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.
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 ( 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.
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.
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.”
Watson (1991) 80.
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.
See particularly Williams (1992) and (1996).
Williams (1996) 5.
Williams (1996) 5.
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.
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.
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.
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 ). 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.
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.
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).
Williams (1996) 91.
Williams (1996) 91–2. See below for my discussion of the particular exempla to which Williams is referring.
Williams (1996) 92: “The theme of blindness gives only loose coherence to . . . lines 259–72.”
Williams (1996) 92.
e.g., Hyg. Fab. 57.4; cf. Hom. Il. 6.200–2.
e.g., scholia ad Lycophron, Alexandra 17.
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).
Gordon (1992) 105.
Gordon (1992) 106.
“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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
Or Tesatas, Thetillas, Thirilas, or Terilas.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
Cf., e.g., Ib. 347–8 and Ib. 407–8.
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).
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.)
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.
Lightfoot (1999) 234–5, referring to Devereux (1973).
Gordon has noted both the inverse parallel between 271f and 273f and the connection between castration and blinding as per Devereux (1973).
RE 5A:1, 1241.28–1242.23.
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).
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).
Cf. Cybele’s consort Attis, whom the goddess forced to castrate himself following his infidelity.
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).
I include in the term “intertextuality” other versions of myth, which can be considered as “texts.”
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 ( 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.
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).
Hinds (1985) 26.
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.
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.
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, . . .”).
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.
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.”
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.
Hinds (1999) 64.
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.
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  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).
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.
Hinds (1999) 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).
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  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.
See, e.g., Keith (1992). Hinds (1992a) 90 also advances the idea that “Augustan poetry contains more or less continuous strata of programmatic discussion.”
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.
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.
See, e.g., Harrison (2002).
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.
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).
Cf. Gordon (1992) 98: “[Ovid] moves by association to the man whose weapons were destined to end the Trojan war.”
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 ), 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).
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).
Nagle (1980) 22.
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.”
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.
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).
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.)
See Barchiesi (1994), Heyworth (2001), Schiesaro (2001) and (2011), degl’Innocenti Pierini (2003).
τὸν χωλοποιὸν: διὰ τοὺς τρεῖς, Βελλεροφόντην, Φιλοκτήτην, Τήλεφον (“‘cripple-maker’: on account of these three, Bellerophon, Philoctetes, Telephus,” Schol. vet. ad Aristoph. Frogs 846).
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.
See Hinds (1992a).
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.”
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.
It is possible that the exemplum of Telephus at Tr. 2.19–22 follows another unnoticed pes pun at 2.15–16.
pedibus vitium causa decoris erat (“the defect in her feet was the cause of her beauty,” Am. 3.1.10).
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).
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).
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.
Williams (1992) 181.
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).
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.
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).
Hinds (2007) 198.
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.
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).
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.
Hinds (2007) 207.
nam nomen adhuc utcumque tacebo (“for as yet I shall remain silent as to his name,” Ib. 9).
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).
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.
See especially Oliensis (1997), Hardie (2002), and Hinds (2007).
Hinds (2007) 207.
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.
See below; also cf. Krasne (forthcoming), where I discuss the polyvalent name of Linus (Ib. 480ff).
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.
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 ) 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.
The phrase is borrowed from the title of Oliensis (1997).
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).
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.
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.”
See Cameron (2004). On the specific usefulness of mythographic texts for the Ibis, see Krasne (forthcoming).
As best I can tell, this pun remains unremarked by commentators.
O’Hara (1996) 82–8.
Ellis (1881) xlvi and Guarino Ortega (1999) 276 point out Ovid’s use of shared names as a connective device.
Both of these juxtapositions are debatable, once due to scholarly disagreement over identification and once due to Housman’s ( 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.”
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 ( 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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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  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.
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.
Gordon (1992) 125.
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.”
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.”
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?
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.
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.”
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).
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.”
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.
See Fig. 1d for a different suggestion of their genealogy.
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).
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.
Justin, Epit. 28.3.
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.
See Dakarēs (1964) on the mythological origins of the various names used by the members of this dynasty.
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.
See Ahl (1985) 57–9.
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  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  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).
For the four main types of name-game that Ovid employs in the Ibis, see p.21.
Hardie (2002) 249.
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”).
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.
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]).
The G-scholia also wish to interpret the incomprehensible Ib. 525–6 as a reference to Orpheus.
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).
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).
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 ). 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).
See Krasne (forthcoming) on the shifting identity of Linus amidst the themes of Ib. 477–500.
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).
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).
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.
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).
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 , Morgan , Hollis  18–20), not least thanks to this very couplet.
Hinds (2007) 207.
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).
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.”
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.
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).
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  75–6 on the Lacus Curtius generally and Spencer  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.
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.
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).
ηὔχον το γὰρ αὐτοῦ οἱ γονεῖς γεννηθῆναι (“for his parents prayed that he be born,” B-scholia at Od. 18.5).
Williams (1996) 53n61, citing Barchiesi (1993) 79.
Alternatively, the preceding exemplum, Regulus, can be seen as the first in the list of kings—another name game (see p. 12, n. 55).
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 )—and Pompey’s fate is juxtaposed with Priam’s as early as Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations (1.35.85–6).
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.
See, e.g., Hardie (2002).
Hinds (2007) 206.
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.
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.
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  125–6, with bibliography).
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.
See Farrell (1999) on this Ovidian conceit as applied to the Metamorphoses.
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.
Housman (1920) 316.
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.
As with Williams’s ( 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.
See above (pp. 3 and 23) and Krasne (forthcoming).
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.
Hinds (1986) 321, Oliensis (1997), Gowing (2002).
Forms of nomen occur fourteen times in the Ibis.
These two intriguing points were made to me by Robin McGill and Gareth Williams, respectively.
See above (p. 13) and Hinds (1999).
E.g., Hinds (2007) 206ff, Casali (1997) 105ff.
Hinds (2007) 206.
See Watson (1991) 42–6.
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.
Tr. 1.1.97–100, Tr. 2.19–22.
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.
See p. 34, n. 167.
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.
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.
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.”
Casali (1997) 107 similarly notes the absence of the words Caesar and Augustus in the Ibis.
The Cinyps is a river in Libya.
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 , Barchiesi  268–9), as a subtle threat to the artist. Certainly, Linus is “the personification of lament” (Pache  7), and for Horace (Odes 4.15.2), Apollo’s rattling of the lyre was indeed a warning.
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.’”
Watson (1991) 138.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).Haut de page