vergil and other Augustan poets often suppress or omit a name or word that must be supplied by the reader, so that the etymological wordplay only really ‘takes place’ when the missing word is supplied.”

118  See Cameron (2004). On the specific usefulness of mythographic texts for the Ibis, see Krasne (forthcoming).

119  As best I can tell, this pun remains unremarked by commentators.

120  O’Hara (1996) 82–8.

121  Ellis (1881) xlvi and Guarino Ortega (1999) 276 point out Ovid’s use of shared names as a connective device.

122  Both of these juxtapositions are debatable, once due to scholarly disagreement over identification and once due to Housman’s ([1918] 228) declaration that Ib. 459–60 should be transposed, having been moved to its current location by “a reader who knows too much and yet too little.”

123  In the context of those driven mad (stated explicitly at Ib. 343), unum qui toto corpore vulnus habet (Ib. 344) can, in my opinion, only refer to Ajax, whose single vulnerable spot in his armpit (or shoulder or side) was once a well-known part of his story (Pind. Isth. 6.35–54, Lyc. Alex. 454–61). However, many modern scholars, along with most of the scholia, wish to see an allusion to Marsyas (other scholia say Pentheus) due to marginal linguistic overlap with Met. 6.387–8 (Marsyas) and 15.528–9 (Hippolytus); see André (1960) for an argument in favor of Ajax and Guarino Ortega (1999) 274–6 for a fairly full accounting of the evidence in either direction. We may also consider one artistic representation: LIMC vol. 1, Aias I 135 (=Boston 99.494) is an Etruscan mirror that shows Ajax with a bent sword, clearly the result of numerous unsuccessful attempts to stab himself. LIMC 1:1.331: “L’arme est manifestement tordue: l’artiste connaissait donc le détail de l’invulnérabilité partielle du héros.”  This corresponds with a surviving quotation from Aeschylus’s Threissai, which may well have been Ovid’s inspiration for the particular detail of this exemplum (if one insists on a specific intertext rather than the mythic narrative in general): τὸ ξίφος ἐκάμπτετο οὐδαμῇ ἐνδιδόντος τοῦ χρωτὸς τῇ σφαγῇ, × - u τόξον ὥς τις ἐντείνων u -, πρὶν δή τις παροῦσα δαίμων ἔδειξεν αὐτῷ κατὰ ποῖον μέρος δεῖ χρήσασθαι τῇ σφαγῇ (fr. 83 Radt). Stégen (1967) argues that having one wound in the body is not the same as being able to have only one wound in the body (“Ovide écrit habet, et non habere potest”); this is an obtuse denial of the evidence to hand. If only the last of numerous suicide attempts is successful, as narrated in the Aeschylus fragment, then there is plenty of reason for Ovid to say, very literally, unum qui toto corpore vulnus habet (Ib. 344) without alluding to merely the general tradition of his invulnerability. This also obviates the need for Gordon’s ([1992] 138) forced interpretation of vulnus “in the sense of ‘vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable place.’”  It seems to me that the nominal transference from Oïlean Ajax to Telamonian Ajax is the clear transition between mini-catalogues here, while a reference to Marsyas would make no sense in context. The anonymous reviewer for Dictynna also suggests that ferox and vecors, placed into juxtaposition, can almost serve as distinguishing and identifying epithets for the two Ajaxes.

124  Milanion at Am. 3.2.29; Ars Am. 2.188, 3.775; Hippomenes at Her. 16.265, 21.124; Met. 10 (passim). I take this inherent need for nominal clarification as grounds for rejecting Housman’s proposed transposition of Ib. 459–60 (see n. 122). Furthermore, when dealing with dionymous characters, Ovid is in the habit elsewhere of providing one of the two names (e.g., Ib. 303, 417), so the absence here of either name seems significant.

125  Readers who do not wish to immerse themselves in the tangled and irreconcilable genealogy of the Epeirot kings may skip this, but we can learn a great deal from how Ovid engages with issues of homonymy and narrative variants in this passage.

126  Pausanias (1.11.1) says that there are fifteen generations between Achilles’ son Pyrrhus and Pyrrhus the Great’s great-great-grandfather, Tharypas (see Fig. 1a).

127  What exactly Ovid’s point is is uncertain; see below. Sources disagree as to whether Pyrrhus or Neoptolemus was the given name and which was a byname (cf. Paus. 10.26.4, ps-Apollod. Bibl. 3.13.8​§174, Plutarch Pyrrhus 1.2).

128  As a patronymic, Aeacides is really a general allusion to the dynasty of Aeacidae, the kings of Epirus who were descended from Aeacides, the father of Pyrrhus the Great. They all were distantly descended from Achilles’ grandfather Aeacus, which ultimately accounts for the name. Pausanias calls them Aeacidae at 1.13.9 and records an inscription calling them Aeacidae at 1.13.3, while Plutarch (Pyrrh. 1.2) calls the dynasty Pyrrhidae, from Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus.

129  According to Plutarch, this Deidamia was originally engaged to Alexander the Great’s son Alexander, but she ultimately married Demetrius Poliorcetes (Dem. 25.2, Pyrrh. 4.2).

130  Williams (1996) 108n64 and Gordon (1992) 125, probably mistakenly, call Deidamia the daughter of Pyrrhus I; this may result from a misinterpretation of Polyaenus, who simply calls Deidamia Πύρρου θυγάτηρ (“Pyrrhus’s daughter,” 8.52) without specifying which Pyrrhus. Polyaenus does say, however, that Deidamia captured Ambracia to avenge the treacherous murder of Ptolemy; as Pyrrhus the Great’s son Ptolemy died in battle at Sparta, it seems far more likely that the Ptolemy whom Polyaenus mentions was the brother (or father, cf. Pausanias 4.35.3) of Pyrrhus II, and thus the uncle (or grandfather) of Deidamia (see Figs. 1a and 1c). (Cross [1962] reconstructs a possible family tree that makes Ptolemy the son of Pyrrhus II; see Fig. 1d.)  According to Justin 28.3.1, this Ptolemy died of sickness shortly after succeeding to the throne of Epirus; it is possible to imagine some sort of treachery that would demand vengeance. On the other hand, Lévêque (1957) 681 finds more merit in arguments which make Deidamia the sister of Nereis and both of them the daughters of Pyrrhus I, although there is no clear evidence that Pyrrhus I had a daughter named Deidamia. If Lévêque (along with Williams and Gordon) is correct, Ptolemy would be the nephew of Deidamia.

131  Polyaenus 8.52, Justin 28.3.5–8. Justin, who calls the woman Laodamia, recounts how the Epeirots suffered various disasters as divine retribution for the sacrilege and Milo himself was driven insane. By contrast, Pausanias 4.35.3 says that Deidamia, who was childless, entrusted Epirus to the people when she was about to die, which sounds like a somewhat different story from Justin’s, although Pausanias does mention that the result was anarchy.

132  Gordon (1992) 125.

133  Gordon (1992) 125; also cf. La Penna (1957) 69 ad loc.: “Ma l’avvenimento poté essere considerato, religiosamente o poeticamente, come una conseguenza della persecuzione di Cerere contro Pirro e la sua stirpe in seguito alla violazione, da parte di Pirro, di un suo tempio.”

134  Williams (1996) 108n64. La Penna (1957) 69 also rejects the need for a temple-location, instead seeing a reference to the Eleusinian mysteries; he paraphrases Ib. 306 as “come nasconde i sacri riti dei misteri eleusini.”

135  I do not mean to imply that she is not the subject of the couplet, simply that a lot of stretching of our surviving sources is necessary to fit her in. The closest we come to any relevance of Demeter is Justin’s comment that crop failure and famine followed the assassination of Laodamia (nam et sterilitatem famemque passi et intestina discordia vexati externis ad postremum bellis paene consumpti sunt, “for having suffered crop failure and famine, and having been harassed by internal strife, at last they were nearly consumed by foreign wars,” 28.3.7). Tangentially, do we catch famine-related puns in Justin’s intestina discordia and paene consumpti?

136  Paus. 9.7.2. Diodorus Siculus 19.51.5 similarly records that she was murdered by a group of Macedonians, but he does not mention the precise mode of death. Justin 14.6.11 says that she was stabbed by a crowd of soldiers.

137  Williams (1996) 108n64 thinks that this phrase “hardly suggests stoning,” but according to the TLL (I.B.2.a), iaculum can be fere i. q. res quae iacitur (“essentially equivalent to ‘a thing that is hurled,’” 7:1, 77). La Penna (1957) 69, speaking of Deidamia’s death, imagines “un nugolo di dardi scagliati dal popolo in rivolta.”

138  Ellis (1881) 173–4 gives a convoluted explanation involving the worship of Demeter and Kore at Samothrace, the initiation of Olympias into a variety of mysteries at Samothrace, and Demeter’s association with a snake at Eleusis (which he connects with the serpent that lay near Olympias).

139  Should we subscribe entirely to the communis opinio on 305–8, we may understand 307–8 as “Pyrrhus grandson of Pyrrhus,” such that Williams (1996) 94 rightly calls this a “sequence of tangentially related Pyrrhi.”

140  He was slain in the streets of Leontini by a band of Sicilian conspirators (Livy 24.7.1–7, 26.30.1–3, Diod. Sic. 26.15.1, Sil. Ital. Pun. 14.101–9). If Nereis really was the daughter of Pyrrhus I, as several ancient sources make her (Paus. 6.12.3, Livy 24.6.8, Polyb. 7.4.5; possibly also Sil. Ital. Pun. 14.94–5), then Pyrrhus II had no grandchildren at all.

141  See Fig. 1d for a different suggestion of their genealogy.

142  Πύρρου δὲ τοῦ Ἠπειρωτῶν βασιλέως, ὃς ἦν τρίτος ἀπὸ Πύρρου τοῦ ἐπ’ Ἰταλίαν στρατεύσαντος, ἐρωμένη ἦν Τίγρις ἡ Λευκαδία· ἣν Ὀλυμπιὰς ἡ τοῦ νεανίσκου μήτηρ φαρμάκοις ἀπέκτεινεν (“And Tigris the Leucadian was the lover of Pyrrhus king of the Epirotes, who was the grandson of the Pyrrhus who campaigned in Italy; Olympias, the boy’s mother, killed her with drugs,” Athen. Deipn. 13.56).

143  ὅτι ὄνομα θεραπαίνης Πηλούσιον ἦν, δι’ ἧς ὁ Μολοσσὸς Πύρρος ἀνεῖλε φαρμάκῳ τὴν μητέρα (“[Helladius tells] how the name of the slave-girl through whom Molossian Pyrrhus poisoned his mother was Pelousion,” Photius, Bibl. 279.530a). It seems plausible to me that ὄνομα θεραπαίνης is meant to be a periphrasis for θεραπαίνα, and that in fact Helladius said that the slave-girl was Pelusian (i.e., from Pelousion in Egypt), not that her name was Pelousion.

144  Justin, Epit. 28.3.

145  Ellis concludes that the subject of 307–8 could be Heracles, the son of Alexander the Great by the Persian princess Barsina, who was poisoned by Polysperchon at the behest of Cassander. He gets around parente (308) by suggesting that maybe the poison was unknowingly administered by Barsina. Ellis (1881) 173: Sic a Neoptolemi filia Olympiade transitur ad huius ex Alexandro nepotem Heraclem, cui Barsine, mater sua, uenenum, fortasse inscia, tradidisse fingitur (“Thus we pass from Neoptolemus’s daughter Olympias to Heracles, her grandson from Alexander, to whom his mother Barsine is imagined to have delivered poison, perhaps unwittingly.”)  Barsina feels to me to be very much shoe-horned in; a more plausible candidate in this branch of the family would be Philip III Arrhidaeus, the stepson of Olympias and half-brother of Alexander the Great, whom Plutarch records to have been mentally deficient as a result of his poisoning by Olympias. Although parens cannot be used to actually mean noverca, the two can be used as diametric opposites (cf. Plin. NH 7.1, Quint. 12.1.2), which would give parens here an appropriately tongue-in-cheek meaning.

146  See Dakarēs (1964) on the mythological origins of the various names used by the members of this dynasty.

147  Another instance of Ovid purposely invoking a case of confused and irreconcilable identity and genealogy may be seen at Ib. 407–10, a passage which has continuously vexed commentators with its apparent triplicate reference to Sinis, the pine-bender. Just as Ovid may be exploiting the tangled profusion of homonymous Epeirot rulers at Ib. 301–8, perhaps his intention here is a similarly mischievous exploitation of bynames and alternate genealogies, in this case invoking the exact same character three times in a row under three different appellations and thereby putting the mythic variation on display for his reader through a magnificent sleight-of-hand.

148  See Ahl (1985) 57–9.

149  This is a normal feature of ancient linguistic play and etymologizing. Ahl (1985) 44–54 shows a number of clear anagrams in Vergil, such as the half-line pulsa palus (Aen. 7.702), as well as pointing out that as serious a philosopher as Plato includes theories of anagrams in the Cratylus. At Cratylus 395D–E, for instance, Socrates proposes that ταλάντατον is behind Tantalus’s name. (See Sedley [1998] on the etymologies of the Cratylus, whether anagrammatic or otherwise.)  Tzetzes (Schol. Lyc. p. 5.6–8 Scheer) records, perhaps spuriously (Cameron [1995b] 481–2, but cf. West [1984] 129n11), that Lycophron invented anagrams, including two on the names of Ptolemy Philadelphus and Arsinoe (ἀπὸ μέλιτος and Ἥρας ἴον, respectively). Cameron (1995b) disputes the existence of non-etymological anagrams in antiquity, but the example he chooses from Ahl (1985) to prove that “almost all the cases that carry any conviction at all are etymological associations of one sort or another” (479) first of all ignores the presence of a secondary and non-etymological anagram in the same line and, secondly, does not take into account the existence of such half-line anagrams as pulsa palus: “Verg. Aen. 8.322–3, LATIUmque vocari / maluit, his quoniam LATUIsset [tutus] in oris. The reader is clearly encouraged to look for the meaning of the name here, scarcely an anagram as we understand the term, since it is the very similarity of the words that is held to justify connecting them” (479). The presence of maluit at the beginning of 8.323 defies Cameron’s dismissal of non-etymological anagrammatic play in these lines; contra Harrison (1986), who believes that intentional anagrammatic play in such cases “seems fundamentally unlikely. The error here is not to find anagrams but to ascribe them to the poet” (237).

150  For the four main types of name-game that Ovid employs in the Ibis, see p.21.

151  Hardie (2002) 249.

152  Hardie (2002) 250–1 cites Fasti 4.941–2: pro cane sidero canis hic imponitur arae, / et quare pereat, nil nisi nomen habet (“The dog is placed on the altar instead of the sidereal dog, and he perishes for no reason except the name he has”).

153  I have demonstrated elsewhere (Krasne [forthcoming]) the ability of a polyvalent name to create associations with the surrounding exempla, specifically in the case of Linus (Ib. 480). The potential for alternative identifications of a named figure—in general, a secondary identification alluded to but ultimately rejected by context—usually has less impact on the structure of the text than do the possible variants of Linus’s myth, which I argue prompt the themes of the next twenty lines.

154  Cf. Watson (1991) 178–9: “Ovid . . . will sometimes deliberately insert an alien myth into a homogeneous sequence.”  His examples, however, such as “mention of Hannibal at Ib. 389–90 in the midst of tales from the Odyssey, or 527–8, the death of Orestes by snakebite [which] interrupts [a] sequence on deaths of literary men” (179n62), are not so far afield from the broader context as they seem; I discuss the snake-bite below, while Hannibal’s murder of the senators of Acerrae is only out of place if we treat the chain of Odyssey tales as exclusively Odyssean. In the equally suitable context of “those who died en masse,” there is no disruption (the principle of overlapping mini-catalogues being the same as those in Table 1 and those that I have elaborated on in Krasne [forthcoming]).

155  The G-scholia also wish to interpret the incomprehensible Ib. 525–6 as a reference to Orpheus.

156  For lengthy discussion of the comic poet Eupolis’ death and other possibilities for Ib. 591–2, see Gordon (1992) 242–3 ad 589–590. La Penna (1957) 159 suspects that Ovid was actually confused as to the identity of the epigrammatic Eupolis (although he admits that his suspicions may be unjustified).

157  cadas at 528 followed by the collapse of a chamber is reminiscent of a linguistic play on cadas that occurs slightly earlier in the catalogue (485–500), where a mini-catalogue of those killed by Hercules interrupts an apparent mini-catalogue of those who fell to their deaths, finally coming full circle with the closing exemplum, Lichas, whom Hercules killed by throwing him off a cliff into the ocean. Moreover, that mini-catalogue is followed at a short distance by a mini-catalogue of those who died as a result of things falling on them (505–12).

158  Two critical concepts can be applied to this process of reading. One is Peter Bing’s term “Ergänzungsspiel” (see p.3, n. 12), and the other is Ellen Oliensis’s “textual unconscious” (see Oliensis [2009]). The former is an “authorized” process of reading, imposed upon the reader by the author, while the latter is a private process which may or may not be shared by the author. Oliensis defines “textual unconscious” as “an unconscious that tends to wander at will, taking up residence now with a character, now with the narrator, now with the impersonal narration, and sometimes flirting with an authorial or cultural address. . . . It is in the very texture of the text, its slips, tics, strange emphases, and stray details, that one discovers it at work. . . . The textual unconscious is an enabling postulate, nothing more” (6–7).

159  See Krasne (forthcoming) on the shifting identity of Linus amidst the themes of Ib. 477–500.

160  Gordon (1992) 219: “Ovid may have been thinking of a link with the playwright Eupolis.”  La Penna suspects real confusion (see p. 31, n. 156). It is worth noting here a suggestion made by Ellis (1885) 95ff on a couplet occurring just a few lines earlier (Ib. 525–6). He wishes “to explain this distich by supposing two persons of the same name to be confused. The name is Philokles.”  (One Philokles was an Athenian general who cut off the right hand or thumb of his prisoners, the other was a tragic poet known for his harsh style.)  No plausible explanation has been posited for this couplet, and in our world of nominal conflation, Ellis’s hypothesis suddenly seems feasible. Another scholarly explanation similarly based on this sort of “confusion” would allow the preservation of Ib. 291–2 (usually bracketed by editors). Von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1924) 101n1 suggests that Ovid’s intention may be to allude to a Thessalian Prometheus by naming the mythic Prometheus. Lenz (1944) 34, paraphrasing Wilamowitz, says: “poetam ludibundum ex more Lycophrontis non solum de heroe cogitare, sed etiam de Prometheo Thessalo.”  Also in favor of retaining Ib. 291–2 is the aural echo of Prometheus in PaRUM-MITIS, as well as Propertius’s use of parum cauti for Prometheus (Prop. 3.5.21–2).

161  After Polyidus revived Minos’s son, the Cretan king forced him to teach his prophetic skill to the boy. Polyidus complied but, on leaving Crete, ordered Glaucus to spit into his mouth, at which point Glaucus forgot what he had learned (ps-Apollod. Bibl. 3.3.1–2​§17–20).

162  Cameron (1995a) 8, together with White (1999), argues that Battiades in Call. Epigr. 35 = AP 7.415 is only “a claim to descent from the ancient royal house,” not an indication that Callimachus’s own father was named Battus. For our purposes, the distinction is immaterial: there is, regardless, an association between the stuttering Battus and the poet Callimachus.

163  Bömer ad Met. 2.688 associates βαττολογία with the tattling, not the stuttering, Battus, evidently taking ἀκαιρολογία as speaking out of turn, not as taking too long to speak. On a possible direct and self-inflicted iambic association of both Battuses with Callimachus, see Konstan and Landrey (2008).

164  Once thought to be the possible invention of Plutarch (Brutus 20.8–11, famously adopted in turn by Shakespeare), the shared identity of the tribune C. Helvius Cinna—torn to pieces in place of the conspirator Cornelius Cinna following Caesar’s death—and the poet Cinna is now generally accepted as reality (see, e.g., Wiseman [1974], Morgan [1990], Hollis [2007] 18–20), not least thanks to this very couplet.

165  Hinds (2007) 207.

166  A control not possessed by Ovid’s Muse in the Tristia, who se, quamvis est iussa quiescere, quin te / nominet invitum, vix . . . tenet (Tr. 5.9.25–6).

167  Oliensis (1997) 186: “To be an author is to be able . . . to speak of oneself by name and in the third person, as one’s public does. Like Ovid’s poetry books, the name ‘Naso’ circulates independently of Ovid and is still to be found at Rome long after his departure for Tomis, and among the living long after his departure from life.”

168  To some extent, the Vicus Sceleratus (Ib. 363–4) also fits into this category, although there it receives its name from the crime, not the person.

169  There may also be a hint of the ultimate anonymity of the Lacus Curtius’s namesake—Varro provides us with three possible versions and three possible Curtii (De Ling. Lat. 5.148–50).

170  Pleasingly, the exemplum falls at the exact center of the catalogue, barring deletions and transpositions, and it becomes clear a few couplets later that the caenum in which Ibis is to drown can be fruitfully compared with the proiecta . . . aqua (450) which the Egyptian ibis uses to clean itself. Ovid curses Ibis with drowning in medii . . . voragine caeni (443), such that medium could refer to the middle of the Ibis’ morass of curses in addition to the public location of the Lacus Curtius. The Lacus Curtius also has a certain centrality in Rome itself, positioned at the center of the Forum and between the two seats of Augustan power, the Capitoline and Palatine, in addition to having connections with the Underworld. (See Ogilvie [1965] 75–6 on the Lacus Curtius generally and Spencer [2007] on the dynamics and tensions of the Lacus Curtius in Livy.)  Even if textual emendation forces the couplet from the exact center, it is still located within a group of several couplets (Ib. 443–50) which all could serve equally well as a centerpiece to the catalogue; it is perhaps best to take the entire set of couplets as the center.

171  Schiesaro (2001) 125, Schiesaro (2011) 84–6, and Williams (1992) 181–4 see the dark (caecus) obscurity of Ovid’s riddles as the inverse of Ovid’s normal “clarity” (candor) of his writing. What Ibis sows, so shall he reap.

172  παρὰ τὴν ἀρὰν, ἀραῖος· καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦν Ν (“derived from ará (prayer, curse), meaning araîos (prayed to, accursed); and with pleonasm of N,” Etym. Magn. 146K.12).

173  ηὔχον το γὰρ αὐτοῦ οἱ γονεῖς γεννηθῆναι (“for his parents prayed that he be born,” B-scholia at Od. 18.5).

174  Williams (1996) 53n61, citing Barchiesi (1993) 79.

175  Alternatively, the preceding exemplum, Regulus, can be seen as the first in the list of kings—another name game (see p. 12, n. 55).

176  On this point, see Hinds (1998) 8–10, Narducci (1979) 44–7, Bowie (1990). Pompey’s beheading is a persistent theme of Roman literature—it may well have even appeared in Asinius Pollio’s Histories (see Moles [1983])—and Pompey’s fate is juxtaposed with Priam’s as early as Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations (1.35.85–6).

177  Ovid was no doubt pleased to discover that the first line of Pyrrhus’s address to Priam contained Ibis’ name, with the name of Ovid’s first exilic work (Tristia) in the subsequent line: cui Pyrrhus: “referes ergo haec et nuntius ibis / Pelidae genitori. illi mea tristia facta / degeneremque Neoptolemum narrare memento (“Pyrrhus said to him: ‘So go as a messenger to my father, the son of Peleus, and report these things. Remember to tell him of my sad deeds, and that Neoptolemus is a disgrace to his father’s name,’” Aen. 2.547–9). For allusion to a larger context than is recalled through the precise allusion, see Thomas (1986) 178–9.

178  See, e.g., Hardie (2002).

179  Hinds (2007) 206.

180  Hinds (2007) 206 also points out that in innumeris inveniare locis “remakes—or premakes—the pentameter of Tristia 3.9.28,” in multis invenienda locis. The layering of Cinna on top of (or beneath?) Absyrtus puts him forth as a doublet for Ovid as well as a model for Ibis (on whom Absyrtus’s fate is also wished, at 435–6, in another echo of Tristia 3.9.28). See Oliensis (1997) for Ovid’s self-reflexive use of Absyrtus’s story.

181  The set-up for the joke is only viable if one follows the majority of MSS in reading pedes; G (Codex Galeanus 213) and P­1 (Parisinus latinus 7994) read oculos. See La Penna (1957) ad loc. for a defense of retaining pedes.

182  A further poetic association of limbs is the Greek μέλη, meaning “limbs” or “songs,” putting an additional self-referential twist on Horace’s disiecti membra poetae. I owe this idea to Peirano (2009) 195, who makes the connection with regards to Vergil’s Philomela and the mutatos artus of Tereus (Ecl. 6.78–81). This would, moreover, put even more poetic emphasis on the tongue and feet of the dismembered Philomela of Ib. 538. Even Cinna’s (or rather, Myrrha’s) tardiness may hold some poetic significance—Catullus calls Vulcan tardipedi deo in close association with his own iambics, surely not an innocent choice of words (see Heyworth [2001] 125–6, with bibliography).

183  Keith (1999) 41. This paper contains a particularly in-depth discussion of the trope with regards to the Neoteric and Augustan poets, accompanied by relevant bibliography.

184  See Farrell (1999) on this Ovidian conceit as applied to the Metamorphoses.

185  Williams (1996) 27n51: “For lists of candidates see Ellis xix–xxvii, La Penna xvi–xix and André xxiv–vi with Watson 130 n. 344 for updated bibliography.”  Since then, Casali (1997) and Schiesaro (2001), (2011) have made an additional suggestion, which I discuss below. Guarino Ortega (2000) 12–20 also summarizes a number of theories, and Williams (2008) XXV collects a brief bibliography on the issue.

186  Housman (1920) 316.

187  I called this a recent suggestion, but it in fact dates back as far as the early 13th century humanist Brunetto Latini, in his Li Tresors (1.160.7); see Hexter (1986) 99n63. As both Casali (1997) and Schiesaro (2001) point out, the apparent impossibility of Augustus as Ibis (given an explicit negation at Ib. 23–8) could easily be a case of the poet protesting too much. Schiesaro (2011), which reworks and greatly expands Schiesaro (2001), is an in-depth and very persuasive argument for understanding Ibis as Augustus, but many (though not all) of his arguments could be redeployed to support my own reading.

188  As with Williams’s ([1996] 23) suggestion that the entire poem is a “contrived display of an irrational psychology erupting in violence,” this suggestion is not incompatible with my own. There are certainly conceptual affinities; Schiesaro (2001) emphasizes the significance of Ovid’s iambic denials to a reading of the poem, seeing poetry’s double-headed offering of praise and blame as a central theme.

189  See above (pp. 3 and 23) and Krasne (forthcoming).

190  We may recall the exempla of Ceyx and Priam in their contexts of dismemberment, as well as Priam’s loss of his name along with his head.

191  Hinds (1986) 321, Oliensis (1997), Gowing (2002).

192  Forms of nomen occur fourteen times in the Ibis.

193  These two intriguing points were made to me by Robin McGill and Gareth Williams, respectively.

194  See above (p. 13) and Hinds (1999).

195  E.g., Hinds (2007) 206ff, Casali (1997) 105ff.

196  Hinds (2007) 206.

197  See Watson (1991) 42–6.

198  Pace Schiesaro (2011). Among his many other points, Schiesaro observes that the Ibis functions as a sequel to Tristia 2; this is undeniable, but Augustus and the Muses also can be perceived as a matched “pair” in the same way as the two poems. In fact, I find it fascinating that so many nearly identical arguments can be adduced for either Augustus or the Muses as the identity behind Ibis’ mask. Naturally, this is at least in part due to Ovid’s own tendency to associate them so closely elsewhere, and one wonders if he did not in fact intend for his readers to see Augustus and the Muses as somehow identifiable, much as the Furies and Fates merge uneasily within the context of the Ibis.

199  Tr. 1.1.97–100, Tr. 2.19–22.

200  Williams (1996) 124: “In cursing the exilic Muses (Tr. 5.7.31–3) and burning his poetry (Tr. 4.1.101–2), Ovid unleashes his own form of manic violence in word and deed, the Muses being the intimates . . . who suffer on these occasions – if, that is, the Muses can be distinguished from the poet, who indirectly attacks himself.”  Similar professions of an unhealthy addiction are to be found at Tr. 2.1–4,13–14; 5.12.45–8; and elsewhere.

201  See p. 34, n. 167.

202  This accusation comes immediately after Ovid’s announcement that he alone has been harmed by his ars or Ars (5–6); and the unus (7) who deprives him of his candoris titulum (8) could just as easily be understood as unus libellus (the always unspecified carmen crimenosum), which would in fact be the obvious reading to carry over from the previous couplet, a misdirection continued by use of titulum.

203  Another aspect of Ibis which could potentially be seen as poetic is his doglike nature. Ahl (1985) 31ff points out the grammatically inherent wordplay between canis (you sing) and canis (dog) that occurs in Vergil. If Ibis is Ovid’s Muses or his poetry in general, then the pun may be active within the lacte CANino (Ib. 229) he drinks as a baby and the verba CANina (Ib. 232) he produces as a result. Williams (1992) 182–3 relates Ibis’ dog-like nature to his barking attacks and to a spiteful and cowardly invidia.

204  The primary mini-catalogues of those who suffered dismemberment as (part of) their fate are found at Ib. 273–304, 435–56, and 533–55, with individual exempla elsewhere. The primary mini-catalogues of vatic deaths are Ib. 263–72, 521–52, and 583–600. The two types of catalogue connect at 272–3 and overlap at 533–52. A comment by Ingleheart (2006) 75 is relevant: “It is perhaps tempting to see in Ovid’s use [in Tristia 2] of Actaeon’s myth as a parallel for his own fate an allusion to the death of Euripides (and perhaps also other poetic deaths: for dogs killing Linus, see Call. Aet. fr. 26 Pf. and Conon 19), another poet noted for the erotic aspect to his oeuvre.”

205  Casali (1997) 107 similarly notes the absence of the words Caesar and Augustus in the Ibis.

206  The Cinyps is a river in Libya.

207  The Ambracian Muses have featured in Ovid’s poetry before: they and Hercules close the final (medial?) book of the Fasti (doctae adsensere sorores; / adnuit Alcides increpuitque lyram, “her learned sisters agreed; Alcides nodded and rattled his lyre,” Fast. 6.811–12). The connections between this lyre-playing Hercules Musagetes and Hercules as the lyre-student of Linus are somewhat murky, but I wonder if we might not interpret Hercules’ rattling of his lyre here, usually read as an encomium of Germanicus or signifying the approval of the Muses (Hardie [2007], Barchiesi [1997] 268–9), as a subtle threat to the artist. Certainly, Linus is “the personification of lament” (Pache [2004] 7), and for Horace (Odes 4.15.2), Apollo’s rattling of the lyre was indeed a warning.

208  The assimilation of Ibis’ birth to Meleager’s that we saw above (p. 14, n. 62) aids in this analogy. Cf. Farrell (1999) 140–1: “In Tristia 1.7, . . . Ovid gives a detailed account of his attempt to burn the Metamorphoses . . . , an account that involves reading himself into the story of Meleager. First, Ovid informs us, he played the role of Althaea by trying to bring about the death of his own ‘child’ by fire; then he suggests that the true correspondence is between himself and his poetry, resembling the magical relationship between Meleager and the log, since he speaks of his manuscript of the Metamorphoses as ‘my book-rolls, my own flesh and blood, destined to perish along with me.’”

209  Watson (1991) 138.

210  Williams (1996) 132n44: “Since Ovid goes on in Tr. 5.12 to wish that the Ars amatoria had been destroyed . . . , he seems still to reproach the Muse who contributed to his downfall; which suggests that he burns his poetry . . . out of continued frustration at the studium which has destroyed him.”

211  Boyd (2000) 65; also cf. Barchiesi (1991). In Fasti 5, the Muses disagree with each other, leaving Ovid adrift as a result, without his poetic guide and possibly without “authorization as poet” (64). In the Ibis, Ovid finds a new goddess to grant him poetic authority (Ib. 246, cf. pp. 13ff), but as in Fasti 5, which is full of alternative “authorities,” the absence of the Muses forces the poet to create an “intricate narrative patterning” which “keeps sending us back, inviting us to make new connections between previously unconnected phenomena” (95). Schiesaro (2011) 134 observes the Ibis’ similarity to the rudis indigestaque moles (Met. 1.7) of the world’s initial Chaos, hurled back into this unsettled state thanks to Ibis’ breaking of friendship’s (and, apparently, the universe’s) foedera.

212  Williams (1996) 121–5 connects Ovid’s cursing of the Muses at Tr. 5.7.31–3 with the general cursing atmosphere of the Ibis but does not go further than this. He ultimately takes the Ibis as Ovid tilting at windmills in the depths of his melancholy, straddling the divide between most scholars’ attempts to assign an identity to Ibis and Housman’s desire to see “Nobody” behind the pseudonym.

213  See p. 14, n. 62. I should also note that if we peel back another layer of Ibis’ onomastic onion we uncover his inherent literariness, since ibises were associated with the god Thoth, the inventor of writing (and hence with the intrinsically hermeneutic Hermes/​Mercury, cf. Met. 5.331). This connection may be behind the close placement of the exempla of Callimachus’s Ibis (449–50) and Cadmus’s Sidonia . . . manu (446), another inventor of writing, in the central section of the curse catalogue, following the exemplum of the muck-wallowing Curtius. Schiesaro (2011) 104–14, by contrast, sees links between Augustus and Mercury, Augustus and Thoth, and even Augustus and ibises.

214  Cf. Feeney (1986) 9: “It was possible simply to suppress mention of Remus.”  See also Oliensis (2004). In related geminate/​fraternal strife, Ovid tells Ibis (35–6, 39–40) that the unmingled smoke of Eteocles and Polynices will merge before the two of them can again be friends: et nova fraterno veniet concordia fumo, / quem vetus accensa separat ira pyra, / . . . / quam mihi sit tecum positis, quae sumpsimus, armis / gratia, commissis, improbe, rupta tuis.

215  Catullus had paved the way for plays on Allia and alia: ne vestrum scabra tangat robigine nomen [sc. Allius] / haec atque illa dies atque alia atque alia (“may this day and that day and another and another day never touch your name with scaly rust,” Cat. 68.151–2). See also Bright (1982).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1. Catalogue opening by theme.
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Titre Figure 1a. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Pausanias (1.11.1–4, 4.35.3–4, 6.12.3, 9.7.2).
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Titre Figure 1b. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Plutarch, Pyrrhus.
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Titre Figure 1c. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, according to Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus (7.6, 17.3, 18.1, 28.1, 28.3).
URL http://dictynna.revues.org/docannexe/image/912/img-4.jpg
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Titre Figure 1d. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus : Cross’s (1962) reconstruction of a possible family tree.
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Titre Figure 1e. Aeacid rulers of Epirus, descendants of Pyrrhus-Neoptolemus, as agreed on by more than one ancient author and not contradicted by any.
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Darcy Krasne, « The Pedant’s Curse: Obscurity and Identity in Ovid’s Ibis », Dictynna [En ligne], 9 | 2012, mis en ligne le 11 janvier 2013, consulté le 25 juin 2017. URL : http://dictynna.revues.org/912

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