Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 12

Children as Poets: Poets as Children?

Romantic Constructions of Childhood and Hellenistic Poetry Author(s): Annemarie Ambhl Reviewed work(s): Source: Hesperia Supplements, Vol. 41, Constructions of Childhood in Ancient Greece and Italy (2007), pp. 373-383 Published by: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20066800 . Accessed: 18/05/2012 05:20
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Hesperia Supplements.







as Children?

of Childhood




Annemarie Amb?hl by





was the historical moment when the idea of "childhood" was born?1

The French cultural historian Philippe Aries claims that themodern con was invented cept of childhood as a separate stage of life by the bourgeoisie

in the 17th century.2 Other theories attribute the "discovery of childhood" to the age of Rousseau and Herder and to Romantic poetry. Interestingly an enough, analogous development has also been postulated for ancient Greek culture.The Hellenistic age is said to have discovered childhood as a

own subject in its right, in contrast to the literature and fine arts of earlier which mentioned children inpassing and did not significantly only periods, differentiate the visual representation of children from that of adults. Ac some extent cording to thiswidespread view,which has been revised to by recent research,Hellenistic poetry and artwere able to represent children in a lifelike, "realistic" fashion for the first time inGreek history.3 The

series of "inventions of childhood" distributed over a long stretch of time indicates that these notions of childhood are not to be confused with the authentic experience of childhood by real children in any given
historical circumstance. On the contrary, all reconstructions of childhood,

1.1 would "Constructions Ancient World"

like to thank

ers and the audience

the organiz of the symposium in the of Childhood at Dartmouth comments, College

erably by subsequent

consid ing thesis has been modified research (see 1927,1993. For

for their valuable Froma Zeitlin

Cohen kindlyprovided thepassages fromSchiller in theEnglish transla

tion. Aleida Assmann a (Konstanz), whom previous version of this material, helped me conceive a clearer picture of the differences between Hellenistic and Romantic notions of childhood. 1960,1962. Aries's 2. Aries I discussed

especially and Jean Sorabella. Ada

1998). Cunningham 3. See, e.g., Herter the evolutionary model representation periods of Greek

the essay by Beaumont 2003, especially traces the naturalistic which depiction of various back to stages of childhood the Classical

ofArt (Neils andOakley 2003); see

to the applied of children in successive literature 2002. A and art, see

cal problem of identifying change and

in the Hellenistic continuity toward children as compared of earlier periods attitude to that in a

period. The


Zahn 1970; R?hfel 1984a; see also Sier

2002; sive, detailed, Bergemann and comprehen survey stimulating of the imagery of art from Aegean pre is now


is addressed

of the development children in Greek

seriesof publicationsbyGolden (1990, pp. 171-173,1992,1997); for the

problems structions Dickmann inherent of Greek 2001. in modern childhood, recon see also


history period offered by the catalogue accompanying at the Hood Museum the exhibition

to the Hellenistic




feelings and values onto their images of children and childhood. In this chapter I approach the concept of childhood from a historical which the history of ideas and perspective by exploring some of theways in the history of scholarship have shaped modern assessments of childhood

are in including scholars' reconstructions of childhood in past societies, sense influenced cultural in Childhood this evitably by presuppositions. turns out to be a retrospective construction own adults who their project by

and Romantic ages, has often served allegedly shared by the Hellenistic to two historically unrelated the that these separates bridge gulf epochs. Their enthusiasm for children is believed to reflect their common interest in the simple life, sparked by nostalgia for theGolden Age and lost child hood. My aim is to question these apparently self-evident correspondences between theHellenistic and Romantic

in antiquity in general, and the interpretation of childhood's role inHel lenistic poetry in particular.My special focus is on the connection between childhood and poetics, which can be traced back to the poetry and literary criticism of the Romantic period. The interest in the motif of the child,

a periods from critical perspective and to reexamine the application of a romantically conditioned "poetics of childhood" to the interpretation ofHellenistic poetry in the light of select passages from Callimachus.





My starting point isBruno SnelFs influential essay "?ber das Spielerische bei Kallimachos" (Art and Play inCallimachus), firstpublished in 1946 as In Mind). part of his book Die Entdeckung des Geistes (The Discovery of the Snell's essay, children and childhood serve as pervasive metaphors forCal limachean poetics. In proof of his theory,Snell interprets the etymologicalfy

related terms "child" {naiq) and "play" (7caiCeiv, 7tociyviov)that appear in Calrimachus's works as self-descriptions of his poetry.4The playful mood poems is said to correspond to the character of narrator,who likes to pose as a naive child.5 This gen eral description of Calrimachus's childlike spirit is then transferred to his as a child in the to Artemis. portrayal of the goddess Artemis Hymn exhibited inCalrimachus's the Callimachean Because Callimachus he was is genuinely filled with the spirit of childhood, the first among Greek poets to be able to picture the behav


4. Snell 1982a, p. 271 (= Snell 1948, p. 259): "He himselfcalls his poetry "childishplay" {paizein andpaignion).
constructed his slender works "like a child"

iour of children in true colours, though, of course, with an admix ture of irony which guarded him from losing himself entirely to the world of the child.... But theway inwhich Callimachus looks at the littleArtemis has something grandfatherly about it;yet he is not sentimental about her, he does not dispense with the superior an artificial child perspective of the grown-up: he does not become

of him in theprologue to the Aitia (line

6)." For the context see pp. 379-380. of the quotation,

as the Telchines {pais hate),


5. Snell 1982a, p. 271 (= Snell 1948,

"He often stresses the pp. 258-259): nature of his poetry by casting playful himself in the role of the ing?nu_ Ancient hard truth he finds myths whose to credit, and stories invented by of himself, he tells with a semblance childish most seriousness. This is one of the forms of his wit."

himself.6 The

paradoxical formula of Callimachus's wissende Kindlichkeit"):

combination of childlike playfulness with reflective irony, which Snell in culminates the identifies as hallmarks of Callimachean style, seemingly "new, knowing naivete" ("eine neue

6. Snell 1982a, pp. 271-272 (= Snell 1948, p. 259).







But just as in his portrayal of children Callimachus never forgets himself to the point of affecting a false infantility,so also in all other respects he never abandons his irony and his superior wit.Without or programmes, he stands for a new, a knowing setting up theories

naivete; his playfulness stems from the strength of his intellect; it is the genial spirit of one who surveys a lost treasure from the heights of his scepticism rather thanweeping sentimental tears.7 Snell's concept of Callimachus's childlike poetics has exerted a lasting as influence on Callimachean scholarship. However, just modern discourse

is generally influenced by ideas originating at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, Snell's interpretation is also based on a tradition of thought deriving from aesthetic theories of the a reference to two same period. After all, Snell introduces his essay with

on childhood

poets in the earlyHellenistic age; on the other hand, the replacement of mannerist rococo poetry by the era of Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) and the accompanying idea of theOriginalgenie (original genius) around

on the one hand, the contrasting "turning points" in the history of literature: introduction of a new, learned, and playful styleof poetry by theAlexandrian

from the poetics of Romanticism and the immediately preceding period. For instance, Snell's reference to the Hellenistic poets' fascination return with "the simple life" and their "to the earliest speech of man, to to relates Herder's poetry," unmistakably "Abhandlung ?ber den Ursprung der Sprache" ("Essay on the Origin an analogy between ontogeny?the of Language" childhood [1772]).9 Herder saw of individual human be

a yearning "for return to the simple and artless forms of life."8 Snell does not draw explicit parallels between Hellenistic and Romantic poetry in this respect. Nevertheless, his essay seems to have received seminal impulses

1770, which he illustrates by quoting a passage from the young Goethe's "Wandrers Sturmlied" ("Wanderer's Storm Song"). In this context, he also mentions the Romantics' longing "for the age of childhood" and their

childhood ofmankind?and therefore associ ings?and phylogeny?the ated the language of children with the original natural language made up of a collection of elements of poetry.This ideawas subsequently developed into the Romantic concept of the child as a natural poet.10 For early Romantic poetics, Schiller's treatise "?ber naive und sen

timentalische Dichtung" ("On the Naive and Sentimental in Literature" a also role. In Schiller's argument, childhood is crucial [1795]) played transformed from a biological fact into a philosophical concept as defined 7. Snell 1982a, p. 276 (= Snell 1948, p. 263). 8. Snell 1982a, p. 280: "The
romantics may have longed for the age of childhood, they may have yearned for a return to the simple and artless forms of life; at the same time, however, Greek culture was, in some other, their ultimate of the nineteenth or shape In the course certain Storm and Stress ideas regarding the primitive In my view, the genius." contrast between the "age of child hood" and "Greek culture" the English which, translation implied is not found in in the great of non appeal so turn and simplicity, they to the earliest to poetry. of man, speech The cultured men from the cities big are fascinated by primitive customs, by re-discover . reflective unspoiled manners, by the simple life." 10. For the topos of the poet as a Vico, Hamann, see Schaub and Herder, See also nn. 20 and 21

goal. we often find century a violent of all rejection things classical, and here we may detect the echoes of

9. Snell 1982a, p. 276 (= Snell 1948, p. 263): "The philosophershad tried

to control the world and of a rational system; life by means the new writers

on the contrary, appears relate the two objects of desire.

the German text (Snell 1948, p. 267),

to cor

childdeveloped in the 18th century by

1973, pp. 1-26. below.




the other hand, it is a future goal that is characterized as the poetic ideal. For modern man, however, a return to the naivete of childhood is attainable on a only secondary level by way of culture and reflection. There in our life when we accord to nature in plants, minerals, animals, landscapes, as well as to human nature in chil dren, in the customs of country people and of the primitive world, are moments

both retrospectively and prospectively and thus pointing in two directions: on the one hand, it represents a on longed for but forever lost natural state;

a sort of love and our senses touching respect, not because it pleases nor because it satisfies our intellect or taste (the opposite of both can often be the case) but merely because it is nature.... are They what we were; they arewhat we should become again.We were natural like them and our culture should lead us back to nature reason and freedom. They are, therefore, at the along the path of same time a representation of our lost childhood, which remains us a certain us and thus they fill with eternally most precious to

sadness. At the same time they are representations of our high est perfection in the ideal, so that they transport us into a state of
elevated emotion.11

serves to set up a inely naive and secondary, sentimental poetry primarily twomodes of poetry boundary between antiquity and themodern age, the are not two linked with the respective ages, especially since the exclusively consciousness of sentiment of the naive?strictly speaking?presupposes the loss of spontaneous naivete.12Accordingly, the succession of naive and

concept of naive poetry is associated with childhood, the original genius, and the ancient Greeks. However, whereas the distinction between genu

fundamental difference between nature and culture corresponds to two genres of poetry: the naive and the sentimental. In this dichotomy, the The

sentimental poetry can be projected back into the history ofGreek literature: as a "sentimental" poet trying to retrieve the naive is set against Euripides a no coincidence is considered who Aeschylus, truly "naive" poet.13 It is as a thatmodern scholarship often views Euripides precursor toHellenistic poetry, especially with regard to his depiction of children. The debt of Snell's essay to literary theories dating to the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century can now be assessed a "new, more knowing naivete" to Calli precisely. Snell's attribution of machus has its conceptual background in Schiller's "naivete in the second degree," which characterizes the poet of sentimental poetry and which
see Szondi 1972.


11. Schiller 1981, pp. 21-22 (= Schiller 1962, pp. 413-414). The
emphasis ismine.


12. Schiller 1981, p. 24 (= Schiller 1962, p. 419): "The naive is a childlike

where longer expected therefore be attributed in the to real childhood." For The ismine. it is no and

13. Schiller 1981, pp. 34-35 (= Schiller 1962, p. 432): "But the

and sors, especially with Aeschylus, yet the former poet was the darling

of the naive and the interest experience in it is naturally much older and dates of moral already from the beginning and aesthetic corruption. This change is, for example, when in already very striking Euripides him with his you compare predeces in the kind of emotion

of his time."See also Schiller 1981, p. 97, n. 17 (= Schiller 1962, p. 438 n.):
even in the most "In modern, we have naive works periods, classes, even if no longer of a pletely pure type; and among recent too in all com the old

quality cannot

strictest sense emphasis and paradoxes

the equivocations inherent in Schiller's


even among the Greeks, poets, there is no dearth of sentimental poets."






Callimachus means

not to be confused with banal sentimentality. Like the sentimental poet, tries to capture the "appeal of non-reflective simplicity" by of a secondary, reflective "childlikeness" ("Kindlichkeit").14 With Callimachus seems to have anticipated Snell's interpretation taken literally, Schiller's philosophical program of a return to childhood byway of reflec tion. In fact, the direction of influence rather runs the other way: Schiller's

are thrown back onto Callimachus's poetry. categories In conclusion, the close parallels between Schiller's and Snell's concepts of childhood, as indicated by their respective texts, strongly suggest that Snell's essay should be interpreted in the light of the Romantic towhich it still adheres unquestioningly. tradition

In a general sense, Schiller's treatise played an influential role in the history of literary criticismwell into the first decades of the 20th century.15In ac cordance with the succession of naive and sentimental poetry,Hellenistic

Herder, and the Schlegel brothers were also instrumental Winckelmann, in conceiving the history of literature as an evolution of literary epochs in analogy to stages of life.16 Scholars thus came to see theHellenistic and the Romantic a periods of "decadence" following Classical era, often expressing negative value.17 In thisway, the allegedly shared about aesthetic their judgments characteristics ofHellenistic and Romantic poetry were explained by their epochs as

poetry could be defined as "sentimental" poetry, in opposition toArchaic and Classical literature representing the "naive" phase ofGreek poetry. In addition to Schiller, the aesthetic theories developed by his contemporaries

above world

14. Snell 1982a, p. 276 (quoted

in n. 9). See ... also Snell 1982a,

applied 2001;

see Barchiesi to literary genres, influence on the for Romantic

see inHellenistic poetry); represented as "a 1911 (Callimachus also K?rte Greek Romantic"). (1924, Even Wilamowitz vol. 1, pp. 88-90), Moellendorff

p. 272 (= Snell 1948, p. 260): "The

of play is here blended and with mature mixture lectual learning, of youthful it is this genial emotion and intel

for the scepticism which makes this of art." distinguished ripe grace 15. For the persistent influence of Schiller's of Hellenistic ship, treatise on the interpretation scholar poetry inmodern 1999, pp. 163-174.

(especially tragedy), In a general sense, the modern age often defines its relation to in antiquity metaphorically ship terms of the adult's attitude toward his

theory of genre seeMost 2000.

who defended Hellenistic poetry

against "'classical' associating "not quite depreciation" itwith Romanticism, against

by again was

own childhood (Schmitt1988, p. 187).

17. For the definition and evalua tion of Hellenistic of literary criticism, "Classical" comparison Romanticism poetry in the history see Pfeiffer 1960; and the



see Pietsch

Schiller's influence Alpers 1990 sketches

on another on the modern Habinek and essays (1982b) idea of pastoral, while 1998, pp. 15-33, evaluates the of Snell's categories literature. in the

Kassel 1987.The dichotomybetween

and "Romantic" of Hellenistic is a standard centuries: poetry with feature of e.g., Susemihl

infection" 1960, p. 152; see (Pfeiffer also Schwinge 1985, pp. 163-167; Pietsch 1999, pp. 14,169-170). An
tendency exists in the history analogous of art, where Hellenistic representa tions of children are regularly labeled as "rococo"

handbooks dating fromthe late 19th 1891, vol. l,pp. 167-173 (implicit); Mahaffy 1896, pp. 240-242 (both
the Classical and the Romantic are and early 20th

survival of Schiller's criticism of Latin

Bieber 1961, pp. 136-143; Pollitt 1986, pp. 127-141; Fowler 1989, pp. 52-53,
126-127); 81, who cf. Beaumont 2003, pp. 79 the contradictory emphasizes art. characteristics of Hellenistic

(see Klein

1921, pp. 131-139;

16. See Szondi 1972. For thehistory of thebiological paradigm and criticism

shared characterization



background resulted in remarkably parallel descriptions ofHellenistic and Romantic poetry,which are repeatedly characterized by keywords like ro manticism, sentimentalism, nostalgia, or artificiality:following their escapist impulse to return to the origins, these allegedly hyperrefined civilizations found their favorite poetic themes in such homely, but hitherto unexplored, territories as the simple life of rustics, the emotional secrets of women's hearts, and especially in the naive innocence of children.18 Even

as times of "old age." Accordingly, their predilec as a symptom of tion for the representation of children was interpreted their nostalgia for a lost "childhood," namely original poetry,which they on a sought to retrieve secondary, "cultivated" level.This implicit theoretical


are still Nevertheless, certain concepts originating in Romanticism in contemporary scholarship in a rather maintained unreflecting way. as a the child for the these, poet plays a crucial role. In Among metaphor this context, it is revealing that Snell's essay on Callimachus, which was deeply influenced by Romantic concepts, is, in turn, quoted by a historian of Romantic literature to substantiate his claim that the idea of the poet as a child the already existed before the Romantic period.19 However, notion of the child as a natural poetic genius, or in reverse, the image of the true poet as a childlike creature, is an essentially Romantic idea that

literature have shifted the balance in favor of a approaches toHellenistic more assessment of its characteristics, especially itshighly intertex positive tual character and its self-conscious stance toward the literary tradition.

poetry. Fortunately, the biological paradigm applied to the of literature and the related view of theHellenistic era as a period history of decadence have now become obsolete. During the last few decades, new

onto Hellenistic

if these seemingly obvious parallels between Hellenistic and some to extent be modern poetry may justifiable, interpreters are often trapped in the vicious circle of projecting Romantic influences

presupposes the positive evaluation of the child's innocence and godlike nature in the Christian tradition.20 In the works of Romantic poets like H?lderlin, Novalis, Blake,Wordsworth, and their contemporaries, we often find the image of the poetic child,which, because of its closeness to nature or sources of creative On paradise, is able to tap the imagination directly.21

delivered in 1926); Herter (lecture 1927, p. 256; 1975a, pp. 390-391; 1975b, p. 588; 1993, p. 374; R?hfel 1984a, pp. 185-191; Fowler 1989, p. 4;
Vogt 1993, p. 8. For Romantic litera ture, see, e.g., Abrams 1953, pp. 103

18. See,

e.g., Zahn

1970, p. 27


a inevitably entails of the Romantic simplification complex idea of childhood, which evolved dur here ing a considerable period of time from

(on Rousseau Ewers 1989

and French (on Herder,

literature), Jean Paul, Mann),

Novalis, andTieck),Winkler 2000 Plotz 2001 (on Wordsworth, Lamb, De

and Hartley For Quincey, Coleridge). recent survey of the of child poetics to contem hood from Romanticism porary children's literature, see Natov a (from Goethe to Thomas and

the secondhalf of the 18th centuryto

the mid-19th tic concept century. For the Roman in general, of childhood sometimes youth, 1997. For and

114; Schaub 1973, pp. 7-11. 19. Schaub 1973, p. 11 and n. 35.
20. For

seeAlefeld 1996 and Baader 1996; for

and of Romantic contrasting see the studies on

the related concept

tionof the child and itspoetological

dimension, the cult of childhood primitivism, 21. The see Assmann see Boas summary 1978a. For to as connected 1966. presentation

the history

of the idealiza

essays in Oesterle individual authors concepts

1973 (onBrentano),Assmann 1978b (on Wordsworth),Michaelis 1986

of childhood,

their varying see Schaub

as poet myth of the child cal perspective. Higonnet from Romantic portraits

2003. Livingston 1984 approaches the

from a practi 1998 traces

thevisual historyof ideal childhood

to contempo

rary photography.






the other hand, the grown-up poet, who has been alienated from his child hood, can only recover his poetic inspiration ifhe succeeds in returning to that lost state of grace. In the ancient Greek tradition, however, children are mainly defined as deficient beings that lack the physical and mental capacities negatively of adults.22 Even if the babbling speech of young children maybe consid

ered charming, adults imitating children are criticized for their ridiculous behavior (PI. Grg. 485b-c). In contrast toRomantic theories, childish lan Therefore, the Romantic notion guage is never invoked as a poetic ideal.23 not of poetical childhood should automatically be applied toHellenistic

poetry. Rather, themotif of the child needs to be checked carefully against the context and the function it assumes in any given text.

As an illustration, I will take a closer look at some passages from Calli that have been read as a programmatic manifesto of a "poetics of

machus 22.Herter (1975c; 1993, pp. 374

375) the stresses the differences between negative ancient predominantly view of the child as a deficient being and the positive Christian evaluation; see also Assmann

Garland 1990, pp. 127-129. Sier 2002,

on the other hand, that emphasizes there are also certain positive connota tions attributed to children in Greek literature and philosophy. 23. This is not to say that child appear occasionally texts in Callim. literary (e.g., is not used consis Hymn 3.6); still, it con tently, and adult speech is always sidered the norm (see Golden 1995). language in Greek some 24. The following takes up on chil thoughts from my dissertation dren and young heroes in Callimachus 25. the recent see does not


pp. 98-101;

childhood," and I will propose an alternative approach.24 In the Prologue to theAitia, the persona of the old poet looks back on his life in order to defend his style of poetry against theTelchines?spiteful but ineffective in the disguise ofmythical gnomes.25 The motif of the child literary critics first appears in a reproach by theTelchines, who accuse the poet of still his considerable age composing small-scale poetry?like a child?despite (fr. 1.1-6 Pfi).

riOA?(XK]l |IOlT??.%?V?? ?TUTpU?oDGlV (XOl?fl, vril?e? o? Mot>OT|? O?K ?y?vovxo (pl?Ol, ?IV?K?V 0?% ?V a?lO|I0C ?lT|V?K?? V\ ?aaiA{r| ?v KoXXa?q uvdgoc %iAiao-iv .]oc? Tl.].01)?

XUT0OVzX[ ?7C0?8' ?7Ct f?pCQOCC, TC?V OUK ???yn. ?' ?T?C?VT]??KOC?, 7T0??OCT?,

The Telchines, who know nothing of poetry and hate the Muses, often
snipe at me, because it's not a monotonous

fashion. (Amb?hl 2005) in a summary

Among Prologue, interpretations especially A. Cameron of

uninterrupted poem featuring kings and heroes in thousands of verses that I've produced, driving [?]my song instead for little stretches, like a child, though the tale ofmy years is not brief.26 Unfortunately, because of the lacuna at the end of line 5, the underlying cannot be restored metaphor unequivocally: depending on themissing verb, the poet is compared eitherwith a child unrolling a book roll little by little a a a over child driving spinning top short distance (?A-[a\)vco), {eX[?cg(?), or a child sentences in short Nevertheless, it seems (??,[?cjo:).27 speaking

1995;Asper 1997; Sier 1998; Schmitz 1999;Hunter 2001; Acosta-Hughes and Stephens 2002.
26. Trans. F. Nisetich, Oxford prefers 2001. the 27. Pfeiffer 's edition

Hunt ?X[iaaco proposed conjecture by to 8^[or?vco advocated by Friedl?nder; for ?X\z%a, see now Acosta-Hughes

and Stephens 2001.




his young age, his small size, and the accompanying physical or intellectual deficiencies. Even if the passage is interpreted as alluding toCalrimachus's 1 Pfi, where children playing with spinning tops and shouting Epigram

clear that, in accordance with the predominant ancient view, the reference to the child is introduced by theTelchines in a negative sense to insult an adult who, inappropriately, behaves like a child.28 Moreover, the point does not suggest any innate poetic qualities of the child but rather emphasizes

legends about other poets' vocations, Calrimachus's younger alter ego, at the crucial moment, is neither a passive infant nor a young shepherd like Hesiod. Instead, when he has, for the first time, set awriting tablet on his knees, Apollo appears before him and proceeds to give him advice on how towrite poetry (fr. 1.21-24 Pfi): Kai y?p ote 7cpcoTiGTOv ?jjxr??em ??Jlxov ?0r|Ka o JIOl yOUVaOlV,A[7CO]??C0V ?17U?V A?KIOC/ f.]

introduced in a negative sense does not preclude the possibility that the narrator could subsequently refute the reproach by assigning a different meaning to it. Indeed, some lines later he takes up the topic of child hood, but at the same time claims that he had never been an ordinary child after all. In this fictitious autobiography, the traditional motif of a a a contrast to the poet's initiation by deity is given characteristic twist. In

of Snell have interpreted as a self-description of Calrimachus's not seem to be founded on theGreek text.29 poetics, does Admittedly, the fact that themotif of the child in the Prologue is first thewake

commands unwittingly give oracular advice to a stranger, the idea of the child as a poet or the equation of poetry with playing, which scholars in

... ?oi??, to jLi?v Guo? ?rci 7??xurcov Mo?crav 5' coyaO???7ixa??r|v 0p?\|/ai, xf]]v

The very first time I sat down and put on my own a writing tablet lap,my tome: said Lykian Apollo

p. 183; Schmitz 1999, p. 160. 29. Snell 1982a, p. 271 (quoted

above in n. 4). Muth 1972 Snell's thesis and combines takes up itwith

28. See,

e.g., A. Cameron


as fat as you can, poet, but keep

your Muse on slender rations."30



Huizinga 1971 (originally1938).The

attribution limachus Weber with

the theory of play as an anthropologi cal principle of culture developed by

Of course, this is not a realistic school scene but it conveys the idea is a child prodigy, who in his first attempt at that the boy Callimachus a poet and needs to be told just which style to choose. is already writing not invoke childhood as the ideal condition for Again, the passage does on the contrary, this extraordinary child, in the fashion poetic production; of young gods or heroes, skips the phase of learning and imperfection as sociated with childhood

of a play theory to Cal has been revised critically by and Asper 1993, pp. 187-199,

and Stephens 2001.

30. Trans. 31. See Assmann For the motif with associated

For the connection 1997, pp. 209-210. 1 Pf, see Acosta-Hughes Epigram F. Nisetich, Oxford 2001.

as a so that he emerges full-fledged prematurely to idea of the child as Romantic In the direct poet. retrospective opposition a natural wonder and ancient for the the adult, concept Utopian prototype of "child prodigy" is a ideological construction focused on the image of the

p. 100. of the "wonder child" 1978a, gods and heroes, see

Herter 1975c; Beaumont 1998; 2003,

69-71. pp. 62-63, an 32. Taking opposite view, both of

uninhibited manner of composing.32 Such an interpretation may be sup in a child's hands" quoted by the ported by the proverb about the "knife

adult as the ultimate stage of perfection.31Accordingly, Apollo's poetics is a no "poetics of childhood," which would presumably imply spontaneous,

Asper 1997, pp. 149-150, and Sier

the metaphor 1998, p. 23, associate the child with and scrupulousness ness in composing.







narrator in fr. 75.9 Pf. in order to restrain himself from speaking rashly. Quite on the contrary, according to Apollo, composing poetry requires

even if it painstaking effort: "avoiding the ruts carved in the boulevard, means driving along a narrower 1.26-28 Pf.).33 path" (fr. It follows that, when some time laterCallimachus's poetic persona, like in a dream, Muses onMount Helicon Hesiod, as a young man meets the he does not need to be initiated to the status of a poet but immediately starts questioning theMuses in the fashion of a busy interviewerwho is

Aitia, the figures of the poet as a child, as a young man, and as an old man allwork together in constituting the complex framework of the text. Like the metaphor of the child in Callimachus's Prologue, the little on the Theokritos's firstIdyll (45-54), who boy depicted shepherd's cup in isweaving a cage for crickets and is totally absorbed in his play, has also been interpreted as symbolizing the poet himself.34The musical qualities of crickets and the long tradition that the poetological metaphor ofweav

a This tale is theAitia themselves, thework collecting material for story. that has established the fame of the old poet, who purports to be telling us the "true cosmos of the story"of his life in thePrologue. In the fictitious

at different stages of his life, in Prologue the figure of the poet appears Theokritos's ekphrasis the image of the playful boy is accompanied by that of a hardworking old fisherman (39-44) and that of two lovesick young men over a woman (32-38). Therefore, the quarreling image of the boy should not be read in isolation but be set in relation to the other figures

an ing has enjoyed inGreek poetry may support such interpretation in the context ofTheokritos's bucolic poetics. But, just as in Callimachus's

that represent different aspects ofTheokritos's poetry.Only as an ensemble do the three stages of lifemake up Theokritos's bucolic world.35 Aitia has been interpreted in terms strik Recently, the Prologue to the ingly reminiscent of the Romantic concepts discussed above: the old poet suffering under theweight of tradition fears losing his creativity because

33. Trans.

34. See Cairns 1984, pp. 102-105; Goldhill 1987, p. 2;Hunter 1999,
pp. 62, 82. For the tradition of the in poetological metaphor see N?nlist Greek lyric poetry, pp. 110-116. 35. In a similar way, of weaving

F. Nisetich,



Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of spirit of Childhood." The poet does not wish to be rejuvenated by?literally Early or a child metaphorically?becoming again but, rather, hopes to gain

of his old age; therefore, he wishes to be rejuvenated so that he might regain his childlike poetic energy and originality.36 In my view, the text does not encourage such a romantically conditioned interpretation in the



is initiated by the elder Lycidas, while in novel the old Longus's gardener Phi letas tells the young lovers Daphnis and Chloe both the tale of his encounter texts allude of Cos. see also Acosta-Hughes with

seventh Idyll theyoung poet Simichidas

immortality through his poetry, which he keeps producing despite his old age. On thewhole, the Prologue gives the impression of a continuous evolution of the poet's life from childhood to old age inwhich no stage of is not the ultimate goal to be regained at the life is privileged. Childhood end of lifebut the auspicious beginning that is confirmed by the old poet's over his enemies. as a beloved of the triumph By reconstructing his life



boyEros. According toBowie 1985,

to the Hellenistic poet Philitas Hunter

from childhood to old age and even beyond, Callimachus creates own to in his the legends associated with the biographical myth analogy heroized poets of the past. In close parallel to the reconstruction of his own fictitious biography in thePrologue to the to Artemis Callimachus constructs Aitia, in the Hymn the character of his divine addressee from her childhood {Hymn 3.1-8, 26-32).

36. Sier 1998,2002, pp. 75-76; and Stephens2002, pp. 245-246.





Kai %opo? ?uxpi?acpfi? Kai ?v o?p?cjiv ?\j/i?aa0ai, ap%ji?voi cb??t? rcaxpo? ?(p??o|i?vr| yov?x?aai rca?? ?xi KOUpi?ouaa
f8o? jioi 7iap0?v?r|v

a?i?ovx?00i ?rjc0?G0ai) '?px?|iiv {ov y?p ??xxcppov ?)uv?ou?v, xfj x?cja Aayco?oAiai X? pi?ovxai

xa?? 7tpoa??ui? yovfja

a?coviov, ?nna, (pvX?coEiv,

Kai TcoA/u v-uuariv,iva jir|uoi Ooi?oc ?' io?? Kai x?cja 8o?


co? f] jcai? ?i7couaa y?V?ia?o? f|0??? naTpo? ?xav?aaaxo %?ipac a\\faoQai, noXk?q ?? jLiaxriv
pixpi? iva \j/a?a?i?. 7iax?ip ?' ?7t?V?DO? y??aaoa?,

xoiaixa 0?aivai '?x? |J,oi ?? Kaxapp??oDv (pf| x?kxoi?v, XDX0?VK?v ?yo) C,K)Xy\\iovoq "Hpri? ??,?yoi|Lii. (p?p?u, x?ko?, oao' ?0?Ar||Li?(; XcoojLi?vric aixi??i?, Kai ?' ?XXa Tcaxrip?xi |X?i^ova ?dSa?i. Of Artemis we no sing (it is lightmatter for singers to leave her out) towhom the bow shot and the hare hit and the chorus thronged

and sporting in themountains are a delight: moment when, a girl still, beginning at the

and letme be very famous, more than Phoibos,

and give me a bow and arrows..."

she climbed her father's knees, and said to him me stay a ever virgin for "Daddy, let

And when

she had said all this, the child, eager to grasp her father's beard, reached again and again, trying to touch it, without success. Her father smiled and nodded, and stroked her, saying

"What do I care forHera's jealousy, when goddesses bear me children like you! Have all that you want so badly, my girl, and other presents bigger still your father will give you."37 The

on her father s knees and as a little girl sitting image of the goddess with girlish charm tricking him into granting her all her future attributes and functions is thus not simply a cute example of aHellenistic genre scene. Rather, it assumes a crucial function for the poetic fabric of theHymn, as we witness the divine child herself inventing her future identity. Artemis is a very literate child indeed, for she seems to have read all the earlier she appeared. The dialogue with her father,Zeus, and her to outdo, are to be competition with her brother Apollo, whom she aims an intertextual relationship to the literary tradi in the of light interpreted texts inwhich

37. Trans. 38. This

mode Barchiesi 1993 the intertextual

calls "future reflexive." For sional the occa of the infant representations art and inHel in 4th-century Artemis

2001. F. Nisetich, Oxford can be related to strategy

tion that had already given shape to the image of the adult goddess.38 In an aetiological perspec creating his Artemis, Callimachus aims to establish tive similar to the focus found inmany of his works. In an innovative way,

lenistic literature, see Beaumont 1998; see also Cohen, this volume, Fig. 13.4.






the same way that the young Callimachus's meetings with Apollo Muses are the aition for the old poet's enduring success.

he applies aetiology not only to explain external features like the origins of names or customs, but also to point to the origin of literary characters. The child Artemis on Zeus's knees is the aition for the adult goddess in and the

Callimachus is innovative in employing the motif of the child in a way distinct from the Romantic nostalgia for lost childhood often at quite tributed toHellenistic poetry. The children in his works may indeed be seen as a sense very different from the referring to the "origins," but in



idealization of poetical childhood. In an aetiological manner, reconstructs the childhood of the characters in his poetry to same way that serves explain and re-create their identity. In the aetiology to link the present with the past, the children inCallimachus's poetry are a Artemis, always set into relationship with adult figures. In theHymn to the child Artemis interacts not only with Zeus but also with her inter

39. This




to the tradition of the past; rather, both are intricately interconnected so as to represent complementary aspects of Callimachean poetics.39 In his metaliterary constructions of childhood, Callimachus acknowledges the past tradition by integrating it into his texts as a projected futurewhile at the same time, by going back to an imaginary starting point, he succeeds in establishing a new tradition. Although his poetic images of childhood

textual predecessors who represent "older" images of herself,while in the to the Aitia, the figure of the poet himself appears as a child, as Prologue a young man, and as an old man. In this complex structure, childhood is not exclusively associated with innovation nor is old age exclusively linked

inHunter 2001, interesting discussion who traces the representation of the as a process of history of literature aging and the association of rejuvenation with innovation Miletus, to Simonides, and Callimachus. Timotheus of

may appear to be removed from their historical context, they stillmanage to convey us understand ancient specific cultural conceptions, thus helping beliefs about children and childhood in a more nuanced fashion.