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Seeing Double


General Editors: Anthony W. Bulloch, Erich S. Gruen, A. A. Long, and
Andrew F. Stewart
Seeing Double
Intercultural Poetics in Ptolemaic
Susan A. Stephens
Los Angeles
University of California Press
Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
University of California Press, Ltd.
London, England
2003 by the Regents of the University of California
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Stephens, Susan A., 1945
Seeing double : intercultural poetics in Ptolemaic
Alexandria / Susan A. Stephens.
p. cm. (Hellenistic culture and society ; 37)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
isbn 0-520-22973-8 (alk. paper).
1. Greek poetry, HellenisticEgyptAlexandria
History and criticism. 2. Egyptian poetryEgypt
AlexandriaHistory and criticism. 3. Literature,
ComparativeGreek and Egyptian. 4. Literature,
ComparativeEgyptian and Greek. 5. Language
and cultureEgyptAlexandria. 6. Alexandria
(Egypt)Intellectual life. 7. Ptolemaic dynasty,
30530 b.c. 8. Poetics I. Title. II. Series.
pa3081 .s74 2003
881'.09932dc21 2002007570
Manufactured in the United States of America
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The paper used in this publication is both acid-free
and totally chlorine-free (TCF). It meets the mini-
mum requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R
1997) (Permanence of Paper).
To the memory of
Jack Winkler
List of Illustrations ix
Preface xi
List of Abbreviations xv
Introduction 1
1. Conceptualizing Egypt 20
2. Callimachean Theogonies 74
3. Theocritean Regencies 122
4. Apollonian Cosmologies 171
5. The Two Lands 238
Select Bibliography 259
Passages Cited 269
Index 277
(Illustrations follow p. 146)
1. Cartouche of Ptolemy I (Tuna el-Gebel), with sedge
and bee
2. Cartouche of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (Rosettana), with
sedge and bee
3. Horus throttling snakes
4. Nakht spearing a snake and a pig (The Book of
the Dead)
5. The solar boat being towed through a snake
(The Amduat)
6. The Sun emerging from a hill at dawn (The Amduat)
I began to think about the relationship of Alexandrian writers to their
contemporary Greco-Egyptian milieu at least twenty years ago, but I
was unable to provide answers that satised myself or colleagues and
students. In the interim I learned a great deal about Egypt and the con-
struction of pharaonic kingship. Some of this material provided intrigu-
ing parallels and overlaps with what I understood of Hellenistic poetic
practice. The question of whether there was a relationship between the
twowhich a few scholars had already articulated and others had de-
nied, with varying degrees of vehemence or disdaingradually evolved
into conviction that one did exist, but this in turn led to other ques-
tions. Why was there a connection? How important was it? Could par-
allels with Egyptian culture tell us anything about the poetry that we
did not already know? This study sketches an answer, in the belief that
grounding a selection of poems of Callimachus and Theocritus and the
epic of Apollonius in their contemporary social and political context
opens up the poetry in a number of ways, not the least of which is to re-
move it from the ivory tower and locate it more centrally within con-
temporary intellectual debates and within the political life of the city. I
have characterized my reading as seeing double. This capitalizes on
what has become a standard formulation for the twin aspects of Ptole-
maic culture: in 1987, for example, W. Peremans wrote about the bi-
cephalous nature of Ptolemaic administration, and in 1993 L. Koenen
wrote of The Janus Head of Ptolemaic Kingship. This is more than a
convenient metaphor: it describes the reality of existence in a world
that was essentially different from that of the classical polis. It was a
world both Greek and Egyptian, in which the cultural codes of each
were important and recognizable.
I have been encouraged by a number of people in this endeavor, and
it is a pleasure to be able to thank them. The Groningen Hellenistic
workshops provided an invaluable venue for testing my ideas. I am in-
debted to the other participants and especially to Annette Harder, who
organizes the workshops, for her support. Similarly, a series of seminars
on the interaction of Greece and Egypt held at Stanford and the Uni-
versity of Chicago offered an opportunity to discuss various parts of my
argument with an audience of classicists and Egyptologists, many of
whose observations are acknowledged in my notes. A number of schol-
arsMary Depew, Marco Fantuzzi, Richard Jasnow, Csaba Lada,
Scott Noegel, Jay Reed, Ian Rutherford, Phiroze Vasunia, and Stephen
Whitehave allowed me to see their work in advance of publication,
and this has enabled me both to rene my own arguments and to cor-
rect errors. My colleague, Joe Manning, helped me in numerous ways
with Hellenistic history, and just by being there to exchange ideas. Lud-
wig Koenen generously provided copious commentary and bibliogra-
phy that I would otherwise have missed. Phiroze Vasunias advice about
my opening chapter proved extremely helpful. I am indebted to Peter
Bing for his thorough and insightful comments. Richard Hunters
knowledge and occasional scepticism were equally valuable. I thank
both for their willingness to read an earlier version of this manuscript.
Benjamin Acosta-Hughes kindly read several versions of my manu-
script and helped me structure my arguments for classical readers. Dan
Selden provided endless hours of discussion and debate on the potential
relationships of Egyptian and Greek material as well as his insights on
poetry. While I have not agreed with each persons comments and ad-
vice in every particular, I have unquestionably proted from their will-
ingness to engage with these questions and to stimulate me constantly
to rene my arguments. For the form in which these ideas now appear,
they are not to be held responsible. I would also like to express my
thanks to Erich Gruen, who solicited the manuscript, and to Kate Toll
for her help in easing it through the editorial process as well as for her
sensible advice on technical problems.
Finally, a word about my editorial decisions. I have used Latinized
Greek spellings throughout when they are in common use. For Egypt-
ian names I have preferred the Hellenized spelling (if it exists) over con-
xii Preface
ventional Egyptian transliterations (e.g., Sesostris vs. Senwosret or Sn-
ws-rt), on the principle that the former will be more familiar to most
readers. I include Greek text only in cases where the exact meaning of
the Greek could affect the argument. In other cases, where I focus on
the contour of a narrative or event, I provide translations only. Transla-
tions are my own unless otherwise noted. In footnoting Egyptian ideas
I have adopted the following practice: whenever possible I provide re-
cent, scholarly treatments easily accessible to those without a back-
ground in Egyptology. In many cases these include handbooks and gen-
eral discussions, which also serve to reinforce a basic point: the ideas I
discuss are pervasive in Egyptian culture. I have tried consistently to
limit my Egyptian evidence to material contemporary with the produc-
tion of Hellenistic poetry or the centuries immediately before. I cite
later sources such as Plutarch, or earlier pharaonic material only to cre-
ate a continuum of ideas from the pharaonic period to the contempo-
rary world of the Ptolemies and beyond.
Parts of chapters 2 and 4 of the present work appeared earlier in Cal-
limachus at Court, Hellenistica Groningana 3 (1998) 16785, and
Writing Epic in the Ptolemaic Court, Hellenistica Groningana 4
(2000) 195215, and are used here with kind permission of the series
editors, M. A. Harder, R. F. Regtuit, and G. C. Wakker.
Stanford University
July 2001
Preface xiii
AP Palatine Anthology.
AR Alexander Romance.
CA J. U. Powell, ed. Collectanea Alexandrina. Oxford,
DIO J. Gwyn Grifths, ed. Plutarch: De Iside et Osiride,
Edited with an Introduction, Translation and Com-
mentary. Cardiff, 1970.
D-K H. Diels and W. Kranz, eds. Die Fragmente der Vor-
sokratiker. 3 vols. 6th ed. Berlin, 195152.
EGF M. Davies, ed. Epicorum Graecorum fragmenta.
Gttingen, 1988.
FGrH F. Jacoby, ed. Die Fragmente der griechischen His-
toriker. Berlin and Leiden, 192358.
Gow A. S. F. Gow, ed. Theocritus. 2 vols. 2d ed. Cam-
bridge, 1952.
G-P A. S. F. Gow and D. L. Page, eds. The Greek Anthol-
ogy: Hellenistic Epigrams. 2 vols. Cambridge,
L W. Helck, E. Otto, and W. Westendorf, eds. Lexikon
fr gyptologie. 7 vols. Wiesbaden, 197592.
Lasserre F. Lasserre, ed. Die Fragmente des Eudoxos von
Knidos. Berlin, 1966.
LIMC Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae.
Zurich and Munich, 198197.
Livrea E. Livrea, ed. Apollonii Rhodii Argonauticon, Liber
quartus. Florence, 1973.
LSJ H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, and H. S. Jones, eds. A
Greek-English Lexicon, with a Revised Supple-
ment. 9th rev. ed. Oxford, 1996.
M-W R. Merkelbach and M. L. West, eds. Hesiodi frag-
menta selecta. 3d ed. Oxford, 1990.
Pf. R. Pfeiffer, ed. Callimachus. 2 vols. Oxford, 194951.
PGM K. Preisendanz, ed. Papyri Graecae magicae. Vols.
12. 2d ed. Stuttgart, 197374.
PMG D. Page, ed. Poetae melici Graeci. Oxford, 1962.
RE A. Pauly, G. Wissowa, and W. Kroll, eds. Real-En-
cyclopdie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft.
Stuttgart, 18931978.
SH H. Lloyd-Jones and P. Parsons, eds. Supplementum
Hellenisticum. Berlin and New York, 1983.
Snell-Maehler B. Snell and H. Maehler, eds. Pindari carmina cum
fragmentis. Parts 12. Leipzig, 197175.
Wendel C. Wendel, ed. Scholia in Apollonium Rhodium vet-
era. Berlin, 1935.
xvi Abbreviations
1. In the lower left and right corners, Jomard placed the traditional Egyptian motifs
of a vulture and an atef crown to ank a cartouche enclosing a star ( = divine) and a bee
( = king).
On returning from Egypt in 1799 Napoleon introduced a sweeping
heraldic reform: he replaced the enduring symbol of the old monarchy,
the eur-de-lis, with the device of a bee. The bee was ubiquitous in its use
by the royal house, appearing on the coronation robes, state furniture,
and occasionally even on Napoleons coat of arms. But Napoleons rea-
son for making this change was by no means obvious, even to his con-
temporaries. The explanation of his choice lies outside of a symbolic
repertory familiar from French culture or traditional western iconogra-
phy. Napoleon borrowed his new royal insignia from Egypt. For over
two thousand years, the bee had been used in hieroglyphic writing to in-
dicate the king of Lower Egypt or the Delta region, and a bee, often elab-
orately carved and painted, always preceded the cartouche of the
pharaohs name, with the result that the Egyptian word for bee (bit) came
by metonymy also to mean king (see plates 1 and 2). Napoleon must
have been aware of this, because Edm Jomard, who was the secretary of
the editorial committee for the Dscription de lgypte, the comprehen-
sive survey of Egyptian monuments and natural history commissioned as
part of Napoleons military expedition, was an ardent student of hiero-
glyphics, and on the title page of the rst volume of the Dscription he
made creative use of the bee as a marker of imperial power.
2 Introduction
2. See Volkmann 1957.
3. perque speciem apis mella concientis, indicant regem, moderatori cum iucundi-
tate aculeos quoque innasci debere . . . ostendentes (17.4.11). For a similar linking of
the king with the image of a bee, see Seneca De clementia 1.19.1 and Dio Chrysostom
4.62. The ancient writers were not consistent on the sex of bees. In his History of Ani-
mals, Aristotle, for example, records the theory that the bees had a queen (553a2133),
but in a later passage describes the hive as led by a king (623b7627b22).
4. Iversen 1993, 133 and pl. XXIII.
Although the decipherment of hieroglyphics was several years in the
future, European interest in a writing system that was thought to en-
code philosophical and theological secrets was intense,
and at least two
ancient sources, Ammianus Marcellinus and Horapollo, in which the
meaning of the bee hieroglyphic was explained, were widely consulted
by Jomard and others. Napoleons adaptation via Jomard followed
Ammianus Marcellinus (17.4.11), for whom bee illustrated the
larger principle that in hieroglyphic writing one character often stood
for whole words or concepts: Ammianus says that through the gure
of a bee making honey [Egyptians] indicate a king, showing that for a
ruler the sting should be tempered with benevolence.
Napoleon could
have chosen the Egyptian royal device for its antiquity and for the
metaphysical cachet that Egyptian hieroglyphs held at the beginning of
the nineteenth century. But because the monarchic associations of the
bee would not have been apparent to all of Napoleons contemporaries,
a modern scholar suggests that he had a more subtle political motive
for the choice of the bee symbol and its elaboration in the frontispiece
to the Dscription de lgypte:
The enigma of the two cartouches [the star and the bee] is therefore
solved, and the correct interpretation of their inscriptions is divus rex or
divine king. It was therefore very wise, probably, only to intimate the
meaning vaguely in the commentary [to the Dscription]. The rather ful-
some attery probably pleased the emperor, who never outgrew a legiti-
macy-complex, and it may have amused the Imperial augurs; but as a re-
lapse into the terminology of the Roy-Soleil it would probably have
jarred on Jacobine ears. For the same reason the true meaning of the new
heraldic emblem was never publicly disclosed, but it was obvious that
Napoleon was fully aware of its signicance and introduced it deliber-
ately as a venerable monarchical symbol.
Napoleons ploy was successful. Today, consulting a standard encyclo-
pedia of French culture about the meaning of the bee device, we are
Introduction 3
5. Grand dictionnaire encyclopdique Larousse (1982) s.v. abeille. Vergils Georgics
and the gure of Aristaeus stand behind this interpretation. See below on Childric, and
note 12.
6. Rex non utitur aculo. Volkmann 1957, 42; Iversen 1993, 167 n. 29.
7. The Hieroglyphica is usually attributed to Horapollo the Younger, who was a
member of a prominent Greco-Egyptian intellectual family of the fth century c.e. See G.
Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind (Prince-
ton, 1986) 18386; G. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor, 1990)
5561. Only the Greek version survives. The work contains a curious blend of accurate
information and allegorizing speculation characteristic of later European writing on the
Labn prb basilAa peiuanion dhloPnte, mAlissan zvgrafoPsi. kaB gbr manon tmn
gllvn zAvn basilAa Gxei, Q tb loipbn tpn melissmn Epetai plpuo, kaub kaB oC gn-
urvpoi peAuontai basileM aDnAttontai dB Dk tp toP mAlito <xrhstath kaB> Dk to
toM kAntroy toM zAoy dynamev <tbn basilAa> xrhstbn eRnai ema kaB eGtonon prb
<dikaiathta> kaB dioAkhsin (1.62 Sbordone). Neither Ammianus nor Horapollo is en-
tirely correct in his explanation of why the Egyptians used the bee to mean king. The bee
was chosen not because of its behavior but most likely because Lower Egypt or the Delta
region was particularly rich in apiculture. The bee seems initially to have been a regional
designation for Lower Egypt and, in combination with a reed plant that designated Upper
Egypt, served in the royal titulature to indicate that the pharaoh was king of a unied
Upper and Lower Egypt. See Schneider 1993, 17581.
8. Grand dictionnaire universal du XIXe sicle (1990) s.v. abeille.
told that it is because the bee is the symbol of industry that Napoleon
I adopted it for his emblem.
Napoleon was not the rst French monarch to use the bee hiero-
glyphic to symbolize kingship, though in his case we can be sure that
contact with Egypt and its monuments provided the direct stimulus. In
the Renaissance, Louis XII was said to have worn a gold-spangled robe
adorned with a king bee surrounded by ordinary bees, combined with
the motto The king does not use the sting.
Louis XII found justica-
tion for his version of this monarchic emblem not in Ammianus, but in
the Greek Horapollo, who explains the bee hieroglyph as
illustrating a people obedient to their king. For alone of all other crea-
tures the bee has a king whom the rest of the bees follow, just as men
obey a king. They allegorize from the pleasure of honey and from the
power of the creatures sting that the king is both kindly and forceful in
rendering judgment and in governance.
Pope Urban VIII also entered this game of heraldic one-upmanship by
displaying bees on his arms accompanied with the Latin verses Gallis
mella dabunt, Hispanis spicula gent ([The bees] will provide honey for
the French, they will sting the Spanish). To which the Spaniards replied:
spicula si gent, emorientur apes (If they sting, the bees will die).
These two historical anecdotes provide relatively transparent models
for the Greek receptions of Egypt that are set out in this book: Louis
4 Introduction
9. Baltru saitis 1985, 8994. The treasure was stolen in 1831.
10. Baltru saitis 1985, 93.
11. Antigonus of Carystus Paradoxa 19 (23) for evidence of the bougonia in Egypt;
see also Vergil Georgics 4.281314; Varro De re rustica 2.5.5; Ovid Metamorphoses
15.36467. See A. B. Cook, Bees in Greek Mythology, JHS 15 (1895) 19, on Childrics
12. Baltru saitis 1985, 9192 (with illustration). The claim is unlikely to be histori-
cally accurate, but rather an attempt to connect early local kings with the later French
monarchy. I am indebted to my colleague Philippe Buc for this observation.
XIIs cloak, like fth- and fourth-century Greek writers, exhibits con-
sciousness of the Egyptian origins of the material it appropriates, but
that appropriation remains at some distance; Napoleon, like the Hel-
lenistic poets, reects an immediate experience of a contemporary
Egypt, though without overt acknowledgment of the context of appro-
priation. In each case, what survives and is considered signicant is re-
fracted through western sensibilities, but each layer also refracts at
some moment a real encounter with Egyptian behaviors and cultural
The following anecdote offers a much more complicated dynamic,
however. In 1653 the tomb of Childric, a Merovingian king who died
in 481, was opened in Tournai. The burial deposit included a bulls
head adorned with a solar disk and more than three hundred gold bees
that had been used to decorate his equipage.
Subsequent excavation re-
vealed a statuette of Isis in the same villa,
conrming what the original
publishers of the nd had already surmised: Childric was among the
last devotees of Isis in early medieval Europe, and his burial objects
must be understood in light of her cult, though an Isis cult that had as-
similated western ideas. The bulls head with the solar disk is Apis. But
the bees are a different matter. In this context they are not obviously
markers of kingship, but symbols of rebirth linked to the Apis bull
through an etymology of Apis/apis. The bees reect a belief in the spon-
taneous creation of bees from the carcass of a dead bull, the so-called
bougonia. Whether or not bougonia stems from an authentically Egypt-
ian tradition, it is not elsewhere attested for Isis worship, though it is
very prominent in Latin sources and treated at length in Vergils Geor-
Thus it may be specic to the Roman development of Isis wor-
ship. When they were found, however, Childrics bees were also in-
vested with dynastic signicance: Jean-Jacques Chiet, who published
the Childric treasure in 1655, included an illustrated account of how
the royal emblem of France, the eur-de-lis, was originally derived from
the bee.
Hence Napoleons bee could enjoy a double reception. The re-
Introduction 5
13. So Larousse (1982); see above, note 5.
placement of the eur-de-lis with the bee in the early nineteenth century
could be understood not as an innovation but as a restoration of the
true origins of the royal insignia,
and could be read, in terms of a
western, and primarily Vergilian, tradition of bees as signiers of indus-
triousness and rejuvenation, as well as an Egyptian symbol of kingship.
Childrics worship of Isis and the resulting funerary deposit indicate a
thoroughly assimilated stratum of Egyptian ideas as well as ideas that
may only appear Egyptian, so intricately joined it is difcult if not im-
possible to separate the constituent parts.
Taken together, these anecdotes illustrate (1) the context-dependent
nature of interpretation, (2) the intricate dynamics of cultural borrow-
ing, (3) the signicance of the visual and monumental in cultural ex-
change, and (4) the peculiar fascination that Egypt and its symbolic
realm hold in the western imagination. Childric, Louis XII, and
Napoleon use the same signier at different historical periods though
for markedly different purposes. To the observer unfamiliar with the
complicated set of historical and political circumstances behind each
French monarchs symbolic deployment of the bee, it no doubt seems
whimsical or idiosyncratic. But when the context is presented, the de-
vice not only becomes explicable but assumes a broader signicance
within the continuum of French imperial history. To educated members
of the court the emblem would have conveyed a subtle signal of monar-
chic ambitions or of imperial desires; to the rest the bee was no more
than an artistic experiment. Without its symbolic baggage, it could not
function as a dangerous reminder of the Roy-Soleil or as a behavioral
template for the proper disposition of the monarch to his subjects.
Rather it became the signier of an anodyne industriousness.
Napoleons bees provide a cautionary tale for our standard approach to
Alexandrian poetry. We strive to acquaint ourselves with as much as
possible of the ancient world in order to recreate a reception that we
hope is similar to that of an ancient reader. Inevitably we fall shortwe
always know too littleand inevitably we differ, since each of us, like
each ancient reader, experiences a poem or a play uniquely. Within that
unique experience, however, there must be certain shared parameters or
overlapping areas of understanding that allow us to agree about the
meaning of texts. But what happens when elements relevant to our un-
6 Introduction
derstanding of a text or historical circumstance are absent? Texts may
still be legible, but some dimension will be lost. Historically in our re-
ception of Alexandrian poetry we have read only through the lter of
ancient Greek literature, occasionally adjusted by recourse to a subse-
quent Latin reading. What we unconsciously exclude from our ap-
proach is the possibility that the writers of Alexandria might have been
fascinated by the Egyptian culture that surrounded them; that they, like
Napoleon, might have deliberately incorporated Egyptian motifs and
allusions into their own work. If they were to do so in a random or ca-
sual way, the noting of such occasions would perhaps be interesting,
but of minimal importance for an adequate understanding of the po-
etry. My claim is broader. I argue in this book that the Alexandrians
systematically incorporated Egyptian ideas and narrative motifs in a set
of poems constructed to explore the dimensions of Ptolemaic kingship.
Our inability to see an Egyptian allusion in their works results not
from their failure to make such allusions, but from our own lack of fa-
miliarity with their frames of reference. To a modern classical scholar
educated in the northern European tradition of Germany or England,
information about Egypt contained within Greek writing is irrelevant
to the study of Greek culture and Greek literature proper and has either
been dismissed or categorized as generically oriental. Rarely is it stud-
ied in terms of its own, non-Greek, origins. But this is not to say that
such material did not exist or that it would not have formed part of the
conceptual world of Greeks themselves, particularly those Greeks who
had immigrated to Egypt. From Herodotus, for example, it is obvious
that Greeks living in Egypt were familiar with local versions of Egypt-
ian stories, and to imagine that the Alexandrian poets and their edu-
cated audience were not equally so informed is illogical if we simulta-
neously insist upon their acquaintance with every detail of a Greek
world that is both geographically and temporally remote. It is my con-
tention in what follows that Egypt and Egyptian motifs enter the poems
on various levels, as casual allusions, linguistic play, and, more perva-
sively, as subtexts that underlie or complement the Greek. I wish to ex-
plore the possibilty that the Alexandrians deliberately composed poems
to match Egyptian narratives in their general contours by highlighting
certain details, often marginal in the Greek stories, but signicant in the
Egyptian, and that their Alexandrian audience would have been able to
appreciate this aspect of their poetry.
It is possible to object to my thesis on the grounds that in their work
these poets only rarely refer to Egypt, that their poems are entirely ex-
Introduction 7
14. See, for example, Weber (1993, 37188, esp. 381) for criticisms of the work of
Merkelbach, Koenen, and Bing. Zanker voices slightly different criticisms. He is con-
cerned with the evidentiary habits of these scholars, who read behaviors of the later
Ptolemies onto the earlier (1989, 9199). Zankers own reading of the world of Alexan-
dria, particularly the culture shock for immigrating Greeks (p. 91), seems to me to be
largely correct. Where I differ from him is in assessing the degree of separation of Greeks
from Egyptians. Recent work, particularly that of Thompson, Clarysse, and Quaegebeur,
undermines much of the evidence on which the case for such a separation has been built.
To identify an Egyptian stratum within Alexandrian poetry is not to argue for wholesale
interpretatio graeca, as Zanker seems to think.
plicable within Greek terms, and, therefore, to seek an Egyptian expla-
nation for events or details is unnecessary or overly imaginative.
what does explicable in Greek terms really mean? Often it means no
more than pointing to a string of verbal allusions to Homer or Hesiod
without providing an integrated account of the dynamics of the text as
a whole; hence a poetics is sometimes reduced to arbitrariness or, on oc-
casion, banality. Even within a wholly Greek framework, much in these
poets remains obscure. For example, to whom (if anyone) does Calli-
machus refer with his attack on the Telchines? Critics have assumed a
priori that the obscurity of the reference is a result of lost context that
would have been clear to his contemporaries, though perhaps not to
subsequent Roman readers. Within the parameters of Greek poetry we
are prepared to accept the limits of our knowledge. Why then should it
be so difcult to imagine that we might also be lacking an Egyptian
frame of reference? As contemporary scholars surely we have moved
beyond the Hellenocentrism of our own scholarly past. Rather, it is the
profound lack of familiarity with Egyptian culture that impedes us.
This is not meant to deny that the Alexandrians were writing for
Greeks, not Egyptians. These poets and their audience were operating
within the mimetic framework of Greek generic structures, and al-
though they experimented with the boundaries of the inherited genres,
they could not have abandoned them even if they had wished to and
still have expected to be understood by a Greek audience. However, the
fact that they do not specically name Egypt when, as I will argue, they
are selecting a Greek myth that in its contours resembles an Egyptian
story is both a function of their own reception of Egypt from previous
Greek writings and a means of exerting a measure of control over an
alien space. Previous cultural assimilation meant that for an Alexan-
drian Greek Horus was Apollo (and vice versa), just as Osiris was
Dionysus and Isis was Demeter. Divinities that in other parts of the
Mediterranean had distinct and separable mythologies, in Egypt were
8 Introduction
15. For discussion of the AR, see below, chapter 2.
16. SH fr. 254.4 (8): DanaoP gp dpb boygenAo. See the editors remarks ad loc.
already part of the same discursive eld, so that a narrative about the
one was predisposed to converge with the other. The evidence I present
in the next chapter demonstrates the persistence with which writers like
Herodotus insist on these identications, even when (to us) they might
seem forced. Greek names dominate or displace the native so thor-
oughly that at times it is difcult to identify authentic Egyptian patterns
that lie beneath. Thus what we may regard as necessary clues for our-
selves will not have been the same for an Alexandrian Greek audience
in the third century b.c.e.
This habit of renaming is symptomatic of a wider phenomenon for
those who were immigrating to Egypt. As the extreme case of the bar-
barian, or the total inversion of all that is Greek (articulated as a binary
opposition in Herodotus), Egypt presented a peculiar challenge. Its alien
physical, and even more importantly its alien mental, landscape needed
to be rendered explicable by and for its new occupantsin some sense
to be made Greek. The Alexander Romance provides an illuminating
example of the process of ideological repositioningthe author of this
disingenuous text explains the ethnic mixture of the city of Alexandria
as the inevitable result of its foundation by Alexander, but an Alexander
who is provided with a new paternity; he is no longer the son of Philip,
but of Nectanebo, the last native pharaoh, and Olympiashence in her-
itage both Egyptian and Greek.
On a more sophisticated level, the
Alexandrian poets engage in similarly creative gestures that serve to do-
mesticate or rather Hellenize Egypt. Callimachus, Theocritus, and
Apollonius experiment with templates to incorporate Egyptian myths
and pharaonic behavior into Greek. What begins as alien or outr, by
being matched with Greek myths of a similar contour, can become fa-
miliar, acceptable, even normative. Just as Egyptian gods are renamed
and syncretistic cults try to absorb the native into the religion of the new
natives, these Greek poets absorb Egyptian culture in such a way as to
make it barely visible and then invisible, a process that simultaneously
familiarizes the viewer with the unfamiliar and makes it look Greek.
An example: at the opening of Callimachuss poem on the victory of
Berenice at the Nemean games, Callimachus identies Argos as the land
of cow-born Danaus,
alluding to the Greek myth of Io, who mi-
grated to Egypt in the form of a cow and gave birth to Epaphus ( =
Egyptian Apis). One of her descendants, Danaus, then returned to
Introduction 9
17. SH fr. 254.16 (30): eDdyPai falibn taPron DhlemAsai.
18. Selden (1998, 353) in discussing the Lock of Berenice puts it as follows: The
Hellenic reader, compelled to make sense of the diverse data of the poem yet unable to fall
back on a gurative negation, nds himself drawn more and more into an Egyptian order
of ideas. To comprehend the piece in full, he can no longer remain securely within the
horizons of Hellenic culture, but must make the transposition from one discursive system
to the other.
Greece and gave his name to the whole peopleDanaans. This unex-
ceptionably Greek epithet is by no means value neutralit links Greeks
to Egyptians in hereditary terms. A few lines later, Callimachus de-
scribes Egyptian women as knowing how to mourn the bull with the
white marking.
Now the reference is to the thoroughly Egyptian cult
of the Apis bull, but since we have just been reminded of the descen-
dants of Io, Apis too begins to lose his otherness and to be incorporated
into the allusive matrix of what has become an extended Greco-Egypt-
ian mythological family. The habit of syncretism and allusion to an
Egypt already embedded in Greek texts are two means by which poets
create a discursive eld that can serve to accommodate two different
cultural logics. Within this framework a poem that nowhere explicitly
names Egypt or an Egyptian idea nonetheless frequently presents a set
of incidents that are entirely legible within the framework of Egyptian
myth. Further, a narrative that in its selection of Greek mythological de-
tail may appear whimsical or obscure, when read in the context of
Egyptian ideas often yields not simply a coherent pattern, but a pattern
complicit in the ideological construction of pharaonic kingship.
degree of recognition, resistance, or acceptance of these patterns that a
contemporary reader would have experienced, to be sure, will have var-
ied. Nor do these three poets themselves exhibit the same degree of in-
terest in Egypt or construct their discursive matrices to represent Egypt
or Ptolemaic kingship in the same way. Still, the cumulative effect of
this poetry would have been to allow the reader to discern Egyptian
cultural formations, but contained within or domesticated by its frame-
work of Greekness. The effect is one of an optical illusionlooked at
from one angle discrete elements in the narrative are Greek, from an-
other Egyptian; both are complete and distinct without the other, yet in-
terdependent in their nal patterning.
These remarks are not intended to gloss over the difculties inherent
in discussing what amounts to a series of cross-cultural readings in
which one set of cultural references does not operate as a traditional lit-
erary eld and, in addition to text-based lore, will necessarily include a
10 Introduction
19. See the next chapter for a discussion of how the Alexandrian poets and their au-
dience would have had access to Egyptian ideas.
20. This a signicant feature of their so-called realism. See Zanker 1987, 55112.
21. The precise location of the temple is not known. Strabo may be describing the
ruins at Heliopolis, but he is more likely to be describing the generic plan of the Egyptian
temple. See Fraser 1972, 2: 41415 n. 582.
22. See Hinds 1998, 3447, for a helpful discussion of the reading of topoi.
visual and dramatic component.
But just as generic traditions within
which an individual text was produced function as background white
noise that inevitably leaves traces within that text, so too does the con-
temporary environmentthe physical environment as well as the polit-
ical and social milieuin which that text is produced. Despite the con-
structed literariness of the Alexandrians, their often one-to-one
specicity of allusion that simulates annotation or commentary on po-
etic predecessors, these poets devote considerable textual energy to the
object, and they display a sense of the pictorial in their poetic formula-
tion that seems to set them apart from their predecessors.
Given their
stated interests in cult formation, statutes of the gods, and attendant ac-
tivities, the expectation that visual uniqueness of Egyptian artistic rep-
resentation would also have come to their notice is not unwarranted.
There is enough specic information in Callimachus, for example, to
justify this assumption: the dedicatory epigram to Sarapis (37 Pf. = AP
13.7); another to Isis, identied as the daughter of Inachus ( = Io; 57 Pf.
= AP 6.150); and, most interestingly, a one-line fragment quoted in
Strabo (17.1.28 = fr. 715 Pf.) that mentions the dromos of Anubis.
Though the context of Callimachuss poem is missing, the fact that he
knows the temple at all conrms the familiarity with Egyptian monu-
ments that I am presupposing.
Further, it is my assumption that coordinates of similarity or differ-
ence may operate one way within an inherited textual tradition in one
political and social environment, but quite differently in another set-
ting. Thus it is important to consider what lies behind an accretion of
intertexts: often it is the topos or literary clich that is our best source
of information about commonly held ideas; however, these common-
places may be thrown into relief or take on new meanings when relo-
cated in a cross-cultural milieu. For example, does the familiar expres-
sion of doubt about how to hymn the god operate in the same way in
the world of Zeus Ammon as it does in fth-century Athens?
As a fur-
ther strategy of reading, a marked difference from predecessors within
a traditional Greek milieu requires some account in narrative terms
Introduction 11
23. For example, Fontenrose (1980) contextualizes the myth of Apollo and Python in
terms of similar Near Eastern tales that include Typhon in Hesiod and the Egyptian Seth.
His study demonstrates their common folkloric dimensions not their allusive interde-
24. Bilde 1994, 11.
within a text. Rather than dismissing as playful or subversive what has
to critics often seemed strange or eccentric, it is worthwhile to read
these moments with some care. Within a different cultural formation
(namely Egypt) it is now similarity that becomes signicant. However,
incidents, events, or narratives from two different cultures that appear
to be structurally similar may be in fact folkloric; they may possess a
pancultural kinship that results from the fundamental desire to organ-
ize human experience, and not necessarily be indicative of a specic se-
lection of circumstances that invites the reader to think of Egypt.
unique set of circumstances in the Greek tradition that yields a narra-
tive logic that operates more fundamentally in Egyptian culture than
Greek then is what is signicant. An example: within Greek poetry the
rise of an island from the watery void at the moment of sunrise is an
event without obvious parallel or mythological baggage. Yet in Egypt-
ian thought it is heavily freighted: emerging islands and sunrise signal
the moment of creationnew beginningsas well as the ascension of
the new pharaoh to the throne. Yet one incident of (apparently) marked
similarity between the two cultural logics hardly constitutes proof. This
is not the end of the argument, but the beginning. It is rather the sum of
such elements throughout the course of a poem, elements that cannot
be accounted for in more straightforward ways, through recourse to
Greek models, by folk tradition, or even sheer chance. Even at this
point, however, unless the two cultural logics add up to more than the
sum of their parts, unless an Egyptian order of ideas allows a more
complete comprehension and a more consistent reading, the argument
cannot be persuasive.
Because the purpose of this book is not merely to demonstrate the
presence of allusions to Egyptian myth or to excavate an Egyptian stra-
tum in Alexandrian poetry, I focus on Egyptian material within selected
poems that not only locates them within but denes the parameters of a
wider dialogue about kingship. For the Ptolemaic court to rule effec-
tively it could not construct itself entirely in the mode of a traditional
Greek kingship, but as a Macedonian Greek line occupying and ruling
over pharaonic Egypt it strove necessarily to position itself in both cul-
The poets are similarly situated: Callimachus and Apollonius
12 Introduction
25. Cameron 1995, 170.
are natives of North Africa, of Cyrene and Alexandria respectively, and
a third, Theocritus, was probably resident in Alexandria for some
years. Most scholars date the earliest poems of Callimachus and The-
ocritus to the beginning of Philadelphuss reign, around 284 b.c.e., or
within a generation of the foundation of the city. Callimachus and
Apollonius, certainly, were men with a stake in the establishment and
were prominent scholars in the newly created Museum. It is my con-
tention that far from being ivory-towered intellectuals indulging in ob-
scurantist aesthetics as a reaction to or withdrawal from unsympathetic
imperial practices, these poets were the image makers for the Ptolemaic
Moreover, their poems were political in the broadest sense,
serving neither to support nor to subvert the status quo, but to open up
a space in which social and political values could be imaginatively
recreated, examined, and critiqued. Within this space these three poets
experiment by selectively adapting previous Greek mythological and
historical models to articulate a novel kind of kingship, and it is within
this context that their generic experiments should be understood. The
inherited genres of Greek poetry came encrusted with meanings not al-
ways applicable or relevant to the new world of the Ptolemies. Refash-
ioning these past thought worlds to signify in the present was central to
their role in courtand it is essential to remember that this court was
in Egypt.
At the time that Ptolemy I assumed control of Egypt, he would have
been dependent upon an Egyptian administrative and scribal hierarchy
rmly entrenched in native priesthoods. The temples they controlled,
thanks to a century of a weakened central government, owned as much
as a third of the arable land and supported an elaborate ideology of
kingship to enhance the status not only of a particular ruler but their
own as well. Egyptian kingship, in marked contrast to Greek, was a
complex theocracy in which the king symbolically linked the human
and divine spheres and regularly appeared in the company of the native
gods in ceremony to guarantee the continued well-being of Egypt. To
neglect the rituals, to eliminate or ignore the priesthoods, to undermine
native belief, would have been to court social and economic fragmenta-
tion, since the smooth operation of the country depended on these na-
tive administrative and priestly elites continuing to acquiesce in the ap-
Introduction 13
26. Information in the Satrap decree indicates that the move was either in 320/19
b.c.e. or, based on the standard reading of the formulae, in 312/11. See Fraser 1972, 2:
1112 n. 28. Egyptologists usually prefer the later date.
27. Reymond and Barns 1977, 133 (particularly 28 n. 24).
28. Thompson (1994, 6787) sketches the trajectory of linguistic change from Egypt-
ian to Greek in Ptolemaic administration.
29. The decree was found in Cairo. Bevan (1968, 2832) provides the only transla-
tion available in English, though it is not very accurate. For the original German edition,
see Sethe 190416, 2: 1123. There is an excellent photograph of the stele in G. Grimm,
Verbrannte Pharaonen? Die Feuerbestattung Ptolemaios IV Philopator und ein gescheit-
erter Staatsstreich in Alexandria, Antike Welt 28 (1997) 238.
30. Claiming to restore the temples was standard operating procedure for the new
pharaoh: e.g., the claims made for Amasis and Nectanebo I (Lichtheim 1980, 35, 89). In
turn, the Persians and Alexander made similar claims. For a discussion of the reality be-
hind these claims, see Winnicki 1994.
31. I am indebted to my colleague Joe Manning for this observation.
paratus of state. Hence the new rulers needed to accommodate them-
selves to the native ceremonials of kingship, while (presumably) resist-
ing the temptation of complete assimilation. This was not an abstract
problem. Soter began his rule in Memphis, the religious center of old
Egypt, and only moved to Alexandria some years after taking power.
The received wisdom that Alexandria was never conceived as part of
Egypt proper but was always, in the words of Tacitus, considered ad
Aegyptum is not correct. This was a Roman not a Ptolemaic formula-
The Egyptians themselves called the city Rhacotis. The country
was initially administered in Demotic Egyptian, and only when a suit-
able administrative cadre of bilingual native Egyptians had been cre-
ated did the transformation into a fully Greek bureaucracy take place,
and this could not have happened much before the reign of Ptolemy II.
Inscriptions from the early part of Ptolemaic rule, like the Satrap decree
(311 b.c.e.), were written only in hieroglyphicsin contrast to the later
bi-or trilingual decrees, like the Rosetta stone (196 b.c.e.).
The former
stele provides valuable insight into Ptolemaic practice vis--vis native
protocols. It records that Soter, in the name of the pharaoh Alexan-
der IV, restored the Egyptian temples to their former state and reversed
the depredations of the previous invaders, the Persians. This statement
inserts Soter into pharaonic tradition, and similar claims made by sub-
sequent Ptolemies testify to an active collaboration with their Egyptian
priesthoods in constructing a civic ideology that positioned them as
continuers of the true pharaonic practice, in contrast to their predeces-
sors, the Persians, whom they portray as little more than thieves.
It is
signicant that Soter began to so position himself in Egyptian ideology
even before he assumed the role of king to a Greek population.
14 Introduction
32. Sethe 190416, 2: 81105. See Hlbl 1994, 7383, with illustrations of the
Pithom and Mendes stelae.
33. This is much debated. For the arguments against, see Burstein 1991. For argu-
ments in favor of coronation, see Koenen 1993, 4981. The real issue in these discussions
is the degree to which Macedonian Greek rulers assimilated to native practices and how
pervasive such practices would have been for their rule. Whether or not the earlier
Ptolemies were crowned in the Egyptian manner, Epiphanes was crowned by Egyptian
priests in Memphis and identied on the Rosetta stone (196 b.c.e.) as playing the role of
Horus in the New Years festival.
34. On the basis of the survival of a presumably legitimate daughter named Ptole-
mais, daughter of Ptolemy Kheper-ka-Re, Tarn (Queen Ptolemais and Apama, CQ 23
[1929] 13841) argues that Soter may have consolidated power at the beginning of his
rule by marrying into the line of Nectanebo, the last Egyptian monarch. Given the evi-
dence of the Alexander Romance, which seeks to position Alexander as the son of
Nectanebo II, such a marriage would have made excellent political sense as part of a con-
solidation of power.
35. Thompson 1992b, 324. For the stele of Wennefer, see Lichtheim 1980, 5458; for
Manetho, see Dillery 1999.
36. Burstein 1992, 4550; Peremans 1987, 32743.
37. Fraser 1972, 1: 497.
38. Murray 1970, 15766.
lar claims of returning the gods to Egypt were made for Ptolemy II in
the Pithom stele (again only in hieroglyphics) of 264, though by the
time of this later text, Ptolemys political interests in Syria will have
dovetailed nicely with pharaonic ideology.
Whether or not Soter and his immediate successors were actually
crowned as pharaoh in Memphis,
they certainly allowed themselves to
appear as pharaoh in Egyptian inscriptions and temple reliefs and to be
seen behaving no differently than their Egyptian predecessors. Soter
may even initially have taken an Egyptian wife.
Playing prominent
roles during the formative period of Soters reign were native Egyptians
like the general, Nectanebo, a member of the royal house of the last na-
tive pharaoh (Nectanebo II), the royal scribe, Wennefer, and, most im-
portant, Manetho, the Sebennytic priest, who was the rst Egyptian to
write a history of Egypt in Greek and for Greeks.
Additionally, Soter
availed himself of Greeks like Hecataeus of Abdera to provide him with
information about Egypt. Hecataeus would have been a better inform-
ant about the country than Herodotushis description of the Rames-
seum in Thebes is notable for its accuracy
and may well have read
By all accounts Hecataeuss views on Egypt were not
only positive, but utopian: he seems to have projected his idealized vi-
sion of the proper education and practice of kingship onto the Egyptian
pharaohs, no doubt in order to provide a paradigm for the rule of the
Ptolemies themselves.
Indeed, there is some evidence that Alexander
Introduction 15
39. See also Arrians anecdote (7.11) on the inclusion of Persians in Alexanders army,
and Tarn 1933. For a different evaluation, see E. Badian, Alexander the Great and the
Unity of Mankind, Historia 7.4 (1958) 42544.
40. Fraser 1972, 1: 255; Thompson 1988, 116. The most recent and thorough dis-
cussion is Borgeaud and Volukhine 2000, 3776.
41. For a discussion of the spread of the Isis cult under the early Ptolemies, see
Dunand 1973, 1: 10961.
42. Fraser 1972, 1: 26365.
43. Quaegebeur 1988, 4153. Yves Empereurs discoveries from the underwater site
of the Alexandrian harbor have revealed colossal statues in the pharaonic style. In his tel-
evision documentary (though not in the written publication) Empereur suggested that the
statues belong to the reign of Philadelphus and are of Philadelphus as pharaoh and and
his queen as Isis.
and Soter, following him, were aiming to create a monarchy in which
the traditional barriers between Greek and non-Greek might be soft-
ened or even eliminated. Eratosthenes, for example, is said to have
praised Alexander for ignoring the advice of those who counseled him
to treat Greeks alone as friends, but barbarians as enemies, rather pre-
ferring to accept men on the basis of their good or bad qualities (Strabo
An obvious example of Soters attempt to bridge the gap between
Egyptian and Greek is the introduction of the cult of Sarapis. The Apis
bull was mummied and worshipped in death as Osiris-Apis, or Oso-
rapis by Egyptians. The Ptolemies humanized this cult by introducing
statues to represent the god in human form, but they did not uncouple it
from the original animal worship of the Egyptian cult. The choice of Os-
orapis was not random: for the Greeks, Osiris was the equivalent of
Dionysus, and the sculptures that lined the dromos of the Memphite
Sarapeum offer a clear-cut example of the use of dual Greek and Egypt-
ian symbolism: they included two peacocks, each ridden by a young
Dionysus as well as a falcon with the head of a bearded man and a
Certainly, the temple to Sarapis erected in Alexandria, while hu-
manizing the form of the god, also included Egyptian architectural ele-
ments as well as freestanding pieces like obelisks, sphinxes, and cult stat-
ues executed in the Egyptian style and inscribed in hieroglyphics. Here,
too, the thoroughly Egyptian deity, Isis, was worshipped as Sarapiss con-
and, by the fourth Ptolemy, her son, Horus-the-Child, whom the
Greeks called Harpocrates, joined them in cult.
From inscriptions and
archaeological evidence, it is clear that the royal family associated them-
selves with the Egyptian gods in cult from a very early period.
Mendes stele of 264, for example, commemorates the visit of Ptolemy II
16 Introduction
44. Sethe 190416, 2: 2854. This too was written only in hieroglyphics; see Hlbl
1994, 77, for an illustration, and 9495 for its cultic signicance.
45. See, for example, Murray 1970, 142; Bing 1988, 13435 n. 82.
46. On early Ptolemaic temple construction, see Arnold 1999.
to the shrine of the newly enthroned ram of Mendes (Banebdjed) to ven-
erate the god and oversee the progress of work on his temples.
Scholarly consensus holds that in the later part of his reign, Soter,
followed by Philadelphus and Euergetes, retreated from a position that
tended to engage with or include elements of both Egyptian and Greek
cultures to one of isolationism and of relative cultural purity for
It is wise to be cautious here, since a now fully bilingual bu-
reaucracy would serve to mask the degree of participation by assimi-
lated Egyptians. However, even if the early Ptolemies did retreat from
attempts at cultural integration, their rule continued to be dual
basileus to the Greek population, pharaoh to the Egyptian. And even if
the necessary pharaonic practices were performed by royal surrogates
at the periphery of an Alexandrian Greeks consciousness, the dynamic
interplay of the two competing styles of kingship could not have been
ignored, especially in light of the fact that over time the Egyptianization
of the Ptolemies certainly continued. Brother-sister marriage, after all,
appears as early as Philadelphus, and these early monarchs carried on
major building programs of Egyptian monuments, many of which were
erected in Alexandria itself, and within which certain deities, particu-
larly Horus and Isis, and their attendant iconographies were especially
Over time, the Greek population of both Alexandria and the
rest of Egypt grew more assimiliated, coming to resemble the Hel-
lenomemphites of an earlier period, with frequent intermarriage, dual
Greek-Egyptian names, and burial practices that included mummica-
tion and use of the distinctively Egyptian iconography. In this environ-
ment, total assimilation to or complete rejection of Egypt would have
been extreme responses. For most of Mediterranean Greek heritage
who lived in Ptolemaic Alexandria daily accommodation in some form
to the reality of Egyptclimate, monuments, religious practices, lan-
guage and writing systems, court ceremonieswas inevitable. It is not
within the context of a Greek culture, separate from and ignorant of
Egyptian culture, that Alexandrian poetry should be positioned, but as
part of the cultural dynamic in which these two distinct and at times di-
ametrically opposed modes of cultural behavior were bound to interact
and out of which a successful political style needed to evolve.
Introduction 17
The primary focus of this book is poetry, and specically poetry that, I
will argue, operates to imagine a new form of kingship, operating in
two worlds, Greek and Egyptian. In order to see it in its contemporary
context, I have begun with a chapter that sets out earlier Greek writings
on Egypt and what we can learn about the various Egypts that Greeks
constructed for themselves. In particular I consider the fourth-century
writers in prose who were near contemporaries of the Alexandrian
poets, Hecataeus of Abdera, Euhemerus, and (somewhat later) Diony-
sus Scytobrachion, all of whom were familiar with Egypt. Although
their writings have not survived intact, the epitomes to be found in
Diodorus Siculus and other sources provide enough detail that it is pos-
sible to draw useful conclusions about the general intellectual trends of
such works. The second part of the chapter provides a summary of the
ideological underpinnings of pharaonic theocracy and the central
myths that encode it. The nal section offers a reading of the Alexander
Romance as an example of the way in which one of the principal legiti-
mating myths of pharaonic kingship, that of divine paternity, was re-
fashioned in Alexandrian Greek writing.
The next three chapters treat Callimachus, Theocritus, and Apollo-
nius, respectively. In treating Callimachus and Theocritus, I have se-
lected four poemsCallimachuss Hymn to Zeus and the Hymn to
Delos and Theocrituss Heracliscus (Idyll 24) and the Encomium on
Ptolemy (Idyll 17)because of the interconnectedness of their themes
and the likelihood of their being written within the rst decades of
Ptolemy IIs reign and within a few years of each other. The Zeus hymn
and the Heracliscus date in all probability from the opening of his
reign, the Delos hymn and the Encomium from the 270s. The rst two
poems experiment with nding appropriate models for Ptolemaic king-
ship by focusing on childhood: Callimachus on the divine birth of Zeus,
Theocritus on an early incident in the mythology of Heracles. The sec-
ond pair of poems continues to play out ideas of kingship in divine
(Apollo) or human terms (Ptolemy), the birth of Apollo on Delos in
Callimachus seeming to nd its logical fulllment in Ptolemys birth on
Cos. Regardless of their compositional order, these latter poems main-
tain the ction of order and both operate within the same discursive
eld. The cosmic disorder that is transformed at the birth of Apollo
into harmony in Callimachus is continued in the Encomium, as if the
promise of Ptolemy in the one is fullled in the other. While Calli-
machus remains within the framework of archaic Greek poetry to con-
struct (or imagine) an ideal of kingship, Theocritus moves to the con-
18 Introduction
47. My perspective is not entirely solipsistic: R. Merkelbach, L. Koenen, P. Bing, and
most recently (and extensively) D. Selden have all read Alexandrian poetry through dual
lenses, and in what follows I am much indebted to their earlier observations.
temporary world of real political and philosophical debate as evi-
denced in Hecataeus of Abdera. The approachs of these two chapters
differ: in the rst I provide a rather long and detailed reading of the
Zeus hymn to demonstrate as clearly as possible the ways in which the
reader is led from an ostensibly Greek mythological milieu into a con-
ated Greco-Egyptian universe that converges in the person of the
human king, Ptolemy. This is followed by a shorter, thematic discussion
of the Delos hymn. Theocrituss two poems are read in more general
terms, against Callimachus and against each other. In both of these
chapters I try to extend the allusive matrix of Greek material that
would have been available to an Alexandrian audience beyond the
canonical texts of Greek poetry. Because of its length the treatment of
Apolloniuss epic is commensurately different. I rst situate the poem in
its Ptolemaic context on the basis of Greek material, then I adapt a
model from postcolonial discourse to establish the narrative framework
for a series of Egyptian themes. The nal section of the chapter reads
Apolloniuss fourth book as a journey though the Egyptian under-
world. In the last chapter I contextualize the various readings of the
earlier chapters in terms of the political and social redenition of Egypt
as Two Lands, no longer the lands of Upper and Lower Egypt, but of
Greek and Egyptian culture, locating aetiology as a necessary habit of
the poetic mind in redening Egypt as Greek.
Fundamentally, this book is about readingmy own, that of other
scholars, and that of ancient poets themselves, though not necessarily in
that order. As a scholar trained within the western classical tradition I
bring to my reading of Alexandrian poetry the same familiarity with the
standard works of archaic and classical Greece that critics of this mate-
rial normally possess. But to my act of reading in this book I bring a
specic type of knowledge that classical critics only rarely have access
tothat of the Egyptian literary and cultural environment contempo-
rary with the poets whom I am discussing. To know these things is to
read differentlyto see double. Inevitably as I read this poetry, I read it
through dual lensesGreek and Egyptian.
I cannot do otherwise; my
particular construction of the ancient world will not allow it. Initially
my way of reading will seem alien to readers familar with only Greek
literature; therefore, I conceive it my task to present my audience with
Introduction 19
the kind of material that allows them to repeat my experience as a
reader, and to come closer to what I believe would have been the expe-
rience of the original audiences of these poets. The ultimate goal is to
remove Alexandrian poetry from the ivory tower and locate it more
centrally in the social and political life of the city.
Greek immigration to Ptolemaic Egypt entailed not only physical relo-
cation to a foreign landscape, but encounter with a culture produced by
alien habits of mind. However, immigration was preceded by a process
of domestication of this alien world that had begun at least as early as
the sixth century b.c.e.,
with Greek writers alternately demonizing or
romanticizing Egypt and its cultural institutions, inventorying, and -
nally appropriating them. Therefore, before turning to a consideration
of what the poets of Alexandria could have known about purely Egypt-
ian systems of thought in the third century b.c.e., we need to take cog-
nizance not only of the contents of previous Greek writings on Egypt
but also of the intellectual Tendenz of earlier writers like Herodotus
who interpret or refract Egyptian culture for Greeks, because much that
is central to this study is already visible in earlier Greek writers, though
considerably altered in form. The signicance of this earlier material
should not be underestimated. For Greek scholars the identication of
Apollo with Egyptian Horus is of no particular importance in under-
standing the role of Apollo in Greek religion during the archaic and
classical periods, nor is it relevant for Egyptologists in understanding
the role of Horus in Egyptian cult. But for Greeks newly imported into
chapter 1
Conceptualizing Egypt
1. Contact between Greece and Egypt certainly took place from the Mycenean pe-
riod, but what residue it left in archaic and classical Greece is disputed and unimportant
for this argument. I am concerned only with material that could have directly shaped the
Hellenistic experience.
Conceptualizing Egypt 21
2. E.g., Fontenrose 1980, 24951, 39193; West 1966, 37983, esp. notes on lines
82080. This incident will be discussed in more detail in chapter 2.
Egypt, the fact that many Egyptian divinities could already be imagined
as virtually equivalent to Greek gods would have served to make the
pantheon and other aspects of Egyptian religion progressively more fa-
miliar than they in fact were by authorizing a thought process that fo-
cused on similarities rather than differences. Although this will neces-
sarily have led to misunderstandings of purely native Egyptian religious
beliefs, it will also have functioned as a very potent tool that aided in
mapping an otherwise unfamiliar mental landscape. Although Greek
writing about Egypt frequently had very little to do with actual Egypt-
ian beliefs and practices, belonging rather to the construction of a
Greek intellectual and political reality, within this general construct ele-
ments of genuine Egyptian culture are often visible. Consideration of
the various available materials and how they were appropriated, then,
will allow us to reconstruct the outlines of the Egypt imagined by
Greeks before and during the early Ptolemaic period, as well as the cat-
egories of discourse in which Egypt will have gured.
What follows is not a systematic review of all previous Greek writ-
ers views of Egypt. Christian Froidefonds 1971 study, Le mirage gyp-
tien dans la littrature grecque d Homre Aristote, already provides
this. Rather, I wish to focus on specic themes found in earlier writing
on Egypt that are central, through frequently ignored, in reconstructing
the intellectual milieu of Alexandria. I omit Homer and Hesiod because
Egypt receives no sustained treatment in their poetry and is embedded
in the myths of certain families, which I do discuss. Or one nds noth-
ing more than a residue of story patternsnot even identied as Egypt-
iandoubtless ltered through other Near Eastern cultures, like the
contest of Zeus and Typhon in Hesiods Theogony.
The portrait of
Egyptians found in two surviving Greek tragedies, Aeschyluss Suppli-
ants and Euripides Helen, has been recently examined by Phiroze Va-
sunia in The Gift of the Nile, a sustained study of how Greek writers of
the fth and fourth centuries imagined Egypt. Rather than repeat his
arguments here, I have included references to his study, where relevant,
in footnotes. I do, however, expand on his formulation of Helen. Vasu-
nia also has substantial chapters on Herodotus, Plato, and Isocrates. I
treat Herodotus here in several ways: as part of the discussion of Ten-
denz, as a litmus with which to test how Greek immigrants to Egypt
would have encountered Egyptian ideas, and through occasional analy-
22 Conceptualizing Egypt
3. Platos construction of Egypt, especially in terms of writing and the stability of its
institutions, has been treated recently by a number of scholars: see, for example, M. Deti-
enne, Lcriture d Orphe (Paris, 1989) 16786; D. Steiner, The Tyrants Writ: Myths and
Images of Writing in Ancient Greece (Princeton, 1994); Vasunia 2001, 13676.
4. Lloyd (1976, 1360) provides an extensive discussion of the categories of ex-
change. For travelers, see Y. Volokhine, Les dplacements pieux en gypte pharonique,
in Frankfurter 1998, 83.
5. Braun (1982) provides a very useful survey with a number of illustrations. See also
J. Boardman, The Greeks Overseas (London, 1980) 11145, with illustrations.
6. On the site of Naucratis, see W. D. E. Coulson and A. Leonard, Jr., eds., Ancient
Naukratis: Excavations at a Greek Emporium in Egypt, vols. 12.1, American Schools of
Oriental Research (Cambridge, Mass., 1997).
sis of specic passages. I discuss Plato and Isocrates more briey, and in
a restricted context.
What emerges from all of these studies is that
there is not one simple model of Egypt that all Greek writers adhered
to, but that Egypt served as a catalyst for the expression of often con-
icting ideas about what it meant to be Greek. This is a useful frame of
reference for what follows, but it is also limited, since as Greeks took
up residence in Egypt itself, what could be contained as separate social
and cultural spaces began to collapse. Vasunias insight that Alexan-
ders views of Egypt must have been determined by this earlier Greek
reception of Egypt is surely correct, but my arguments necessarily begin
from the point where reception cushioned by temporal and spatial re-
moteness ends and interaction begins. Therefore, the trajectory of this
chapter is to move from fourth- and third-century Greek constructs of
Egypt through native ideologies to end with a consideration of how
these two worlds intersect in the Alexander Romance.
greek views of egypt
Greeks had a long connection with Egypt from at least the Bronze Age,
though it was the continuous contact with the Delta region of Lower
Egypt from the archaic period that conditioned Greek writing on the
subject, in part because the long-term stability of the Saite government
during this period will have provided a more favorable climate for eco-
nomic and political exchange as well as for tourists such as Hecataeus
of Miletus and Herodotus.
Certainly, there is ample evidence for
Egyptian inuence on archaic Greek art, from the kouros to vase paint-
Greek mercenaries served in Psammetichus Is armies in the sev-
enth century b.c.e., and, even earlier, a trading colony that housed a
population of Greek merchants was founded at Naucratis.
Greeks had
settled in other parts of Egypt as well, and our information about these
Conceptualizing Egypt 23
7. On the former, see El Hussein Omar M. Zaghloul, Frhdemotische Urkunden aus
Hermupolis, Bulletin of the Center for Papyrological Studies 2 (Cairo, 1985) 2331. On
the latter, see O. Masson and J. Yoyotte, Une inscription ionienne mentionnant Psam-
mtique Ier, Epigraphica Anatolica 11 (1988) 17179. I am indebted to Stanley Burstein
for these references.
8. Thompson 1988, 8384, 9597; Borgeaud and Volokhine 2000, 6569.
9. There are two Egyptian towns known to the Greeks as Chemmis, both of which I
discuss in this chapter. One is this city of Achmim in Upper Egypt (Herodotus 2.91); the
other is in the Delta (Herodotus 2.156).
10. See, for example, D. Redford, Notes on the History of Ancient Buto, Bulletin
of the Egyptological Seminar 5 (1983) 67101; Lloyd 1976, 11420.
11. A. Fakhry, The Egyptian Deserts: Siwa Oasis (Cairo, 1944) 13239; Braun 1982,
48, with illustration; and Koenen 1983, 14445.
pre-Ptolemaic populations continues to grow. For example, in 575
b.c.e. a petition written in Demotic mentions a local ofcial named
Ariston, who prima facie would have been bilingual. Also, a typically
Egyptian form of dedicatory art, the block statue, which was found in
Priene in Turkey, commemorates one Pedon, the son of Amphinoos,
who claims to have served Psammetichus I.
These circumstances sug-
gest a certain amount of mobility among the military and administra-
tive classes that would have created opportunities for cross-cultural ex-
change. In Egypt itself, from at least the fth century the so-called
Hellenomemphites were identiable as an assimilated Greek population
resident in Memphis.
Herodotus explicitly mentions at least one group
of Greco-Egyptians, the Chemmitae of Upper Egypt.
Several other re-
gions like Buto in the Delta must have had similarly intermixed popula-
A visual example of assimilation is provided by the tomb of Sia-
mun from the Siwah oasis dating from the late Saite period. A painting
within the tomb features a seated man in an Egyptian pose and in
Egyptian costume, but with a Greek hairstyle and beard. Facing him is
a child wearing a chlamys and looking no different from any Attic rep-
resentation of a Greek boy.
Whether or not Greeks in Egypt assimi-
lated, the population in some areas even in Herodotuss day was large
enough to constitute a visible economic group. Herodotus remarks, for
example, that Egyptians did not eat the heads of sacricial animals, but
when they could, sold them to the local Greek traders (2.39.12).
Sustained expressions of interest in Egypt culture began to appear in
Greek literature as early as the Ionian logographer Hecataeus of Mile-
tus, an interest that is familiar to us in the fth century from
Herodotuss Histories and probably reached its peak in the fourth with
writers like Eudoxus of Cnidus (who actually lived among Egyptian
priests), Plato, and Isocrates. Two general trends shape their writings
24 Conceptualizing Egypt
12. E. Bickerman, Origines Gentium, CP 47 (1952) 6582; see also the summary in
Lloyd 1975, 12040. Hall (1996, 4041) notes that one of the most common character-
istics of ethnic groups is a common myth of descent.
13. Burstein 1996, 59197; Vasunia 2001, 11221.
14. Herodotuss chronology was reversed also in Eudoxus of Cnidus, who was a con-
temporary of Plato. For the extent to which Plato may have been inuenced by Eudoxuss
work, see Froidefond 1971, 316, 31822.
the question of priority or who came rst, the Egyptians or the Greeks,
and matters of polity or good government, where Egyptian state orga-
nization and particularly its forms of kingship are contrasted, either
positively or negatively, with a Greek, usually democratic, practice.
Greek writing on origins in general tended to organize the various cul-
tures of the Mediterranean world into tidy lines of descent from the he-
roes of Greek saga. That is to say, the family trees of various gures of
Greek mythologythe Inachids, the Argonauts, Heracleswere
pressed into the service of constructing the history of prehistoric Hel-
lenic and non-Hellenic peoples.
With respect to Egypt, Hecataeus of
Miletus may have begun the process: for him Egyptian cultural attain-
ments were the result of an infusion of Greek talent via the descendants
of Argive Io. He also may have begun the process of identifying Greek
divinities with Egyptian. In contrast, Herodotus asserted the temporal
priority of Egyptian over Greek culture, particularly in matters of reli-
gion, claiming that Greeks derived certain religious practices, like the
worship of Dionysus, from Egypt. Even so, Herodotuss Egypt appears
as a readily detachable ethnographic study eccentric to the historical
trajectory of his work as a whole.
Plato, too, connects the two cultures
in hereditary terms, but reverses the direction of the inuence
it is
the Saite priest in the Timaeus who informs Greeks about their ances-
torsand he rmly maintained that it was the Athenian Greeks them-
selves in their now unremembered past who established the Egyptian
city of Sais. In other words, the ostensibly older Egyptian culture was
always already Greek. Whatever we may think of these claims, and al-
lowing for the ever-present irony of the Platonic text, it is signicant
that virtually all of the Greek writers whomwe know to have dealt with
Egypt in some detail found it necessary to express their own cultural
achievements as having a familial and generational relationship with
Egypt, either as originary or dependent. At the very least this signals the
importance of Egypt in Greek minds and allows the possibility (though
it does not guarantee) that Greeks knew more about the specic details
of Egyptian culture than they are normally credited with. At any rate,
Conceptualizing Egypt 25
15. Vasunia 2001, 3358.
16. 2.41.2: For the image of Isis is female with cows horns, as indeed the Greeks
represent Io (kata per Ellhne% tbn \IoPn grafoysi. According to the Suda, Calli-
machus wrote a poem called The Arrival of Io, and in Epigrammata 57.1 Pf. ( = AP
6.150) he identies Isis as the daughter of Inachus ( = Io).
17. Fr. 128 M-W. The drought resulted from an earlier contretemps between Hera
and Poseidon. When Inachus, the son of Ocean and Tethys, the earliest king of Argos and
its eponymous river, decided in favor of Hera as the local deity, Poseidon retaliated by
drying up the rivers in the region (Apollodorus 2.1.4). A common epithet of Argos seems
to have been thirsty, presumably an allusion to this story; cf. Davies, EGF Thebais, fr.
1 = Kinkel fr. 1. Herodotus (2.171) increases Greek indebtedness to this line by claiming
that it was the Danaids who brought the Eleusinian mysteries from Egypt.
the habit of mind that connects Greece and Egypt does not disappear in
Alexandrian writing; rather, as we should expect, it is intensied.
And not only in the prose writers. Among our extant sources, the
generational relationship of the two cultures lies at the heart of the
Greek myth of the family of Danaus, which is best known from Aeschy-
luss extant plays, The Suppliants and Prometheus Bound, but seems to
have gured earlier in Hesiods now fragmentary Catalogue of Women.
The kernel of the tale is a double migration: the Greek Io wanders to
Egypt where she becomes the ancestor of Libya, Danaus, Aegyptus, and
Phoenix. In a later generation Danaus, with his daughters, returns to
Argos. To this a third migration could sometimes be attached: Danauss
great granddaughter was Danae, who, like her ancester Io, attracted
Zeuss attention and, impregnated by a shower of gold, bore Perseus,
who eventually returned to Egypt and Ethiopia. The Danaid family tree
is conveniently multivalent; it may function as an organizational tem-
plate for the origins of various Mediterranean peoplesIos descen-
dants are the eponymous ancestors of Libya, Greece, Egypt, and
Phoenicia. Greek Io may be gured as the ancestor of Egypt, and in
turn, her descendant Danaus may be gured as Egyptian as he returns
to Greece with his daughters. However it plays out, the family geneal-
ogy was inextricably intertwined with Egypt.
Io herself, who is both woman and cow, bears a sufciently strong
resemblance to Hathor and Isis that she was easily identied with both
as early as Herodotus, if not before.
For Hesiod Danaus or his daugh-
ters are the bringers of water to a thirsty Argos (dAcion 6rgo%).
is more than one version of how the water is discovered, but the fact
that immigrants from Egypt are responsible for alleviating the aridity of
a dry land looks like a pointed attempt to link Argive irrigation with
the behavior of the Nile. Somewhat further along in the family tree,
Herodotus claims that one of Danauss descendants, Perseus, was wor-
26 Conceptualizing Egypt
18. See below for the contending between Horus and Seth, and pages 16667 on
footprints of the gods.
19. So Lloyd 1969, 8489; 1976, 36769.
20. Both Vasunia (2001, 4058) and F. I. Zeitlin (The Politics of Eros in the Danaid
Trilogy of Aeschylus, in Playing the Other: Gender and Society in Classical Greek Liter-
ature [Chicago, 1996] 12371) focus on the ways in which Egypt is gured within codes
of sexuality and gender. A number of scholars have also identied persistent associations
of Egypt with death in these plays; see Vasunia, pp. 6469 and notes.
shipped as a god in Chemmis (ancient Achmim) in Upper Egypt. Details
in Herodotus suggest that the local Greek population, his source for the
information, identied Perseus with Horus because of his winged san-
but they also cited his lineage as the reason for his importance
there. The locals say that
Danaus and Lyncaeus, who were Chemmites, sailed away to Greece. . . .
[Subsequently, Perseus] came to Egypt . . . in order to bring the Gorgon
head from Libya, and they say he came among them and acknowledged
all his kinsmen . . . and he knew the name of Chemmis, having learned it
from his mother. He arrived in Egypt, and he instructed them to celebrate
games in his honor. (2.91.56)
The identication of Perseus with Horus may have depended on more
than a sandalZeuss impregnation of Danae by miraculous means,
when she was locked within her chamber, as well as his impregnation of
Io by a touch, are conceptual doublets, and virtually identical to the
myth of divine insemination that leads to the birth of the pharaoh.
Given the similarities, upon hearing about the Egyptian theogamy
Greeks could easily have mistaken it for or assimilated it to their own
stories about Io or Danae. This anecdote also reveals the dynamics of
cultural interaction that seem to have taken place already by the fth
century. The Chemmitae celebrate games, which are presumably a
Greek cultural practice, but the games are held in honor of what must
be an Egyptian god.
Greeks have Hellenized this god by assimilating
him on the basis of iconography and previous association with Egypt to
Perseus, a heroic gure from their own mythic past.
Signicantly, the Danaid legend as early as Aeschylus is bound up
with questions of kingship. The arrogant and tyrannical behavior of the
sons of Aegyptus is consistently opposed to the democratic monarchy
of Pelasgus, who is, not coincidentally, an autochthonous king of
This association of Egypt with tyranny begins with the gure
of Busiris, who serves as a foil for Heracles in Greek art from at least
the sixth century. Busiris, like Thoas in Euripides Iphigenia in Tauris,
Conceptualizing Egypt 27
21. Lloyd 1976, 21213; Vasunia 2001, 18593; see also the discussion below.
22. Vasunia 2001, 20715.
23. PMG frr. 19293.
24. Herodotus 2.116. He detects evidence of Egyptian Helen in Homers Iliad
(6.28992) and in the Odyssey (4.22730 and 4.35192).
was reputed to have sacriced all foreigners who came into his territory
to Zeus and, according to some versions, even ate his victims.
By the
later fth century, Busiris seems both in vase painting and in Athenian
comedy to have occupied a secure place as the stereotypical barbarian
tyrant, a king who behaves as an autocrat and whose modus vivendi is
antithetical to the benign rule of democratic Athens.
Herodotus ex-
presses doubt about this construction of Busiris, claiming that it is un-
likely that Egyptians sacriced humans when they had prohibitions
against most types of animal sacrice (2.45), and Isocrates continues
this recuperative trend. But the tragedians, whose writings are more
self-consciously democratic than the philosophers, continue to imagine
Egypt as a land of despotism. Not surprisingly, these portrayals disap-
pear along with the democracy.
Both Herodotus and Euripides include portraits of Egyptian kings in
their treatment of Helen. The gure of Helen herself, like the Danaid
line, provided an early mythological link between Greece and Egypt. In
the Iliad she was constructed entirely within Greek terms, as the un-
faithful wife of Menelaus who is seduced by Paris and carried off to
Troy, thus precipitating the war. From later testimony we learn that
Stesichorus wrote another version of Helens story.
It was not Helen
herself, but her image that the gods dispatched to Troy, while the real
Helen remained in Egypt, at the court of the Egyptian king, Proteus, to
be later recovered by her husband on his return from the Trojan War.
Herodotus devotes several chapters (2.11220) of analysis to her story.
In his version Thonis is a pious Egyptian priest of the Delta who refuses
to allow Alexander (Paris), when blown off course for Troy, to continue
his voyage with another mans wife. He insists on bringing Alexander
to Proteus for judgment. Proteus immediately proclaims that (however
tempting) it is impious to kill strangers, so he dispatches Alexander un-
harmed to Troy but retains Helen until her husband can claim her. Pro-
teuss behavior is the reverse of contemporary portraits of barbarian
kings like Busiris. Proteuss virtue is underscored by the act assigned to
Menelaus: after he has reclaimed Helen, nding himself unable to leave
Egypt and sail home because of contrary winds, it is Menelaus who be-
haves like the barbarian by sacricing two native children. Elsewhere,
28 Conceptualizing Egypt
Herodotus does not nd unalloyed virtue in Egyptian kings but in his
narrative of their succession rather evenly distributes praise and blame.
That he should gure Proteus and Menelaus as opposites conforms to
his overall strategy of presenting the two cultures as diametrically op-
posed, while the pious actions of Thonis and Proteus suit his notions
about the deeply religious nature of Egyptian society. Helens sojourn in
Egypt at the time of the (for Greeks) historically signicant Trojan War
reinforces the marginality of Egypt to the broader course of Greek his-
tory. Proteus seemingly cannot affect the wars outcome by, for ex-
ample, simply sending informants to the Greeks at Troy; he remains the
passive guardian of the woman until another unplanned action can
bring Menelaus to reclaim her.
In contrast to Herodotus, Euripides late fth-century tragedy on
Helen dramatized Egyptian kingship in quite negative terms: the two
Egyptian characters in the play, Theonoe and Theoclymenos, are chil-
dren of Proteus. The prophetess, Theonoe, acts out an excess of reli-
gious devotion, while her brother, Theoclymenos, is a typical barbarian
despot, who refuses to honor Helens faithfulness to her marriage vows
and would kill any strangers who were luckless enough to happen upon
his shore. Egypt is constructed as a world of darkness and death, a
Hades-like place of mythological stasis for Helen, who cannot effect or
participate in events until once again the Greeks are blown off course
and her husband arrives. Egypt is an accidental encounter, a location
that Greeks do not plan to visit, and one lled with the unpredictable or
the paradoxicala Helen who did not go to Troy. Within Euripides
play, Helen exemplies the kind of mythological bi- or ambi-valence
that often seems to occur in Hellenistic poetry. Her story is legible in
two entirely different ways: she is a good wife (in Egypt) or a bad wife
(in Troy); she is a gure whose self-indulgence was a scourge to ships,
men, and cities (as in Aeschyluss Agamemnon 68990) or a con-
cerned mother and daughter and wife who would sacrice herself for
the good of her kin (in Euripides). Staging his play at the moment when
Menelaus returns from Troy to nd the wife over whom he fought a
war for ten years resident in Egypt, Euripides Helen necessarily sets up
a context where truths compete. At the heart of the play is the question,
Which Helen is realthe Egyptian or the Greek?
In the fourth century, both Isocrates and Plato turn to Egypt in their
discussions of good government. In his Busiris Isocrates apparently in-
verts what had become the popular view of Busiris and sets out deliber-
ately to refashion or sanitize his reputation. Isocrates specically makes
Conceptualizing Egypt 29
25. Busiris 1323. See Froidefond 1971, 25963. In this regard, Sparta and the Spar-
tan form of government is often viewed as utopian and linked with Egypt. See, for ex-
ample, Isocrates Busiris 18. On the Egyptian ancestry of the Dorians via Perseus, see
Herodotus 6.5355.
him a nomothete, or lawgiver, and connects his accomplishments with
those of Solon in Athens or Lycurgus in Sparta. Busiris, we are told,
moved his Egyptians out of the realm of nature and into culture by giv-
ing them laws, religious institutions, and an exemplary political sys-
A similar valuation of Egyptian political systems was also a com-
ponent of Platos writing. When discussing the proper musical
education in the Laws (656c657b), the Athenian stranger praises the
Egyptians as a society that had, with respect to its musical arts, deter-
mined what constituted the natural correctness (657b) and had guar-
anteed its unity and stability through law in order to prevent degener-
ating innovation. Platos discussion of Egyptian canonicity in the Laws
was not restricted to music in its application. He goes on to claim that
democracy in musical arts is but a precursor to refusal to be subject
to rulers, to be submissive to parents and elders, and nally to dis-
regard of the citys laws (700a701b). This same argument occurs at
Republic 424b2c6 in a slightly altered form. There Socrates says:
To sum up then: those in charge of the city must cling to this idea and
stay above all alert to keep corruption from creeping in and to prevent in-
novation in gymnastics and in poetry, contrary to the established
order. . . . Ways of song are nowhere disturbed without disturbing the
most fundamental ways of the state.
The solution that Socrates proposes to guarantee order and stability is
of course a rigid class system and the philosopher-king, whose own
proper understanding of the nature of reality both assures his own
moral behavior and makes him the ttest to govern. This same class
system appears again in the Timaeus, where it is now that of Egyptian
Sais. While the connection between Egypt and kingship is admittedly
less direct in Plato than in Isocrates Busiris, both would seem to be
writing against an earlier identication of Egyptian political forms with
tyranny and barbarism and investing them with positive qualities. A re-
mark of Isocrates suggests that he and Plato may not be alone in doing
soat Busiris 1718 he comments: With respect to political institu-
tions in general, the Egyptians have been so successful that philosophers
who undertake to discuss such topics and who are highly esteemed pre-
30 Conceptualizing Egypt
26. The Busiris, which is usually dated to the early fourth century b.c.e., was likely to
have been written before the Republic, and the philosophers to whom Isocrates refers are
a matter of speculation. See Froidefond 1971, 23748; N. Livingstone, A Commentary
on Isocrates Busiris (Leiden, 2001) 4456; and Vasunia 2001, 22636. A. Cameron
points out that Platos views might have circulated well before the Republic appeared,
however (Crantor and Posidonius on Atlantis, CQ 33 [1983] 83 n. 10).
27. For more detailed discussions, see Vasunia 2001, 21647; A. Nightingale,
Platos Law Code in Context: Rule by Written Laws in Athens and Magnesia, CQ 49
(1999) 10023.
28. The fragments are collected by Lasserre 1966 with extensive commentary. See
also F. Gisinger, Die Erdbeschreibung des Eudoxos von Knidos (Berlin, 1920), particu-
larly 3558, for discussion of the Egyptian material.
29. For his inuence on Plato and Aristotle, see Froidefond 1971, 316, 31822. Eu-
doxuss work on astronomy was used by Aratus in his Phaenomena, and two papyrus
treatises based on his work and written in the early Ptolemaic period have been found in
Egypt. Eudoxus is also cited by Callimachus in the grammatical fragments (frr. 407, 410
fer the Egyptian form of government.
In other words, Egyptian polit-
ical forms appear to have become a literary and philosophical topos in
the fth and fourth centuries, which was capable of being enlisted on ei-
ther side in the debate about democratic political institutions.
The writings of Eudoxus of Cnidus are mostly lost to us, so his posi-
tion and inuence in the Greek construction of Egypt is not entirely
clear, though it was likely to have been substantial.
From his brief bi-
ography Diogenes Laertius gives us a glimpse of the circumstances in
which philosophy, kingship, and Egypt tended to converge within the
Greek imagination, if not in reality (8.8691). Eudoxus was said to
have been a geometer, astronomer, doctor, and legislator. He may have
been a pupil of Plato, or connected at least tangentially with the Acad-
emy. He was said to have traveled to Egypt accompanied by the doctor
Chrysippus and armed with letters of introduction from Agesilaus, the
Spartan king, to Nectanebo, the last native pharaoh of Egypt. Whether
or not the story was literally true, the details convey a world in which
intellectual exchange between Greece and Egypt was not only possible,
but facilitated by the ruling classes themselves. Eudoxuss particular in-
terestsgeometry, astronomy, and medicineare subjects in which the
Egyptians supposedly excelled, hence they serve both as a motive for
the journey, and subsequently as a conrmation of his learning, after it
had been suitably enhanced by an Egyptian sojourn.
The second book
of Eudoxuss geographical work, the Periodos Ges, was entirely de-
voted to Egypt, and from its fragments it seems that he reversed
Herodotuss chronological priority of Egypt over Greece. Further, he
seems to have been the rst to treat Egyptian priests as the repository of
Conceptualizing Egypt 31
30. Burstein 1996, 594.
31. Frr. 29097 F. Lasserre.
32. Fr. 374 Lasserre ( = Diogenes Laertius 8.89). Gwyn Grifths (A Translation
from the Egyptian by Eudoxus, CQ 59 [1965] 7578) thinks this may have been a text
of Egyptian wisdom literature. Lasserre (1966, 26869) discusses the other suggestions
that have been made.
33. Isocrates Evagoras and Nicocles are instructions on how to govern for the young
king of Cypriot Salamis; Platos Letter 7 defends his participation in Sicilian politics; and
Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander.
philosophical and religious wisdom instead of merely sources for the
historical data that they are in Herodotus.
It is clear from the way in
which Plutarch cites him, for example, that he recounted a version of
the myth of Osiris, Isis, and Horus but framed it in terms of Greek nat-
ural philosophy.
Plato may have taken his cue from Eudoxus in his
own location of wisdom within the Saite priesthood. In addition to his
other accomplishments, Diogenes Laertius claims that Eudoxus became
famous as a legislator throughout Greece, writing on the divine, the
cosmos, and heavenly phenomena. Diogenes even provides some evi-
dence that Eudoxus knew Egyptian:
Eratosthenes . . . says that he [Eudoxus] composed (synuePnai) the Dia-
logues of the Dogs (Kynpn dialogoi); others say that Egyptians wrote
them in their own language and that he translated and published them
for the Greeks (meuermhneAsanta DkdoPnai toP% Ellhsi). (8.89)
In other words, Eudoxus is represented as not having restricted his at-
tainment of alien wisdom to the natural sciences, but to have then dis-
seminated what he learned from the priests in the form of laws for
Greeks. Again, whatever evaluation we choose to make of the accuracy
of this biography, its signicance is the trajectory of Eudoxuss career as
an instrument for the translation of Egyptian wisdom and knowledge
into Greek political realities.
This particular clustertheogonic or cosmogonic speculation com-
bined with an interest in human conductmarks virtually all Greek
philosophical inquiry from Democritus to Aristotle. Nor is this inquiry
conned to the theoretical. Isocrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all ac-
tively involved in offering adviceusually in the form of philosophical
educationto real kings.
Since in the fourth century Plato and Aris-
totle were scarcely exempt from intruding their ideas into contempo-
rary politics, it should hardly be surprising to nd subsequent practi-
tioners of the philosophical arts attempting to propose models for
Alexanders successors. After Alexander, philosophers turned even
32 Conceptualizing Egypt
34. Bilde 1994, 11.
35. Hecataeuss fragments are to be found in FGrH 264. Virtually all that remains
comes from book 1 of Diodorus Siculus, though Hecataeus is explicitly mentioned as a
source only once (1.4749). As a consequence, there has been considerable debate about
how much of the book is directly or indirectly dependent on Hecataeus. In general, I am
following Jacoby and Murray. Spoerri (1959) takes a very skeptical position, which has
failed to convince the majority; while A. Burton in her commentary (1972) follows him,
she accepts more material than he as genuinely Hecataean.
36. For a discussion of the chronology see Jacoby, RE 7, 275069; Murray 1970;
Fraser 1972, 1: 496505; and M. Stern and O. Murray, Hecataeus of Abdera and
Theophrastus on Jews and Egyptians, JEA 59 (1973) 15968. For a general appraisal of
greater attention to the question of kingship, and the court of every
epigonid housed occasional or permanent guests who had written or
were writing on the question. From one perspective court philosophers
could be considered royal propagandists, but from another their intel-
lectual activities were the logical extension of inquiries begun in earlier
periods, though with perhaps more immediate consequence. The Hel-
lenistic monarchies were not simply the old Macedonian monarchies in
new locations, they were in many respects new experiments in kingship,
combining as they did Greek cultural models with elements inherited
from their non-Greek resident populations. As the editors of a recent
study describe it,
every king and dynasty had to legitimate their claim to monarchy accord-
ing to specic local needs and traditions. Therefore, no single formula ex-
isted for a Hellenistic king. Basileus had different connotations in the
various parts of the ancient world and the clever ruler knew how to ac-
commodate himself to the specic traditions of his territory.
Hellenistic monarchies must have provided fertile ground for uniting
theoretical and practical ideas about kingship, while the habits of na-
tive monarchies lent themselves as evidence to conrm Greek practice
or to justify innovation.
hecataeus, euhemerus, and
dionysius scytobrachion
Since Egyptian kingship had already gured in Greek theorizing about
forms of government, it should not be surprising to nd writings on this
subject within Alexandria itself. For our purposes the most important
of them was by Hecataeus of Abdera, who worked within the Skeptic
intellectual tradition of Democritus.
Hecataeus wrote an Aegyptiaca
at the court of Soter that was probably completed by 305 b.c.e.
Conceptualizing Egypt 33
Hecataeus, see Burstein 1992, 4549; 1996, 597600. J. Dillery (Hecataeus of Abdera:
Hyperboreans, Egypt, and the Interpretatio Graeca, Historia 47.3 [1998] 25575) ar-
gues that even Hecataeuss work On the Hyperboreans was modeled on Egypt.
37. Diodorus Siculus 1.28.24 ( = FGrH 264 F 25). See Vasunia 2001, 22936.
38. Burstein 1996, 599. Vasunia (2001, 23032) points out that Hecataeus reversed
Platos chronology, making Athens a colony of Egypt (Diodorus Siculus 1.28 = FGrH264
previous Greek historical writing Egypt was always marginal to the
central dynamic of world history, which gured the Greeks as succes-
sors to the Persians. Egypt was of interest for its antiquity and its mar-
vels, and for its conspicuous religiosity (as in Herodotus). In contrast,
Hecataeus made Egypt a central player in world history by claiming
that in fact civilization began in Egypt and was subsequently transmit-
ted to Greece and other parts of North Africa and the eastern Mediter-
ranean through the familiar instruments of military campaigns and col-
onization. The Danaid line is pressed into service here. We are told that
Egyptian Danaus settled what is nearly the oldest of Greek cities,
Argos; that Colchis was founded by Egyptian colonists (oDkAsai tinb%
crmhuAnta% par Caytpn = Egyptians); and that Athenians are
colonists from Sais.
Hecataeus also made Egypt the educator of
Greece by virtue of the sojourns of various Greek wise men.
Thus, his writing falls within the earlier discourse on the nature of
polities that Plato and Isocrates engage in, though it differs in impor-
tant ways: while the basic patterns of thought are obviously Greek, his
work is Egyptocentric. The origins of culture and idealized kingship are
now presented as authentically Egyptian and connected in a causal
way: it is the behavior of the originary king and lawgiver, Osiris, who
acts as a model for earthly Egyptian kings, who are held accountable
for their unjust acts:
First of all, their kings led a life that was not at all like others who have
monarchic powers and the opportunities to do anything that they want
with impunity, but everything is regulated by rules of law, not only busi-
ness affairs, but also daily behavior and diet. With respect to their atten-
dants, for example, none of them was a purchased or a house-born slave,
but all were sons of the most distinguished priests, at least twenty years
old, best educated of their fellow countrymen, in order that the king, pro-
vided with body servants and attendants both day and night, might in-
dulge in no bad behavior, since no ruler proceeds very far in wickedness
if he does not have those who will pander to his desires. The hours of day
and night were arranged, in accordance with which it was absolutely
stipulated that the king do what was enjoined upon him, not what he de-
34 Conceptualizing Egypt
39. Diodorus Siculus 1.70.14, 1.71.1 and 45 = FGrH 264 F25.70.14, 71.1,
40. See the discussion in Burton 1972, 16382; and A. B. Lloyd, Nationalist Propa-
ganda in Ptolemaic Egypt, Historia 31 (1982) 3740. Sesostris (as Sesonchosis) also
nds his way into Greek romance; see Martin Braun, History and Romance in Graeco-
Oriental Literature (Oxford, 1938) 1325; and Stephens and Winkler 1995, 24666.
Two Demotic fragments may indicate the presence of this pharaoh or at least an Egyptian
narrative context from which the Sesostris legend grew: M. Chauvaeu, Montouhotep et
les Babyloniens, BIFAO 91 (1991) 14753, and an unpublished text in Copenhagen
about Amenemhet and his son Sesostris leading a campaign against Arabia. (I am in-
debted to R. Jasnow for these references.)
41. J. Baines, Kingship, Denition of Culture, and Legitimation, in OConnor and
Silverman 1995, 22.
cided for himself. At dawn, for example, it was necessary for him upon
waking to take up rst of all the letters that had been sent from every di-
rection, so that he might be able to execute and accomplish everything
properly, knowing exactly each thing that was accomplished in the king-
dom. . . . It was not possible [for Egyptian kings] to make a legal decision
or transact any business randomly, nor to punish anyone hubristically or
in anger or for some other unjust reason, but only in accordance with the
laws prescribed for each offence. . . . Because the kings employed such
just behavior with their subjects, . . . during most of the time for which
kings are recorded in memory, they maintained a functioning polity, and
spent their lives most happily, as long as the system of laws that was pre-
viously described remained in force, and in addition they conquered
more countries and acquired the greatest wealth and adorned their lands
with unsurpassed works and monuments and their cities with costly ded-
ications of every sort.
This insistence that the ruler govern in accordance with strict laws to
which he himself was held accountable, as well as the connection be-
tween just royal behavior and the prosperity of Egypt, is not presented
as a Platonic ideal, but a historicized reality. This link commences with
Osiris, the divine rst king, who with his wife, Isis, introduces civilized
behavior, the arts and learning, as well as agriculture. Hecataeus also
presents his readers with a historical model of the ideal kingSesosis.
Herodotus treats this same king at considerable length in book 2,
where he appears as a world conqueror whose deeds rival the Persian
dynasts, Darius and Cyrus. Sesosis (or Sesostris, as Herodotus calls
him) was not one pharaoh but a composite of several.
The name is
probably a Hellenized form of the Egyptian Senwosret, a throne-name
born by several pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty, but there are obvious
accretions from the empire-building style of Ramesses II as well.
Scholars tend to date the initial synthesis of the Sesostris legend to the
time of the Persian conquest of Egypt, although it continued to be em-
Conceptualizing Egypt 35
42. See, for example, F. Pster, Studien zur Alexanderroman, Wrzburger
Jahrbcher fr die Altertumswissenschaft 1 (1946) 5658.
43. Diodorus Siculus 1.53.24 = FGrH 264 F25.53.24.
44. Diodorus Siculus 1.53.9 = FGrH 264 F25.53.9.
45. See below and chapter 3.
46. Strabo 15.686; Arrian Indica 5.4.
bellished well into the Hellenistic period. Like so much else about Egypt
that comes to us through a Greek lter, the gure of a world conqueror
was probably the production of the native Egyptian priesthoods, who
sought deliberately to promote stories about several historical king-
ships in order to create native rivals to the Persian Darius (in the fth
century) and the Greek Alexander (in the fourth), both of whom con-
quered and hence humiliated Egypt. Certainly such a gure would have
been congenial to Greek writers and in the process of moving into a
Greek narrative would have taken on attributes that brought him even
closer to models already familiar in Greek minds. Sesosis, therefore,
already had the prole of a world-conquering dynast, which Hecataeus
both strengthened by conforming his activities to those of Alexander
and modied by providing him with an idealized princely education:
When Sesosis was born his father did something betting a great man
and a king. To the boys born on the same day from the whole of Egypt he
assigned nurses and custodians and prescribed the same training and ed-
ucation for them all, thinking that those who had been reared most
closely and had experienced the same common freedoms would be the
most loyal and the best comrades in war. Providing for their every need
he trained the boys in continual exercises and hardships. No one of them
was allowed to eat before he rst ran 180 stades. Therefore upon reach-
ing manhood they were all athletes with robust bodies and in character
suited for leadership and endurance by virtue of their training in the most
excellent pursuits.
Moreover, the reason for this distinctive education was a dream in
which Hephaestus (that is, Egyptian Ptah) appeared to Sesosiss father
and prophesied that his son was destined to rule the world.
In this,
Hecataeus seems to be adapting a peculiar feature of Egyptian kingship,
a prophecy about the greatness of a new king, which was packaged
after the factas a dream at the time of conception, birth, or ascension
to the throne.
Sesosis lived up to his prenatal billing, going on to con-
quer more of the known world than anyone except Alexander,
but re-
turned to rule wisely and well. On the domestic front, he granted
amnesty, enriched the temples, improved the irrigation system, and
36 Conceptualizing Egypt
47. Koenen 1993, 6669; and W. Clarysse, The Ptolemaic Apomoira, Studia Hel-
lenistica 34 (1995) 537, for a discussion of revenues for Egyptian temples.
48. So, for example, Fraser 1972, 1: 497: As seems very likely, he intended these
various elements to serve a further purpose, the glorication of Ptolemy and his king-
dom. See also F. Walbank, CAH, 2d ed., 7.1: 7778.
49. Murray 1972, 159.
50. Murray 1972, 168; and see below, especially chapter 3.
built great monuments. His foreign policy included building a navy,
strengthening Egypts defenses against her enemies, treating the con-
quered with respect, and settling his veterans on plots of land. In the
majority of these undertakings as well as in the peculiar mode of edu-
cation with a cohort of his peers, Sesosis is following known Egyptian
practice, but a practice, at least in matters of policy, that both Alexan-
der and the Ptolemies continue, for example, granting amnesty, enrich-
ing the temples, and settling veterans.
To so construct the past as an exemplum for the future was very
much in keeping with an Egyptian ideal of kingship in which each
kinginsofar as he was a good kingacted not only to replicate but to
exceed the distinguished behavior and moral excellence of his pre-
cedessors. Thus, by employing the past as a model for current and fu-
ture rulers, Hecataeus may have been following an Egyptian habit of
mind rather than writing as an apologist for or in defense of kingship as
an institution.
By drawing upon an historicized Egypt as a model for
ethical and moral behavior, Hecataeus elevates Egyptian culture to
equal (or superior) status with Greek and sets it up as a paradigm for
aspiring Greek kings. If, in this latter aspect, he hoped to inuence the
Ptolemies, his paradigms ran counter to prevailing Greek notions of the
powers and behavioral limits of kings. As O. Murray points out,
the paradoxical fact that Egyptian kingship does not conformto the usual
Greek denition of basileAa as dnypeAuyno% drxa, is made to produce
an example for the Greek debate, whether the king is or should be above
or below the laws. Here is one point where Hecataeus may have intended
his description to be directly relevant to contemporary Ptolemaic Egypt.
Hecataeuss work cannot be dismissed as marginal: it had consid-
erable impact, not only on contemporary Greek philosophical writers
like Theophrastus and Crantor and other Hellenistic historians like
Berossus and Megasthenes, but within the circle of the Alexandrian
poets themselves.
One writer who seems to have been especially inu-
enced by Hecataeus was his contemporary, Euhemerus of Messene, who
was famous (or infamous) for generating an alternative explanation to
Conceptualizing Egypt 37
51. West 1966, 13.
52. His fragments have most recently been collected by Winiarczyk (1991) with ex-
tensive bibliography.
53. For the relationship of Euhemerus to Hecataeus and Democritus, see Cole 1990,
15363. See also Rustens discussion of this division in relationship to Prodicus (1982,
the myths dealing with the origins of the Olympian deities. Indeed,
M. L. West describes his work as the last true Greek theogony, though
it is without gods.
Euhemerus wrote the Sacred Register (Hiera Ana-
graphe) in which he recorded a series of journeys undertaken, so he
claims, in the service of the Macedonian king Cassander, who died in
298 b.c.e. Since this reference to Cassander would have had a decidedly
limited value as a ction after his lifetime, it very likely reects Euhe-
meruss historical situation, and thus allows him to be located within
the last quarter of the fourth century b.c.e. Like Hecataeuss, his work,
in the main, has survived in epitome in Diodorus (5. 4147, 6.15) and
in Lactantiuss quotations and paraphrases of Ennius, who translated
the Sacred Register into Latin.
A consistent picture of Euhemeruss
work emerges from their summaries. In the Sacred Register Euhemerus
claims to have traveled to Panchaea, a myrrh-producing island in the In-
dian Ocean, which is modeled to some extent on Platos imaginary
state, but also on contemporary Egypt. The physical layout of temples,
in particular, is strikingly Egyptian, as is its central waterway, the
Water of the Sun, with its magnicent stone quays. The class struc-
turepriests, farmers, military (and herdsmen)could be intended to
recall Egypt, and more or less the same breakdown can be found in
Plato as well as Isocrates Busiris. The denizens of Panchaea worshipped
Zeus as the founder of their culture, but this Zeus was a human being
who came from Crete and acceded to divine honors only after his death.
In Panchaea he erected a golden stele in the temple, on which he
recorded the deeds of his grandfather, Uranus, himself, Apollo, Artemis,
and Hermes, which were said to have been written in a Cretan language
but using Egyptian hieroglyphics. In Euhemerus, the gods were divided
into ouranioi, the primal or elemental gods, and epigeioi, originally
human beings who were subsequently divinized for their distinguished
services to mankind. This division into elemental deities and divinized
human rulers is certainly Egyptian and can be found also in Hecataeus
of Abdera, but it is by no means unfamilar in earlier Greek thought,
though Euhemerus carries his model to extremes by counting the
Olympian gods in the ranks of the epigeioi. His Zeus behaves as typical
38 Conceptualizing Egypt
54. 1.11.4448 = fr. 69A Winiarczyk.
55. It may have been intended ironically or as a parody, or, more likely, it was a
utopian fantasy with serious philosophical intent; in the event, it seems often to have been
misunderstood. Strabo, for example, stigmatizes his work as falsehoods, placing him in
the same category as Pytheas of Marseilles and Antiphanes of Berga and remarking: But
we pardon them just as we do conjurors, since falsehoods are their stock-in-trade (2.3.5
= C 102).
56. Fr. 191 Pf. Tarn (1933, 165) thinks this refers not to Euhemerus himself but to his
statue. This is unlikely, however, given the context of the allusion within the Iambi; see
the discussion below, in chapter 2.
57. C. Meillier, Callimaque et son temps: Recherches sur la carrire et la condition
dun crivain lpoque des primiers Lagides (Lille, 1979) 2024.
58. 1972, 1: 294
culture heroone might compare Minos of Platos Laws, Isocrates
Busiris, or Hecataeuss Osiriswho eventually returns to Crete, where
he dies. His tomb is located there according to Lactantius:
Then Jupiter [sc. Zeus], after he had gone around the earth ve times and
had divided authority among all his friends and relatives and bequeathed
laws and customs to men and provided corn and devised many other
goods, having attained immortal glory and renown, left everlasting mon-
uments to his friends. When he was sunk in old age he departed from life
in Crete and went to the gods, and the Curetes, his sons, cared for him
and adorned him (in death) and his tomb is said to be in Crete in the
town of Cnossus . . . and on his tomb is inscribed in ancient Greek letters
ZAN KRONOU; that is in Latin: Jupiter, son of Saturn.
It is difcult to gauge the tone of Euhemeruss work,
but the fact
that kingship and divinity coalesce in his writing suggests that allusion
to or appropriation of Euhemerus by subsequent writers like Calli-
machus could not have been value-neutral. Callimachuss reference to
Euhemerus in the opening of the rst Iambus,
while ostensibly nega-
tive, does employ the Aristophanic language used of Socrates in the
Clouds, thus conveying an impression, at least implicitly, of a writer
both serious and ironic.
Peter Fraser supposes that Euhemeruss
rationalization of Olympian religionreducing gods to culture heros,
who were apotheosized at death and worshipped in cult because of
their services to mankindprovided a rationale for the introduction of
ruler cult by the Ptolemies.
Ruler cult, however, is a more complex
phenomenon, with antecedents in the treatment of Alexander on the
Greek side as well as clear models of divinized kingship in the newly
conquered countries like Babylon and Egypt, and Euhemerus is more
likely to have been rationalizing Greek myth in the context of such na-
Conceptualizing Egypt 39
59. Jeffrey Rusten has reedited the fragments, which come, in the main, from
Diodorus, the scholia to Apollonius of Rhodes, and three papyri. See Rusten 1982,
6576, for a discussion of Dionysiuss ethnic, and pp. 8592 for the dating. For the estab-
lishment of the cult, see Koenen 1993, 51 n. 61.
60. Scytobrachion has been generally regarded as an Alexandrian on the basis of Sue-
tonius De grammaticis 7 ( = T3 Rusten); however, Rusten questions the reliability of this
remark on other grounds. See also L. Lehnus (I due Dionisii [PSI 1219 fr. 1, 34], ZPE
97 [1993] 2528), who would identify one of the two Dionysii whom the Florentine
scholiast on the Aetia claims are Telchines with Scytobrachion.
61. Rusten (1982, 7684) argues for twoan Argonautica and a separate work that
included the Amazons and Dionysus. Jacoby (see commentary on FGrH 32 F4) thought
that there was only one work and regarded the Dionysus and Amazons material as di-
gressions within the framework of the Argonautica.
62. Diodorus Siculus 4.4055; and Rusten 1982, 14468, F14F38.
tive traditions than to have been constructing new organizational tem-
plates for the Ptolemies. If his work was seriously conceived to address
the phenomenon of divinized kingship, its intent was more likely to
have been, as was Hecataeuss work, to identify proper kingly behavior
and to construct models of benecence to which current rulers should
aspire if they wished to achieve divinity.
An intriguing gure to add to this mix is the mythographer Dionysius
of Miletus (so-called Scytobrachion), whose work may now be located
with some security in the period between 270 and 220 b.c.e. An allu-
sion to the cult of the Theoi adelphoi, which must have been estab-
lished about 270, provides a terminus post quem, while the later termi-
nus depends upon a papyrus fragment of Dionysiuss work datable
from handwriting and from the context of the nd to about 250220
What, if any, relationship Dionysius had with the Alexandrian
court is moot,
but it is clear that he was a rationalizing mythographer
in the tradition of Euhemerus, and his subject matterDionysus, the
Amazons (both of whom he located in Libya), and the Argonautsin
topic and treatment bears close resemblance to that of the Hellenistic
prose writers we have been discussing. Whether these mythological
subjects fell into one, two, or three separate works is not important for
our purposes, but rather the way in which Dionysius conceptualizes his
Hence for convenience I have retained Rustens division into
an Argonautica and Libyan Stories.
In his Argonautica,
Dionysius consistently rationalizes the inherited
tales of myth and magic. For example, the re-breathing bulls (tauroi)
become Taurian guards (Tauroi), and the golden eece is the skin of an
40 Conceptualizing Egypt
63. See Rusten 1982, 94, and addendum, p. 182, where he remarks that the fate of
Krios was perhaps inuenced by the story of Pherecydes (Plut. Pelop. 21)or Epimenides
according to Diog. Laert. 1.115 = FGrHist 595 (Sosibius) F15whose skin was pre-
served by the Spartans. This is not unlikely, since Epimenides peculiar brand of Orphic
writings seems to have been popular in Alexandria. Epimenides is quoted in Calli-
machus Hymn to Zeus 78.
64. D. Nelis (Iphias: Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.31116, CQ 41 [1991]
96105) argues the priority of Dionysius for this scene in Apollonius (p. 104).
65. See Green 1997, 5962, for a discussion of Scytobrachion and Apollonius.
earlier Greek visitor named Krios ( = Ram) who is ayed and subse-
quently gilded.
Medea is not a witch but a practicing herbalist who
comes to be deeply troubled by her father Aeetes barbarian ways and
helps the Argonauts because she nds them kindred spirits in their un-
failingly civilized behavior. A pervasive theme of Dionysiuss story is
that of the civilized Greeks confronting barbarian cruelty: for example,
Diodorus describes the area around Colchis as follows: The Pontus,
because at that time it was settled by barbarian and wholly uncivilized
(dgrAvn) tribes, was called Axenos (6zenon), because the natives were
used to killing strangers who sailed to their shores (Diodorus Siculus
4.40.4 = F14 Rusten). In contrast, the Argonauts are led by Heracles,
with Jason apparently playing a supporting role, and Heracles behav-
ior, particularly at the end of the expedition, is quite obviously meant to
recall the world-conquering exploits of Alexander: Admired for his
courage and military skills he gathered a very powerful army and vis-
ited the whole world (ppsan . . . tbn oDkoymAnhn) acting as benefactor
(eDergetoPnta) to the race of men (Diodorus Siculus 4.53.7 = F37
Rusten). The Argonauts apparently return to Iolcus by their original
route (that is, without the detour to Libya, as in Apollonius), and the
story continues to include the subsequent death of Pelias at Medeas
hands, though she participates in the plan with some reluctance and
achieves Peliass destruction not through magic but by playing upon his
gullibility and that of his daughters. The exact relationship of Diony-
siuss tale to that of Apollonius is uncertain, but it is difcult to imagine
that two completely independent renderings of this story were written
within (probably) the rst half of the third century.
Whatever the ac-
tual date of Dionysiuss work, the overt Greek versus barbarian cast of
his tale matches well with Apolloniuss narrative, and the fact that
Dionysius conformed much of the behavior of the Argonauts to
Alexander should serve notice to us that such elements were part of the
Greek mental landscape and, even vestigially, are likely to have been
present also in Apollonius.
Conceptualizing Egypt 41
66. See, for example, Pindar Pythian 9.
Dionysiuss treatment of the Amazons and Dionysus repeats the pat-
tern of world conquest and benefaction that we have already seen.
There are apparently three layers to his Libyan material as it is epito-
mized in Diodorus: the Amazons, whose home is located near Lake Tri-
tonis in Libya, rst conquer the local regions and then move out to con-
quer the known world. Upon reaching Egypt, the Amazon queen signs
a treaty with Horus, the son of Isis, who is king of that land, before
pressing on to further conquests. The Amazons push as far north as the
Taurus region, where they are ultimately held in check, then return to
Libya after founding many cities (Diodorus Siculus 3.5255). (Thus
their path of conquest is similar to that of Sesosis.) When their power
wanes, that of their neighbors, the Atlantioi, begins (Diodorus Siculus
3.5657 = F6 Rusten). These people are ruled by Uranus, who like his
counterpart in Euhemerus is both culture hero and lawgiver who re-
ceives divine honors after his death. Uranus and his wife, Titaea, pro-
duce the Titans, as well as two daughters, Rhea and Basileia. Basileia
subsequently marries one of her brothers, Hyperion, and bears two
children, Helios (sun) and Selene (moon). However, Hyperion and He-
lios are killed by their jealous kin, and in grief the brother-loving
(philadelphos) Selene commits suicide. Bothas their names indicate
subsequently become celestial phenomena. Basileia in her grief lapses
into madness and wanders throughout the world; she is subsequently
worshipped as Cybele or the Great Mother. Rhea, meanwhile, has mar-
ried Ammon, a local Libyan king, who was less than faithful. In an in-
cident reiminiscent of Apollos encounter with the nymph Cyrene,
Ammon was smitten by a beautiful girl named Amaltheia, had inter-
course with her, and fathered a marvelous child, Dionysus. Ammon hid
the child away from Rheas jealousy in Nysa, which is located on an is-
land in Lake Tritonis, and has him raised by Aristaeus, his daughter,
Nysa, and Athena, who was herself born by the waters of the river Tri-
ton. Rhea subsequently leaves Ammon to marry her brother, Cronus,
who had received the eastern parts of Libya as his kingdom on the
death of his father Uranus. Their brothers, the Titans, are stirred up by
Rhea to take vengeance on Dionysus. They attack Ammon, who ees to
Crete, then mount an attack against Nysa. At this point Dionysus gath-
ers an army that includes the Amazons, Sileni (who are a local people),
and Athena. He successfully ghts off the Titans and then goes on, like
42 Conceptualizing Egypt
67. paPda tbn clikAan gnta (Diodorus Siculus 3.3.4 = F12 Rusten). The youth of
the Egyptian king derived from his identication with Horus-in-Chemmis; see below and
chapter 4.
68. Diodorus Siculus 3.61. 56 = F13 Rusten.
69. While it is possible, even likely, that Alexander served as a model in part for Eu-
hemeruss tale, this is by no means as obvious from Diodoruss epitome as it is for Scyto-
brachion. See Fraser 1972, 2: 455 n. 834.
70. 1982, 109; and see D. B. Thompson, Ptolemaic Oinochoai (Oxford, 1973) 65.
Alexander, to conquer the known world, moving from Egypt to India.
Like the exemplary kings in Hecataeus, Dionysus is a model of
clemency: he educates Rhea and Cronuss son, Zeus, and makes him
king of Egypt, while still a youth,
then establishes the shrine at the
Siwah oasis in honor of his own father, Ammon. Dionysiuss rationaliz-
ing impulse thus served to link Ammon and Horus to traditional Greek
myths and Olympian genealogy. In doing so he incorporates North
Africa into the old mythology, where Dionysus and the Amazons now
nd themselves at home in contrast to their former haunts of Thrace
and South Russia.
While the story is rather convoluted, its Euhemeristic avor is obvi-
ous, and its ideals of kingship conform closely to Hecataean norms. But
Dionysius goes even further than these earlier writers. He regures
members of the divine pantheonZeus, Dionysusas originally
human and elevated to divinity because they functioned as culture he-
roes. For example, because Zeus punished the wicked and supported
the masses (eDergesAan dB tpn gxlvn) men named him Z en because
he was the reason for men living well (dnomasupnai mBn Zpna dib tb
dokePn toP kalp% zpn aGtion genAsuai toP% dnurapoisin).
Further, he
alters this earlier pattern by modeling the activities of his divinities
(Dionysus, Zeus) and mythological subjects (Amazons) rather transpar-
ently on the human gure of Alexander.
Then, to address the double
tradition about Zeus he simply postulates two. One was the son of
Rhea and Cronus; the other, as in Euhemerus, was a Cretan king who
engenders the Curetes; it is this Zeus who is buried in the famous
tomb of Zeus on Crete. In addition, there are obvious points of con-
tact with Egyptian mythology. Rusten in his discussion of the Libyan
stories suggests that the names of Basileias children, Helios and Selene,
might be equated with Horus and Isis, who may already have been
identied with the Ptolemaic royal pair in the third century B.C.
deaths of Hyperion and Helios as well as the conict between Dionysus
and the Titans bear a close resemblance to the Egyptian succession
mythto the sibling murder (Seth killing Osiris) and later the contest
Conceptualizing Egypt 43
between uncle and nephew (Seth-Horus) for legitimate succession.
Dionysus making the youthful Zeus king of Egypt parallels the succes-
sion of the young Horus from Osiris. The prominence of the two sis-
ters, Rhea and Basileia, recalls the closeness of Isis and her sister, Neph-
thys, both of whom rear the Horus child.
Finally, the overlap between material in Scytobrachion and two
major Alexandrian poetsCallimachus and Apolloniuscannot be
fortuitous. Both Scytobrachion and Apollonius treat the adventures of
the Argonauts, and much that appears in Scytobrachion is to be found
also in Apolloniuss fourth book, where his Argonauts traverse the
Libyan desert. While Callimachus probably produced his hymn before
Scytobrachion, the hiding and rearing of Dionysus on the island of
Nysa coincides is some detail with Callimachuss Hymn to Zeus. All of
this indicates rather more intimacy between themes found in the poets
and prose writers than is usually supposed. It also suggests that atti-
tudes towards the traditional Olympic pantheon might differ consider-
ably from those of the archaic and classical periods. These connections
will be explored in subsequent chapters.
To summarize: so far we have been looking at the ways in which Greeks
from the fth to the early third century b.c.e. chose to write about
Egypt, and have identied two trendsgenealogical and political.
Egypt could be gured either as ancestor or descendant of Greece, and
usually the dynamic of this genealogy was connected to views about the
nature of kingship, with Egyptas constructed by Greeksserving as
either a good or a bad model. We have also seen how increasingly in the
fourth century the ideal king was characterized in the philosophers as a
lawgiver and bearer of civilization, a trend that culminated in early Hel-
lenistic writers like Hecataeus and Euhemerus who tended to blur or
collapse the distinction between divine and human behavior, since in
their writing they portray gods as well as human kings similarly acting
out this idealized kingship. While certainly these latter writers were
Greek and writing for Greek audiences, and their language of benefac-
tion (eDergesAa) is inherited from Greek tradition, the views of king-
ship they articulate consciously or otherwise come very close to the
pharaonic ideal as manifested in Egyptian writing and art. Moreover,
they often appear familiar with and even seem to appropriate elements
from Egyptian myth, which they recast as or assimilate to Greek. At
this point, therefore, I would like to reverse perspectives to sketch out
the fundamental elements of this pharaonic ideal and to consider the
44 Conceptualizing Egypt
71. Herodotus also depended on previous Greek writing on various subjects, but pre-
Herodotean material by the third century had either been absorbed by later writers or
would have been marginal to an experience of the country itself.
72. A. Bernand, Les inscriptions grecques de Philae, vol. 1, poque ptolmaque
(Paris, 1969) plates on pp. 24046.
73. Diodorus Siculus 1.47.16 = FGrH 264 F25.47.16; and Burstein 1992, 4549.
ways in which they would have been available to Greeks within
Alexandria, either directly or ltered through earlier Greek writing.
what herodotus knew
What earlier Greek observers like Herodotus and Hecataeus of Abdera
reported seeing or hearing in Egypt can serve as a useful touchstone to
understand how Greeks in the third century would have been able to
absorb their new Egyptian environment. Herodotus was able to ob-
serve a variety of monuments rsthand, and, signicantly for the
themes in this book, he saw a number of religious events. He was able
to get information from local priests, especially those in Heliopolis, and
to nd informants among contemporary Greeks and non-Egyptians res-
ident in Egypt and elsewhere. As we will see, these four broad cate-
gories correspond to sources Greeks actually resident in the country
could have availed themselves of without necessarily having access to
Egyptian writing.
1. Herodotus seems to have visited the Pyramids and the complex in
the Fayum, which he identies as the Labyrinth, as well as a number of
temples. To judge from the grafti, Egyptian monuments were popular
sights for Greekswhether independent travelers like Herodotus or
soldiers stationed in the countryfor several centuries before as well as
throughout the period of Ptolemaic rule. While the inner courts of tem-
ple precincts would have been off-limits, Andr Bernands map indicat-
ing the distribution of Greek inscriptions at Philae is good evidence that
other parts of the temple complexperimeter walls, forecourts, por-
tions of adjunct temples like mammisi, statuary lining the dromos
would have been accessible to the public.
Hecataeus of Abdera gives
us an account of what he saw when visiting the Ramesseum in Thebes:
he lists reliefs of the king attacking an enemy city, portraits of captives,
the king performing sacrices, and celebrating a victory, the king offer-
ing to the gods.
These were standards of the iconographic repertory,
and similar reliefs could be seen at numerous locations throughout the
Conceptualizing Egypt 45
74. Arnold (1999, 32021) lists the monuments built or added to by the rst three
Ptolemies. For a map showing the locations of Ptolemaic temples built in the Delta, see
p. 20.
75. Arnold 1999, 157.
76. R. B. Finnestad, Image of the World and Symbol of the Creator: On the Cosmo-
logical and Iconological Values of the Temple of Edfu (Wiesbaden, 1985).
77. Finnestad 1997, 185237.
78. Finnestad 1997, 22026. UPZ II, p. 85 (second century b.c.e.) mentions an an-
nual festival of Amun in Thebes.
country. There was widespread building of Egyptian temples under the
early Ptolemies that inserted the Ptolemies into this same iconographic
framework. Although the Delta temples, which would have been clos-
est to Alexandria, are now almost completely destroyed, Philae in
southern Egypt suggests the kind of complex that visitors might have
At Philae, the Ptolemies, beginning with Philadelphus, were por-
trayed in cult worship along with members of the Egyptian pantheon.
Here, the cult of the Theoi adelphoi was introduced by Euergetes, and
it was thoroughly Egyptian in its visual representation. Add to this the
temples of Isis and of Sarapis in Alexandria as well as the Egyptian
monuments that appear to have been moved into the city from else-
with their consistent representation of kingship, and it is obvi-
ous that Greeks resident in Alexandria and the Delta would have had
abundant opportunities to become familiar with these ideas.
2. Although Egyptian daily temple rituals were conducted within
the sanctuary of the temple and only priests could be present, Egyptians
celebrated a wide variety of religious festivals throughout the year that
took place in public spaces. Many texts have survived that provide evi-
dence of the foundational or cosmogonic myths that underpin the tem-
ples ritual purpose and activities. The most important of these is from
the temple at Edfu, a late Hellenistic construction whose wall friezes
contain a detailed dramatic reenactment of the signicant events in the
mythology of Horus, the divine king of Egypt, events that were crucial
in the rituals of kingship.
Although later than the period we are con-
sidering, this material is scarcely innovative, and it allows us a glimpse
of the complex annual ceremonials that a Ptolemy would be expected
to participate in either personally or (more likely) through a priestly
The other important celebrations of kingship, the festivals
of Opet and of the Valley,
as well as New Year festivals and the Heb
Sed, or Jubilee, continued under the Ptolemies. In addition to the enact-
ment of the rituals of divine kingship, a large number of festivals staged
46 Conceptualizing Egypt
79. Lichtheim 1980, 11624.
80. Dunand 1973, 20744.
81. 2.5963; and see Lloyd 1976, 26787. F. Perpillou-Thomas (Ftes d gypte
ptolmaque et romaine daprs la documentation papyrologique grecque, Studia Hel-
lenistica 31 [Louvain, 1993]) provides an up-to-date list of known festivals.
82. Burstein 1992; Dillery 1999.
83. Burstein 1996, 600. See Fraser 1972, 1: 521, for other writers about Egypt.
events in the story of Osiris, Isis, and Horus, and dramatic texts like the
Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys
give an indication of what such
performances may have been like.
The festivals that Herodotus re-
ports seeing in Bubastis, Sais, and Papremis would have been of this lat-
ter type.
3. Herodotus mentions the priests as a source of information. Obvi-
ously any such exchange would have involved either bilingual priests or
translators, both of whose populations must have increased consider-
ably by the third century in Alexandria, because of the demand for a
bilingual bureaucracy. The Egyptian priest Manetho, who was active in
the court of Ptolemy I, is the best example of such exchange within
Alexandrian circles. Although better known for his history of Egypt, in
which he corrected Herodotuss chronology of the pharaohs,
also wrote several books on Egyptian religion. From the few remaining
testimonia to these works it is clear that he provided accounts of Isis,
Osiris, Apis, Serapis, and other Egyptian gods, including Seth, whom he
apparently called by his Greek name, Typhon. Like Hecataeus of Ab-
dera, Manetho appears to have made an attempt to align various ele-
ments of Egyptian religious thought with a Greek natural philosophy;
for example, one fragment links the divine pantheon with the principles
of air, earth, re, and water (fr. 83 Waddell). He also seems to have pro-
vided an account of animal worship. Although nothing survives, it is
impossible to imagine that Manetho could have written such a work
without discussing the central rituals of kingship, such as those that ap-
pear at Edfu or in the Philae hymns, and their attendant mythologies,
which are outlined below. Manethos writings seem very close in con-
cept to those of Hecataeus of Abdera and Euhemerus;
hence they are
likely to reect the ethos of the court. For the literate circles of Alexan-
dria, Manethos writings on religion in tandem with those of Hecataeus
of Abdera would have provided a baseline for understanding, serving as
a Baedeker for Greeks who either wished or needed to explore their
new symbolic environment.
Conceptualizing Egypt 47
84. Diodorus Siculus 1.72 = FGrH 264 F25.72.
85. Diodorus Siculus 1.9192 = FGrH 264 F25.9192.
86. Greeks were certainly familiar with this practice; there has even been speculation
that the occasional burial of Greek papyri along with the dead owner was intended to
replicate Egyptian behavior. See E. G. Turner, Greek Papyri: An Introduction, 2d ed. (Ox-
ford, 1980) 7677. The most famous such text is Timotheuss Persae, which had been
buried in a fourth-century Hellenomemphite tomb.
87. Quirke 1992, 15070; Hornung 1999, 1322.
4. Much of what Herodotus actually learned in Egypt must have
come from Greek populations already resident there. Greek merchants
and soldiers had been located in Egypt for centuries, and over time
many, like the Hellenomemphites, had adopted Egyptian customs.
Herodotus mentions one such group, the Chemmitae, and his source of
information on the Buto temple of Artemis is equally likely to have
been an assimilated Greek population. Wherever these groups were
found, they would have served as sources of general information for
newcomers. For example, Herodotus provides a lengthy and more or
less accurate description of the process of mummication (2.8690).
The practice was characteristically Egyptian, and although he gives no
source for his information, it must have come from the Egyptians them-
selves, either priests or local residents. Hecataeus of Abdera included
similar information on burial practice but added further details about a
judgment of kings,
much of which is repeated in a later section on the
judgment of the individual after death.
Diodorus mentions forty-two
judges. These are kin of the dead person who catalogue his just behav-
ior during life and call out to the gods of the underworld to receive the
dead as justied. Although presented as occurring in real time, the
events described are known today only from the Book of the Dead,
which was a collection of magic spells designed to facilitate the en-
trance of the dead person into the afterlife. Each individual who could
afford it could have a standard or customized copy, often lavishly illus-
trated, of one or more series of spells prepared to be placed in the
The period we are concerned with, the fourth and third cen-
turies b.c.e., not only saw a revival in the use of these funerary papyri,
but also considerable standardization in the sequence of incidents and
incantations that occurred.
Thus the hundreds of such texts that have
survived allow scholars to reconstruct the operative mythologies about
the afterlife, its geography, and its relationship to the Egyptian pan-
theon. The vignette recounted in Diodorus may have confused the tex-
tual event with real life, but it is also possible that it reects elements of
48 Conceptualizing Egypt
88. See

Zabkar 1988, 12526, on the negative confession (Spell 125). See also
Merkelbach 1993, 7184; he makes the intriguing suggestion that Diodorus is correctly
recording events and that elements that appear in funerary books may have been staged
as part of the funeral process.
89. See J. F. Quack, Das Buch vom Tempel und verwandte TexteEin Vorbericht,
Archiv fr Religionsgeschichte 2.1 (2000) 120. (I am grateful to L. Koenen for providing
me with a copy of this article.)
90. Both Eudoxus of Cnidus and Hecataeus offer the possibility of Greeks who read
some form of Egyptian.
91. Herodotus 2.102 and 106. C. Obsomer (Les campagnes de Ssostris dans
Hrodote [Brussels, 1989] 11524) discusses the traditional identication of the stele
with that of Nahr el-Kelb and suggests a better candidate, a Ramessid stele from Beth-
Chan. See 6879 on the Semna stele of Sesostris III.
actual practice. The most important feature of the Book of the Dead
spell 125, the so-called negative confessionwas a comprehensive de-
nial of any wrongdoing, recited at the moment of judgment before
Osiris. Elements of it, however, were employed as part of yearly temple
rituals for the living king
and also occurred in priestly oaths, some of
which now exist in both Demotic and Greek.
At the very least, the
passages in Diodorus indicate familiarity with these very common tomb
writings (however they may have been conveyed to our Greek sources).
It is possible to ask to what extent Greeks would have been able to read
Egyptian, but the question may not be particularly meaningful in the
ancient context. Few Egyptians read hieroglyphics, and even fewer hi-
eratic, but that did not mean that Egyptians were ignorant of their own
myths or of the ideologies of kingship. Moreover, those trained in the
reading of Egyptian texts (like Manetho) were precisely the Egyptians
that Greeks connected with the Ptolemaic court were most likely to
have encountered. Although the majority of Alexandrian Greeks would
not have been able to read Egyptian texts, it is certainly possible that
some did learn to read the stylized and formulaic hieroglyphics found
on royal monuments.
These texts are visually arresting, and the glyphs
themselves stimulate the hermeneutic impulse, as Herodotuss interest
in the stele supposedly erected by Sesostris in Syria demonstrates. It is
unclear what Herodotus actually saw, but he was interested enough to
learn from some source that on it Sesostris had used signs for female
genitalia to humiliate the conquered enemy.
Whether or not female
genitalia occur on the inscription Herodotus mentions, it seems he may
have been correct about the general principle. On the Semna stele of
Sesostris III, the phallus is mutilated . . . as a mark of dishonor char-
Conceptualizing Egypt 49
92. T. Hare, ReMembering Osiris: Number, Gender, and the Word in Ancient Egypt-
ian Representational Systems (Stanford, 1999) 10910; and Vasunia 2001, 143.
93. These include The Contendings of Horus and Seth, The Memphite Theology,
and The Story of Tefnut, or The Myth of the Suns Eye. Much Demotic material is
still unpublished. For the Inaros and Petubastis cycles of stories, see J. Taits discussion in
Greek Fiction: The Greek Novel in Context, ed. J. Morgan and R. Stoneman (London,
1994) 20322.
94. See, for example, Leaf and Bayelds commentary on Iliad 9.145.
acterizing the Nubians.
One nal point: neither ancient Greek nor
Egyptian culture was as dependent on literacy as we are today. Even the
literate employed scribes who read aloud to them and to whom they
would dictate their words. In this milieu, the most likely scenario for
the transmission of Egyptian written texts to interested Greeks was via
a trained, bilingual scribe who would be able to read a text in Egyptian
script and translate it into Greek. Even without the ability to read texts,
the consistency of visual representation from region to region as well as
from one medium to another combined with the considerable degree of
overlap between the written and visual guaranteed that a core of Egypt-
ian symbolic material must have been familiar to anyone living in the
country, just as it is for the tourist who visits Egypt today.
the ideology of egyptian kingship
A difculty for any discussion about the interrelatedness of Greek and
Egyptian myths within the Alexandrian context stems from the lack of
systematization of belief systems by the Egyptians themselves. Although
a series of prose narratives (anachronistically labeled short stories)
survive, and provide the rst extended narratives of Egyptian myths,
the Egyptians had no tradition of mythography. There are no hand-
books or epitomes to which we can turn, no rationalizing historians
and philosophers. Rather, the situation is analogous to that of the ar-
chaic or classical period in Greece, where a variety of sourcespoems,
plays, ceramics, friezesallow us to reconstruct the story of Heracles
or Jason and the Argonauts, but always with inconsistencies and
caveats. Commentators remind us that Homer, for example, reects a
different tradition about the daughter of Agamemnon (Iphianassa)
than Euripides.
Even within the same time period, there are alterna-
tives: in Euripides lost version of an Oedipus play, for example, Oedi-
pus continues to rule Thebes after the discovery of his incestuous mar-
50 Conceptualizing Egypt
95. C. Austin, Euripidis Fragmenta Nova (Berlin, 1968) 5965 = POxy. 27.2455.
96. Manetho may have attempted to do this, since he was writing for a Greek audi-
ence; so Blum 1991, 103.
97. Hornung 1982, 24041. Hornungs formulation of this view of Egyptian thinking
seems to have gained wide acceptance among Egyptologists. See especially his chapter
The Problem of Logic, pp. 23743.
riage, rather than wandering off blind and in exile.
The case with
Egyptian religious stories is similar. Disparate sources have allowed
scholars to reconstruct major themes and motifs, and there is ample ev-
idence in Egypts long written tradition for continuity as well as change
within these traditions, but no one source provides a clear, chronologi-
cal account of any particular tale.
Moreover, as Egyptologists are now
beginning to realize, Egyptian thinking about the divine does not follow
the logical constraints we are familiar with from Greek systemizations
of Egyptian myths. Gods and their functions resist neat description and
containment: the process is one of pleonasm and combination, of
both . . . and rather than either . . . or. Erik Hornung decribes it thus:
The order established by the creator god is characterized by two things
and thus by differentiation or diversity; this idea is incorporated in the
teaching that Egypt is the Two Lands and in a mass of other pairs that
can form a totality only if taken together. The greatest totality conceiv-
able is the existent and the non-existent, and in these dualistic terms
the divine is evidently both one and many.
Oppositions such as these are real, but the pairs do not cancel each
other out; they complement each other. A given x can be both a and not-
a. . . . The Egyptian script, in which individual signs had always been
able to be both picture and letter, illustrates how ancient this principle is.
I should emphasize that they were able to be, because we should not
exclude the possibility that the Egyptians had special cases in which a
particular given x was always a. For the Egyptians two times two is al-
ways four, never anything else. But the sky is a number of thingscow,
baldachin, water, womanit is the goddess Nut and the goddess Hathor,
and in syncretism a deity a is at the same time another, not-a.
For example, the sun-god, Re, can be linked in cult and iconography
with the ram-headed patron deity of Thebes, Amon, and designated
Amon-re; simultaneously he can be linked with the crocodile god of the
Fayum, Sobek, to produce Sobk-re, or even with the lord of the under-
world, Osiris. Ptah, the patron god of Memphis, identied by the
Greeks with Hephaestus, may in turn be conated with either Amon or
Re or both. Isis, the wife and sister of Osiris and mother of Horus, is
frequently joined with Hathor, the mother of Re, both of whom can be
Conceptualizing Egypt 51
98. Some early kings were even identifed by Seth-names rather than Horus-names.
See, for example, Kemp 1989, 5152. For an extended discussion of the role of Seth in
Egyptian thought, see Te Velde 1967.
99. See the so-called Memphite Theology; Lichtheim 1973, 54.
represented with cows horns. Neith, whom the Greeks identify with
Athena, is easily assimilated to both Isis and Hathor. While at rst
glance Horus and his archenemy, Seth, may appear to generate a con-
sistent set of structural oppositionsHorus-Seth, order-chaos, black
land (inundation)-red land (desert), water-destructive heatthese do
not hold in every case. Occasionally Horus and Seth, who is sometimes
his brother, more often his uncle, unite to destroy a common enemy. Or
Seth enacts a positive role in place of Horus.
Cosmogonic writing be-
haves similarly. The originary moment of creation can be described as
an act of divine masturbation or as the product of divine thought and
speechwhat the creator conceived in his mind he gave substance to by
the act of speaking.
These are not progressive phases in the develop-
ment of Egyptian thought, as earlier Egyptologists claimed them to be,
but formulations of two discrete ways of imagining creationas a
physical act/as an intellectual actwhich may be deployed simultane-
ously in poetry and religious art.
If the mythography of the divine has generated a cluster of affective
symbols that may be combinedfor western readersin paradoxical
and often unpredictable ways, Egyptian iconography surrounding king-
ship is much more stable. Temples and stelae regularly incorporate a
consistent and repetitive series of pharaonic motifs (such as the smit-
ing of the foe), motifs that became so familiar that Egyptian decora-
tive artists at all periods incorporate or even parody these elements in
other media. Royal representation aimed at symbolic samenesseach
pharaoh behaving exactly like his predecessor in the performance of a
series of ritualized acts that guaranteed maintainance of the cosmic and
social order. The explanation for this phenomenon is to be found in
Egyptian thinking about the cosmos and the kings relationship to it.
Hornung recently described the central governing principle of Egyptian
life, called maat, as follows:
Maat may be interpreted as truth, justice, authenticity, correctness, order,
and straightness. It is the norm that should govern all actions, the stan-
dard by which all deeds should be measured or judged. . . . The universal
sense of the term maat has no precise equivalent in any other lan-
guage. . . . Contemporary translations have consistently yielded length-
ier, more detailed denitions. H. Bonnet, for example, understands maat
52 Conceptualizing Egypt
100. Hornung 1992, 13638.
as correctness in the sense of an immanent lawfulness not only in the
natural and social order, but also in the sacred order, since the . . . motif
epitomizes all worship activities. . . . R. Anthes writes about maat . . .
Maat holds this small world together and makes it into a constitutive
part of world order. She [maat] is the bringing home of the harvest; she is
human integrity in thought, word, and deed; she is the loyal leadership of
government; she is the prayer and offering of the king to the god. Maat
encompasses all creation, human beings, the king, the god; she permeates
the economy, the administration, religious services, the law. All ows to-
gether in a single point of convergence: the king. He lives in Maat and
passes her on, not only to the sun god above, but also to his subjects
Like Platos notion of justice in the Republic, maat is an activity that ex-
tends from the individual to the social: only through proper behavior
and active engagement of the individual can a harmonious cosmic
order be achieved. Although learning how to act in accordance with
maat was the responsibility of every Egyptian, whatever his or her
class, the king, at the top of the social and political hierarchy, bore the
heaviest obligation to maintain maat. Gods too participated in this or-
dering principle; the universe was constructed according to its guide-
lines. The opposite of maat or cosmic order was disorder or chaos, and
the two never achieved a harmonious balance but continually vied with
each other for dominion. Egyptian religious materialboth written
and pictorialconsists of the mythological exploration of this central
theme of cosmic harmony, and fundamental to the system was the role
of the king.
The Egyptian state at the time of the Ptolemaic takeover was a
theocracy, highly elaborated over two millennia, in which the king as
intermediary between the divine and human realms was essential to
create, maintain, and advance the elements of order over chaos and as
an instantiation of one or more of the gods themselves. Moreover, the
role of kingship had come to be reied; it was the ofce itself not the
person who occupied it that art and ceremony commemorated. Thus,
while any particular pharaoh was certainly recognized as mortal and
the product of human procreation by his attendant court and religious
advisors, nevertheless in ceremony and civic ideology he would be por-
trayed as the equal of the gods, a product of divine conception, or,
more accurately, as one in a line of human instantiations of a specic
Conceptualizing Egypt 53
101. Beckerath 1999, 2126.
102. The similarity to the Christian concept of Trinity has not gone unnoticed. See,
for instance, S. Morenz, Egyptian Religion, trans. Ann Keep (1973; reprint, Ithaca, N.Y.,
1992) 25557.
divine conception. In earlier dynastic times, the king was identied as
the Son of the Sun, Re, and continued to mark himself in this way
with a specic name, taken at the time of coronation.
But by the time
of the Ptolemies the pharaoh was also identied with Horus, the divine
rst king of Egypt. Over time his identication with both deities, Re
and Horus, in fact led to a conceptual trinity in Egyptian mythmak-
ingRe the god in heaven, Horus the king and the instantiation of the
god on earth, and nally Osiris the dead king, now lord of the under-
world, or night world.
The fact that all three of these deities may be
thought of as one yet simultaneously existing in discrete places and
with differentiated functions points to an essential difference between
Greek and Egyptian modes of religious thought. For Greeks, Zeus,
Apollo, and Hades are conceptually separate in identity as well as in
function, and kinship lines are clearly drawnZeus and Hades are
brothers; Apollo is the son of Zeus, never Hades, who is always and
only his uncle. The identication of the king with the sun-god, Re, as
well as with Horus, the rst divine king of Egypt, generated a series of
myths that proved fundamental within the religious imaginarycre-
ation, royal succession, and the maintainance of maat, that is, the tri-
umph of order over chaos. While each of these three is conceptually dis-
tinct and could be treated in this way, more often their iconographic
and mythic formulations come to function in all three realms simulta-
neously, so that the successful passing of rule from one king to another
could be seen also as an act of creation or of order triumphing over the
threat of chaos or both.
The centrality of the pharaohs relationship to the divine order was
thus often perceived as one of kinship, a kinship that over time came to
be elaborated in a myth of the insemination of the mother of the
pharaoh by a god, not by his human father. In the New Kingdom the
god in question was Amun-Re, the chief deity and patron of the capital
city, Thebes, who generally takes on the appearance of the human fa-
ther (though the visual representations are discrete about the actual
coupling). The best-preserved example is that of Hatshepsut, a women
who chose to rule not as regent, but as pharaoh in the Eighteenth Dy-
nasty. In the Hathor chapel of her mortuary temple at Deir-el-Bahari,
54 Conceptualizing Egypt
103. Kemp 1989, 198200, with an excellent illustration.
104. For a discussion of the birth myth, see H. Brunner, Die Geburt des Gottknigs:
Studien zur berlieferung eines altgyptischen Mythos, gyptologische Abhandlungen
10 (Wiesbaden, 1964); and J. Assman, Die Zeugung des Sohnes: Bild, Erzhlung und
das Problem des gyptischen Mythos, in Funktion und Leistungen des Mythos: Drei al-
torientalische Beispiele, ed. J. Assman et al., Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 48 (Gttingen,
1982) 1361. For a recent discussion, see OConnor and Silverman 1995, 7173.
Hatshepsuts mother is shown being led into the presence of the god
Amun-Re. He delicately extends to her the ankh or symbol of life so
that she conceives Hatshepsut, who is thus divinely sanctioned to rule.
Subsequently from the temple wall at Luxor comes a narrative of the
encounter of Amun-Re and Mutemwia, when she conceives Amen-
hotep III, expressed both pictorially and with attendant text. As the god
entered her sleeping chamber,
she woke on account of the divine fragrance and turned towards His
Majesty. He went straightway to her, he was aroused by her. He allowed
her to see him in his divine form, after he had come before her, so that she
rejoiced at seeing his perfection. His love, it entered her body. [After this
Amun declares] Amenhetep, prince of Thebes, is the name of this child
which I have placed in your womb.
This narrative of divine insemination was probably used by every
pharaoh, though the majority of extant examples are from monarchs
whose accession is irregular.
For Hatshepsut, obviously, as a woman
undertaking the particularly male role of pharaoh, or Amenhotep III,
who was the son, not of the pharaohs principal wife, but of a concu-
bine, the narrative functioned to identify each as the specially chosen
(though perhaps not obvious) new leader. Such birth stories could only
have been produced with the support of the priesthoods who controlled
the apparatus of ceremonial display. For Egyptians, any new ruler,
whether the legitimate son of the previous pharaoh or a usurper who
succeeded in maintaining power, would as a matter of course appear as
the son of Amun-Re in art and ritual, as the divinely conceived product
of a union between Amun and the pharaohs actual mother. In the cos-
mic context in which Egyptian religious and political rituals operate,
every pharaoh functioned in symbolic sameness, as a guarantor of the
order and stability of the world. On those occasions where a usurper
succeeded in retaining power, over time he too would be absorbed into
the life of the society and represented with the traditional iconography.
If he chose to accept the role and act as pharaoh, as conquerors were in-
Conceptualizing Egypt 55
105. Kemp 1989, 208.
106. Gwyn Grifths 1960, 4146.
clined to do, he would ultimately become indistinguishable from his
predecessors. Barry Kemp describes the process in this way:
The merging of the king with the god Amun and all his pageants had the
important consequence of drawing a line between politics and myth. The
royal succession could go badly wrong, some could even plot to kill the
king and replace him with another. . . . But behind visible reality lay an
immensely weighty edice of myth, festival, and grand architectural set-
ting that could absorb the petty vagaries of history and smooth out the
irregularities. It guaranteed the continuity of proper rule that was so im-
portant an element in the Egyptians thinking. In particular it could con-
vert usurpers (or new blood, depending on ones point of reference) into
models of legitimacy and tradition.
The pharaoh himself, at the time of the Ptolemaic takeover, was
linked in cult not only to the sun-god, Re, but to Horus-in-Chemmis (or
Horus-the-Child), who is, mythologically speaking, the rst king of
Egypt, and whose dening act of kingship in mythological time was to
unite the Two Lands, the term that Egyptians used to designate the
north (or Lower Egypt) and the south (or Upper Egypt). Horus also has
a dual iconography and conated mythology. Originally he appears to
have been a sky-god and was represented as either a falcon or a winged
disk. By the Late Period and especially in the Ptolemaic period, he is
merged with a younger Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris. One of the
few myths that has survived in the form of an extended narrative simi-
lar to Greek myth accounts for the struggle between order and chaos in
anthropomorphic terms, that is, as a struggle between Horus and Seth.
Allusions to this struggle and its cosmic ramications are as old as the
Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, but a Ramessid papyrus provides a
series of episodes in which the two wound, mutilate, and trick each
other until their rivalry is nally settled by the gods who sit in judg-
ment. The tone often appears to be satirical; there is one homosexual
interlude, for example, which might have lost Horus the kingdom, but
his mother Isis intervenes to save the day.
The story of Horus is best
known to Greek scholars from Plutarchs On Isis and Osiris, which was
written some ve centuries after the period of our attention and has al-
most certainly been shaped into a coherent (in western terms) narrative
by Plutarch and his numerous Greek sources (among whom are
56 Conceptualizing Egypt
107. Lichtheim 1980, 11624.
108. In some versions Horus is born in Chemmis; in others he is brought there after
birth to be hidden. Elements of the story can be traced as far back as the Old Kingdom.
See A. H. Gardiner, Horus the Beh
detite, JEA 40 (1944) 2360; Goyon 1988, 2940,
for its prominence in the Ptolemaic period.
109. This incident takes place near Achmim in Upper Egypt and is probably why san-
dals led the Chemmitae to identify Perseus with Horus. See Lloyd 1976, 36869; 1969,
110. Gwyn Grifths 1960, 710.
Hecataeus of Abdera and Eudoxus). The discrete particulars of the tale,
however, can be seen in far older Egyptian material, like the Lamenta-
tions of Isis,
the friezes in the Edfu temple, or the hymns from the
Philae temple, as well as the mysteries celebrated at Papremis that
Herodotus mentions so discretely (2.5963).
The story is as follows: Isis and Osirislike Zeus and Herawere
siblings as well as husband and wife. Their brother, Seth, in jealousy,
cut up Osiriss body into several pieces and hid the parts in separate lo-
cations from the Delta to Byblos. Isis sailed through these regions and
patiently reassembled the body parts, binding them with linen wrap-
pings that produced Osiriss characteristic mummylike shape. Isis con-
ceived Horus after Osiriss death by means of Osiriss reanimated male
member, gave birth to Horus in secret, hid him in a papyrus thicket in
the area of Chemmis,
an island in the Delta populated only by poi-
sonous snakes and insects, by means of which Seth bites and nearly kills
the infant god. Horus is often represented being nursed by the goddess
Hathor in the form of a cow. Details of Isiss birth often stress her
lamentations when Horus is attacked, attendant goddesses who pro-
tect the newborn, and the loud noises that they make to distract anyone
intent on harm. In later versions of the myth, Horus is explicitly the son
of Osiris, who recognizes him and prepares him to ght his uncle, Seth,
to avenge his fathers death. There are many episodes to the struggle
in one, Seth steals Horuss eye; in another, Horus hunts and kills Seth,
who has turned himself into a hippopotamus, and then makes a pair of
sandals from his hide.
After a number of encounters, Horus is nally
recognized as the legitimate heir of his father, and the kingdom is given
into his keeping by the Ogdoad, or older cosmic deities. At maturity
Horus becomes the rst king of Egypt and the avenger of his father.
We saw in the New Kingdom that a theogamy of the sun-god (as
Amun-Re) with the pharaohs queen was sometimes represented on
temple walls. By the Late Period, this divine birth story was celebrated
in separate shrines built within larger temple complexes, called mam-
Conceptualizing Egypt 57
111. See Goyon 1988, 3436, with a series of illustrations of the divine birth and the
nursing of the child by a series of goddesses. The basic studies are Daumas 1958; E. Chas-
sinat, Les mammisi des temples gyptiens (Paris, 1958); and J. Junker and E. Winter, Das
Geburtshaus des Tempels der Isis in Phila (Vienna, 1961). See also A. Badawy, The Ar-
chitectural Symbolism of the Mammisi-Chapels in Egypt, C dE 38 (1963) 7890.
112. Arnold 1999; see pp. 619 for his plans of temple layouts and for the positions
of mammisi in relation to the central complex, and p. 20 for a map of Ptolemaic temples
built in the Delta.
113. Arnold 1999, 163.
114. See Rutherford 1998, 25053.
115. FGrH 1.305: Dn BoAtoi% perB tb Cerbn tp% LhtoP% Gsti npso% XAmbi% gnoma,
Arb toP \Apallvno%, Gsti dB a npso% metarsAh kaB peripleP kaB kinAetai DpD toP Edato%.
Chembis is a more accurate rendering of the Egyptian than Herodotuss Chemmis, but
the spelling Chemmis is used in virtually all the scholarly literature, so I have retained it.
misi. Friezes depicting the marriage of the goddess and the birth of the
divine child/pharaoh adorned the temples walls, and mystery plays
were staged that enacted these events of cosmogonic as well as political
Birth shrines proliferated in the Ptolemaic period as the
focus of a royal cult in which the pharoah (as a young child) was asso-
ciated with the divine son of a variety of local divinities, though the Isis-
Osiris-Horus myth was the most prominent. These shrines were built
well into the Roman period, during which the emperors asssociated
themselves with the divine child. The Ptolemies built mammisi at Den-
dera, Edfu, and Philae; others were built in the Delta, though they have
not survived.
One such shrine is known to have been erected in the
precincts of the Serapeum in Memphis at least by the time of the fourth
Ptolemy, if not earlier.
From the number of private inscriptions dedi-
cated in the mammisi at Philae, it is possible that these temples were
open to the general public.
Even if access was restricted, they re-
mained a prominent feature of the Ptolemaic religious landscape and a
central location for the enactment of the rituals of divine kingship.
The birth story of Horus was so well-known that both Hecataeus of
Miletus and Herodotus record a version of it. A fragment of Hecataeus
mentions that in Buto by the shrine of Leto is an island, Chembis by
name, sacred to Apollo, and the island is aoat and sails around and
moves upon the water.
Herodotus provides more detail: he tells us
that Chemmis was a oating island located in a lake near an oracular
temple dedicated to Leto. On the island was a temple to Apollo.
Herodotus did not himself actually see the island oat, but provides
what he claims is the native explanation:
The Egyptians give this account of how the island came to oat: before it
began to oat Leto, one of the eight primal gods, lived in the city of Buto,
58 Conceptualizing Egypt
116. Gwyn Grifths (1960, 9396) is dependent on W. A. Heidel (Hecataeus and the
Egyptian Priests in Herodotus, Book II, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Mem-
oirs 18.2 [Boston, 1935] 100); and Lloyd (1988, 13946) on them both. S. West
(Herodotus Portrait of Hecataeus, JHS 111 [1991] 158 n. 2) expresses doubt at this
explanation, though she gives no reasons.
where her oracle now is, and having received Apollo, the son of Osiris, as
a sacred trust from Isis, she kept him safe by hiding him on the island that
at this point was said to oat (Dn tu nPn plvtu legomAnu nasi), when
Typhon came there searching everywhere for the son of Osiris. Apollo
and Artemis, they say, are the children of Isis and Dionysus, and Leto was
their nurse and savior. In Egyptian, Apollo is Horus, Demeter is Isis,
Artemis is Bubastis. (2.156)
Equally important as the occurrence of a myth central to pharaonic
kingship in Greek material is what it reveals about the process of recep-
tion, namely, the ways in which Greek and Egyptian myths were under-
going a degree of interpenetration. Gwyn Grifthss commentary on
this passage is instructive: he observes that a oating island specically
associated with the concealing of Horus is unknown in extant Egyptian
texts and suspects that what Herodotus reports was really the Egyptian
story of the birth of Horus-in-Chemmis contaminated with the Greek
legend of Apollo born on the island of Delos. He remarks that Ionian
Greek settlers of the fth century in Naucratis and Daphne, which is
near the supposed location of the island, were sure to have been famil-
iar with both legends, and in all likelihood they served up this conated
version for Herodotus.
Indeed, it is possible that the proliferation of
Horus temples in the Delta region under the Ptolemies was the direct
result of the Ptolemies capitalizing on the fact that Greeks could easily
identify this Egyptian legend with one of their own.
For Egyptians creation was imagined in terms of the inundating wa-
ters of the Nile as they receded each year to reveal hillocks of mud that
quickly teemed with life under a tropical sun. The moment when exis-
tence differentiated itself fromnonexistence was termed the rst time
and was represented as a mound or hill emerging from the watery void.
On this hill the creator rst manifested himselfan event that could be
represented iconographically as a child emerging from an egg or from
an opening bud of a lotus ower, or as a bird perched upon the
moundthen he created the world as well as the divine pantheon. The
place where creation began was given various namesprimeval hill,
sacred mound, place of coming forth,and its symbolism was po-
tent and ubiquitous in Egyptian writing as well as in artistic representa-
Conceptualizing Egypt 59
117. See, for example, Shafer 1997, 18.
118. See, for instance, Frankfort 1978, 15154; Lloyd 1976, 31819.
119. See Kemp 1989, 8588, for a discussion of the function of wordplay in the cre-
ation of religious ideology.
120. 2.73. Hecataeus of Miletus, too, apparently mentioned the phoenix; see FGrH 1
F324. See also Lloyds very full discussion of Herodotus 2.73 (1976, 31723).
tion. Every temple was supposedly erected upon a primeval hill,
to that end an articial lake was often included in the precinct to repli-
cate the primeval waters (this is what Herodotus saw in Chemmis). The
pyramid was intended to reproduce not only the shape of the primeval
hill, but also its ability to rejuvenate.
The hill was early fetishized as a
conical stone, called bn-bn. It was housed in a precinct known as the
Mansion of the Bn-bn in one of the oldest cities in Egypt, which the
Greeks named Heliopolis (Sun City) because it was sacred to the
sun-god. Via a series of verbal and iconic similarities the bn-bn could be
associated with the sun-god: wbn means to shine, and the stone
emerging from the waters resembled the sun rising on the eastern hori-
The sun-god, too, could be portrayed as emerging from an egg
that sat upon this hill, or as the bnw-bird (probably a heron) perched
upon the bn-bn.
It is this bnw-bird that stands behind the Greek story of the phoenix
as related by Herodotus.
He tells us that in rare intervals of ve hun-
dred years or so, upon the death of its parent, the phoenix carries its fa-
ther in a hollowed-out ball of myrrh shaped like an egg to the temple of
the Sun in Heliopolis (= the Mansion of the Bn-bn). Again this is reve-
latory of the process of reception: the bird, the egg, and Heliopolis (or
elements from the creation myth) have been combined with the tradi-
tional act that precedes successionthe son (the new pharaoh) presid-
ing over the mummication of his father (the dead pharaoh). The birth-
place of Horus, the rst king of Egypt and the prototype for the
pharaoh, was also imagined as the primeval hill, hence Horus too was a
type of the creator, and his birth the rst time. This event could be
conveyed by the image of Horus as a child or again by the Horus-falcon
within a papyrus swamp, and both of these images are deployed in the
birth shrines of the Late Period. In Herodotus the two are merged as
bird and son. Just as Horus presides over the burial of his father, Osiris,
whom he succeeds, so the Horus-falcon is represented with the ball of
myrrh in which his dead father/predecessor has been immured. More-
over, he conveys the dead parent to Heliopolis where the original bn-bn
or primeval hill is located. The hill substitutes for both the tomb and
60 Conceptualizing Egypt
121. For the identication of the deceased with the bnw-bird, see Book of the Dead,
Spells 8 and 84; and

Zabkar 1988, 94, for the identication of the phoenix with Osiris
and the pharaoh.
122. Assman 1995, 53.
the primeval hill on which rebirth takes place. The powers of resurrec-
tion that are often attributed to the phoenixto rise from his own
ashesstem from this rejuvenative quality of the primeval hill and by
association the tomb.
As we have seen with other sets of representa-
tions, for Egyptians the tomb, the bn-bn, and the primeval hill on the
one hand and the Horus child, the falcon, and the bnw-bird on the
other are not only symbols of but identical with each other. To enter
into the symbolic realm of any one part of the set activates all possible
meanings. For a Greek, however, the story of the phoenix demonstrates
the need to impose a linear narrative to which distinct and separable
meanings may be attached.
Just as they were linked with creation myths, Re and Horus are also
central in another signicant cluster of representationsthe theme of
order versus chaos. In Egyptian iconography the struggle between the
two is linked with both the daily cycle of the sun and the original mo-
ment of creation. The sun-god, Re, is often represented as sailing
through the night world in a celestial boat, where now, the enemy,
imagined as a giant serpent, threatens Res destruction, and with the
loss of the sun, the end of creation or nonexistence would ensue. Vari-
ous gods sail with the sun to ward off destruction, and solar hymns
from the New Kingdom and the Books of the Dead from the Late Pe-
riod contain ritual spells to be recited to aid Re in defeating his enemy.
Daily the sun repeats his struggles, and daily his enemy is defeated by
spells, represented iconographically by the serpent bound with ropes or
cut into pieces with knives. But,
the victory over Apophis [the serpent] is less a manifestation of strength
than of law and order, i.e., Maat. . . . The struggle takes on the nature of
a judgement that has been enforced, the confrontation between the sun
god and the enemy is like an act of jurisdiction. Re travels through the
sky justied. Apophis therefore not only embodies cosmic opposition
to light and movement, but also the principle of evil.
The serpent then, who is called Apep or Apop (Apophis in Greek),
comes to represent chaos, darkness, the absence of light, and nonbeing.
While defeated daily by the sun and his retinue, he also renews his
threats and must continue to be defeated for the natural, social, and
Conceptualizing Egypt 61
123. See Ritners discussion of symbolic reenactments (1993, 11942).
moral order to continue to exist and ourish. The relationship of chaos
to order, of being to nonbeing, is occasionally represented by the
ourobouros or a snake with its tail in its mouth surrounding a small
child, the symbol of birth or the newness of creation. From this it is an
easy step to the story of Horus the child in Chemmis. When Horus is
threatened by poisonous serpents, he either throttles or tramples on the
snakes. This event becomes, however, not simply the narrative of a
childish act, nor even of the triumph over Seth, who is responsible for
the attack of the serpents, but another instantiation of the victory of
order over chaos, or being over nonbeing.
The oldest and most enduring formula for representing the kings re-
lationship to maat in graphic art in Egypt is that known as smiting the
foe. The pharaoh, always larger than his surrounding attendants or
the enemy, strides forward, with one hand grasping the enemy by the
hair and with a club raised in the other as if to beat him upon the head.
The image is rst found in the predynastic period on the so-called
Narmer Palette and is ubiquitous throughout the dynastic period: py-
lons in Theban temples depict this event on a large scale, while jewelry
makers have even adopted the theme in small scale for royal pectorals.
The motif is so quintessentially Egyptian that the Nubian kings borrow
it and employ it on their own monuments well into the common era.
Within the symbolic realm, the iconography, of course, functions as
more than a reminder of the pharaohs prowess in war or even the dom-
inance of Egypt over its enemies. It marks rather the pharaoh as the
bringer of cosmic order out of chaos. Each individual pharaohs tri-
umph over a particular enemy replicates similar ordering acts in the
past and pregures those of the future, and thus the repetitiveness of
the iconography throughout history results not from lack of imagina-
tion or cultural stasis but is a deliberate attempt to express the belief
that each separate event partakes of a cosmic sameness, in a continuing
effort to maintain cosmic balance or maat.
A more explicit variation
of this theme portrays the pharaoh accompanied by tidy ranks of
Egyptian soldiers while the enemy ranks are represented as broken and
eeing, often trampled under the feet of the striding king. This order-
chaos theme, like the smiting of the foe, achieves the status of a clich in
Egyptian arthence as early as the Eighteenth Dynasty, a golden fan
base adapts the motif to a royal ostrich hunt, where the pharaoh now
62 Conceptualizing Egypt
124. For an illustration, see, for instance, The Treasures of Tutankhamun (New York,
1976) no. 18.
125. See LIMC 3.1, s.v. Bousiris; and 3.2, pls. 10, 11, 19, 23, and esp. 28. See also J.-
L. Durand and F. Lissarague, Mourir lautel: Remarques sur l imagerie du sacrice hu-
main dans la cramique antique, Archiv fr Religionsgeschichte 1 (1999) 33106.
126. Heracles may have been depicted in Egyptian-inspired scenes elsewhere; see
Jourdain-Annequin 1992, 74, pl. XIVa. In both Herodotus and Hecataeus (Diodorus) he
had Egyptian afliations or analogues. See also the discussion below, chapter 3.
127. Diodorus Siculus 1.88.5 ( = FGrH 264 F25.88.5). Much of this information is
also in Manetho (fr. 86 Waddell).
128. F. Vogel conjectured a lacuna in the text where he assumed the Egyptian name
for the multiform creatures would have been written. Burton (1972, 11011) rejects this,
arguing that diakosmoymAnoy% teratvdb% corresponds with dnomazomAnoy%. The mean-
strides forth with his faithful hunting dogs against a chaotic band of os-
triches, who subsequently end up as feathers in the fan.
Greeks were certainly familiar with these standard representations of
the pharaoh. In the sixth century a black-gure vase depicting Heracles
and Busiris, the Egyptian king who was notorious for sacricing for-
eigners on his altars, took advantage of this stock motif and inverted it.
On this vase, Heracles attacks the king and his followers in precisely
the manner of royal Egyptian depictions of the pharaoh routing the
To replace the pharaoh with Heracles on this vase appears to be
not so much parody, but a desire on the part of the vase painter to ap-
propriate for Heracles the properties of the pharaoh as the bearer of
order and civilized community.
Diodorus, in a passage that is very
likely from Hecataeus of Abdera, decodes the Busiris story in the fol-
lowing way: in ancient times red-haired men were sacriced at the tomb
of Osiris, because red was the color associated with Seth/Typhon, who
was the enemy of Osiris. Since very few Egyptians are red-haired, most
of those sacriced were foreigners. Greeks misunderstood the circum-
stances and imagined that Busiris was the king who did the sacricing,
when in fact Busiris was not a person but a place-name meaning tomb
of Osiris.
Thus Diodorus (Hecataeus?) understands an event that to
Greeks marks barbarian behavior (namely, sacricing foreigners) as a
ritual of conict between Osiris and Seth, that is, the forces of order
and chaos. In this scheme, killing Seth/Typhon surrogates is to be
equated with conquering the enemy and restoring order.
An earlier passage in Diodorus that has not been regarded as
Hecataean also seems to describe the foe-smiting scene:
Moreover, the Egyptians tell the tale that in the time of Isis there had
been certain multibodied creatures (polysvmatoy%), who were named
Giants by the Greeks, but . . . by themselves,
who were displayed in
Conceptualizing Egypt 63
ing would then be named giants by the Greeks, represented as monsters by the Egyp-
tians. The textual problem does not affect my argument. The point is that for Diodorus
or his Greek source there is an equivalence between the Egyptian polysamatoi and
Greek Giants. See LIMC 4.1.19193, s.v. Gigantes. Note that the giants are described
as bicorpores by Naevius (W. Strzelecki, Belli Punici carminis quae supersunt [Leipzig,
1964] fr. 4).
129. Diodorus Siculus 1.26.6.
130. Noted in Gwyn Grifths 1960, 102. His own suggestion that these might be
Sethian creatures in animal form is implausible, since the verb would need to mean
spear or trample. But tAptv does not mean spear and rarely means trample
without further qualication.
131. It is described in Euripides Ion 2067.
monstrous form (diakosmoymAnoy% teratvdb%) on their temples and
were being beaten (typtomAnoy%) by Osiris. Now some say that they
were earth-born (ghgeneP%) when the genesis of life from the earth was
new, while others say that they were superior by virtue of their physical
strength and had accomplished many deeds, and from this circumstance
legend described them as many-bodied (polysvmatvn). But it is gener-
ally agreed that when they made war against Zeus and Osiris they were
all destroyed.
The phrase beaten by Osiris is the key to understanding the pas-
sage, as B. G. Gunn saw. In a verbal communication to J. Gwyn Grif-
Gunn suggested that Diodorus was referring to delineations of
the King in a form like Osiris smiting a group of enemies . . . who are
so closely packed together as to appear as monstrous multicorpores.
This has the ring of truth about it. On the great pylons of the Rames-
seum in Thebes and at Medinet Habu the enemy are superimposed
upon each other in such a way that they appear with only one body, but
with multiple arms and legs. At Medinet Habu and other later temples,
the king wears the white crown of Upper Egypt, which is also worn by
the mummiform Osiris and hence may have led to the identication of
the king with Osiris.
The Greek writerwhether Diodorus or one of his sourcesin a
sense reads the monument correctly by ignoring its historical particu-
larity and reproducing its underlying meaning, namely, that the act de-
picted represents the cosmic struggle of Osiris (and/or Horus) against
Seth. Whatever the exact nature of these multiform, earth-born crea-
tures, in a process similar to that of Herodotuss interpretation of the
Horus-in-the-Delta myth, Diodorus assimilates the Egyptian motif to a
Greek story, and one that occupies an analogous place in Greek art and
writing. The defeat of the Giants rst appears in a frieze on the temple
of Apollo at Delphi
and was the required subject for the peplos of
64 Conceptualizing Egypt
1132. See Euripides Hecuba 46574; the scholiast claims ad loc. that the scene was of
either Titans or Giants. See E. Pfuhl, De Atheniensium pompis sacris (Berlin, 1900) 614.
133. See Merkelbach 1977 for a discussion of the various components of the AR; see
pp. 7783 for a detailed discussion of the Nectanebo episode, including the Egyptian par-
allels (esp. pp. 7981). More recently see Fraser (1996, 205 n. 1), who remarks that
Merkelbach and Trumpf expound a comprehensive, though to my mind only partially
successful, explanation of the origin of the whole work.
134. The AR was extremely popular and survives in a number of other languages as
well. For a discussion of the stemma, see D. J. A. Ross, Alexander Historiatus (Warburg,
Athena for the festival of the Panathenaea.
It became very popular in
the Hellenistic period and was a notable element on the Pergamene
Altar. The defeat of the Giants, like the defeat of the Amazons, signaled
iconographically the civilizing inuence of the Greek city-states and
their individual or collective defeat of the irrational, uncivilized worlds
that preceded them. In myth too, the defeat of the Giants by Zeus and
his siblings signaled the coming of the orderly rule of the Ouranids.
Thus Greek and Egyptian symbolic realms intersect in this passage of
Diodorus, and whether or not it comes originally from Hecataeus or
some other Greco-Egyptian source, Diodoruss reading of the Egyptian
monument operates, I believe, in a manner analogous to that of the
court poets of the Ptolemies in matching Greek concept to Egyptian
within the framework of pharaonic kingship.
the alexander romance
So far we have been considering various ways in which the Egyptian
motifs of kingship might have been available to Greeks in Egypt and
how Greeks assimilated what they saw or heard. At this juncture, how-
ever, I would like to consider the ways in which the Egyptian succession
myth was explicitly appropriated and how it functioned within a Greek
symbolic system in the Alexander Romance. No authors name sur-
vives. The Alexander Romance seems to have been assembled from a
variety of narrative sources ranging from historical biography to a cycle
of letters allegedly from (among others) Alexander to Olympias and Ar-
istotle, to a series of romantic and marvelous adventures.
The Greek
text has come down to us in several recensions, the earliest of which is
now from the third century c.e. The most important and complete of
these are known as A and B.
Given its current low literary status the
Alexander Romance might seem to be a frail vehicle on which to base a
Conceptualizing Egypt 65
135. See Fraser 1996, 20526, particularly pp. 21113, for the latest analysis of the
various components of the AR and their relative dates. For what follows I am using only
the oldest material, the Nectanebo story (117), the visit to the Siwah oasis (30), and
Alexander in Memphis (34). Fraser would date the details of the description of Alexan-
dria to the imperial period (21214 b.c.e.), but I am interested in the foundation story
only in its broadest outlines, and this will have been part of the oldest stratum of the text.
See also R. Stonemans introduction in The Greek Alexander Romance (London, 1991).
He concludes that the main outlines of the narrative could have been fully formed as
early as 50100 years after Alexanders death (p. 14).
serious argument, but it does have one virtue that all scholars acknowl-
edge: it provides us with the earliest surviving literary material about
the foundation of the city of Alexandria, material that must come from
the generation after Alexander himself.
For our purposes, it is imma-
terial whether this Alexandrian story can be attached with any degree
of condence to the work of a particular Alexander historian, like
Cleitarchus, or whether it was cobbled together from a variety of
Alexandrian sources. What is signicant is the curious nature of
Alexanders paternity, found in both A and B versions of the story, or
perhaps it would be more accurate to say Alexanders competing pater-
The Alexander Romance opens with Nectanebo II, the last native
king of Egypt. When he learns from his magic arts that there is no hope
for further Egyptian resistance to the Persians, he considers discretion
(not to mention survival) to be the better part of valor and ees from
Egypt via Pelusium to nd himself at the court of Philip II of Macedon.
There he sets up shop as a magician and astrologer and quickly enjoys
the patronage of no less a person than Olympias, Philips wife. While
Philip is away on campaign, Olympias consults the astrologer about her
fears that Philip may be intending to divorce her. Nectanebo, who has
taken a fancy to the queen, atters her by telling her that she is destined
to be joined to the great god Ammon who will impregnate her with a
son. Nectanebo continues his seduction by telling her that she will
dream of having intercourse with the god that very night, and he takes
measures to insure that indeed she does so. Then when his prediction is
fullled, Nectanebo advises her that the god wishes to embrace her in
the esh, as it were, not simply via a dream. Placing himself in a nearby
chamber in the palace, he assists the queen in her preparations for the
gods epiphany. (These details come now from the B recension). She
should expect, he tells her, to see a snake gliding towards her in her
chamber. This is the sign for her to dismiss her servants, climb into her
66 Conceptualizing Egypt
136. The falcon is not a randomly selected messenger: Nectanebo was worshipped in
Ptolemaic Memphis as a falcon-god, possibly connected with Horus. See H. de Meule-
naere, Les monuments du culte des rois Nectanbo, C dE 35 (1960) 92107.
137. The snake too is probably a manifestation of Amun. His aspect as a creator god
was Hiddenness, which could be represented by the serpent; see L 1: 23748.
138. 1.13: Leucippus (music), Melemnus (geometry), Anaximenes of Lampsacus
(rhetoric), and Aristotle (philosophy).
139. 1.2729 B. The speed with which these events are narrated and the relative lack
of detail tend to conrm the Alexandrian bias of the piece.
bed, and cover her face, so as not to look directly at the god. On the
night, Nectanebo, garbed in a rams eece and horns and carrying an
ebony scepter, enters the chamber and has intercourse with the queen.
She, of course, steals a look at the god as he enters the chamber, but
does not nd his form particularly alarming because he looks as he did
in her dream. As Nectanebo rises from their bed after the lovemaking
he announces that she is pregnant with a male child. On the morrow,
when heas Nectaneboenters the queens chamber, ostensibly to dis-
cover what happened, she expresses her delight and asks: Will the god
be returning to me again, seeing as I had such pleasure from him? In
this manner, Nectanebo and Olympias continue a clandestine liaison
until Philips return. Nectanebo, meanwhile, thoughtfully sends a fal-
con as a dream messenger to apprise Philip of Olympiass impending
motherhood and of the divinity of the father.
Philip, at rst, is not
unnaturally annoyed, but after a few more magic tricks by
Nectaneboduring a palace gathering, he turns himself into a large
that curls up at Olympiass feet and then ies off as an eagle
Philip is convinced that a god is truly the father of Olympiass child, or
at least that he would be wise to accept the status quo.
The narrative includes further incidents from Alexanders youth, in-
cluding his education at the hands of distinguished philosophers and
and his military training under Philip. After this he succeeds
to his fathers kingdom and quickly subdues the known world.
Alexander then proceeds to the Siwah oasis in order to learn the truth
of his paternity. At Siwah was located an oracular temple to the Egypt-
ian god Amun-Re, regarded by Greeks as among the most prestigious
oracles in the ancient world. Here, Ammon acknowledges Alexander as
his son and instructs him in a prophecy to establish the city of Alexan-
dria. Obediently, Alexander hastens to lay out the perimeters of the new
city, before marching on to Memphis where he is proclaimed pharaoh.
In Memphis he sees a statue of Nectanebo with an inscription pro-
Conceptualizing Egypt 67
140. R. Jasnow (The Greek Alexander Romance and Demotic Egyptian Literature,
Journal of Near Eastern Studies 56.2 [1997] 101) suggests that the verb synklonasa is
a mistranslation of Demotic phr, which can mean enchant (the correct meaning for the
passage) as well as jumble up; Jasnow observes: It was presumably a Greek or a Hel-
lenized Egyptian who translated the text, since it is improbable, in my opinion, that an
educated Demotic scribe well versed in this tradition would have committed such an
error. Interestingly Jasnows argument assumes that a Greek might read Demotic Egypt-
ian, and that the transmission was written not oral.
141. There are a number of surviving satirical sketches of animals whose activities
ape humans, the most famous of which is in Turin. A portion of this papyrus also con-
tains sexually explicit scenes. See J. A. Omlin (Der Papyrus 55001 und seine satirisch-ero-
tischen Zeichnungen und Inschriften [Turin, 1973]), who draws a number of parallels be-
tween these scenes and religious rituals.
claiming: This king who has ed will come again to Egypt | not in age
but in youth, and our enemy the Persians | He will subject to us (1.34
A and B). Alexander embraces the statue, proclaims his lineage publicly
to the gathered crowd, and offers this explanation of these events:
Egypt and the peoples not blest with its natural economic advantages
were destined to be united, and the money the Egyptians were used to
paying to the Persians in tribute they could now give to Alexander, not
that I may collect it for my own treasury, but rather so that I may spend
it on your city, the Egyptian Alexandria, capital of the world. Thus
Alexandria is deliberately cast as both Greek and Egyptian, though a
cynic might doubt that parity between those contributing the money
(Egyptians) and those spending it (Greeks) was ever intended.
In this incident, the description of the encounter of Nectanebo with
Olympias disguised as the ram-god matches rather closely Egyptian de-
scriptions of the sacred encounter of the wife of a pharaoh with the god
Amun-Re, discussed above. The Alexander Romance follows in detail
the myth of the divine birth of the pharaoh, with one element trans-
posed or reversedthe god normally assumes the form of the queens
human husband, while here the human lover assumes the form of the
god. We have what looks like an inversion of a tale that would have
been serious in its purpose and quite familiar to Egyptians. The trans-
mission of the Alexander Romance is so complex that it is impossible
and probably irrelevantto determine whether the story in its current
form was the work of a native Greek writer or whether it betrays an
Egyptian origin.
The satirical element certainly ts an Egyptian mi-
lieuEgyptian literature is full of tales like the Contendings of Horus
and Seth or Cheops and the Magicians that seem to mock or under-
mine the high seriousness of ofcial ritual and state-oriented myths.
68 Conceptualizing Egypt
142. See, for example, Fraser 1972, 1: 68081; and Huss 1994, 12933, with bibli-
ography, n. 366.
143. There is other evidence for early exchange of stories about Nectanebo between
Greeks and Egyptians. The so-called Dream of Nectanebo, from the Sarapaeum in Mem-
phis and dated to the early second century b.c.e., is a Greek version of an obviously
Egyptian tale. See now K. Ryholts edition of a Demotic fragment of the story in ZPE 122
(1998) 197200. For a full-scale treatment of the Greek text, see L. Koenen, BASP 22
(1985) 17194. See also Huss 1994, 13337 and n. 397 for bibliography.
144. See N. Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford, 1992) 37581.
On the other hand, satire is not unknown in Greek literature. This story
has usually been viewed as propaganda deliberately circulated by the
Egyptian priesthood to legitimate Alexanders claim to the throne of
Egypt for Egyptians.
But this is to misunderstand the birth story, the
purpose of which is to locate Alexander within the continuum of Egypt-
ian kingship.
The connection of Alexander with Nectanebo could only have been
made during the formative stages of Macedonian-Greek rule in Egypt,
when there was a desireif not a needto stress the continuity of the
new rule and its integral connection with the past, not several centuries
later when memories of Nectanebo (apart from his cult as falcon-god)
will necessarily have been dim among both Egyptians and Greeks.
The story itself functions not in the mythical realm of the divine birth,
nor in that of apocalyptic visions, but in the world of possibility, of po-
litical reality. Nectanebo apparently did disappear from Egypt at the
time of the second Persian conquest.
Presumably he could have ed to
Macedon, and he could have fathered Alexander. Which is not to say
that he did. The story we now have appears not in Egyptian, but in
Greek. While some Egyptians in the early Hellenistic period would have
been bilingual, the sheer quantity of Demotic writing that survives from
this period suggests that Egyptians were still partaking of a rich tradi-
tional literary culture and would not have needed or depended on
Greek versions of their own tales. Moreover, Egyptian literary proto-
cols, even in the more recently discovered Demotic material, differ con-
siderably from the arrangement of detail in a story for a Greek audi-
ence. No versions of this story in Demotic Egyptian have been found.
The fact that the story circulated so widely in Greek makes it reason-
able to assume that a Greek audience found some value in a doubly de-
termined fathering of Alexander. That audience would have consisted,
in the main, of Greek natives and their descendants but could have in-
cluded Egyptian readers of Greek, who were to be found among the
Conceptualizing Egypt 69
145. The most obvious group would have been the priesthoods, which formed an im-
portant economic class. The priests were also the most likely to have become bilingual.
See Thompson 1990; Clarysse 1979.
146. Plutarch Alexander 2.6.
147. Plutarch Alexander 3.12.
148. Arrian Anabasis of Alexander 3.3.2. See A. B. Bosworth, Commentary on Ar-
rians History of Alexander (Oxford, 1980) 1: 26973, for Alexanders divine and heroic
upper strata of the bureaucratic elite.
The purpose or intent of the
Nectanebo story must therefore be bound up with this circumstance.
Elements of this story appear also in later Greek sources that are
generally taken to be more reputable than the Alexander Romance,
which suggests that the Egyptian story was at an early period rather
closely linked to Alexander. Plutarch, in his Life of Alexander, mentions
that Alexander is descended from Heracles on his fathers side and Aea-
cus on his mothers, but he also slips in the detail that Olympiass habit
of being found in the company of serpents cooled Philips ardor to-
wards his wife: Whether he feared her as an enchantress or thought
she had commerce with some god, and so looked upon himself as ex-
cluded, he was ever after less fond of her company.
Further, Plutarch
tells us that when Philip consulted the Delphic oracle about the pater-
nity of his child (about whom he had some doubts), he was informed
henceforth to pay particular honor, above all other gods, to Ammon;
and was told he should one day lose the eye with which he had pre-
sumed to peep through that chink in the door, when he saw the god,
under the form of a serpent, sleeping with (syneynazamenon) his
Although Arrian is more restrained in book 3 of the Anabasis
of Alexander, he, too, mentions that Alexander traces his lineage from
Perseus and Heracles on the Greek side, and also Ammon.
In Greek terms the problem with the fatherhood of Alexander as it is
portrayed in the Alexander Romance, unlike the versions found in
Plutarch or Arrian, is that it is overdetermined. To have a divine as well
as a human father has some precedentone thinks of the examples of
Helen or Heracles; to have a human father who is not your mothers
husband has also been known to occur; but to have a human father
who is not your mothers husband, pretending to be the god who then
acknowledges you as truly his son risks undermining the very edice it
seems to be erecting. Certainly it is possible to explain away this
plethora of fathers by attributing them to imperfections in the stitching
together of the Alexander Romance from its constituent parts, but this
70 Conceptualizing Egypt
149. Merkelbach (1977, 81) accounts for this in terms of ritual performance and
150. See pages 15556 for the Egyptian idea of the divine image.
begs the question. If Alexander is the son of Ammon, he does not need
another human father; Plutarch, after all, delicately suggests that the
agency was a snake. But if he has a human father, his claim to divinity
is somewhat weakened: the two competing claims, both connecting his
paternity with Egypt, would seem to cancel each other out. But in
Egyptian terms they t into the traditional claims for the paternity of
the pharaoh. In fact, two separate elements appear to have been delib-
erately stitched together, in such a way as to leave their seams quite vis-
One element is the myth of the divine birth of the pharaoh,
which must be Egyptian in origin and intended not so much to justify
but to signal the transition from one invaders reign (the Persians)
to anothers (Alexanders); the other is Nectanebos fathering of
Alexander, an event no doubt suggested by an Egyptian prophecy of
Nectanebos return. Within the framework of Egyptian thought the
doubling makes excellent sense. Egyptians were quite aware that their
pharaohs were mortal and had human fathers, but the two fathers serve
different purposesthe one conveys legitimacy to Alexanders conquest
in political terms, while the other inserts the foreign pharaoh into the
native theology.
While for Egyptians the account of Alexanders birth from Ammon
links him to his pharaonic predecessors as yet another manifestation of
the god on earth, the living Horus, the account of Alexanders divine
birth functions separately but similarly for the Greek audience, to make
him no longer mere mortal, but akin to the heroes of their mythic past.
By replacing his human father with the Egyptian god Ammon, Alexan-
der is elevatedin a way he cannot have been though the agency of
Greek mythto the stature of Heracles and Perseus, the two heroes
from whom he claimed descent, and to an equal footing with Dionysus,
whose course through the East Alexander traced in his conquests. The
employment of the Egyptian tale provides a neat complement to
Alexanders Greek lineage. Like Perseus and Heracles, Alexander now
has a mortal father (Philip) on the books, with a mother who has cap-
tured the fancy of a god. This divine parentage accounts, in mythic
terms, for Alexanders uniqueness and for the astonishing nature of his
In Perseus and Heracles he also has ancestors who
had been previously linked to Egypt via Greek myth. The A recension of
Conceptualizing Egypt 71
151. eRta synelubn dnurvpoeidb% ueb% DmfanAzetai toB% DmoB% tApoy% Gxvn (A
152. OConnor and Silverman (1995, 57) discuss a sexually explicit grafto from the
Eighteenth Dynasty that depicts Queen Hatshepsut in less than complimentary circum-
stances. See their chapter as a whole, pp. 4987, for various attitudes towards kingship;
and see above, note 141.
the Alexander Romance takes this double origin to its logical extremes,
informing us that on the night in question Nectanebo tells Olympias:
This god, when he comes to you, will rst become a serpent, crawling
along the ground and hissing, then he will change into horned Ammon,
then into peerless Heracles, then into thyrsos-bearing Dionysus, then
when he has intercourse with you in human form, the god will reveal
himself in my image.
Inevitably the question is asked whether stories like this were circu-
lated with the serious intent of convincing the denizens of Hellenistic
Egypt about Alexanders ancestry. Recognizing their inherent improba-
bility, scholars have been inclined to regard such tales as serious or as
propaganda only for naive Egyptians, while relegating them to the
realm of fantastical or romantic ction for Greeks. But to pose the
question in terms of believability or seriousness of intent may overlook
a more signicant point. It is not important whether Greeks would have
believed the Nectanebo tale, if by belief we mean that it was accepted as
veridically true. What is important is the fact that was told. The act of
producing this narrative of Alexanders double descent carries its own
implicit signicance beyond the message of Greco-Egyptian cultural in-
teraction that it makes explicit. The style and tone of the Alexander Ro-
mance may predispose us to regard it as satire or parody, and therefore
of little consequence, but even this feature of the story is legible within
the two different cultures. There is a salacious quality to the seduction
of Olympias that is reminiscent of a Milesian tale, and there are unmis-
takably Greek chauvinistic tendencies at work in the portrayal of
Nectanebo as a magician. However, the tale also possesses a satirical el-
ement not unfamiliar in Egyptian literature and art, where status rever-
sal and what appears to be outrageous irreverence abound.
It is very
possible that the story in its current form accurately reects the origi-
nal; that it deliberately sets out to undercut the pretentiousness of its
own message. In other words, that its mocking quality served to miti-
gate the extravagance of the claim either of divine birth or of Alexan-
ders Egyptian paternity, while nevertheless reinforcing this very mes-
sage. The serious intent comes from the storys novelty of vision, the
72 Conceptualizing Egypt
153. See Dougherty 1991; and especially chapter 4 below.
binocularity of which allows readers to see one event simultaneously
through two different cultural lenses.
To sum up the signicance of Alexanders overdetermined paternity:
both Nectanebo and Ammon are essential to the story. Separately each
father contributes a necessary piece to Alexanders complex mythol-
ogyby virtue of the one father (Nectanebo) Alexander is really Egypt-
ian, or Greco-Egyptian, on the human and political level; by virtue of
the other (Ammon), he is really divine on the mythical and ceremonial
level. Moreover, the tale of Alexanders fathers would seem to occupy a
central and originary place in the forming of the city of Alexandria it-
self. It is as the son of Nectanebo that Alexander addresses the Mem-
phites, and it is by Ammon, who proclaims him his son, that he is in-
structed to found the new city. In fact, the Nectanebo story bears an
uncanny resemblance to that staple of Alexandrian literary production,
the aition, or foundation myth. A signicant aspect of the aition in the
context of new foundations or earlier Greek colonization was the ways
in which such stories functioned as an epistemological category that re-
congured foreign places imaginatively in Greek terms. The logic of the
aition is to connect the new place with Greek myth, in a way that serves
to efface the native and give the intruding Greek population (or colo-
nizers) continuous claim to the place, to create the illusion in other
words not of intrusion, but of return.
As the son of Nectanebo, then,
Alexander claims Egypt as legitimate heir, his is not a conquest, but a
return. But if the story functions as an aition for the new city, it suggests
an agenda that has ramications in the political or cultural sphere. By
combining Egyptian sources with a Greek taleAlexanders founda-
tion of the citythe author of the Nectanebo story has devised a potent
instrument that operates on multiple levels, human and divine, political
and mythical, historical and romantic, comic and serious, and has pro-
duced a narrative that Egyptians and Greeks could recognize as pos-
sessing features not only of their own culture but of both cultures. This
act of narration is not simply a literary tour de force, but a space cre-
ated in which the two separate cultures are given a shared prominence
and value. Hence the resulting act of foundation is presented as avoid-
ing the hierarchies of dominance and submission, conqueror and con-
quered; the enterprise is cast as a cooperative cultural activity. What it
Conceptualizing Egypt 73
claims is a ction projected by the dominant class (Greeks), but in its
very proclamation is a tacit admission of the existence of a heteroge-
neous culture, and this goes some way towards constructing the space
in which greater cultural exchange might take place. It is in this world
that the Alexandrian poets found themselves, and it is its potential for
symbolic reciprocity that, I believe, they chose to exploit.
chapter 2
Callimachean Theogonies
1. The best example of this reading is Schwinge 1986, 76.
Callimachus wrote for and about the Ptolemies on more than one occa-
sion, yet our modern anti-imperial bias diminishes our ability to appre-
ciate the dynamics of this poetry. Either we reject it as sycophantic or
rescue it by reading it as subversive or not really about its chosen sub-
jectthe Ptolemies or the godsbut fundamentally about poetry. The
extreme view is that Callimachus is a poet who is engaged in art for
arts sake and who has retreated into formalism and a preoccupation
with style over substance either as a reaction against the necessity of
writing for an uncongenial imperial court or because of his belatedness
within the Greek poetic tradition.
To maintain this position for ancient
poetry verges on the reductionist. All poetry is about poetry in some
senseor at least about the poets ability to create realms of the imagi-
nationbut it is also about something else, and it is that something
elsethe poets chosen topicin and through which an individual po-
etics comes to be expressed. We acknowledge that Pindar wrote praise
poetry for pay, and have come to understand the complexities of his
technique, with its sober reminders for the victor and his community of
the dangers of hubris, as the means by which he articulated his views of
art. However, Pindars style differs signicantly from that of Calli-
machus, for whom humor and realism are important components.
Callimachean Theogonies 75
2. See, for example, Seldens formulation (1998, 411).
3. See, for example, Bornmann 1988, 113; Bulloch 1985, 7778; Hopkinson 1984a,
These elements do not affect Callimachuss ability to write imperial po-
etry, but because we require sincerity of tone from praise poetry, we
imagine that his use of humor must be intended to undercut its appar-
ent subject. Humor, however, is more complex than this, and Calli-
machuss humor, in particular, seems intended less to debunk imperial
pretensions than to foreground the improbabilities of the inherited
mythologies, unless we are to assume that the exigencies of Rheas af-
terbirth or the genial if somewhat malodorous Athena of the fth
hymn, disdaining a bath until she has curried her horses, encode a sub-
tle put-down of Ptolemaic queens. The creative role that humor can
play in the context of imperial poetry is almost always ignored. For ex-
ample, humor can be the medium for expressing outrageous or danger-
ous ideasthat the king is a godbecause humor serves to deect or
undercut potentially destabilizing messages while simultanously creat-
ing the narrative space in which such ideas are permitted to exist and in
which their parameters may be explored.
In the previous chapter, I
tried to demonstrate that the early Ptolemaic court, that of Soter and
Philadelphus, was a world in which debates about the nature of king-
ship were a signicant feature of the intellectual climate, and that more
than one writer within contemporary philosophical and historical dis-
course experimented with idealizing models, often based on or elabo-
rating on the career of Alexander. Callimachus was certainly aware of
this intellectual climate, and it is my contention that however articial
or literary his mode of expression, he was an active participant in
these ongoing debates, and his poetry was a locus for the interplay of
inherited as well experimental notions of kingship and their attendant
In this chapter, in order to test this hypothesis, I would like to con-
sider two of Callimachuss hymns: the rst, addressed to Zeus, and the
fourth, addressed to Delos, the birthplace of Apollo. Callimachus wrote
six hymns addressed to the traditional Olympian deities Zeus, Apollo,
Artemis, Athena, and Demeter. Ifas most scholars believe
the trans-
mitted manuscript order of the hymns reects the authors own
arrangement, we should expect, with an author as conscious of a poetic
agenda as Callimachus obviously was, that the placement of the Zeus
hymn was not random and that it will have assumed some program-
76 Callimachean Theogonies
4. G. B. Conte (Rhetoric of Imitation [Ithaca, N.Y., 1986] 27) cautions against the
common philological trap of seeing all textual resemblances as produced by the inten-
tionality of a literary subject. But conscious allusion to ones predecessors does happen;
not all referentiality is genre-driven white noise, for Alexandrian poets in particular,
whose relationship with traditional genres and what they encode is problematic and a
focus of poetic attention. The fact that they spend a great deal of time telling the same
seemingly obscure stories or borrowing rare words from each other or from Homer sug-
gests a greater degree of intentionality at work than we might wish to impute to echoes of
Vergil to be found in Silver Latin epic. That said, I think it likely that much of what seems
intentional precisely because of its rarity might, if we had the bulk of fourth-century and
early Hellenistic writing, look much more generically driven. For discussions of intertex-
tuality in classics, see the 1997 issue of Materiali e discussioni per lanalisi dei testi clas-
sici, which is devoted to this subject, and Hinds 1998.
5. See Haslams remarks (1993, 111).
matic importance. The shortest of the six and deceptively simple in
form, this hymn has received relatively little critical attention. In fact,
its potential as a programmatic piece has been almost entirely neg-
lected. For these reasons, I have undertaken to examine it in consid-
erable detail, while conning myself to more general observations
about the structure of the Delos hymn. My analysis proceeds from the
assumption that Callimachuss poetics is by design a complex intertex-
tual dialogue with his predecessors, which he signals by lexical distinc-
tiveness and striking detail.
This may seem uncontroversial or to be
stating the obvious, but the implications cannot be overemphasized.
While many critics pay lip service to this principle, in practice they
often conne themselves to scrutinizing the surface of the narrative,
treating allusion as ornament or as scholarly display, not as an element
that has the potential to alter the apparent meanings of the text. But if
the context of Callimachuss evocation of a poetic predecessor cannot
be neglected, this has implications for our reading. The loss of many of
the works that he would have known frustrates our attempts to inter-
pret and tempts us to overstate his engagement with those texts that
have survived, particularly Homer and Hesiod, in order to maintain a
semblance of critical control. Reading Callimachus then requires us to
assimilate the narrative and rhetorical levels of his intertexts to Calli-
machuss own, while conceding the limitations in our own current abil-
ity to access them fully.
With this in mind, my reading is intended to
open up the intertextual eld to include or emphasize contemporary
writings that are often overlooked in reading Callimachus and to reread
the familiar intertexts in order to situate their cultural frames of refer-
ence more precisely in third-century Alexandria. In addition, Calli-
machuss poetic style exploits sometimes radical shifts between past and
Callimachean Theogonies 77
6. See Selden 1998 for a discussion of the phenomenon of displacement in Calli-
machuss poetry. Seldens discussion of the Lock of Berenice and the Hymn to Apollo in-
cludes a lengthy consideration of the Egyptian intertexts.
7. parb spondusin would seem to indicate a symposium, since the rst and third
toasts at a symposium were apparently addressed to Zeus (see E. Maass, Commentario-
rum in Aratum reliquiae [Berlin, 1898; reprint, 1958] 81, lines 2629), although it does
not guarantee it. See Depew 1993 for the ways in which Callimachus creates the ction of
performance in his hymns through the use of his models. Clauss (1986, 159 n. 13) lists
the various conjectures that have been made about the circumstances of performance of
this hymn. Cameron (1995, 6370) has recently restated the case for the symposium as a
viable social occasion for Hellenistic poets to perform their works, emphasizing that the
erudition of their pieces did not necessarily restrict them to transmission exclusively in
written form.
present or future, the geographically near and distant, traditional
mythological topics and eccentric detail.
These shifts often rupture the
narrative fabric or collapse discrete or opposed elements and hence
have generated a descriptive languagedisconcerting, piquant,
playful, pedantic, realisticthat offers little in the way of a co-
herent strategy of reading, though it does capture our own critical apo-
ria. I wish to look closely at these many moments of rupture, since it is
my contention that such moments often indicate an event that is legible
within two discrete discursive systems and that Egypt and Egyptian mo-
tifs behave as subtexts that coexist with and complement the Greek.
the hymn to zeus
The Hymn to Zeus can be divided formally into an invocation to Zeus
(13), the birth ( ganh) of the god (454), his accomplishments (dretaA)
(5590), and the concluding prayer (9196). The vivid language of the
opening creates the impression of a specic occasion:
Zhnb% Goi tA ken gllo parb spondusin deAdein
laion h uebn aDtan, deA mAgan, aDBn gnakta,
Phlaganvn Dlatpra, dikaspalon ODranAdisi;
Zeuscould there be anything better at the pouring of libations to sing
of than the god himself, always great, always lord, Smiter of the Mud-
born, Lawgiver to the Ouranians?
It is generally agreed that the poem belongs early in the reign of
Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who began his rule as coregent with his father
Soter in 285/4 b.c.e. and continued as sole ruler from 283/2 until his
death in 246, because lines 5859, which allude to the amicable acces-
sion of Zeus over his older brothers, look like a pointed reference to
78 Callimachean Theogonies
8. 1871, 14.
9. 1986, 15570.
10. Koenen 1977, 47, 2932, 4749; and see the discussion below, chapter 5.
11. Koenen 1977, 6263; 1993, 7879.
12. Koenen 1977, 5862; 1993, 73 n. 114.
13. Clauss (1986, 15657 nn. 35) summarizes previous scholarly positions on this
subject. See G.-B. DAlessio (Callimaco: Inni, Epigrammi, Ecale, vol. 1 [Milan, 1996]
7273 n. 18), who expresses doubts about the identication of Zeus and Ptolemy, though
without further argument.
14. 1972, 1: 66566.
15. A. Rostagni, Poeti alessandrini (Turin, 1963) 59; B. Gentili, Poetry and Its Public
in Ancient Greece: From Homer to the Fifth Century, trans. T. Cole (Baltimore and Lon-
don, 1988) 171.
Philadelphuss position as the youngest of Soters sons, and amicable re-
lations among the half brothers scarcely survived Soters death. The
most cogent suggestion of a more specic occasion was rst made by O.
and strengthened by J. J. Clauss,
who argues that the poemwas
written for Philadelphus at the time he became coregent with his father,
Soter, an event that coincided with the celebration of Philadelphuss
birthday as well as the festival of Zeus Basileus. The details are as fol-
lows: (1) an inscription published in 1977 provides evidence that
Philadelphus celebrated his birthday to coincide with the Basileia, a fes-
tival of Zeus Basileus that took place each year;
(2) it is likely that
Philadelphus was crowned as coregent with his father on the occasion of
this joint celebration in 284 b.c.e.,
though after he became sole ruler in
282 b.c.e. the anniversary of his coronation was celebrated some two
weeks later than the Basileia.
If the poemwas written for the combined
celebration of the Basileia and the royal birthday, either at the time of
the coronation or shortly before, then the topics Zeus, his birth, and his
accession to the throne would have been especially suitable.
If scholars approach consensus on an early date, debate about the real
subject of the poemZeus or Ptolemy or bothcontinues.
introduction of the example of our king (cmetAri medAonti) in line
85, in language that echoes the accomplishments of Zeus a few lines be-
fore, has provoked questions about the exact nature of the poem: is it a
hymn produced for a cultic occasion or an encomium or an example of
Wilhelm Krolls generic Kreuzung? Answers have run a predictable
gamut: Peter Fraser, at one extreme, claimed that the hymns of Calli-
machus have . . . a signicant religious content which corresponds to a
genuine religious feeling of the author.
At the other extreme, scholars
like A. Rostagni and B. Gentili
saw an implicit identication of Zeus
and Ptolemy and thought the poem, like Theocrituss Idyll 17, was in
Callimachean Theogonies 79
16. 1985, 552.
17. POxy. 59.3965 + 22.2327; and The New Simonides, Arethusa 29.2 (Spring
1996), devoted to the new Simonides fragment. See Cameron (1995, 31315) for the sig-
nicance of this fragment for Callimachuss poetry.
18. See Haslam 1993, 116.
reality an encomium of the current ruler. A. Bulloch typies the the
middle ground: But next to the Childhood of Zeus the King the poet
places, by means of an apparent example, Ptolemy Philadelphus, and
the poem turns into a hymn to the poets own patron, subtly con-
structed to please without suggesting any actual identication of the
god and Ptolemy (though a Ptolemy eager for attery may have as-
sumed this to be implied).
Many readers may be inclined to dismiss
these debates as modern scruples irrelevant to actual ancient practice,
considering the recently published Simonides fragment in which a hym-
nic proemium begins a narrative elegy on the battle of Plataea.
Callimachuss poem is not as clearly delimited as Simonides elegy, per-
haps deliberately so. Callimachuss inclusion or intrusion of our king
as an exemplum within the hymnic framework is surrounded by re-
peated remarks about poetic doubt, about truth-telling and lying. As a
result, the poet himself seems to have induced the readers aporia by set-
ting up an imaginative eld in which ction, Zeus, Ptolemy, and king-
ship are effectively intertwined.
My Heart Is in Doubt
Callimachus continues:
pp% kaA nin, DiktaPon deAsomen dB LykaPon
5 Dn doiu mala uyma%, DpeB gAno% dmfariston.
ZeP, sB mBn \IdaAoisin Dn oGresA fasi genAsuai,
ZeP, sB d' Dn 0rkadAi pateroi, pater, DceAsanto;
Krpte% deB cePstai
How shall we hymn himas Dictaean or Lycaean? My heart is in doubt,
for your birth is debated. Zeus, on the one hand, they say that you were
born in the hills of Ida; Zeus, on the other, that you were born in Arcadia.
Which of them lied, Father? Cretans are always liars.
His quandary is, prima facie, a choice between two Greek myths
about the birth of Zeus, one of which (the Cretan) is very familiar or at
least seems so from what now survives, the other (the Arcadian) rather
more obscure, and rst attested in this poem. The main differences in

80 Callimachean Theogonies
19. For Antagoras, see P. von der Mhll, Zu den Gedichten des Antagoras von Rho-
dos, Mus. Helv. 19 (1962) 2832. Antagorass poem is taken to be prior; see, for in-
stance, Wilamowitz, Antigonos von Karystos (Berlin, 1881) 69. The text of Antagoras is
that of CA, incorporating the corrections of R. Renehan, The Collectanea Alexandrina:
Selected Passages, HSCP 69 (1964) 37981.
20. Although parallels conrm widely celebrated as the usual meaning of dmfAbo-
hton, given its constituent parts, it is also possible to take it as a virtual synonym for Cal-
limachuss dmfariston (see von der Mhll, Mus. Helv. 19 [1962] 31 n. 11).
the two birth stories are the following: in Arcadia Zeus is born on a
mountain, not in a cave (as in the Cretan myth), and Zeuss birth is the
immediate cause of Arcadian rivers beginning to ow. At this point two
intertexts, both of which are now fragmentary, will be helpful in under-
standing Callimachuss strategya Hymn to Eros by Antagoras of
Rhodes and the rst Homeric Hymn to Dionysus.
Seven lines survive from the opening of Antagorass hymn:
Dn doiu moi uyma%, e toi gAno% dmfAbohton,
g se uepn tbn prpton deigenAvn, Erv%, eGpv,
tpn essoy% Ereba% te palai basAleia te paPda%
geAnato NBj pelagessin Cp' eDrAo% \VkeanoPo
5 h sA ge KAprido% yQa perAfrono%, dA se GaAh%,
h \AnAmvn toPo% sB kakb fronAvn dlalhsai
dnurapoi% dd' Dsula tb kaB sAo spma dAfyion.
My heart is in doubt, in that your birth is celebrated everywhere.
Am I
to say that you are the rst of the eternal gods, Eros, many of which chil-
dren Erebos and Queen Night once bred under the waves of broad
Ocean? Or that you are the son of nimble-witted Cypris or of Earth or of
the Winds? You are such as to wander about devising ill or good for men.
Even your body is double in nature.
Callimachus replaces Antagorass dmfAbohton (widely celebrated)
with dmfariston, a rare word that occurs only twice, both times in
Iliad 23. In Iliad 23.382 we nd a situation similar to the one Calli-
machus presents at the opening of the poem: two competitors in a char-
iot race would have nished dmfariston (in a dead heat) had it not
been for the intervention of Apollo, who decided matters by causing
one of the drivers to lose. Here, it seems, the two locations with com-
peting claims to be the birthplace of Zeus are also in a dead heat,
when an external voice (the god?) exclaiming Krpte% deB cePstai re-
solves the issue.
The terms of the contested birth in Antagoras are worth considering
more closely. Antagoras feigns doubt about whether Eros was the rst
of the primordial deities whose births are specically located in the wa-
Callimachean Theogonies 81
21. See, for example, Menander Rhetor 343.1720 Russell and Wilson; Longus
Daphnis and Chloe 2.56; Metiochus and Parthenope in Stephens and Winkler 1995,
8687, 9192.
22. See, for example, Orphic Argonautica 14: difyb perivpAa kydrbn Ervta.
23. 1990, 60.
24. West (1983, 13133) even argues that the account found in Callimachus of Zeuss
nurture on Crete was Orphic in origin.
25. The poem was supposedly written to replicate the shape of wings. Cameron
(1995, 3133) suggests that it was inscribed on the wings of a statue and was intended to
account for the statues peculiar double iconography.
ters of Ocean or one of a later generation of divinities, the winged child
of Aphroditein other words, whether Eros is to be identied with the
originary generative force of the universe or as a literary or mythologi-
cal trope. There is nothing novel about this. In Platos Symposium, for
example, Phaedrus claims that Eros is the oldest of gods, and Agathon,
that he is the youngestan opposition that is well attested.
A babyish
Eros, often depicted with wings, is a common motif in Hellenistic vase
painting, while Eros as an elemental force occurs in Hesiods Theogony
(120) and in cosmogonic poetry like that of Pherecydes of Syrus, for ex-
ample, as well as in Orphic texts. Antagorass choice of language (spma
dAfyion) alludes to the bisexual Eros that came to occupy a distinctive
position in Orphic theology.
H. Schibli explains:
Chronos fashions an egg of aDuar from which the rst-born (prv-
tageno%), bi-sexual god Phanes springs forth; Phanes is identical with
Eros. Phanes-Eros enters with a burst of creative activity that includes
planets, gods, and men. Phanes is thereupon swallowed by Zeus who,
having thus assimilated the nature of Eros, in turn creates all things anew.
In this way Orphic theology accounts for the status of Zeus as both cre-
ator and ruler of the world.
Orphic material circulated freely in the Hellenistic period, so there can
be no question that either Antagoras or Callimachus was unaware of
the ramications of these competing mythologies of Eros.
In fact, a
more or less contemporary epigram of Simias of Rhodes externalizes
the issue by depicting Eros as a bearded child, the offspring of Aether
and Chaos, as against the son of Aphrodite and Ares.
Prima facie, the imitation of Antagoras is appropriate for Calli-
machuss dilemma because Arcadia is often regarded as the originary
Greek landscape occupied by autochthonous peoples before the rest of
Greece. The depiction of Zeuss birth in a primeval landscape where
waters originate is akin to the birth of Eros under the waves of broad
Ocean, and the juxtaposition of an address to Father Zeus in the
82 Callimachean Theogonies
26. See, for example, Hopkinson 1989, 132.
27. Another contemporary poet, Aratus, in the opening of his Phaenomena also as-
similates Zeus to the all-pervasive creator. In addition to similarities between Eros and
Zeus, Plutarch (DIO 57) nds that the Hesiodic Eros calls to mind (proskalePtai)
Osiris, and likens the Eros of Socrates narrative in the Symposium to Horus, who is for-
ever young. This is not to suggest that Plutarch is describing views held by Callimachus or
Antagoras so much as to illustrate the ease with which analogies between Eros and Egypt-
ian deities could be made once a context had been established. By the Roman period, the
identication of Eros with Horus-the-Child is well attested. See R. Merkelbach, Isis
Regina-Zeus Sarapis (Stuttgart, 1995), 8793 and pls. 12224 (pp. 59597).
context of the gods own infancy story maylike Simiass bearded
childbe an ironic enactment of the dilemma of the age of Eros. A mo-
ment later Callimachus situates his own hymn within cosmogonic and
theogonic discourse with his quotation of Epimenides of Crete in line 8.
In this context Zeus is a divinity whose ancestry is very similar to
Eross. Within Pherecydes and the Orphic theogonies (as Schiblis re-
marks above make clear) he is not only king of the gods but assimilated
to the divine creator as well. Eross disputed parentage may have been
one of the oldest clichs of the hymnic repertory, but it also encapsu-
lated a religious and philosophical debate about the nature of divinity
that was not exclusive to Eros. In the Hellenistic period it surfaces for
many gods, and particularly Zeus. An excellent contemporary example
is Cleanthes Hymn to Zeus, in which Zeus is praised as the Stoic rst
cause of nature. Cleanthes hymn is usually opposed to Callimachuss,
the former regarded as having adapted traditional hymnic features to
philosophical discourse, the latter for a self-consciously literary ef-
But however articial Callimachuss poem, it could not have
been written in ignorance of the various notions of divinity being ex-
pressed in contemporary intellectual circles.
If Antagorass hymn presented Callimachus with a choice of two differ-
ent theogonic chronologies (however overworked), the Homeric Hymn to
Dionysus displays two features in common with Callimachuss hymn: the
newborn (or in Dionysuss case the almost born) child is transported from
one location to anotherZeus conveys the embryonic Dionysus snatched
from Semeles ruined body sewn up in his own thigh to act as a surrogate
womb. The poems languageeDrafipta and Gtikte used of Zeuscon-
veys this mythological information. The second feature of the hymnic tra-
dition is various geographic options available to the poet:
oC mBn gbr Drakani s, oC d \Ikari dnemoAssi
fas, oC d Dn Naji dPon gAno% eDrafipta.
oC dA s' Dp' \AlfePi potamu bauydinaenti
Callimachean Theogonies 83
28. ceAdomai) ranges in meaning from being mistaken to being a liar. Without
the rest of the poem it is difcult to know which translation is more accurate. Similarly,
Krpte% deB cePstai (below) is usually translated as Cretans are always liars, and that
is certainly the meaning that Paul intends when he quotes the line in the Epistle to Titus,
but in its original context the meaning of the verb may have been closer to dont know
how to speak the truth, marking a capacity rather than a deliberate choice. Callimachus,
needless to say, plays with the full semantic range of ceAdomai. See also Detienne 1996,
8586; and the full-scale treatment in Pratt 1993.
29. Herodotus locates the Nysa of Dionysuss birth in Ethiopia (2.146; 3.97), and
Antimachus in the area between the Nile and the Arabian Gulf (fr. 162 Matthews = 127
30. As Diodorus says, from his father and the place (1.15.5). This etymology is dis-
cussed in Cook 1965, 27189.
31. Note also that Nysa was prominent enough for a female automaton so-identied
to be featured in the Grand Procession of Ptolemy Philadephus (Athenaeus 5.198e), on
which see Rice 1983, 6268.
kysamAnhn SemAlhn tekAein DiB terpikeraAni,
5 glloi d' Dn Qabisin gnaj se lAgoysi genAsuai
sB d' Gtikte patbr dndrpn te uepn te
pollbn dp' dnurapvn krAptvn leykalenon Hrhn.
Gsti dA ti% NAsh Epaton gro% dnuAon Eli
thloP FoinAkh% sxedbn ADgAptoio \ roavn. . . .
Some say at Dracanum, some say at windy Icarus, and some say in
Naxos, divinely born Insewn, and some say by Alpheus, deep-eddying
river, pregnant Semele bore you to thunder-loving Zeus. But others say
you were born in Thebes, Lordthey are mistaken; for the father of men
and gods bore you far from men, hidden from white-armed Hera. There
is a certain Nysa, lofty mountain, luxuriously wooded, far away in
Phoenicia, near to the streams of the Aegyptus. . . .
Here, after an opening with a list of four local claims to be the birth-
place of the god (three islands, one river), the poet shifts his attention to
two new claimsthose who say the god was born in Thebes, and
theyhe tells us with the emphatic placement of ceydamenoiare
wrong, and those who locate Dionysuss birth in Nysa, near the streams
of the Aegyptus, that is, the Nile.
The choice then is a Theban or
Greek birthplace, or a Nysan or Near Eastern birthplace, for the god,
and the Greek site is explicitly labeled false.
In selecting Nysa as the birthplace of Dionysus, the poet exploits a
folk etymology of the gods name that links Dionysus and Zeus,
he chooses a place that is geographically uid. Stephen of Byzantium
lists ten Nysas, several of which were in the Near East or North
This multiplicity of Nysas is complicit in the generation of iso-
morphic tales about Dionysus that could be attached to different loca-
tions in the spread of the Dionysiac cult. Both the etymology of Diony-
84 Callimachean Theogonies
32. tbn Osirin, kaB trafpnai mBn tp% eDdaAmono% \ArabAa% Dn NAsi plhsAon
ADgAptoy, Dib% gnta paPda, kaB tbn proshgorAan Gxein parb toP% Ellhsin dpa te toP
patrb% kaB toP tapoy Dianyson dnomasuAnta. memnpsuai dB tp% NAsh% kaB tbn poi-
htbn Dn toP% Emnoi%, eti perB tbn AGgypton gAgonen, oQ% lAgei, ktl. Jacoby (Diodorus
Siculus 1.15.67 = FGrH 264 F 25.15.67) considers the identication of Osiris and
Dionysus authentically Hecataean but the etymologizing to be Diodoruss own comment.
However, the fact that the etymology is embedded within the longer indirect statement
suggests that it may well belong to the original source. See also Diodorus Siculus 3.65.7.
Herodotus also identies Dionysus and Osiris (2.42).
33. An epigram assigned to Antipater of Thessalonica (AP 7.369) imitates the open-
ing of Callimachuss hymn specically as a choice between Greek and Egyptian, which
the poet resolves by linking the two by heredity.
\Antipatroy \ rhtpro% Dgb tafo%, clAka d\ Gpnei
Grga Panellanvn peAueo martyrAh%.
sus and the potential for geographic conation resemble two of Calli-
machuss own compositional strategiesgeographical markers that
exist in more than one location and etymologies that link the god with
multilocal place-names. Moreover, Diodorus Siculus, in a passage that
may have come originally from Hecataeus of Abdera, not only records
the popular etymology of Dionysuss name, quoting this same Homeric
hymn as evidence, but explicitly links Nysan Dionysus with Egyptian
Osiris, or one dying god with another:
[They say that Osiris] was reared in Nysa, a city of Arabia Felix, near
Egypt, being a child of Zeus, and among the Greeks he is named Diony-
sus, a name derived from his father and the place. And the poet mentions
Nysa in his hymns, namely, that it was near Egypt, when he says: There
is a certain Nysa, and so on.
We saw in Dionysius Scytobrachion the phenomenon of relocating
mythological events connected with Dionysus, Athena, and the Ama-
zons from northern regions (Thrace and Scythia) to southern, to Libya
and the northeastern coast of Africa, a phenomenon also to be found in
Apolloniuss Argonautica. The Homeric Hymn to Dionysus appears to
make the same poetic gesture, and it raises a question about Calli-
machuss constructed aporia. Is the choice between Arcadia and Crete
meant to resemble the choice between Thebes and Nysa, near to the Ae-
gyptus? Although the identication of Nysan Dionysus with Osiris was
common enough in the Hellenistic period, and Zeus himself already
had a Libyan/Egyptian avatar, Zeus Ammon, at this juncture we can
only raise an inquiring eyebrow about the relevance of Zeuss potential
alter egos to Callimachuss poem.
Callimachean Theogonies 85
kePtai d\ dmfaristo%, \Auhnauen eGt\ dpb NeAloy
rn gAno%, dpeArvn d\ gjio% dmfotArvn.
gstea kaB d\ gllv% Cnb% aEmato%, c% lago% Ellhn,
klarvi d\ c mBn deB Pallado%, c dB Dia%.
I am the tomb of the rhetor Antipater. How great was his inspiration, you may ask all
Greeks as witness. He lies disputed, whether his race was from Athens or from the Nile,
but worthy of both continents. Besides, the lands are of one blood, as a Greek story has
it, the one Pallass by lot, the other Zeuss.
34. See R. P. Martin, The Seven Sages as Performers of Wisdom, in Cultural Poetics
in Archaic Greece; Cult, Performance, Politics, ed. C. Dougherty and L. Kurke (Cam-
bridge, 1993) 122; West 1983, 4553; and Detienne 1996, 55, 13135. Callimachus in
his own tally of the Seven in the Iambi does not include Epimenides.
35. Hopkinson 1984a, 14044; Clauss 1986, 158; Goldhill 1986, 12729; and Bing
1988, 7677 n. 42.
36. Fr. 2 Kinkel = B1 D-K. The line is quoted in Pauls Epistle to Titus.
Callimachus then resolves his hitherto rather predictable poetic
dilemma: in response to his question which of them lied, Father? a
voice returns the answer Cretans are always liars (Krpte% deB ceP-
stai). This is a famous line attributed to Epimenides, a Cretan priest or
seer who was credited with a gift for oracular revelation. By Calli-
machuss time he had acquired almost mythical status and was occa-
sionally included among the Seven Sages.
Recently, a number of schol-
ars have turned a critical eye to the ambiguity of voice that this
quotation createsis it Callimachus himself, Father Zeus, or Epi-
menides who answers?and the consequence for our understanding of
the poem as a whole.
Let us examine more carefully the context of the
remark. The complete line from Epimenides is Krpte% deB cePstai,
kakb uhrAa, gastAre% drgaA (Cretans, ever liars, evil beasts, idle bel-
which in its turn would seem to have been adapted from the
speech of the Muses in the proem of Hesiods Theogony:
aG nA pou HsAodon kalbn DdAdajan doidan,
grna% poimaAnonu 8likpno% Epo zauAoio.
tande dA me pratista ueaB prb% mPuon Geipon,
25 MoPsai \Olympiade%, koPrai Dib% aDgiaxoio
poimAne% ggrayloi, kak DlAgxea, gastAre% oRon
Gdmen feAdea pollb lAgein DtAmoisin dmoPa,
Gdmen d eRt DuAlvmen dlhuAa ghrAsasuai.
Now they once taught Hesiod fair song, when he was shepherding lambs
at the foot of sacred Helicon. The goddesses rst addressed me thus,
Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus: Shepherds of the
eld, evil reproachs, all belly, we know how to say many false things that
can pass for true, we also know how, when we wish, to utter the truth.
86 Callimachean Theogonies
37. On this passage, see especially Detienne 1996, 2125, 3033; P. Pucci, Hesiod
and the Language of Poetry (Baltimore, 1977); G. B. Walsh, The Varieties of Enchant-
ment (Chapel Hill and London, 1984) 2236; and Pratt 1993, 10613. See Reinsch-
Werner 1976, 2627, for Callimachus and Hesiod.
38. Detienne 1996, 4445 (italics mine).
From this early period of Greek poetry we see that the relationship
of the Muses, the goddesses who inspire and regulate poetic utterance,
to truth, and in turn the poets relationship to truth, is marked as less
than straightforward. Truth (dlhuAa) and the appearance of truth
(ceAdea pollb . . . DtAmoisin cmoPa) would seem to be indistinguish-
able to the average mortal, though the Muses, and presumably their
clients, the poets, know the difference. The Muses breathe a divine
voice into Hesiod that enables him to celebrate the future and the past,
and they order him to sing about the brood of the eternal gods (3034).
He then begins his song by paraphrasing the song of the Muses, who
themselves are represented as singing theogonies. Much has been made
of this Hesiodic passage and what it implies about the writing of Greek
poetry in general.
For our purposes, it is worth considering what effect
the indeterminacy of truth has for writing about cosmic origins and di-
vine hierarchies, subjects that by their very nature are unknowable, and
then to what extent the plurality of available versions, and what is at
stake in preferring one account over another, might have been central to
Callimachuss project. M. Detiennes observations about the relation-
ship of the poet to the construction of cosmic order and kingship in the
Theogony are illuminating:
The ordering of the world in the Greek cosmogonies and theogonies was
inseparable from myths of sovereignity. Furthermore, the myths of emer-
gence, while recounting the story of successive generations of the gods,
foregrounded the determining role of a divine king who, after many
struggles, triumphed over his enemies and once and for all established
order in the cosmos. Hesiods poem . . . does appear to provide the nal
remaining example of sung speech praising the gure of the king, in a so-
ciety centered on the type of sovereignity seemingly exemplied by Myce-
nean civilization. In Hesiods case, the royal gure is simply represented
by Zeus. At this level the poets function was above all to serve sover-
eignity: by reciting the myth of emergence, he collaborated directly in
setting the world in order.
To state it more crudely, cosmogony reects political reality: the emer-
gence of the just Zeus in the Theogony provides the necessary or log-
ical divine counterpart to the just king who rules over the human
condition in the Works and Days. The one guarantees the other.
Callimachean Theogonies 87
39. Cameron (1995, 11932) rejects the widely held view that the Dream was the
original opening of the Aetia, and the current opening, or Prologue, was appended as a
new introduction for the second publication. Rather, he takes the Prologue and Dream to
be two parts of the orginal introduction, with no conceptual break between. If he is cor-
rect, it would bring the opening of the Aetia and the Hymn to Zeus into an even closer
alignment. See pp. 36273 in Cameron for his discussion of Callimachuss relationship to
Hesiods proem stands rst in a long line of encounters between the
aspiring poet and the Muses. But Callimachus, who is himself responsi-
ble for the subsequent spate of imitations (Ennius, Vergil, Propertius),
at the opening of the Zeus hymn recreates the Hesiodic moment only
indirectly, by refracting the event through Epimenides. In contrast, in
the fragmentary Somnium
at the beginning of the Aetia, a poem that
is also about origins, Callimachus directly recreates the context of the
poimAni mpla nAmonti par' Gxnion djAo Eppoy
\Hsiadi MoysAvn Csmb et' dntAasen
m]Bn oC Xaeo genes
To the shepherd tending his ock by the track of the swift horse, Hesiod,
when a swarm of Muses met him, . . . to him about the birth of Chaos.
(fr. 2 Pf.)
In this passage Callimachus contextualizes the appearance of the
Muses to Hesiod in terms of theogoniesXaeo% genes
[not simply
the birth of the gods, but particularly of Chaos, that is to say, that orig-
inary moment when creation began. As the Aetia progresses, Calli-
machuss solution to the problem of poetic truth or nontruth is to in-
terrogate the Muses and record their replies. However, the relationship
of the poet to his subject and his consciously invoked antecedents is
markedly more ambiguous in the Zeus hymn. The introduction of a
line of Epimenides indirectly alludes to the problematic of Hesiods en-
counter with the Muses while distancing the audience from the au-
thoritative voice of inspiration that the Muses provided in the Hesiod
passage and in the Aetia. In contrast to these two, the opening of the
Zeus hymn is overdetermined: the line itself suggests that it is Epi-
menides who speaks; the Homeric parallel, signaled by dmfariston,
points to Father Zeus as the speaker; while Callimachus, by going on
to gloss the line, would seem to be appropriating it to his own voice.
But let us consider further what Epimenides intrusion into the poem
To judge from the meager remains of his corpus, Epimenides com-
88 Callimachean Theogonies
40. M. L. West (1983, 4753) expresses some doubt that all of the poetry atttributed
to him was really written by the historical Epimenides. The correctness of attribution is
irrelevant to the following argument, since the material was composed and circulated
under the name of Epimenides well before Callimachus.
41. Fr. B5 D-K; and West 1983, 48.
42. Fr. B4 D-K: perB tpn gegonatvn mBn ddalvn dA.
43. 1 (409E = B11 D-K): oGte gbr rn gaAh% mAso% dmfalb% oDdB ualassh% | eD dA tA%
Gsti, ueoP% dplo% unhtoPsi d gfanto%.
44. Maass 1892, 34446. West (1983, 4753) follows Maass; see also Detiennes re-
marks (1996, 15, 55, 65).
45. dfAketa pote \Auanaze dnbr Krb% gnoma \EpimenAdh% komAzvn lagon oCtvsB
r\ huAnta pisteAesuai xalepan <mAsh% gbr> cmAra% Dn DiktaAoy Dib% tpi gntrvi keA-
meno% Epnvi baueP Gth syxnb gnar Gfh DntyxePn aDtb% ueoP% kaB uepn lagoi% kaB \A-
lhueAai kaB DAkhi. = A1.1621 D-K, where the source is Maximus of Tyre. See Maasss
discussion (1892, 345).
46. 1.111 = A1 D-K. Diels and Kranz, following Maass (1892, 343), take lines 3036
of Aratuss Phaenomena to be based on Epimenides. Kidd (1997, 185) seems to agree;
posed a poem called Oracles that packaged theogonic material as
oracular responses.
His cosmology was similar to Orphic writing in
that he began with Aer and Night, who produced Tartarus, who in turn
produced two Titans, who produced an egg from which another gene-
sis came forth.
Further, two of the testimonia suggest that Epimenides
perceptions about oracular truth tended towards the skeptical: Aris-
totle tells us that Epimenides asserted that he never prophesied about
the future, only about what had already happened, but was obscure;
in other words, he decoded past events. Plutarch in The Obsolescence
of Oracles records the following anecdote: upon consulting the god
about whether Delphi was the center of the earth and receiving a vague
reply, Epimenides said: There is no center of the earth or the sea, but if
there is, it is known to the gods, but hidden from mortals.
Most sig-
nicantly for our purposes, Epimenides seems actively to have been
using Hesiods encounter with the Muses as the driving force for his
own poetry, and the words Cretans, ever liars, evil beasts, idle bellies
are plausibly located in the proem of this work, in which Truth and Jus-
tice appear to Epimenides in the cave of Zeus on Crete:
Once a Cretan man named Epimenides came to Athens bringing a tale
that, as he tells it, is hard to believe: namely, that at <mid>day when he
had lain in a deep sleep for many years in the cave of Dictaian Zeus he
said that in a dream he encountered the goddesses and the words of the
goddesses, Truth and Dike.
Diodorus claims Epimenides as one of his sources on Cretan divinities
(5.80 = fr. 20 D-K), and Diogenes Laertius tells us he wrote about the
Couretes and Corybantes.
From even this limited evidence, we may
Callimachean Theogonies 89
Martin (1998, 2: 164) is more skeptical. Aratuss subject is the Dictaian Couretes, and the
language is clearly reminiscent of the Zeus hymn, lines 5154. He may simply be depend-
ent on Callimachus, but it is equally possible that both Callimachus and Aratus are re-
calling an earlier treatment by Epimenides. See further Wilamowitzs remarks (1924,
2.34, n. 1).
47. 1985: 15455.
conclude that Epimenides situates himself in a theogonic tradition in
which truth is marked as problematic, and if indeed Truth and Justice
inform him that Cretans are ever liars, then we may suspect that this
exchange will have led to the goddesses or Epimenides explaining or
debunking some prominent Cretan theogonic narrative; stories at-
tached to Cretan Zeus and the Couretes readily suggest themselves.
Callimachus, in turn, locates himself within the mainstream of theogo-
nic writing (Hesiod via Epimenides) but deliberately complicates the is-
sues of truth or lying in connection with poetic utterance. And he in-
serts himself not in general terms, but into a particular discussionthat
on the tomb of Zeus.
Callimachus elaborates Epimenides response by rejecting Crete as
the birthplace of Zeus on the grounds that the Cretan account is
scarcely credible, singling out one specic detail:
kaB gbr tafon, r gna, sePo
Krpte% Dtektananto sB d oD uane%, DssB gbr aDeA.
For the Cretans built a tomb for you, Lord, but you have not died, you
are forever. (89)
The tomb of Zeus on Crete was well known in the Hellenistic age,
though we have no certain information before that period. The Cretan
deity connected with this tomb is generally taken to be kin to Near
Eastern dying gods. According to M. L. West, the Cretan divinity was
originally not the Hellenic Zeus but a pre-Hellenic vegetation or year-
spirit of the same general type as the Semitic Adonis or the Egyptian
Osiris. He was represented as a beardless youth; he was reborn every
year; he also died. This god was identied by the Greeks with their Zeus
long before Hesiod. But he retained his individuality, and his worship in
Crete preserved many of its peculiar features.
This aspect of Cretan Zeus would have been familiar to Callimachus
and his contemporaries. It appears in a now fragmentary chorus of Eu-
ripides Cretans, where Idaean Zeus is linked with Dionysus Zagreus
90 Callimachean Theogonies
48. C. Austin, Nova fragmenta Euripidea in papyris reperta (Berlin, 1968) fr. 79. See
also West 1983, 153: Burkert 1985, 127, 262 and notes.
49. M. P. Nilssen, Geschichte der griechischen Religion (1941) 1: 321. On the tomb
of Zeus, see Cook 1965, 94043.
50. Iambus 12.1517 (fr. 202 Pf.) on the empty Cretan tomb may also refer to Euhe-
merus (as A. Kerkheckers rather cryptic remarks would seem to imply.) He apparently
suggests further connections that, given the extremely fragmentary texts, are scarcely ten-
able (Callimachus Book of Iambi [Oxford, 1999], 2425, esp. n. 79).
and the Couretes in the context of seasonal and initiatory rites.
It is a
reasonable guess that the tomb of Zeus gured in Epimenides writing.
But the existence of the tomb seems to have posed an intellectual stum-
bling block to the conventional wisdom that Zeus was an immortal.
The scholiast on the Zeus hymn, for example, provides not one but two
rationalizing explanations: in addition to explaining that the tomb was
a construction to deceive Cronus he suggests that the tomb was really
that of Minos, the son of Zeus, and was inscribed MAnvo% toP Dib%
tafo% but over time lost its initial letters and came to read only Dib%
tafo%. Callimachuss introduction of the tomb of Zeus, then, does not
provide a resolution to the problem of Zeuss birth so much as intro-
duce another complicationis Zeus a dying god, a Dionysus or Osiris
analogue, or is the tomb to be explained in some other way? Calli-
machuss introduction of the tomb at least implicitly marks Cretan
Zeus as an oriental deity,
and this brings his choice of Arcadia or
Crete in line with the choice of Theban or Nysan Dionysus. He then ex-
plicitly rejects this orientalizing optionyou have not died, you are
forever. But the tomb of Zeus on Crete was notorious and carried with
it considerable intertextual baggage. Its affect within the poem cannot
be limited to one line or so easily dismissed.
The most radical solution to the problem posed by the tomb of Zeus
on Crete was that proposed by Callimachuss older contemporary, Eu-
hemerus. Euhemerus was labeled an atheist because he demoted the tra-
ditional Olympian gods to the status of culture heroes who achieved
immortal status through their benefactions to humankind. For Euhe-
merus, Zeus was a human who came from Crete, acted as a lawgiver,
and eventually returned to Crete, where he died and was buried. Euhe-
meruss writing, like that of his contemporary, Hecataeus of Abdera,
belonged to an intellectual world in which the line between human king
and divinity may have been easily crossed, but which also exacted a
pricestipulated in terms of a moral education and righteous behav-
iorfor royals wishing to undertake the journey. Callimachus certainly
knew Euhemeruss writings, since he refers to them in his rst Iambus.
Callimachean Theogonies 91
Whether he approved or disapproved of Euhemerus, it is fair to say his
ideas were common intellectual currency within Callimachuss Alexan-
dran circle, and referring to the tomb of Cretan Zeus was bound to
have reminded his audience of Euhemeruss notorious solution to the
Arcadia and Crete
In these opening nine lines, then, Callimachus has introduced his
topicthe birth of Zeusand situated it within the context of the ear-
lier theogonic discourses of Hesiod, Epimenides, and Orphic and ratio-
nalist traditions. Around the birth of Zeus are clustered several differ-
ent, though ultimately converging, choices, the signicance of which
Callimachus has enlarged by his allusive recourse to a variety of discur-
sive stylespoetic, prophetic, Orphic, rationalistis the god young or
old, a cosmic and originary force for creation or a mythological con-
struct of the poets and vase painters? Is he a king/culture hero or a
dying vegetation spirit? Moreover, as the poet painstakingly makes us
aware, this is a context in which is it easy to speak falsely and it is one
that will increase exponentially in complexity as the question of pre-
cisely who this Zeus is, whether a Greek or a Near Eastern god, be-
comes linked with our king (85).
Callimachuss ostensible solution to his carefully constructed poetic
dilemma is to reject Crete and locate Zeuss birth in Arcadia. This is the
way he tells the story:
In Parrhasia, Rhea bore you, where there was a hill quite sheltered with
bushes. Afterwards the place was sacred, and no crawling thing requiring
Eileithyia nor any woman draws near it; but the Apidanians call it Rheas
primeval place of giving birth. There, when your mother laid you down
from her great womb, immediately she looked for a stream of water in
which she might cleanse herself of the stains of birth and in which she
might wash your body. But mighty Ladon did not yet ow, nor did Ery-
manthus, the clearest of rivers; as yet all Azania was uninundated, but it
was to be called well-watered from the point when Rhea loosened her
cincture; indeed liquid Iaon bore many oaks above it, Melas carried many
wagons, and many poisonous creatures had their lairs above Carneion,
wet though it was, and a man on foot might walk upon Krathis and stony
Metope, thirsty, while abundant water lay beneath his feet. In her dis-
tress, Lady Rhea said: Dear Earth, give birth also; your birth pangs are
easy. She spoke and, raising up her great arm, struck the hill with her
staff; it was torn wide apart for her and poured forth a great ood.
92 Callimachean Theogonies
51. This is usually seen as Callimachus cleverly reconciling the two inherited versions
of the myth, though why he should do so is not obvious within the terms of the text.
Next, she gave the newborn to the nymph Neda to bring into a Cretan
covert (34: keyumbn Gyv krhtaPon). When Zeus arrived in Crete, he
was deposited in a golden cradle and rocked by the nymph Adrasteia,
nourished by the she-goat Amaltheia, and fed upon honeycomb.
Around him the Couretes danced and beat their armor in order to pre-
vent Cronus from hearing his cries. Here he quickly grew to manhood,
whereupon, we learn, he did not attain his kingship by lot but was cho-
sen to rule by the older generation of deities because of his deeds of
prowess. If we examine the details of this narrative, it is obvious that
Callimachus only partially rejects the Cretan tradition. Although he lo-
cates the actual birth of Zeus in Arcadia, within minutes of birth he
narrates the childs transference to the land of liars. Many Cretan ele-
mentsthe child is hidden, nursed, and reared in Creteform an es-
sential part of his narrative.
Callimachus devotes twenty-three lines to
Arcadia, thirteen to Crete. Both parts of the story open with a geo-
graphical description that yields an aition: lines 1014 provide an ac-
count of the primeval childbed of Rhea, while lines 4145 tell us
about the Plain of the Navel. Between the two are eight lines devoted
to the lineage and activities of the nymph Neda, who is instrumental in
the transfer from one place to the other.
In treating the local geographies of Arcadia and Crete the poet cre-
ates a series of deliberate slips between signier and signied that ob-
scure rather than clarify the different locations. Instead of maintaining
the separateness of these two regions, as the hymnic opening would
seem to demand, Callimachus occasionally merges them by using geo-
graphical markers that are attested for both locations at points in the
narrative when Zeus is supposedly transported from one place to the
other. The geographical misprisions begin even earlier with his rst for-
mulation of the problem: in line 4 Callimachus asks whether he should
hymn the god as Dictaean or Lycaean in what we take to be a synec-
dochic substitution of the names of local mountains in Crete and Arca-
dia for the regions themselves. In lines 67 he appears to vary these
terms with an unbalanced pairin the Idaean mountains or in Ar-
cadia. But the phrase in the Idaean mountains (\IdaAoisin Dn oGresi)
in Homer and other poets refers not to Mt. Ida in Crete but to Mt. Ida
in the Troad, which was yet another location that claimed to be the
birthplace of Zeus. There was apparently no tradition that Zeus was
Callimachean Theogonies 93
52. Cook 1965, pt. 1, pp. 93233; and West 1983, 13132.
53. McLennan 1977, 33.
54. Pausanias 8.38.2; see also McLennan 1977, 66, with his bibliography on this
55. McLennan 1977, 7475; and Hopkinson 1984a: 143.
56. These lines are so contorted in word order, and the transition between Arcadia
and Crete so sudden, that Meineke suspected a textual problem, as did Schneider (1870,
1418), though Kuiper (1896, 21) provided the answer above.
57. 8.53.4. Kuiper 1896, 2122.
born on Mt. Ida in Crete, but rather in a cave located on its slopes.
G. R. McLennan, capping a trend found in earlier commentaries, re-
marks on this phrase: Such variation is typical of Callimachus; in this
case he may have achieved it at the expense of mythological accuracy.
However, we might take leave to doubt this. Again, at line 34, we are
informed that the newborn was given to Neda to bring into a Cretan
covert. At rst we imagine that we have somehow missed the shift to
Crete, but a few lines later we nd ourselves apparently still in Arcadia.
According to Pausanias, Cretea (KrhtAa) was not Crete after all, but an
area located on Mt. Lycaeon in Arcadia.
Then, in lines 4243, Calli-
machus mentions Thenae. In fact, there were two Thenaesone in Ar-
cadia (where we thought we were), the other in Crete.
The poet calls
attention to the geographic doublet with an aside: Thenaethe one
near Cnosos.
eRte Qenb% dpAleipen DpB KnvsoPo fAroysa,
ZeP pater, c NAmfh se (QenaB d Gsan DggAui KnvsoP)
toytaki toi pAse, daPmon, dp dmfala% Gnuen DkePno
45 \Omfalion metApeita pAdon kalAoysi KAdvne%.
When the Nymph left Thenae, carrying you towards Cnosos, Father
Zeus (for Thenae is near Cnosos), then did your navel fall away, Daimon:
hence the Cydonians call that place the Plain of the Navel.
In addition he selects the ethnic designation of Cydones as a
metonym for Cretans, but Pausanias tells us that all the surviving sons
of [the Arcadian] Tegeates, namely, Cydon, Archedius, and Gortys, mi-
grated of their own free will to Crete, and after them were named the
cities Cydonia, Gortyna, and Catreus. But the Cretans disagree with
In other words, the ethnic Cydones is contestedit may signify
either Arcadian or Cretan origin. The potential for ambiguity is not re-
solved but compounded by the sentence itself. Not only were there sev-
eral locations throughout Greece purporting to be the omphalos, or
center, but at least oneDelphiwas far more prominent. And in this
94 Callimachean Theogonies
58. See Selden 1998, 321, on the eccentric center.
59. 8.38.2. See also 8.36.2; and Verbruggen 1981, 3237, for the Cretan elements
also claimed for mainland Greece.
60. West 1983, 132.
context we might also recall the remark of Epimenides noted above that
if, indeed, there was an omphalos, it was clear to the gods but hid-
den to mortals. The sentence, therefore, records a contested group des-
ignating a contested location for something that may or may not exist.
It is possible, with McLennan, to attribute one or even two of these
double locations to inaccuracies of the poet. But Callimachus, ac-
cording to the Suda, wrote a monograph on Arcadia, and probably was
as familiar with its mythic traditions as Pausanias was. Rather, we are
experiencing a geographical hoax: the misprisions serve to confuse,
then momentarily collapse the mythological landscape. These succes-
sive superimpositions of the Cretan landscape on Arcadia or the Arca-
dian landscape on Crete disorient the reader and undermine Calli-
machuss original disjunctionArcadia or Crete. We might suspect that
the purpose of all this geographical legerdemain is to absorb the Cretan
geography into the Arcadian, an erudite leg-pull that demonstrates that
Zeus was born in Arcadia by constructing a narrative in which all so-
called Cretan locations are really in Arcadia. A leg-pull for which there
is some authority, since Pausanias records a local Arcadian tradition
that Zeus was reared on Mt. Lycaeon: There is a place there called
Cretea, . . . and the Arcadians claim that Crete, where the Cretan story
has it that Zeus was reared, is this place, not the island.
Callimachus does not abandon his baby Zeus in Cretea, leaving the rest
in silence. He rather perversely goes on to include characters like the
Couretes who are apparently not collocated in Arcadia. Nor he does
conne his geographical duplicity to Arcadia and Crete: the conation
of the two Mt. Idasthat in Crete and the other in the Troadis pro-
leptic of the introduction of later gures like Adrasteia, who was origi-
nally connected with the Trojan birth story of Zeus, into the Cretan
Within the context of theogonic discourse this geographical in-
stability serves a wider purpose than mere cleverness. It highlights the
competing nature of traditional myths and, by deliberately confusing or
conating elements from competing regional claims to locate the birth
of the god on the hometown mountain, Callimachus paradoxically cre-
ates a kind of Ur-myth. He shows us a pattern that emerges for every
mountain, which in its ubiquity and capacity for literary transpositions
Callimachean Theogonies 95
61. See the discussion in Reinsch-Werner 1976, 3236.
62. \VgygAh is normally treated as a noun, but it might as easily be an adjective here;
so West 1966, 378 ad 806.
63. Odyssey 7.24447.
64. For details of the textual problem, see West 1966, 377 ad 804. It is not relevant
to the current discussion.
elevates Zeus from a parochial into a universal deity. Moreover, this
pattern provides a template of sorts into which he can insert another set
of claims about the birth of a god.
The Arcadian portion of the story opens with a ve-line section de-
voted to describing the particularities of the birth spot, capped by an
aition, followed by an eighteen-line section on the cleansing of Rhea,
which as a consequence causes the previously subterranean rivers of
Arcadia to ow and the previously arid land to be irrigated. It begins as
10 Dn dA se ParrasAi ^ReAh tAken, rxi malista
Gsxen gro% uamnoisi periskepA% Gnuen c xpro%
Cera%, oDdA tA min kexrhmAnon EDleiuyAh%
Crpetbn oDdB gynb DpimAsgetai, dlla C ^ReAh%
dgAgion kalAoysi lexaion \Apidanpe%.
In Parrhasia, Rhea bore you, where there was a hill quite sheltered with
bushes. Afterwards the place was sacred, and no crawling thing requiring
Eileithyia nor woman draws near it; but the Apidanians call it Rheas
primeval place of giving birth.
This section shares its language and thought with two archaic
The rst is from Homers Odyssey:
VgygAh ti% npso%
dpaprouen eDn clB kePtai,
245 Gnua mBn 6tlanto% uygathr, dolaessa Kalyca,
naAei DJlakamo%, deinb uea% oDdA ti% aDtu
mAsgetai oGte uepn oGte unhtpn dnurapvn.
A primeval island lies far away in the salt sea; there the daughter of Atlas,
artful Calypso, dwells, the fair-haired, dire goddess. Nor yet did anyone
approach her, neither god nor mortal man.
The second source is Hesiods Theogony:
eDnaete% dB uepn dpameAretai aDBn Dantvn,
oydA pot D% boylbn DpimAsgetai oDd DpB daPta%
DnnAa pant Gtea dekati d DpimAsgetai aRti%
duanatvn oF \OlAmpia damat Gxoysi.
96 Callimachean Theogonies
65. Hesiod Theogony 8016.
805 toPon gr erkon Guento ueoB Stygb% gfuiton Gdvr,
dgAgion tb d Ehsi katastryfAloy dib xaroy.
For nine years [a god who forswears his oath] is cut off from the eternal
gods nor yet does he approach the council or the feasts, for nine full
years. But then he approachs in the tenth year . . . of the immortals who
dwell in the houses of Olympus. So serious an oath the gods make the im-
perishable waters of the Styx, primeval, which pours froma rugged place.
The elements common to these passages emphasize the remoteness and
the great antiquity of Zeuss birthplace. Neither gods nor mortals ap-
proach Calypsos island, and her very name means Hidden, while in
the Hesiodic passage divinities who have broken their oaths may not
approach Mt. Olympus for nine years. Callimachus imitates the un-
usual languageoDdA . . . (Dpi)mAsgetaibut alters the two excluded
categoriesgods and mento a more restricted pairing to which we
will return below. In the Homeric passage it is Calypsos island that is
primeval (dgygAh); in the Hesiodic, it is the waters of the Styx. To-
gether the two provide vivid images of an ancient placean island sur-
rounded by a vast expanse of water combined with waters not simply
owing, but gushing forth, both of which Callimachus exploits. In his
account, Rhea causes the rst waters to burst from the rocks of the sa-
cred hill where Zeus is born. Further, the Hesiod passage serves as a ge-
ographical marker: the Styx is often located in Arcadia, near Mt. Ly-
caeon, and in mythological terms, Styx was not only the sister of Neda,
but the most famous river in Arcadia and notable in its absence from
Callimachuss account. Since Callimachus only a few lines later makes a
considerable point about the relationship of Styx and Neda, he high-
lights not only his divergence from the Hesiodic account but also the
new prominence he has given to the hitherto obscure Neda and her role
as Zeuss nurse.
Water for Argos
The most remarkable feature of the second part of the Arcadia story is
the connection between the birth of the divinity and sudden emergence
of rivers to irrigate a previously arid land. In both language and narra-
tive Callimachus forges a causal link between water, life, and the birth
of the god. The rare form for the genitive of Zeus (Zhna%) that opens
Callimachean Theogonies 97
66. Plato Cratylus 396ac, where Socrates comments on the doubleness of Zeus, as
exemplied in the double nameZeus, Dios. See also Hopkinson 1984b, 176; Bornmann
1988, 11718; Depew 1993, 7576. Note that Scytobrachion provides an explanation
for the name that connects it with the benecence of kingship (Diodorus Siculus 3.61.6 =
F13 Rusten); see above.
67. Plato Cratylus 402b. Hopkinson 1984b, 176.
68. Hopkinson 1984a, 141. The original suggestion about \Apidanpe% was made by
F. von Jan in his dissertation, De Callimacho Homeri interprete (Strassburg, 1893), on
the basis of Eustathiuss commentary on Dionysius the Periegete ad 415. Kuiper (1896,
1011) expresses doubts.
69. 1977, 50.
70. Bornmann (1988, 121) argues that the spontaneity of nature is intended to locate
Arcadia in a primordial time before civilization.
71. 1985, 18485.
72. Pausanias 8.20.1; cf. Strabo 8.4.4, 4.33.1.
the poem exploits a folk etymology that as early as Platos Cratylus
linked Zeus as the source of life to the verb zpn, to live.
The mother
of Zeus is ^ReAi, whose name is connected with \ rAv, ow.
The two
proper names that Callimachus chooses for ArcadiazhnA% and pi-
danpe%have ancient etymologies that link them with aridity: zhnA%
with gza (dryness) and pidanpe% with d-pAnein (without drink).
About the former, McLennan remarks: It is . . . possible that Calli-
machus is thinking of d-Zan (without Zeus). The god has certainly
not yet been born; and Callimachus may be hinting at the gods role as
Zeus CAtio%.
F. Bornmann points to the spontaneous behavior of the
waters citing a passage from Herodotus that describes the Nile (2.14).
J. K. Newman goes even further: The birth of baby Zeus signalled
abundance of water for Arcadia. Could not the birth of Ptolemy signal
the same for Egypt?
All three scholars are attempting to account for
Callimachuss absorption by the peculiar hydraulics of Arcadia. Arca-
dia was notoriously a dry land, much more dependent on springs than
rivers for local irrigation. Pausanias reports about underground water
sources as well as rivers opened by earthquakes. He also notes a
Messenian tradition that Zeus was reared among the Messenians, and
his nurses were Ithome (a mountain) and Neda, the river in which he
was bathed.
Being born on a mountain and bathed in a spring were
commonplace mythological activities for Greek gods, but no extant
source connects Rheas parturition or Zeuss birth with the phenomena
described in this poem. In fact, the various ancient sources inevitably
cited (such as Pausanias) are striking for their divergence from Calli-
machuss story. For his Alexandrian audience, however, there was an
obvious parallel to the behavior of Arcadian watersthe spontaneous
and life-bringing moisture occasioned by the rise of the Nile in an oth-
98 Callimachean Theogonies
73. Line 1485. The words occur in a choral passage (147894) describing the passage
of cranes from Egypt to Greece, a reversal of direction from the famous simile in Homer
Iliad 3.36. Callimachus Aetia fr. 1. 1314 Pf. makes use of the same reversal of direc-
tion. (I am indebted to Benjamin Acosta-Hughes for this observation.)
74. The earliest dated example I have found is PHibeh I 85.25, a loan of 261 b.c.e.,
referring to land that has been declared as uninundated. Wilamowitz (1924, 6 n. 3), Erler
(1987, 31 n. 113), and Bing (1988, 137 n. 90) also note the signicance of this term.
erwise desiccated landscape, which coincided with the birth of the god
Horus, the divine prototype of the pharaoh. The centrality of the inun-
dation for all who resided in Egypt, whatever their ethnic origins, and
the extensive mythology and ritual that surrounded the annual event
were bound to be more familiar to residents of Alexandria than an Ar-
cadian tradition that its rivers became fully functional only at the time
of Zeuss birth, if in fact such a tradition existed at all outside of Calli-
machuss poetic imagination.
If Callimachus connects the birth of baby Zeus in a causal way to
the irrigation of hitherto dry lands, a number of other elements of Cal-
limachuss description reinforce an impression that the reader is being
relocated in an Egyptian space. Lines 1921 provide an example:
Gti d gbroxo% ren epasa
\AzhnA% mAllen dB mal eGydro% kalAesuai
aRti% DpeB thmasde, ^RAh ete lAsato mAtrhn.
As yet all Azania was uninundated, but it was to be called well-wa-
tered from the point when Rhea loosed her cincture.
Callimachus introduces gbroxo%, a word that is rare in Greek before
the Hellenistic period, though it may not be irrelevant that in Euripides
Helen the Libyan desert is styled gbroxa pedAa.
However, gbroxo%
appears frequently in Greco-Roman documents from the third century
b.c.e. on as a technical term.
The entire economy of Egypt was based
on the ooding of the Nile, which leaves a rich silt deposit that fertilizes
the land it covers. Since the height of the inundation differed from year
to year, it was of some importance that accurate records be kept in
order to estimate crop yield. Each year land could be declared to be in-
undated by the Nile (bebregmAnh gp) or uninundated (gbroxo%). If for
most Greeks gbroxo% meant unwatered in a nonspecic way, for a
Greek living in a country so dependent upon a unique ecological cir-
cumstance, gbroxo% inserts the behavior of Arcadian rivers into a stan-
dard frame of reference for the Nile. Further, the phrase itself, Gti d
gbroxo% ren epasa | \AzhnA% mAllen dB mal eGydro%, appears to have
Callimachean Theogonies 99
75. Strabo 8.6.8 cited in fr. 128 MW.
76. Eustathius on Homer Iliad 4.171, p. 461.2 cited in fr. 128 MW. See also Reinsch-
Werners remarks (1976, 3637).
77. Apollodorus 2.1.4; Pausanias 2.37.1.
78. Fr. 66 Pf. See also Hymn to Athena 48.
been modeled on a line from Hesiods now fragmentary Catalogue of
Women. Two versions of the line survive: 6rgo% gnydron Dbn DanaaB
uAsan 6rgo% Gnydron
and 6rgo% gnydron Dbn Danab% poAhsen eG-
Whichever is the correct text, the shape of both versions and
Callimachuss phrase coincide, locating unwatered at the beginning,
transforming it to well-watered at the end, with both adjectives pred-
icated of a single place-name (Argos, Azanis). The fragment belongs to
a well-documented legend about Argos: when Hera had dried up the
rivers in anger, Danauss daughters either dug or discovered the loca-
tion of underground wells.
Callimachus includes the account of the
Argive fountains in the Aetia.
Argos is not Arcadia, but the Argive
subtext provides a reminder of the complicated interrelationship of
Egypt and Greece. Not only are Danaus and his daughters immigrants
from Egypt, but despite the dissimilar ecologies they would appear to
have been long since associated in the Greek imagination with discov-
ering or introducing irrigation.
Callimachuss selection of detail in describing the aridity of Arcadia
before Zeuss birth (1827) also seems calculated to recall the Nile:
But mighty Ladon did not yet ow, nor did Erymanthus, the clearest of
rivers; as yet all Arcadia was uninundated. . . . Indeed liquid Iaon bore
many oaks above it, Melas carried many wagons, and many poisonous
creatures had their lairs above Carneion, wet though it was, and a man
on foot might walk upon Krathis and stony Metope, thirsty, while abun-
dant water lay beneath his feet.
Compare the Victory of Sosibius, in which Callimachus introduces the
Nile as a speaker. He expresses his delight at Sosibiuss victory in this
Mighty though I am, whose source no mortal man knows, in this one
thing at least I was less signicant than those rivers that the white ankles
of women cross without difculty and a child on foot without wetting his
knees (dbrAkti goAnati). (fr. 384.3134 Pf.)
The Niles speech is ironic: he categorizes lesser rivers by a trope found
frequently in Egyptian literature to describe a low Nile. The following
passage, for example, comes from the Prophecy of Neferti: Dry is
100 Callimachean Theogonies
79. Lichtheim 1973, 141. The text is from the Middle Kingdom (ca. 1990 b.c.e.), but
the theme of the dry Nile was not unusual. Compare the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant:
Is crossing the river in sandals a good crossing? No! (Lichtheim 1973, 177). See also
my discussion in Egyptian Callimachus.
80. See M. Lichtheim, Didactic Literature, in Loprieno 1996, 24362 (esp. p. 243,
where she outlines the components of Egyptian didactic, and pp. 24851 for a discussion
of the Prophecy of Neferti).
81. See Burkert 1985, 262; West 1966, 29798.
the river of Egypt | One crosses the water on foot; | One seeks water for
ships to sail on, | Its course having been turned into shoreland.
Within the context of Egyptian literature this kind of description
usually belongs to texts that connect the prosperity of the land with the
rule of a good king, and this order was often inverted to tell of all the
disasters that befall the land when the good ruler is absent. A central
feature of such national distress literature was the failed ood or the
drying up of the Nile, a theme that was regularly attached to the post
eventum prophecy of a kings reign.
Within an Egyptian context the
gods birth, like a new pharaoh, imposes order (maat) on the universe,
beginning with the natural and extending through the social order. The
trajectory of Callimachuss hymn is precisely that: to move from Zeuss
birth, signaled by the life-giving natural phenomenon of water, to his
maturity when he assumes kingship of the gods.
The description of Zeuss birth at lines 1014 (translated above) is
also described in terms that parallel Egyptian myth:
Dn dA se ParrasAi ^ReAh tAken, qxi malista
Gsxen gro% uamnoisi periskepA% Gnuen c xpro%
Cera%, oDdA tA min kexrhmAnon EDleiuyAh%
Crpetbn oDdB gynb DpimAsgetai, dlla C ^ReAh%
dgAgion kalAoysi lexaion \Apidanpe%.
Callimachuss aition emphasizes the following: (1) Rhea gives birth on
a hill or mountain (gro%); (2) the place is now sacred (c xpro% Cera%);
(3) pregnant women and crawling things (Crpetbn) may not approach;
(4) hence it is called the primeval place of giving birth. A mountain
location for birth is not unique to the mythology of Zeus, but it differs
conspiciously from the cave usually associated with the Cretan birth.
However, these details do coincide with Egyptian cosmogony, as set out
in the previous chapter: Egyptians conceived life as having initially ap-
peared on a mound or hill that emerged from the watery void, and the
place was associated with the birth of divinities. Horuss birth, like that
of Zeus, was claimed for many locations throughout Egypt, each of
Callimachean Theogonies 101
82. Frankfort 1978, 15154; Lloyd 1988, 143.
83. Z

abkar 1988, 51.

84. Burkert 1985, 2426.
85. McLennan 1977, 4243. See R. Parker, Miasma: Pollution and Purication in
Early Greek Religion (Oxford, 1983) 3237. How widespread these prohibitions were is
a matter of debate. Parker offers very little documentary support, and the Zeus hymn is
suspiciously prominent as corroboration for actual cult practices, which may have varied
widely. Pausanias (8.36.3), for example, mentions Rheas cave on Mt. Lycaeon, which
no one could enter except the holy women of the goddess.
86. See McLennan 1977, 42.
which might be identied as the primeval hill, and the moment of his
divine birth was imagined as an instantiation of that rst act of cre-
That act was repeated each year when the Nile rose to ood the
land, hence the reason that the beginning of the inundation also marked
the New Year. By insisting that Zeus was born on the hill and describ-
ing that hill as a primeval place from which waters will begin to ow,
again Callimachuss narrative conforms to Egyptian ideology. In fact, a
much closer parallel to Callimachuss text than traditional Greek
sources is found in an Egyptian hymn from the great temple of Isis at
Philae, which was constructed under Philadelphus: Isis, Horuss mother,
is invoked as Isis, giver of life, residing in the sacred mound, . . . she is
the one who pours out the Inundation.
Within this description Callimachus notes that no crawling thing re-
quiring Eileithyia nor woman draws near it (oDdA tA min kexrhmAnon
EDleiuyAh% | Drpetbn oDdB gynb DpimAsgetai). For the gods and men
of his models, Callimachus has crawling thing and woman. The
need for Eileithyia is a deliberate anachronism. In this time of cosmic
origins, the goddess had not been born, for tradition makes her a daugh-
ter of Zeus and Hera. But Eileithyia is also specically identied with
Crete where she is associated with chthonic cult;
therefore, an appear-
ance in this Arcadian birth story would be de trop. Why then does Cal-
limachus introduce this detail? The usual explanation is that giving birth
was prohibited within Greek sanctuaries.
But the prohibition did not
seem to extend to pregnant animals. We might take this to be ironic
the ancient childbed is now so sacred not even animals may give birth
there. However, Crpetan is an unusual choice of terms. It is a relatively
rare word applied to things that crawl as opposed to things that y or
swim, and in the Hellenistic period it commonly meant serpent. Calli-
machus is said here to be imitating the usage of the Homeric unicum(Cr-
peta) at Odyssey 4.418.
If he is, that passage would also insert us into
the discursive eld of Egypt, for it describes the ability of Egyptian Pro-
102 Callimachean Theogonies
87. 1977, 7986; see his further remarks in 1993, 44; also Cameron 1995, 5455.
88. Haslam 1993, 12021.
teus to turn into all manner of different creatures. In Pindar Pythian
1.25 kePno . . . Crpetan is the Giant Typhoeus, whom the Greeks gener-
ally equated with Horuss traditional opponent, Seth. In line 25 Calli-
machus introduces another rare word that means venomous beast:
kinapeta. Although these creatures are extraneous to the story of
Zeuss birth, they are quite signicant in the mythology of Horus. Seths
unleashing of serpents and poisonous creatures like scorpions against
the newborn was an integral part of the Horus saga, and plaques with
the image of the infant Horus throttling snakes were in wide circulation
in Hellenistic Egypt as protective devices. In this context it may also be
relevant that in the Heracliscus Theocritus chooses this same word,
Crpeta, to designate the snakes sent by Hera to attack the infant Hera-
cles (24.57). Heracles close connection with the Ptolemies, and Theocri-
tuss insistence that the infant was born at the very time of Ptolemy IIs
birth, led Ludwig Koenen to make the attractive suggestion that Theocri-
tuss poem was composed for the accession of Philadelphus as coregent.
The ramications of this will be explored in the next chapter. Here it is
sufcient to emphasize that Callimachus includes details in his mythic
narrative that are both jarring and slightly peculiar, as well as language
Crpetan, kinapetathat is not easily accounted for in Greek myth. But
these eccentricities do belong to a coherent narrative within the frame-
work of Egyptian culturethe saga of Horus-the-Child.
Hesiodic Callimachus
Lines 2845 narrate a series of events heavily dependent on Theogony
In Hesiod a pregnant Rhea begs her parents (469) to devise
a plan to keep Cronus from swallowing (as usual) her expected child.
Their solution is to send her to Luktos in Crete when she is ready to de-
liver (477). When the baby is born, her mother, Gaia, receives the new-
born to raise:
tbn mAn oC DdAjato GaAa pelarh
480 Krati Dn eDreAi trefAmen dtitallAmenaA te.
Gnua min Qkto fAroysa uobn dib nAkta mAlainan,
prathn D% LAkton krAcen dA C xersB laboPsa
gntri Dn dlibati, zauAh% Cpb keAuesi gaAh%.
Callimachean Theogonies 103
89. See West 1966, 299 (lines 481ff.); and Reinsch-Werners discussion (1976, 41 n.
90. See T. Fuhrers discussion (Die Auseinandersetzung mit den Chorlyrikern in den
Epinikien des Kallimachos, Schweizerische Beitrge zur Altertumswissenschaft 23 [Basel,
Vast Earth received him from her [Rhea] to cherish and rear in broad
Crete. From thence, carrying him through the black night, she came
swiftly rst to Luktos, and, taking him in her arms, she hid him in a deep
cave under the secret places of holy earth.
The passage concludes with an aition of the omphalos (491500). In
the Theogony it is a great stone swaddled and given to Cronus in place
of baby Zeus. When Zeus comes to adulthood he forces Cronus to re-
gurgitate it. Zeus himself places the stone in Delphi as a marvel for
mortals (500), and presumably an index of his power. In Callimachuss
sequence, Rhea calls upon her mother, Gaia (29), who never appears.
Callimachus provides homely details about the event: after Rhea
strikes the hill with her staff to cause a mighty ood (32), she bathes
the newborn, swaddles him (33), and then hands him over to the
nymph Neda, who carries him to Crete. In Callimachus, Gaia is in-
voked only to have her role as a surrogate preempted by the hitherto
obscure Neda, while Cronuss hostile behaviorthe reason to hide the
babyis never directly mentioned. The suture between the Arcadian
and the Cretan birth story occurs in line 42 when the nymph leaves
Thenae for Crete, and where Callimachus calls attention to the trans-
fer with an aside about Thenae. Earlier, I suggested that the aside ef-
fected a momentary collapse of the Arcadian and Cretan landscapes.
Hesiods lines quoted above behave similarly to Callimachuss in that
Gaia is already in Luktos when she receives the baby in line 479, to
whichapparentlyshe then returns (482). As a result scholars have
questioned the text and proposed various solutions to eliminate the
perceived difculty.
Callimachus seems to be repeating the inconcin-
nity of the earlier text by matching two Luktoses with two Thenaes
but in his case the doublet indicates his divergence from Hesiod. Luk-
tos, twice mentioned, is the same place in Crete, while Thenae marked
simultaneously two different locations, thus underscoring the substitu-
tion of Neda for Gaia and the moment of transition from Calli-
machuss version of Zeuss birth in Arcadia into the realm of Hesiods,
or Crete.
Finally, in the process of the transfer from Arcadia to Crete,
Zeuss umbilical cord drops onto the earth, occasioning a brief aition
104 Callimachean Theogonies
1992] 5152) of Hymn to Zeus 1314 as a comment on a textual crux in Pindar (Ne-
mean 9.4042). What she argues is similar to what is happening here.
91. Haslam 1993, 121 n. 19: Callimachus rejects the stone and normalizes the se-
(4445). The omphalos has shed its earlier mythological improbabil-
itya stone ingested by Cronus and retained for decades. It is now an
ordinary umbilical cord. This last divergence from the Theogony, in
combination with the bathing and swaddling, reinforces Zeuss status
as a baby and humanizes him as he is transferred from one location to
Further, the location of the omphalos, or center of the world,
now shifts from Hesiods Delphi, a Hellenocentric center, to Crete, a
southern Mediterranean location, that is now (almost) midway be-
tween the mainland of old Greece and the new Greek world of Egypt
and North Africa.
Callimachuss insistence on the differences between his version and
Hesiods again implicates us in the realm of Egyptian ideas, specically
the hiding of Horus in Chemmis. As we saw in the previous chapter,
the story is told in Herodotus (2. 146): after Isis hands her newborn
child Apollo ( = Horus) to Leto to hide from his uncle Typhon ( =
Seth), who was intent on harming him, Leto hides the child on an is-
land that begins to oat, presumably to deceive Typhon. Thus it is not
in Greek myth but in Egyptian that we nd correspondences with the
discrete elements that Callimachus has chosen to emphasize in his birth
narrative. The pharaoh himself, at the time of the Ptolemaic takeover,
was specically linked in cult to Horus-the-Child, a connection that
the Ptolemies fostered. Callimachuss poem exploits this identication.
The foregrounding of the new gure of the nurse and the conveyance
to an island (although not oating) to protect the child is a striking in-
novation in the Greek story; in combination with emphasis on the re-
lationship between the birth of the god and the coming of waters to a
dry land, Callimachuss narrative can be understood within an Egypt-
ian imaginative framework. Even when we factor out the many ele-
ments that are folkloricevil relative, precocious childhoodthe spe-
cic details and their arrangement in Callimachuss story and Egyptian
myth coincide: both divine children are born on sacred hills, they are
handed off to nurses to be hidden and reared on an island, venomous
creatures appear in both stories (somewhat gratuitously, we might
think, in Callimachus), both children are in danger from their male rel-
atives (Seth, Cronus), and their births are causally linked to bringing
Callimachean Theogonies 105
moisture to a dry land. At the beginning of the hymn this larger pattern
is not discernable, though the particular ways in which Callimachus
calls his audiences attention to the Egyptian dimension of the tale may
be becoming apparent.
After this considerable excursus on the cleansing of Rhea, Calli-
machus concludes the birth section of the hymn in Crete:
ZeP, sB dB Kyrbantvn Ctarai prosephxAnanto
DiktaPai MelAai, sB d DkoAmisen \Adrasteia
lAkni DnB xrysAi, sB d Duasao pAona mazan
aDgb% \AmalueAh%, DpB dB glykB khrAon Gbrv%.
50 gAnto gbr DfapinaPa PanakrAdo% Grga melAssh%
\IdaAoi% Dn gressi, ta te kleAoysi Panakra.
oRla dB KoArhtA% se perB prAlin drxasanto
teAxea peplagonte%, Gna Krano% oGasin dxan
dspAdo% eDsaAoi kaB mb sAo koyrAzonto%.
Zeus, the companions of the Curbantes, the Dictaian Ash-Nymphs,
cradled you in their arms, Adrasteia put you to sleep in your golden
cradle, you suckled at the fat teat of the goat Amaltheia, and fed upon the
honeycomb. (For suddenly the work of the Panacrian bee appeared in the
Idaean hills, which they call Panacra.) The Couretes danced a war dance
around you, clashing their armor, so that Cronus would hear in his ears
the sound of the shield, and not your infant wails.
Here the tempo speeds up, and the crowded mythological inventory
presents a marked contrast to the leisurely treatment of Arcadian wa-
terways. This rapid tempo continues into the opening of the aretai sec-
tion, where Zeuss growth to manhood is compressed into three lines
Fairly you grew, and fairly were you nurtured, Ouranian Zeus; swiftly
you grew up, and down came swiftly to your cheeks, but still a child you
devised all things that were accomplished.
In these eleven lines Callimachus seems to be referring to a well-known
story, the details of which he is determined to mention, but upon which
he has little time to dwell. This is a careful contrivance for multiple ef-
fects. The breathless pace of the narrative is mimetic of Zeuss own
rapid growth to maturity. The infant Greek god is now inserted into the
discursive eld of a Cretan Zeus with his Near Eastern analogues, and
Callimachus realigns the inherited tradition and gures Zeus as a
human baby by downplaying or eliminating the supernatural, in prepa-
ration for the identication of Zeus with our king as the poem con-
106 Callimachean Theogonies
92. West 1983, 12733. It is impossible to know to what extent Callimachus and his
contemporaries actively used other Orphic sources in addition to Epimenides, though the
material circulated freely enough for them to have had multiple sources, which we are no
longer able to identify.
93. See, for example, West 1983, 133, 167.
94. See McLennan ad loc., and Haslam 1993, 121.
There is no extant story of Zeuss birth on Crete either before or
after Callimachus that includes all of Callimachuss details, and indeed,
he seems to have intermingled elements from a variety of sources (if he
has not actually invented them). The Dictaean Meliae, for example, are
not elsewhere attested in connection with Zeus. They appear in Hes-
iods Theogony (187), having sprung from the blood gushing from
Uranuss genitals after his son Cronus castrates him. Other elements are
not found in Homer or Hesiod, but in the Orphic cosmologies.
also, Callimachus alludes to material that we earlier located in Epi-
menides and Euhemerus. By returning the god to Crete, he inevitably
recalls the rejected birth story and the tomb. As we saw above, Cretan
Zeus was in origin a dying god, whose worship was conducted in caves
and through fertility rites, but who at a later date was assimilated at
least partially to Olympian Zeus. Many of the details Callimachus in-
cludes in this section belong to the Cretan vegetation spirit, rather than
the Olympian god: for example, Adrasteia and the Corybantes were
originally associated with the worship of the Great Mother in Phrygian
Ida, but their cult was connected with Cretan Zeus at least as early as
the fourth century b.c.e.
Moreover, the poet appears here to be ra-
tionalizing or Euhemerizing his material: as the section opens
(4245) we nd that the omphalos is now the divine umbilical cord;
Amaltheia is now a goat, not a nymph; the bees are simply bees; and the
Couretes (KoArhte%), who in the Palaikastro hymn are the attendants
of the Great Kouros (Zeus) and derive their name from being his com-
panions, are here, like the Corybantes, downgraded to the status of
babysitters, with their name linked etymologically with Zeuss infantile
behavior, that is, koyrAzonto%. The Meliae conform to this euhemeriz-
ing pattern: in Hesiod the by-products of a brutal myth, here they are
punningly linked to nurture. melAa was a manna ash that secreted a
gum (mAli); glykB karion (49) functions both as a gloss and as a tran-
sition from one kind of mAli to anotherGrga melAssh%.
Finally, Cal-
limachuss insistence upon the rapidity with which Zeus grew a beard
may be intended to call our attention to the fact that Cretan Zeus, like
Callimachean Theogonies 107
95. Fr. 24 Winiarczyk ( = Columella 9.2.3): Euhemerus apparently claimed that bees
were a natural phenomenonsprung from hornets and the sunand then tended by
nymphs who subsequently became the nurses of Zeus. The evidence is not unimpeach-
able, but if Euhemerus did write about bees in connection with Zeus, Callimachuss
Panacra may be intended to recall Euhemeruss imaginary land of Panchaea and its chief
city, Panara. (Panacra is nowhere independently attested apart from Callimachus;
Stephanus Byzantius cites this passage s.v.)
96. Didymus, according to Lactantius, in a context discussing Euhemerus. See M.
Schmidt, Didymi Chalcenteri grammatici Alexandrini fragmenta (Amsterdam, 1964),
97. West 1983, 133.
98. L, s.v. Biene. Apiculture was very visible in the agricultural life of the Delta re-
gion, and bees were connected with more than one Egyptian god: for example, Neiths
temple in Sais was known as the House of the Bee.
99. So McLennan 1977, 103.
100. See, for instance, McLennan 1977, 103; Roussel 1928, 3839.
Dionysus, was always represented as a beardless youth, while rejecting
that very tradition.
Callimachus is the earliest poet we have who connects bees with the
baby Zeus, though Euhemerus may also have done so.
A variant, now
known only from a late source,
makes Melissa, along with Amalthea,
daughter of one Melisseus, a king of Crete, who introduced the cult of
the Great Mother
and was said to have made his daughter a priestess
of the Melissae, or Bee Maidens. Like Adrasteia and the Corybantes,
this tale belongs to the tradition of Zeus as a Near Eastern deity. On the
surface, Callimachus rejects this mythological option; his bees suddenly
appear in the region: For suddenly the work of the Panacrian bee ap-
peared in the Idaean hills, which they call Panacra (4950). The pres-
ence of bees in the region where Zeus is hidden particularly strengthens
the connection with the Egyptian story. Horuss hiding place in the
Delta was Chemmis, which is usually taken to mean place of bees in
Egyptian. Moreover, as we saw in the introduction, in Egyptian royal
titulature the bee is the hieroglyphic symbol for the king of Lower
Egypt or the Delta region; hence Chemmis is sometimes called the
Home of the Bee King.
In this context consider the odd word Calli-
machus uses of ZeusCsspna (66)in a passage where Grga dB
xeirpn echoes an earlier Grga melAssh% (50).
Before Callimachus,
Csspn occurs only as a title of the priests of Artemis at Ephesus in a
usage that is presumably analogous to the title Melissai for the priest-
esses at Delphi (see LSJ s.v.). It is glossed by the scholiast on this pas-
sage as properly the king of bees, though here, and again in the Aetia
(fr. 178.23 Pf.), it is used of a human king. Both ancient and modern
commentators have puzzled over the word to little avail,
but given the
108 Callimachean Theogonies
101. In Pythian 4.6065, Pindar links the Delphic prophecy to the Battiads with bees.
According to the scholium on the passage, Battis was not a proper noun but what the
Cyreneans called their rulersthat is, it meant king (so also Herodotus 4.155). The
suggestion that Battus and bit are cognates has been made by more than one scholar; see
Schneider (1993, 17475) for details, though he remains skeptical.
fact that bees are so closely connected with both gods birthplaces and
that a hieroglyphic of the bee marks the Egyptian pharaoh, it is worth
considering whether Csspna is an attempt to translate an Egyptian term
by its admittedly rare Greek analogue.
To sum up: Arcadia provides a primordial Greek landscape for
Zeuss birth, the contours of which are made to resemble Egypt, in that
the arid land comes to be watered at the time of the birth of the divine
child. The Cretan landscape has associations with Near Eastern dying
gods on the one hand, but also the Euhemerist tradition that demotes
the Olympic pantheon to culture heroes, because the divine child is suc-
cessively humanized as we move from the Arcadian (or Greek) to the
Cretan (or Egyptian) landscape in preparation for the implicit linkage
of Zeus and our king.
Let us turn now to the second half of the hymn (5491), which de-
tails Zeuss rapid growth to maturity and his attainment of royal pre-
rogatives. The argument is very carefully structured to interweave
Zeus, poetry, and our king; and the description of Zeus in lines
5659 is echoed by the appearance of Ptolemy in lines 8588:
56 djB d dnabhsa%, taxinoB dA toi rluon Goyloi,
dll Gti paidnb% Dbn Dfrassao panta tAleia
tu toi kaB gnvtoB proterhgenAe% per Dante%
oDranbn oDk DmAghran Gxein DpidaAsion oRkon.
Swiftly you grew up, and down came swiftly to your cheeks, but still a
child you devised all things that were accomplished; therefore your kin,
though being older, did not begrudge that you hold heaven as your allot-
These lines are conceptually and verbally linked with lines 8588:
85 Goike dB tekmarasuai
cmetAri medAonti periprb gbr eDrB bAbhken.
AspArio% kePna% ge teleP td ken rri noash
CspArio% tb mAgista, tb meAona d, eRte noasi.
It is reasonable to judge by our king; for he has far exceeded the rest. At
evening he accomplishes what he thinks of in the morning. At evening the
greatest things, the lesser as soon as he thinks of them.
Callimachean Theogonies 109
102. See the discussion on the dating of the poem, pages 7779 above.
103. See Erler 1987.
Note how djB d dnabhsa% is echoed by eDrB bAbhken, tAleia by teleP,
and Dfrassao by noasi. In both, conception and accomplishment are
joined, and there is emphasis as well on the swiftness with which goals
are attained. Moreover, in lines 5859, the historical fact of Ptolemy IIs
succession to the throne over his older brothers serves as the subtext for
the mythological fact of Zeus ruling over his.
In this section and
what follows, ostensibly a Greek hymnic presentation of divine aretai,
Callimachus shows a marked preference for allusion to Hesiod, whom
he actually quotes at line 79. It is via this intense reliance on Hesiod
that Callimachus has inserted himself into the theogonic tradition and
by means of which he now adumbrates the ideological essentials of
Egyptian kingship: the link between the king and the god, the victory
over chaos personied as a cosmic enemy, and the maintainance of cos-
mic harmony or justice. Not surprisingly, Hesiods texts exhibit demon-
strable links with the ancient Near East, and particular patterns of
Callimachus begins this section by allying himself with a Hesiodic
view of the relationship of power, hierarchy, and order. He critiques the
standard version of Zeuss ascension to the throne of the high gods,
namely, that he and his brothers cast lots for the heavens, the ocean,
and the underworld, respectively, and that Zeus won. Rather, Calli-
machus tells us: Casting lots did not make you king of the gods, but
the strength of your hands (oG se uepn Csspna paloi uAsan, Grga dB
xeirpn, 66). He thus appears to reject Homer (Iliad 15.18693), where
this well-known story occurs, evidently preferring Hesiods account
from the Theogony (88185) in which the gods themselves urge Zeus to
become their king. Zeuss deeds of strength are a leitmotif of the
Theogony: they include freeing his brothers (496) and then the Cy-
clopes (5015), who gave him the thunderbolt, and defeating the Titans
(685819) and Typhoeus (82080). In the Theogony itself, the narra-
tive immediately preceding Zeuss selection recounts at some length
Zeuss struggle with and victory over Typhoeus. Typhoeus was a son of
Gaia, one of the ghgeneP%, or Earth-Born, and (in a manner of speaking)
Zeuss uncle. He is characterized by erce heat and, at least in Hesiods
story, is presented as the soleand seriouscompetitor to Zeus for
sovereignity. The battle with Typhoeus in Hesiod is clearly a doublet of
the war against the Titans, though it serves a different narrative func-
110 Callimachean Theogonies
104. For example, a central feature of Pherecydes of Syruss theogony was a battle be-
tween Zeus and Ophioneus, a serpentlike divinity. See Schibli 1990, 8188.
105. B8 D-K = Philodemus De pietate 61b1, p. 46G.
106. West 1966, 37983; 1997, 300304; Fontenrose 1980, 7076, for Zeus and
Typhon. The transmission of this material seems to me parallel to Childrics beesin
origin it must be Egyptian, but this would not have been apparent to Callimachus. Only
the fact of its obvious similarity to a known Egyptian story would have been relevant for
107. West 1966, 37983.
108. The word is very rare in Greek. Antimachus uses it of the Titans (see Matthews
1996, 164), and Apollonius chooses it to describe the Egyptians (mathr AGgypto% pro-
terhgenAvn aDzhpn, 4.268), who were apparently coeval with the Apidanians, Greeces
aboriginal men (4.263). The scholiast on Aratus Phaenomena 16 takes protArh genea to
be contemporaries of Ophion and Eurynome and Ouranos and Kronos.
109. Gwyn Grifths 1960, 710, 8593.
tion. If the defeat of the Titans, or the Ouranids, brings the Olympian
regime to power, Typhoeus presents the rst, and hence prototypical,
challenge to Zeuss rule. Defeating Typhoeus then is the signal that
Zeus is capable of maintaining the position he has been given, and it
serves as a portent of the future stability and order of the rule. While
the conict of Zeus and Typhoeus appears to have been marginal in
much Greek poetry that has survived, their struggle occupied a more
central position in the theogonic and cosmogonic texts.
Certainly it
gured in Epimenides writing, whose Cretan Zeus apparently killed
Typhoeus by a thunderbolt when he attempted to attack him.
The Zeus-Typhoeus struggle in these texts provides a close parallel
to the story of Horus, who became the rst divine king of Egypt and ul-
timately the chief god of the country. The similarity is not surprising:
wherever Hesiod and the cosmogonic writers may have gotten it, the
origin of the material is clearly Near Eastern and formed an integral
part of Egyptian mythology from a very early period.
Since Greek
writers, well before Callimachus, were used to identifying Typhoeus
with Egyptian Seth,
a Greek audience actually within Egypt, if they
knew their Hesiod, would be likely to make such an obvious connec-
tion. Further, Callimachuss choice of the rare proterhgenAe%,
elsewhere means of an earlier generation, to describe the kin who as-
sented to Zeuss kingship, while inappropriate for Zeuss brothers, ts
very well the situation in the Theogony (88185) and by extension the
Egyptian story. Horuss rights were validated by an older order of
deities (the so-called Ennead, or nine primal forces, which include
earth, air, darkness, and watery chaos), and because of the justice of his
claims and his behavior he became the chief god of the country.
As the hymn draws to a close, Callimachus moves from the Hesiodic
Callimachean Theogonies 111
110. See Bing 1988, 7683, for an excellent discussion of lines 6878.
111. \ rydbn dfneioPo, Odyssey 15.426.
112. Erler (1987) treats the subject at length; see p. 30 for the Zeus hymn.
113. M. L. West (Hesiod, Works and Days [Oxford, 1978] 213) provides Semitic as
well as Greek parallels for this section of Hesiod.
realm of divine origins to the world of men by actually quoting rst the
Theogony, then adopting language from the Works and Days. Simulta-
neously the poem shifts from Zeus to Ptolemy, who is formally intro-
duced in lines 8588 (see above):
Dk dB Dib% basilpe%, DpeB Dib% oDdBn dnaktvn
80 ueiateron tu kaA sfe tebn DkrAnao lajin.
dpka% dB ptolAeura fylassAmen, Ezeo d aDta%
gkris Dn polAessen, Dpacio% oE te dAkisi
labn Cpb skolips oE t Gmpalin DuAnoysin
Dn dB \ ryhfenAhn GbalA% sfisin, Dn d eli% glbon
From Zeus come kings; nothing is more divine than the lords of Zeus.
And so you chose them as your own portion. You gave them cities to
guard, and you seat yourself in the high point of cities, overseer of
those who rule their people with crooked judgments, and those who
rule otherwise. You have given owing wealth to them and abundant
In terms of the Hesiodic model the defeat of Typhoeus is the decisive
act that conrms Zeuss right to divine kingship and legitimates his pa-
tronage of earthly kings. Callimachus insists that Zeuss Grga xeirpn
enable him to rule and that his choice of kings is a natural consequence
of this power, since all other skills and arts come under the sway of the
Thus hierarchy and ordering are the prerogatives of the king,
and the task of maintaining that order falls rst to Zeus, and then to
earthly kings whose judgments he watches over. Just kings are re-
warded with prosperity, for which Callimachus coins the word \ ryhfe-
nAh, owing wealth, from a Homeric phrase describing the wealth of
a king of Sidon.
Flowing wealth is the mot juste for the king of the
Nile, who is introduced in the very next lines. The interrelationship of
prosperity of the land and just rule is not unfamiliar to Greeks;
deed it is to be found in Hesiods Works and Days in the very passage
that Callimachuss linguistic borrowings foreground. But it was by no
means as central or as dominant in Greek thought patterns as it was in
Near Eastern.
Although the language of this passage is thoroughly Hesiodic, the
rhetorical impact is not. Dk dB Dib% basilpe% belongs to the opening of
112 Callimachean Theogonies
114. F. Wassermann (gyptisches bei Kallimachos, PhW 45 [1925]: 1277) com-
pares a New Kingdom text of Ramesses II: There is no land that you have not trodden
over and If you dream something in the night, by daybreak it is quickly accomplished.
To cite a more contemporary example, an Isis hymn in the Philae temple states:
What(ever) comes forth from her mouth is accomplished immediately: and an Isis
hymn at Kyme: What I decree, that is also accomplished (Z

abkar 1988, 69, 15051).

Cf. Koenen 1977, 60 n. 123. Of course, a Greek parallel (Homeric Hymn to Hermes
1719) can also be found for lines 8788 (Clauss 1986, 161); this is discussed also by
Reinsch-Werner 1976, 53 n. 1.
115. See Reinsch-Werner 1976, 6163 and 61 n. 1.
the Theogony, from the song of the Muses, while the language of
crooked judgments comes from Works and Days 21863, a passage
emphasizing the punishment and rewards that the god metes out for
just and unjust behavior, punishment that even kings will be unable to
escape unscathed if they behave badly. The strongly minatory affect of
the Hesiodic context is certainly present and important here, but Calli-
machus emphasizes reward, not punishment, and highlights a causal
link between Zeus, the divine king, the earthly king who is his surro-
gate, and the owing prosperity of the kingdom. Callimachuss intro-
duction of our king is a necessary component of the chain. In Egypt-
ian thought, it is the just behavior of the king that guarantees the
prosperity of the kingdom and simultaneously validates him as the sur-
rogate Horus. Indeed, the language that Callimachus chooses to de-
scribe the behavior of our kingfor he has far exceeded the rest. At
evening he accomplishes what he thinks of in the morning. At evening
the greatest things, the lesser as soon as he thinks of themis a for-
mula found in Egyptian hymns and royal inscriptions to describe the
extraordinary power of a god, and by extension the pharaoh.
But it is
also language reminiscent of the Zeus of lines 5659 and his accom-
plishments, namely, the link between thought and actuality (frassao
panta tAleia).
The quotation from Hesiod (Dk dB Dib% basilpe%)
returns us di-
rectly to the context of the earlier quotation of Epimenides. Here, as in
that earlier passage, which was on the surface about the tomb of Zeus
but led us to Hesiods proem on the nature of poetic speech, surface
musings about kings lead us again to poetry. The Hesiodic line contin-
ues: Happy is he whom the Muses love; sweet song ows from his
mouth (f d glbio%, fn tina MoPsai | fAlvntai glykera oC dpb sta-
mato% \ rAei aDda, 9697). If that earlier passage was characterized by
confusion over the narrative voice, confusion over where Zeus was
born, here Callimachus speaks securely in his own poetic persona and
Callimachean Theogonies 113
116. 1986, 158.
ostensibly expresses no doubts about the relationship between Zeus
and our king. If the old poets (dhnaioB . . . doidoB) are mistaken or tell
stories about Zeus and theogonies that are untrue, Callimachus deliber-
ately positions himself against them and asks that he may tellnot true
storiesbut more persuasive ctions (65: ceydoAmhn, dAonto% e ken
pepAuoien dkoyan). He presents himself as devising ctions, as experi-
menting with a variety of inherited traditions in order to construct a
lineation for the king of the Nile, who is neither Greek nor Egyptian,
but both. Callimachus is writing for a Greek-speaking audience, obvi-
ously, but an audience that lived in Egypt and could not have been un-
aware of the mythology of Egyptian kingship and its attendant ideol-
ogy, an ideology that explicitly connects the birth of the king with the
birth of the god Horus as well as with the beginning of the cosmos and
the ow of water. Callimachus experiments with constructing a parallel
cosmology for his Greek-Egyptian king in which ostensibly he sets out
to move from a primordial Greek landscape (Arcadia) via traditional
Greek theogonic material to arrive in Egypt and the court of a human
king. But the trajectory is not linear. Callimachus locates Zeuss birth in
an originary Greek landscape that betrays an uncanny resemblance to
the Nile, but as the newborn approaches Egypt via Crete, he becomes
progressively more human until, at the end of the poem, elements of his
discrete identity pass over to Ptolemy.
Several recent analyses of this hymn have focused on the relationship
of truth-telling and lying. J. Clauss, for example, observes that the
hymn is structured around the poetic resolution of two lies: one about
the birth of Zeus (78: DceAsanto . . . cePstai) and the other about
Zeuss accession to the throne (60: oD pampan dlhuAe%; 65: cey-
Now both of these markers of ctionality or lying precede
sections of the text that, I have been arguing, are meant to signify
within both Greek and Egyptian narrative spheres. If this is so, what
constitutes truth or lies may differ fundamentally with ones cul-
tural perspective; a Greek lie may well contain an Egyptian truth,
and vice versa. For example, Cretans are said to be liars because they
built a tomb to Zeus, who, for Greeks, is forever (DssB gbr aDeA), but,
in contrast, the Egyptians venerated Osiris precisely because he died,
and his many tombs throughout Egypt were a notable feature of the
landscape. If Callimachus deliberately constructed his poetry to explore
114 Callimachean Theogonies
117. In his analysis of this poem, Bing (1988, 13839) discusses the connection be-
tween the Delos hymn and the Herodotus passage as well as the signicance of Apollos
prophecy (pp. 13943). Many of the observations I shall be making were also made by
him, though with different emphases. Koenen focuses on rather different aspects (1983,
17490; those arguments are reprised in 1993, 4880, with a discussion of Delos in par-
ticular at pp. 8184). Mineurs commentary (1984, esp. 13) also identies a series of
Egyptian motifs in the Delos hymn; see also Webers comments (1993, 377 n. 1).
the existence of competing truthsthat Ptolemy is mortal, that Ptolemy
is a godif the central tension in the poem is not a contrived doubt
concerning whether Zeus was born in Arcadia or Crete, but whether
Ptolemy and his kingship are to be regarded as Greek or Egyptian or
both, then the pervasive ambiguity about the relationship of poetry to
truth and of the poets ability to utter it that many critics see in Calli-
machuss poetry becomes more explicable. It is not the pose of a cynic
nor the result of belatedness in respect to the achievement of earlier
Greek poetry; rather, it may stem from the complexity of the task that
the poet has set himself, namely, to explore the potential for cultural in-
teractions for which there was not, as yet, a corresponding reality. Like
Hesiod before him, then, Callimachusto modify Detiennes formula-
tion quoted aboveis creating a myth of emergence suitable for the
new royal line of the Ptolemies and by means of his poetic voice not
only articulating but actively collaborating in setting this new world
in order.
the hymn to delos
We have seen how the narrative details of the Hymn to Zeus conform
to the Egyptian tale of Horus-in-Chemmis. We have also seen that a
version of this story was recounted in Herodotus, where Horus was
identied not with Zeus, but with Apollo. In Herodotuss version, Leto
was the nurse of the newborn who was hidden on a oating island to
escape Typhon. In Callimachuss fourth hymn, addressed to Delos,
these same elements are combined to produce another theogony with
narrative ties to the Egyptian. A number of scholars have already iden-
tied the Egyptian patterns of thought to be found in this hymn.
intention is not to duplicate their work but to examine the Delos hymn
in light of the Zeus hymn, which despite differences of length and em-
phases displays at its core a similar theogonic narrative. The Delos
hymn must have been composed at least a decade after the Zeus hymn:
lines 16295 refer to the historical circumstances of 275 b.c.e, a mutiny
Callimachean Theogonies 115
118. 1984, 1011.
119. For the relationship of the two parts as well as the dating, see R. Janko, Homer,
Hesiod, and the Hymns (Oxford, 1982) 11432. On the Pythian section, see M. L. West,
Cynaethus Hymn to Apollo,CQ 25 (1975) 16170.
120. 1988, 96110. See also I. Rutherford, Pindar on the Birth of Apollo, CQ38.1
(1988) 6575.
of Ptolemy IIs Gaulish mercenaries, and provide a clear terminus post
quem. The relative unimportance of the Gaulish mutiny, however, lim-
its the efcacy of the topical reference to within at most a few years
after the event, and most scholars suggest the range 275270 b.c.e. At
any rate, the prominence of Cos in the poem indicates that it was writ-
ten before the end of the Chremonidean War, when Ptolemy lost effec-
tive control of the island; this provides an extreme lower terminus of
about 260 b.c.e. No specic occasion suggests itself, though the theme
of Apollos birth lends credence to W. H. Mineurs supposition that it
was written as a genethliakon, or birthday hymn, for Ptolemy II.
Mineur points to the habit of composing and performing birthday
poems for those who were founders of philosophical schools, suggest-
ing that such a practice may also have taken place in the Museum.
though it is tempting to accept this argument, since it would provide a
further connection with the Zeus hymn, Minuers evidence is suggestive
rather than conclusive. Callimachuss hymn was modeled on the Home-
ric Hymn to Apollo, which falls into two partsDelian Apollo and
Pythian Apollo
and, as Peter Bing has demonstrated, several of Pin-
dars odesthe fragmentary Hymn to Zeus, which stood at the opening
of the ancient edition, and the fth and seventh Paeans.
The story in broad outline is as follows: (1) Asteria, a nymph who
shunned Zeuss bed, jumped into the sea and became an islanda oat-
ing islandwandering around the Mediterranean; (2) Leto, who did
not shun Zeus, found herself pregnant with Apollo (Apollos twin sister,
Artemis, is notably absent in this hymn); (3) Hera, Zeuss wife, is a fear-
some opponent and persecutes her rival, who ees throughout the
Aegean looking for a place to give birth; in her jealousy Hera prevents
her as long as she can; (4) Leto arrives at the island of Cos, but
Apollofrom her wombprophesies that Ptolemy II Philadelphus is
destined to be born at Cos and urges Leto to seek out another island;
(5) nally, Leto arrives at Asteria (which only after Apollos birth is
called Delos), where the island welcomes her, and she gives birth as the
river, Inopus, swells as a result of its subterranean connection to the
Nile (2058); Hera is reconciled; the island immediately becomes xed
116 Callimachean Theogonies
121. He seems to be playing with and reversing the normal elements of a katasterism.
Here an undistinguished star falls from the heavens, where she performs a signal service
to the gods by becoming the site of the birth as well as the nurse of Apollo. In contrast,
Aratuss bears (3033) or Olenian goat (16364) are translated to the heavens and be-
come constellations as a result of nursing Zeus.
122. See Bing 1988, 11719.
123. 1960, 94.
in the sea with golden foundations, its lake ows with gold, its olive
tree blooms with gold foliage (26065). The island herself (i.e., the
nymph Asteria) takes up the newborn and becomes his nurse, devising
a series of games to amuse himthat then become part of the islands cul-
tic ritual. If we place the Zeus and Delos hymns side by side, we see the
following similarities: there are two divine children, Zeus and Apollo,
either born or hidden on islands; each has a nurseNeda and Asteria
a detail that is apparently new to the inherited mythic tradition; the
previously submerged Arcadian rivers burst forth after Zeuss birth just
as the Inopus is swollen from the subterranean Nile ood at the time of
Apollos birth. Further, Cos, the future site of Ptolemys birth, is said to
be a primeval islanddgygAhn . . . npsonwhich inserts the human
king into the same mythological eld as Zeus and Horus.
Callimachuss Delos hymn is, of course, based on the Homeric
Hymn to Apollo, but there are notable differences. There is a consid-
erable expansion of Letos wandering and her persecution by Hera.
Callimachus also conates the nymph Asteria with the island,
erately blurring the distinctions between the natural world and the an-
thromorphized realm of the minor deities like nymphs.
In the Home-
ric hymn, for example, Delos is not the newborns nurse. Finally,
Callimachus inserts the long prophecy of Apollo, delivered from the
womb, about the birth of Ptolemy II on Cos at some point in the distant
future. All three of these changes serve to bring the Greek narrative into
alignment with Egyptian myth. The birth of Horus is always preceded
by the wanderings of his mother, Isis, around the southern Mediter-
ranean, either to search for the body parts of her husband, Osiris,
whom Seth had killed, or, in some versions, in ight from her brother,
Seth himself, who wished to destroy her and her unborn child. For this
reason she came to bear the child in a secret location in the Delta,
sometimes identied as Chemmis, which afterward the Egyptians ven-
erated as a holy place. There is no single Egyptian analogue for
Neda/Asteria, since the newborn Horus had many different nurses. For
example, Gywn Grifths in his discussion of the Egyptian myth,
Callimachean Theogonies 117
124. The aridity of the Argolid was, according to myth, the result of Poseidons anger
against Inachos for preferring Hera to him as the local divinity. While not directly men-
tioned in the Zeus hymn, the Hesiodic catalogue that serves as an intertext had related
the story.
thought that in Herodotuss version of the birth of Horus-in-Chemmis,
the nurse, Leto, should be identied with Wedjoyet, the goddess of
Buto, who was sometimes associated with Isis. It is also possible that
Herodotuss source has in mind one of the four protecting goddesses
who can gure in the story, or Hathor, usually depicted as a cow-
headed deity, who is sometimes Horuss nurse, sometimes his mother.
But whatever variant of the birth of Horus stands behind Herodotuss
version we should note that although a nurse for Apollo/divine new-
born is absent in the earlier Greek versions, the gure is a signicant
actor in Herodotuss Egyptian tale as well as in both of Callimachuss
poems. The third elementApollos prophecyprovides a different
sort of parallel: between the god Apollo and the future king. It also
provides the place in which Apollos future accomplishments (in Greek
hymnic terms, his aretai) are sketched: the defeat of Pytho, the great
serpent, whom Apollo slays in order to establish his most authorita-
tive prophetic seat at Delphi; and the killing of the children of Niobe,
who would appear to have been hereditary enemies of Apollo and
Artemis. Apollo then prophesies about Ptolemys birth on Cos, cou-
pling it with his victory over a group of Gaulish mercenaries who had
rebeled against him and threatened to take over Egypt.
This third element interweaves Greek mythology, contemporary his-
tory, and motifs from the ideology of Egyptian kingship. The poem is
set up rather obviously to move from chaos to order. Initially, nature is
in deep disarray as Asteria, an untethered island, wanders the Aegean
and as hostile divine forces threaten cosmic upheaval in Heras attempt
to impede Letos giving birth. Initially, we nd a narrative sequence sim-
ilar to that of the Zeus hymn, though now attributed specically to di-
vine malevolence.
Rivers are blocked and threatened with aridity
(12535), a correlative in nature to Letos blocked parturition. But the
birth itself marks the change to order, peace, and stability at the very
moment when the Nile inundation begins to ow (2058). The island is
xed in the sea and is nally able to harbor seafarers, but it also be-
comes a cultic center sacred to the god who was born there, at whose
shrines joyful worshippers are imagined proleptically. The fearful dance
of natural phenomena (13640), terried by the din of Ares shield, is
118 Callimachean Theogonies
125. Bing (1988, 117) suggests that for Callimachus, the Niobe myth has a special
point, since it counterposes quantity (Niobes many children) to quality (Letos two). It is
also possible that slanderous woman was an allusion to Arsinoe I, who was exiled to
the Thebaid between 279 and 276 b.c.e., or shortly before the writing of the Delos hymn
(see Mineur 1984, 128 ad 96). In spite of being younger than his brothers Zeus becomes
king of the gods, and Apollo is the more beloved of Zeuss sons, though Ares is older (58);
this preference for younger sons would seem to connect Olympian and human behavior,
because Ptolemy II was the youngest of Soters sons. Could the Niobe reference be to
Soters earlier wife, Eurydice, and her six children, in contrast to Berenice I, who was the
mother of Philadelphus and his sister-wife Arsinoe II? See Koenen 1983, 178 n. 96, for a
different explanation.
126. Typhaon is a variant of Typhoeus, which occurs at line 367 in this poem. See
Allen, Halliday, and Sikes 1963, 24447, on the various identications of Pytho with
Tityos and Typhoeus. Lucian (Dialogues of the Dead 10.2) records that Apollo and
Artemis slay the serpent for harassing their mother, Leto, and preventing their birth. The
context of this story in Lucian suggests Pindars now fragmentary ode on Delos.
transformed into the celebratory choir of islands and dancing maidens
at the end of the poem (300306). The islands new status is marked by
a transition from adelos, or obscurity and darkness, to delos, or clarity
and light, symbolized by a profusion of gold. At the center of the tran-
sition and indeed its cause is the birth of Apollo, on the divine level, and
the birth of Ptolemy, on the human. Apollos prophecies function to
link past, present, and future, and his birth with Ptolemys.
Initially Apollo prophesies his own defeat of Pytho and the children
of Niobe (9097);
later he foretells the birth of Philadelphus and his
victory over latterday Titans (16295). He begins with his own fu-
ture killing of Pytho, a primeval serpent. Not coincidentally. The defeat
of Pytho is the central feature of the Pythian section of the Homeric
Hymn to Apollo. In this hymn Pytho has a peculiar history. Hera, furi-
ous about Zeuss philanderingsspecically the occasion that results in
the birth of Athenadecides to get pregnant without his assistance. She
prays to Earth and Heaven and the Titans to bear an offspring who will
be stronger than Zeus by as much as Zeus is stronger than Cronus
(33940). In a scene reminiscent of Rhea striking the rock in the Zeus
hymn, Hera then strikes Earth with her hand, and her prayer is an-
swered. When her time came, she gave birth to Typhaon,
and en-
trusted him to Pytho to rear. Typhaons fate is not recorded in the
Homeric hymn, but Pytho clearly functions as a Typhaon-surrogate in
dealing death to all who enter her vicinity in Delphi. Structurally Ty-
phaon and his nurse Pytho are doublets of Apollo and his nurse Delos,
or rather their cosmic inversionDelos is light, order, clarity, and song,
while Pytho is darkness, disorder, and chaos. To defeat Pytho, at least in
the terms of the Homeric hymn, is to bring order and prophetic light
Callimachean Theogonies 119
127. Bing 1988, 130 n. 69.
into the hitherto oppressed region of terror and doom. In an analogous
fashion, the defeat of the forces of chaos by order in Egyptian cosmol-
ogy is often represented as the defeat of the serpent, Apophis, by
Indeed, we have seen in an earlier chapter that Seth, like
Apopis, was identied as disorder and chaos and was locked in an eter-
nal struggle with Horus and his surrogate, the pharaoh. Further, Seth
was identied with death-bearing serpents and often with Apopis him-
self. Just as the infant Horus destroyed the serpents sent against him, or
as the adult Horus continually wards off Apophis, so the pharaoh in
routing or killing the enemies of Egypt symbolically replicates the vic-
tory of order over chaos, or of Horus over Seth and Apophis.
If in the Zeus hymn the aretai of the god and by extension the king
were expressed in terms of characteristic and potential, and the slaying
of the enemy took place offstage in the Hesiodic subtext, in the Delos
hymn that action is stage center. Apollo not only predicts his own con-
test with and defeat of Pytho, he also foretells the birth of Ptolemy and
his defeat of the Gauls. The two events are linked: Ptolemys actions
symbolically replicate those of the god, just as Ptolemys island birth
symbolically replicates that of Apollo. The victory over the Gauls,
however historically insignicant, is mythologically an ideal exemplum.
The Gauls are external enemies of Egypt, whose duty it was historically
for the pharaoh to repulse. All such enemies were synonymous with
Seth/disorder/chaos. Callimachus signals this by labeling them latter-
day Titans (dcAgonoi Titpne%, 174), defeat of whom in the Hesiodic
Theogony brings about the orderly rule of the Ouranids. Moreover, the
Gauls had previously attacked Delphi and been repulsed; hence
Ptolemys struggle against them in Egypt can be understood as an ex-
tension of that earlier battle, a battle that, like the defeat of the Pytho,
which takes place in mythological time, is but one moment in the con-
tinual struggle of elements of disruption against those of order and
light. Similarly, Theseus, who arrives at the end of the poem after his es-
cape from the son of Pasiphae (that is, the Minotaur) and the coiled
seat of the crooked labyrinth (311), provides an example of this same
activity from the realm of heroes or demigods. The monstrous beast,
half man, half bull, who resembles Pytho as he threatens death from the
center of his coiled lair, is defeated by Theseus in heroic time, and the
event is celebrated by choral song, repeated annually on Delos.
120 Callimachean Theogonies

Zabkar 1988, 3435.

129. Lichtheim 1980, 68.
130. Compare the discussion of Sesosis in Hecataeus of Abdera in chapter 2.
131. 1992, 163.
Apollo speaks twice from the womb. On one level, this rather
baroque behavior can be understood as stretching the limits of the hym-
nic tradition, which already includes the precocious behavior of infant
deities. If Hermes can invent the lyre and steal the cattle of Apollo on
his rst day of birth, Callimachuss Apollo goes one better: he begins his
prophetic activities even before he is born. Greek mythological precoc-
ity, however, coincides with Egyptian ideology. Godsand by extension
the kingwere often active in the womb. Two contemporary examples
will sufce: a hymn from the Philae temple addresses Osiris as follows:
[He] who created light in the body of his mother, | When he illuminated
his brothers in the womb | . . . Gleaming child, he is inundating water, |
Being born at the First of the Year. | Come truly great, joyful and rejoic-
ing, | Be gracious to the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ptolemy, | He is
Horus, | Repel all evil from him.
Another, from Napata in the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, hymns Piye:
Hear what I did, exceeding the ancestors, | I, the King, image of god, |
Living likeness of Atum! | Who left the womb marked as ruler, | Feared
by those greater than he! | His father knew, his mother perceived: | He
would be ruler from the egg.
Moreover, Apollos precocious utterances take the form of post even-
tum prophecy, a device that was consistently exploited in Egyptian ide-
ology to position the new king as a creator and renewer of both cosmic
and political order.
E. Hornung explains in terms that could easily de-
scribe the dynamic of the Delos hymn:
Each new government signaled a new beginning for the world, and be-
fore its commencement primeval chaos reigned, as documented in Egypt-
ian texts that report anarchy at the death of the ruler. Injustice and disor-
der would rule until a new king could ascend the throne and reintroduce
maat as the basis of all order. Laughter and rejoicing would then take the
place of sorrow, and the lawless of anarchy would give way to a spirit of
peace and reconciliation in which a person might even embrace the man
who killed his father.
Apollos prophecies order not only in this cosmic sense, but also poeti-
cally. As we have seen, it is the particular linking of the divine realm
Callimachean Theogonies 121
with the human event that transforms the signicance of them both,
that moves them from the mythologically quaint or historically mun-
dane into the symbolic realm of cosmic ordering. Within the frame-
work of the poem, Apollo creates the order by making the link. Thus he
is an analogue of the poet, whose vision creates the entire symbolic
realm of the poem, ordering its parts in ways that permit the connec-
tions of subtext and context to yield meaning. Like the Zeus hymn, the
Delos hymn too is a theogony, but again a theogony that orders a par-
ticular universethat of the king of Egypt. Apollo and Ptolemy are
overtly linked in the Delos poem as Zeus and Ptolemy are implicitly
linked in the earlier hymn; but both links exist and are efcacious by
virtue of the imagination of the poet. He is self-consciously construct-
ing poetic ctions, and he never allows his audience to lose sight of this.
As Callimachus expresses it in the Hymn to Zeus, his is the ability to
create more persuasive ctions. His is the ability to create new theogo-
nies that not only showcase the old but insert many elements of the new
as a tting tribute to the new king of the Nile.
chapter 3
Theocritean Regencies
1. See, for example, Grifths 1979, 71, for typical assessments of Idyll 17.
2. Grifths 1959, 52, though not all would agree: e.g., Schwinge 1986, 66.
For the most part Theocrituss poetry exists in a timeless and apolitical
setting, the exact physical location of which is not identiable. The cul-
tivated simplicity of style, vivid ecphrases, and dialogue combine to
make him more immediately accessible to a modern reader than either
Callimachus or Apollonius, with the result that his poetry has also re-
ceived a more favorable critical reception. But Theocritus also pro-
duced court poetry that has been less favorably received by his critics
and is usually judged to be of inferior poetic value.
He wrote two
poems addressed to living monarchs, Hiero of Syracuse (Idyll 16) and
Ptolemy Philadelphus (Idyll 17); the Alexandrian court gures signi-
cantly in two othersIdylls 14 (Aeschinas and Thyonicus) and 15
(Adoniazusae); and a number of other poems are generally understood
to belong to the world of the Alexandrian court because they focus on
mythological themes that were closely connected to the Ptolemies
Idyll 18 on Helen, Idyll 22 on the Dioscuri, Idyll 24 on Heracles, and
Idyll 26 on the Bacchae. If these last poems are in some sense about the
in Theocrituss handling of myth we can see how the images
of the royal gures were being invented, elaborated, or modied. In-
deed, the poems have been studied as a group, and their function as
court poems has been elucidated by F. Grifths in Theocritus at Court.
Theocritean Regencies 123
3. Gow 2: 325 (Idyll 17) and 2: 41819 (Idyll 24). Gows text of Theocritus is used
throughout. The translations are his, though with some modications.
Grifthss study remains fundamental for this chapter, though what fol-
lows differs considerably from his work in emphasis. Grifths articu-
lates well the relationship between poet and patron within the environ-
ment of an imperial court, though, like other commentators on these
poems, he reads exclusively within the framework of Greek myth and
of Greek poetic antecedents. My focus, in contrast, is how Theocrituss
poems situate Ptolemaic kingship not only in a Greek context but also
within an Egyptian milieu, and in particular the ways in which Egypt-
ian imperial motives are played out within the context of traditional
Greek poetry, and the ways in which these competing modes of royal
behavior create the opportunity for discourse on the nature of kingship.
I have chosen to concentrate on only two texts, the Heracliscus (Idyll
24), for the way it treats a Ptolemaic ancestor, and the Encomium to
Ptolemy (Idyll 17), which is indisputably about the king. Together the
two texts stand in a self-conscious relationship with the Zeus and Delos
hymns, the two poems of Callimachus discussed in the previous chap-
ter. A. S. F. Gow, for example, remarks in his commentary that the com-
position of the Heracliscus might be located at the time of coronation
of Philadelphus, and on the Ptolemy he observes: [It] resembles the
Hymns of Callimachus . . . , and with two of these, that to Zeus (H. 1)
and that to Delos (H. 4), it has resemblances that cannot be wholly ac-
Thus, Theocrituss two poems can provide an alternative set
of insights into the experiments with genre and mythmaking that were
taking place within court circles, experiments that were necessary for
the symbolic encoding of the new rulers, as well as for the poets con-
struction of their own relationship to their patron.
the heracliscus
Heracles and Ptolemy
The Heracliscus is a relatively short narrative poem in hexameters that
takes as its subject the infant Heracles. The surviving text divides easily
into three discrete sections: (1) Heracles throttling the snakes that are
sent by Hera to kill him in his cradle (163); (2) Teiresiass prophecy of
Heracles future greatness and eventual immortality (64102); and (3)
the detailing of Heracles education in the arts as well as warfare
124 Theocratean Regencies
4. POxy. 2064, the so-called Antinoe Theocritus. See A. Hunt and J. Johnson, Two
Theocritus Papyri (London, 1930).
5. See Gutzwiller 1981, 1018.
6. See most recently the discussion in Cameron 1995, 44653.
7. Gutzwiller herself remarks that in the over-all structure of his poem Theocritus
has imitated the archaic narrative hymn (1981, 12).
8. POxy. 26.2442 fr. 32 = Paean 20 Snell-Maehler. See Hunters comments on this
poem (1996a, 1213) and on Theocrituss use of Pindar in general (pp. 8290).
9. To judge from the fragmentary papyrus text, Theocritus does not appear to have
used dAdoy d dretan te kaB glbon, the ending of the hymn to Heracles, to conclude his
own poem, though Callimachus does use this line to end his Zeus hymn. On this, see
Schlatter 1941, 2830.
10. k(aB) tbn poih(tbn) pant(a%) nikpsai.
11. So Grifths 1979, 9496, and Hunter 1996a, 13.
(10340). Unfortunately, the poem has lost about forty lines from its
ending, although a fragmentary portion has been preserved in a fth-
century papryrus codex.
Generically, the Heracliscus has been claimed
for the nebulous category of epyllion,
though more than one scholar
has raised doubts about the viability of the category for Hellenistic po-
etry, particularly for so early as specimen as the Heracliscus.
Given that
hexameters tended to replace lyric meters in the Hellenistic period and
that in this poem Theocrituss closest generic afnities are to the hymn
and encomium, it seems to me more reasonable to assume that the poet
is experimenting within the parameters of well-established generic
models rather than conforming to another that may or may not have
actually existed.
In the rst two sections of the poem Theocritus fol-
lows rather closely Pindars narrative of the infant Heracles in Nemean
1, addressed to Chromius of Aetna for his victory in the horse race, and
he also incorporates elements from a fragmentary paean or hymn of
Pindar on the same theme.
Further, in these earlier sections he shows
considerable dependence on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and while
the Heracliscus now shares little beyond the opening name (HraklAa)
with the very brief Homeric Hymn to Heracles, both may end with a
The third section, on the education of Heracles, has no known
poetic antecedents. From a scholium written against the right margin of
the nal fragmentary column of the papyrus, it appears that Theocritus
ended his poem with a request to Heracles for victory.
This, taken
with the fact that in Idyll 17 the poet alludes to winning a prize in an
earlier competition, provides grounds for speculation that the Heraclis-
cus was performed. On its own the prayer to Heracles could indicate
nothing more certain than the mimesis of performance,
but Theocri-
tuss remark in Idyll 17 that no one has come for the sacred contests of
Theocritean Regencies 125
12. 1950, 2: 419.
13. He rose on his side with shoulder, belt, and foot . . . more or less together
(Gow 2: 417 ad 11f.).
14. 1977, 8586. He further revised this (1993, 74), with schematic and attendant
discussion. Weber (1993, 17273) follows Grzybek (1990, 97), in whose own dating
scheme the Basileia and the coronation no longer coincide, but see Koenens criticisms of
Grzybek (1993, 73 n. 6).
15. 1977, 86.
Dionysus who, if he knows how to raise up a clear-voiced song, fails to
receive the gift suitable to his art (11214) suggests actual experience
rather more than mere literary imitation of such events. Although the
poet need not have been referring to the Heracliscus, or even his own
victory, the comment does allow the possibility that he had written for
competitive performance in the past. Since Idylls 24 and 17 are linked
by similar treatments of Heracles, allusion to the earlier in the later
poem would have been entirely appropriate.
Although the Ptolemies are nowhere mentioned in the Heracliscus,
there are excellent reasons not only to include the poem within The-
ocrituss court poetry, but to date it to the beginning of Philadelphuss
reign. Theocritus locates the poetic event very specically: he insists
that Heracles is ten months oldas against the Pindaric version in
which the snakes attack the newbornand that the time is midnight
when the Bear sets opposite Orion himself, who shows his great shoul-
der (1112: rmo% dA strAfetai mesonAktion D% dAsin 6rkto% |
\VrAvna kat aDtan, f d dmfaAnei mAgan rmon). Gow construed the
specics about Orion to refer to the relatively narrow time period in
which the only star in the constellation visible was Betelgeuse (high up
in the shoulder), which set at midnight in mid-February and rose at
midnight in late August in 300 b.c.e.
He preferred the February date
because when Orion rose, more than a shoulder would have become
By Gows reckoning, Heracles birth date would have fallen in
late April, a circumstance that led him to link the performance of the
Heracliscus with the celebration of the coronation of Philadelphus as
coregent in Dystros in 285 b.c.e., since Dystros in that year was
thought to have fallen in April. Ludwig Koenens recalculation of the
Ptolemiac calender places Dystros of the year in question not in April
but in the previous December,
though in an appendix to his edition of
the inscription in which the relevant information occurs, he too main-
tained that the Heracliscus was performed during the celebration of the
Basileia and Genethlia in 285/4,
suggesting that the August date for
the astronomical indicators might be a better possibility. There is an-
126 Theocritean Regencies
16. Mnemosyne series 4, 30 (1977) 139 and 1979: 19. On Aratus, see Kidd 1997,
38284. Gow also notes this parallel, though he does not explore its implications for dat-
ing the poem.
17. We saw in chapter 2 that Calypsos island was called \VgygAh ti% npso% (Odyssey
5.244) and noted the relevance of the primeval island to the birth of the young god. It
may not be fanciful to see in Theocrituss allusion to this passage of the Odyssey a similar
recollection of Horus on the island, for it is there that the baby is attacked by serpents.
Further, Theocrituss insistence on Orion and the Bear has resonance in Egyptian astron-
omy, where they are identied respectively as Osiris and Seth (see Te Velde 1967, 86; also
Seldens discussion of that section of the night sky in connection with the transported lock
of Berenice [1998, 344]).
18. Pindar mentions it in Nemean 1.7071.
other option, however. In her 1979 commentary on the poem, H.
White, independent of Koenen and without trying to connect composi-
tion to a specic occasion, nonetheless argued on the basis of literary
parallels that Theocrituss phrase referred to the time during which the
Bear set at midnight opposite a rising Orion. White linked Odyssey 5.
27274 ([Odysseus] kept his eye on the Pleiades and late-setting
Botes, and the Bear whom men call the Wagon, who turns about and
looks at Orion, strAfetai kaA t \VrAvna dokeAei) to Aratus,
Phaenomena 58188. Aratus locates the midnight setting of Botes
precisely at the time when Orion rises, a phenomenon scholars agree
occurs between the end of September and the end of October.
Odyssey passage may also be thematically relevant: Odysseus has just
begun his journey away from Calypsos island in a small raft when he is
attacked by the malevolence of Poseidon. The infant Heracles, who has
been put to bed in his fathers shield is about to be attacked by malevo-
lence of Hera. However, Theocritus inverts the passage: while Odysseus
cries out in fear a wish to have died at Troy (3056), the doughty infant
laughs and easily dispatches his tormenters (5658). Theocrituss echo
of the astronomical description (strAfetai . . . \VrAvna) would seem
prima facie to indicate that the events of Heracliscus took place at the
same time of year as Odysseuss departure from Calypsos island.
a late September-early October dating, Heracles birth date would in-
deed fall in the last half of December, and Gows original inference
about the poem can stand. It is possible to object to such an early dat-
ing by pointing to Heracles marriage to Hebe (84). But the inclusion of
this detail from Heracles biography does not necessarily require the
poem to have been written after the marriage of Philadelphus to his sis-
ter, Arsinoe II, which occurred between 279 and 274 b.c.e. The mar-
riage, after all, was a very familiar part of Heracles mythology,
Theocritean Regencies 127
19. Clauss (1986, 180 n. 15) also notes this possibility, and Cameron (1995, 58) fol-
lows him.
20. In Idyll 17, however, Theocritus does treat Ptolemy IIs birth on Cos (5665).
since Hebe and Heracles were only half siblings, the parallel would not
have been particularly apt. More likely the marriage to Hebe functions
not as a topical reference but to reinforce Heracles newly acquired sta-
tus of divinity by demonstrating that he succeeded even in marrying
into Olympuss most distinguished family.
In the preceding chapter I set out arguments that Callimachuss
Hymn to Zeus was also a birthday poem for Philadelphus, written at
the time of his ascension to the coregency. Though absolute corrobora-
tion is lacking, on balance, the likelihood of Theocrituss and Calli-
machuss poems being contemporary is very high,
and they provide us
with a unique opportunity to examine the contrasting ways in which
the two poets attempt to construct images of kingship at the beginning
of Philadelphuss reign and to position themselves vis--vis their poetry
within the new court. There are a number of similarities between the
two poems that make them suitable for the inception of Philadelphuss
reign: (1) both select for their topic the precocity of the newborn hero
or godthough Callimachus does this more than once, Theocritus does
so only with this poem;
(2) the infancy is coupled with a miraculous
event that can be linked to Egyptthe prodigious killing of snakes, the
coming of water to an arid land; (3) the child is threatened by divine
hostility, which is muted (in Callimachus) or easily overcome (in The-
ocritus); (4) the mother is more prominent than the father; (5) the
adulthood of their subjects is all but ignoredthe labors of the adult
Heracles are conned to Teiresiass prophecy, and the deeds of the adult
Zeus are only hinted at in the link drawn between thought and accom-
plishment; (6) both babies are predicted to achieve greatness; and (7)
both poems play with a set of Egyptian themes that are particularly rel-
evant to kingship, as we shall see below. There are also substantial di-
vergences, the most signicant of which is that Callimachus chooses a
divine model, Zeus, and appropriates the language of Hesiod and
theogonic writing; Theocritus, on the other hand, chooses a heroic
model, Heracles, and works within the framework of an earlier Greek
hymnic tradition. This is a consistent pattern throughout their writings:
Callimachus looks to the OlympiansZeus and Apolloto construct
his paradigms of the imperial court, while Theocritus favors the second
128 Theocritean Regencies
21. See Fantuzzi 2001b.
22. See, for example, Halperins detailed discussion (1983, 16183). This feature of
Theocrituss poetry has been discussed by a number of critics; see Hunter 1996a, 27 n.
105, for a recent bibliography.
rank of divinities, those with immortal fathers (Zeus) but human moth-
ersHeracles in particular, but also Polydeuces, Helen, and Dionysus.
This is not a mark of restraint or a decorous avoidance of the excesses
of attery on Theocrituss part; rather, the selection of a different
mythological model carries both generic and narrative implications,
which I will explore in the rest of the chapter.
The poem opens with a gesture in the direction of the hymn by nam-
ing its subjectHeraclesbut the usual hymnic posturings about pre-
cisely how to treat the subject are absent. Instead Theocritus creates a
vivid scene of maternal domesticity:
\HraklAa dekamhnon Danta pox c Midepti%
\Alkmana kaB nyktB neateron \Ifiklpa,
dmfotAroy% loAsasa kaB Dmplasasa galakto%,
xalkeAan katAuhken D% dspAda, tbn Pterelaoy
\AmfitrAvn kalbn eplon dpeskAleyse pesanto%.
Once upon a time when Heracles was ten months old, the Midean lady,
Alcmena, bathed him with Iphicles, who was younger by a night, gave
them both their ll of milk and laid them down in a bronze shield, the
fair implement that Amphitryon stripped from Pterelaus when he fell in
battle. (15)
Domesticating elements from heroic poetry is standard operating pro-
cedure for Theocritusone might compare the cup (kissybion) in the
rst Idyll.
But the shield is more than a humorous domesticating
touch; detailing the circumstances of its acquisition must be meant to
recall Heracles conception. It was while Amphitryon, Alcmenas hus-
band, was beseiging Pterelauss city that Zeus lay with her and begot
Heracles. He did this by assuming the appearance of her husband. In
Greek myth, the assumption of the appearance of a human male is just
one of the many transformations Zeus uses to gain access to human fe-
males. Such a physical alteration is analogous to appearing as a shower
of gold, the method Zeus chose to reach Danae, the mother of Perseus,
or as a swan, the form he chose to inseminate Leda, the mother of
Helen and the Dioscuri. But unlike many of Zeuss other metamor-
phoses this one preserves the virtue of the lady in question from even a
hint of improprietyin her union with Zeus she was unsuspecting, be-
Theocritean Regencies 129
23. See, for instance, Zanker 1987, 18081.
24. Fr. 285 Herscher. A number of scholars have noted the connection: e.g., Gow 2:
416 n. 4; Koenen 1993, 4445; Weber 1993, 311 and n. 3; Hunter 1996a, 27.
25. The anecdote may be connected with the report in Pausanius (1.6.2) and Curtius
(9.8.22) that Soter was really the son of Philip II, though this is generally taken to be of a
later date. See Herz 1992, 7273, for details. The story as it stands implies no more than
signal divine favor for Soter.
26. See Koenen 1983, 16364.
having as a proper wife in accommodating her lawful spouse. While the
ruse allows the mother of one of Ptolemys ancestors her unblemished
virtueand the virtue of the Ptolemies women is a theme in Idyll 17
it does create a certain ambiguity about Heracles actual paternity,
upon which the poem capitalizes. In a number of ways it corresponds
to the ambiguity about the birthplace of Zeus exploited by Calli-
machus. If Callimachus expressed doubt whether his Zeus was Arca-
dian or Cretan, or by extension, as I have suggested, whether he is to be
gured as a Greek or an Egyptian monarch, Theocrituss recollection of
the circumstances of Heracles conception produced the same effect.
In terms of Greek myth, the story allows the Ptolemies, who claim
descent from Heracles, at least one divine ancestor,
and it is possible
that Theocritus chose this particular imagethe child in the shieldto
implicitly remind his audience of Ptolemy I. The following anecdote is
preserved in the Suda and attributed to Aelian;
[Lagus] married Arsinoe, the mother of Ptolemy Soter. And being unre-
lated to him (oDdBn oQ prosakonta), Lagus then exposed this Ptolemy in
a bronze shield (DjAuhken Dp dspAdo% xalkp%). And a tale comes from
Macedon that says an eagle came near and extended its wings and rose
up to protect him from the direct rays of the sun and the downpour when
it rained. And besides, it put to ight ordinary birds, but rent asunder
quails and fed the blood to him as milk.
If this image stands behind the opening of the Heracliscus, by retroject-
ing it into the past, Theocritus constructs family history as a series of
repeating events: Soter exposed in the shield is now repeating the be-
havior of his divine ancestor, just as in the Ptolemy, the language of
aDxmhtb PtolemaPe, | aDxmhtu PtolemaAi (5657) for father and son
conveys an unbroken chain from one generation to another.
tional sameness is a signicant feature of pharaonic succession,
and it
is possible that Theocritus may be alluding to that aspect of Ptolemaic
kingship in the opening of the Heracliscus and in the Ptolemy. In any
case, the ambiguity over Heracles fathering provides another doublet
130 Theocritean Regencies
27. See W. Burkert, Demaratos, Astrabakos und Herakles: Knigsmythos und Poli-
tik zur Zeit der Perserkriege (Herodot 6, 6769), MH 22 (1965) 16869, esp. nn. 57
and 24; Burkert 1979, 8283; and West 1997, 45859. In addition, Burkert points to the
fact that the pharaoh was traditionally connected with Egyptian Thebes, while Heracles
was born in Greek Thebes. West links the story that Heracles was suckled by Hera (which
is not present in Theocrituss poem) to Egyptian reliefs [that] show the royal child being
suckled by a goddess (1979, 459). Although West rarely draws parallels between Greek
and Egyptian material in his East Face of Helicon, he does so most extensively in his dis-
cussion of Heracles (pp. 54872).
of sortsAlexander. His competing paternitiesZeus Ammon (on the
divine level), Philip II (on the human)correlated to historical circum-
stance in which Alexander as king of both Greeks and Egyptians was
required to operate on two different ideological levels. As a Macedon-
ian Greek he was a human king and a participant in Greek culture, but
as an Egyptian pharaoh he was required to be a god.
This double vision extends also to Heracles. Alcmenas divine in-
semination has a very particular analogue in Egyptian myth. The
theogamy, or union of the god with the wife of the pharaoh, in the
guise of her husband, was a staple of royal ideology, and we saw ear-
lier how it was Hellenized in the Alexander Romance. The parallel
with the Heracles story is probably not coincidental. Walter Burkert,
and M. L. West following him, argues that the two stories are actively
interconnected and that the Egyptian birth myth was attached to the
Greek Heracles in the course of the growth of his legend (not that The-
ocritus would have known this).
Whatever the merit of Burkerts or
Wests observations, it is obvious that they were stimulated by the
structural parallels between the two stories, parallels that were equally
available to the Ptolemies and Theocritus and must have been a salient
factor in the selection of Heracles as an ancestor for the royal house.
On some levels, Heracles was a far more obvious mythological model
for kings intending to rule both Greeks and Egyptians than Calli-
machuss Zeus, because the idea of a Greek as well as a Near Eastern
or Egyptian Heracles was a staple in Greek writing about these regions
(Egypt, Libya, and Phoenicia) by the fourth century. Even a century
earlier Herodotus elaborates upon the idea of two Heracleses in his
Egypt book, telling us:
I heard this story about Heracles, namely, that he was one of the twelve
[Egyptian] gods. . . . It was not the Egyptians who took the name Hera-
cles from Greeks. But rather the Greeks took it from the Egyptians
Theocritean Regencies 131
28. 2.43.12; presumably because they were both descended from Perseus (who was
descended from Danaus), whom Herodotus regards as Egyptian (2.91). See Lloyd 1976,
29. See Lloyd 1976, 20512.
30. 2.44.5.
31. A. F. Laurens, LIMC 3 (1986) s.v. Bousiris, 14752 and illustrations, particularly
nos. 11, 19, 23, and 28. What relationship if any the Idalian cup with a pharaonic gure
in its center and Heracles (?) in the frieze has to the gure of Busiris is unclear. See Jour-
dain-Annequin 1992.
32. See Burkert 1979, 8385; M. Davies, Stesichorus Geryoneis and Its Folk-Tale
Origins, CQ 38.2 (1988) 27780; and now West 1997, 46364.
those Greeks I mean who gave the name to the son of Amphitryon. There
is much evidence to prove the truth of this, especially that both the par-
ents of HeraclesAmphitryon and Alcmenewere of Egyptian origin.
Herodotus further concludes that the Egyptian Heracles was to be
equated with a Tyrian deity, who in turn was identied with the Phoeni-
cian god Melqart.
He also marks out a unique characteristic of Hera-
cles persona that permitted some exibility in the way he might be con-
ceptualized. He could be regarded as a divinity, a demigod, or a hero:
The result of these researches make it quite clear that Heracles is a very
ancient divinity; and I think that the most correct approach is taken by
those Greeks who maintain a double cult of this deity, in one of which
they worship him as divine and called Olympian, and in the other they
honor him as a hero.
Nor are Heracles Near Eastern connections conned to historical
writing. Heracles killing the Egyptian king Busiris, who regularly sacri-
ced strangers, was a popular theme in fth-century vase painting. In
many renditions of the myth, Heracles is depicted in poses that seem to
imitate or appropriate pharaonic behavior: on the Caeretian hydra, for
example, Heracles tramples Busiriss slaves underfoot, and on a
number of other vases he strides forward and wields an Egyptian like a
club, as if smiting the foe.
In another Greek myth, Heracles crosses
the sea in a golden bowl borrowed from the sun-god Helios to journey
to the far west in search of the cattle of Geryon. The folkloric elements
of this tale are well documented, and more than one scholar has
pointed out the similarity of Heracles behavior to Egyptian myth.
Egyptian sun-god, Re, nightly in his sun bark, accompanied by the
souls of the dead (called the cattle of Re), traveled from west to east
132 Theocritean Regencies
33. P. Brize, Die Geryoneis des Stesichoros und die frhe griechische Kunst, Beitrge
zur Archologie 12 (Wrzburg, 1980) 5152, and for a list of illustrations, pp. 14546.
34. See, for example, Hunter 1996a, 15051.
35. Halperin 1983, 7980.
36. See Woodford 1983, 12129.
along the circuit of Ocean to rise again in the morning sky. Heracles in
the bowl was a popular subject for vase painters in the fth century,
and the story received full-scale treatment in Stesichoruss lyric poem
Geryoneis. Theocritus, who was a fellow Sicilian, seems actively to
have been inuenced by Stesichorus in a number of places, in his use of
Doric dialect and the palinode on Helen,
and possibly in the construc-
tion of Daphnis in Idyll 1.
Thus Heracles lying in the rocking shield at
the beginning of his career of killing monsters, snaky or otherwise, may
have been intended to recall a labor from the end of the career of the
adult Heracles, who rests in another unconventional object. Within this
context of an already complex cross-fertilization or cultural contami-
nation, Heracles with his Greek as well his Near Eastern heritage was
an ideal ancestor for the Ptolemies and would have provided Theocritus
an opportunity to exploit multiple elements already present in narra-
tives about Heracles and in his iconography. Even an obvious draw-
back to Heracles as a king gurethe fact that he consistently operated
on the margins of the civilized worldas we will see shortly, had al-
ready been refashioned by Hecataeus of Abdera to t into a Greco-
Egyptian model of idealized kingship.
Throttling Snakes
The Heracliscus continues with a description of the nocturnal attack of
the snakes and Heracles dispatching of them (1133). The narrative
closely follows Pindar, though Theocrituss account is considerably
more elaborate in its detail. The Greek audience would already have
been familiar with the image of Heracles grappling with the snakes, at
least in a general way,
but Theocritus imbues it with a concreteness
and specicity of detail that runs slightly counter to usual representa-
tions. The children rest peacefully in their unorthodox cradle, lulled to
sleep by a doting mother:
cptomAna dB gynb kefalp% myuasato paAdvn
\eEdet, Dmb brAfea, glykerbn kaB DgArsimon Epnon
eEdet, Dmb cyxa, dA ddelfeoA, AGsoa tAkna
Theocritean Regencies 133
37. PMG 543.2122. See Gutzwiller 1981, 11; Hunter 1996a, 2627.
38. AR 4.151317.
39. PMG 543.2122. Lloyd (1969, 7986) makes a strong case for it being Horus.
See above, chapter 1.
glbioi eDnazoisue kaB glbioi dp Ekoisue.
10 f% famAna dAnhse sako% mAga toB% d Elen Epno%.
Touching the boys heads, the woman soothed them: Sleep, my children,
a sweet sleep from which you awake; sleep safe, children, two brothers,
my souls, may your rest be blest, and blest may you come to the dawn.
Speaking in this way, she rocked the great shield. And sleep overtook
them. (610)
Previous scholars have noted the verbal and contextual similarities
between the opening of the Heracliscus and a fragment of Simonides in
which Danae sings a lullaby to her infant son, Perseus, as they oat
upon the sea, locked up in a chest: eQde brAfo%, eCdAtv dB panto%, eC-
dAtv d gmetron kakan (Sleep, baby, sleep; may the sea sleep; may my
measureless evil sleep).
The Simonidean intertext introduces Perseus,
who, as a descendant of Danaus and an ancestor of Heracles, forms a
link in the chain that joins Greece to Egypt by blood. Within the Greek
tradition Perseus had a long association with Libya and Ethiopia as a
slayer of the snake-haired Gorgon and the sea monster who attacked
Andromeda. His passage over Libya with the Gorgon head, dripping
gore, was the source of the poisonous serpents in that region.
Perseus is not merely a forefather, but a model for his descendants signal
exploits. Moreover, according to Herodotus (2.91), Egyptians in
Achmim venerated Perseus and celebrated games in his honor, and while
the details do not permit certainty, on balance he seems to have been
identied with Horus.
Perseus, therefore, provides the Ptolemies with a
Greco-Egyptian pedigree parallel to that which Nectanebo provided for
Alexander in the Alexander Romance, but constructed entirely within
the framework of Greek myth. The Ptolemies, by virtue of their descent
from Heracles and Perseus, were already Egyptian, and these solidly
Greek ancestors (seemingly) were already revered in Egyptian cult.
Heracles infant exploit is well suited for this parallel universe. After
Alcmena has tucked her children into their shield-cradle two monstrous
(pAlvra) snakes, spitting poisonous venom (barBn d DjAptyon Dan)
and undulating on their rippling coils, (frAssonta% Cpb speAraisi),
enter the room (1319). Iphicles cowers in terror, but Heracles grips
134 Theocritean Regencies
40. The cippi are so common that Egyptologists refer to them as Horus on the
41. Ritner 1989, 106.
42. Woodford (1983, 128) raises the possibility that the motif of Heracles throttling
the snakes in Greek art and literature was inspired by gurines of Egyptian dwarf-gods
collectively known under the name of Bes [that] were widely diffused and in some of
their modications might provide just the sort of image that was necessary. Ritner
(1989, 105) points out that the earlier iconography [of Bes] was the inspiration for the
posture of Horus on the cippus. In other words, these Egyptian statues of Bes throttling
snakes might have been the ancestor of both the Egyptian cippus of Horus and the Greek
representations of the infant Heracles (see plates 3 and 4).
them by their throats in his bare hands (2829). Indeed, he still holds
them in this fashion when Amphitryon appears, and he proudly dis-
plays the now dead creatures to his father (5657: f d D patAr
\AmfitrAvna | Crpetb deikanaasken) and lays them at his fathers
feet. As we saw in the previous chapter, the rather rare word Crpeta oc-
curs in the Hymn to Zeus, whereI have arguedit alludes to Seths
attempt to kill the newborn Horus by sending snakes and poisonous in-
sects to bite him. In this passage, Theocritus creates a scene that resem-
bles in many ways the attack on the infant god, and chooses to describe
the snakes with the same wordone that has a semantic and allusive
eld that includes Typhoeus (Pindar Pythian 1.25) as well as poisonous
creatures that creep.
In order to protect against this threat of snakebite (an all-too-com-
mon phenomenon in Egypt) Egyptians routinely employed an
apotropaic plaque (now called a cippus; see plate 3). On it the child-
god, Horus, is represented standing on a crocodile and holding scorpi-
ons and snakes in each hand as he faces front.
The cippi reached all
levels of society: they might be large enough to erect as freestanding ste-
lae or small enough to carry or wear in order to ward off danger. They
were erected in temple complexes as well as in private gardens (rather
like the Greek herm). Cippi rst appeared in the New Kingdom but
were extremely popular in the Ptolemaic period; they have been found
exported throughout the Mediterranean from Iraq to Rome,
and in
Alexandria these amulets were probably as familiar to the Greeks resi-
dent there as coins or vases on which the scene of Heracles grappling
with the snakes was represented.
Further, they came with an inscribed
narrative that detailed Horuss magic revival from poisonous
snakebites. Ritual use required some part of the cippus to be submerged
in or come in contact with water, thereby being suffused with its magic
healing properties. Thus even those who could not read the inscription
Theocritean Regencies 135
43. Ritner 1989, 105.
44. Gow 2: 420 nn. 2829.
45. See plates in Woodford 1983.
were likely to have been familiar with the story of Horuss recovery,
since it is a vital element in the ritual use of the charm. I suggest that
Theocritus may have constructed the opening scene of the Heracliscus
to allow his audience to see double by deliberately relating a familiar
Greek story to provoke (if eetingly) recollection of this familiar Egypt-
ian icon and the story that underpins it. Elements suggestive of the con-
text of the icon include the following: (1) when Alcmena sings a lullaby
to her children, she expresses a wish for their safety in the night with
two rare words, DgArsimon (a sleep from which one will wake) and
eGsoa (be safe), both of which suit an amuletic context; (2) the state-
ment that he gripped them by the throat where the dread venom of
dire snakes reside, which is hateful even to the gods (2830) resembles
the narrative that accompanies the cippus where, according to the tra-
dition, Horus throttles the potentially destructive creatures to seal
their mouths; against biting;
(3) the hostility of the gods to the ser-
pents and their venom, for which Gow can nd no parallels,
sense in Egyptian myth, particularly for Isis and her sister, since serpents
actually attack the infant god, and in a more general sense can represent
the forces of chaos; (4) Theocritus makes much of Heracles presenting
the dead snakes to Amphitryon (which is not in Pindar), and this resem-
bles the scene of the cippi in which the gure is facing front and holding
out snakes and scorpions, more than the Greek, in which the child is
regularly shown entwined with the snakes, rather like Laocon.
To sum up: many elements in this opening vignette, beginning with the
subject himself, are capable of being understood within two different
mythologies, and for an audience that de facto inhabited two cultural
spacesGreek and Egyptianthe intertextual matrix would have in-
cluded the visual as well as the written. Reading the opening against
Pindars treatment of the same story, which certainly does not lend itself
to the double vision that I have been suggesting for Theocritus, we nd
slight variations in Theocrituss version that provisionally allow at least
four potential intertexts, any one of which could have evoked an Egypt-
ian context. The most obvious is the mention of Amphritryons shield,
which foregrounds Heracles paternity, but there is also the hymn of Si-
monides, which suggests Perseus, the linguistic overlap with Calli-
136 Theocritean Regencies
machus (Crpeta, and the similarity between Heracles in the shield and
Heracles in the golden bowl of the sun. Additionally, there is the visual
similarity of the Horus cippus to the baby Heracles throttling snakes.
At this stage, however, it is well to be cautiouswe may be seeing
double or merely a mirage. We must look at subsequent elements of the
poem to clarify our vision.
If Theocritus, like Callimachus in the Zeus hymn, constructs his open-
ing to reect both Greek and Egyptian mythologies, his approach dif-
fers. Unlike Callimachus, who only occasionally inserts the human
king in his hymns to the gods, Theocrituss narrative operates on two
planesthe divine and human. The divine events, marked by the phe-
nomenon of light at midnight, test the child Heracles, demonstrate his
divinity, and foreshadow his future labors. In contrast to these events
are the domesticity of the marital bedchamber, Almenas maternal con-
cern, and Amphitryons (misplaced?) paternal pride. Within this scene
Amphitryon is presented as a standard epic herohis shield, obtained
during a city sack; his sword, with its ornate scabbard, hung above the
bed. His character and heroic activity are pointedly otiose; he begins
the scene with a vain attempt at epic valor and ends it as a weary par-
ent tucking in his baby son. It is not just that the heros shield has been
coopted for domestic duty; the hero himself and the values he repre-
sents in both social and literary terms are rendered marginal or irrele-
vant. Amphitryons heroic shield with its Homeric sidebar detailing its
acquisition serves as a reminder of his cuckolding. Neither his sword-
play nor his heroic assistance is useful in dispatching the snakes; his in-
fant son has already accomplished that deed by the time he enters the
scene. Further, the supernatural light, which confers heroic status by
marking the presence of the divine among specially chosen mortals, is
extinguished as Amphitryon enters his sons presence; and he must call
out to servants to furnish some natural illumination. In the Odyssey, in
contrast, Athena lights the chamber for Odysseus and Telemachus
(19.37). Although Demeters revelation of herself in the Homeric Hymn
to Demeter (189, 280) is not benign, she is visible in her divinity to the
heroic queen Metaneira. In a similar way, Zeus apparently furnishes a
light to reveal the presence of Heras instruments of divine destruction,
but far from manifesting the heroic proportion of her power and wrath,
as it does with Demeter, it only illuminates her feebleness as Heracles in
childish glee exhibits the snakes as if they were new toys. In the poem,
epic events and epic values are not so much transformed into the mun-
Theocritean Regencies 137
46. 2: 43031.
47. 2: 430 ad 91: The treatment prescribed resembled that meted out (according to
Tzetz. Chil. 5.735) to farmakoA. A good guess, though the accuracy of Tzetzes knowl-
edge of earlier Greek cult practice is open to question.
dane as they are submerged or obviated. Theocritus clears the deck, as
it were, for new modes of action as Heracles, along with his loving par-
ents, is reconstructed as the prototype for royal behavior in the Hel-
lenistic age.
After Heracles feat, Alcmena summons the prophet Teiresias, who
reveals the future and prescribes a course of purication for the pres-
ent. In Pindar the prophets relatively brief remarks (ten lines) focus on
Heracles labors, the most signicant of which is his participation with
the gods in their battle against the Giants (6869) and who shall win
calm for his mighty labors to reside in the halls of the blessed with
Hebe for a bride (7071). In contrast, Theocrituss Teiresias rst praises
Alcmena and prophesies her fame as mother of Heracles (7378) and
then briey mentions Heracles twelve labors, his death and funeral
pyre at Trachis, his fate to be called the son of the immortals, and his
marriage on Olympus (7985). He concludes with a long instruction
(88100) about disposing of the snakes (8896), purging the house,
and performing appropriate sacrices (9699) so that you may always
be conquerors of your enemies (100: dysmenAvn aDeB kauypArteroi
c% telAuoite). The details that Theocritus chooses to emphasize in this
section can be related to contemporary circumstance. The foreground-
ing of Alcmena in summoning the prophet and in her sons subsequent
education suggests a complimentary allusion to Berenice, the mother of
Philadelphus. If the poem was composed around the time of Philadel-
phuss ascension to the throne, the stress on Alcmena, as well as the ref-
erence to Heracles as late-born (dcAgonon, 31), is tting for the cir-
cumstances of Philadelphuss succession. Berenice was Soters second
wife, and it is a fair assumption that her force of character was instru-
mental in Philadelphus becoming his fathers heir, since Philadelphus
was younger than the sons of Soter and Eurydice.
The detailed puricatory rites are less easy to explain in Greek
terms. Fumigation and the sacrice of a piglet to Zeus are familiar
enough in Greek practice, as Gows parallels demonstrate,
but The-
ocritus includes an elaborate burning ritual for the dead snakes and
connects the whole to being conquerors of the enemy. The snakes
must then function as stand-ins or ritual substitutes for the enemy.
138 Theocritean Regencies
48. Fr. 86 Waddell = DIO 73. For the ritual burning of the enemy or symbolic surro-
gates, see Ritner 1993, 15758, 20810, esp. 210, where Ritner discusses the burning of
a wax gure of Seth on a re of bryony.
49. See the discussion in Ritner 1993, 14748, with bibliography; and Vasunia 2001,
50. 1977, 66 and n. 135. See also his discussion in 1993, 4850.
51. Burstein 1991, 14244. For pharaonic titulature of the Ptolemies and a discus-
sion of the meaning of the title in Ptolemaic texts, see Beckerath 1999, 23447.
have seen above that in Egyptian mythology snakes were associated
with Seth/Typhon, the divine enemy of the god-king, Horus, and that
throttling the snakes took on complex symbolismkilling snakes was
simultaneously to defeat the forces of chaos, personied by Seth, and to
demonstrate ones right to rule. We have also seen that conquering the
enemy was, in Egyptian terms, a ritual equivalent of defeating the
forces of chaos, and that the pharaoh (and only the pharaoh) was con-
sistently portrayed enacting this event, and to do so was both to mani-
fest his royal status and to mark his legitimacy as a ruler who works to
maintain the moral order (or maat). Manetho provides us with a good
parallel for the behavior prescribed by Teiresias, claiming that Egyp-
tians used to burn men alive in Eileithyiaspolis (El Kab), calling them
Typhonians, and they scattered and winnowed their ashes until
they disappeared.
Of course, scholars dispute whether Egyptians
were actually performing human sacrice,
but the accuracy of the
statement is not important; what is signicant is that a near contempo-
rary writing about Egyptian customs and located within Alexandrian
court circles had describedin Greeka sacricial rite in which Seth
surrogates were burned and their ashes scattered. The likelihood that
Theocritus is inserting Heracles and his descendants into a pharaonic
space is increased by the next lines.
As Koenen has pointed out, Theocrituss expression at line 100
dysmenAvn . . . kauypArteroibears a close resemblance to the phrase
employed on the Rosetta stone to render in Greek the third of the ve
traditional names of the pharaohdntipalvn CpArtero%.
Four of
the ve names were assigned when the new pharaoh ascended the
throne and were employed by the Ptolemies in ofcial decrees, whether
or not they were actually crowned as pharaoh.
This third name was
called in Egyptian Hr nbw or Golden Horus in the Dynastic period,
but apparently in the Ptolemiac period it was reinterpreted to refer to
the age-old victory of Horus over Seth, and the symbols used in writing
the title, a falcon standing upon a golden collar, were taken to mean
Theocritean Regencies 139
52. Thissen (1966, 33) renders the hieroglyphic as meaning Hr nbtj in the Ptolemaic
period and translates as der zu Nb ( = Ombos) gehrige, in place of the traditional Hr
53. Koenen 1993, 4850, and n. 56 with bibliography. See Ritner 1993, 132, with
the extended discussion of trampling the foe. Selden (1998, 387) notes the Ptolemies
continuous identication with Horus. He observes that the term his majesty in hiero-
glyphics is written as an upright club placed beside Horus the Falcon sitting on his
54. G. Zanker (1989, 98 n. 89) objects that even if the phrase dysmenAvn . . . kauy-
pArteroi at Id. 24.100 reminded Philadelphus contemporaries of his Hornub title,
dntipalvn CpArtero% . . . we are still not obliged to postulate . . . an Egyptian reference
behind Teiresias words. If the name in question were entirely irrelevant to the events in
the rest of Teiresiass prophecy, the argument would be cogent, but since the phrase comes
as a necessary consequence of a series of acts that form a coherent pattern in Egyptian
terms as the reenactment of triumphing over foes, while in Greek they appear to be ritu-
als elaborated for no particular purpose beyond the adding of realistic detail, his argu-
ment is substantially weakened.
55. Koenen (1983, 180) would see in the burning of the Gauls an allusion to this
practice of the burning of Typhonians. If correct, it suggests that what was represented in
the mythological realm in the Heracliscus is treated historically in the later poem of Cal-
56. See above, chapter 1.
57. West 1966, 33738.
Horus on top of the Ombite ( = a title of Seth).
Thus dntipalvn
CpArtero% renders the idea that is visually implicit in the hieroglyphic
representation of the Horus of Gold name and is, in effect, a verbal
equivalent of the ubiquitous representation of the pharaoh who domi-
nates his enemy by trampling him underfoot or smiting him with a
In the Hymn to Delos Callimachus applies the same term, dys-
menAvn, to the Gaulish mercenaries, who, as we have already found, are
functioning as hereditary enemies, or Seth-surrogatesthat is, as pro-
totypical foes to be destroyed.
Moreover, Callimachuss description of the Gauls collapses the
temporal framework: in Apollos prophecy of the future the foe are
imagined as both menacing and already captive. Lines 18182But
already they might behold by the temple the ranks of the foe (dll
gdh parb nhbn dpaygazointo falagga% | dysmenAvn)conjure up
not only the enemy as they advance, but the ranks of the defeated
enemy as they would be traditionally represented along the temple
walls after the victory.
Further, the unusual expression phlaganvn
Dlatpra in the Hymn to Zeus (2) may be conceptually related to dys-
menAvn kauypArteroi and dntipalvn CpArtero%. Mud-born is a
virtual equivalent of ghgeneP%, a term that is often applied to Typhon,
as well as to the Giants, who occupy the same symbolic space in
Greek myth
as Seth does in Egyptian cosmology,
while Dlatar can
140 Theocritean Regencies
58. See H. C. Youtie, Callimachus in the Tax-Rolls, in Scriptiunculae (Amsterdam,
1973) 2: 103941.
59. The similarities have been noticed by White (1979, 40) and Gutzwiller (1981,16)
and elaborated by Hunter (1996a, 10).
mean striker as well as driver away. Hence Callimachuss phrase
could well have been intended to render the Egyptian expression
smiter of the foe, or the equivalent of on top of the foe. The con-
junction of these expressions raises a question: although the rst sur-
viving appearance of the phrase dntipalvn CpArtero% dates from
Philopator, the Ptolemies are using the pharaonic titulary from a
much earlier period. Are the poets in these early poems merely reect-
ing Greek linguistic protocols for Egyptian concepts that had already
been put into place, or were they actively interpreting Egyptian im-
ages and imputing meanings to them, as Horapollo did in a later pe-
riod? Were they experimenting with the language of imperial self-
presentation that later came to be preferred in ofcial writing?
Scholars normally separate the world of the court and its literary pro-
duction from that of higher administration, particularly under
Philadelphus, if not Soter, but it seems to me that this is open to de-
bate. The world of those capable of reading Greek in Alexandria and
its environs would have been very small, especially in this early period
(ca. 284282 b.c.e.), and a sizable segment of it would have been the
administrative class. Such men would have provided an obvious audi-
ence for the court poets as their works came to circulate in written
form. Certainly, the famous example from a later period of the Greco-
Egyptian who not only read Callimachus but employed his rare word
for mousetrap in a tax return, thus creating a bogus entry (rather
like a modern employee of the IRS entering Mouse, Mickey), should
alert us to the possibility that poetic image making may not have been
an activity entirely divorced from practical consequence.
Although Theocritus follows Pindars narrative of the attack of the
snakes and its aftermath, where he does diverge he seems to depend on
an episode in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter.
Demophon, like Hera-
cles, is the late-born (dcAgono%, 165, 219) child. When Demeter is in
the process of making the infant Demophon immortal by burying him
like a brand in banked hearth res, she is interrupted at midnight by the
babys (justiably) hysterical mother, Metaneira. Demeter in her anger
rejects the child and announces what her intentions had been had the
mothers interruption now not condemned him to mere human exis-
Theocritean Regencies 141
60. See Foley 1994, 51, 19197.
tence. She reveals herself in her divinity, lling the room with light, then
abandons the halls. Demophons sisters, upon hearing the commotion,
enter the now darkened room, pick up the child up and console him,
light a re, and rouse their mother. At dawn the men are informed of
the events (24295). Alcmena and Amphitryon with their servants be-
have like the sisters of the hymn: they arrive too late to affect events
and can only tidy up the domestic space. While Demeter instructs
Metaneira to build a temple in expiation, in the Heracliscus it is for
Teiresias to clarify the will of the gods. This divergence serves to convey
a sense of human helplessness and confusion at the workings of the di-
vine order. Just as Demophons failure to become immortal empha-
sizes the vast division between human and divine and, in terms of the
hymn, accounts for the need for the institution of the Eleusinian mys-
Theocrituss evocation of the Demeter hymn in his own narra-
tive displaces Heracles potentially divine parentage and foregrounds
his humanity, requiring us to locate the immortality he attains as some-
thing distinctly other than that which the gods possess. This is rein-
forced by the specic terms of Teiresiass prophecy:
dadeka oC telAsanti peprvmAnon Dn Dib% oDkePn
maxuoy%, unhtb dB panta pyrb TraxAnio% Ejei
Twelve labors will be accomplished by him, fated to dwell in the house of
Zeus, but a funeral pyre at Trachis will have all that is mortal. (8283)
Unlike real gods, Heracles must die, and, in whatever fashion he enters
the house of Zeus, it is only after the death and dissolution of his phys-
ical body. This insistence on humanity in a context that includes allu-
sions to an Egyptian mythology of divine kingship is doubly pointed:
Heracles is not only subject to the laws of nature within the framework
of Greek models; we are also reminded of the reality that lies not very
far beneath the surface of the Egyptian ideologythe pharaoh, too, for
all the identication and interaction with the divine pantheon, is subject
to death, and the myth of divine birth carries no protection against the
forces of nature. Indeed, the elaborate process of tomb building that
commenced with each new pharaoh must have been a constant re-
minder of the mortal dimension of every divine king and a further
demonstration of the dualism of Egyptian thought.
The Hymn to Demeter provided an aition for the establishment of
142 Theocritean Regencies
61. Foley 1994, 49, 51, 68 n. 11.
62. 1977, 8182. Koenen also connects the pig with Seth. (p. 83 and n. 174). In sup-
port of his thesis, see Te Velde (1967, 22, 47), who points out that Seth is often repre-
sented as a black pig. See also Gwyn Grifths 1960, 3133, and plate 4, an intriguing il-
lustration (B.M. 10471/14) from a Book of the Dead, showing its owner, Nakht, in an
apotropaic ritual spearing a snake and a pig.
63. Historiae 4.83. But see Borgeaud and Volokhine 2000 on the Sarapis cult. See
also Weber 1993, 17374; Fraser (1972, 1: 200) argues that the importation of Demeter
cults into Alexandria may well have been spurred by the fact that Greek writers like
Herodotus and Hecataeus had claimed an Egyptian ancestry for the Thesmophoria and
the Eleusinian mysteries.
the Eleusinian mysteries in Athens, and we know that Heracles as early
as the fth century was represented as a prominent initiate of the cult.
Therefore, allusions drawn from the hymn that locate him, like his par-
ents, among those who have need of divine assistance in the form of es-
tablished religious rite serve to further reinforce his humanity. But they
might also introduce the idea of alternate routes to immortality
through the implicit example of initiation into a mystery cult, and in
another way as well. Koenen raised the possibility that Teiresiass in-
struction to sacrice the piglet alluded specically to the Eleusinian
Satyruss On the Demes of Alexandria mentions that the
Alexandrian deme of Eleusis was named for its Attic counterpart and
annually hosted a musical contest. Whether there was an attempt to in-
stitute the Eleusinian mysteries in Alexandria is moot; similar rites,
however, could have been associated with the Sarapis or Isis cult, since
Tacitus mentions that it was Timotheus, from the family of the Eu-
molpids, the hereditary priests in charge of the Eleusinia, who was in-
strumental in setting up the Sarapis cult in Alexandria.
Whatever the
contemporary historical circumstances, a reminder of the Eleusinian
mysteries might well serve proleptically to provide a model of the kind
of activity that warrants the conferral of divine honors upon humans
the establishment of cults of the gods. The model would only gain in ef-
cacy if it alluded to an accomplishment of Ptolemys own father, who
by the time of Idyll 17 was to be seen enjoying the kind of immortality
that was available to Heracles, fraternizing with the Olympians.
The Education of Princes
With the departure of Teiresias (1012) Theocritus abandons his ar-
chaic poetic models and turns to a description of the education of the
boy Heracles, who according to one commentator has become the
perfect gentleman. He has, in fact, proved himself in just those activi-
Theocritean Regencies 143
64. Grifths 1979, 92.
65. Diodorus Siculus 1.53.7= FGrH 264 F25.53.7.
66. AR 1.13. The date of this section is generally taken to be early; see page 65.
67. Diodorus Siculus 1.53.16; AR 1.1314. These specic skills are not listed, but
Sesosis and Alexander get on-the-job training in warfare at an early age.
68. The incongruity of this quality for Heracles has not gone unnoticed. Most re-
cently, see Hunter 1996a, 1112. Once again, Theocritus juxtaposes the conceptual bag-
gage of his models. Can a modern education overcome mythological determinism and
turn the traditionally gluttonous Heracles into a model prince?
69. Murray 1970, 15960.
tieslove, sport, music, and a little bit of warfarethat we know to
have been closest to the heart of Philadelphus himself.
this is so, and indeed it has been on the basis of this section that claims
for the Heracliscus as court poetry have rested. But the section may
have other parallels. We have seen in chapter 1 that Hecataeus of Ab-
dera incorporated a history of Sesosis in his work as a model of the
Egyptian ideal of kingship and that the education of the young prince
by his father provided the fundamentals for his model rule.
In the
Alexander Romance, too, Philip, though not Alexanders father, treats
him like a true son and undertakes his education with some care.
elements of that educationletters (grammata), music, geometry, rhet-
oric, and philosophyare close to Theocrituss catalogue, though he
omits the advanced education of rhetoric and philosophy, which would
only serve to further strain credulity in Heracles case. In addition to
the manly arts of archery, boxing, and chariot racing, Heracles is taught
the principles of modern warfare: how to arrange the phalanx, assess
the enemy, and command the cavalry, skills that are not particularly
applicable to his later life, but that coincide with the lessons in war-
fare that Sesosis and Alexander receive.
Moreover, the education of
Sesosis stresses the endurance of hardship and abstemiousness,
which also appears in the Heracliscus (13840). As we saw in chapter
1, this type of education was not provided to turn these princes into
the perfect gentlemen. It was tied to an expectation that the prince
would become a proper king, not simply by leading armies, but by in-
stituting a rule of law by which he himself abided. Additionally, the
most characteristic feature of Hecataeuss ideal king was, in Oswyn
Murrays words, eDergesAa, which is indeed elevated until it becomes
the ultimate justication of monarchy itself. . . . Thus in Hecataeus the
notion of the basileB% eDergAth% usurps the position often given in
other Greek writers to the gristo% dnar, the rule of the best man, or to
the filanurvpAa of the ruler.
In stressing the king as eDergAth%
144 Theocritean Regencies
70. See, for example, the Satrap decree from 311 b.c.e., translated in Bevan 1968,
71. See K. Bringmann, The King as Benefactor: Some Remarks on Ideal Kingship in
the Age of Hellenism, in Bulloch et al. 1993, 725; and F. Walbanks response to it
(pp. 11620).
72. Diodorus Siculus 1.53.910 = FGrH 264 F25.53.910.
73. A. Herrmann coined the term Knigsnovelle to describe what he considered a lit-
erary genre featuring prophecies and dreams directed at the king and the events that they
precipitated (Die gyptische Knigsnovelle, Leipziger gyptologische Studien 10 ;[Glck-
stadt, Hamburg, and New York, 1938]). See now A. Loprieno, The Kings Novel, in
Loprieno 1996, 27795; Loprieno argues that these elements occur within a much
broader spectrum of Egyptian as well as other Near Eastern writings.
74. Murray 1970, 168.
Hecataeus domesticates Egyptian pharaonic practice by subsuming it
under the familiar Greek idea.
Though, as Murrays comment makes
clear, for Hecataeus, eDergesAa was less a matter of imperial potlatch
(as it often seems to be in Greek writing)
than a fundamental behav-
ioral pattern that manifested itself through building projects, the estab-
lishment of cults of the gods, and imperial generosity to ones subjects.
These are the very features of Ptolemaic kingship that Theocritus elab-
orates in Idyll 17.
The trajectory of the Heracliscus follows Hecataeus also in that a
prophecy, in the form of a dream, preceded the description of Sesosiss
education and indeed precipitated it. Sesosiss greatness and future ac-
complishments, which paralleled those of the divine Osiris, were fore-
told by the god Ptah ( = Hephaestus) to Sesosiss father at his birth,
who therefore designed his education to prepare him to achieve the
greatness predicted for him.
Though probably later than the Heraclis-
cus, Callimachus in the Delos hymn places a prophecy about Ptolemy II
and Cos in the mouth of the embryonic Apollo, and this conforms to
Egyptian patterns of guring the king as the recipient of special post
eventum prophecy.
In Theocritus, Alcmena after hearing Teiresiass
prophecy takes Heracles education in hand; he is likened to a young
sapling in an orchard (nAon fytbn c% Dn dlvu | DtrAfet)that is, the
twig to be encouraged in the right direction and thus prepared for his
destiny. This is an odd detail for the traditional picture of Heracles,
who seems a product of nature rather more than of culture, but essen-
tial for a model ruler. Theocritus certainly knew Hecataeuss work, as
we will see in our discussion of Idyll 17,
and by constructing Heracles
in accordance with an idealizing model, Theocritus not only compli-
ments the court by enhancing the status of one of its primary mytho-
Theocritean Regencies 145
75. Diodorus Siculus 6.1.12 = fr. 25 Winiarzyk.
76. Although Jacoby and Murray reject this passage as Hecataean, it does coincide
with a view of Greek prehistory that Cole (1990, 4445, 15355) locates within the in-
logical progenitors; he also sets out a paradigm for the future behavior
of the newly crowned king. It is by beneting his people in material as
well as spiritual terms that the young Ptolemy can, like his forebear,
hope to attain to divine honors.
Heracles, admittedly, is not a Sesosis or an Alexander: his natural
habitat would seem to be the untamed, precivilized world in which he
can destroy monsters with his club or his bare hands. Lines 7981, in
which Teiresias describes the man who will achieve immortality, call
that Heracles to mind:
toPo% dnbr ede mAllei D% oDranbn gstra fAronta
dmbaAnein teb% yCa%, dpb stArnvn platB% grv%,
oQ kaB uhrAa panta kaB dnAre% essone% glloi.
So great a man will ascend to the star-laden heaven, your son, a hero
broad in chest, stronger than all beasts and men.
While ostensibly a poor, if not ludicrous, match for the rened court of
the second Ptolemy, in fact even this Heracles had been adapted to
Hecataeuss scheme. Heracles prehistoric conquest of monsters created
the possibility for civilized community and hence is a clear example of
the sort of benefaction that merited immortality. Euhemerus makes the
point very clearly:
With respect to the gods, then, men of old have handed down to later
generations two conceptual categories (dittb% . . . DnnoAa%): they say that
some of the gods are everlasting and imperishable (didAoy% kaB dfuar-
toy%). . . . Others, they say, were of the earth (DpigeAoy%) and attained
immortal honor and fame (timp% te kaB dajh%), like Heracles, Dionysus,
Aristaeus, and others like them.
Since Euhemerus wrote within the same intellectual framework as
Hecataeus, it is intrinsically likely that Hecataeus included Heracles
within his scheme of culture heroes. In a section that is only doubtfully
attributed to Hecataeus (1.24.5) Diodorus asserts that the Greeks
have preserved a tradition that Heracles cleared the earth of wild
beasts. He adds: Indeed it is reasonable to suppose that . . . after he
had cleared the land of wild beasts, he presented it to the peasants [of
Egypt] and for this benefaction was accorded divine honors (1.24.7).
Dionysus Scytobrachion similarly constructs his Heracles as a military
146 Theocritean Regencies
tellectual tradition of Democritus, tracing its development in Euhemerus and later writ-
ers. Therefore, it is a fair assumption that Diodorus had some passage of Hecataeus in
mind here, whether or not it follows the actual order of Hecataeuss books.
77. See Rusten 1982, 9697.
leader and a founder of games, for which he receives immortality.
What is overtly set out in these accounts is also implicit in Theocritus
divine honors were accorded to Heracles not for random acts of vio-
lence, but for efforts that brought about civilization.
Heracles in Herodotus and, perhaps, in Hecataeus is already both
Greek and Egyptian. In the Heracliscus I suggest that Theocritus is con-
sciously playing with the various traditions of Heracles, Egyptian and
Greek, divine or heroic, comic glutton or proper Hellenistic princeling.
In the interplay of traditions is the point; this one mythological gure
offers the newly crowned king a variety of behavioral models, some of
which are useful to emulate, some to avoid, some of which, the poet
suggests, are impossible, like the heroic or divine, but others of which,
like the laboring Heracles or the young prince, can lead to the only kind
of divinity that is available to mortals, a divinity acquired by actions
that benet ones fellow humans. Theocrituss conformation of Hera-
cles to a Hecataean model of kingship stands in contrast to Calli-
machuss use of Hesiod in the Hymn to Zeus. In that poem the proper
behavior of kings was implicit and distanced, located in the mythologi-
cal past. Callimachus in his poetic persona projected doubt about
truth and by implication the outcome of Ptolemys historic kingship,
while the Hesiodic passages established a connection between the just
behavior of kings and wealth; Theocritus, by using contemporary ideal-
izing models of kingship analogous to those found in Hecataeus, who
had already established a baseline behavior for good kings, shifts his
emphasis from wealth as an index of divine favor to the proper use of
wealth as the index of a good king. Thus the poet is not a passive enco-
miast but like Pindar before him asserts himself as a critical arbiter of
royal behavior. The wealth of kings, if it is to bestow a lasting distinc-
tion, must become a means of conferring benets on humanity in gen-
eral and ones own people in particular. Theocrituss recollections of the
Hymn to Demeter serve as a reminder of one kind of benecium, the in-
stitution of religious cults like the Eleusinian mysteries. Hence poetry
functions to monitor the kings progress as well as articulate its signi-
cance to the wider audience.
Plate 1. Cartouche of Ptolemy I (Tuna el-Gebel), preceded by a sedge
and bee designating the King of Upper and Lower Egypt. Courtesy of
the Rmer- und Pelizaeus Museum, Hildesheim, Germany.
Plate 2. Cartouche of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (Rosettana), preceded by a
sedge and bee. Courtesy of the British Museum.
Plate 3. Horus throttling snakes. Metternich Stelae. Courtesy of the Metro-
politan Museum of Art, New York.
Plate 4. Nakht spearing a snake and a pig (from The Book of the
Dead). Courtesy of the British Museum.
Plate 5. The solar boat being towed through a snake (from The Amduat). Courtesy
of the British Museum.
Plate 6. The Sun emerging from a hill at dawn (from The Amduat). Courtesy
of the British Museum.
Theocritean Regencies 147
78. For evidence of the marriage, see Fraser 1972, 2: 367 n. 228. On the death of Ar-
sinoe, see Grzybek (1990, 10312), who would place it in 268, and H. Cadell ( quelle
date Arsinoe II Philadelphe est-elle dcde? in Le culte du souverain dans lgypte
ptolmaque au IIIe sicle avant notre re, ed. H. Malaerts [Leuven, 1998] 13), who
dates it to 270 b.c.e. The two-year difference results from whether Ptolemy IIs rule is
counted as beginning at the death of his father (282) or at the beginning of his coregency
(285). See Grzybek 1990, 10712; Koenen 1993, 51 n. 61; Cameron 1995, 16061.
79. See Gow (2: 326), who would restrict it to around 273/2 b.c.e., and Frasers ar-
guments (1972, 2: 93334) for a wider window, ca. 276/70. Lines 3452 refer to the de-
ication of Ptolemy IIs mother, Berenice, but neither the date of her death nor the date of
the institution of her cult is known.
80. See, for example, Meincke 1965, 11624; Weber 1993, 213 n. 3; and Funaioli
1993, 212 n. 3.
81. The form of this poem has been much analyzed. See Meincke 1965, 85164,
which is the most comprehensive discussion; see also Schwinge 1986, 60 n. 32, and
Weber 1993, 21743, for a discussion of topoi and bibliography.
82. Of course, as R. Hunter observes, the later rhetorical tradition [of the prose en-
comium] is itself a descendant of the hymnic tradition (1996a, 79 n. 13). See, for in-
encomium for ptolemy
Heracles makes another appearance in Idyll 17, which must have been
written in the 270s b.c.e. The date of composition is xed by the fact
that Philadelphus is married to his full sister Arsinoe. That marriage
took place between 279 and 274 b.c.e. and lasted until her death in ei-
ther 270 or 268.
The catalogue of Ptolemaic possessions detailed in
lines 8094 must reect some kind of political reality; whether it points
to complete Ptolemaic control or only spheres of inuence for these re-
gions cannot be determined with any degree of condence,
consensus favors the latter half of the decade. Thus the poem will have
been written after the Heracliscus and Callimachuss Zeus hymn and
would have been a near contemporary of Callimachuss Delos hymn,
which probably falls between 274 and 268. Whether the Delos hymn
predates the Ptolemy is moot, and plausible arguments to support the
priority of one or the other are easily devised.
Whichever is prior, the
linguistic and thematic similarities guarantee that the two poems stand
in a self-conscious relationship to each other and again allow us to see
the different ways in which the two poets construct the image of the liv-
ing king. In form,
the Ptolemy has afnities to traditional hymns to
the gods and earlier praise poetry, while it also displays a number of
features of the prose encomium, a genre that Isocrates claims to have
initiated with his Evagoras (811). It proliferated in the fourth century,
and by Theocrituss time had received considerable treatment in the
rhetorical theorists and was a well-mined staple of rhetorical educa-
Like its prose relative, the hymn of praise exhibited familiar and
148 Theocritean Regencies
stance, W. H. Races treatment in Pindaric Encomium and Isokrates Evagoras, TAPA
117 (1987) 13155. See also his remarks about the distinction between the mythic hymn
and encomium. Nightingale (1995, 93132) sets the relationship of the poetry of praise
and blame in a philosophical context.
83. See, for example, Platos remarks in Lysis 205b-d.
84. Although it is one of the few surviving examples from this early period, the hymn
of praise probably ourished in Hellenistic courts. In fact, Cameron (1995, 26873) has
recently argued that much of what has been identied as Hellenistic epic is more likely to
be encomium.
85. I am indebted to Benjamin Acosta-Hughes for this observation.
predictable features,
so at least one factor in Theocrituss choice to en-
gage in encomium must have been deliberately to set out upon a well-
trodden path.
The central difference between the poetic and prose ver-
sions of encomia, at least according to Isocrates, was that poets could
represent the gods as associating with their subjects and aiding
whomever they wished in battle (9), while those writers conned to
prose were also conned to the facts (10). In his movement between the
twothe mythological options familiar from hymns and the relatively
more fact-based realm of prose encomiumTheocritus seems to engage
in an intentional generic mixing that plays with these two distinct styles
in ways that often display the limitations of the mythic hymn. Further,
the Ptolemy writes itself quite obviously against Callimachuss earlier
Zeus hymn. If Callimachus expresses doubts about how to hymn the
god and by extension the king, doubts about poetic models, and doubts
about precisely who the king is or will becomea king of Greeks or
Egyptians or boththen Theocrituss overt choice of Ptolemy for his
subject, as opposed to Zeus or Heracles, will provide an answer to
these Callimachean questions.
Zeus and Ptolemy
Callimachus opens the Hymn to Zeus with a pattern of doublets
begin as coordinatesZhnb% and uebn aDtan, deB mAgan and aDBn
gnakta, Phlaganvn Dlatpra and dikaspalon ODranAdisibut slide
into disjunctionDiktaPon or LykaPon, \IdaAoisin Dn oGresD or Dn
\ArkadAh. These become the external correlatives of his internal mental
state (Dn doiu mala uyma%). This pattern is visible also in his conclusion:
xaPre mAga, KronAdh panypArtate, dptor Davn,
dptor dphmonAh%. teb d Grgmata tA% ken deAdoi;
oD gAnet oDk Gstai, tA% ken Dib% deAsei;
Theocritean Regencies 149
xaPre, pater xaPr aRui dAdon d dretan t gfena% te.
95 oGt dretp% gter glbo% DpAstatai gndra% dAjein
oGt dretb dfAnoio dAdoy d dretan te kaB glbon.
A hearty farewell, most high son of Cronus, grantor of wealth, grantor of
security. Of your works who could sing? There has not been, there will
not be, someone who would sing your deeds. Father, farewell again.
Grant virtue and prosperity. Without virtue prosperity knows not how to
prot men, nor virtue without wealth; grant us virtue and prosperity.
Theocritus answers the doubt, both explicit and implicit in Calli-
machuss ordering, by beginning with a pairDk Dib%, D% DAathat is
really the same:
Dk Dib% drxamesua kaB D% DAa lagete MoPsai,
duanatvn tbn griston, Bpbn deAdvmen doidaP%
dndrpn d aR PtolemaPo% DnB pratoisi legAsuv
kaB pAmato% kaB mAsso% f gbr proferAstato% dndrpn.
5 erve%, toB prasuen df cmiuAvn DgAnonto,
r\ Ajante% kalb Grga sofpn DkArhsan doidpn
aDtbr Dgb PtolemaPon Dpistameno% kalb eDpePn
Cmnasaim Emnoi dB kaB duanatvn gAra% aAtpn.
From Zeus let us begin, and at Zeus, best of the immortals, let us cease,
Muses, whenever we hold forth in song [?]; but of men let Ptolemy be
spoken of rst and last and in between, for he is the most distinguished
of men. Heroes, who of old came from demigods, when they accom-
plished fair deeds hit upon skilled songsters, but I know how to praise
and would sing of Ptolemy. Hymns are the privilege even of the immor-
tals themselves.
Here the hierarchies are preserved: Zeus is divine, Ptolemy mortal.
Each in his class is the best and worthy of praise, and the categories are
not permeable (or are they?). These extremes are mediated by heroes
and demigods who earn their poetry by virtue of their deeds, not by
right of divinity, and it is to this latter group that Theocritus will seem
to attach Ptolemy. To Callimachuss doubts about how to hymn Zeus,
Theocritus replies rmlyI know how to praise and would sing of
Ptolemyan assertion with generic consequence. What Callimachus
avoided in his experiment with the hymn form, Theocritus embraces.
To what purpose? Encomium as a genre is ostensibly less subtle, less
supple. What Callimachus can hint at through Hesiodic allusion to
kings, namely, proper moral behavior and prosperity, values which
Theocritus similarly hinted at in the Heracliscus, are stated much more
150 Theocritean Regencies
86. For various interpretations of this line, see Wilamowitz, Textgeschichte der
griechische Bukoliker (Berlin, 1906) 5455; Schlatter 1941, 2830 and note; Grifths
1979, 75, as well as Schwinges comments (1986, 7577). While it is certainly true that
the cultural values implicit in arete had undergone a transformation since the Homeric
period and included much more than excellence in battle, arete is a very prominent fea-
ture of encomiastic writing, and, therefore, its almost total absence in the Ptolemy is the
more striking.
openly within a form whose parameters should hold few surprises.
However, the Ptolemy is not unadulterated encomium; Theocritus con-
sistently moves between the allusive indirection of the mythic hymn and
the (apparently) bald expression of admiration that the encomium
(prose or verse) demanded. Perhaps, in this lies the reason for Theocri-
tuss choice. The poem is suspended between the mythical and the con-
temporary in its subjects and arrangements, but by juxtaposing or in-
terweaving the two different approaches to praise the poem as a whole
takes on the character of a exploration of the nature and potential of
encomiastic writing.
In the concluding lines Theocritus indulges in a similar rewriting of
xaPre, gnaj PtolemaPe sAuen d Dgb Rsa kaB gllvn
mnasomai cmiuAvn, dokAv d Gpo% oDk dpablhton
fuAgjomai DssomAnoi% dretan ge mBn Dk Dib% aDteP.
Farewell, Lord Ptolemy. I will be equally mindful of you and other
demigods, and I think I shall utter a word that will not be disgarded by
those to come. As for excellence, seek it from Zeus. (13537)
Theocritus ends with Zeus (as he promised in his opening line), but
Callimachuss doublets of prosperity and virtue are reordered. Theocri-
tus uncouples excellencethis is the only occurrence of the word dreta
in the poemfrom prosperity and assigns the dispensation of the for-
mer to the divine, the latter to Ptolemy. In fact, the poem is a meditation
on prosperitythat Ptolemy possesses it, how he disposes it, and how
he should dispose it for the futurewhile excellence (dreta) is rele-
gated to the last line of the poem, in which Theocritus seems to dismiss
heroic values.
But As for excellence, seek it from Zeus could equally
well be a sly reference to Callimachuss Zeus hymn, in which, in spite of
its formal hymnic closing, arete is not much present. Further, Calli-
machus ends with a disingenuous self-referentiality: he asserts that
there has not been, there shall not be a poet to praise the works of
Zeus, and we readily understand Callimachus himself to occupy that
Theocritean Regencies 151
87. See above, page 108.
88. See Grifths 1979, 76 n. 58; and Schwinges remarks (1986, 73).
omitted temporal categorythe present. But Theocritus decides to take
the assertion at face value. To Callimachuss opening gambit of poetic
aporia, he counters: I know how to praise and would sing of
Ptolemy; and to Callimachuss concluding omission of the present, he
asserts: I think I shall utter a word that will not be disgarded by those
to come.
After the proem Theocritus turns to the subject of Ptolemys parents,
both of whom are now dead. He leads off with what seems almost a
paraphrase of the sentiments Callimachus had applied to both Zeus
and Ptolemy II,
now predicated of Soter:
Dk patArvn oQo% mAn Ghn telAsai mAga Grgon
LageAda% PtolemaPo%, ete fresBn Dgkatauoito
boylan, fn oDk gllo% dnbr oQa% te nopsai.
In lineage such a man to accomplish a great deed was Ptolemy, son of
Lagus, when he stored up in his heart a plan that no other man could
have devised. (1315)
Moreover, he rewrites Callimachus in Homeric language borrowed
from Odyssey 2.27072, where Athena, disguised as Mentor, tells
Telemachus that if he is truly the son of his fathersuch a man he was
for accomplishing both word and deed (2.27172: eD da toi soP
patrb% DnAstaktai mAno% dJ

, | oQo% kePno% Ghn telAsai Grgon te Gpo%

te)he will succeed with his plans. She further remarks that few chil-
dren turn out to be the equal of their fathers, though there is some hope
for Telemachus (27480). Theocritus thus creates a link between Zeus,
Soter, and Philadelphus in such a way that Soter is simultaneously
model and reection (an idea expressed again in lines 5657: aDxmhtb
PtolemaPe, | aDxmhtu PtolemaAi). Behavior already attached to
Philadelphus by Callimachus is now reassigned to his father, and the
Hesiodic and Egyptian allusions are recast as Homeric. The result is
that the link between thought and accomplishment is now a distin-
guishing characteristic of the royal line, not simply the mark of divine
or precocious children. The ensuing narratives of the divine parents are
constructed to provide both the Greek heroic and the Egyptian
pharaonic context in which Ptolemy has been formed.
152 Theocritean Regencies
89. Given the prominence of the anecdote in both Herodotus and Hecataeus, I won-
der whether in this context Theocritus may wish us to recall the behavior of Sesosis the
archetypal warrior king, for whom to be female was the mark of the coward or weakling.
See Herodotus 2.106; Diodorus Siculus 1. 55.79. See Weber 1993, 215, on the represen-
tation of Soter as a Quasi-Diener. Heracles plays a similarly feminized role vis--vis
Artemis in Callimachus Hymn to Artemis 14251.
90. See Hippothales remarks in Lysis 205c-d.
91. Though presumably not within the parameters of Soters other cultic manifesta-
tions, one of whichthat of the Theoi Soteresis mentioned at line 123.
Fathers and Sons
First, Soter is presented as dweller on Olympus in the company of
Alexander, and both are attendants of their mutual ancestor Heracles.
The scene owes much to the opening of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo,
where Leto greets her son, Apollo, as he enters his fathers halls, taking
his bow and quiver to hang up, then seating him in the presence of the
gods (513). She rejoices to have such a mighty son, just as Heracles re-
joices exceedingly in the sons of his sons, because the son of Cronus
has taken age from their limbs, and his offspring are called immortal
(2325). But the gods tremble at the entrance of Apollo (Homeric
Hymn to Apollo 2), while Theocrituss language suggests that Soter and
Alexander are not full participants as their ancestor keeps festival with
the other Ouranids (22: Gnua sBn glloisin ualAa% Gxei ODranAdisi;
note the singular verb). When Heracles is ready to leave the celestial
dining room, Soter and Alexander, like Leto, relieve him of his bow and
quiver and club, and attend him to his wife Hebes chamber. The price
of divinity is very high. Not only are arguably the two greatest military
leaders that the Hellenistic world had known reduced to the status of
page boys, they are, at least allusively, rendered feminine, performing
Letos task in the Hymn to Apollo. This is the more jarring because we
were invited to reect on Alexanders military prowess only a few lines
before, where he is called bane of the Persians.
Ancestors who are
descended from Zeus or who dine with Heracles were among the
most frequently employed clichs of the hymnic repertory,
Theocrituss humorous treatment rescues the compliment from com-
plete banality. However, in contrast to Berenice, Soters divinity renders
him, in effect, impotent.
He may survive in his Greek mythological im-
mortality as a vivid image, but on his efcacy for the living Theocritus
has no comment.
Theocrituss presentation of Berenice I, in contrast, was shaped by
contemporary Alexandria. The queen mother achieves an immortality
Theocritean Regencies 153
92. Quaegebeur 1978, 24749, with illustrations.
93. There is extensive evidence for the inclusion of Arsinoe II in both Egyptian and
Greek cult, as a co-templed divinity (sAnnao% uea%). For example, she was installed
after her death in the ram cult of Mendes and is shown on the Mendes stele, along with
the ram-god and his consort, receiving offerings from her husband, Ptolemy II. In the
Greek world she was associated with Aphrodite at Cape Zephyrium and a variety of
other locations. Though if Theocritus rightly represents the situation, Berenice I would
have preceded her in this respect. See Quaegebeur 1978, 24954, with a good illustration
of the Mendes stele, and J. Tondriau, Princesses ptolmaques compares ou identies
desses (III
sicles avant J. C.), Bulletin de la Socit Royale d Archologie-Alexan-
drie 37 (1948) 1521. Selden (1998, 33940) discusses the identication of Arsinoe and
94. In a fragment (fr. 3) Theocritus mentions Berenice receiving an offering of sh.
See Weber 1993, 25354, for possible interpretations. Not enough remains for fruitful
of her own, not by joining the divine households of Olympus, but by
being snatched away from the grim ferryman as she was being trans-
ported to the realms of the dead to inhabit Aphrodites temple, where
she has a share in her divine honors (4650). There is no contempo-
rary information about Berenices deication, and later evidence testi-
es only to the cult she shared with Soter, alluded to by Theocritus in
line 123, not a separate co-templing with either Greek or Egyptian di-
Nevertheless, it is difcult to imagine that Theocritus would
have embroidered the truth and promoted Berenice to a co-templed
goddess, if she did not in fact enjoy that status.
Berenice apparently de-
ied and linked to Aphrodite is found again in Idyll 15,
where Arsinoe
has instituted the festival of Adonis in honor of her deceased mother:
KApri DivnaAa, tB mBn duanatan dpb unatp%,
dnurapvn c% mPuo%, DpoAhsa% BerenAkan,
dmbrosAan D% stpuo% dpostajasa gynaika%
Lady of Cyprus, Diones child, you, as men say, changed Berenice from
mortal to immortal, dripping ambrosia onto her womans breast.
tu mBn KApron Gxoisa Diana% patnia koAra
kalpon D% eDadh r\ adinb% Dsemajato xePra%.
On her the Queen of Cyprus, Diones august daughter, laid her delicate
hands, pressing them upon her fragrant breast. (Idyll 17.3435)
What is novel in this presentation depends upon an interweaving of
a series of Greek and Egyptian ideas. In both accounts, Aphrodite acts
to immortalize Berenice by pressing her hands or dripping am-
154 Theocritean Regencies
95. See Grifths 1979, 22; also Hunter (1996b, 16163), who suggests it might have
resonance with the contemporary burial practices of the Ptolemies.
96. M. Edwards (The Iliad: A Commentary, vol. 5, Books 1720 [Cambridge, 1991]
238) remarks on Iliad 19.38: Here ambrosia and nectar are dripped into the nostrils,
which suggests a reminiscence of an embalming technique, cf. Herodotus 2.86.3.
97. For Anubis touching the dead person, Cofn Text I 223fg; making the dead
smell sweet, Cofn Text I 195g.
98. Z

abkar 1988, 4445, where the text quoted is Cofn Text VI 284r.
99. These ideas could be used of men as well. In Osorkons victory stele from the
eighth century b.c.e., Osorkon is said to be sweet-scented amongst the courtiers like the
large lotus bud which is at the nose of every god . . . as a worthy youth, sweet of love
even as Horus coming forth from Chemmis (Caminos 1958, 260).
brosia upon her breast. Thetis preserving the body of Patroclus by
pouring ambrosia into his nostrils is usually adduced as the closest
Greek parallel to Idyll 15,
though explanations of the relevance of this
particular heroic corpse are somewhat forced. What the Iliad passage
and Theocritus have in common is an underlying familiarity with
Egyptian rituals of embalming.
But where Thetis (in keeping with
Greek cultural norms) can merely preserve the body, Aphrodite revital-
izes her (4850). Aphrodite seems to enact elements of the embalming
ritual in which fragrant oils are rubbed over the body of the deceased,
often by the god of the ritualAnubiswho is portrayed as leaning
over the body and touching its breast (or the location of the heart), not
simply to preserve but to reanimate the dead.
L. Z

abkar explains the

essential connection of rebirth and aromatic oils:
The role that myrrh, incense, unguents, and various aromatic substances
played in cult and ritual [was m]uch more than just creating a pleasant
atmosphere for gods and men, such substances had the effect of propiti-
ating the deities, of purifying them, of repelling evil inuences from them,
and of bestowing new vitality upon them. . . . These benecient effects
extended also to the deceased, who live on myrrh and incense on which
the gods live.
Ambrosia, therefore, is an effective parallel, since it served to maintain
and occasionally even induce immortality. But in Theocritus, Berenices
fragrant breast is further linked to the desire she inspired in her hus-
band. For Egyptians fragrance does triple duty in that it indicates the
presence of divinity, it is instrumental in revitalizing the dead, and it
arouses erotic desire; thus it was an ideal symbol for Aphrodite and her
co-templed companion.
These three aspects of fragrance are joined
also in Callimachuss Lock of Berenice, for example, where the anoint-
ing of the lock of the newly married Berenice II with a fragrant oil is
both a symbol of the locks divine status and proleptic of Berenices
Theocritean Regencies 155
100. Cerfaux and Tondiau 1957, 196200.
101. Dunand 1973, 8085.
102. Koenen 1993, 6163.
103. 2: 33536.
104. For a discussion of the development of this idea of divine like, see OConnor
and Silverman 1995, 6163.
own subsequent apotheosis, as well a sign of the mutual desire of hus-
band and wife.
In Idyll 17, Aphrodite is fashioned not as the goddess of sex, but of
the erotic reciprocity of marriage that breeds true sons, and Berenice is
her human reection. In Idyll 15, Theocrituss presentation of the Ado-
nia also repositions Aphrodite by portraying Adonis as her bride-
groom and the bed of the tableau as the nuptial couch. The novelty of
Theocrituss Aphrodite in her dimension as a protector of marriage
likely to be related to her identication with Isis. In Egypt the cult of
Isis-Aphrodite was extremely popular and was either the reason for or
the result of the queens of the imperial household identifying them-
selves with Aphrodite.
The link with Isis as both wife and sister of
Osiris is illustrated in the epithet brother-loving, which was rst at-
tached to Arsinoe as a cult name.
In her status as a co-templed god-
dess, Berenice I, like Aphrodite and Isis, continues to confer the benets
of appropriately directed desires, and her son Ptolemy II serves as the
best example of the true sons that result when the love of husband for
wife is mutual (3840).
The love of Soter and Berenice thus guaranteed Ptolemy IIs legiti-
macy, expressed by his likeness to his father, an idea that appears again
in lines 5657 and 6364. In Greek texts, a positive erotic relationship
between husband and wife is not easy to document, though Penelope as
the good wife and Arete and Alcinous as a loving couple are familiar
from Homers Odyssey, and Gow recalls both when commenting on
this passage.
But Egyptian ideas also come into play. Isis was the par-
adigmatic good wife, whose devotion to her husband led to the recov-
ery and protection of his body as well as to the conception of Horus,
who was born to be the image and avenger of his father. The mythology
spilled over into the ideology of kingship, where in the absence of a tra-
dition of primogeniture the concept of the pharaohs likeness to ones
divine father, whether Re, Osiris, or Amunestablished after the fact
played a central role in claims of legitimacy.
Claims of likeness to a
god became a familiar element in royal titulary. For example, the hiero-
glyphic shm-nh-n-Jmn occurs as a throne name for Euergetes, Phil-
156 Theocritean Regencies
105. See Thissen 1966, 40, and Beckerath 1999, 236. Soter and Philadelphus use the
variant mrj-Jmn ( = beloved of Amun).
106. R. B. Parkinson, Voices from Ancient Egypt (Norman, Okla., 1991) 46: cf.
Lichtheim 1973, 11920.
107. Caminos 1958, 260.
108. Daumas 1958, 3068; the passage is discussed in Koenen 1983, 163.
opator, and Epiphanes. (In the trilingual Rosetta stone this phrase is
translated as eDkano zpsh toP Dia, or living likeness of Zeus.)
Likeness to ones divine father necessarily entailed a commensurate
likeness to ones human father, who in his turn equally resembled the
god, but there were also practical consequences of the resemblance. In a
boundary stele of Sesostris III, for example, the true son establishes his
claims to his status by replicating his fathers deeds. The inscription is
typically Egyptian in that it plays with a multiple senses of image of
the king: the kings actual deeds are inscribed, the stele also bears his
physical likeness, and nally it serves notice of how to identify his true
image, or son:
Now, as for any son of mine who shall make rm this boundary
my Person made,
he is my son, born of my Person;
the son who vindicates his father is a model,
making rm the boundary of his begetter.
Now as for him who shall neglect it, shall not ght for it
no son of mine, not born to me!
Now my Person has caused an image of my Person to be made,
upon this boundary which my Person made,
so that you shall be rm for it, so that you will ght for it.
In the eighth century, Osorkon is identied as the legitimate egg and
image of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Birth temples (mam-
misi) of the late Ptolemaic period exhibit the logical development of this
idea, as the pharaoh is associated with the divine child in cult and de-
scribed as he who truly resembles his father.
This age-old Egyptian
motif is ideal for Theocritus because Ptolemy by virtue of his becoming
pharaoh de facto exhibits likeness to his father (i.e., his legitimacy);
equally it implies a level of excellence in behavior to which the encomi-
ast can implicitly hold the king.
The contrast between the presentation of Ptolemy IIs deceased fa-
ther and that of his mother in many respects corresponds to the con-
trast between Amphitryon and Alcmena in the Heracliscus. Soter (and
Alexander) cool their heels on Olympus as they wait for Heracles to n-
Theocritean Regencies 157
109. 2001b, 135.
110. See Koenen 1983, 15768.
111. See, for example, Gow 2: 335; Grifths 1979, 7577; and Schwinge 1986, 62 n.
43. S. Burstein, Arsinoe II Philadelphos: A Revisionist View, in Philip II, Alexander the
ish drinking, while Berenice is united in death with the divine and care-
giving aspects of Aphrodite and continues to bring benets to mortals.
Similarly, Amphitryon, rushes from his chamber with sword and
baldric, like the epic hero he was, only to fade from the picture while
Alcmena takes action that decides Heracles future. In each case The-
ocritus presents the fathers of his subject within the terms of heroic
Greek myth that seems to be inert, while the women (and as the poems
progress, their sons) are located specically in a dynamic and evolving
contemporary world. In the Ptolemy, this has been taken to imply
Ptolemy IIs failure to live up to the military achievements of his father,
but of course that cannot be said of Heracles in the Heracliscus. There
we identied Theocrituss poetic behavior as (in M. Fantuzzis words)
demythologizing the heroic past.
In this poem do the two divergent
representations of divinity presuppose some qualitative or generic dif-
ference? How are we to rank the divinity of Soter, who interacts with
Heracles and Alexander, in comparison to the cult of cohabitation with
one of the Olympians that is Berenices fate? Are they equal, or is one
inherently superior? Having determined that Ptolemy is not a god in the
same sense as Zeus, Theocritus reveals himself less certain about just
what form his immortality is destined to takewill he be elevated to
the heights of Olympus like his father or deied in cult like his mother?
Or is the point to leave him suspended between the twoeach of which
provides a template of sorts for imperial achievement?
Theocritus nally reaches his subject, Ptolemy II, via another formu-
laic devicethe priamelic allusion to two epic heroes, Diomedes and
Achilles (5357). The progress is from Diomedes to the more famous
Achilles, with Philadephus lling out the triad. Theocritus plays again
with the similarity of fathers to sons: both heroes exceed the fame of
their fathers, which holds out the promise that Philadelphus will also
exceed his fathers fame, while the symmetry of the phrases aDxmhtb
PtolemaPe, | aDxmhtu PtolemaAi guarantees at least that he begins life
as the mirror image of his father.
The allusions have usually been read
less than positively. Commentators point out that Philadelphus was
hardly the military equal of his father, Soter, and owed his success in the
Syrian war to his wife, Arsinoe II.
But perhaps the limitations and
158 Theocritean Regencies
Great and the Macedonian Heritage, ed. E. Borza and W. L. Adams (Washington, D.C.,
1982) 197212, provides a more realistic assessment.
112. See Hunters remarks on Theocrituss use of Hesiod (1996a, 8182) and Bing on
Callimachuss use (1988, 7683).
ambivalences in the application of the heroic model to a modern king
are the point? Unlike Ptolemy II, neither Diomedes nor Achilles demon-
strated the skills required for governing a modern state, but then suit-
able parallels for this new kingship in the heroic tradition are not easy
to ndapart from Zeus, who had some experience in ruling over the
fractious society of Olympus., though he might not always be an ap-
propriate model for other reasons. Operating within the symbolic
repertory of mythic hymns might work well for those few kings who
are also successful militarists, but there is little room for negotiation
for kings like Philadelphus, whose worth can be measured by only
one mythological standardprowess in battlewhatever their real
achievements in governing.
As Theocritus recounts the birth of Philadelphus on Cos, he is again
following the Homeric Hymn to Apollo in giving a speaking part to the
island. And in the apparent parallelDelos is to Cos as Apollo is to
Ptolemythere is another hint that Ptolemy is destined to surpass mere
mortals. But if in Callimachus Leto was in labor nine days and nine
nights, wracked with birth pains as she awaited Eileithyia (91101),
Berenices labor is mercifully brief: For there the daughter of
Antigone, heavy with her birth pangs, called for Eileithyia who looses
the girdle, and she stood by to give her aid and poured surcease from
pain upon every limb (6063). This harmony with the divine contin-
ues as the eagle of Zeus appears: This I suppose (poy) was a sign from
Zeus; for Zeus, the son of Cronus, takes care of compassionate kings,
and he is rst whom he [Zeus] loves from his very birth (7375). The
language and sentiment is borrowed from Hesiods Theogony 7985
and is used by Callimachus in the Zeus hymn, as we saw earlier.
The eagle as a symbol had early been adopted by the Ptolemaic royal
house, as the anecdote about Soter, discussed in the context of Heracles
in the shield, makes clear. In that vignette the eagle appears with out-
stretched wings to protect the exposed infant. Gows comment on the
anecdotes relationship to this passage is instructive:
The eagle, besides being the bird of Zeus, seems to have been in some
sense an emblem of the Ptolemies. An eagle on a thunderbolt commonly
Theocritean Regencies 159
113. 2: 33738, note on line 72.
114. See, for example, the statue of Chephren or representations of Ramesses II with
the Horus falcon. See the discussion in Shafer 1997, 6870.
115. For Ptolemaic use of this device, see Seldens discussion (1998, 388) with illus-
appears on their coins, and confronted gilt eagles fteen cubits high sur-
mounted the skhna in which Ptol. Philadelphus held his symposium
(Ath. 5. 197A). This symbol is more likely to explain than to be ex-
plained by the story (Aelian fr. 285) that Ptol. Soter, when exposed in in-
fancy, was protected by an eagle.
The eagle, the bird of Zeus and marker of his royal power, and, by
extension, kings, has a long pedigree in Greek art and literature. Both
Theocritus and Callimachus allude to Hesiod on the subject. But
Zeuss eagle has an equally potent Egyptian kin. The Horus falcon
was not simply an indicator of divine protection in pharaonic art and
symbol of kingship; in the Late Period, it sometimes took precedence
over the pharaoh as the icon of divine kingship.
Old Kingdom
pharaohs are often shown being embraced by the wings of the Horus
falcon, and two millennia later in the second century b.c.e., a major
Ptolemiac construction was dedicated to the Horus falcon at Edfu.
Outstretched falcon wings were used as a common framing device
for lunate commemorative stelae or as a protective device on temple
walls and were particularly associated with the king.
Thus a fond-
ness for eagles served to situate the Ptolemies within two separate
cultural frames of reference and facilitate their movement from one
to another. If Greeks saw the bird of Zeus, and Egyptians saw a
Horus falcon, both saw a familiar accoutrement of royal power.
The speaking island does not so much predict Ptolemys success as take
it for granted. Theocritus echoes Callimachus in his quotation of Hes-
iodthe proper or reverent (aidoios) king is a prosperous one, and this
is exemplied by the wealth of Philadelphus. But where Callimachus
limits his characterization of Ptolemys wealth to r\ yhfenAa, a coinage
that calls to mind the richness of the Nile, Theocritus embroiders the
theme of wealth (glbo%) and the good king for twenty lines. He con-
trasts the rest of the world with the fecund plains of Egypt when the
Nile overows and breaks up the soil where three hundred cities
160 Theocritean Regencies
116. See Gow 2: 339 ad 82ff.
117. pleAoy% tpn trismyrAvn (1.31.7) = FGrH 264 F19. See also Murray 1970, 168
n. 10.
118. See Gows discussion (2: 33839 ad 82ff.).
119. 1.5657. So Murray: How much of the rest of the poem is inspired by
Hecataeus can only be guessed at, but compare ll. 95101 with Hecataeus emphasis in
the geographical section on the defensibility of Egypt (1970, 168 n. 10).
120. Diodorus Siculus 1.56.1.
have been built therein, and three thousand and thrice ten thousand,
and twice three and three times nineto a total of 33,333. The num-
ber is undoubtedly constructed for its symbolic or mystic perfection,
but it is also close to the gure used by ancient writers. Diodorus, who
will have gotten his gure from Hecataeus, gives the number of villages
in Egypt at the time of Ptolemy, son of Lagus, as more than thirty
and a scholium to the Iliad places the number around
Theocritus has taken more than the number from Hecataeus. Com-
pare his description of Ptolemys behavior with that of Sesosis as a
good king in Diodorus.
Theocritus insists that Ptolemy
would outweigh other kings in wealth, so much comes daily into his
wealthy halls from every quarter. And his people go about their work in
peace. For no enemy crosses the teeming Nile on foot to raise the cry of
battle in villages not his own; none springs from his swift ship upon the
shore, harrying with armed violence the herds of Egypt. So great a man
is enthroned on those broad plains, yellow-haired Ptolemy, who knows
how to shake a spear, to whom it is a care to guard his ancestral her-
itage. As a good king, he increases them himself, and the gold does not
lie useless in the wealthy house, like the wealth that the ever-toiling ants
pile up. But much the glorious temples of the gods receive, much is
given to mighty kings, much to cities, and to his good companions.
Similarly Sesosis provides peace, wealth, and security that manifest
themselves in monuments:
Sesosis relieved his people of the labors of war; to the comrades who
had fought bravely with him he provided ease and enjoyment of the good
things which they had attained, while he himself, being desirous of glory
and eager for a memory that lasted forever, constructed great and mar-
velous works in conception as well as in their lavishness, winning for
himself immortal glory and for the Egyptians security with leisure for all
Theocritean Regencies 161
121. Diodorus Siculus 1.57.4.
122. Lichtheim 1976, 77. The theme of cattle not being able to roam freely is a com-
mon feature of admonition or lamentation literature, and its inverse, the restoration of
free ranges to cattle, marks the good king.
123. Hunter 1996a, 89. The Egyptian text he translates from French is in S.
Sauneron, Un document gyptien relatif divinisation de la reine Arsinoe II, BIFAO60
(1960) 83109.
And a little later:
He made the country secure and difcult of access for enemy incursions,
since hitherto almost all the best part of Egypt had been suitable for
horses and accessible for chariots, from that time on because of the num-
ber of canals from the river it became very difcult for an enemy to in-
Just as he appropriated the model of the young Sesosis as a parallel
for the young Heracles of the Heracliscus and as a tribute to the newly
crowned Ptolemy, here the accomplishments of the mature Sesosis serve
as a template for the mature king. Wealth, which the king possesses now
by virtue of his deeds both in the Syrian war and on the home front, is a
mark of his favor from Zeus, but it also obliges him to behave, as Seso-
sis, as a just king and to extend his generosity to his subjects. Though the
conferral of benets on ones subjects is a feature of Greek kingship from
Homer on, the particular form in which these virtues are articulated in
this passage closely approximates Egyptian kingship. The emphasis on
control of the eastern, western, and southern borders to guarantee peace
(8687) in order for the country to prosper, combined with wealth and
its disposition, was a feature of pharaonic kingship that apparently
Ptolemy continued. The Israel stele of Merneptah, set up after the kings
victory over the Libyans, for example, proclaims: One walks free-strid-
ing in the road, for there is no fear in peoples hearts; fortresses are left to
themselves . . . , the cattle are left to roam, no herdsman crosses the
rivers ood; . . . towns are settled once again . . . all who roamed have
been subdued by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt.
R. Hunter pro-
vides a more contemporary hieroglyphic parallel for this passage: Good
things, all good things abound in his reign . . . his granaries reach to
heaven . . . his soldiers outnumber the sands . . . all the sanctuaries cele-
brate . . . He observes: Theocritus does not merely combine the Greek
poetic tradition with a native language of praise, but nds in the former
the authorizing pattern of the latter.
Or vice versa.
162 Theocritean Regencies
124. On which, see H. White, Theocritus, Ptolemy Philadelphus and Colonus, CL
1 (1981) 1458, and Rossi 1989, 11819.
125. So Rossi (1989, 118), who sees it as felicitous and appropriate.
Theocrituss praise is not unalloyed, however. Consider the brief
speech of the island of Cos at Ptolemys birth: the island asks the new-
born for a favor, namely, In the same honor [as Apollo held Delos] es-
tablish the Triopian hill, granting an honor equal to the Dorians who
live nearby (6869). Whatever the exact identication of the Triopian
it would seem to have been a region of potential Ptolemaic ex-
pansion. To be cynical, Ptolemy can favor the region by acquiring it,
and thus complete his own expansionist policiesone example of how
he might increase what he has inherited from his father. It is of course
possible to read this as a compliment to Ptolemy,
but it is also an ex-
posure of the complicated nature of imperial wealth and generosity.
Theocritus caps the whole section with a nal example of Ptolemaic
largesse in lines 11216, by noting the benecium that presumably he
had already received for success in an earlier poetic context. This ex-
ample from the past is intended to serve as a reminder (if not an out-
right plea) to Ptolemy for the future reward that should accrue to The-
ocritus himself for this ne piece of encomiastic writing. But it also calls
attention to the power of the encomiast. His example is self-consciously
manipulative, and instructive when juxtaposed with Coss request vis--
vis the Triopian hill. For the Triopian hill, whatever the actual desires of
the inhabitants, the attentions of Ptolemy are to be considered a bene-
ciumthat is, Theocritus has constructed them as such within the con-
text of the poem. Similarly, the attentions that Ptolemy receives from
the poet are marked in advance as worthy of benecium, regardless of
the views of the subject himself.
Theocrituss poem concludes with Ptolemys establishment of the
cult of the Theoi Soteres, a shrine to his dear mother and father
(123), immediately followed by a recollection of the marriage of
Ptolemy to his full sister Arsinoe II, for which he provides the mytho-
logical parallel of the immortals whom Queen Rhea bore to be
rulers of Olympus, Zeus and Hera (13233). The phrase oF%
tAketo . . . \RAa occurs in Homer in a passage that Callimachus re-
calls in the Hymn to Zeus when he rejects the ancient poets who did
not speak truly when they said that lot assigned their three dwellings
to the sons of Cronus (6162). In the Homeric passage Poseidon
Theocritean Regencies 163
126. Iliad 15.18789.
127. No doubt because of the pun; see the discussion above, chapter 2.
We three are brothers whom Rhea bore to Cronus, Zeus and I, and
Hades lord of the dead is the third. Into three parts was everything di-
vided, and each of us had his share.
Callimachuss rejection of Homer was in part tied to historical cir-
cumstance. Preference for the Hesiodic version of Zeuss elevation by
consensual agreement of the other gods based on his clear superiority
has been taken to suggest fraternal accord at the elevation of Ptolemy
II, the youngest of Soters sons, over his brothers. But by the time of
the Ptolemy circumstances had changed, and this Homeric allusion is
now ironically apt. The wider context of Poseidons statement is Zeus
forbidding his brother Poseidon to continue to support the Trojan
cause, and Poseidon complaining that Zeus is too autocratic and that
Olympus was given to all. Hera in this rare instance is supporting her
husbands decision, though in the past she had sided with Poseidon.
Consider the parallels: Arsinoe II is now married to Philadelphus,
though she had been married to his older brother (and her half
brother) Keraunus until his death. Keraunus, if not lord of the dead,
could certainly be said to be inhabiting that realm. In returning his
audience to this pivotal moment in the Hymn to Zeus, Theocritus
does more than cap allusions. Callimachuss preference for Hesiod
over Homer was a deliberate choice of a certain poetic model, one
that gave him access to the tradition of theogonic writing as a means
of imagining the new world of Ptolemys court, while it also located
the poet as a particularly privileged speakeras the writer of theogo-
nies. Theocritus confronts the same fundamental issuehow to de-
ploy the poetic repertory from the past in serving the presentand his
use of Homer here is not pointing to his solution so much as un-
derscoring the difculties encountered in the process. While the pas-
sage in question may now seem more appropriate than it would have
earlier, still there are inconcinnities with any allusion from the mythic
past, as we saw with the heroic priamel of Diomedes, Achilles,
Further, the orthography Theocritus uses here, \RAa, is not common in
hexameter, and it returns us to the Zeus hymn in another way. Calli-
machus has used this spelling once in his hymn at line 21,
when after
164 Theocritean Regencies
128. Homonoia was a concept connected with Alexanders grand plan for his king-
dom. See Tarn 1933, 12348.
Rheas parturition water begins to ow in thirsty Argos, thus, as we
have seen, calling to mind the Nile. Theocritus reading of Calli-
machuss Zeus hymn has now come full course with his allusion to the
birth of Zeus and Hera, as opposed to merely that of Zeus. If he began
by claiming to know how to speak of both Zeus and Ptolemy and by
seeming to draw rm distinctions between them, he concludes with an
equation of human and divine, not in relation to immortality but to
marriage. Further, he hints that the process by which Ptolemy and his
wife will, like their parents, achieve an immortality differs from the
course of the traditional Homeric hero. Finally, the ending symmetry of
the brother-sister pair mirrors the concord not only of the parent di-
vinities memorialized by their pious children in cult but recreates the
accord of Alexander and Soter on Olympus. In many respects the theme
of this poem is concord and harmonyof heaven and earth as human
and divine cohabit in Olympus, and of Zeus, the patron of kings, with
Ptolemy, his protg; of ruler and ruled as Ptolemy tly displays his eu-
ergesia; of parent and child in the image of Ptolemy, the beloved and
true son of Soter and Berenice who most resembles his father; and -
nally, of brother and sister, husband and wife. This homonoia
is ac-
tively constructed against other poetic parallels, most obviously Calli-
machuss and his doubt or double-mindedness about how to praise,
but also against the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, in which Leto and the
birth of Apollo are opposed by Hera, and nally against the heroic tra-
dition, as the mention of Achilles and Diomedes suggests. Both men
eclipse their fathers; both are examples of violent warriors who possess
the arete of heroic poetry in abundance, but whose efcacy is limited to
the context of heroic battle, against which the spearman Ptolemy is
positioned, who leads a nation-state in prosperous peace. As such The-
ocrituss poem stands in contrast to another of Callimachuss poems,
the Hymn to Delos.
As I noted earlier, the two are roughly contemporary, and which is
prior cannot be determined with any degree of conviction. Whether
Callimachus rewrote Theocritean harmony or whether Theocritus posi-
tions his poem against the turbulent cosmos of the Delos hymn, the two
clearly construct themselves against each other. What is interesting
about these poems is this literary behavior: how, regardless of their
compositional order, the ction of order and the relationship of subject
Theocritean Regencies 165
to the same mythological repertory is kept in play. Delos and Cos exist
in a temporal relationship to each other: Delos, whatever its date of
composition, must be poetically prior, while Cos serves to fulll
Apollos prophecy and continue the poetic chain of speaking islands
from Homer through Callimachus to Theocritus, thereby linking
Ptolemy and his birth to hymnic as well as encomiastic modes of ex-
pression. The cosmic disorder that is transformed into harmony at the
birth of Apollo is continued in the encomium, as if the promise of
Ptolemy in the one is fullled in the other. If in the Delos hymn the
forces of chaosPytho and the Gaulswill need to be defeated in the
future, the encomium paints a picture of the results of these events and
the ensuing cosmic accord, or what happens when the foe is routed.
Both poets use Egyptian models, but while Callimachus focuses on the
myths of divine birth once again as the moment when cosmic harmony
begins, Theocritus focuses on the adult behavior of the king as the liv-
ing instantiation of harmony, in the form of prosperity, and on the
kings role in facilitating culture.
The encomium must also be read in relationship to the Heracliscus.
The general shape of the two is similar, and the presence of Heracles in
both as a model for his descendant, Ptolemy, is signicant. The Hera-
cliscus, like the Zeus hymn, began by seeming to construct a dual Greek
and Egyptian mythology for its subjectHeraclesand by the selec-
tion and treatment of the incident of Heracles throttling snakes to re-
ect in many particulars the myth of Horus. But in Callimachus the
double construction of plot continues throughout the poem to leave the
late appearance of Ptolemy in the poem suspended between the two
narratives as Callimachuss doubts never resolve themselves but are
externalized as plausible ctions. In contrast, Theocrituss double
narrative unites in Teiresiass prophecy, as Theocritus moves from the
mythical models of earlier Greek poetry to a historical model similar to
that found in Hecataeus. The prophecy not only brings to closure the
incident of defeating serpents, or triumphing over enemies, it also pro-
vides the stimulus for the education of Heracles as a young prince, just
as Sesosiss father was stimulated by a dream of his sons future ac-
complishments. The similarity of the Hecataean narrative about Seso-
sis suggests that Theocritus is working within the same conceptual
framework as Callimachus, but while Callimachus remains within the
parameters of archaic Greek poetry to construct an ideal of kingship,
Theocritus moves to contemporary political and philosophical debate.
Sesosis serves as a concrete example for a newly crowned king who
166 Theocritean Regencies
129. The Egyptian pharaoh acted as a creator who renewed and expanded maat
through buildings and other monuments (Hornung 1992, 156). For the way in which this
pharaonic motif of building plays out in Callimachuss Hymn to Apollo, see Selden 1998,
rules over both Greeks and Egyptians, because Sesosis is a real his-
torical Egyptian king whose behavior has been conformed to an ideal-
ized Greek model. While Callimachuss Hesiodic basileus with straight
judgments can function as a parallel for or allusion to the Egyptian king
who governs by maat, Theocritus borrows a gure in whom Egyptian
ideals of maat have already been translated into Greek concepts and
just judgment has been expressed by euergesia, or generosity on an im-
perial scale.
Moreover, in both of Theocrituss poems the narratives progress
from openings that seem to search for behavioral models within the
framework of the archaic or heroic world to conclude with behaviors
that conform to modern ideals of kingship. As we saw in Hecataeus,
prosperity (olbia) and ultimately immortality were granted to those
rulers who had conferred benefactions upon mankind (euergesia).
What is also at stake is a realignment of immortality. Theocritus clearly
separates the realms of human and divine, most obviously in the Hera-
cliscus, as we saw above, but also in the Ptolemy, where he maintains a
distinction between Zeus and Aphrodite, on the one hand, and the
demigods, like Heracles, who sup with the immortals but are subject to
the normal events of human lifebirth, maturation, and death. For this
secondary rank, immortality is to be gained by good works: as Isis and
Osiris and the other early Egyptian kings in Hecataeus are deied for
their signal benets to humankind, so in an analogous way might oth-
ers be elevated. One means of benefaction in Hecataeus is the introduc-
tion of the cults of the gods. Already in the Heracliscus Theocritus may
have intended his audience to understand the allusions to the Eleusinian
mysteries in this context, either as a past example of benets conferred
or, if Soter had indeed introduced something similar in Alexandria, a
current one. It is in this context that ruler cult seems to function in the
Ptolemy. We are told:
Alone this one of those men who formerly or still warm the dust with the
imprint of their feet as they go has established shrines to his dear mother
and father, in which, splendid in gold and ivory, he has placed them to as-
sist all mankind. (12125)
Theocritean Regencies 167
130. Castiglione1967, 251.
Soter and Berenice continue their benefactions, then, even in death, and
in marked contrast to the heroes of mythic hymns Ptolemy alone has in-
stituted cult not only as an act of lial piety but also as a benefaction in
turn for mankind. At this point we should recall that other contempo-
rary writer, Euhemerus, who, like Hecataeus, organized divinity into
two categoriesouranioi and epigeioi. For him even Zeus was an ex-
ample of this latter category, since among his other services to humans
he instituted cults to his parents. Theocritus proleptically locates
Ptolemy II in this same company of such divinized humans with the
image of footprints in the dust. There was a well-documented Egyptian
belief that the imprint of the foot of a divinity or of the king personied
the divine force and was an index of the benecient effect of the divine
presence. Plaques with the imprint of feet have often been found among
temple dedications.
Thus Ptolemys footprint not only places him in
the exclusive company of those gods and kings important enough to
leave footprints but elevates him above the rest. It serves as the tangible
manifestation of the qualities that will in the fullness of time lead to his
own deication, as well as the benets that his current activities confer
on his subjects.
Theocritus, as we have seen, has ample precedent for the dynamic of
his narrative, but his originality lies in the poetic attempt to conform or
adapt these prose models specically to Ptolemy as well as in the dy-
namic interplay of the two different mythological frames of reference
that he chose to employ. A similar dynamic appears to have been at
work in Idyll 15, the Adoniazusae. In that poem the chaos and disorder
of the streets of Alexandria, with their babble of competing regional ac-
cents and threats of trampling horses, are transformed into the beauty
and harmony of the royal palace. Theocritus is surely playing with the
Egyptian constructs of order and chaos in two ways: he inverts the nor-
mal relationship between Egyptian and other when he attributes (at
least partially) the disorder of the streets to Egyptian pickpockets and
order to Ptolemy for cleaning up the street crime. But by attributing the
bringing of order to Ptolemy, Theocritus simultaneously marks him as
pharaoh, albeit a pharaoh triumphing over petty theft not Gaulish
hoards. The poem itself celebrates the beneciumof the Adonis festival,
which the queen, Arsinoe, instituted for the citizens of Alexandria. And
168 Theocritean Regencies
131. For the relationship between the Adonia and Osirid festivals, see Reed 2000,
132. Brother-sister marriage was a notorious feature of Greco-Roman Egypt. For the
most recent study, see W. Scheidel, Brother-Sister and Parent-Child Marriage Outside
Royal Families in Ancient Egypt and Iran: A Challenge to the Sociobiological View of In-
cest Avoidance? Ethnology and Sociobiology 17 (1996) 31940.
133. There are obvious political implications in stories that position one or another
family in a direct line from Zeus, and the power structure of Egypt, with its dominant
centralized monarchy, will not have needed to generate the same set of myths, but still the
differences between the divine brother-sister pairs are remarkable. See Hall 1996, 8889,
on the function of theogeniture.
however one interprets the event, the quality of the Adonis song, and
Theocrituss intentions (ironical or otherwise), the pleasure of the two
ladies, Gorgo and Praxinoa, is represented as genuine, and their praise
of the singerpanolbAa (146)could equally serve as an epithet for
the Ptolemaic city itself.
It is within the context of a dual Greek-Egyptian kingship that has
moved out of the realm of the mythologicalor potential, where Calli-
machus seems to have left itand into the contemporaryor actual
that brother-sister marriage comes to play a role.
This is a real
pharaonic practice with ample precedent in national myth; not only are
Isis and Osiris brother and sister as well as man and wife, their siblings,
Seth and Nephthys, are also a pair. But, apart from the obvious paral-
lels with Zeus and Hera, the two couples have very little in common.
Isis is an entirely loyal wife and sister as well as mother, and the Egypt-
ian pair are given to good works that benet their son as well as mor-
tals in general, rather than to complaints and philandering. Their sex-
ual relationship is focused on and culminates in the production of the
son and legitimate heir, Horus, and in many versions of the story Isis
conceives Horus posthumously. In contrast, Zeus, in the context of
myth (as opposed to philosophy), seems to have fathered half of the he-
roes in Greek legend,
while Hera is often quarrelsome and vindictive.
Theocrituss decision to end the Ptolemy by mentioning the marriage of
Ptolemy and Arsinoe II is explicable in terms of Egyptian kingshipthe
loving family pair is a t nale to his portrait of political, social, and
cosmic harmony, but in terms of Greek myth we nd the same in-
concinnity as in the heroic priamel. However, within the contemporary
prose writings of Hecataeus and Euhemerus, it seems that Zeus and
Hera were constructed rather differently. According to Hecataeus,
there were other gods, who were terrestrial (DpigeAoy%), they say, who
had once been mortal, but who because of their intelligence and their
Theocritean Regencies 169
134. Diodorus Siculus 1.13.45 = FGrH 264 F25.13.45. I have omitted the portion
of 1.13.4 that Jacoby rejects.
135. Note, for instance, how much is written about the end of Callimachuss Hymn
to Apollo and how little about the poem as a whole. In contrast, see Selden 1998,
good ofces (eDergesAan) to all attained immortality, some of them even
had been kings in Egypt. When translated, the names of some are
homonyms of the celestial gods (oDranAoi%), but others retain their dis-
tinctive name, Helios and Cronus, and Rhea, and the Zeus whom some
call Ammon, and also Hera. . . . Then Cronus ruled and, having married
Rhea, fathered Zeus and Hera, who became rulers of the entire cosmos
because of their excellence (dI dretbn basilePsai toP sAmpanto% kas-
moy). From them were born ve gods . . . Osiris and Isis, and Typhon
and Apollo and Aphrodite; and Osiris is translated as Dionysus, and Isis
is nearest to Demeter. When Osiris married her and succeeded to the
kingship he did many things for the benet of the life of all people (pollb
prpjai prb% eDergesAan toP koinoP bAoy).
Theocritus, then, was not alone in nding Zeus and Hera positive mod-
els for kingship. While this may not have alleviated the difculty of
packaging brother-sister marriage for Greek consumption, it does pro-
vide a more nuanced context for the analogy. In philosophical and his-
torical discourse the construction of divinity was at odds with the
mythological apparatus of the inherited hymnic tradition. In more gen-
eral terms this points to the genuine conceptual difculties poets of this
new age faced in writing for a court. The poetic traditions of the past,
produced as often as not in different political environments, could be
only a partial t for hymning the Ptolemies.
The inconcinnities in the perceptions that Theocrituss allusions or in-
tertextualities actually generate in the reader (ancient or modern) and
what his surface text seems to say create a problem in reading: how are
we to respond to these court poems? Are they deliberately ironic? Or
are they subversive in response to the necessity to write poetry in a dis-
tasteful environment? Are they simply failures of poetic judgmentei-
ther on the poets part, who ineptly chose his exempla, or on the part of
readers who can now no longer appreciate the intricate gavotte of court
poetry? The problem is the same for Callimachus, though the particu-
lars are different. Callimachuss decision to locate his poems for the
most part within the mythological past of archaic poetry has often ob-
scured their political nature, and when he does specically mention a
Ptolemy modern readers have easily bracketed this off from the text.
170 Theocritean Regencies
In contrast, Theocrituss obvious application of that same mythological
realm to the contemporary world of the court creates greater strains for
reception; the gap between the poetic press and perceived reality seems
larger. Both poets are experimenting with image making, and humor
sustains many of their experiments; some are intrinsically humorous,
like Heracles, the boy prince, or potentially humorous, like Soter and
Alexander in heaven, or potentially disastrous, like Hera and Zeus as
the ideal couple. But there is in both also the constructed persona of the
poet, which we can watch as he creates his poems. The poets habit of
distancing themselves from the surface of the text should allow us to
read the poems in a more nuanced way. If Callimachus constructs his
images of the court in terms of Zeus and Apollo, while Theocritus em-
ploys Heracles, neither is constructing a literal equivalent so much as a
vehicle for expressing the emerging ideologies of the Ptolemaic court
and for devising imaginatively viable myth not simply for what are the
new realities, but for its desires and potential. The available mytholo-
giesHomeric, hymnic, encomiastic, theogonic, Hecataeanallow
each poet to foreground different elements of the relationship of the
court to the constituent elements of its worldcult, relations with
other parts of the Hellenistic world, with those within and without
Greek-speaking Alexandria, its Greek heritage.
But the variant mythologies have their limits. They come with a
generic encoding and preset parameters within which they functioned
in the past and within which the poet was obliged to work. If Hera and
Zeus are poor paradigms for Isis and Osiris, or at least for the model
behavior that that divine brother-sister marriage would have encoded
for Egyptians, by choosing to write on the subject Theocritus may well
be underscoring the difculty, namely, that better models do not exist
within the Greek mythological repertory. This is perhaps why Calli-
machus treats the subject not at all or (more likely) employs the non-
sexual pairing of Apollo-Artemis as his Olympian analogues for the
Ptolemaic consanguineous couple. But however successful or otherwise
we may, at this distance, deem these symbolic maneuverings, they are
constitutive of the poetic discourse that is taking place within the court
and between those poets who choose to participate. And it is far more
likely that the poets themselves determine the parameters of this dis-
course than that it is the result of imperial dictation.
1. 1993, 3. See Hunters assessment at pp. 15269, and in 1989b and 1995. In con-
trast, Weber rarely mentions the Argonautica in his treatment of Hellenistic courtpo-
etry (1993), and Green (1997) reads it as a throwback to the archaic worldview of an ear-
lier age. Even Pietschs study of the unity of the Argonautica (1999) discusses its
theology entirely in terms of Homer and classical models, without any attention to
Hellenistic philosophical discourse.
2. Bakhtin 1981, 15. While it is fashionable to critique Bakhtins formulations as ap-
plicable only to the earliest, perhaps only oral epic, in fact his observations about the tem-
poral relationship of past and present are true even for Vergil: Vergil constructs an epic
In choosing to write epic Apollonius distanced himself from Calli-
machuss and Theocrituss poetry about the court so successfully that R.
Hunter could write in 1993: Very little attention has . . . been paid to
the Ptolemaic context of Apollonius epic, to the question of why the
Head of the Library should write on this subject rather than any
The question has been ignored because the Homeric epic, un-
like the Aeneid, is constructed as a closed generic form that resists con-
nection with the present; rather, its action is located in a remote past of
national beginnings and rst times. The genre itself erects a barrier be-
tween past and present, and, in respect to the present, the past main-
tains a moral hegemony. Events located or narrated within this mythic
past are inherently worthy of memorialization, while contemporary
events, because they have not withstood the test of time and the verdict
of future generations upon their signicance, must always be found
wanting in comparison.
Critical attempts to link events of the Arg-
chapter 4
Apollonian Cosmologies
172 Apollonian Cosmologies
past for the Augustan age precisely because that period comes invested with heightened
cultural signicance.
3. Goldhill (1991: 284333), for example, explores the relationship of past and pres-
ent in Apollonius entirely in terms of the literary.
4. The disagreement among modern scholars about whether or not the Aeneid was
intended as pro- or anti-Augustan suggests that even this epic, despite it proclamations of
the manifest destiny of Rome, cannot be read as a simple validation of Augustuss reign.
onautica to the Ptolemaic court, therefore, would seem to breach the
temporal authority of epic and both result in an aesthetic diminution of
the poem and sharply underscore the necessarily reduced status of con-
temporary events in comparison with an epic past. If Callimachus and
Theocritus consciously eschewed the epic model, it is easy to imagine
that they did so because of the intransigence of this valorized past and
its impermeable temporal boundaries. Which is not to say that these
poets did not invoke the mythic past. The genres of epinician and en-
comium implicate their subjects in that past as a means of valorizing
the present, but it is precisely the relationship of past and present that
both Callimachus and Theocritus were struggling to articulate (as is
Vergil in Roman epic), and as we saw in earlier chapters their modern
critical reception reects the difculty in moving from mythologies en-
coded in the received genres of classical culture to current events.
epic, however, the relationship of past and present is characterized by
rupture, and Apollonius by virtue of choosing to write within the lin-
guistic and mythological framework of Homeric epic inscribes his text
within the value system inherent in that genre, distancing it from the in-
determinacy of contemporary events. I would like, therefore, to con-
sider to what extent the absolute valorized past of the poem is not just
a concomitant for Apollonius, but a central feature. What he chooses to
include enters this privileged state, and even seemingly incompatible el-
ements belong to the systema closed temporal system removed from
and inherently superior to the present. What is excluded is the present.
This is not to say that Apolloniuss epic past was not related to his con-
temporary worldto have meaning, all writing of the past must be
framed in reference to the present and will necessarily reect the cul-
tural values and experiences of its authorbut the connection need not
be logical, linear, or even obvious. Epic functions not so much to privi-
lege any one particular relationship of present and past, but to enhance
the signicance of the present by endowing it with an epic heroic past in
light of which the meaning of all subsequent events is elevated and
against which all subsequent events may be read.
Apollonian Cosmologies 173
5. Meuli 1925 discusses elements of the Argo myth embedded in the Odyssey. Drger
1993 and Moreau 1994 provide full-scale treatments of earlier and later versions of the
myth. Hunter 1989a, 1221, and Braund 1994, 1139, have useful summaries.
Events of the epic past do not valorize the present nor necessarily ac-
count for it causally, nor do they serve as model for modern action.
Rather, epic confers a particular kind of existence upon events, and by
locating events of the narrative within an epic framework the poet val-
orizes them within a preordained and culturally accessible symbolic
system. It is by fashioning a past to partake of or participate in epic
meaning that Apolloniuss epic functioned in the Ptolemaic presenta
present without access to a past or cultural heritage distinct from that
of the Panhellenic or polis world of the Greek city-states. But the
uniqueness of Alexandria, with its bicultural formation, the ethnic di-
versity of its Greek population, its lack of autochthonous heroes, as
well as the historical circumstance of its very recent foundation, made it
sufciently unlike earlier Greek cities that the Homeric epics with their
heroic values and their focus on the dening moment of the Trojan War
were an uneasy t for the emerging apparatus of the Ptolemaic state.
Thus neither Jason nor Heracles is meant to be Ptolemy any more than
Aeneas is meant to be Augustusthough individual readers may be
able to draw parallels of behavior or circumstance. Rather, the activities
of a hero operating within the temporal framework of epic, which
stand in some relationship (originary or otherwise) to the present, con-
fer status and stabilitya mythic historicitythat parvenu cultures like
that of Alexandria were manifestly lacking.
an epic for the ptolemies
What kind of past, then, did Apollonius seek to create for the Ptole-
mies? The story of Jason and the Argonauts is a quest mytha staple of
folktale and romance as well as epic. The subject was treated frequently
in previous epic, and elements of the tale were known to Homer,
though no particular version achieved the dominance that the Homeric
material did for the Trojan War. In outline, Jason, a Greek hero, and his
companions proceed to the eastern edge of the known world, the land
of Colchis, to recover a magic eece, where he is helped by the kings
daughter, whom he subsequently marries and brings back to Greece.
The tale has two distinct motifsthe quest for a valuable object and
174 Apollonian Cosmologies
6. There is a tendency to regard tragic sources as the authoritative versions of the
myth (Euripides Medea and the now lost Colchian Women of Sophocles), but the Douris
vase, from 490470 b.c.e. (Vatican no. 16545, Beazley ARV, p. 286), on which Jason has
been swallowed by the dragon, and Dionysius Scytobrachions Hellenistic version, in
which Heracles and Jason codirect the expedition, suggest that there was considerable
room for creativity within the parameters of the received tale.
the encounter of Greek and non-Greek, barbarian, the other, and the re-
sulting cooperation and ultimate union of the two. The union can be
read in various ways: as a reciprocal union of Greek and non-Greek, as
the triumph of civilizing Greece over barbarian culture, as the traducing
of Greek innocence and values by barbarian treachery and magic prac-
tice, as an uneasy cultural liaison, or as one doomed to failure. By lo-
cating the event in the past all potentialities are possible; no particular
future is preordained. Equally, there is no autonomous narrative of the
events Apollonius relates, only a series of earlier myths and legends,
each embedded within a specic generic context. Collectively this mate-
rial formed the intertextual matrix for Apolloniuss own composition,
but it does not seem to have been prescriptive or necessarily limiting of
his own narrative voice.
While we do not have earlier epic treatments of the voyage of the
Argonauts to compare with Apolloniuss, previous versions of the tale
formed part of the Greek literary heritage, in both poetry and prose.
Herodotus, for example, in the opening of his Histories organizes a se-
ries of disparate legends into a coherent chronology for the war with
Persia. For him the conict between Greece and Persia originates in a se-
ries of woman-stealings on both sides (1.22.3). First, Phoenician
merchantmen snatched away Greek Io from the port of Argos; later,
some Greeks (probably Cretan, Herodotus remarks at 2.1) stole Europa,
the daughter of the local king, from Tyre. About fty years later, armed
Greek merchantmen in Colchis abducted the kings daughter, and all this
culminated in Paris taking Helen. The resulting enmity between Greek
and barbarianfor his rhetorical purposes, Herodotus lumps Phoeni-
cian, Colchian, and Trojan together and implicitly identies them with
Persianled to the Persian wars, which he and fth-century Greeks in
general mythologized as the triumph of Greek cultural values over bar-
barian despotism. But equally implicit in Herodotuss scheme is the
mythologically entangled, quasi-familial relationship of Greek and
Egyptian cultures, for Io, as a Greek, became the ancestor of Egypt and
Libya, while the Phoenician Europa became the eponymous mother of
Apollonian Cosmologies 175
7. These trends are also visible in Apolloniuss contemporary Lycophron, who uses
the same Herodotean schemeIo, Europa, and Medea (12911321)but recounts the
expedition of the Argonauts only in allusive details (120921).
8. The link between Colchis and Libya and Egypt is well attested in ancient writing
(Braund 1994, 9, 1718), but it is not a prominent feature in most accounts of the voyage
of the Argo. Other Hellenistic writers also note the connection: Callimachus in the open-
ing of the fragmentary Victoria Berenices (SHfr. 254 + fr. 383 Pf.) links Colchis and the
Nile in respect to weaving, while Lycophron in his tale of the Argonauts (1312) identies
Colchis as Libyan: eD% KAtaian tbn Libystikan.
9. 2.101525, and compare Herodotus 2.35.
western Europe.
Also, Dionysius Scytobrachions euhemerizing account
of the Argonauts, which must have fallen within the early Hellenistic pe-
riod (between ca. 270220 b.c.e.), provides evidence of how the story
could have been fashioned for contemporary audiences. Several ele-
ments from Scytobrachions work are particularly relevant to Apollo-
nius: a prominent feature of both the Argonautica and the Libyan tales
was the opposition of the civilized behavior of Greek conquerors to the
behavior of the barbarians they confronted. In the Libyan tales Scyto-
brachion locates the activities of Dionysus and the Amazons not in
Thrace but in North Africa and Libya, and his narrative action moves
from west to east along the southern Mediterranean from Libya to the
Taurus region (the Amazons) and from Egypt to India (Dionysus). Two
of his charactersHeracles and Dionysusare Alexander equivalents;
and he incorporates both Ammon and Horus into the more familiar
Olympic pantheon. Thus Scytobrachion produced a set of stories that
conform traditional Greek myths to the historical particularities of the
early Hellenistic period, and integrated Libya and Egypt into his picture.
In its general contour, then, Apollonius has chosen a story in which
the encounter of Greek with a non-Greek world is paramount, as op-
posed to heroic battles or homecoming. But Colchis is not simply an-
other instance of the barbarian. In the Argonautica, it is particular-
ized as Egyptian.
Initially, an Egyptian connection is suggested by
Apolloniuss appropriation of one of Herodotuss most distinctive
narrative strategies. For Herodotus the inversion of Greek cultural
norms is a central and dening feature of Egyptian behavior (2.35.2),
and in the Argonautica, as the Argonauts approach the land of
Colchis, they experience a rapid escalation of such inversions ex-
pressed in terms already familiar from Herodotus. The Argonauts en-
counter the Timbarini (2.101014), who practice the couvade, and
the Mossynoeci, who do openly out of doors what others do inside.
176 Apollonian Cosmologies
10. See, for example, Fusillo 1985, 15967.
11. See Beckerath 1999, 2526. Hieroglyphic versions of this title are used by the
early Ptolemies; yCb% toP ^HlAoy rst occurs in the trilingual Rosettana (196 b.c.e.). See
Koenen 1993, 4849, 6162.
12. 4.27279. The stability of its institutions (Gti nPn mAnei Gmpedon) and its use of
writing (graptP%) were dening characteristics of Egypt, most obviously exploited by
Plato in the opening of the Phaedrus (274c575b1) and in the Timaeus (21e24) and the
Laws (700a701b).
In book 3, the local burial customs invert a natural order by expos-
ing the bodies of men in the air instead of burying them underground
Thus Apollonius constructs a narrative trajectory of
increasingly more alien peoples and behaviors, which peak as the Arg-
onauts reach Colchis. In Colchis itself they nd the king, Aeetes, who
is literally the son of Helios. Egyptians from as early as the fth dy-
nasty identied the pharaoh as the son of the Sun (Re) and incor-
porated the phrase into the imperial titulary. The practice was contin-
ued by the Ptolemies, and the Egyptian title was translated into Greek
as yCb% toP \HlAoy.
More explicitly, in book 4, although he does not name him, Apollo-
nius identies Colchis as a foundation of Sesostris, the legendary Egypt-
ian conqueror whose exploits were recorded both in Herodotus and in
Apolloniuss near contemporary, Hecataeus of Abdera:
Enuen da tina fasi pArij dib ppsan cdePsai
EDraphn \AsAhn te, bAi kaB karteJ lapn
sfvitArvn uarsei te pepoiuata myrAa d gsth
nassat Dpoixameno%, tb mBn g poui naietaoysin
dB kaB oG poylB% gbr gdhn Dpenanouen aDan,
ARa ge mbn Gti nPn mAnei Gmpedon yCvnoA te
tpnd dndrpn oF% e% ge kauAssato naiAmen ARan
oE da toi graptP% patArvn Euen eDrAontai.
From here [Egypt] they say someone (tina) traveled throughout all Eu-
rope and Asia, trusting in the might and strength and courage of his
troops; and he established thousands of cities when he passed through;
some are still inhabited, some are not; for many an age has passed since
then. But Aia [the land of Aeetes] continues even now, and the descen-
dants of those men whom he settled to dwell in Aia. They preserve the
writings of their forefathers.
Herodotuss narrative stands behind many of these details:
Dk tp% \AsAh% D% tbn EDraphn diabb%. . . . DpeAte DgAneto DpB Fasi
potamu, oDk Gxv tb DnuePten dtrekAv% eDpePn eGte aDtb% c basileB%
Apollonian Cosmologies 177
13. Herodotus 2.103.1104.1 (with omissions).
14. Diodorus Siculus 1.54.1 ( = FGrH 264 F 25.54.1), and see Murray 1970, 168 n.
15. Pearson 1938, 45556. By Apolloniuss time the Egyptian name had been Hell-
enized as Sesostris by Herodotus, Sesosis by Hecataeus of Abdera, and Seson-
chosis in the Alexander Romance. For a discussion of the variants of the name, see Mur-
ray 1970, 162 n. 1.
SAsvstri% dpodasameno% tp% CvytoP stratip% marion eson db aDtoP
katAlipe tp% xarh% oDkatora%, eGte tpn tine% strativtAvn tu plani
aDtoP dxuesuAnte% perB Fpsin potambn katAmeinan. faAnontai mBn
gbr Dante% oC Kalxoi ADgAptioi noasa% dB prateron aDtb% h dkoAsa%
gllvn lAgv. c% dA moi Dn frontAdi DgAneto, eDramhn dmfotAroy%, kaB
mpllon oC Kalxoi DmemnAato tpn ADgyptAvn h oC ADgAptioi tpn
[Sesostris] . . . crossed from Asia into Europe. . . . Then he came to the
river Phasis; I cannot say for sure whether King Sesostris himself de-
tached a body of troops from his army and left them to settle, or whether
some of his men were sick of their travels and remained by the Phasis.
For the Colchians appear to be Egyptians. I say this having noticed it my-
self before hearing it from others, and when it occurred to me I asked
some questions of both parties and found that the Colchians remembered
the Egyptians more distinctly than the Egyptians remembered them.
Apollonius is likely also to have been alluding to a contemporary por-
trayal of Sesosis found in Hecataeus of Abdera when he describes the
king as trusting in . . . his troops and with his portrait of the world
conqueror as simultaneously a founder of cities. Hecataeus explains
that before beginning his campaign of world conquest, Sesosis rst
courted the goodwill of all of the Egyptians by generosity and benefac-
tions and by these means acquired soldiers who were prepared to die
for their leaders.
Although the gure of Sesostris is unmistakable,
Apollonius does not name the Egyptian pharaoh but refers to him only
with the indenite tina. In this way the entire passage conveys a sense
of the distance of the past, as well as the vagueness and conjecture rem-
iniscent of the style of earlier logographers.
Also, Apolloniuss inde-
nite allows an initial impression that he is referring to the more recent
exploits of Alexander, in whose eponymous foundation the Argonau-
tica was probably composed.
For contemporary readers Hecataeus of Abdera had already drawn
178 Apollonian Cosmologies
16. Diodorus Siculus 1.55.23 ( = FGrH 264 F 25.55.23), and see Fusillos discus-
sion (1985, 5254).
17. On homonoia, see Tarn 1933, 12348. For a discussion of this scene in Apollo-
nius, see Feeney 1991, 7577, and Hunter 1995, 1824.
18. The role of the Greek gods within this poem has been treated elsewhere and is not
central to this study. See Feeney 1991; Hunter 1993, 75100. Pietsch (1999) has argued
for a unifying theology throughout the Argonautica, in which Zeuss anger and his jus-
tice are overarching.
an explicit parallel between Sesosis and Alexander,
and in the
Alexander Romance as well Alexander is packaged as the new Seson-
chosis (1.34.2 Kroll). Indeed it would have been difcult for a con-
temporary audience not to have regarded Alexanders conquests as a
template of sorts for the Argonautica. Alexander had gone to the edges
of the known world, to India, before turning back, and he had notori-
ously effected the marriage of his satraps to foreign princesses as part of
his foundation of a new world order in which the boundaries of Greek
and non-Greek were to be softened or blurred. Vignettes like the foun-
dation of the temple of Concord (homonoia) in 2. 71419 were surely
designed to recall what seemed to have emerged, at least in historical
and philosophical treatments, as a salient characteristic of Alexanders
But Jason would have been a poor parallel for Alexander, and
although Heracles gured in the mythology of the court, particularly in
Theocrituss poetry, he is excluded from Apolloniuss adventure in any
direct role as leader. As a monster-slayer, however, he is often present in
the Argonautica as an offstage counterpoint to the action of the young
heroesa circumstance that suggests that despite the occasional simi-
larities the acts of the Argonauts were not consistently modeled on
those of the great world conquerors. Jason and his crew pass through
alien lands without conquest or founding cities; rather, it is through the
building of altars or the institution of rituals that they leave an impres-
sion on these regions. Further, the text is marked by a divine reciprocity.
No divinity opposes the voyage, and it is particularly favored by Hera
and Apollo. Apollo is addressed in the opening line (drxameno% sAo,
FoPbe), and his bencient appearance marks the end of the adventure
in book 4, with the result that he seems to be the patron deity of the
whole poem. When Jason murders Apsyrtus, the intertextual frame-
work of murder and expiation casts the event in terms of the Oresteia,
which allows it to be understood, like Orestes murder of his mother, as
part of the process that moves from the chthonic and primordial world
of Helioss son, Aeetes, into a civilized Olympian order.
A consideration of Pindars fourth Pythian allows us to expand this
Apollonian Cosmologies 179
19. Pythian 4.1315. The text and translation are adapted from Braswell 1988, 41
and notes on 15 (a)(b) on pp. 8183.
20. Virtually the same trajectory is found in Lycophrons compression of the tale of
the Argo (891894), though he connects possession of Libya not with the clod/island, but
with possession of the tripod that the Argonauts give to Triton (cf. Argonautica
4.154749 and Herodotus 4.179).
21. See Calame 1990, 275341, for an analysis of the Cyrenean foundation myths in
Pindar Pythians 4, 5, and 9, Callimachus, and Apollonius. I am following Calames read-
ing of Pythian 4, but my argument about Apollonius is entirely different from his (see esp.
his pp. 28485).
picture. Pindars ode is a layered narrative in which the Argonauts ex-
pedition serves as the point of departure for events central to the prais-
ing of the Cyrenean victor Arcesilas IV. Located at the beginning of the
poem, when the Argonauts have broken their journey on Thera, is a
prophecy placed in the mouth of Medea about the founding of the
royal house of Cyrene. She tells Euphemus, one of the Argonauts, that
the clod of earth that had been previously given to him near the Triton-
ian lake in Libya as a gift of hospitality by Triton (who had assumed
mortal shape) was destined when washed into the sea to come to rest
upon the island of Thera. Through its instrumentality Euphemus was
destined to become the ancestor of the Cyrenean royal house: after sev-
enteen generations, his descendants would migrate from Lemnos to
Sparta to Thera and thence to Libyathe land of Zeus Ammon. Thus
the broader context of Greek civilizing barbarian is particularized in
the Battiad line, who, as Greeks, lay claim to the fertile elds of barbar-
ian North Africa:
KAklyte, paPde% CperuAmvn te fvtpn kaB uepn
famA gbr tpsd Dj clipla-
ktoy potB gp% \Epafoio karan
dstAvn r\ Azan fyteAsesuai melhsimbratvn
Dib% Dn 6mmvno% uemAuloi%.
Hear, sons of high-hearted men and gods. For I say that out of this sea-
beaten land [sc. Thera] the daughter of Epaphus shall be planted with a
root of famous cities, amid the foundations of Zeus Ammon.
The clod of Libyan earth given as a gift that comes to rest on
Therathat is, Greek soilconfers by its migration a kind of au-
tochthonous claim to Libya, which subsequently becomes Greek by
manifest destiny or divine plan.
In Pindar, the marriage of Medea and
Jason is proleptic of the destined union of Libya and Greece, and the
usual structural hierarchies are fully operative: male over female, Greek
over barbarian, and culture over nature.
The recovery of the eece,
180 Apollonian Cosmologies
22. Callimachus praises the Battiad line because he is related to it, but the Battiads
had not controlled the Cyrenaica for over a century. During the period in which Apollo-
nius is likely to have written the Argonautica, it was ruled either by Ptolemy IIs half
brother Magas or by the Ptolemies themselves (Laronde 1987, 379454). See Braswells
comment (1988, 130 n. 49 [b]).
23. However, see below, note 29.
which was already Greek, is a narrative isomorph of the recovery of
Libya. It comes as no surprise that Apollonius would adapt these Pin-
daric elements for a poem written in Ptolemaic North Africa, though it
can hardly have been his purpose (as it was Pindars) to celebrate the
Battiad line of Cyrene.
As we might anticipate, Apollonius makes no
overt reference to the Battiad connection of Euphemus and does not
mention Cyrene at all.
Rather, he seems to have cast Euphemus and
his line as mythological analogues for the Greeks in general who were
destined to colonize Libya. He fashions the last book of his poem to
begin with a recollection of the Egyptian conqueror and colonizer,
Sesostris, who in Hellenistic writing has come to be the precursor of
Alexander. Much of the action in the last book takes place in Libya,
and it comes to an end not with the prophecy of Greek migration to
Cyrene, but with the birth of an island from Libyan soil that will be-
come a home for Euphemuss descendantsthat inchoate moment
when all future realities are possible:
Balaka gbr teAjoysi ueoB panton dB balanti
npson, Cn cplateroi paAdvn sAuen Dnnassontai
paPde%, DpeB TrAtvn jenaion Dggyalije
tande toi cpeAroio LibystAdo%.
For the clod, when you toss it into the sea, the gods will make into an is-
land, where sons of your sons in latter days will dwell, since Triton has
pledged a gift of friendship, this piece of the Libyan continent.
Apollonius further changes the Pindaric version: the clod is not washed
overboard, nor is the prophecy forgotten by the Argonauts, rather Eu-
phemus, instructed by Jason, deliberately casts it into the sea
(4.175061) to activate the chain of events that guaranteed the subse-
quent Greek return to North Africa. What is accidental in Pindar be-
comes a deliberate action to accomplish divine will.
The Argonautica was most likely to have been written between 270
and 240 b.c.e., or within a generation or two of the foundation of the
Apollonian Cosmologies 181
24. For details of chronology, see Hunter 1989a, 17, and Cameron 1995, 26162,
25. Apollonius moves the prophecy of Medea from the beginning of Pythian 4 to the
end of his own fourth book, and Pindars phrase diamonAh bplaj (Pythian 4.33) appears
at Argonautica 4.1734.
26. Q. Curtius Rufus tells a related story, adding that Alexander originally intended
to build on the island itself but found it too small (4.8.12). Plutarch also knows this tale,
which he attributes to Alexandrian sources, though in his version the apparition is not
Ammon, but Homer (Alexander 26.37).
city of Alexandria.
For Apolloniuss audience, many of whom would
have been among the rst or second generation of Alexandrian settlers,
the end of the Argonautica, with its alteration of Pindars narrative
exhibited a number of elements found also in the hybrid Greco-
Egyptian myth of their own origins: a dangerous trek across the Libyan
desert, a prophetic appearance of a North African divinity, an island,
and a promise of land from African soil where Greeks were destined to
dwell. According to the Alexander Romance (1.30.67), Alexander
crossed the desert to the shrine of Zeus Ammon at the Siwah oasis in
Libya, where the god in the form of an old man with ram horns ap-
peared to him in a dream and instructed him to establish his new city
opposite the island of Pharos.
Since the most familiar aspect of the
Egyptian coastline for Greeks was the island of Proteus (Pharos), the
story of which is related in detail by Menelaus in the Odyssey
(4.354592), it is not surprising that a Greek account of the foundation
of Alexandria would include an element already present in Homeric
mythology, but the earliest accounts also include distinctively Egyptian
features like the prophecy sent by Ammon. Apollonius does not explic-
itly recount the foundation of Alexandria, but the Pindaric narrative
that he refashions in epic time might easily serve as a template not only
for Greek colonization of Cyrene, but for Ptolemaic Egypt as well. His
language at 4. 1753dpeAroio LibystAdo%is not necessarily a syn-
onym for the Cyrenaica; it might equally refer to the whole of North
Africa. In writers ranging from Herodotus to Eratosthenes Libya was
not only the country to the west of Egypt but was considered to be a
continent separate from Europe and Asia, including all of North Africa
from the Pillars of Heracles in the West at least as far as the west bank
of the Nile and sometimes even to the Red Sea. Alexandria itself could
be located in Libya in this sense, as an epigram of Poseidippus on the
temple of Arsinoe-Aphrodite Zephyritis at Zephyrion to the east of
Alexandria makes clear. The site is described as midway between the
182 Apollonian Cosmologies
27. G-P lines 311019. On the location of the temple, see Strabo 17.800. The epi-
gram is generally placed before Arsinoes death in 270 or 268 b.c.e. See Fraser 1972, 1:
239, 2: 389 n. 393. See also fr. 228.51 Pf., where Callimachus uses Libya for North
Africa in general (including Egypt).
28. In pharaonic terms, Libya was one of the traditional enemies of Egypt. On the
translation of this traditional conict into Hellenistic poetry, see Selden 1998, 32637.
29. It is possible to regard the Argos reentry into the Mediterranean from Lake Tri-
tonis in the vicinity of modern Benghazi as an allusion to Ptolemaic control of the area (so
Livrea 1991; Hunter 1993, 15253). In ancient times the town of Euhesperides (Beng-
hazi) was renamed for Berenice, the daughter of Magas who became the wife of Ptolemy
III. On the renaming of Euhesperides, see Laronde 1987, 38283.
shore of Pharos and the mouth of Canopus, among the encompassing
waves . . . this wind-swept breakwater of well-ocked Libya.
Libya could refer to the coastline of Egypt for Poseidippus, it could
also serve as a recognizable synecdoche for (at the very least) Alexan-
drian Egypt in Apollonius.
This exible geography permits Apollonius
to fashion a past that could provide the mythological paradigm for all
Greek presence in Libya, broadly dened, onto which more than one
set of historical particulars could be retrojected. For these reasons it
seems unlikely to me that Apolloniuss narrative was constructed to re-
ect historical events or to take any particular position on the issue of
who controlled the CyrenaicaMagas or one of the Ptolemies
though it could accommodate either.
We have then the beginnings of an answer to our question, What kind
of past did Apollonius create for the Ptolemies? It is a past in which
Greece encounters Egypt, recovers from it a most valuable possession
(the eece), which is already Greek, by virtue of a divinely inspired col-
laboration of Medea with the enemy, and effects a return, during
which, again by divine favor, one of the Argonauts is singled out as the
ancestor of those Greeks who are destined to inherit North Africa. Just
as the defeat of Troy in the Homeric poems served as the paradigmatic
triumph of Greece over Asia, reenacted in historical times by the Per-
sian wars, or the historical hostility of Carthage and Rome as well as
the more recent enmity with Alexandria is given a mythological raison
d tre by Vergil in the encounter of Dido and Aeneas, the Argonautica
may be read as a mythological account of the inevitability of Ptolemaic
rule over alien North Africa. But this is not the end of the story. Apol-
lonius experiments with many of the traditional pharaonic themes
throughout his text both independently of their use in Callimachus or
Theocritus or dialogically with these poets. Egyptian elements are not
Apollonian Cosmologies 183
30. Fraser 1972, 1: 3855, and see chapter 5.
31. Murray 1970, 15761.
32. 2.35.2: In almost every respect [the Egyptians] in their behavior and customs are
the opposite of other men.
33. See, for instance, the full-length treatment of Fusillo 1985.
34. Hunter 1993, 17.
conned to only one area or stratum of his narrative, however; they
permeate the entire text. Therefore, before considering where and why
they occur, I should like to suggest a strategy for organizing Apollo-
niuss text to place in perspective his evocations of Egypt. In his narra-
tive of the journey from old Greece to these new African beginnings,
neither Greek nor barbarian was a simple category. Apollonius
wrote in a world in which the historically potent ethnic categories of
Argive, Ionian, Athenian, and Peloponnesian were giving way to the
aggregated Hellene, for which the markers of identity were as yet
open to negotiation.
The category of barbarian was similarly labile. It
included the many non-Greeks to be found in the Greek epic past as
well as the rather more one-dimensional barbarian found in tragedy
and in philosophy of the classical period. By the third century, Alexan-
ders conquest and his vision of an empire that included both Greek and
non-Greek had left their intellectual residue, with the result that writers
like Hecataeus of Abdera even elevated barbarian Egyptian culture over
Greek, thus calling into question previous essentialist distinctions.
Apollonius there could have been no single template for barbarian,
and it is not surprising that the Argonauts encounter many varieties of
other who may differ widely or scarcely at all from themselves. Most
signicantly, Egypt, which for earlier Greek writers occupied the posi-
tion of the paradigmatic other, the culture farthest in its behavior and
beliefs from Greek norms, as Herodotus asserts in his Egypt book,
now become Greek by right of conquest, a circumstance that required
new accommodations to alien modes of thought, including structures
of government and religious belief.
encountering the other
In creating his epic world Apollonius adapts a variety of narrative
strategies, combining folklore, romance, tragedy, magic, and scientic
(especially geographical) observation in unpredictable ways, often
shifts his narrative perspective,
and in the course of narrating an event
hints at untold alternatives.
Meaning quickly dissolves into mean-
184 Apollonian Cosmologies
35. Pratts travel tales are for the most part related in the rst person and are most
closely comparable to fanciful Greek travel narratives like that of Pytheas of Marseilles or
to the work of the geographers of the Hellenistic period. My point is not that Apolloniuss
poetic goals were necessarily the same as this seventeenth- and eighteenth-century senti-
mental ction, but that the relationship of certain types of cognitive experience to narra-
tive may well have been similar. Indeed, the categories into which Braund (1994, 1011)
organizes myths about ancient Georgiaachievement and evaluation, geography, kin-
shipare similar to Pratts, though they lack her analysis of the relationship of perceptual
categories to narrative styles.
ings, since Apolloniuss text is constructed with competing centers of
authority. What on the surface may appear to be eccentric composi-
tional behavior I believe can be better understood if considered as an
attempt to construct an epic past to provide a behavioral model differ-
ent from that of Panhellenic epic for the culturally multidimensional
world of the eastern Mediterranean. Apolloniuss narrative can be con-
veniently segmented into three distinct types: (1) a quest for a golden
eece with its attendant voyage into a realm of magic and monsters; (2)
objective observation that includes scientic information as well as
aetiological explanations; and, nally, (3) the erotic encounter of Jason
and Medea, which appears on the surface to be stylistically and con-
ceptually at variance with the rest of the text. I believe it is not coinci-
dental that these three types are also found in the travel writing pro-
duced by Europeans who wrote about Africa or Latin America in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In writing about this literature
M. L. Pratt, for example, distinguishes the following narrative patterns.
Initially during the period of conquest, travelers experienced the re-
gions as populated by monsters, as lands in which they had a series of
fantastic and dangerous adventures, usually conned to the periphery
or coastline. This was followed by a period of scientic exploration of
the interior, in which explorers and botanists, like Adam and Eve in
Eden, renamed the alien landscapes and organized their geography and
ecology into categories suitable for their European conquerors. The
nal phase Pratt characterized as one of romantic encounter, usually be-
tween European male and a native woman, who often betrays her own
culture to aid or even marry the foreigner.
What make Pratts study
relevant for understanding the Argonautica is her insight that each of
these three patterns results from a different type of epistemological or
cognitive response to alien peoples and places, as the European travel-
ers interactions with them become progressively more extended and in-
timate. In turn, these cognitive responses generate their own rhetorical
and narrative strategies. Moreover, at least one of them, that of roman-
Apollonian Cosmologies 185
36. Pratt 1992, 96.
37. Tension between two different modes of narrative reality is an important feature
of the Odyssey. The fantastic world of Odysseuss return, with its Laestrygonians and Cy-
clopes, is blocked as a separate narrative from the real world of Ithaca. This allows
Odysseus to create and edit his own narrative history whenever he chooses to retell it,
and his fantastic adventures stand in contrast to the opening and closing books in such a
way that subsequent critics like Lucian can claim that Odysseus is a liar who gulls the
Phaeacians with tall tales and that the events never really happened (True Histories
1.3.812). Apollonius, in contrast, interweaves disparate modes of experiencing reality in
such a way that for the reader the hierarchies are blurred, a circumstance that contributes
to the difculty in understanding the character of Jason.
tic encounter, was directly dependent on classical models like the
Odyssey or the Aeneid,
so the application of Pratts categories to
Apollonius is not the importation of an alien model, but of a linear de-
scendant. In her analysis, however, these three were not usually in play
at once but succeeded each other in time, because they represented nor-
mative changes in European perception of African and Latin American
peoples. By using Pratts work as a lens through which to view Apollo-
niuss poem, we will nd that he employs similar cognitive modes as a
means of expressing in epic form the Greek experience of the eastern
Mediterranean. We can also account more easily for the variety of his
temporal structures if we realize that his narrative encodes discrete and
changing conceptions of the other (akin to Pratts) not successively,
but simultaneously. In other words, Apollonius deploys elements de-
rived from different levels of experience of the non-Greek Mediter-
raneanmyth, geographic exploration, psychological realismas in-
terlaced narratives.
His technique becomes clearer if we examine each
type individually.
Apolloniuss frame talethe voyage of the Argonauts to repossess
the golden eeceis an early Greek myth that corresponds to Pratts
initial category of cultural interaction, an encounter with an alien re-
gion that was experienced as populated by monsters or creatures exist-
ing in an uncivilized state. In this world Heracles, the slayer of all man-
ner of mythical beasts, is entirely appropriate. Yet a tension quickly
develops between the precivilized, pre-polis world that Heracles inhab-
its and what is gured as the real world of Jason, a tension that plays
itself out for the reader in a series of narrative doublets. Initially Jason
encounters the Lemnian women, who are real analogues of the myth-
ical Amazons. Heracles in a brief and hostile encounter takes the girdle
of Hippolyte, the Amazon queen (an event alluded to as having hap-
pened in the past as the Argo passes by Themiscura on the way to
186 Apollonian Cosmologies
38. See Clausss extensive discussion of this passage (1993, 14875).
39. Hence his inability to cope with the loss of Hylas, since it introduces the ambiva-
lences of the erotic.
Colchis, 2.9661001). Jason and his men in a more nuanced incident
leave Lemnos with Hypsipyles cloak freely given, after having insemi-
nated the Lemnian women with sons whose descendants are destined to
be the inheritors of North Africa. Again, the events with the Doliones
are constructed as double.
Heracles slays the Earth-born men
(1.9891011) while Jason and his men in a fatal case of mistaken
identity unwittingly kill their former hosts, the Doliones (1. 101278).
The swiftness and necessity with which Heracles responds to the attack
of the monsters and clears them from the landscape so they no longer
pose a threat to the civilized communities around them is a poignant
counterpoint to the needless deaths of the hapless Doliones. Even when
Heracles has ostensibly disappeared from the narrative, some of the
Argonauts dwell on how much more effectively he would have dis-
patched Amycus than Polydeuces did (2.14553), and at the end of
book 4 Heracles encounter with the Hesperides is constructed to con-
trast with that of the Argonauts. Heracles does not, I would argue, rep-
resent the loss of the heroic in contrast to the feebleness of an all-too-
human Jason as leader so much as a gure who belongs to another
conceptual frame, a frame in which the Mediterranean is populated by
monsters who need to be removed before the course of civilization can
proceed. And it is for this activity that Heracles ultimately is elevated to
Olympus, to dwell with the immortals (1.1319). For Heracles the
distinction between self and other, between Greek and non-Greek, and
Olympian and chthonic is clear-cut, and his mythological niche is to re-
move these dangerous creatures from the landscape so that the civiliz-
ing process of Greek culture may begin. The gure of Heracles operates
in a world free from the moral ambiguity of deciding who or what was
an enemy; the monstrous or the unnatural are easily discerned.
this is not so for Jason and his crew, for whom many of the peoples they
encounter, like the Doliones, are mirror images of themselves. One of
the nal episodes in book 4 illustrates this quite clearly.
After the Argonauts have carried their ship for twelve days over the
sands of Libya, desperate for water, they catch sight of the Hesperides,
as if a mirage. The nymphs at rst disappear from sight, immediately
becoming dust and earth (4.1408), but upon entreaty show themselves
to the exhausted crew as trees in an oasis. Here on the edge of daylight,
Apollonian Cosmologies 187
40. Dougherty (1994, 3546) suggested that an autonomous genre of foundation po-
etry did not actually exist in the archaic period but was invented in Alexandria. N. Kre-
vans, in On the Margins of Epic: Foundation Poems of Apollonius, Hellenistica
Groningana 4: 6984, extends Doughertys questions about a ktisis-genre to Alexandria
itself and asks whether Apolloniuss ktiseis were discrete poems or rather subsections of
larger works.
the nymphs have been mourning the death of their guardian serpent,
Ladon, at Heracles hands, when he came in quest of the apples of the
Hesperides. Heracles, who had taken the apples only the day before,
killed the beast with arrows dipped in poison from the Lernaean hydra,
whom he had defeated in an earlier struggle. But this episode is told
from the perspective of the nymphs themselves, and to them, Heracles,
the traditional bearer of a more civilized order, who clears the lands of
monsters, is himself the monster:
He came yesterday, a man most dire in insolence and aspect; his eyes
amed out from under his lowering brow, ruthlessly. And around him
was the hide of a monstrous lion, raw, untanned. (4.143639)
The serpent rotting in the sun, now gpnoo%, who guarded the golden
apples, of course, was an analogue of the unsleeping (gypno%) serpent
guarding the golden eece. And what fromthe perspective of the literate
Greek audience was another example of the laboring Heracles perform-
ing necessary and admirable tasks, from the viewpoint of the indige-
nous nymphs was wanton robbery and destruction. Thus a narrative
trajectory that appeared to convey the conventional Greek message of
civilization triumphing over barbarism is deected by an attack of cul-
tural relativism. The moral issues are complex, however: whatever the
nymphs perception of Heracles his presence was a gain for the Arg-
onauts because his brutalization of the landscape created a necessary
spring that saved his companions, overcome with thirst (4.1459).
If the response of Heracles to his environment is to rid it of the un-
civilized, the response of Jason and his men in their journey from old
Greece to new beginnings would seem to serve as the bearers of their
own version of civilized community. In the outward journey they mark
the landscape with new foundations, that is, with their own religious
cults and interpretations of or explanations for what they meet along
the way. The telling of an explanatory story, an aition, had considerable
vogue in Hellenistic poetry. Callimachuss now fragmentary Aetia is the
best example, and Apollonius himself is known to have written consid-
erable material of this type.
The prominence of foundation stories re-
188 Apollonian Cosmologies
41. Dougherty 1991, 11932.
42. For the essential foreignness of the Meter cult, see Burkert 1985, 17779.
sults from the colonizing dimension of Ptolemiac rule. Like those
Greeks who settled in the eastern Mediterranean and in Sicily and
South Italy in an earlier age, the Ptolemies were claiming new territo-
ries, and there was need, subconsciously or otherwise, to recongure
them imaginatively in Greek terms. Aition is the epistemological cate-
gory that accomplishes this, but in specic ways: the logic of the aition
is to connect the new place with Greek myth, in a way that serves to ef-
face the native and give the intruding Greek population (or colonizers)
continuous claim to the place, to create the illusion in other words not
of intrusion, but of return.
Consider, for example, the establishment of
the cult of the Great Mother on Mt. Dindymon and Apolloniuss ac-
count of the use of tambourines and drums in her worship:
With many prayers, the son of Aeson implored her [the Mother] to de-
ect the storm blasts as he poured out libations onto the blazing sacrice;
all together the young men at Orpheuss command marked the dance,
performing in full armor, and beat upon their shields with their swords so
that the ill-omened cry [of the Doliones] might be dissipated in the air
the lament that the people were still making in grief for their king. From
that time forward the Phrygians worship Rhea with tambourine and
drum. (1.113239)
In this manner, the foundation of the cult itself and one of its most dis-
tinctively foreign features can be traced to prior Greek activity, while
subsequently the non-Greek peoples of the region, the Phrygians, are
stripped of cultural autonomy and assigned the role of mere imitators.
The relationship of the Greeks in the Hellenistic period to these re-
gions, however, was distinctively different from that of the archaic pe-
riod. By Apolloniuss time the landscape into which he launches his
Argonauts had already been the site of colonial activity by Greeks for
several centuries. It was impossible for Apollonius merely to reassert
old stories (as found in Pindar, for example) in order to link the Ptole-
maic world to previous claims for Greekness; the Ptolemies were not al-
ways competing with barbarians for these locations, but with other
Macedonian-Greek princelingsthe descendants of Alexanders gener-
als, who had parceled out for themselves the eastern Mediterranean. In
these lands many peoples were already Greek, and many foundations,
like Mt. Dindymon (1.111052), already part of a Hellenized land-
scape. In this brief vignette, for example, Apollonius acknowledges
Apollonian Cosmologies 189
43. Vian (1981, 157 n. 260) points out that DkgAgaa indicates parentage, not origin;
hence the meaning is from Thebe, the daughter of Triton. If so, it will be a metonymy
for Thebes. The sense must be priests from the city, not priests who trace their descent
from the nymph. Unlike Greeks, in Egypt only the king could have divine ancestors.
competing claim and counterclaim to places, rites, and foundations. At
the death of Idmon, the Argonauts erect a barrow over their dead com-
rade on which a wild olive tree begins to grow:
And if I must under instruction from the Muses tell this story bluntly,
Phoebus directly instructed the Boeotians and Nisaeans to worship
[Idmon] as guardian of the city, and around the trunk of the old olive to
lay their citys foundations. But they, instead of the god-fearing son of Ae-
olus, Idmon, even now honor Agamestor. (2.84450)
This vacillation reaches its logical conclusion in book 4 when the
very act of establishing colonies is given a different perspective:
From here [Egypt] they say someone traveled throughout all Europe and
Asia, trusting in the might and strength and courage of his troops; and he
established thousands of cities when he passed through; some are still in-
habited, some are not; for many an age has passed since then. (4.27275)
This king was not a Greek, but the Egyptian Sesostris, and his be-
havior, which is shaped to recall the recent expedition of Alexander, un-
dermines the authority of the Greek presence by suggesting an even ear-
lier Egyptian one, as well as the transitory, or recurring, nature of such
cultural occupations. Indeed, the very language and construction of this
passage in the Argonautica borrows its strategies from aition but now
locates Egypt as prior.
Estin gbr plao% gllo%, fn duanatvn Cerpe%
pAfradon, oF Qabh% TritvnAdo% Dkgegaasin.
OG pv teArea panta, ta t oCranu eClAssontai.
oDdA tA pv Danapn Cerbn gAno% ren dkoPsai
peyuomAnoi% oRoi d Gsan \Arkade% \Apidanpe%,
\Arkade%, oF kaB prasue selhnaAh% CdAontai
zaein, fhgbn Gdonte% Dn oGresin oDdB PelasgB%
xubn tate kydalAmoisin dnasseto DeykalAdisin,
rmo% et \HerAh polylaio% Dklaisto,
mathr AGgypto% proterhgenAvn aDzhpn,
kaB potamb% TrAtvn eDrArroo%, Q Epo ppsa
grdetai \HerAh.
For there is another course, which the priests of the immortals who have
sprung from Tritonian Thebes
have made known. Not yet did all the
constellations move in the heaven, nor yet could one hear of the sacred
190 Apollonian Cosmologies
44. Apidanians were Peloponnesians; see sch. on AR 4.26365 Wendel: Apidanpa%
dB toB% Peloponnasoy% dpb 6pido% toP ForvnAv%. Hence Arcadians should qualify
Apidanians, not the reverse, as if Apollonius were saying Arcadian Peloponnesians.
45. Herodotus 2.91, and see chapter 1 above.
race of the Danaans, if one should make inquiry. Alone were the Arca-
dian Apidanians,
Arcadians, who are said to have lived even before the
moon, eating acorns in the hills. At that time the Pelasgian land was not
ruled by the glorious sons of Deucalion; Egypt was then called fertile
Aeria (\HerAh polylaio%), mother of men of an older generation, and the
broad-owing river by which all Aeria was watered was called Triton.
Apollonius specically locates Sesostriss city-founding in a primeval
time, before the constellations, before the moon. While the Egyptians
are engaged in the task of civilizing, the only Greeks who as yet exist,
the Arcadians, live in a precivilized state, eating acorns (the raw, not the
cooked). The sacred race of the Danaans reminds us of a foundation
myth that moves counter to the usual pattern, not from Greece to the
Near East, but in the opposite direction: Danaus was supposed to have
migrated from Egypt to Argos, where he became king and thus lent his
name to a whole people.
But this is presented as an event in the future.
Moreover, in this passage Apollonius uses a number of geographical
markers that belong to both Greece and Egypt: Thebes, Triton ( = Nile),
and, most surprisingly, \HerAh polylaio%. A name and dening charac-
teristic of Egypt here, the term was applied to the Pelasgian land in
1.580: derAh polylaio% aRa Pelasgpn. Such doublets are a feature of
aetiological writing, the Greek marking of a foreign place with familiar
Greek names, a practice thatwhatever its conscious or expressed in-
tentionimplicitly encodes privilege and hierarchy as the speaker, the
namer, exerts control over his new environment by displacing the local
name in favor of one that signies for him. But if both Thessaly and
Egypt are called by the same name \HerAh polylaio%, and implicit in
this is the practice of one cultural group renaming, hence dominating,
another, this passage hints at an earlier trajectory of conquest that
moved from Egypt to Greece, thus setting the scene for the Greco-
Egyptian world of the Ptolemies. Or is the ambivalence about the pri-
ority of these names that Apolloniuss text creates a deliberate reection
of what we saw in earlier Greek writers, where the cultural trajectory
from Greece to Egypt or from Egypt to Greece did not represent histor-
ical realities and could be reversed in service of specic philosophical
and political agendas?
Apollonian Cosmologies 191
46. 1992, 97.
47. 1992, 98.
48. Pratt 1992, 101.
49. The Cyrenean constitution is a case in point: it permitted the intermarriage of
Cyrenean male citizens with Libyan women. Fraser (1972, 2: 787), however, remarks that
it would . . . be wrong to suppose that the practice of racial intermarriage penetrated the
The third narrative type that Apollonius employs is the erotic en-
counter of Jason and Medea, one that develops logically from earlier
modes of contact. This event represents the most intimate interaction
between Greek and other, and potentially the most threatening, be-
cause of the risk it presents to bloodlines and family stock. It also pro-
vides the most extended and obvious space in which transculturation
the adaptation of either Greek or non-Greek to the behavioral patterns
and values of the otheris likely to take place. The erotic response of a
foreign woman to the arrival of the adventuring male is legible as a
projection of colonial discourse that functions to legitimate the in-
truder (and his desires for acquisition) within this alien territory. As
Pratt puts it, romantic love rather than lial servitude or force guar-
antees the wilful submission of the colonized.
These encounters seem
to possess a common set of characteristics, whether they are located in
eighteenth-century Latin America or Vergils Aeneid: the women are of
high status and in their generosity and sympathy are often perceived as
more like the intruder than inhabitants of their own less civilized
world. But while the lovers challenge colonial hierarchies, in the end
they acquiesce to them. Reciprocity is irrelevant.
Often the lovers
enter into a marriage of sorts, but the local women are ultimately aban-
doned in favor of a legitimate wife from the mans own ethnic group.
in their very unreality . . . these idealized half-European subalterns do
embody another thoroughly real dimension of the late eighteenth century
Caribbean society. By that time, in both the Caribbean and much of
Spanish America, populations of non-enslaved people of mixed ancestry
had everywhere come to equal or outnumber whites in both the
Caribbean and much of Spanish America.
The situation will have been similar for the eastern Mediterranean in
the reign of the Ptolemies. Colonization over a three-century period
meant that Greek men in these environments consistently married na-
tive women and that local populations, however they identied them-
selves, Greek or otherwise, were likely to be descendants of ethnically
mixed arrangements.
Such a condition could pose problems for family
192 Apollonian Cosmologies
upper strata of society, or that Cyrene became a city of mixed-Greeks (mijAllhne%), cit-
ing the epigraphic evidence of mainly Dorian names. However, names are not a particu-
larly accurate gauge of ethnicity, and laws are not usually passed in a vacuum.
50. For readers who do not recall their Euripides, at this point in his narrative Apol-
lonius thoughtfully provides the cautionary tale of another of Medeas cousins, Cretan
Ariadne and her fateful interlude with the Greek Theseus (4.43334).
loyalties. We nd even in the remote region of Colchis these mixed mar-
riages with their potential for divisiveness: when the Greek Phrixus
reached Colchis, he was given one of Aeetes daughters, Chalciope, in
marriage. The four sons who resulted from this union are rst cousins
of Medea as well as more distant kin of Jason, a circumstance that
destabilizes the tidy opposition of Greek/barbarian. The Argonauts en-
counter these young men on their way to Orchomenus to claim their
Greek fathers heritage (2.114156). Subsequently they play a crucial
role in gaining Jason an introduction to Aeetes court as well as in per-
suading their Colchian mother to aid the Argonauts.
The episode of Jason and Medea also has an aetiological dimension.
The conquest of and marriage with Medea, who is the daughter of the
king of Colchis and granddaughter of Helios, can operate as an ana-
logue of the many divine couplings between gods and local nymphs that
populate Greek colonization myths, and in a structural sense could
stand for the conquest of Egypt by Greece, paralleling the way in which
the marriage functions in Pythian 4. It might also call to mind more re-
cent examples of the marriages arranged by Alexander between his
Macedonian generals and local princesses. But Apollonius complicates
this reading by introducing allusions from the Odyssey as well as an al-
ternative foundation myth. In the Odyssey, the heros sexual adventures
are no more than interludes, only one of which, that with Nausicaa in
book 6, even hints at the possibility of legitimate marriage. Odysseuss
adventures occur away from Ithaca, the place of legitimate marriage
and the son who will continue the line. Jasons meeting with Medea is
marked by many Homeric allusions that suggest it will be a similar
transitory encounter, but Jason does not abandon the foreign girl; he
marries her in that same Odyssean Phaeacia from which Odysseus
returned home to his legitmate (that is, Greek) family. This marriage
was later put aside in favor of a Greek wife.
It is not the marriage with
Medea that would seem to guarantee Greek claims to Egypt, and it is
not Jason and Medeas line that will inherit it. Rather, it is the clod (dai-
monAh bplaj, 4.1734), the gift to Euphemus, and his descendants, the
product of an earlier adventure with foreign women (the Lemnians)
Apollonian Cosmologies 193
51. Medeas essential Hellenism is a central theme in Scytobrachions account
(Diodorus Siculus 4.46 and 52).
52. See Hunters remarks (1993, 21) on the various interpretative layers possible with
this passage; also Pietsch 1999, 15258. After the murder Jason performs the expiatory
elements of the maschalismos, but this does not make the event any easier for the reader.
that proceeded along more typical lines of erotic encounter without
marriage. We can read these divergent scenarios against historical cir-
cumstance and conclude that they serve as a cautionary tale against
fraternization with conquered peoples, as a not very covert warning to
the Ptolemies about becoming too closely allied with the natives. But
more important both aitiaone of marriage, the other of sexual liaison
with offspringpartake of the same strategies: they redene conquest
in terms of intrafamilial relationships of marriage and lineal descent.
Within the poem the romantic encounter provides the space in
which what are set out as two distinct behavioral patterns begin to co-
alesce. Unlike her father, whose rage and cruelty mark him as a typi-
cal barbarian, Medea is cast as sympathetic to their goals and takes
pity on the strangers, eventually joining her fate to theirs. The attempt
to save Jason from her fathers brutality is a sign of Medeas en-
lightened character.
Still, the dangers of this type of liaison are easily
identied. With Medeas helpnot wholesome Greek skills like those
of Heracles, but foreign magicJason quickly becomes the other.
He replicates the acts of Aeetes in yoking the bulls, sowing the
dragons teeth, and killing the Earth-born men, acts of strength of
which he would ordinarily have been incapable, but which Aeetes per-
formed as a demonstration of his power to the Colchians (4.40618).
When the two ee, Jasons murder of Apsyrtus in front of a temple
continues the transformation. He strikes him down like a butcher
felling a bull (4.46869). When Jason rst appeals to Aeetes to give
him the eece, the king responds with a clichd exhibition of barbar-
ian cruelty, threatening the Argonauts with mutilation, to cut off
their hands and cut out their tongues (3.378). But it is Jason who later
mutilates his enemy by cutting off of Apsyrtuss extremities (4.478).
We nd that when Jason and Medea link fates the boundaries be-
tween Greek and other, barbarian and non-barbarian, begin to col-
lapse, and the number of moments in which cultural behaviors over-
lap climaxes in book 4. Circe, for example, is explicitly identied as a
sister of Aeetes, hence a foreigner (she and Medea speak their native
tongue together at 4.73031), but the rites of expiation she performs
for Jason and Medea are thoroughly Greek: she kills a piglet and drips
194 Apollonian Cosmologies
its blood over them in a scene consciously reminiscent of Orestes at
Delphi (4.70514). As we saw above in the characterization of Hera-
cles by the Hesperides as a monster, the earlier trajectory of Greek
civilizing barbarian is reversed, and in one of the last similes of the
book the two are conated as the Argo itself becomes the quintessen-
tial signier of a chthonic, precivilized world, a serpent:
V% dB drakvn skolibn eDligmAno% Grxetai oRmon,
eRtA min djAtaton ualpei sAla% delAoio,
r\ oAzi d Gnua kaB Gnua karh strAfei, Dn dA oC gsse
spinuarAgessi pyrb% DnalAgkia maimaonti
lampetai, gfra myxbn dB dib r\ vxmoPo dBhtai
e% rgb lAmnh% stama naAporon DjerAoysa
dmfepalei dhnaibn DpB xranon.
As a serpent writhes along its crooked path when the suns hottest rays
iname it, and with a hiss it turns its head from side to side, and in fury
its eyes blaze in fury like sparks of re until it goes down into its lair
through a ssure in the rock, so too the Argo wandered for a long time as
it sought an outlet from the lake. (4.154147)
Even divinities partake of this ambivalence of signication: as the
ship is rescued by Triton, the god rst appears to them as a youth to
offer them the gift of a clod of earth but ultimately reveals himself in his
real form (oQa% per Dtatymo% ren DdAsuai)from head to belly like
the blessed ones but with the sides and spiky tail of a sea monster
(4.160216). This merging of man and monster brings the reader to the
nal moments of the poem in which a new (and I have argued Ptole-
maic) beginning is marked by the birth of an island. As a prelude to this
moment the narrative provides us with a series of opposing ways of see-
ingempty desert sand or oasis of the Hesperid nymphs, good snake
and bad snake, dragon slayer and slainthat converge in the simile of
the Argo, the boatload of once and future dragon-slayers who have
now become their prey. Similarly, divinity no longer has only its
Olympian aspect but is hybrid, a man-monster, close kin to the
chthonic serpents that populated the text before the advent of the he-
roes, or to hybrid gods like the ram-horned Ammon who appeared to
Alexander. Moreover, these images are not static. They shape-shift like
the Hesperides and Triton. In this way the narrative itself effects a vir-
tual collapse into symbolic chaos that presages the dawn of a new order
in which two distinctive culturesGreek and North Africanwill nec-
essarily be joined.
Apollonian Cosmologies 195
53. See G. Nagy, Greek Mythology and Poetics (Ithaca, N.Y., 1990), 3682.
54. Pratt 1992, 7.
Up to this point I have been reading the Argonautica against the world
of Ptolemiac Alexandria in order to consider the question of how and
why the poet shaped his narrative as he did. Unlike Vergil, who wrote
after several centuries of collective Roman self-denition (however
novel the Augustan age), the reign of the Ptolemies was just beginning.
Images and ideologies were in the process of evolving but could not as
yet have worked themselves very deeply into the collective unconscious
of Ptolemys subjects or other contemporary Greek populations. The
poems of Homer and Hesiod may have provided a synthesis of values
and beliefs that created a Panhellenic paradigm for archaic and clas-
sical Greek culture,
but the inherited belief system of these poems was
of only limited value for an imperial court located in and ruling over
non-Greek Egypt. Apolloniuss epic sets out to provide a new template.
He does not create a Homeric Egypt, populating his poem with gures
like Odysseus, Menelaus, and Helen; rather, he adapts Pindars account
of Greek claims to North Africa. But he also creates from various non-
Homeric articulations of Greekness a world that adumbrates his own:
at times Greek and non-Greek are conventionally opposed; at times
they seem to converge. On one level the poem celebrates the civilizing
role of Greek culture; on another this culture appears reprehensible; at
still other moments the poem expresses nostalgia for worlds or ways of
seeing and behaving lost in the civilizing process. I have borrowed a set
of observations from Pratts work on seventeenth- and eighteenth-cen-
tury colonial literature to focus my argument. She provides one nal in-
sight important for what follows in this chapter: all colonial literature is
inherently hierarchical in that it is the dominant culture that narrates
the other, but it is also reciprocal: within the space of encounter,
which Pratt calls a contact zone, one nds copresence, interaction,
interlocking understandings and practices.
I suggest that for Apollo-
nius the Ptolemaic age was such a moment of copresence, not just of
various ethnicities but of the symbolic worlds that encoded them, and
that he experiments with a variety of styles to create a narrative reec-
tive of this circumstance. In contrast to Homers heroic Greek past,
Apolloniuss past is characterized by a cultural heterogeneity that at the
close of his poem is overtaken by the promise of new beginnings and
marked by the birth of an island. Mainland Greece and its achieve-
196 Apollonian Cosmologies
55. Apollonius describes him as having lost the sandal crossing the river Anaurus,
and again at 3.6475. Whether Apollonius alludes to different incidents or versions of the
story is disputed. See Hunter 1989a, 105.
56. Also found in Pherecydes of Athens (FGrH 3 F105) and Pindar (Pythian 4.75).
See Vian 1974, 239 n. 17, with useful bibliography.
57. Moreau 1994, 13236 and 14041 (n. 81). Moreau and others connect the limi-
nality of the wearer of one sandal with ephebic activities, that is, with young men about
ments are marginalized in this new epic space, while North Africa is po-
sitioned to assume a central role.
So far we have been considering how Apollonius constructed the liter-
ary space of Egypt and North Africa from the perspective of Greek
myth and history, particularly through Pindaric allusion and the his-
torical accounts of Sesostris found in Herodotus and Hecataeus of Ab-
dera. I now wish to alter the focus and to turn to what I believe are re-
ections of the Egyptian symbolic world, particularly the themes of
order and chaos, theogony and kingship, and their attendant symbols.
Identiably Egyptian elements occur throughout the poem, I shall sug-
gest, as discrete and sometimes eeting images, through a series of in-
tertextualities with the work of contemporaries, and more pervasively
in the controlling cosmogonic framework of the poem as a whole, that
is, in the emergence of light from darkness or order from chaos to cul-
minate in the birth of an island. Moreover, I suggest that Apollonius
adapts Egyptian elements in such a way that they escape their individ-
ual cultural formations: they may be found sometimes in connection
with the Colchians, who are linked in Apolloniuss text with Egypt, but
also sometimes with the Greeks themselvesas represented by the Arg-
onauts. In the remainder of the chapter I shall examine a series of inci-
dents that illustrate how this cultural interweaving of Egyptian with
Greek plays out in Apolloniuss text.
At the opening of the tale Apollonius introduces his cast and sets the
tone for the ensuing voyage. Its hero, Jason, arrives suddenly, wearing
only one sandal (811).
His semishod state (7: oDopAdilon) is a per-
sistent feature of the Argo myth
and is specically connected to a
prophecy foretelling Peliass death, a death that results from Medeas
magic, as many readers will know. The wearing of only one sandal was
a widespread motif in Greek culture that marked liminality and a con-
nection with danger and/or death,
and the sandal wearer was fre-
Apollonian Cosmologies 197
to undergo initiatory rites, and they read the Argonautica as a chronicling of such experi-
58. See Kingsley 1995, 23839, esp. n. 21, and pp. 289316.
59. Meuli 1925; Fontenrose 1980, 47787; Moreau 1994, 12936.
60. 1994, 12829.
61. See Fusillo 1985, 6164. Hunter (1993, 163 n. 41) remarks that Gmpedon aDAn in
1. 499 may, as David Sider points out, be an echo of Empedocles punning on his own
quently found able to access chthonic powers or engaged in magic prac-
Moreover, Jasons home was Thessaly, the proverbial home of
witchcraft. Also, as others have already observed, many of the crew of
the Argo have chthonic connections as well as magic skills: Lynceus
could see beneath the earth, Periclymenus could alter his shape, Euphe-
mus could run on water, and Boreas and Zetes had wings.
A. Moreau
points out that a homonym of the pilot Tiphys was the Greek Typhon
and that he and his successors in all versions of the tale had chthonic
The quest itselffor the golden eece of a talking ram
and in a ship with a talking beamseems more suited to folklore and
to the fanstastic than to the usual battle world of Hellenic heroes. Apol-
lonius seems to take pains to begin his narrative with already breached
categories in order to show that magic was not the sole property of for-
eign Medea in far-off Colchis, but already in various ways an essential
component of the Greek story as well as its protagonists.
Apollonius launches his heroes into a world with a distinctive cos-
mology, articulated by Orpheus at 1.496511:
He sang how earth and heaven and sea, at rst mixed together in one
form, out of dire strife (neAkeo% Dj dlooPo) were separated from each
other; and how the stars and the paths of the moon and sun always keep
their xed place (Gmpedon aDBn . . . tAkmar) in the sky. And how moun-
tains arose and how rivers sounded with their attendant nymphs, and all
crawling things came to be. He sang how rst Ophion and Eurynome,
Oceans child, held power on snowy Olympus; how by force and might
the one yielded his honors to Cronus, the other to Rhea, and they fell into
the waves of the Ocean. But the others then ruled the blessed Titan gods,
while Zeus, still a child, still thinking the thoughts of a child (gfra ZeB%
Gti koPro%, Gti fresB napia eDda%), dwelt in his Dictaian cave. For the
Earth-born Cyclopes had not yet armed him with the thunderbolt, with
thunder and lightning, for these things provide glory for Zeus.
In creating Orpheuss song Apollonius availed himself of more than one
source for Greek cosmogonic material: lines 49698 conform to Empe-
docles idea that creation resulted from the oppositions of neikos and
philia, or repulsion and attraction,
while lines 5036 depend on
198 Apollonian Cosmologies
name, cf. frr. 17.11 ( = 26.10), 77.1 DK. Changelessness or durability was also in Greek
minds characteristic of Egypt (see above, note 12).
62. See, for example, Herodotus 2.81.
63. Kingsley 1995, 23839, esp. n. 21. He points to PGM IV 229294 (toPto gar
soy sAmbolon tb sandalan son Gkryca, kaB klePda kratp. gnoija tartaroAxoy
klePura KerbAroy . . . ) and 233334 (eRta kdga soi shmaPon Drp xalkeon tb san-
dalon tp% tartaroAxoy, stAmma, kleA% . . . ), in which the possession of one bronze san-
dal is explicitly connected with Hecate.
64. If the Hymn to Zeus was written in 285/4 (or even early in Ptolemy IIs reign, as
most scholars believe), it must have been prior to the Argonautica. Apollonius is generally
regarded as slightly younger than Callimachus and Theocritus. It is clear that their writ-
ings show considerable artistic interdependence, and much has been written about the lit-
erary relationships of the three poets; see, for example, Hunter 1989a, 7 and n. 29, and
Cameron 1995, 264. Although the issue of priority of Callimachuss Zeus hymn is rele-
vant for this argument, with respect to coincidences with his other poetry, I am using a
model of dialogue rather than of origin or derivation.
Pherecydes of Syrus intermixed with Hesiod (Theogony 50511). The
passage is not consistently Empedoclean, but its formulation does re-
ect Empedocles basic idea that the created universe was subject to an
alternation of complete fragmentation and complete harmonya
world that came into existence but was not eternal. This idea closely
approximated the Egyptian cosmogonic struggle between order and
chaos. What survives of Empedocles had much in common with earlier
pre-Socratics, but he was also linked with Pythagoreanism, an intellec-
tual tradition that Greeks themselves often identied with Egyptian
modes of thinking.
Also, in his later biographical tradition, Empedo-
cles was said to have worn one bronze sandal, a circumstance that P.
Kingsley in a recent study connects with the practice of alchemy and
This is by no means to suggest that Jasons wearing of one san-
dal was meant to remind the reader of Empedocles, but rather that
Apollonius may have selected a Greek cosmology that was already
suffused with alien ideas and behaviors in Greek minds. Orpheuss song
also borrows language and concept from the Hymn to Zeus.
The ver-
bal reminiscences are specic to a passage in which I have argued Calli-
machus has constructed his narrative of the birth of Zeus (in Greek
terms) to mirror that of Horus (in Egyptian). Apolloniuss introduction
of elements from that poem into an Empedoclean cosmology may not
be fortuitous, and it permits us to ask whether Apollonius too is locat-
ing his epic in a hybrid cosmogonic landscape that blends Greek and
I do not claim that Orpheuss song is consistently Egyptian, but
rather that elements of it do resemble Egyptian cosmogonic thought in
Apollonian Cosmologies 199
65. See Hunters remarks (1993, 163).
66. See West 1971, 175, and Schibli 1990, 14075, for the fragments.
67. So Schibli 1990, 8384 and 9396. Ophions signicance in Greek cosmogonic
thought has come down to us from the writings of Pherecydes of Syrus. See sch. ad loc.
(Wendel) and also West 1983, 12728, for a discussion of this passage and its relation-
ship to various cosmologies. Ophion seems to have been quite familiar to the Hellenistic
poets. Lycophron, for instance, refers to Zeus as the lord of Ophions throne (1192:
dnakti tpn \OfAvno% uranvn), and Callimachus in a fragment from the Victory of
Berenice in the Aetia remarks that the sun, when it has set, shines upon the sons of
Ophion in the underworld (SHfr. 259 = 177 Pf.: b% kePno% \OfionAdisi faeAn[ei). How-
ever, the context is lost.
68. Hornung 1971, 15859.
69. In Pherecydes, Chronos or Time began everything by generating progeny from
his own seed, another idea that has closer analogues in Near Eastern than in Greek
70. M. L. West remarks that when Pherecydes describes the fate of Ophioneus we
cannot fail to think of Egyptian . . . cosmography (1971, 47).
71. Diodorus Siculus 1.7.1 has a similar description of the separation of earth and
sky, which Cole (1990, 17492) assigns to Diodoruss account of the origins of life in
Egypt (1.10 = FGrH 264 F10), a passage most scholars derive from Hecataeus of Ab-
deras Aegyptiaca. However, there are dissenters, most notably Spoerri (1959, 3438). See
also Burton 1972, 46.
several ways.
Most strikingly, the Egyptian cosmos begins by separat-
ing from the undifferentiated void, characterized by a watery darkness
or hiddenness, and is always conceived as a struggle between maat,
through which the differentiated universe is maintained, and the undif-
ferentiated state, or chaos, into which inevitably it will return. Next,
Apollonius introduces Ophion, a gure from the cosmogonic writings
of the sixth-century Pherecydes of Syrus.
In Pherecydes theomachy
Ophioneus was, like Egyptian Apophis, a snake-limbed equivalent of
As the personication of disorder, Apophis lived in the
primeval waters before creation and had to be driven from the ordered
world of existence.
Similarly, after his defeat by Chronos,
is plunged into the primeval waters of Ocean that surround the world.
The forceable separation of Earth and Sky and the xed location of the
constellations resemble the Egyptian deities Geb and Nut (Earth and
Sky), who must be physically separated by their father, Shu ( = Air).
Stars and the courses of the sun and moon are thought of as xed and
are often represented pictorially upon the semicircular body of Nut as
she rises above Geb. The succession of sexed pairsOphion and Eu-
rynome, Cronus and Rheaculminates in Zeus, who is present without
his siblings and described as still a child. It is possible to read the focus
on Zeus alone as an early indication of the centrality of Zeuss will and
his divine justice in the poem. But the omission of the other Olympians
200 Apollonian Cosmologies
from the creation story is another detail that aligns it with Egyptian
cosmology, in which Geb and Nut produce Isis and Osiris, who pro-
duce the child Horus, the end and fulllment of the cycle of cosmic gen-
eration, and the necessary link to human political formations. The song
ends with a conspicuous reference to the thunderbolts of Zeus, by
which means he subdued his cosmic opponents (the Titans, Typhoeus)
to establish a rule of law. Zeus, however, has not yet assumed that role.
With the sequence of mountains (oGrea), rivers with their nymphs
(potamoB . . . aDtusin nAmfisi), and crawling things (Crpeta) we have
entered another primeval landscape, Callimachuss Arcadia before the
birth of Zeus and the creation of rivers by Rhea. There is also a close
correspondence in language between 1.508 (gfra ZeB% Gti koPro%, Gti
fresB napia eDda%) and Hymn to Zeus 57 (dll Dti paidnb% Dan
Dfrassao panta tAleia). Apolloniuss Zeus, while a child, thinks like
a child, in contrast to the preternaturally accomplished Zeus of Calli-
machus for whom thought and action were simultaneous (and charac-
teristically Egyptian). If Callimachuss poem aimed at providing a suit-
able theogonic narrative for a new kind of kingshipa kingship that
Callimachus, at least mythologically, marked out for prodigious accom-
plishmentApollonius recalls this narrative by incorporating many of
its elements and distinctive language but recasts it as rst times, as be-
ginnings, when the world and his epic protagonistseven the gods
were young. Kingship with the attendant ideologies that we encoun-
tered in Theocritus and Callimachus is either muted or absent, and
Egyptian motifs (if they are present) are not yet political, but conned
to the cosmic stage. And even in that context they appear as latent or
vestigial, as if the twoGreek and Egyptianhad not yet differentiated
The Empedoclean thought world continues, according to the scho-
liast on the passage, in the description of the cloak that Jason wore
when he appeared before Hypsipyle (1.72168). On the cloak the con-
test of philia and neikos moves from the realm of nature to culture.
The scholiast tells us that the cloak is an allegory for the cosmic and
human order. Divine justice is represented by the rst scene, the Cy-
clopes just completing a thunderbolt for Zeus. The second scene, the
building of Thebes by Amphion and Zethis, marks the establishment
of cities. What takes place in human settlements, love and strife, is the
subject of the next two vignettesAphrodite peering into the shield of
Ares and the raid of the Taphian pirates. Contests and marriages are
represented by Pelops eeing in his chariot with Hippodamia, while
Apollonian Cosmologies 201
72. Wendel 67.115.
73. Pherecydes B12 D-K, and Schibli 1990, 16567, frr. 6869.
74. The reason that both Pindar and Apollonius contain this reference is that Tityuss
daughter was the mother of Euphemus, who is destined to receive the gift of Libyan soil
from the gods.
her father pursues; crime and punishment is limned by Apollo slaying
Tityos for attempting to rape his mother, Leto; plotting and accusa-
tion, then safety by the talking ram, Phrixus. The fact that the cloak
was a gift of Athena indicates that the cosmos was created through di-
vine purpose (franhsi%). Whatever man does without this franhsi% is
done wrongly.
What lends credibility to the scholiasts allegorical interpretation is
the fact the rst scene on the cloak takes up where Orpheuss song left
off. In the former the Cyclopes are just completing the thunderbolt,
with which, in the latter, the Earth-born Cyclopes had not yet armed
Zeus. Also, Pherecydes cosmogony may link the two passages. In
Pherecydes, when Zas ( = Zeus) defeated Ophioneus he immediately
married Chthonie, bestowing upon her as a marriage gift a robe upon
which he had embroidered the earth and sea. The gift of the robe delin-
eated the world as her sphere of inuence, and her name is simultane-
ously changed from Chthonie to Ge to reect her new role.
there are close correspondences with Pindars initial description of
Jason. He rst appears with two spears and wearing double dress
(Pythian 4.79: Dsub% . . . dmfotAra), which consists of native Magne-
sian clothing (Magnatvn Dpixario%) over which he wears a leopard
skin. This is garb that would seem to locate him midway between the
natural world, with his upbringing by Chiron, and the civilized world
of the patrimony that he is intent upon reclaiming. As part of that ini-
tial description, Jason is likened to Ares, the pasi% of Aphrodite, and
the section ends with a reference to Artemis slaying Tityos with her ar-
rows. In Apollonius, Jason wears a cloak that is dAplaka porfyrAhn
and carries one spear. His cloak contains seven scenes, two of which
may gesture towards Pindar: the second, in which Aphrodite looks at
her reection in Ares bronze shield, and the sixth, in which Apollo,
though a child, slays Tityos for attempting to rape his mother, Leto.
But in contrast to Pindars Jason, whose garments position him between
nature and culture, Apolloniuss Jason is situated more completely in
For Jason to be distinguished by a cloak and not a shield or other
implement of war has been taken as a sign of his ambivalent status in
202 Apollonian Cosmologies
75. See Clauss 1993, 123 n. 28, for an annotated bibliography.
76. P. R. Hardie, Imago Mundi: Cosmological and Ideological Aspects of the Shield
of Achilles, JHS 105 (1985) 1131.
77. See Hunter 1993, 5259, for its relationship to the shield of Achilles, and Pietsch
1999, 19294.
78. Pythian 4.5056. The translation is that of Braswell (1988, 4243).
the poem,
but parallels suggest a somewhat different reading. In con-
trast to the bronze-clad warrior world of the Iliad or the skin-wearing
world of Heracles, Jason appears as an inhabitant of the civilized
world, characterized by the arts and the institution of cult. Jasons role
in the poem is commensurately less a warrior in the Iliadic mode than
an originator of or participant in cult, where his behavior is signicant
or efcacious because of the ritual he enacts, not the presence or ab-
sence of heroic qualities in the man himself. Aetiological events and rit-
uals in the narrative take on greater signicance for the overall meaning
of the poem than the character or inherent heroic status of any individ-
ual. Even in the Iliad, however, the shield of Achilles was not simply a
weapon of war but carried on its surface a message of cosmic and po-
litical ordering.
Jasons cloak carries a similar message.
By putting on
the cloak, Jason, like Aeneas when he accepts the shield from his
mother, may be inscius of the broad implications of his raiment, uncon-
scious of its import or his future role, but he is necessarily complicit in
implementing its overall intent. Jasons role in this poem is to facilitate
the triumph ofin Empedoclean termsphilia over neikos orin
Egyptian termsorder over chaos. Therefore, it is signicant that Jason
rst wears this gift of Athena in Lemnos, the place from which the Arg-
onauts set in motion the process that after many generations ultimately
allows Greeks to (re)claim North Africa. Pindar states it thus:
[Euphemus] will nd in the beds of alien [Lemnian] women a choice race,
who by favor of the gods will . . . beget a man [Battus] to be master of
the dark-clouded plains [Libya]. He it is whom Phoebus . . . will admon-
ish in his oracle to lead many men in ships to the rich precinct of the son
of Cronus by the Nile.
In the nal scenes of the poem it is Jason who correctly interprets events
and understands the signicance of the gift of the clod of earth. It is he
who instructs Euphemus to throw it into the sea to activate the se-
quence that will guarantee the Greek return to North Africa. In retro-
jecting such a role for Jason into his epic time of the worlds beginnings
Apollonius seems to be delimiting a model of kingship similiar to what
Apollonian Cosmologies 203
79. 1.1101: ZeB% aDtb% KronAdh% Cpoxazetai. The Greek verb does not convey sim-
ply lial respect but fear. It is borrowed from a unique passage in the Iliad (4.497) in
which the Trojans recede in the face of Odysseuss battle mania.
80. 1.114749: dnAbraxe dicado% aGtv% | Dk koryfp% gllhkton. \IhsonAhn d
DnApoysin | kePno potbn kranhn perinaiAtai gndre% dpAssv.
81. See Hunter 1988, 15051.
we saw in Hecataeus of Abdera and in Theocrituss court poetry, where
kingship was a matter of behavior rather than birth and expressed by
actions that beneted the ruled, particularly through largesse and by
the institution of cult. This becomes clearer in Apolloniuss narration of
the establishment of the cult of the Great Mother.
After the slaughter of the Doliones we are given an extended aition
in which the Argonauts ascend Dindymon to erect a cult statue to the
Great Mother, Rhea, on its peak (1.111752). Here too Callimachean
elements surfacethe Cretan cave, the dance in armor, and bringing
forth water in an hitherto arid locationso that we are once again re-
minded of the Greco-Egyptian milieu of the Zeus hymn, but where in
the one these elements were connected with kingship and Callimachuss
facade of doubt about how to hymn the new royal order, Apollonius
recombines Callimachuss material into an externally narrated tale of
cultic origins. In Callimachus the pouring forth of water in the dry land
was connected with Egypt and the birth of Zeus. But Apollonius
rewrites these events and locates them in a landscape in which Zeus
and his potency are marginalized, or female takes preeminence over
male. Rhea is the mother of all the blessed gods to whom even Zeus
At her will beasts fawn upon the Argonauts, and plant life
blooms. The nal sign of her power, the coming of water, is connected
not to Zeus, but to Jason and the establishment of a cult: beforehand
water had not owed on Dindymon, but for them at once a stream
poured forth from the thirsty peak, and the men who lived around
there in subsequent ages called that water Jasons spring.
Jason and
his companions complete the rite by dancing in armor to drown the ill-
omened cry of the mourning Doliones, in contrast to Callimachuss
explanation of the armored dance as an amusement, with only a
eeting allusion to drowning out the newborns cries so that they
would not come to Cronuss ears. They enact for the rst time a dance
that will come to have deep roots in classical culturethe pyrrhiche
and one appropriate for their ephebic status.
Apolloniuss version also
provides an account of the distinctive rites of the Great Mother, which
he repositions as fundamentally Greek. In his version of Zeus in Crete,
204 Apollonian Cosmologies
82. Clauss 1993, 16775. At pp. 16971 Clauss discusses several points of contact
between Apollonius and Callimachus, including two geographic correspondences: Zeus
was reared in a cave on Mount Dicte (cf. H. 1.34,47) = the Dactyls were born in a cave
on Mount Dicte (Argo. 1.1130); . . . Callimachus calls the Arcadians the grandsons of the
Lycaonian Bear (LykaonAh% grtoio, 41) = the Argonauts initiate the rites in honor of
Rhea on Bear Mountain (OGresin 6rtkvn, 1150) (p. 170). Like Clauss, I would read
this as an acknowledgment on Apolloniuss part of Callimachuss geographic gamesman-
ship, but I would also connect it to the phenomenon of bilocal geographies I discuss
I suggested that Callimachus rationalized the mythological elements as
part of an overall strategy of reguring Zeus as a human child as a prel-
ude to his merger with my king or Ptolemy. Apollonius refashions el-
ements found also in Callimachus into an explanation for cult behavior
that is in turn made efcacious not by Zeus or divine activity, but by
Jasons careful implementation of Mopsuss instructions. Jasons re-
ward for his compliance in divine will is a peculiar affect of culture.
The precivilized world of nature is tamed by cult and now named: the
local spring that commemorates the establishment of the cult will be
named after Jason. There is also a signicant difference in temporal
perspective: Zeus in Callimachuss hymn belongs to a world in
which kings rule by law, epitomized in the poem by Ptolemy. The
events described here by Apollonius belong to an earlier and more un-
stable time in which the forces of divinity are elemental rather than leg-
islative and where human behavior is portrayed in activities that effect
the transition.
The Egyptian spaces within the ArgonauticaColchis and Circes is-
landdisplay a nature that is still primordial, a condition that in philo-
sophical writers was characterized by the ability to produce creatures
spontaneously from the earth. When the Argonauts encounter Aeetes
sister, Circe, she is accompanied by an entourage of abnormal crea-
tures. These are not the men who have been transformed into beasts
that accompany her in the Odyssey, but untimely products of Earths
spontaneous creation:
Beasts not like wild beasts, nor like men in body, but with limbs of vari-
ous kinds mingled, they crowded together, as sheep from the fold follow-
ing the shepherd, such creatures even from the primordial ooze (pro-
tArh% Dj DlAo%) Earth herself brought forth, tted with various limbs,
when she had not yet compacted beneath a thirsty sky nor yet from the
rays of the scorching sun had she received many drops of moisture. But
Apollonian Cosmologies 205
83. See Livrea, pp. 2059. Also see Hunters remarks about the fracturing of time
in this episode (1993, 16566).
84. Sch. on AR 3.1179 Wendel = FGrH 3 F 22. Aeetes use of the seeds is apparently
repeated, and none of the Earth-born men survive; Cadmus sows them once, and a few
survive as regional ancestors.
the course of time ordered in correct combination.
Thus they followed
her, shapeless in form. (4.67281)
The description is apparently indebted to Empedocles conception of
meigma, or the stuff from which life originally emerged. This passage
conveys the impression of an unstable space in which neikos still holds
sway, of a world that is at some evolutionary distance from the already
abnormal Argonauts, with their enhanced abilities to see below the
earth or y through the air with winged feet. The terms of Apolloniuss
descriptionprimordial ooze, compaction from the sunare sugges-
tive of the language of spontaneous generation that Diodorus uses of
Egypt in the passage quoted below.
Apollonius inserts Colchis, too, into this primordial world with the
details he choses to emphasize in the episode of the testing of Jason.
Apollonius tells us that Aeetes has been given half of the dragons teeth
that Athena gave to Cadmus, and that he was in the habit of sowing
them from time to time in the soil of Colchis and mowing down the
men who sprang up from the teeth in order to demonstrate his powers
(3.40918). Aeetes sets this same task for Jason. The sowing of
dragons teeth is not in Pindar; it is rst preserved in a fragment of the
historian Pherecydes of Athens.
When Jason cuts down these mon-
strous shoots, they are said to have been emerging from the soil: many
half-risen into the air as far as their belly and sides, and some as far as
the shouldersand some just standing upright (3.138284). The de-
scription matches a passage in Diodorus, usually attributed to
Hecataeus of Abderas Theologoumena, the preface to his Aegypti-
aca. There the generation of life from Egyptian soil is twice described in
the same terms and coincides with an earlier description of the emerg-
ing cosmos in Diodorus:
Indeed, even in our day during the inundations of Egypt the generation of
forms of animal life can clearly be seen taking place, . . . for whenever the
river has begun to recede and the sun has thoroughly dried the surface of
206 Apollonian Cosmologies
85. 1.10.67 = FGrH 264 F 25. Diodorus states the idea earlier in 1.10.23 with re-
spect to mice. For a discussion of the relationship of the three passages (1.7, 1.10.23 and
67), see Cole 1990, 18295. On Egypt as the oldest place and the site of spontaneous
generation, see sch. on AR 4.25762c Wendel.
86. See above, pages 96, 100101, for Callimachuss use of ogygian.
87. Sch. on Lycophron 1206 (ed. R. Foerster [Berlin, 1958] 347.25348.7). Tzetzes
cites the the following passage of Dionysius the Periegete as evidence: Qabhn dgygAhn,
Ckatampylon. Gnua gegvna% | MAmnvn dnetAlloysan Dbn dspazetai \Hp (lines
the slime, living animals, they say, take shape, some of them fully formed,
but some only half so and still actually united with the very earth.
Egypt in Hecataeus and Aeaea, both west and east, in Apollonius oc-
cupy the same imaginative space. Otherness is extended beyond cul-
tural behavior and into the very physical environment, in which nature
seems to be suspended in a stage of experiment that has elsewhere dis-
Apollonius uses another device that draws Greece itself in this pre-
civilized world. He describes the dragons teeth as
the dire teeth of the Aonian dragon, the guardian of Ares spring, whom
Cadmus killed in Ogygian Thebes, when he came seeking Europa. There
too he settled, guided by the cow (boa%) whom Apollo in a prophecy
gave him as a conductor of his journey. But the [teeth] the Tritonian god-
dess ripped from its jaws and gave as a gift likewise to Aeetes and the
slayer himself [sc. Cadmus]. (3.117783)
The two Thebeses were often conated mythologically to form isomor-
phic stories, as in part they are here. The teeth are divided between
Phoenician/Greek Cadmus and Colchian/Egyptian Aeetes, both of
whom sow the teeth and reap a harvest of Earth-born men who are
then cut down. The epithets of Thebes (Ogygian) and of Athena (Tri-
tonian) in this passage are not so much ambiguous as bilocal in their
conventional application, a circumstance that Apollonius exploits here
and and elsewhere. Tzetzes cites a line of Dionysius the Periegete to
demonstrate that in the Hellenistic period the rare word ogygian,
which is taken as the equivalent of primeval,
might be applied to
both Egyptian and Boeotian Thebes. He claims that Ogygos was the
king of Egyptian Thebes and, when Cadmus came from there into
Greece, he founded the seven-gated city and named it ogygian to
conform everything to the name of Egyptian Thebes.
Others, he main-
tains, call the seven-gated city Thebes, from the cow Cadmus slaugh-
tered, whose name according to Syrus was Thebe. Just as the attributes
Apollonian Cosmologies 207
88. Hymn to Zeus 15: xytlasaito. In Dionysius Scytobrachion, Athena was born by
Lake Triton, hence her epithet. Callimachus similarly locates her birth in North Africa;
see fr. 37 Pf. On Tritonian Athena, see Calame 1990, 290 and n. 29.
89. The scholiast on this passage (4.1311 Wendel) helpfully remarks that Triton was
a river in Libya and was also a river in Boeotia. Athena was born by one of them. I dis-
cussed the similar conation of geographic locations in connection with the Homeric
Hymn to Dionysus above.
90. The passage is also discussed above, page 189, where the Greek is provided. On
this passage, see Vian 1981, 15759, nn. 26780, and Livrea, pp. 8496, notes ad loc.
of Boeotian and Egyptian Thebes could apparently be conated, in
Apollonius Athena Tritonis is sometimes associated with Boeotia, as in
the passage above, and sometimes with Libya. At 4.1311, for example,
Libyan nymphs came upon Athena after she had sprung from her father
Zeuss head, and bathed her in the waters of Triton (TrAtvno% Df
Gdasi xytlasanto); the unusual verb occurs also in Callimachuss
hymn in the expression of Rheas desire to wash the newborn Zeus.
Athena is connected with Libya, if not Egypt, and for the rest of book 4
Triton and Tritonian waters are consistently located in North Africa,
not Boeotia.
In Callimachus we saw conation of two distinct geographic loca-
tions deliberately employed to collapse at least momentarily two sepa-
rate landscapes. Apollonius also exploits geographical doublets but in a
markedly different way. Apollonius never indulges in narrative decep-
tion, as Callimachus appears to; rather, he applies the same set of fea-
tures in different places in his narrative to two separate places or cus-
toms. His location of Sesostriss city-founding in a primeval time is one
example (4.25969):
For there is another course, which the priests of the immortals who have
sprung from Tritonian Thebes have made known. Not yet did all the con-
stellations move in the heaven, nor yet could one hear of the sacred race
of the Danaans, if one should make inquiry. Alone were the Arcadian Ap-
idanians, Arcadians, who are said to have lived even before the moon,
eating acorns in the hills. At that time the Pelasgian land was not ruled by
the glorious sons of Deucalion; Egypt was then called fertile Aeria
(\HerAh polylaio%), mother of men of an older generation, and the
broad-owing river by which all Aeria was watered was called Triton.
Earlier I suggested that the habit of double naming was a feature of ae-
tiological writing, a practice of the colonizing group, who replaced the
unfamiliar with familiar names. Apollonius exploits these geographical
doublets for another reason as well. In this passage Egypt is said to be
mother of an earlier generation of men (mathr AGgypto% proterhge-
208 Apollonian Cosmologies
91. Livrea suggests at 4.269 that Apollonius might have made a mistake: forse er-
roneamente allude identicandola con il Nilo. Triton = Nile also in Lycophron 119 and
92. Dionysius Scytobrachion engages in a similar relocating, but the respective
chronologies of the two are uncertain, and it is impossible to say if this is a trend or an
nAvn aDzhpn). Apollonius selects the very rare word proterhgenAvn,
which also appears in the Hymn to Zeus, where, I have argued, it con-
formed to Callimachuss two versions of Zeuss succession to Hesiodic
and Egyptian myth. Not only does Apollonius attach the word to
Egypt, but he does so in a passage where, like Callimachus, he is creat-
ing a verbal link between Greek and Egyptian landscapes. \HerAh poly-
laio%, here a name and dening characteristic of Egypt, was applied to
the Pelasgian land in 1.580. Egyptian Thebes (or the eponymous
nymph, Thebe) is called Tritonian in this passage, while Boeotian
Thebes was called Ogygian and connected with the Tritonian god-
dess about ve hundred lines earlier. Thus primeval Thebes was ap-
parently younger than Tritonian Thebes, and the epithet Tritonian
for Athena at 3.1182 (ueb TritonA%) might as easily derive from a con-
nection to the Tritonian waters of North Africa as from Boeotia. To
complicate matters, Egyptian Aeria in the passage above is watered by
the river Triton, which must be the Nile,
named presumably for Tri-
ton, the biform divinity, who gives Euphemus the clod. As in Calli-
machus this geographical pleonasm is not simply an exercise in recher-
ch allusion; it serves to effect a liaison between Greek and Egyptian
worlds and to relocate or collocate divinities and places in both main-
land Greece and North Africa.
In contrast to Callimachus, who seems
to have employed stable geographies that allowed Greek models of
kingship to be mapped onto Egyptian (or vice versa), Apollonius seems
rather more to operate in the realm of cosmic origins, in which cultural
formation as well as geographical markers are still in a state of ux.
This geographic duplicity concludes in the double birth of islands with
which the poem ends.
the new order
Apollonius relocates at the end of the Argonautica a prophecy, bor-
rowed from Pindar, that a clod of earth taken from Libya was destined
to wash up on the island of Thera. In Pindar the prophecy had marked
the Cyrenaica as well as the Aegean islands as always already Greek.
Apollonian Cosmologies 209
93. 1993, 168.
Richard Hunter, in his 1993 study, read the sequence of these events at
the end of the book, and indeed the entire dynamic of the poem, as the
creation of a new order:
Whereas the conquest of Talos apparently removed the last vestiges of vi-
olent brutalism, and rescue from the chaos proved the gracious power of
Apollo, as representative of the new Olympian order, so the story of
the clod projects the Argonauts themselves into the future through their
descendants, while placing them at the mythic scene of the creation of the
Aegean islands. Euphemos dream shows clearly that philia has replaced
neikos as the creative impulse.
In this context it is important that Apollonius altered Pindar: the clod
does not wash up on Thera but became Thera. This is a trivial change
with considerable consequence. I discussed above the narrative similar-
ities between this event and the foundation of Alexandria. But there is
another similarity. By altering Pindar, Apollonius brings the ending of
his epic into harmony with Egyptian cosmogony. An island emerging
from watery chaosthe primeval hill or place of coming forth, an is-
land that is a holy nurse (1758: Cerb trofa%), an image that Calli-
machus exploited in both Zeus and Delos hymnssignaled the begin-
ning of the Egyptian universe. As it is placed here at the end of the
book, I submit that its purpose is to suggest a new order in which both
Greek and Egyptian are present and in which the ancestors of the Arg-
onauts are expanded to include not simply the kings of Cyrene but the
new Ptolemaic pharaohs of Egypt. Final events do not imply a fusion of
mythologies, however, so much as bilocated mythic sensibilities: one is-
land encapsulates the Greek tale as one of particularityThera, Eu-
phemus, and Libyawhile the other, Anaphe, hints at the Egyptian is-
land rising from the void, an event of recurrence, and in the context of
the earlier cosmogonic themes suggests a form half-risen, incomplete,
The trajectory of the end of the book is the creation of order from
chaos, particularly through the instrumentality of Apollo. But if for
Apollo we substitute his Egyptian alter ego, Horus, then this formula-
tion could serve equally as an accurate description of Egyptian myth.
For Egyptians, the emergence of order from chaos marks the beginning
of the created universe, and it could be magically reenacted by a series
of ritual or symbolic actskilling snakes, trampling, smiting or other-
210 Apollonian Cosmologies
94. 2.68789. The appearance of Apollo at dawn foreshadows his nal appearance
at 4.171316, on which see below.
95. 2.7058. See also 1.507 (gfra ZeB% Gti koPro%, Gti fresB napia eDda%) and Cal-
limachus Hymn to Zeus 57 (dll\ Dti paidna% Dan), discussed above.
wise destroying the enemy, who is imagined as the primeval serpent,
Apophis, and who was regularly conated with Seth/Typhon. Equally,
the conict of chthonic and Olympian forces or of Greek civilization
and barbarian other had been represented in a variety of ways in pre-
vious Greek writings, at least one of which was also the killing of snaky
monsters, particularly by Heracles. Within the Argonautica not every
confrontation of chthonic and Olympian takes on Egyptian resonances.
However, there are a few places in the poem where the individual de-
tails of Apolloniuss narrative seem to converge in an event or activity
that is particularly associated with Egyptian cosmogonic or royal ideol-
ogy. In doing this Apollonius both reinforces the overall narrative tra-
jectory as a movement from primeval or originary chaos to the order of
civilized society and complicates this picture. As in Callimachus, Apol-
lonius exploits the potential for two symbolic realms to be simultane-
ously active, but while the two disparate mental landscapes in Calli-
machus seemed to converge in the institution of Ptolemaic kingship, in
Apollonius they never quite align, and we are left with two parallel or
even potentially competing universes.
The motif of killing serpents rst occurs at 2.700709, and ttingly
the slayer is Apollo, whom the Argonauts rst glimpse in the moments
between the end of night and full day.
They immediately build an altar
to him as \Apallvn \Eaio% and enact a ritual that associates him with
the Delphic Apollo, while Orpheus sings Delphis foundation story, the
slaying of the local guardian snake:
e% pote petraAh Cpb deiradi ParnhsoPo
DelfAnhn tajoisi pelarion Djenarije,
koPro% Dbn Gti gymna%, Gti plokamoisi geghua%
When once under the rocky ridge of Parnassus Apollo slew the monster
Delphyne with his bow, while Apollo was still a naked child and took
pleasure still in long locks.
The language and sequence of detail is remarkably close to Calli-
machuss Hymn to Apollo (97104). Both sections are introduced by
Apollonian Cosmologies 211
96. 2.702. Callimachus writes Cb paipon to conform the cry to his etymology: Hurl,
child, an arrow.
97. Callimachus employed the Delphi story in at least two other places: the Hymn to
Delos, which was discussed in chapter 2, and the end of the Aetia (fr. 88 Pf.), where the
serpent is called Delphyne. For further parallels between Callimachus and Apollonius, see
Hunter 1986, 5859. On Delphyne, see Vian 1974, 276. The order of composition of
these four texts (one of Apollonius, three of Callimachus) is in doubt, but irrelevant for
this argument. What may be relevant is the fact that Apolloniuss story is also framed as
a hymn, and while Callimachuss Apollo hymn ends with the discord of Phthonos and
Momus, Apolloniuss culminates in the establishment of a temple to Concord
(Homonoia) (2.71819).
98. See Selden 1998 on the Hymn to Apollo; Koenen 1983 and Bing 1988 on the
Hymn to Delos. Selden (pp. 390405) provides a particularly detailed discussion of the
correspondences between the events of the Apollo hymn and Egyptian rituals described in
the Edfu temple.
99. See the remarks of commentators on the passage who try to emend or otherwise
account for gymna%: e.g., Hunter 1986, 5657.
100. It is possible to invoke Heracles as a naked child killing serpents as a parallel for
Apollos activities, but we have already seen that representations of Heracles throttling
snakes in a Greek context are themselves likely to be indebted to Egyptian analogues.
101. In this context consider the depiction of Apollo slaying Tityos, another Earth-
born creature, who is depicted on Jasons cloak at 1.75962. Apollo is said to be boApai%
oGpv polla% (760). The rare boApai% is a comic word, which very obviously has con-
nections with the cow, namely, cow-child. The passage already seems to play on the
derivation of Apollo from polA%, so Apollonius might have included a punning allusion
to the Egyptian cow-headed deity (Isis/Io), who is the mother of Horus. Cf. Callimachuss
cowborn Danaus fr. 383 Pf. and SH 254.4.
the ritual cry Dhpaiaona.
In both the slaying of the snake/dire monster
by arrows is immediately followed by mention of Apollos mother,
Leto, which serves to underscore the gods youth.
In Callimachuss
hymns to Apollo and Delos the signicance of Apollos behavior in
Egyptian terms has already been discussed by other scholars,
and the
unusual detail of 2.707 (koPro% Dbn Gti gymna%) suggests that Apollo-
nius too might be operating within this Apollo/Horus matrix.
Only in
Egyptian myth does a naked child-god kill snakes.
Although long hair
was a standard feature of Apollo, as Apollonius emphasizes in the lines
that immediately follow, the phrase Gti plokamoisi geghua% suggests
that it was a temporary condition. It is the Egyptian child, Horus, for
whom this language is most appropriate, since it would describe the
forelock of immaturity worn by all Egyptian youths, as is seen on the
Horus cippus, but cut at the time of adulthood.
The inclusion of Leto
may point in the same direction: Leto is not important in the Homeric
hymn at this juncture, but Isis and Horus are closely joined in Horuss
youthful exploits, especially in repelling the various manifestations of
Seth. In the Argonautica the youthful Apollo/Horus in his triumph over
212 Apollonian Cosmologies
102. The literature is extensive. See Hunter 1993, 11: Scholars have often differed
only about whether poetic design or incompetence is responsible for this apparent trav-
esty of an epic hero; see also Hunters notes ad loc.
103. Thetiss magic enhancement of Achilles is a parallel of sorts, but it plays no part
in the dynamics of the Iliad.
104. In Pindar, Jason was raised in secret by the centaur Chiron; Apollonius may al-
lude to this at several points in the Argonautica (e.g., 1.33, 554), though he nowhere
states it explicitly.
the serpent would seem to provide the template for subsequent occur-
rences of overcoming serpents, particularly in books 3 and 4. This im-
pression is further reinforced by the narrative sequence itself. The sim-
ile immediately before Apollo kills Delphyne compares the heroes
plying the oars of the Argo to oxen plowing (2.66268). Earlier the
young Jason as he sets out on his adventure is compared to Apollo
(1.30610). At the climax of the quest he must confront a terrible ser-
pent to accomplish his task, so that the eeting sequence of images
hereoxen plowing, appearance of Apollo, confrontation with
guardian serpentappears to be proleptic of Jasons actions in Colchis.
If Jason and Apollo seem to resemble each other, and if one aspect of
Jasons behavior, namely, establishing cults and bringing civilized com-
munity, can be read as conforming to patterns of kingship found also in
Hecataeus, many other aspects of his character have posed problems
for all commentators.
Although Jason frequently acts in the manner
of a Homeric warrior, he does not do so consistently but vacillates be-
tween boldness and timidity. He is not a clearly dominant leader of the
expedition the presence of Heracles initially threatens his position of
authority. Even more troubling is the importance of his good looks and
his amiability in motivating the action, particularly when it is directed
towards women. Moreover, Jason can complete the tasks set by Aeetes
only with the aid of magic, and a womans magic at that, which dis-
tances him from the world of the Homeric hero and might seem to dis-
allow any claims for him as a viable model for kingship.
Yet the very qualities that are disturbing when viewed within a
Greek context form part of a consistent picture within an Egyptian
framework. Jasons prehistory, like that of Horus, who was raised in se-
cret in Chemmis, is somewhat obscure; we rst see him as the half-shod
youth at the beginning of the poem, in an entrance that appears to al-
lude to Pindar.
In contrast to Greek heroic models of behavior, many
of Jasons seemingly unheroic characteristics are not only acceptable
but delineate signicant aspects of Horus as divine king. Among
Horuss attributes are his youth and his beauty, which encompass both
Apollonian Cosmologies 213
105. These attributes of Horus derive from his father, Osiris, the god of regeneration,
who can be praised as follows: Thy phallus is within the maidens (Book of the Dead,
Spell 162 [Allen 1974, 158]).
106. Caminos 1958, 48, 114.
107. Book of the Dead, Spell 185 A S4 (Allen 1974, 204).
108. They are even characters in Prometheus Bound.
109. Lichtheim 1980, 8788. Compare also the Mendes stele, where Philadelphus is
praised as appearing on the horizon with four aspects: who lightens the heaven and
generosity and affection but cross over into the erotic energy associated
with procreation and the regeneration of life.
In a victory stele of Os-
orkon, for example, the king can be addressed as:
sweet-scented amongst the couriers like a large lotus bud . . . a worthy
youth, sweet of love, even as Horus coming forth from Chemmis. . . .
One looks at his body [when he ings himself] upon the war chariot like
a star darting up, [even] the matutine Horus in the starry rmament.
This theme is found even in the Book of the Dead: Everyone adores
his beauty. How sweet is his love for us: his kindliness has converted
our hearts. Great is his love for everybody when they have drawn near
to the son of Isis.
In Greek myth Zeuss youth and lineage are relatively unimportant
in his attainment of kingship, and he is represented as a mature,
bearded male. It is his son Apollo who retains the iconographic attrib-
utes of young manhood. Despite the entourage of Olympians, Zeus,
like a Homeric hero, defeats Typhon alone, and his strength can even be
personied as Kratos and Bia, who execute his divine will and sit along-
side his throne.
Horus, the child of Isis, in contrast, is consistently
identied as young, and his mythological role is always that of good
son, or avenger of his father. He is regularly supported by Egyptian di-
vinities, sometimes as their equal, sometimes as their subordinate. In
the Naucratis stele of Nectanebo I, for example, erected in the fourth
century b.c.e., the following qualities are singled out in an encomium of
the king (as a Horus surrogate). His puissance in battle is commended
with the address powerful one with active arm, | Sword master who
attacks a host; his beauty is noted: all eyes are dazzled by seeing him,
| Like Re when he rises in lightland, | Love of him greens each body;
his acquiescence to advice and counsel is mentioned: whom the gods
acclaim, . . . who wakes to seek what serves their shrines . . . who acts
according to their words, and is not deaf to their advice; and, nally,
his role in cult is described: who builds their mansions, founds their
walls, supplies the altar, . . . provides oblations of all kinds.
214 Apollonian Cosmologies
earth with his rays, who comes as the Nile, and when he nears the Two Lands, he is the
air to all the people (Roeder 1959, 177).
110. Gwyn Grifths 1960, 4146; Lichtheim 1976, 21718.
111. Lichtheim 1980, 87.
112. 1993, 1719.
113. Ritner 1993, 24.
A striking difference between Greek and Egyptian models for divine
and/or royal behavior is the ubiquitous presence of female divinities,
who far more than in Greek poetry act to protect and support the
king/Horus. Horus is accompanied by his mother and other powerful
goddesses, all of whom work their magic in his behalf. Although Horus
and Seth engage in a series of trials by strength, Horuss ultimate tri-
umph depends more on Isiss tricking of Seth than his own powers.
The Naucratis stele, which commemorates a gift to the temple of the
goddess Neith, portrays the relationship of the goddess and the king as
one of complete dependence:
[Neith] raised his majesty above millions. | Appointed him ruler of the
Two Lands; | . . . Captured for him the nobles hearts. | She enslaved for
him the peoples hearts. | And destroyed all his enemies.
Further, magic plays a central and positive role in Egyptian thought.
According to R. Ritner, magic, personied as the god Heka, is the hy-
postasis of the creators own power which begets the natural order, an
event that must be reenacted daily through the aid of Heka, who during
the night becomes a protective power, by destroying the enemy.
magic functioned as a potent and legitimate means of maintaining ones
powers and harming ones enemies. In the temples of the Ptolemaic pe-
riod, Heka appears before the temples divinity, escorted by the king.
A whole range of divinities, including the goddesses Isis, Hathor, and
Sekmet, derive their own magic powers from Heka, which they use con-
stantly to protect Osiris/Horus/the king.
If Jasons behavior conforms to a template of Egyptian kingship, his
position as a Greek Horus marks him imaginatively as a precursor to
the Ptolemies, who will rule as both Greek king and Egyptian pharaoh.
In this context, it is possible to read his actions in books 34 as a sup-
planting of Aeetes. We have already seen that Colchis was an Egyptian
colony founded by Sesostris, and Aeetes as its king was tly said to be
the son of the Sun (in which Helios is the equivalent of Re). The acts
that Aeetes requires Jason to perform are tasks that he himself is able to
do, as he maintains at 3.4078: the test of strength and courage will
Apollonian Cosmologies 215
114. Bleeker 1967, 103.
115. Thompson 1988, 14647. The late source is Nigidius Figulus.
116. For the eece as a talisman of imperial power, see L. Gernet, Value in Greek
Myth, in Gordon 1981, 13140.
117. When Jason appears before Hypsipyle (1.72126) he is described rather simi-
larly. His cloak is so bright that it would be easier to look at the rays of the rising sun.
118. For example, the funerary temple of Ramesses III in Medinet Habu displays the
right hands of the conquered piled up in one scene and their penises in another. The tak-
be a contest that I myself am able to be superior in, however dire. One
of these acts, the yoking of the re-breathing bulls, does have a good
analogue in the rites of Egyptian kingship. The pharaoh in his renewal
festival (Heb Sed) drove asses or oxen around the city walls four
And although the evidence for it is very late, even the Ptolemies
may have engaged in a similar act as part of their coronation rites. It is
said that they yoked the Apis bull and led him through the city.
Aeetes imagines, correctly or not, that the Argonauts arrival
presages his own downfall, that they might drive him from his honor
and his throne (3.59697). Within the terms of the narrative, Jason
obviously does not become king of Colchis, but he does perform acts
that congure him as Aeetes successor.
By successfully yoking the
bulls and sowing the dragons teeth, he signals his tness to assume the
mantle of authority in Aeetes place, and thus marks his succession as
legitimate. Aeetes himself fades as a character after Jason takes the
eece, and Apsyrtus only briey and disastrously assumes the role of his
fathers surrogate. Within the text, when Aeetes arrives to watch the
plowing contest, he is described as wearing a helmet that gleamed like
the sun, when he rst rose from Ocean (3.122930). A little later the
solar image is transferred to the eece, which is like a cloud that grows
red from the rays of the rising sun (4.12426).
When Jason takes pos-
session of the eece, he too begins to shine with a red glow on his
cheeks like a ame (4.17274), but when he swathes himself in the
eece and strides forward among his men at dawn, the eece now
shines like Zeuss lightning (4.185). This instrument of Zeuss authority
was being fashioned as the rst vignette on Jasons cloak, which the
scholiast allegorized as the rst step in the transition from nature
to culture. As Jason now steps forward in the eece, Apollonius reg-
ures the imagery of cosmic light as now Greek (Zeus), no longer
Colchian/Egyptian (Helios).
Next, Jason kills the legitimate son, Apsyrtus, and cuts off his ex-
tremitiesa standard treatment Egyptians accorded their conquered
This action deprived the Colchians of their leader, with the
216 Apollonian Cosmologies
ing of these body parts served to tally the number of dead, and soldiers were regularly
given rewards on the basis of numbers of hands. See, for example, Lichtheim 1976,
1215 and 15 n. 9. The mutilation of Apsyrtus serves a number of other narrative pur-
poses as well, on which see below.
119. 2.120813. The only other place in the Argonautica where Typhon is mentioned
is also in book 2, where Amycus is likened to Typhoeus, and Polydeuces to a star
(2.3842). The chthonic-Ouranian opposition of Amycus and Polydeuces might be in-
tended to function within both cultural realms, but it is not as clearly marked as the
Apollo-Pytho scene. (See Hunters assessment [1993, 16061].) Egyptian gods often ap-
peared as stars (particularly Horus, who was the morning star) in their nightly battle with
Apophis. (The passage from Osorkons stele on page 213 above provides an example of
result that they do not return to their homeland but scatter and settle
elsewhere. Jason kills Apsyrtus in part because as his fathers surrogate
he was demanding the return of Medea, whom Aeetes in his last ap-
pearance in book 4 seems to require even more than the eece (4.231).
Jasons theft of and marriage to the kings daughter completes the se-
quence: by trial, by conquest, and by marriage it would seem that
Colchis, and by extension Egypt, might be claimed by a Greek. Jasons
actions at the end of book 3 and the opening of book 4, however, are
not unidirectional: Jason began as a Greek hero, who with his com-
rades set out upon an ostensibly Greek encounter with barbarians, but
here he takes on the role of the other for himself, and for the remainder
of the poem the two worlds will become increasingly intermingled.
In light of these observations I would like to juxtapose Jasons en-
counter with the guardian of the eece in book 4 with a vignette found
in the Egyptian underworld books. Earlier in book 2 the Colchian ser-
pent was explicitly identied as an offspring of Typhaon ( = Typhon),
who was an emblem of chaos and a Seth-equivalent:
Such a serpent (gfi%) is on guard around and about [the eece], immor-
tal and unsleeping, whom Earth herself brought forth on the anks of the
Caucasus, where the Typhaonian rock is, there they say Typhaon was
struck by a thunderbolt of Zeus, when he reached out his mighty hands
against him, and warm gore dripped from his head.
The serpent, sprung from Typhaons gore, recalls the moment when
Zeus defeated Typhaon and also looks forward to the serpents sprung
from the Gorgons head, who populate the Libyan desert. Book 4 opens
with Jason and Medea approaching the golden eece just before dawn.
When they (and the reader) rst see it, the day is still dark, but the eece
is like a cloud grown red from the rays of the rising sun (4.12425:
nefAli DnalAgkion, et dnianto%, delAoy flogerusin AreAuetai dk-
Apollonian Cosmologies 217
120. The Homeric term dosshtar (aider or assistant), which Apollonius em-
ploys as an epithet of Sleep (4.146), Callimachus uses of Apollo (Hymn to Apollo 104).
121. R. Hunter, Medeas Flight: The Fourth Book of the Argonautica, CQ 37
(1987) 13233.
122. According to the scholiast at 4.15661, Apollonius is following Antimachus in
the details of putting the dragon to sleep. In Pindar, Pherecydes of Athens (FGrH 3 F31),
and in Herodorus (FGrH 31 F52) the dragon is killed by Jason. (Hunter [1993, 183] sug-
gests that the snake might have died here too.)
123. Hornung 1992, 1056. The passage to which Hornung 1992 refers may be
found in Hornung 1971, 13334. See further the discussion of Talos below.
tAnessin). Their path to the eece is impeded by an immortal dragon.
As Jason approaches this serpent, we are prepared for youthful Apollo
encountering a Delphyne,
but the scene plays out rather differently.
At their appearance, the monster lls the grove with his hissing, terrify-
ing those who live nearby (4.12930). Jason does not confront the
monster but rather approaches fearfully (149: pefobhmAno%) with only
the foreign woman and her magic as his ally. A simile a few lines earlier
of mothers protecting their children who are frightened at the serpents
roar suggests prima facie that Medeas protection for fearful Jason is
similarly maternal.
In the event, Jason does not kill the serpent,
though he does so in most earlier versions.
Instead, it is overwhelmed
by Medeas potent magic.
He raised his terrible head aloft eager to enclose them in his dire jaws.
But [Medea] . . . sprinkled powerful drugs on his eyes while she chanted
her song; all around the overpowering scent of the charm spread sleep;
and on the very spot he let his jaw sink down; and far behind . . . his
countless coils were stretched out. (4.15361)
What is untypical in Apolloniuss passageJasons fear, maternal
protectiveness, the neutralizing of the snake in place of its death, and
Medeas role taking precedence over Jasonsconforms to a well-
known vignette found in Egyptian underworld books. E. Hornung de-
scribes the point at which Horus and his retinue confront Apophis, who
blocks their path as follows:
The serpentine body of Apophis blocks the path of the solar bark and his
withering glance . . . [and] brings the journey to a halt. . . . The darkness
is only broken by the odd re-breathing serpent, and the roar of Apophis,
whose thunderous voice echoes through the Netherworld, terrifying
the sun god and his entourage. . . . Before the stranded vessel is taken by
the enemy, Isis at the boats prow reaches out and throws the most pow-
erful weapon known to god and man at the monstermagic. . . . The
radiant magic strikes his head. He is neither destroyed nor killed,
merely disabled, deprived of strength and his sense of orientation.
218 Apollonian Cosmologies
124. The idea is an old one; see, for example, Meuli 1925; Fontenrose 1980, 47787;
Hunter 1993, 18288; Moreau 1994, 11738. Livrea (1991) sees it as a metaphor of
death and rebirth.
125. So Moreau 1994, 11738.
Isiss magic allows the solar boat to pass just as Medeas magic allows
Jason to take the eece (shining like the sun) and and begin his return to
Greece. If this were the only scene with close correspondences, it would
be easy to dismiss, but as book 4 continues, the number of coincidences
of Greek text with Egyptian myth increases to suggest a specic pattern.
the night voyage of the sun
The fact that the voyage of the Argo often takes place in a landscape
populated with chthonic creatures and gures imagined or halluci-
nated, in which both narrative and protagonists seem to have lost di-
rection, until at last they emerge from the Stygian darkness into the
light of dawn, has prompted a number of interpreters, both ancient and
modern, to understand the story as in part a katabasis.
associations occur throughout the tale and are concentrated in book 4,
particularly as the adventurers traverse the murky and confusing
Libyan wasteland. But why Apollonius might choose to so congure his
text is not entirely clear. The adventures serve as a test for the heroes,
whose ephebic (hence liminal) status is well known, and it is from these
adventures that they emerge to fulll their roles as founders of the new
though Apollonius seems less interested in describing their pro-
cess of maturation than their manifest destiny. Equally, Jason and his
crew have been forced to experience the terrors of the Libyan desert to
atone for the murder of Apsyrtus, though Apollonius does not dwell on
the punitive aspects of the journey. It is also possible to attribute many
of the individual elements of the book to Apolloniuss literary precur-
sors, and, if we are so inclined, to his generally dark or anti-epic vision.
All of these explanations have some degree of cogency, but neither sep-
arately nor in the aggregate can they account for the actual succession
of events in book 4. At this juncture, I wish to propose an explanation
for these events that is meant to complement, not substitute for, other
analyses, namely, that the author has not only deliberately constructed
his narrative to evoke a vaguely Greek poetic katabasis but conformed
his text in strategic locations to mirror one of the most prominent (and
idiosyncratic) features of Egyptian cosmology, the voyage of the Sun
Apollonian Cosmologies 219
126. The similarity of the three stages of the suns daily life to Oedipuss solution to
the riddle of the sphinx is not fortuitous. The Egyptian sphinx was a form of the sun-god
and ancestor of the Greek monster. See Paul Jordan, Riddles of the Sphinx (New York,
1998) 2067.
127. See Hunters remarks on the fracturing of time in the Argonautica (1993,
through the realms of the night. I would further propose that this un-
derworld experience is organically linked to the symbolic collapse that
occurs at the end of the book, to the replacing of neikos with philia, to
the emergence of islands from the void, and, most importantly, to the
promise of a new Greco-Egyptian cultural order.
The essential details of the Suns journey are as follows: the Sun, Re,
was accompanied by a variety of divinities, who were sometimes
thought of as the stars. The most important of these were Hu, Sia, and
HekaAuthoritative Speech, Intelligence, and Magicwho aided Re
in overcoming the many obstacles he encountered on his journey. The
chief obstacle was the serpent of originary chaos, Apophis, who tried to
impede the Suns progress or swallow it. Storms and eclipses were signs
that Apophis had temporarily at least hindered or blocked the course of
the solar boat. The stages of the day could be mapped onto the stages of
a human lifethe Sun was newborn in his morning appearance, a
erce, warlike adult god at midday, and an old man near death at
evening. In Egyptian religion each had a particular name and set of di-
vine attributes, and they accompanied the Sun in the underworld.
journey through the night world was much more terrifying than the
daily journey, because it traversed a space where time had collapsed,
and past met future,
where regeneration and rebirth coexisted with
putrefaction and death. It was imagined as a return to darkness and the
primeval waters from which all creation originally sprang, hence each
new day was not simply analogous to but actually was a new creation.
During the twelve hours of night, each of which might be imagined as
lling a much longer period, since the time of the day world did not
operate, the solar boat encountered lakes of re, caverns, and shoals.
The journey itself is imagined not as a straight course from the place of
the suns setting in the west to its rising in the east, but convoluted and
folded back upon itself. Because no wind blew in the underworld, the
boat needed to be towed through its realms. Spells and magic were cru-
cial here to defeat the various manifestations of Apophis, usually in the
form of serpents, who threatened to destroy the boat. But the power of
serpents could also be enlisted for use against Apophis. The fact that
220 Apollonian Cosmologies
128. Hornung 1992, 4951, 6364.
129. Hornung 1992, 96.
130. Hornung (1999) discusses content and context for each type of underworld text,
the chronological range of its use, and useful bibliographies, including a list of transla-
tions into English for each type. For further bibliography, see T. Wilfongs review of Hor-
nung, BMCR 4.25 (2000).
snakes shed their skins made them symbols of regeneration. Time itself
could be imagined as a serpent with its tail in its mouth (the
ouroboros), so when the solar boat reached the nal hour and drew
near to the gate to the upper world, it was depicted as having taken the
form of serpent or of passing through the body of a serpent (that is,
passing through time) in order to emerge from the darkness to rise
again in the eastern sky.
According to Hornung,
our sources of information about the suns descent and ascent date back
to Old Kingdom Pyramid texts and include writings from as late as the
Greco-Roman Period. In a collection of New Kingdom religious texts,
the Egyptians seem increasingly systematic in their exploration of the
suns voyage. Known as the Books of the Netherworld, these texts used
to be characterized as guides to the Beyond. They include the Amduat,
the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, and the Book of Earth. Their an-
cient generic designation books about what is in dat indicates their
aim: to provide information usually from the standpoint of the sun god
and his companions about the underworld, dat, its inhabitants, and its
topography in both written and pictorial form.
Underworld books were initially restricted to royal use, but increas-
ingly they are found in and on cofns and tombs of the well-to-do and
continue in use well into the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. These texts
consisted of annotated illustrations and spells, from which, neverthe-
less, a consistent pattern of events can be extracted, as the solar boat
moves through the underworld from sunset to the new sunrise. In addi-
tion, the papyrus Books of the Dead, which are written not from the
standpoint of the sun god and his companions but from the stand-
point of the individual dead person who wished to gain entrance to and
survive in the underworld, exhibit knowledge of the same critical events
of the Suns journey that occur in the underworld books.
Although a considerable number of written and visual representa-
tions of the solar journey survive, Apollonius need not have gained his
information about them from written media. Given the ubiquity of
Apollonian Cosmologies 221
131. The Hellenomemphites, for instance, were adopting elements of Egyptian burial
practice in the fourth century b.c.e.
132. A. Piankoff, The Wandering of the Soul: Texts Translated with Commentary,
completed and prepared for publication by H. Jacquet-Gordon, Bollingen Series 40.6
(Princeton, 1974), 11720. Piankoff observes that in one such game the draughtsmen
used by Horus and Seth while playing the game were considered to be the teeth of Mehen
[a serpent inhabiting the underworld] (p. 117). These ideas may have had currency in
Demotic literature of the Greco-Roman period; see P. Piccione, The Gaming Episode in
the Tale of Setna Khamwas as a Religious Metaphor, in For His Ka: Essays in Memory
of Klaus Baer, ed. D. Silverman, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 55 (Chicago,
1994) 197204.
133. Hecataeus must have been familiar with Egyptian underworld lore; see
Diodorus Siculus 1.72 and 1.92 (FGrH 264 F 25.72 and 92), discussed in chapter 1.
134. West 1996, 47077. He points to the adventure in the golden bowl of Helios
and the fetching of Cerberus from Hades.
135. See the discussion above, pages 13132.
136. In her 1977 University of Illinois dissertation, Astronomy in the Argonautica
of Apollonius Rhodius, P. Bogue presents the most thorough demonstration and docu-
mentation of the celestial references, which, she argues, map to a solar year of about 354
days for the voyage from beginning to end. See Bogue, pp. 2531, for the astral associa-
tions of the heroes of the Argonautica. Cf. Vian, who in his edition of book 4 posits a
voyage of six months (1981, 1213). S. Noegel, in an unpublished paper, also discusses
the solar journey of the Argo.
such ideas in Egyptian culture it is inconceivable that Apollonius and
his Alexandrian audience could have been unaware of them, any more
than modern residents of Christian nations, whatever their actual reli-
gious practices, can escape familiarity with the Christ storybirth in a
manger, the visit of the three wise men, the slaughter of the innocents,
trial before Pontius Pilate, crucixion, death, resurrection. These were
deeply held beliefs at all levels of society, forming the orthodox view of
the Egyptian realm of the dead, and were manifested in burial practice,
elements of which the Greek population in Egypt seems early to have
Even the moves in a popular Egyptian board game,
Senet, appear to have been allegorized as the underworld journey of the
Moreover, Egyptian ideas of the afterlife had by this period l-
tered into Greek culture through writers like Eudoxus and Hecataeus of
Abdera, if not much earlier.
M. L. West, for example, suggests that the
Suns struggles through the twelve hours of the dat may have been
the origin for the twelve labors of Heracles, many of which involve the
slaying of snaky monsters,
and Heracles voyage in the bowl of the
sun had obvious Egyptian analogues.
Also, the very story that Apol-
lonius chose to relate is easily accommodated to Egyptian solar myth,
and the celestial elements in the Argonaut legend were well estab-
The Argo itself was identied as a constellation from at least
222 Apollonian Cosmologies
137. LIMC 2.1.924 for the Argo as a constellation with illustration (2.2.681). The
constellation was well attested in the Hellenistic period; see Kidd 1997, 311 (on Aratus
138. DIO 22; and see Gwyn Grifthss discussion (1960, 37778). See also F. Boll,
Sphaera: Neue griechische Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Sternbilder
(Leipzig, 1903) 16981. Boll rightly rejects the suggestion that the Argo was made a con-
stellation in conformity with Egyptian astronomic lore (though Kidd accepts the identi-
cation [1997, 311]). For Egyptians the ship of Osiris could not have been a constellation,
since it traverses the underworld, not the night sky. It is much more likely that the identi-
cation of this boat with the Argo is a Greek idea.
139. Fr. 11a in M. L. West, Iambi et elegi graeci ante Alexandrum cantati, vol 2 (Ox-
ford, 1972). Mimnermuss fragment is cited in Strabo 1.2.40.
140. See Pindar: toPsi lampei mBn mAno% delAoy tbn Dnuade nAkta katv (fr. 129
Snell-Maehler), and surely that is the sense of Callimachuss remark that the sun, when it
has set, shines upon the sons of Ophion (fr. 177 Pf. = fr. 259 SH): \OfionAdusi faeAn[ei).
the Hellenistic period,
and Plutarch, though obviously much later
than Apollonius, claims that it was the boat of Osiris, that is, the night
bark of the sun.
Aeetes and his clan were the offspring of Helios, and
in previous Greek writing Colchis was identied with the night region
of the sun. Mimnermus, for example, in the Nanno describes Aeetes
city as a place where the rays of the swift sun lie in a golden chamber
at the lips of Ocean, to which godlike Jason came.
That the Sun tra-
versed the underworld during the night seems to have been a familiar
idea to some Greeks.
Earlier in the chapter we noted the chthonic and
magic attributes of the Argonauts themselves. Apollonius then does not
invent so much as select a complementary Greek tale and exploit its la-
tencies in ways that developed its potential as an underworld journey,
just as he conforms events in his own narrative to that of Homers
Odyssey or Pindars fourth Pythian.
Book 4 begins with the removal of the golden eece from its
guardian dragon, immediately after which the Argonauts ee Colchis to
begin their return to Greece, not by the route taken on their outward
journey, but by an alternate path the knowledge of which the Colchians
have preserved from their Aeaean (Egyptian) forebears. Pursued by the
Colchians, Jason kills and mutilates Aeetes son Apsyrtus in the land of
the Brygi and buries his body on the spot. The Argonauts continue their
journey, passing a lake of ames into which Phaethon fell (4.599603),
to reach the portals and mansions of Night (4.630), and when they
are about to fall off the edge of the earth Hera saves them. At this point
they enter an Odyssean geography, visiting rst Circe in the far west,
then Phaeacia. On Circes island, called Aeaea, we are reminded of
Colchis. Circe is, of course, Aeetes sister, who has the look of a child of
Helios, and she and Medea speak Colchian, which if not identical with
Apollonian Cosmologies 223
141. On the basis of 4.27881 the language of the ancestors must have been
Egyptian must be closely related.
Then, the Argonauts are aided by
Hera and the Nereids as they pass by Scylla and the clashing rocks to
get to Phaeacia where Jason and Medea consummate their marriage in
the cave of Dionysus. Here ends the Odyssean adventure, but, unlike
Odysseus, the Argonauts do not return home immediately from Phaea-
cia but must endure even to the boundaries of Libya (4.1237). Their
journey across the Libyan desert requires them to carry their ship over
the sands for twelve days, during which time they encounter a number
of serpents; Euphemus receives the clod of earth from Triton, and as
they turn homewards they encounter one nal obstacle, the warder of
Crete, the brazen giant Talos, who is destroyed by Medeas magic and
drained of his vital uids. After defeating Talos the Argonauts enter
into an impenetrable darkness, which is nally dispelled by the appear-
ance of Apollo. The book ends with the dream of Euphemus, the cast-
ing of the clod into the depths, from which another island in time will
emergeKalliste, that is, Thera. A few lines later the weary crew dis-
embark at Pagasae, and the poem ends on a line of joyful homecoming
adapted from Odyssey 23.296.
By listing these events in detail it is possible to identify what is famil-
iar and explicable within a Greek context (whether Homeric or other-
wise), what modern readers have perceived as odd, those areas where
Apollonius has altered his sources, and, nally, how this sequence con-
forms to the Egyptian underworld books. The rst point to consider is
the fact that the return voyage differs substantially from the way out. A
number of reasons for varying the route may be adduced, the desire to
conform the poem to the nostos of the Odyssey and to Pythian 4 being
the most obvious. We saw earlier in this chapter that dependence upon
Pindar underscores Greek claims to North Africa and is proleptic of the
establishment of the new foundation of Alexandria. But why does
Apollonius call specic attention to the return route of the Argonauts as
laid out in the writing of the Colchian ancestors and enlarge upon the
Libyan adventure, particularly the sequence of encounters with snakes
and other local phenomena that do not occur in Pindar? Hecataeus of
Miletus included the Nile in the Argonauts return route, but in spite of
the fact that Apollonius used Hecataean geography elsewhere, he does
not incorporate this detail, though it would seem prima facie a better t
for an Alexandrian poem than the Libyan sands. What seems in
224 Apollonian Cosmologies
142. See Braswells discussion (1988, 34548) and sch. on AR 4. 25762b Wendel.
143. If Camerons argument that books 12 of the Aetia preceded the composition of
the Argonautica is correct, is the fact that in the Aetia Callimachus began his account of
the Argonauts adventure with an aition on Anaphe a sufcient reason for its prominence
at the end of Apolloniuss poem? See Cameron 1995, 2562, and esp. 26162, for his
proposed chronology of the works of the two poets.
144. For example, Apollodorus reverses the order of the encounter with Talos and
the appearance of the island of Anaphe (1.9.26).
Hecataeus, Pindar, and Antimachus to have been a return course from
Ocean to the Nile with south-north portage from the Nile across
to the Mediterranean has been altered to a west-east direction
from the Syrtes to Lake Tritonis. Why does Apollonius construct his
Homeric episode with the marriage in a cave? Why end the poem where
he does?
Why spend so much time on cosmic beginnings, with home-
coming relegated to a one-line allusion? Why end with not one island
but two? What function can the emergence of Anaphe serve that is dis-
tinct from the promise of Thera?
In Callimachuss Hymn to Delos we saw the interplay of Greek and
Egyptian ideas in the special role of islands and through the linking of
the birth of Apollo to the emergence of order from chaos. The conclu-
sion to Apolloniuss book 4 plays out this same set of themes. If we
place the events of book 4 alongside of the Egyptian account of the
night voyage of the sun, we will nd a remarkable number of corre-
spondences between the ostensibly Greek narrative and Egyptian myth,
correspondences not on the order of two or three vague similarities, but
of overall narrative patterning. Events at the beginning and the end of
the solar journey as well as during its course bear a striking resem-
blance to incidents in Apollonius; moreover, they occur in roughly the
same narrative order. To guard against the possibility that what I think
I see results from a pathological condition rather than a deliberately
constructed optional illusion, I considered other extant accounts of the
Argos return journey. I found, however, that neither Pythian 4 nor
Dionysius Scytobrachion nor even the epitome of Apollodorus (who
borrows much from Apollonius) exhibits anything like the same num-
ber of parallels. These other versions are sufciently varied in detail
that any argument for similarity to Egyptian myth is untenable.
what follows I have enumerated the correspondences between the
Argos return voyage and the night voyage of the sun for clarity and
easy reference.
Apollonian Cosmologies 225
145. Moreau 1994, 12829, and see his notes.
146. Te Velde 1967, 99108.
147. Hornung 1982, 107.
148. Herodotus 2.42 describes a Theban festival in which a ram was killed, ayed,
and and its skin used to drape around a statue of Zeus (i.e., Amon). Lloyd (1976, 195)
thinks this might be part of the celebration of the festival of Opet, a central rite of divine
kingship that was still celebrated in the Ptolemaic period.
1. To begin with, the most signicant permanent members of the
Argos crew are Orpheus and Jason, whose particular skills are exem-
plied by song and intelligence, while Medea, who joins the crew in
book 4, is a magician whose spells are often efcacious for the journey,
particularly at the very beginning when she subdues the dragon and and
at the close of book 4 when she destroys Talos. As we saw above, the
most important members of the Suns crew were Intelligence (Sia), Ef-
fective Utterance (Hu), and Magic (Heka). Further, the pilot Tiphys is a
homonym of the Greek Typhon.
Just as the destructive power of
snakes could be used apotropaically, Seth (who was called Typhon in
Greek), the archenemy of Horus, often joined him as the helmsman of
the solar boat and used his destructive magic to repel the cosmic threat
of Apophis.
While it is true that Tiphys dies early in the outgoing voy-
age (2.854), I am by no means suggesting that Apollonius slavishly re-
produced an Egyptian underworld tale in all of its particulars (any
more than he so reproduced the Odyssey), but rather that by a judi-
cious selection of details in his Greek narrative he creates the opportu-
nity for his audience to see his ostensibly Greek events as simultane-
ously Egyptian.
2. Book 4 opens with a passage analyzed earlier in which Jason and
Medea approach the golden eece just before dawn. Their path to the
eece is impeded by a serpent whom Apollonius describes as immortal
(2.1209). In Egyptian mythology Apophis could never be permanently
defeated, but only temporarily incapacitated, since he too was immor-
tal by virtue of being originary chaos.
Jason then cloaks himself in the
eece and strides forward to join his crew, who are lost in admiration at
his dazzling appearance. For the purposes of his underworld journey,
the Egyptian sun-god was usually depicted as Amon-Re, the ram-god of
Thebes, and when he begins his night journey he is represented pictori-
ally as either a ram-headed man or a man-headed ram.
Phrixuss ram
with its golden eece would have provided an obvious analogue to
Amon-Re, and Jason draped in the eece would seem to take on these
226 Apollonian Cosmologies
149. Noegel, in an unpublished paper, remarks about the golden eece that it would
have been difcult for a reader of the Argonautika living in Egypt not to think also of the
god Amon-Re.
150. Hornung 1982, 105.
151. graptP% is rare, but the phrase graptP% dnurapvn does occur in a small frag-
ment of Eratosthenes Hermes (SH fr. 397.ii.2), where the editors suggest the context
might be the invention of writing by Hermes-Thoth.
152. See, for example, Hornung 1999, 10, for an illustration of one such map from
the Book of Two Ways.
solar associations.
The shining eece is immediately covered with a
cloak and not seen again until it is used as a coverlet for the marriage
bed in Dionysuss cave. Similarly the sun-god is obligated to conceal
his radiant eye in order to protect it, and the nether journey takes
place in darkness.
3. As they ee Colchis the Argonauts take a route home that differs
from their outgoing journey. Argus, the son of Phrixus, tells them about
an alternate course known to the Colchians from the writings of their
oF da toi graptP patArvn Euen eDrAontai,
kArbia% oQ% Gni ppsai cdoB kaB peArat Gasin
Crgp% te traferp% te pArij DpinissomAnoisin.
They preserve writings of their ancestors, kurbiai, on which are all the
paths and boundaries of the sea and land for those going around.
These ancestors only a few lines before were identied as Egyptian,
by virtue of Sesostriss colonizing activities in primeval time, so prima
facie their graptP% must be hieroglyphics.
Further, the medium on
which they are incribed are kurbiai, a term used for the square-based
pyramidal columns on which the Athenians kept their laws. The exact
contents of the Aeaean kurbiai are not clear, and the language of the
passage is ambiguous, but from the reference to the Ister that immedi-
ately follows (4.284), the kurbiai would seem to hold a description or
map of watercourses. Yet Egyptian learning was not distinguished for
cartography, so at this point it seems fair to ask to what purpose is this
poetic space gured as Egyptian, and to observe that Egyptian maps of
the underworld placed on tomb walls, sarcophagi, and papyri have sur-
vived in far greater number than maps of real geographies.
4. The murder of Apsyrtus may be the single most troubling episode
in the Argonautica, an understanding of which (like Aeneass killing of
Apollonian Cosmologies 227
153. See especially Hunter 1988, 45051.
154. See Pietsch 1999, 15258.
155. J. Porter, Tiptoeing through the Corpses: Euripides Electra, Apollonius, and
the Bouphonia, GRBS 31 (1990) 25580; Hunter (1993, 61) links it with Agamemnons
sacrice of Iphigenia; Goldhill (1991, 332) connects it with the subsequent death of
156. Presumably these actions conform to rituals to avoid the consequences of the
treacherous murder. See E. Rohdes discussion in Psyche: Seelencult und Unsterblichkeits-
glaube der Griechen, 2d ed. (Tbingen, 1925) 32226, and Livreas notes ad. loc.
157. See F. Grifths, Murder, Purication, and Cultural Formation in Aeschylus and
Apollonius Rhodius, Helios 17 (1990) 2539, for a nuanced discussion of this reading
of the murder.
158. According to the scholiast on Euripides Medea 1334, Medea murdered Apsyrtus
Dp oGkoy Dn tu patrAdi, c% KallAmaxo%.
159. Moreau 1994, 7172 n. 66; Livrea, note on 4.481.
Turnus) must affect our reading of the text as a whole. The murder is
brutal and treacherous, yet allusively framed both to undermine and to
reinforce this impression. The murder has been understood as part of
Jasons ephebic transition into full manhood,
or as a mark of his
or his generally nonheroic character. A number of scholars
have pointed out the sacricial aspects of the scene. Jasons murderous
act is explicitly likened to a butcher striking a bull, and the deed is done
in the forecourt of a temple (4.46870).
Jason then mutilates his vic-
tim by cutting off his extremities and thrice licking his blood, thrice
spitting the pollution from his mouth (4.47778). This mutilation of
the corpse enacts the ritual of the maschalismos, which Orestes also
performs after killing his mother and Aegisthus.
Prima facie this sug-
gests that the murder and its expiation are part of the inexorable move-
ment from the precivilized chthonic world towards the justice of
Zeus, and this is reinforced by the judgment of Circe, who cleanses
the murderers of their blood guilt in the same way that Orestes was pu-
ried at Delphi.
Alternatively, the killing in the realm of the Brygi in
the forecourt of a temple pulls the action into the world of the Iphige-
nia in Taurus with the sacrice of strangers to Artemis; an allusive ma-
trix would position Jason as a Thoas gure and a barbarian. The con-
fusion is unlikely to have been accidental: Apollonius seems to have
altered his sources in a number of particulars in recounting the death:
sometimes Apsyrtus was an infant or a child, scarcely old enough to
command a eet; often it was Medea who killed him,
not Jason, and
in one memorable version the infant Apsyrtus is hacked to pieces and
strewn upon the waters to distract a pursuing Aeetes.
If we alter the frame of reference to Egyptian myth, the events are
more coherent. Three elements of the scene are important: Apsytrus is a
228 Apollonian Cosmologies
160. Spell 39 (Allen 1974, 46).
161. Te Velde 1967, 86.
162. The relative dates of the Argonautica and the Lock of Berenice are not known.
See Seldens discussion (1998, 344), where he remarks that the lock was the most recent
addition to the celestial corps which daily helps Isis to keep the incursions of Seth at bay.
surrogate for Aeetes, whose behavior seemed to place him outside of
the boundaries of civilized community; he and his men are impeding the
course of Jason and the eece; and his corpse is mutilated. As with the
Gaulish enemy in Callimachuss Hymn to Delos, every mundane ex-
ample of an enemy of the pharoah (Ptolemy) in real time assumes the
ideological baggage of the cosmic enemy, whether Seth or Apophis. The
ritual mutilation of the one (as with enemies on the eld of battle) is,
therefore, an apotropaic reenactment in real time of an event that oc-
curs nightly in symbolic time, namely, the mutilation or destruction of
Apophis as he attempts to hinder passage of the solar bark. Consider,
for example, this spell from the Book of the Dead, which addresses
Decapitated and with face cut off (art thou) who passest on the road-
sides. Hacked off is thy head, (thou) who art in thy earth; crushed are thy
bones. Dismembered art thou (by Isis); (she) consigns thee to <the Earth
God>, (O) Apophis, enemy of Re.
The killing of Apsyrtus ts this pattern. He is cast as the real time
enemy of Jason and Medea but acts as a Seth/Apophis gure in hinder-
ing passage of the Argo. He is butchered like a sacrical animal in the
forecourt of a temple. Seth was frequently identied as a bull, and in
Egyptian temple practice, by the Ptolemaic period, the slaughter of a
bull was allegorized as the killing and mutilation of Seth as a retaliation
for his murder of his brother. Moreover, this event was commemorated
in the night sky, where the foreleg of Seth was the Egyptian constel-
lation that Greeks subsequently identied with the Bear, while Osiris
was equated with the star of Orion.
The foreleg of Seth was lo-
cated in that quadrant of the sky to which Berenices lock was trans-
and thus could have been known to those Hellenistic Greeks
who took an interest in astronomical lore. In addition to the link be-
tween killing Seth and the ritual slaughter of a bull, H. Te Velde points
out that daily temple service at this period required the making of a g-
ure of Seth in red wax or wood, binding it, treading on it with the left
foot, thrusting a spear into it, and cutting it into pieces, thus sympa-
thetically reenacting Horuss triumph over his enemy and guaranteeing
Apollonian Cosmologies 229
163. Te Velde 1967: 15051. See also Hornung 1982, 107.
164. See Ritner 1993, 86, and his chapter on the signicance of spitting and licking in
Egyptian magic, pp. 82102. The mutilation of Osiris by Seth does not really t as a par-
adigm for this scene, since Osiriss mutilation was a type of sparagmos. His body parts in-
tentionally were strewn over much of Lower Egypt. However, since Jason and Apsytrus
are in many ways mirror images of each other and near brothers-in-law, the one inicting
gross bodily harm upon the other does play out elements of the Contendings of Horus
and Seth.
165. Hornung 1990, 157; 1971, 211. Encounter with a ery lake or sulfurous pit
happened more than once in the night voyage. On the appearance of ideas related to the
lake of ames in later Greco-Egyptian material, see L. Koenen, Prophezeiungen des
Tpfers, ZPE 2.3 (1968) 18486.
that Seth was kept at bay.
This ritual event necessarily had its ana-
logue in the underworld, where repelling Seth and his gang was es-
sential for the successful voyage of the solar boat. Repelling Seth was
accomplished by the reciting of spells in which spitting was a signicant
component, for example: I have warded off Seth for you. I have spat
on his confederacy for you.
These parallels may not make the overall
scene less troubling to a modern reader, but it does align the Egyptian
signication with the Greek in the following sense: killing and mutilat-
ing Seth or ones enemy reenacted the triumph of order over chaos, just
as allusion to the murders committed by Orestes conforms Jason to a
trajectory that leads from the chthonic tyranny of the Furies to the en-
lightened world of Zeus and Apollo.
5. Another familiar aspect of the Egyptian underworld landscape
was the Lake of Fire: compare Hornungs translation from an early vi-
gnette in the Book of Gates This lake is full of grain | The water of
the lake is ery | Birds y away | When they see its water | They sense
the stench of what is in it
with Apolloniuss text:
And [the Argo] hastened on under sail and entered into the furthest ed-
dies of the Eridanus, where Phaethon, once struck on his chest by a am-
ing thunderbolt and half-consumed, fell from the chariot of Helios into
the streams of the deep lake. Even now it belches up heavy vapor from
the smoldering wound. And no bird can cross over that water by stretch-
ing out its light wings, but in midcourse plunges into the ames. . . . [The
Argonauts] were aficted all day, weighed down by the dreadful stench.
(4.594602, 62022)
6. The eece, once placed in the Argo proceeds on a course from
east to west until the Argonauts reach the portals and mansions of
Night (4.630) and the western ocean. About to meet with calamity
and fall into Ocean, the crew is saved by Hera and their course directed
230 Apollonian Cosmologies
166. In Hecataeus of Abdera, Osiris/Dionysus is presented as the god who brings the
civilizing arts, including agriculture (Diodorus Siculus 1.15).
167. The scholiast (4.115354 Wendel) tells us that while Timaeus located the mar-
riage in Corcyra, Dionysus the Milesian placed it in Byzantium, and Antimachus, in his
Lyde, by the banks of the river in Colchis. At 4.1141 the scholiast mentions that Philitas
says the pair were married in the house of Alcinous (fr. 9 Kuchenmller).
168. Scene 46 from the Book of Gates proclaims: Thriving are the elds of the
Netherworld, | As Re shines over the body of Osiris. | At your rising the plants appear
(Hornung 1990, 118, and see the illustration on p. 119).
to Circes island, called Aeaea, the extreme western analogue of Aeetes
Colchis, and another reminder of the Egyptian dimension of the poem.
From there, the Argonauts proceed to Phaeacia, where Jason and
Medea are married. Apollonius insists upon the chthonic and vegetative
aspects of this scene.
The island is called Drepane, or Sickle, and
two origins for the name are given: either it commemorates the knife
that Demeter gave to the Titans to harvest grain or the knife used for
the castration of Uranos by Zeus (4.98492). The marriage takes place
within a holy cave in which the nurse of the baby Dionysus dwelt, a
detail known from no other source.
Moreover, it is only here that the
eece reappears, to serve as a coverlet upon the nuptial couch, and in its
appearance shines out in the darkness: from its golden tufts it gleamed
like ame and kindled in their eyes sweet desire (4.114647). For
Greek readers the evocation of this particular set of details would no
doubt have recalled the gift of Dionysuss robe to Apsyrtus, and his sub-
sequent murder and mutilation, thus creating a macabre and ominous
undercurrent for the nuptials. In Egyptian myth, however, the sequence
of castration, divinities of vegetation, caves, and Dionysus (Osiris) has
a different logic. After Osiris was killed, dismembered, and castrated by
his brother Seth, he retreated to the underworld to rule as Lord of the
Dead. On his nightly journey, Re (the alter ego of Osiris) united with
him deep within the recesses of the dat, and for one moment the god
was reawakened. Vignettes portray the sun disk above the mummied
Osiris from whom corn sprouts, emblematic of his role as god of vege-
I submit that the evocation not just of Dionysus, but of Diony-
sus in the context of vegetation in combination with the chthonic and
hidden location of a cave, and the reappearance of the eece is not for-
tuitous, but by a judicious selection of details Apollonius intentionally
constructed a narrative that imitates a critical moment of the solar jour-
neythe union of the Sun with Osiris. This event in the solar journey is
one of the greatest peril, when the boat is surrounded by its enemies,
who threaten annihilation; similarly in Apollonius, the impetus for the
Apollonian Cosmologies 231
169. Hornung 1990, 11617.
170. This detail is in Pindar (Pythian 4.256), so on its own it could not convey an
Egyptian context.
171. Hornung 1982, 77. Compare This great God drives them along in this way.|
The ames in the mouth of his bark are what guide him on these secret paths (Hornung
1971, 98).
172. 4.154047 (for the Greek text, see above, page 194). The passage was discussed
earlier in the context of transculturation and the collapse of a consistent symbolic matrix.
marriage is the impending arrival of Colchians intent on retrieving the
eece as well as Medea. In many versions, this momentary union of the
solar and chthonicof Re and Osirisis also a time of sexual potency,
when Isis couples with Osiris.
7. After leaving Phaeacia the Argonauts are blown off course to
Libya, where they then move from west to northeast. Fom the perspec-
tive of the Egyptians who lived to the east of this region, the area of the
western desert was the land of the dead. Burial sites were regularly
placed on the western side of the Nile. This was where the sun set and
began its perilous journey in the underworld, which especially towards
the end of the suns course resembled arid desert. As the Argonauts
cross Libya they encounter a series of serpents. The crossing of Libya
requires the Argonauts to carry their boat for twelve days and nights
(4.1389)the number of hours of darkness in the dat.
The nal
stages of the Egyptian underworld journey provide a close parallel: the
waterways become a desert, and the solar boat must be carried or
dragged before it can emerge again into the light. It may even become a
serpent in order to glide along the sand (see plate 5). Hornung describes
this as follows:
The fourth and fth hours of the Amduat take the sun into a peculiar
landscape. The realm of the god Sokar is a pure desert guarded by hoards
of serpents. . . . In order for them to move on without the necessary wa-
terway, the sun bark turns itself into a snake, to glide over the hot sand
more easily. Both the bow and stern are snake-headed, and the text de-
scribes how they spew bright re before them.
Compare the nal simile that Apollonius chooses for the Argo:
As a serpent writhes along its crooked path when the suns hottest rays
iname it, and with a hiss turns its head from side to side, and in fury its
eyes blaze in fury like sparks of re until it goes down into its lair through
a ssure in the rock, so too the Argo wandered for a long time as it
sought an outlet from the lake.
232 Apollonian Cosmologies
173. In a lost play of Sophocles, Talos died when the pin in his ankle that held in the
ichor was removed (sch. on AR 4.164648 Wendel). Elsewhere he was made by Hep-
haestus for Minos. See LIMC 7.1.83437, s.v. Talos; and Cook 1964, 71930.
174. Hornung 1982, 106. This incident occurs in the eleventh hour of the Book of
175. Wasserman 1994, 113. (This is a slightly less cumbersome translation of the
spell than in Allen 1974, 8586.)
8. As the adventure nears its end, the Argo encounters one nal ob-
stacle, Talos, who is said to have been the last of the men of bronze cre-
ated in an earlier age, and left to guard the island of Crete. Talos is the
nal vestige of the chthonic and world, and with his defeat the Arg-
onauts are at last able to complete their journey. The scene with Talos
has features that make it almost a doublet of the encounter with the
guardian of the eece. In neither do Jason or his men effect the removal
of the dangerous creature, but Medea does it for them, thus opening
and closing book 4 with potent demonstrations of the efcacy of her
magic. Just as she called upon Sleep in the earlier scene, she summons
fellow creatures of Hades, the heart-devouring Spirits of Death
(4.166566), with her charms to aid in her task. She bewitches Talos by
her glance (4.1670), causing him to stumble and pierce the vulnerable
vein on his ankle. Once the ankle has been opened the ichor drains
from his body, and he collapses, and with him the last impediment to
the return to Orchomenos. These details are unique to Apollonius.
the Egyptian netherworld, in the eleventh hour before sunrise, Apophis
has swallowed up the waters on which the sun bark oats. He must be
pierced with knives to disgorge the waters in order for the boat to pro-
ceed, and his menacing presence is further repelled by magic, either of
or of Seth. Compare Spell 108 from the Book of the Dead:
As for that mountain of Bakhu, on which the sky rests, it is in the east of
the sky; it is three hundred rods long and one hundred and fty
broad. . . . A serpent is on the top of that mountain; it is thirty cubits
long; eight cubits of its foreparts are of int, and its teeth gleam. . . . Now
after a while he will turn his eyes against Re, and a stoppage will occur in
the Sacred Bark . . . or he will swallow up seven cubits of great waters;
Seth will project a lance of iron against him and will make him vomit up
all that he has swallowed. Seth . . . will say to him with magic power:
. . . I stand before you navigating aright and seeing afar. Cover your
face, for I ferry across, get back because of me . . . , I am the great magi-
cian . . . and power against you has been granted to me.
9. Immediately after the demise of Talos, the Argonauts enter a
darkness that is chthonic, Hades-like, and chaotic:
Apollonian Cosmologies 233
176. See Livrea, p. 465 n. 1695, on the rare word (katoylada) used in this passage.
177. 4.170618. Apolloniuss language for Anaphe in line 1712 (dlAgh% . . . nasoy)
echoes that of Callimachus for Calypsos island (dlAghn nhsPda KalycoP%, fr. 470b Pf.).
In describing the Arcadian hill upon which Zeus was born, Callimachus borrows the lan-
guage of Odyssey 7.244 (dgygAh ti% npso%, i.e., Calypsos island). If Apolloniuss choice
is deliberate, the Hidden (Calypsos island) becoming the island of Appearance (Anaphe)
well suits Egyptian cosmogony.
Night terried them, night, which they call enshrouding;
the stars did
not break through that deadly night, nor did the beams of the moon.
From heaven descended black chaos (mAlan xao%), or perhaps another
darkness came rising from the lowest depths (drarei skotAh myxatvn
dntioPsa berAurvn). But whether they were drifting in Hades or on the
waters they knew not at all. (4.16951700)
This terrifying darkness is dispelled by the appearance of Apollo,
whose gleaming bow presages the sunrise:
LhtoLdh, tAnh dA kat oDranoP Ekeo pAtra%
r\ Amfa MelanteAoy% driakoo%, aE t DnB panti
qntai doiavn dB mip% DfAperuen droAsa%,
dejiteru xrAseion dnAsxeue% Ccaui tajon
marmarAhn d dpAlamce bib% perB pantouen aGglhn.
ToPsi dA ti% Sporadvn baib dpb tafra faanuh
npso% DdePn, dlAgh% IppoyrAdo% dgxaui nasoy,
Gnu eDnb% Dbalonto kai Gsxeuon ADtAka d db%
fAggen dnerxomAnh toB d dglabn \Apallvni
glsei DnB skieru tAmeno% stiaenta te bvmbn
poAeon, ADglathn mBn eDskapoy eEneken aGglh%
FoPbon keklamenoi \Anafhn dA te lissada npson
Gskon, f db FoPbo% min dtyzomAnoi% dnAfhne.
Son of Leto, when you heard you came swiftly from heaven to the
Melantian rocks, which lie in the sea. Leaping onto one of the twin
peaks, in your right hand you held aloft your golden bow. And the bow
ashed a bright gleam in every direction. A tiny island of the Sporades
appeared to them to see, near to the small island of Hippuris, and there
they cast their anchor and moored. And immediately dawn rose up and
lighted the sky. And for Apollo they made a gleaming sanctuary in a
shady grove and an altar of stones, calling Phoebus Gleamer because
of rays that were seen from afar, and the bare island they call Appear-
ance, since Phoebus made it appear to them in their confusion.
Sunrise is the moment when the sun bark emerges from its netherworld
journey. It is the central moment of Egyptian religious and cosmogonic
speculation in which creation, the birth of gods, and the new day con-
234 Apollonian Cosmologies
178. Hornung 1992, 92. Spell 15 (Allen 1974, 12), for example, proclaims: How
beautiful is thy rising from the horizon, when thou illuminatest the Two Lands with your
rays. . . . My body becomes new at beholding thy beauty. Cf. also Spell 162 (Allen,
pp. 15859).
179. Assmann 1995, 4449.
180. Assmann 1995, 46.
181. Quirke 1992, 23.
182. Frankfort 1978, 15051.
verge (see plate 6). Hornung describes the nal events of the under-
world journey in this way:
All the other gods and blessed dead are lifted from the dark depths of
water and earth along with the sun god, and the sleeping likewise emerge
from the world of dreams . . . and return to the sensible light of con-
sciousness. The world is young as at Creation, when everything was rst
allowed to rise out of the dark watery abyss. . . . The Egyptian was thor-
oughly convinced that the creation could be repeated, that the rst
timeas he called the emergence of timewas in fact repeated every
morning with the dawn, which returned youthful freshness to the
This moment was an object of religious awe and venerated in hymn.
In his analysis of solar hymns J. Assmann identies the aspects of sun-
rise that hymns consistently celebrate: the birth of the sun-god in the
morning, the appearance of the god, and the illuminating of the earth.
A typical hymn praises the god as he rises in the eastern sky, and illu-
minates the Two Lands [Egypt] with gold.
Another begins: I am Ra
in his rst appearances, when he shines forth from the horizon.
Moreover, the verb that expresses sunrise also signies the appearance
of the pharaoh on his throne and is written with the hieroglyph . . .
that depicts the sun rising over the Primeval Hill.
Thus creation, sun-
rise, and pharaonic presence are implicated in a web of signications
any one of which triggers the whole chain. In contrast to these Egyptian
hymnic formulations of morning, in which cosmic, religious, and polit-
ical ideologies are causally linked, Greek epic personies the encroach-
ing light as mere episodic transition, as the female gure of Dawn, most
familiar from the Homeric and Hesiodic formula rmo% d drigAneia
fanh r\ ododaktylo% \Ha% (when early-born rosy-ngered Dawn ap-
pears). In Apolloniuss careful description of the emergence from pro-
found darkness epic dawns appearance (aDtAka d db fAggen dnerxo-
mAnh) is enclosed in a larger vignette that rst reports the eventsthe
sudden arrival of Apollo whose golden bow gleams in all directions,
followed by the appearance of an islandand then transforms them
Apollonian Cosmologies 235
183. Goldhill (1991, 326) regards these aetiologies as exploring the possibilities of
(causal) connection, both in its telling of the sequence of events and in the implication of
such events in a continuing history of the terrain mapped by the narratives journey.
While essentially a formulation embedded in language and text, the relevance to politics
and history cannot be overlooked.
into an aition.
Thus we are presented not simply with another epic
daybreak, but one signicant enough to stimulate the foundation of a
cult and be remembered in the name of an island. In its selection of de-
tailthe name of the island (Appearance) and the title of Apollo (the
Gleamer) this daybreak is so close to Egyptian hymnic formula-
tions that it could even be translating them.
Taken individually, no one or even several of these incidents ought nec-
essarily to evoke an Egyptian context, but so many in combination, oc-
curring in a text that overtly identies Colchis as an Egyptian colony
and Aeetes and Medea as descendants of the sun-god, Helios, a text in
which astral and cosmogonic phenomena are prominent and which was
written in a land where solar events play a role in royal legitimation,
cannot be the result of chance. But what effect if any would allusions to
this particular set of Egyptian myths have on the narrative as a whole?
Certainly I have not meant to suggest that this is an encrypted text, that
we are meant to read hidden meanings in Egyptian symbols. Rather,
Apolloniuss compositional technique throughout the Argonautica, as a
number of scholars have demonstrated, has been to include a variety of
time frames, to shift from homodiegetic to heterodiegetic narrative and
back, to combine folklore, romance, tragedy, and scientic observation
in unpredictable ways, so that in the course of narrating an event or
aition the reader might catch a glimpse of untold alternatives. In this
way the meaning of the poem very quickly dissolves into mean-
ings, since Apollonius has set up competing centers of authority in his
text. Any message of Greek cultural supremacy or of the transforming
quality of Greek values is rendered moot. Just as readers catch occa-
sional glimpses of Heracles throughout the narrative, often in ways that
seem to undermine or call into question actions of Jason or the Arg-
onauts, I would argue that Apollonius provides for us glimpses of the
Egyptian other against which and often through which Greek action is
to be viewed. But the Egypt Apollonius permits us to see is also con-
structed on more than one conceptual level: through the allusion to the
settlements of Sesostriss veterans we meet the Egypt of an earlier Greek
history; through a series of intertextualities with the works of Calli-
236 Apollonian Cosmologies
184. 4.728: The race of Helios was plain to see, since they shot in front of them a
gleam of gold from their far-ashing eyes.
185. See Selden 1998, 389, on Ptolemy IIs use of the Horus title, especially the inno-
vative Child Triumphant, where he is referring to the Pithom stele (Sethe 190416, 2:
186. The bareness of Anaphe is so complete that only water is available to perform a
ritual, and the slave women accompanying Medea ridicule the inadequacy of the ritual
event. Callimachus tells a similar story about Anaphe at the opening of the Aetia (fr. 7
Pf.), but not enough remains to compare treatments.
machus and Hecataeus in which he experiments with Egyptian ideas
and models we meet a contemporary Egypt being refashioned for the
Ptolemies; but in the cosmogonic realm, in the sustained evocation of
the solar journey, we meet an older, pre-Greek Egypt to match our older
pre-Homeric adventure.
The Argonautica begins with an invocation to Apollodrxameno%
sAo, FoPbeand throughout the adventure Apollo appears at critical
times to support the Argonauts. Cults to Apollo, usually connected
with phenomena of light, established by the Argonauts as they pass
through the eastern Mediterranean, are dening moments in the text.
Moreover, Apolloniuss Apollo, an Olympian, a youth, and connected
with the enterprises of civilization, is counterpoised to Helios, the older
Greek sun-god, whose offspring, like Aeetes, Circe, or Pasiphae, seem
to belong to a separate race,
inclined towards destructiveness and
magic practice. In Egypt, Apollo was equated with Horus, the youthful
son of Isis and Osiris, or Horus-the-Child, who was the prototype of
pharaonic kingship. On the Greek level Apollo triumphs over Helios;
on the Egyptian the new sunrise marks the birth of Horus-the-Child,
the newborn Sun, whose mythology seems to have been actively appro-
priated by the early Ptolemies.
The Greek islandAppearance
has a name that is meaningful in two cultural spheres and stands pro-
leptically for the island that is destined to rise up from the clod of earth
given to Euphemus. The clod and the island it becomes link Greece and
Egypt in political and hereditary terms, as ruler and ruled. In contrast,
Anaphe in this earlier time is empty,
and as yet unmarked hierarchi-
cally. But Apolloniuss formulation of the islands appearance and the
gleaming of Apollo are surely meant to herald the emergence of a Greek
Horus, instantiated in the Ptolemies. Under Ptolemiac rule, the king-
dom of Egypt was undergoing a transformation from a culture com-
pletely Egyptianthe land of the solar journeyto a land of shared
cultureGreek language and political dominance on the one hand and
Egyptian language, religious beliefs, and economic practices on the
Apollonian Cosmologies 237
other. By constructing the events in book 4 in such a way that they are
coherent in both Greek and Egyptian narrative terms, Apollonius has in
fact written a poem of and for the new hybrid political state, by retro-
jecting into the epic past elements of both worlds and by creating an
epic template for new beginnngs that partakes of both. This accounts
for the nal doubletthe two islands that close the textAnaphe and
Thera of the future. By ending with two islands, Apollonius focuses the
readers attention on Egypt of a new order. This is not the older order of
Egyptian solar cosmogony or of Greek conquest, but potentially at least
a new symbolic realm, signied by the appearance of Apollo and the
promise of a new Greco-Egyptian reign of Horus-the-Child. The dawn
of this new order requires new symbols and new narratives, the unique-
ness of which Apollonius and his contemporaries collectively have
striven to articulate.
chapter 5
The Two Lands
1. The second and fourth throne names were respectively the Two Ladies, referring
to the red crown of Lower Egypt and the white crown of Upper Egypt, and the Nswbity,
or he of the sedge (nsw) and the bee (bit), King of Upper (sedge) Egypt and Lower (bee)
Egypt (Beckerath 1999, 1016 and 2125). On the Ptolemies use of pharaonic titulature,
see Koenen 1993, 5859.
2. Bleeker 1967, 105.
3. Kemp 1989, 2731; OConnor and Silverman 1995, 100105.
Throughout its recorded history, Egyptians conceptualized their coun-
try as dual, as the Two Lands: Upper Egypt, or the valley of the Nile
proper from Memphis to the rst cataract in the south, and Lower
Egypt, the fertile alluvial plain of the Delta in the north. The historical
beginning of Egypt was imagined as a specic event: the Unication of
the Two Lands. Pharaonic titulature emphasized the role of the king as
and the two regions came to have a separate set of iconogra-
phiescrowns, plants, animals, divinities. This dichotomy was so cen-
tral that throughout the course of Egyptian history ceremonies of king-
ship and of royal renewal (the so-called Sed festival) stipulated that the
king perform rituals twice, once as king of the North and again as king
of the South.
Whether or not unication was actually the formative
moment in Egyptian historyand Egyptologists are in some doubt
did reect a certain political and ecological reality. Upper Egypt (called
by Herodotus Egypt proper) was very dry and entirely dependent upon
the Nile for its irrigation, cultivation extending in some places less than
a mile on either side of the river. Its cereal crops were a signicant part
The Two Lands 239
4. Herodotus spends considerably more time in the Delta than in Upper Egypt, and
his knowledge of this latter region is quite limited. See Lloyd 1975, 7276.
5. Ptolemaic control over the South became even more precarious after the battle of
Raphia (217 b.c.e.), when a series of native revolts substantially altered the relationship
between the center and the periphery (see, for example, Fraser 1972, 1: 60). For a snap-
shot of the major events of Ptolemaic history, see the appendix in Hlbl 1994, 34377.
6. See Koenen 1993, 2529, with plate facing p. 86, for a discussion of the way this
dual kingship played out in crowns and coinage. Koenens evidence dates from the mid-
second century b.c.e.
of the Egyptian economy, and it also contained the gold-producing re-
gions. Upper Egypt looked south to Ethiopia and the Sudan, from
which in the Late Period it was invaded and ruled by Nubian dynasts.
The Delta, in contrast, was swampier and more difcult to negotiate; its
agriculture consisted of papyrus, herding, and sheries. Continuously
subject to encroachment by nomadic pastoralists, as well as to invasion
by foreign armies from the west and east, the Delta was the most famil-
iar part of Egypt to surrounding Mediterranean countries.
From the
time of the late New Kingdom, imperial power gradually moved north
to establish capital cities in the eastern Delta (PiRamesse, Tanis), then
the central Delta (Bubastis, Sais), and nally the western Delta (Alexan-
dria). The building of Alexandria made excellent sense within the
Greek world because it secured a port city in a location that could con-
trol Mediterranean trafc, while it also followed the pattern of Late Pe-
riod history as another attempt to curtail foreign invasions from the
east and west. For Late Period pharaohs and for the Ptolemies them-
selves control over the whole of Egypt was never secure, and building
Alexandria distanced them even further from the economically potent
south, which was always threatening to break away.
Under the
Ptolemies the Delta especially, where their court was located, became
progressively more Hellenized, while Memphis remained the center for
Egyptian cult, thus guaranteeing that the mythic and historical opposi-
tions of the Two Lands continued to operate, but now at the level of
ethnicity and culture as well as geography.
Unlike the Persians or the Romans, for whom Egypt was one of
many (and rather distant) provinces in a vast empire, the Ptolemies had
no political or economic base outside of Egypt. The Ptolemies did not
rule Egypt by satrapal or prefectual surrogates; they were resident
kings. While their military activities in the Mediterranean would have
resulted from a desire to develop an external power base, holding Egypt
and maintaining its prosperity were essential for any dynastic preten-
sions. Thus how to transform what was a military occupation conned
240 The Two Lands
7. For example, Soter used Egyptian troops in the battle of Gaza (312 b.c.e.) when he
was beginning to gain control of Egypt, but they were not used again apparently until the
battle of Raphia (217 b.c.e.). See Bevan 1968, 16566, and J. K. Winnicki, Militroper-
ationen von Ptolemaios I. und Seleukos I. in Syrien in den Jahren 31211 v. Chr., An-
cient Society 20 (1989) 5592 (part 1), and 22 (1991) 147227 (part 2). Egyptian
marines may have been used in the Chremonidean War; see E. Vant Dack and H.
Hauben, Lapport gyptien larme navale Lagide, in Maehler and Strocka 1978,
5994. Koenen 1993, 32 n. 20, provides an overview with extensive bibliography.
8. Borgeaud and Volokhine 2000, 6571; and above, chapter 2.
9. For example in Idyll 14 Alexandria is singled out for its potential for material ad-
vancement: Ptolemy is described as the best paymaster for a free man (14.59); Herodas
1.2635 claims that everything can be found in Egypt.
10. Arnold 1999, 138 (for Isis temple), 14950, and 157. Yves Empereurs excava-
tion of the harbor makes it clear that pharaonic monuments as well as Egyptianizing
monuments of the Ptolemies were present. While these latter are currently impossible to
to the periphery into a kingship that effectively controlled the Two
Lands was the paramount concern of the early Ptolemies. In order to
rule the whole of Egypt, accommodation to native religious and court
ceremonial was essential. Soter began his rule in Memphis, the religious
capital of Egypt, which sat (not coincidentally) at the apex of the Delta
or at the point where the Two Lands joined, and consolidation of his
Egyptian power base began there.
It is signicant that in the Alexander
Romance it was also in Memphis that Alexander proclaimed himself as
the legitimate heir to Egypt and where he announced that the new cap-
ital would be relocated to Alexandria, with the proviso that it be a city
of and for Egyptians as well as Greeks.
Although we should question
the accuracy of this rhetorically charged claim, the city Alexandria was
a cultural amalgam. It occupied the place of an earlier Egyptian settle-
ment or more likely border fortress (Rhacotis), but its raison dtre was
to position Egypt in the Meriterranean, to give the Ptolemies a power-
ful port city that dominated the trade routes. For this purpose (if not
for military and/or chauvinistic reasons) a population of Greeks drawn
from neighboring regions was essential. The Ptolemies used their
wealth and patronage to attract a Greek-speaking population, espe-
cially to Alexandria,
but even with large numbers of Greek immigrants
the city was always ethnically mixed; its population would have in-
cluded Jews, Persians, Syrians, and other Greek-speaking groups like
Lycians and Cretans, in addition to Egyptians. In this mix the imported
Macedonian Greek population was well below a majority. Even the ap-
pearance of Alexandria, with structures like an Isis temple with its
pylon gate, colossi, and obelisks, some of which (in true pharaonic
fashion) seem to have been transplanted from other Egyptian locations,
must have conveyed an impression of cultural mixing.
How then were
The Two Lands 241
date, to judge from similar representations of the Ptolemies in Egyptian style in the chora,
there is no a priori reason to date the material late, only a modern scholarly reservation
that attributes Egyptianization to the later and hence more degenerate of the Ptolemies.
11. Peter Bing points out that this formulation is in great part a response to J. G.
Droysen, who characterized the period as one of Mischkultur.
12. Thompson 1992a and b and 1994.
13. Koenen 1993, 4344.
14. Clarysse (1992, 5156) provides evidence for Alexandrian Greek and Egyptian
intermarriage as early as the mid-third century b.c.e. He remarks: Perhaps the scarcity
of mixed marriages in our third century documentation is for a large part due to the types
of documents on which modern surveyance is based (in the Zenon archive for instance
irregular liations are totally absent from the 1700 Greek documents, but two are
found in the twenty-odd Demotic texts) (p. 52).
the Ptolemies to rule these reconceptualized Two Landslands with
two different economic power bases and two different ethnic and reli-
gious identities?
Traditional histories emphasize the separateness of the Egyptian and
Greek populations,
assuming that Greek culture not only took prece-
dence over Egyptian for Greeks (as must have been the case), but that it
isolated Greeks from signicant contact with native populations. Yet
this is open to question and dependent upon the materials one consults.
Greek ideas after all are bound to dominate in material written in
Greek. But Egyptians were more numerous, and at the time of conquest
they alone possessed the necessary skills to maintain the extensive bu-
reaucracy. Early in their reign the Ptolemies apparently used incentives
to create a cadre of bilingual Egyptians capable of administering the
Egyptians possessed an older, richer material culture, a cul-
ture that earlier Greeks had found fascinating if not admirable. What is
more, their political, religious, and artistic practices were thoroughly
integrated and distinctive, adapted over millennia to a unique eco-
system. In contrast, the small population of Macedonian soldiers and
Greeks drawn from diverse regions of the Mediterranean who arrived
in the new city would have lacked a unifying sense of identity, because
their familiar gods and civic structures were notably absent.
time, assimilation, which had happened to earlier Greek populations
like the Hellenomemphites, was inevitable,
and it is by no means clear
that Ptolemaic policies were designed to prevent this. Even structures
like the gymnasium, which later appear to have been isolated pockets of
supposed ethnic purity, may have initially included assimilated Egyp-
tians. Dorothy Thompson, for example, has recently argued, on the
basis of third century BC census lists drawn up in both Greek and de-
242 The Two Lands
15. 1994, 75. Although questions of ethnic identity and the privileges and/or degree
of separateness accorded to various ethnic groups under the early Ptolemies continue to
be the subject of considerable scholarly interest, it is not possible to draw very rm con-
clusions from what is now available. The problems are multiple. First, recent work of
scholars like Clarysse, Thompson, and Lada underscores the difculties in any discussion
of the ethnicity of early Ptolemiac Egypt. There is very little documentation at all from the
third century, nothing survived from Alexandria itself, and the Demotic texts are under-
published in comparision to Greek. Next, terms such as Persian of the Epigone or even
Hellene, which no doubt originally marked real ethnic identities, evolved to indicate
something elseoccupation or nancial status. (See Csaba Lada, Ethnic Designations
in Ptolemaic Egypt [Ph.D. diss., Cambridge University, 1996], chap. 4; I am grateful to
him for providing me with a copy.) Third, names are not adequate indicators of ethnicity,
since even within ethnically Greek families, a Greco-Egyptian double name could occur
(Clarysse 1992, 54). Fourth, the bulk of the evidence adduced from later periods, without
independent corroboration, is not applicable to the early Hellenistic period. The Roman
administration of Egypt, in particular, signicantly altered the relationship of Greeks and
Egyptians, by subordinating both to Romans. Finally, there is also the bias of interpreters.
Ritner (1992, 29091) points out that two distinguished and competent scholars come to
opposite conclusions about the differential rates of assessment of the salt tax in the early
Ptolemaic period. (This tax was lower for Hellenes and disappeared after some years.)
For one scholar this signals discrimination and apartheid; for another the lower tax rate
was an inducement to Egyptians to learn Greek.
16. See, for example, Thompson 1990, 97100, 11416.
motic that the term Hellene may not have been a straightforward
designation for the ethnic Greek, but that
Hellenes were dened in terms not of origin but rather of either their ed-
ucation or a post in the administration. These were men required to run
the complex written administration in process of development. As mem-
bers of the gymnasium, these new Hellenes would play an important role
in the Ptolemaic adminstration.
In other words some Hellenes might be Egyptian.
Ptolemys world may have been Greek-speaking and essentially
Greek in its relations with the northern Mediterranean, but its location
in Egypt required an accommodation to its native population, the need
for which increased at times of political unrest.
Soter and Philadelphus
needed to achieve a balance between Greek and Egyptian in their ad-
ministrative and royal behavior, in a context where overtly Egyptian
practice, like brother-sister marriage, may have incurred hostility from
the Greeks, while neglecting the Egyptian religious customs was likely
to provoke political unrest among the native population. In contrast to
the Egyptians, for whom place, language, and religious traditions were
culturally unifying, the Greek population of Alexandria (and Egypt in
general) came from a wide variety of poleis and ethne, often with long
histories of fractiousness, and were accustomed to think of themselves
The Two Lands 243
17. The history of the Alexandrian boule is problematic; see Fraser 1972, 1: 9496.
18. According to Josephus (Bellum Judaicum 2.495) the Jews also had their own po-
liteuma, and politeumata of other groups like the Idumaeans were known in the cities of
the chora (e.g., Thompson 1988, 1012). (L. Koenen points out in a private communica-
tion that unpublished papyri in Cologne attest to Jewish politeumata in Herakleopolis.)
19. This pattern was followed also in hiring practices. Relatively few designating
themselves as Alexandrian are found among the Ptolemaic bureaucracy; rather, Coans,
Samians, Cyreneans, Athenians, Syrians, and Persians appear in greater numbers.
20. Huss 1994. See also Johnson 1986; J. Quaegebeur, Documents gyptiens et rle
conomique de clerg en gypte hellnistique, 70729; and W. Clarysse 1979, Egyptian
Estate Holders in the Ptolemaic Period, 73143; the articles by Quaegebeur and Clarysse
appear in State and Temple Economy in the Ancient Near East, vol. 2, Proceedings of the
International Conference Organized by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven from the 10th
to the 14th of April 1978, ed. E. Lipinski, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 6 (Louvain,
as Cyrenean or Coan or Athenian or Macedonian rather than Greek in
an aggregate sense, as the exchange between Praxinoa and the stranger
in Theocritus 15.8793 makes abundantly clear. His complaint about
her broad vowels (88: plateiasdoisai) is met with a erce retort de-
tailing her lineage and asserting her right to speak as she pleases, and
she pleases to speak not Greek, but Peloponnesian (9293: Pelopon-
nasistB lalePme%). This is a telling anecdote that sheds light on the
world of Alexandria: we see a fragmented Greek population achieving
a fragile equipoise between the Egyptians (who are characterized as
petty thieves) on the one hand (4849) and Ptolemy as sole ruler on the
other (9495). For Theocritus, at least, the Hellenism of Alexandria
seems to have been articially constructed through contrast or opposi-
tion to other groups and dependent on the crown for its nurturing.
While the Greek citizens were organized along the lines of a traditional
polis with a boule or governing body,
Alexandria is unusual in that
Alexandrian citizenship did not confer a unique status.
In fact, in the
formative period of the city very few Greeks seem to have availed them-
selves of citizenship but to have retained allegiance to their native
towns without discernable loss of status or privilege.
The reason for
this is possibly, as P. Fraser suggests, the Ptolemies dedication to true
meritocracy, but equally the failure to create a strong polis structure
that fostered civic identity increased dependency on the crown and its
preferment and eliminated a potentially competing source for power or
status. During this period the Ptolemies equally fostered the Egyptian
population: there was a rapid escalation in temple building, and many
monuments constructed and dedicated by native clergy appear.
The legal system created under Ptolemy II, which provided a frame-
244 The Two Lands
21. See J. Mlze-Modrzejewski, Droit et justice dans le monde hellnistique au IIIe
sicle avant notre re: exprience lagide, in MNHMH Georges A. Petropoulos, ed. A.
Biscardi, J. Modrzejewski, and H. J. Wolff (Athens, 1984) 1: 5577.
22. PTeb. 1.5.20720 ( = C. Ord. Ptol. 53). Koenen (1993, 40, esp. nn. 3839) sum-
marizes the positions and provides relevant bibliography.
23. See Fraser 1972, 1: 11012.
24. Idyll 15 bears this out. ADgyptistA is used generically, while Greeks are shown at
pains to stress their unique ethnicities.
work for nearly the whole of the period, allowed Greeks, Egyptians,
and Jews each to operate autonomously.
This ethnic division of the ju-
dicial system has been taken to indicate that the Ptolemies promulgated
a separate but equal status for these constituent groups, but at least by
118 b.c.e., it was the language of the legal instrument that determined
which court would adjudicate, not the ethnicity of the contracting par-
For Egyptians or Jews, for whom ethnic and legal boundaries
were coextensive, Ptolemaic codes can be construed as a gesture of civic
tolerance if not privilege. But for Greeks in the city the legal code must
have functioned somewhat differentlyGreeks normally operated
within the laws of their specic ethnic communities or poleis. While
Greeks as a whole were the dominant (though not the most numerous)
ethnic group in the city, in Alexandria a legal code that was not specic
for any Greek ethnos but common to all
must have undermined the
traditional sense of cultural identity as Coan or Athenian, and while it
would have contributed to the sense of a common Hellenic identity,
Greeks would not have experienced this identity as unique, but as one
of many, dened by opposition to Egyptians or Persians or Jews. More-
over, if Thompsons supposition about the category Hellene is cor-
rect, then there may never have been a category at all in Alexandria for
ethnic Greeks as a whole as opposed to assimilated ethnicities who now
spoke and wrote Greek. To put this differently, in classical Greece,
Greek was the unmarked or default category, against which all oth-
ers must be measured, as we see in the traditional Greek-barbarian des-
tinctions in tragedy or in Herodotuss discussion of the component peo-
ples of the Persian empire. But in Ptolemiac Egypt, and even in
Alexandria, this would not have been the case. If there was an un-
marked category from which all other ethnicities needed to distinguish
themselves, it was Egyptian.
A signicant factor in reinforcing community for this diverse group
of Greek speakers was the importation and creation of festivals and
cults. These provided a counterweight to Egyptian religious life with its
temples and lavish imperial displays (which the crown also supported)
The Two Lands 245
25. See Koenen 1977, 2930.
26. 2000, 6972.
27. Kemp 1989, 2039.
on the one hand and substituted for polis-specic events like the Athe-
nian Panathenaia familiar to Mediterranean Greeks on the other. But
the trend towards cultural synthesis is nowhere more apparent than in
these events. Festivals like the Basileia blended elements from a festival
of Zeus Basileus with Egyptian elements by celebrating the royal coro-
nation and the birthday as simultaneous events (as in pharaonic prac-
tice), while incorporating traditional Greek contests. It is even possible
that this festival originated during the initial stage of Greek conquest.
According to Arrian, Alexander entered Memphis and sacriced to
the other gods and to Apis and held music and gymnastic contests
(3.1.4). He then set out for the Siwah oasis, where he was proclaimed
son of Zeus Ammon, and when he returned to Memphis somewhat
later, Arrian tells us, he sacriced to Zeus Basileus, accompanied by a
procession of his armed soldiers, and celebrated with music and gym-
nastic events (3.5.2). This description certainly suggests, if not corona-
tion, a display of power tantamount to a declaration of kingship. If the
sacrice to Apis and to Zeus Basileus are to be linked,
then Alexander
established the pattern for assimilation of Greek and Egyptian deities,
which the Ptolemies subsequently followed. Ptolemy Is early residence
in Memphis before moving to Alexandria meant that the court would
have been in very close contact with traditional Egyptian religious
forms. In a recent study P. Borgeaud and Y. Volokhine argue persua-
sively that the Sarapis cult later introduced into Alexandria owed its
formation primarily to the Apis cults of Memphis, and that Tacituss
account of its inception was a later, Hellenized interpretation of
A further example of such blending may be seen in the Ptolemaia.
This was a massive display of wealth and power rst staged about 276
b.c.e. by Ptolemy II in honor of his father. It would have rivaled tradi-
tional Egyptian festivals such as Opet, which annually celebrated
Amon-Re and the divine birth of the pharaoh.
In the Ptolemaia, as in
Opet, the mythology promulgated to enhance Ptolemaic claims to the
thronethe link between the Ptolemies, Alexander, and Dionysus
seems to have been central. The importance of Dionysus to this festival
did not result simply from the desire to promote a divine ancestor for
the Ptolemies, but from Dionysuss status as the functional equivalent
246 The Two Lands
28. Athenaeus 5.19697. See G. Haeny, Basilikale Anlagen in der gyptischen
Baukunst des Neuen Reiches (Wiesbaden, 1970) 76, g. 29a.
29. Athenaeus takes his description from Callixeinuss On Alexandria, written some-
time after the accession of Ptolemy IV. See Rice 1983, 13450.
30. I am indebted to Professor Robert Ritner of the Oriental Institute in Chicago for
this observation. See, for example, L 1: 65560, s.v. Baum, heiliger. See also Calli-
machus fr. 655 Pf. on Perseus as the bringer of the persea tree to Egypt.
31. See, for example, A. Stewart, Nuggets: Mining the Texts Again, AJA 102
(1998) 281, for the Greek parallels; Kemp 1989, 116, g. 40, for the Egyptian.
32. See, for example, J. Winkler, The Laughter of the Oppressed: Demeter and the
Gardens of Adonis, in Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in
Ancient Greece (New York, 1990) 18993 and 235 n. 1; and Reed 2000 for the Adonia
and its function within the Ptolemaic court.
33. See Burkert 1985, 17677; Fraser 1972, 1: 198.
34. Although Burkert disallows the organic connection that Sir James Frazer made
between similar dying god cults throughout the Mediterranean, the point here is not that
the two were the same or even hereditarily linked (though they might have been), so
much as that the similarity of one to the other provided a stimulus for privileging it
within the city. See Reed 2000 for the parallels with contemporary Egyptian festivals of
of Osiris, who was preeminent in Egyptian cult. The canopy and tent
erected for the celebration may have have been in the Egyptian style,
and various other features described in Athenaeus
appear to be a
blend of Greek and Egyptian elements. For example, the festival begins
with personied temporal markersEniautos and the Horai in the
company of a woman named Penteteris carrying a crown of persea and
a palm branch (Athenaeus 198b). In Egyptian royal reliefs the goddess
Seshet, who measured time, was prominent in the Sed or renewal festi-
val, carrying persea leaves inscribed with the royal titulary and the
number of years in the pharaohs reign and the date palm branch,
which served as a hieroglyphic for the year.
While the procession of
cities subdued by the Persians (Athenaeus 201d-e) has denite Greek
antecedents, it suggests also the Egyptian habit of displaying the wealth
of temple estates as females in procession on temple friezes.
The Adonis festival described by Theocritus in Idyll 15 also falls into
this pattern. This was a Syrian cult that had been imported into the
Greek world as early as the seventh century b.c.e. and had been cele-
brated in Athens from at least the fth century; both Aristophanes and
Menander mention it.
The cult in Athens was celebrated exclusively
by women, but the Ptolemies make it a central feature of palace life,
though sponsored by the queen in honor of her mother. At this Greek
festival, however, the lamentations for Adonis
were remarkably like
the lamentations for Osiris, celebrated by Egyptians annually,
a cir-
cumstance that must have inuenced their preference. Idyll 15 allows a
The Two Lands 247
35. 15.9495: mb fAh . . . f% cmpn karterb% eGh | plbn Cna%, May there not be any-
one more powerful over us than one.
36. The anti-Egyptian sentiment of Idyll 15 does not affect the argument. Negative or
otherwise it reveals Greek awareness of Egyptian presence.
37. Whether or not the Mysteries were actually imported into Egypt, Demeter cults
were among the most prominent, doubtless because of their connection with Isis. See
Fraser 1972, 1: 199201, and below. See also D. Thompson, Demeter in Graeco-Roman
Egypt, in Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years, Studies Dedicated to the Mem-
ory of Jan Quaegebeur, pt. 1, ed. W. Clarysse, A. Schoors, and H. Willems (Leuven, 1998)
38. The Ptolemies operated within two different cultic frameworks: the dynastic cult
was developed primarily for Greeks, while a divinized ruler cult was introduced into
Egyptian temples. See, for example, Thompson 1990, 11012.
glimpse of how at least one contemporary poet saw such events. The
Adonia attracted a large and heterogeneous crowd (43: ants, uncount-
able and unmeasurable) whose unruly behavior is tamed by the palace
spectacle. Despite the crush, the festival is presented as a source of great
delight for the two average Greek ladies who attend. The dynamic of
the narrative is to move the reader from the confusion of an ethnically
heterogeneous populace into the tranquillity and opulence of the
palace, ruled over by the one kingPtolemy.
He wins the ladies ad-
miration not only for the splendid tableau but, earlier in the poem, for
the more prosaic reason that under his authority the mean streets of
Alexandria have been made safer.
Similarly, the importation of traditional Greek cults connected to
and the designing of the cult of Sarapis as well as the numer-
ous cults linked to the royal family
served to provide an emotional
focus for the populace while emphasizing the central role played by the
court. Once again syncretism seems to have been at work, most obvi-
ously in the Sarapis cult, but also in the Eleusinian mysteries. Fraser re-
Though we may reject the notion that the Alexandrian festival produced
the Eleusinian Mysteries, it is quite likely that the festival contained
recitations, perhaps even dramatic scenes, concerning the Eleusinian
story. Egyptian traditions preserved by Greek writers, which derived im-
portant elements of the Attic worship of Demeter from Egypt, may have
played a signicant role here. Not only did Herodotus record that the
Thesmophoria were introduced into Attica by the daughters of Danaus
[2.171]; more signicantly for our immediate context, Hecataeus of Ab-
dera . . . reported the Egyptians as claiming that the Athenians derived
most of the major items of Athenian life from Egypt, including the
Eleusinian Mysteries [Diodorus Siculus 1.29]; and, in particular, that the
Eumolpidae were of Egyptian priestly origin. The circulation of such the-
248 The Two Lands
39. Fraser 1972, 1: 201 (footnotes omitted). See above, page 142.
40. Soter wrote a history of Alexander and had his son educated by leading intellec-
tuals Zenodotus, Philitas, and Strato. Royal tutors were always distinguished literary g-
ures; their ranks include Philitas, Apollonius, and Eratosthenes. Ptolemy II and Euergetes
were responsible for building the Library.
41. Anabasis 1.12.1. See Vasunia 2001, 25355.
ories in Egypt may have assisted the introduction of Egyptian or Egyp-
tianized elements into the new cult.
The establishment of cult was not value-neutral, however; in fourth-
century prose writers, this was a function of the culture hero, that spe-
cial human subsequently worthy of elevation to divinity. Figures like
Zeus, Heracles, and Dionysus in Greek myth and Isis and Osiris in
Egyptian are such divinized heroes (epigeioi in the language of Euhe-
merus), many of whom are credited with founding cults of their parents
or other deities. To posit a causal relationship between the ideas of
these writers and the actual behavior of the Ptolemies is not necessary.
Rather, the intersection of theoretical and practical reects the world of
the early epigonids, who had limited options to display their power out-
side of earlier, familiar structures and whose audience now included
Greeks as well as non-Greeks, many of whom already operated in a
world in which the king kept company with the gods. But if the con-
nection between what fourth-and early third-century writers are saying
and the actual behavior of the Ptolemies cannot be reduced to cause-ef-
fect, the real impact of writing in this period should not be underesti-
mated. The Ptolemies ruled in the immediate moment by military force,
but how their men and the surrounding Greeks viewed their actions
over the long term was not a trivial issue. Obviously they themselves
participated in creating the image of civic benefaction that the festivals
and cult celebrations foster. In this regard public contests that featured
poetic competition within these very events sponsored by the crown
would have had considerable potential to inuence public opinion.
The Ptolemies were sufciently cultured to appreciate the role that lit-
erature had consistently played for Greeks in shaping public opinion
and historical memory.
Arrians anecdote about Alexander crowning
the tomb of Achilles because Achilles had possessed a Homer to hymn
his praises is not without force.
Traditional Greek performative gen-
resepic, lyric, tragedyserved to perpetuate the memory of individu-
als as well as to contribute to the greater glory of a state or a reign.
The Two Lands 249
42. Whatever the precursors to the Library or whatever the extent of Peripatetic in-
uence on collecting, the scale and the aggressive acquisition of the Alexandrian Library
was unprecedented. See Blum 1991, 95123.
While Athens had no epic poets to commemorate it, its dramatic pro-
ductions and its philosophers had been courted by Macedon as well as
by other imperial regimes. Therefore, the Ptolemies were behaving no
differently than previous Greek kings and tyrants by importing literati
and subventing the arts, and poets attracted to the court inevitably par-
ticipated in constructing the image of the new monarchy. Since poetry
belongs to the realm of the imagination, the creation of the image of a
king who conforms to Greek as well as non-Greek imperial behaviors
may operate subliminally to facilitate acceptance of what might other-
wise be unacceptable or idiosyncratic. Through poetry the choice of
suitable mythological parallels and allusions can create a context in
which the foreign and the familiar seem to coalesce, with the result that
what a Ptolemy does as an Egyptian pharaoh may appear as no differ-
ent from the actions of various Greek gods and heroes, and conversely
what appears exotic or outr in the Egyptian can, by alignment with fa-
miliar Greek mythological behaviors, be regularized. I would empha-
size that in the early Ptolemaic court this poetry was not written as con-
scious propaganda to justify or celebrate imperial behavior, but as a
series of thought experiments that congured the emerging monarchy
in various ways and that may or may not have intersected with reality.
In addition to acquiring poets the Ptolemies also set out to acquire
previous Greek literature, the repository of the memory of the past, and
to provide for its analysis, cataloguing, and storage for themselves and
future generations.
This decision to acquire had far-reaching conse-
quences. The act of accumulation and organization has the de facto ef-
fect of canonization, of reifying the literary production of the past and
creating a psychological gulf between it and the contemporary or living
literary event. Texts became objects for study, to be catalogued and la-
beled, the vagaries of their particular circumstances of creation sub-
sumed under the generic (hymn, epinician, epic), their status guaran-
teed, enhanced, or demoted by being attached to an author (Homer,
Hesiod, Pindar). In this way Greek literature was now on display, avail-
able in the aggregate for admiration and adulation; to control and
order it conferred status. But if we can believe the sources, the
Ptolemies did not limit their acquisitions to Greek literature. It looks as
if theirs was a more heterogeneous scheme, mirroring their inclusion of
250 The Two Lands
43. No single source exists, but Manetho and other less familiar writings on Egypt
must have been included (see Fraser 1972, 1: 50510, 521). Hermippus mentions
Zoroasterian writings (Fraser 1: 280), and the Letter to Aristeas claims that Ptolemy com-
missioned a group of Jewish scholars to translate the Septuagint into Greek. The probable
date of the letter is 100 b.c.e., but it presents itself as a document contemporary with
Ptolemy II (Fraser 1: 696704).
44. Cameron 1995, 63103.
non-Greek groups within their empire. Egyptian, Persian, and Jewish
texts seem also to have been solicited, at least in translation.
the actual scale of collection of non-Greek material and the relative
proportion of the various literatures to each other, the very fact of im-
perial inclusion of these other texts provided an instant cachet to those
non-Greek writings (as the Letter to Aristeas demonstrates), but it also
underscored what was observable in law and political life, namely, that
Greek writings now coexisted in a world of alternative languages and
literatures. Greek literary models must still have formed the cultural
imagination, but on the periphery other styles of expression were grow-
ing increasingly more visible.
The Greek-speaking poets who were invited by the Ptolemies to par-
ticipate in some fashion in the court were necessarily aware of the col-
lective (and collected) Greek literary past as other than or separate from
themselves. A. Cameron in his magisterial discussion of Callimachus
emphasizes the living literary and performative traditions in which Cal-
limachus and his contemporaries would have participated, in contrast
to an entirely bookish tradition.
However, the fact of the Library did
alter the relationship of past to present. Whatever was embedded in col-
lected texts was available for imitation and appropriation, but it now
occupied a space that was temporally and physically separatelike
epic, distanced from the present and from the literary events in which
these poets participated. Whatever the living performance practices of
the Ptolemaic worldand these must have been extensivethey must
have been experienced as cognitively different from the repository of
literary remembrance gathered in the Library. Or to put it somewhat
differently, however scholarly and recondite we may perceive the
Alexandrian poets to be, from their own perspective their poetry would
have been the live experience. The poetry of the past was texts, to be
collated, disputed, emended; texts, moreover, that were imbued with an
image of Greeknessof who or what Greeks were or had been
against which modern Alexandrians might measure themselves. In this
way the Library would have intensied the sense of collective Greek
The Two Lands 251
45. See, for example, Goldhills remarks (1991, 31516).
46. The rise of mercenaries in the fourth century was already perceived by Demos-
thenes as contributing to the erosion of civic virtues.
identity, but it also intensied the break between the old world of the
collected literature and contemporary events. Who Greeks now were
was open to negotiation, just as who the Ptolemies wereMacedonian
kings or Egyptian pharaohswas not yet very clear. One thing was
clear: contemporary Greeks were not heroes in the mold of Achilles or
Diomedes, nor was their nascent state predicated on the elevation of the
virtues of the citizen-soldier or the statesman, as was so much of the in-
herited literary past. The task then would have been not to succumb to
ineluctible nostalgia for their loss (as so many modern scholars do
when writing about the Hellenistic world), but to nd ways of rede-
ploying that past to express the values and cultural experience of the
This is not a novel poetic task. It is what Greek tragedians did with
Homer: they retrotted him for the city-state.
But for the Alexandri-
ans it would have been a more difcult task. Homer and fth-century
Athens were still connected by a viable Panhellenism emanating from
mainland Greece and its colonies, in which worth could be measured in
terms of valor in warfare, athletics, and politics. The conquest of
Alexander made this world obsolete. Soldiers were now mercenaries,
and mercantile skills were more useful to the crown than public speak-
ing was. These men were now struggling to be Greek in quintessentially
non-Greek worlds, in Babylon, Jerusalem, or Memphis, the values of
which were alien and pervasive. Callimachus, Theocritus, Apollonius,
and their contemporaries helped to form as well as portray this new
world for Greeks. But, as I have been arguing throughout, theirs was
not the monocularity (or, in Bakhtinian terms, the monoglossia) of the
classical past, but a world in which it was not possible either for the
poets themselves or for their audiences to catch a glimpse of Greek
without simultaneously taking in an impression of non-Greek. The
two were bound together, and extricating one from another would have
become more difcult over time. What made Hellenistic life in cities
like Alexandria qualitatively different from the experience of the
other in the classical Greek past was living in an alien culture, sur-
rounded by alien people, without the dening structures of Greek civic
identity. New foci for that identity were necessary, hence the interest in
cultic formations and in cultic behavior (central in both Callimachus
252 The Two Lands
47. The best recent discussion of this sense of cultural fragmentation is Selden 1998
(his article is restricted to Callimachus).
48. See Thompson 1992a, 4950, on Egyptian education.
49. See Pearsons discussion in The Lost Histories of Alexander the Great, American
Philological Association Monographs (New York, 1960) 4046, 13139.
and Apollonius), but also the interest in reshaping the past. On one
level these new Alexandrian Greeks must have experienced the past as
coherent and wholecertainly as represented in the assembled litera-
ture of the Libraryin contrast to the fragmented cultural experience
of the present.
But equally this (seemingly) denitive break with the
past, the new multicultural reality, and an emerging monarchy still
dening itself would have provided a rare opportunity for experiment
and creativity.
In writing poetry for these Two Lands, the Alexandrian poets had to
dene their own work in some fashion vis--vis their poetic predeces-
sors, to effect a liaison between past and present. In writing about
kings, Callimachus and Theocritus turn to Hesiod and Pindar and the
hymnic tradition, and even Apollonius frames his epic by beginning
and ending it with elements patently borrowed from Pythian 4. This
should come as no surprise. The encomiastic and theogonic traditions
provide the best paradigms for writing for royals, offering as they do
not simply models for praising, but models for positioning the poets
themselves as responsible and necessary interpreters of the cultural
norms that monitor and identify imperial excellence. But Homer pre-
sented a different challenge. Homer, particularly the Iliad, provided the
template not simply for heroic behavior, but for the values of bravery,
competitiveness, and physical excellence (arete) essential for the world
of the citizen-soldier. Moreover, Homer was the basic text in primary
education, and everyone who read would have been exposed to it even
if they had not assimilated its value system.
The extent to which this
aspect of Homer dominated literary production can be seen even in the
remains of two of the Alexander historians: Callisthenes conforms
many of the details in Alexanders campaigns to events and locations in
the Iliad, while Nearchuss account of Alexanders return from the east
seems to have favored images from the Odyssey.
Homer could not be
dismissed as a text shrouded in the mists of antiquity but was experi-
enced directly when even a near contemporary gure like Alexander
was made to behave like a Homeric hero. But as scholars have been
quick to point out, what may have worked for Alexander would have
The Two Lands 253
50. See Halperin 1983, 16183.
been fatal not only for the Ptolemies, but for their contemporary world
in general. Even if kings could be imagined as Homeric warriors,
Homeric values were of increasingly limited application in the new civic
environment. Hence all three poets go to some length to circumvent the
Iliadic baggage of Homer.
Callimachus and Theocritus do this by privileging Hesiod in their
referentiality, at least in the poems attached to royalty, or by focusing
on the ordinary in Homer and making it central, Apollonius by deliber-
ately avoiding the Trojan War and its heroes. This results not from de-
bates about how to write epic, but from the shift from the value system
of the classical city-state to the system of cultural plurality of Alexan-
drian Egypt. Which is not to say that Homer was not present in their
writing or their culture. But Homer is not present in situational or nar-
rative terms familiar from classical writers so much as in the peripheral,
or in linguistic and trace elements. Homeric intertextuality operates dif-
ferently in all three poets, but what can be extrapolated from all is the
distancing from the epic values inscribed in Homer. Apolloniuss epic is
situated in the pre-Iliadic world of Heracles and the Argonauts, but also
in the post-Iliadic world of the Odyssey. Even there he avoids the return
to the heroic world of Ithaca in his allusiveness, borrowing rather from
the fantastical books of Odysseuss adventures. When Iliadic battles
occur, like the encounter with the Doliones, they are often indecisive or
failures. (In this incident, the Argonauts slaughter guest-friends in a
case of mistaken identity.) Theocritus too self-consciously distances
himself from a Homeric system of values. He begins the rst Idyll
provocatively with an ecphrasis of an object that occurs in the Odyssey.
The rare word kissybion describes a cup used by Eumaeus, a pedes-
trian, non-heroic item that is promoted to programmatic status and lo-
cated at the opening of the poem.
Theocrituss gesture imitates that of
the Homeric shield of Achilles, a weapon of war that depicts on its sur-
face the macrocosm of which war is only a subset. For a brief moment
in the Iliad, the shield reorients the reader to a world in which love,
laughter, fecundity, and governance take precedence over battle and
arete. Theocritus inverts this relationship of text to artifactthe cup is
enlarged to ll the whole eld of vision, crowding out epic behavior.
(The two men quarreling over a woman provide a mundane equivalent
of the conict over Helen.) Like Theocritus, Callimachus selects the or-
254 The Two Lands
51. This has been discussed by a number of scholars, who attribute the phenomenon
to a range of things from antiquarianism to realism. See Cameron 1995, 44145, though
I would disagree with Cameron that the purpose of all this is to write a new sort of epic,
antiquarian rather than heroic (p. 445).
52. See Bing 1988, 12933, for the former; Selden 1998, 32654, for the latter. See
also Koenen 1993, 8184 (Hymn to Delos) and 89113 (Lock of Berenice).
dinary world in Homer as a reference point for the Hecale: in narrating
the adventures of the ostensibly heroic Theseus, he chooses for empha-
sis (at least in what we have extant) the values of hospitality and guest
friendship displayed in Homers most humble character, the swineherd,
Eumaeus, values that continue to be viable and that are easily portable
from the older culture to his own. The Alexandrians are not trying to
erase Homer in their poetry so much as recreate him for a new world
and conform him to their own distinctive poetic agendas.
Equally, ap-
propriations of Homer call attention to the creative activities of the
contemporary poet for whom the writers of the past exist no longer as
living poets but as texts to be cannibalized.
Each of these poets responds to the challenge of this new world by
imagining and depicting it in different ways: Callimachus and Apollo-
nius devise origin myths to t a new political reality, Callimachus and
Theocritus experiment with fashioning models of kingship from previ-
ous literary paradigms. Of the three, Callimachus most obviously situ-
ates himself as a self-conscious ego writing against the past. His archaic
poets of preference are Hesiod and Hipponax; his Aetia begins by re-
producing the moment of Hesiods poetic initiation and continues with
a pastiche of narratives that seem never to intersect with the Homeric.
His poetry also implicates itself in the world of the court: he writes
epinicia for royals or members of imperial circles and introduces the
king into his ostensibly Olympian hymns. In at least four of Calli-
machuss complete poemsthe Zeus, Apollo, and Delos hymns and the
Lock of BereniceI (in earlier chapters) and other scholars before me
have made a case for locating a double symbolic matrix, in which the
narrative is constructed to be legible within two different cultural
codesGreek and Egyptian. In each of them Callimachus seems to
craft Greek myths to focalize often trivial events connected with the
royal house, which in the context of Egyptian royal ideology take on a
much deeper signicance. The defeat of the Gauls in the Hymn to Delos
and the translation of Berenices lock of hair into a constellation are
cases in point.
Callimachus also positions himself so that as we expe-
rience the conceptual duplicity of the poems we are in no doubt about
The Two Lands 255
53. Although the court poetry is usually treated as marginal in Theocritean scholar-
ship, it does account for a substantial portion of his poetic output.
54. So Hunter 1993, 16359, and see the discussion in chapter 4 above.
the role of the poet in creating the optical illusion. He turns to the Hes-
iodic world of good kings and bad kings and, like Hesiod, constructs
origin myths to suit his new world order, all the while presenting him-
self as the creator of these more plausible ctions.
Theocrituss relationship to the new Alexandrian environment is
commensurately different. In Idyll 15 and to a lesser extent in Idyll 14,
he brings the diverse Greek population of contemporary Alexandria
alive; in Idyll 17 he experiments with royal encomium and treats the
emerging myths of the royal house in several others: Idylls 18 (Helen),
22 (Dioscuri), 24 (Heracles) and 26 (Bacchae).
While Theocritus, par-
ticularly in the Heraclisus and the Ptolemy, experiments with Egyptian
themes, he does so far less consistently than do Callimachus and Apol-
lonius. Rather, his poems lter Egyptian ideology through the models of
good governance and its attendant rewards that appear to have been al-
ready articulated in writers like Hecataeus of Abdera. Theocritus, too,
favors Hesiod when he wants to talk about kings, not one suspects be-
cause of an undue fondness for the querulous old Boeotian, but because
Hesiod alone of the poets of the past addresses the question of kingly
behavior. The most distinctive feature of Theocrituss court poetry, in
contrast to Callimachuss, is his choice of the heroic gures from
mythHeracles, Helen, the Dioscurito correspond to Ptolemaic be-
havior, rather than the divine gures of kingshipZeus and Apollo
favored by Callimachus.
Even though Apollonius appears to avoid the issue of imperial
mythology by writing epic, he may be the most ambitious of the three
by constructing an entirely new thought world for the Ptolemies to
enter. Apollonius situates his narrative in the pre-Homeric world of
magic and monsters, when the created order was young, and the forces
of civilization struggling to emerge. He employs Greek cosmogonic ma-
terial that corresponds to Egyptian to fashion a world situated in two
discrete cultural spheres: in Greek philosophical terms his text has been
read as the transformation of neikos into philia,
terms that almost lit-
erally translate into the dominant paradigm of Egyptian thought, the
emergence of order (maat) from chaos. As we saw, his poem ends with
the double birth of islandsApollo the Gleamers island of appearance
(Anaphe) and Euphemuss Thera. Thus his text ends with two images.
256 The Two Lands
55. 1991, 321. Not the least is Goldhill, who concludes that aetiology may offer a
paradigm of how the past may be seen in the presentbut it is a paradigm that is subject
to Apollonius ceaseless irony and constant testing of the connections between events in a
narrative (p. 333).
56. The exception is Zanker, for whom realism pervades both texts and the society
that produced them.
In the rst we nd the most potent symbols of Egyptian ideology, the il-
lumination of the land by the sun-god at dawn, which is the harbinger
of new creation as well as a symbol of pharaonic kingship. In the other
is the gift of a clod of Libyan earth to Euphemus, which adumbrates
Greeces subsequent hereditary entitlement to North Africa. The
Ptolemies wait offstage: it is through their presence in Egypt that the
two independent myths of kingship and cultural interaction will nally
be drawn together in one king for the Two Lands.
If heroic warfare and its attendant values are characteristics of Homeric
poetry, in the Hellenistic period, as we have seen, this poetry needed to
be refashioned. The poets of Alexandria, therefore, select and reorder
their inherited mythologies to accommodate the new world of the
Ptolemies. One important way in which they do this is by exploiting
foundational or origin stories (aetia). In fact, Alexandrians seem to en-
gage in aetiological explanations to a greater degree than their literary
predecessors, and Callimachus even went so far as to write a long non-
continuous poem entitled Aetia. But, as S. Goldhill puts it, although
aetiology is inherently a way of articulating a relation between past and
present, the precise nature of this articulation has prompted consid-
erable discussion by modern critics.
What characterizes all the dis-
cussions Goldhill reprises is their location of aetia within a strictly tex-
tual or literary milieu, if not divorced from contemporary culture, at
least sufciently removed that texts seem to be isolated from it.
persistent argument of this book, however, has been to locate the pro-
duction of Hellenistic poetry more precisely within its contemporary
environment, with the result that at several points throughout the ear-
lier chapters I have characterized the use of aetia as a cognitive process
of cultural redenition. However, in the process of reconceptualizing
Egypt, of rethinking it as a land of Greek behaviors and practices, it is
equally possible to see the poets deploying aetia at a metatextual level.
As T. M. Greene puts it, when an allusion . . . begins to sketch a
miniature myth about its own past, or rather its emergence from that
The Two Lands 257
57. The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry (New Haven,
1982) 1718.
58. Odyssey 23.296, on which see Livrea ad loc.
59. A number of scholars have discussed this feature with respect to Callimachus; see,
for example, Bing 1988, 5671; Hunter 1997, 57; and Selden 1998, 4078.
past, . . . it tends to become aetiological.
The writer, in orienting his
work to his poetic predecessors, necessarily constructs a literary history
of that past into which he inserts himself as its inevitable fulllment.
In the Hymn to Zeus, for example, Callimachuss deliberately am-
biguous presentation of Zeuss birth as Arcadian or Cretan climaxes in
an allusion that seemingly replaces Homer with Hesiod. But in reality
Callimachus replaces them both with himselfthe poet of more plau-
sible ctionsas deftly as he substitutes Ptolemy for Zeus. In an anal-
ogous way, Theocritus picks his way though the inherited debris of po-
etic and prose encomia, with their tropes of supping with the immortals
and gures from heroic battle, only to move out from the shadow of the
Homeric past to position himself against his contemporary, Calli-
machus. Theocritus describes himself as one who knows how to
praise in response to the latters coy dubiety (Dn doip mala uAmo%).
Both poets write themselves into new literary places via a series of allu-
sions that often need substantial refashioning to suit their new context,
thus calling attention to their altered circumstances (like the child Her-
acles of the Heracliscus and Callimachuss baby Zeus). Apolloniuss in-
tertextual behavior is more complex because of the genre and the length
of his text. But one of its most noticeable features is his narrative tra-
jectory from a pre-Homeric past to an almost overdetermined future
signied by the gift of Libyan soil to Euphemus. Apollonius provides no
dening Homeric battles for his heroes, but an allusive return to the
homeland in his last line,
combined with an expectation that the fu-
ture home of his heroes will be not Greece but North Africa.
We can see each of these three constructing a poetic itinerary that be-
gins with earlier writers but always ends in the present with the poet
himself. Each begins by establishing a conceptual link with the past (via
Homer, Hesiod, or Pindar) only to differentiate himself and his poetic
achievement from the procession of texts now being encased in the li-
In their poetic imaginary the literary past is not only trans-
formed to embrace new beginnings but to create an impression of their
own uniqueness for contemporary and future readers.
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fr. 285 129, 159
68990 28
Alexander Romance
1.117, 30 65n135
1.6.3 71
1.13 66, 143
1.2729 66
1.30.67 181
1.34 67
1.34.2 178
Ammianus Marcellinus
17.4.11 2
Antagoras of Rhodes (from CA)
1.17 8081
Antigonus of Carystus
19 (23) 4n11
Antimachus (from Matthews)
fr. 162 83n28
Antipater of Thessalonica
AP 7.369 84n33
1.9.26 224
2.1.4 25n17, 99n77
Apollonius of Rhodes
1.7 196
1.811 196
1.33 212n104
1.30610 212
1.496511 197200
1.507 210n95
1.554 212n104
1.580 190, 208
1.72126 215n117
1.72168 200
1.75962 211n101
1.101278 186
1.1101 203
1.111052 188
1.111752 203
1.1130 204n82
1.113239 188
1.114649 203
1.1150 204n82
1.1319 186
2.14553 186
2.66268 212
2.68789 210n94
2.7009 210
2.7058 21011
2.71419 177
2.71819 211n97
2.84450 189
2.854 225
2.9661001 186
2.101014 175
2.101525 175
2.114156 192
Index of Passages Cited
Apollonius of Rhodes (continued)
2.1209 225
3.6475 196n55
3.2009 176
3.4078 21415
3.40918 205
3.59697 215
3.117783 206
3.1182 208
3.122930 215
3.138284 205
4.12426 215
4.12930 217
4.146 217n120
4.15361 217
4.17274 215
4.185 215
4.25969 18990, 2078
4.263 110n108
4.26365 190n44
4.269 208n91
4.27275 189
4.27279 176
4.27881 223n141, 226
4.284 226
4.40618 193
4.43334 192
4.46869 193, 227
4.478 193, 227
4.594602 229
4.599603 222
4.62022 229
4.630 222, 229
4.67281 2045
4.70514 194
4.728 236n184
4.73031 193
4.98492 230
4.114647 230
4.1237 223
4.1311 207
4.1389 231
4.1408 186
4.143639 187
4.1459 187
4.151317 133n38
4.15417 194, 231
4.154749 179n20
4.160216 194
4.166566 232
4.1670 232
4.16951700 233
4.170618 233
4.1734 181n25, 192
4.175061 180
4.1753 181
4.1758 209
sch. on 3.1179 205n84
sch. on 4.156 217n122
sch. on 4.25762c 206n85,
sch. on 4.268 110n108
sch. on 4.115354 230n167
sch. on 4.164648 232n173
3033 116n121
16364 116n121
311 222n137
58188 126
sch. on 16 110n108
History of Animals
553a2133 2n3
623b7627b22 2n3
1.12.1 458
3.1.4 245
3.3.2 69
3.5.2 245
7.11 15
5.4 35
5.19697 246n28
5.197a 159
5.198b 246
5.198e 83n31
5.201d-e 246
Aetia (fragments from Pf. unless noted)
1.1314 98n73
2.13 87
7 236n186
37 207n88
66 99n78
88 211n97
178.23 107
254.4(8) SH 8
254 + 283 SH 175n8
254.16 (30) SH 9
259 SH + 177Pf. 199n67,
37Pf. = AP 13.7 10
57Pf. = AP 6.150 10, 25n17
Hymns, Zeus
13 77
270 Index of Passages Cited
2 139
48 79
67 9293, 8991
78 40n63, 113
1014 92, 95, 100102
1032 91
1314 103n90
15 207
1827 99
1921 9899
25 102
2845 102
29, 32, 33 103
34 92, 93, 204n82
41 204n82
4145 92, 93
4243 93, 103
4245 106
4654 105
47 204n82
49 106
4950 107
5491 108
5659 105, 108, 112
57 200, 210
5859 109
60 113
6162 162
65 113
66 107, 109
6878 111n110
79 109
7984 111
85 78
8588 1089, 111
9196 1489
9697 112
104 217n120
14251 152n89
9097 118
91101 158
12535 117
13640 117
16295 118
174 119
18182 139
2058 115, 117
26065 116
300306 118
311 119
48 99n78
fr. 191Pf. 38, 38n56
fr.202Pf. 90n50
228.51Pf. 182n27
384.3134Pf. 99
407, 410 Pf. 30n29
470bPf. 233n177
715 Pf. 10
655Pf. 246n30
9.2.3 107n95
Curtius Rufus, Quintus
4.8.12 181n26
9.8.22 129n25
Dio Chrysostom
4.62 2n3
Diodorus Siculus
1.7 206n85
1.7.1 199n71
1.10 199n71
1.10.23 206n85
1.10.67 2056
1.13.45 16869
1.15 230n166
1.15.67 84
1.24.5 145
1.24.7 145
1.26.6 6263
1.28.24 33
1.29 247
1.31.7 160
1.47.16 44
1.4749 32
1.53.24 35
1.53.7 143
1.53.9 35, 144
1.54.1 177
1.55.23 178n16
1.55.79 152n89
1.5657 16061
1.70.14 3334
1.71.1, 45 3334
1.72 47,
1.88.5 62
1.9192 47,
3.3.4 42
3.5255 41
3.5657 41
3.61.56 42, 97n66
3.65.7 84n32
4.40.4 40
4.4055 39
Index of Passages Cited 271
Diodorus Siculus (continued)
4.46 193n51
4.52 193n51
4.53.7 40
5.4147 37
5.80 88
6.1.12 145
6.15 37
Diogenes Laertius
1.111 88
1.115 40n63
8.8691 30
8.89 31
Dionysius the Periegete
24950 206n87
sch. on 415 97n68
EGF Thebais
fr.1 25n17
Empedocles (from D-K)
B26.10 197n61
B77.1 197n61
Epimenides (from D-K)
A1.1621 88
B1 85
B4 88
B5 88
B8 110n105
Eratosthenes (from SH)
397.ii.2 226n151
fr. 79 (Austin) 8990
46574 66n132
1485 98
2067 63n131
sch. on Medea 1334 227n158
Hecataeus of Miletus (from FGrH)
1F305 57
1F324 59n120
1.2635 240n9
Herodorus (from FGrH)
31F52 217n122
1.2.-2.3 174
2.1 174
2.35 175n9
2.35.2 175, 183n32
2.39.12 23
2.41.2 25
2.42 84n32, 225n148
2.43.12 13031
2.44.5 131
2.45 27
2.5963 56
2.73 59
2.81 198n62
2.8690 47
2.86.3 154n96
2.91 23n9, 131n28,
133, 190
2.91.56 26
2.103.1104.1 177
2.106 152n89
2.11220 27
2.146 83n29, 104
2.156 23n9, 5758
2.171 25n17, 247
2.102, 106 4849
3.97 83n29
4.155 108n101
4.197 179n20
6.5355 29n25
2228 85
7985 158
96 112
120 81
187 106
467506 102
47983 1023
491500 103
496 109
5015 109
50511 198
685819 109
8016 956
82080 109
88185 10910
Works and Days
21863 112
Fragments (from M-W)
128 25n17, 99
3.36 9n73
4.497 203n80
272 Index of Passages Cited
6.28992 27n24
15.18693 109
15.15759 163
19.38 154
23.382 80
2.27072 151
2.27480 151
4.22730 27n24
4.35192 27n24
4.418 101
5.244 126
5.24447 95
5.27274 126
5.3056 126
7.24447 95, 233n177
15.426 111
19.37 136
23.296 223, 257
Homeric Hymns
2 152
513 152
22 152
2325 152
33940 118
367 118n126
165 140
189 136
219 140
24295 141
280 136
19 8284
1719 112n114
Horapollo (from Sbordone)
1.62 3
1718 29
1323 29n25
811 1478
Bellum Judaicum
2.95 243n18
Divinae institutiones
1.11.4448 38
Daphnis and Chloe
2.56 81n21
Dialogues of the Dead
10.2 118n126
True Histories
1.3.812 185n37
119, 576 208n91
891894 179n20
1192 199n67
120921 175n7
12911321 175n7
1312 175n8
Manetho (from Waddell)
fr. 83 46
fr. 86 138n48
Menander Rhetor
343.1720 81n21
Mimnermus (from West)
fr. 11a 222n138
Orphic Argonautica
14 81
15.3647 4n11
1.6.2 129n25
2.37.1 99n77
8.20.1 97
8.32.2 93
8.38.2 94
8.53.4 93
IV 229294 198n63
IV 233334 198n63
Pherecydes of Athens (from FGrH)
3F31 217n122
3F105 196n56
Pherecydes of Syrus (from D-K)
B1B2 201
I 85.25 98n74
Index of Passages Cited 273
Pindar (fragments from Snell-Maehler)
Nemean 1
6869 137
7071 126n18, 137
9, 4042 103n90
20 124n8
1.25 102, 134
Pythian 4
1315 179
2526 231n170
33 181n25
5056 202
6065 108n101
75 186n56
79 201
fr. 129 222n139
396a-c 97
402b 97
656c-657b 29
700a-701b 29, 176n12
205c-d 152n89
274c575b1 176n12
424b2c6 29
21e-24 176n12
2.6 69
3.12 69
26.37 181n26
22 222n138
57 82n27
Obsolescence of Oracles
1 88
21 40n63
G-P 311019 182
2064 124n4
22.2327+ 59.3965 79n 17
27.2455 4950
1.5.20720 244
De clementia
1.19.1 2n3
Simonides (from PMG)
Stesichorus (from PMG)
1923 27n23
1.4.9 15
2.3.5 38n55
4.33.1 97n72
8.4.4 97n72
17.128 10
17.800 182n27
De grammaticis
7 39n60
4.83 142n63
14.59 240n9
Idyll 15
43 247
4849 243
8793 243
9495 243n35, 247
1069 153
146 168
Idyll 17 (Ptolemy)
18 14950
1315 151
3435 153
3840 155
4850 154
5357 157
5665 127n20
5657 129, 151,
6063 158
6364 155
6869 162
7375 158
8084 147
274 Index of Passages Cited
8687 161
95110 160
11216 162
12125 166
123 153,
13222 162
13537 150
Idyll 24 (Heracliscus)
15 128
163 123
610 13233
1112 125
1133 132
1319 133
2829 134
2830 135
31 137
5657 134
5658 126
57 102
64102 123
7378 137
7981 145
7985 137
8283 141
84 126
8896 137
9699 137
100 13738,
1012 142
1034 144
10340 1234
11214 125
13840 143
fr. 3 153n94
De re rustica
2.5.5 4n11
4.28131 4n11
egyptian texts
Book of the Dead
Sp. 8 60n121
Sp. 15 234n178
Sp. 39 228
Sp. 84 60n121
Sp. 108 232
Sp. 125 48
Sp. 162 213, 234n178
Sp. 185 A S4 213
Book of Gates
Scene 46 230n168
Cofn Texts
I 195g 154n97
I 223f-g 154n97
VI 284r 154n98
The Eloquent Peasant 100n80
Hymns, Philae
Hymn 2 120
Hymn 4 101
Hymn 5 112n114
to Piye 120
Israel Stele, 161
Kubban Stele, 112n114
Ramesses II
Mendes Stele, 213n109
Ptolemy II
Naucratis Stele, 21314
Nectanebo I
Osorkons Victory 154n98, 156,
Stele 213, 216n119
Pithom stele,
Ptolemy II 236n185
Rosettana, Ptolemy V 138, 156,
Semna stele, Sesostris III 156
Prophecy of Neferti 100101
Index of Passages Cited 275
Abrochos (uninundated), Arcadia as,
Achilles: in Encomium for Ptolemy, 157,
158, 164; shield of, 253; tomb of,
Achmim (Chemmis, Upper Egypt), 23n9,
56n109; Perseus worship at, 26,
133. See also Chemmis (Delta)
Adonis: Alexandrian festival of, 153,
155, 16768, 24647; Semitic, 89
Adrasteia, 94, 106
Aeetes (Argonautica), 176, 193, 205,
206, 228; ancestry of, 235; testing of
Jason, 21415
Aegyptus, sons of, 26
Aeneas: killing of Turnus, 22627; shield
of, 202
Aeschylus: Danaids in, 25; Prometheus
Bound, 213n108
Aetiology: in Argonautica, 184, 189,
190, 192, 193, 203, 235; in cultural
assimilation, 18, 72. See also Aition;
Callimachus, Aetia
Afterlife, Egyptian, 47; burial practices
and, 221. See also Underworld,
Aition: Apolloniuss, 235; cultural redef-
inition through, 25657; for
Eleusinian mysteries, 14142; for-
eign places in, 72; in foundation
stories, 188; of Hellenistic poets,
Alcmena: Egyptian afliations of, 131; in
Heracliscus, 12829, 130, 133, 135,
137, 141, 144, 156, 157
Alexander Romance, 8, 22, 6473; audi-
ence of, 6869; intent of, 7172;
Nectanebo II in, 64n133, 6568, 71;
Olympias in 64, 65, 66, 67; Philip of
Macedon in, 65, 66, 69, 143; popu-
larity of, 64n134; Sesosis in,
177n15; sources of, 64, 65; succes-
sion in, 64; theogamy in, 130; trans-
mission of, 67
Alexander the Great, 35; ancestry of, 69,
7071; Aristotle and, 31n32; in
Dionysius Scytobrachion, 42; divin-
ity of, 70, 72, 130, 152, 155, 157;
education of, 66, 143; in Encomium
for Ptolemy, 152, 156, 157, 164; in
foundation myths, 8; as Homeric
hero, 252; at Memphis, 65n135, 66,
245; paternity myths of, 8, 6566,
6871, 72, 130; restoration of tem-
ples, 13n30; and Sesosis, 178, 180;
at Siwah, 65n135, 66, 181; temples
of, 45; at tomb of Achilles, 248;
view of kingship, 1415
Alexandria: bilingual government in, 46,
241; bureaucracy of, 13, 46,
234n19; civic identity in, 243, 244,
251; cults in, 142, 244; Egyptian ar-
chitecture of, 240; ethnic diversity
of, 173, 240; festivals of, 153, 155,
16768, 24648; foundation myths
of, 8, 181; foundation of, 65, 67,
Alexandria (continued)
72; foundation poetry of, 187n40;
geographic importance of, 239;
Greek-speaking population of, 240,
24243; harbor of, 15n43, 240n10;
Hellenism of, 243; heterogeneity of,
73, 24245, 24950; intellectual mi-
lieu of, 21; Jews of, 243n18, 244;
Library, 24951, 257; material ad-
vancement in, 240n9; Museum, 12;
site of, 18182. See also Greeks,
Amasis (pharaoh), 13n30
Amazons, 185n37; in Dionysius Scyto-
brachion, 41, 175
Ambrosia, 154
Amenhotep III (pharaoh), 54
Ammianus Marcellinus, 2, 3
Ammon (Greek): in Alexander Romance,
65, 72; in Dionysius Scytobrachion,
41, 42, 175; snake manifestation of,
66n137, 71. See also Amun (Egypt-
ian); Zeus Ammon
Amun (Egyptian), 50; as divine father,
5354, 56; festival of, 45n78; temple
at Siwah, 66. See also Re
Amphitryon: Egyptian afliations of,
131; in Heracliscus, 128, 134, 135,
141, 156, 157
Amycus (Argonautica), 216n119
Anaphe (island), 209, 224, 233n177,
236, 237, 255
Animal sacrice, 27
Animal worship, 15; Manetho on, 46
Antagoras of Rhodes, Hymn to Eros, 80,
81, 82
Antigonus of Carystus, 4n11
Antimachus, 110n108, 217n122, 224
Antinoe papyrus (of Theocritus), 124n4
Antipater of Thessalonica, 84n33
Antiphanes of Berga, 38n55
Anubis (god), 154
Aphrodite: in Argonautica, 200, 201; as-
sociation with Arsinoe, 181; co-
templing with Berenice, 15354
Apiculture, Egyptian, 3n7, 107n98
Apidanians, 110n108; in Argonautica, 190
Apis (god), 4; Alexanders sacrice to,
245; as Epaphus, 89
Apollo: aretai of, 117; in Argonautica,
210, 21112, 216n119, 23335;
birth of, 17, 5758, 114; cults to,
237; defeat of Pytho, 11n23, 117,
118, 119; and Helios, 237; identi-
cation with Horus, 7, 20, 104, 114,
209, 236, 237; slaying of Tityos,
211n101; youth of, 213, 237
Apollodorus, 224
Apollonius of Rhodes: audience of, 181;
compositional technique of, 235; as
court poet, 17172; and Dionysius
Scytobrachion, 40; ktiseis of,
187n40; literary precursors of, 218;
role in Museum, 12; as royal tutor,
248n40. Works: Argonautica: ,
Aeetes in, 176, 193, 205, 206,
21415, 228; , aetiology in, 184,
189, 190, 192, 193, 203, 235; , as
anti-epic, 218; Aphrodite in, 200,
201; , Apollo in, 210, 21112,
216n119, 23335; , barbarians in,
17576, 179; , celestial references
in, 221n136; chthonic powers in,
197, 210, 218, 222, 232; , Circe
in, 19394, 204, 222, 227; , com-
position of, 62n1, 180, 198n64,
228; , cosmology in, 19799, 208,
21819; , crime and punishment
in, 201; , , cult in, 25152; ,
cultural heterogeneity in, 11-12,
19596; , cultural relativism of,
187; , Cyclopes in, 200; , dawn
in, 23435, 256; , description of
Egyptians in, 110n108; , dragons
teeth in, 205, 206, 215; , Egyptian
cosmogony in, 20910, 236; Egypt-
ian themes of, 8, 18283, 204; ,
foundation stories in, 18889, 190;
, geographic exploration in, 185,
222; , geographic markers in,
2048; , golden eece in, 185,
215, 216, 218, 222, 22526; ,
Greco-Egyptian culture in, 196208,
219; , Greek cosmogony in, 197,
198, 255; , Greek gods in,
178n18; , Heracles in, 178, 185,
18687, 195, 235; , Hera in, 229;
, Hesperides in, 18687, 194, 218;
, homonoia in, 211n97; , Hyp-
sipyle in, 186, 215n117; , , as
katabasis, 218; , kingship in,
2023; , Libyan earth in, 179,
180, 192, 194, 202, 208, 209, 223;
, magic in, 197, 205, 212, 217,
218, 222, 225; marriages in, 200,
224; , narrative strategies of, 183,
185n37, 224, 235, 257; , new
order in, 20818; , origin myths
in, 254; , Orpheus in, 19799,
201, 210; , Phrygians in, 188; ,
primeval hills in, 209; , primordial
nature in, 2046; , psychological
realism in, 185; , Ptolemaic con-
text of, 18, 171, 17383, 195; ,
278 Index
quest in, 183237; , romantic en-
counters in, 184, 191, 19293; ,
serpents in, 187, 194, 21012,
21617, 225, 231; , Sesosis in,
177, 18990, 207; , socio-political
context of, xi, 237; , sources of,
220, 223, 227; , time in, 228; ,
transculturation in, 191, 231n172;
, Triton in, 194, 207, 208; , Ty-
phon in, 216; , unity of, 171n1; ,
use of Hecataeus of Miletus in, 223;
, use of Hymn to Zeus in, 198,
204n82; , use of myth in, 185; ,
use of Pherecydes of Syrus in, 198,
199, 201; , use of Pindar in,
17880, 181, 195, 208, 223, 224; ,
use of underworld books in, 223,
225; , Zeus in, 178n18, 200. See
also Apsyrtus (Argonautica); Argo;
Argonauts; Jason (Argonautica);
Medea (Argonautica)
Apophis (serpent), 6061, 199, 210; bat-
tle with Horus, 216n119, 217; as
chaos, 225; defeat by Horus, 119;
mutilation of, 228; and voyage of
Re, 219, 232
Apotheosis, 37, 38
Apsyrtus (Argonautica): murder of,
21516, 218, 222, 22629, 230;
mutilation of, 193, 216n118, 229
Aratus, 82n27, 88n46, 110n108; constel-
lations in, 126; use of Eudoxus,
Arcadia: as birthplace of Zeus, 79, 80,
81, 84, 9196, 103, 108, 200, 257;
irrigation of, 91, 9598, 116, 164,
203; as primordial place, 81, 108,
Arcadians (Argonautica), 190
Architecture, Egyptian, 15. See also
Monuments, Egyptian
Ares, 118n125
Arete: of Apollo, 117; cultural values of,
150n86; Homeric, 253; in Hymn to
Zeus, 109; of Ptolemy II, 150
Argo: as constellation, 22122; solar
journey of, 221n136
Argo (Argonautica): on Lake of Fire,
229, 231; night voyage of, 229,
23334; return voyage of, 182n29,
22437; serpent imagery of, 194,
Argonauts: Dionysius Scytobrachion on,
40, 174n6, 175; early accounts of,
174; in Pindar, 179
Argonauts (Argonautica): ancestors of,
209; as civilizers, 187; ephebic status
of, 218; Libyan journey of, 186,
223, 231; magic skills of, 197, 205,
222, 225
Argos: aridity of, 117n124; connection
with Egypt, 89; irrigation of, 25,
Ariadne, 192n50
Aristaeus, 3n5
Aristotle: advice to kings, 31; on Epi-
menides, 88; inuence of Eudoxus
on, 30n29
Arrian, 15n39, 248; on Alexanders an-
cestry, 69
Arsinoe (mother of Ptolemy I), 129
Arsinoe I (wife of Ptolemy I), 118n125
Arsinoe II (wife of Ptolemy II), 118n125,
126, 162, 168; death of, 147,
182n27; divinity of, 153n93; identi-
cation with Isis, 153n93, 155; pre-
vious marriage of, 163; temple at
Zephyrion, 181
Assmann, J., 234
Asteria (island), 11516, 11718
Athena: in Callimachus, 75; in Dionysius
Scytobrachion, 41, 207n88; identi-
cation with Neith, 51; Tritonian,
206, 207, 208
Athenaeus, 246
Athens: drama of, 249, 251; Egyptian in-
uence in, 247
Azania, 98, 99
Bakhtin, M. M., 171n2
Barbarians: in Argonautica, 17576, 179;
identity of, 183. See also Non-
Barbarism: association with Egypt, 29;
Greek triumph over, 17475, 187
Basileia (festival), 78, 125
Basileia (goddess), 41, 42, 43
Battiads, 108n101, 179, 180
Bees: and baby Zeus, 107; on cartouches,
plates 1-2; Euhemerus on, 107n95;
in hieroglyphic writing, 13; in Pin-
dar, 108n101; royal symbolism of,
14, 1078; spontaneous creation
of, 4; as symbol of rebirth, 4, 5
Berenice I (wife of Ptolemy I), 118n125,
137; benefactions of, 167; co-
templing with Aphrodite, 15354;
cult of, 147n79; deication of,
15355, 157; in Encomium for
Ptolemy, 15253; marriage of, 155;
offerings to, 153n95
Berenice II (wife of Ptolemy III), 182n29
Berenices Lock (constellation), 228
Bes (dwarf god), 134n42
Index 279
Bevan, E. R., 13n29
Bing, Peter, 7n14, 241n11; on Hymn to
Delos, 114n117, 115; on inunda-
tion, 98n74; on Niobe myth,
Birth shrines, 5657, 156
Bn-bn (hill), 59, 60
Bnw-bird, 59, 60
Book of the Dead, 47, plate 4; Horus in,
213; mutilation in, 228; negative
confession of, 48; night voyage of Re
in, 232; solar hymns in, 60. See also
Underworld books, Egyptian
Book of Two Ways, 226n151
Botes (constellation), 126
Burkert, Walter G., 130, 246n34
Burton, A., 32n35, 62n128
Busiris, 2627; Isocrates on, 2830, 38;
murder of, 131; in vase painting, 62
Cadmus, 205, 206
Calame, C., 179n21
Callimachus: allusions of, 76; aporia of,
84; audience of, 113; on Battiads,
180n22; chronology of, 12, 7677;
court poetry of, 74, 75, 127, 170,
171; cult in, 251; cultural codes in,
254; dedicatory epigrams of, 10; dis-
placement in, 77n6; Egyptian themes
of, 8, 1045, 114, 127; on Euhe-
merus, 38; geographical markers of,
84, 9295, 204n82, 207, 208;
humor of, 7475; intertexts of, 76;
on kingship, 7576, 254; modern
readers of, 169; on night realm of
sun, 222n140; origin myths of, 254,
255; performative traditions in,
77n7, 250; political context of, 169;
predecessors of, 76; preference for
Hesiod, 163; realism of, 74; theogo-
nies of, 163; use of Eudoxus, 30n29;
use of Euhemerus, 9091, 106; use
of Hipponax, 254; use of Io myth,
89; use of Works and Days, 111.
Works: Aetia, 187; , Anaphe in,
237n186; , Argos in, 99; , chaos
in, 87; , composition of, 224n143;
, scholia on, 39n60; , use of
Hesiod, 254; Hecale, 254; Hymn to
Apollo, 169n135, 21011; Hymn to
Delos, 75, 11421; , as birthday
hymn, 115, 127; , chaos in, 164,
165, 224; , composition of, 114,
115n118, 147, 164, 198n64; ,
Egyptian motifs in, 114, 211; ,
and Encomium for Ptolemy, 147,
16465; , Hera in, 116; , and
Homeric Hymn to Apollo, 115, 116;
, and Hymn to Zeus, 116; ,
kingship in, 117, 147; , mutiny of
Gauls in, 11415, 117, 119, 139,
165, 228, 254; , Niobe myth in,
118; , prophecy of Apollo in, 116,
117, 118, 11921, 139, 144; ,
Ptolemy II in, 116, 118, 119, 121;
, serpents in, 118; , structure of,
76; , as theogony, 121; , use of
Herodotus in, 114; Hymn to Zeus,
43, 7576, 77114; , Apolloniuss
use of, 198, 204n82; , Arcadia in,
79, 81, 85, 9196, 103, 108, 200,
257; , aretai in, 109; , bees in,
107; , birth of Zeus in, 77,
79108, 113; , chronology of,
7778, 127; , concluding prayer
of, 77; , Crete in, 79, 89, 9194,
100, 103, 257; , Egyptian myth in,
1045; , and Encomium for
Ptolemy, 148; , Gaia in, 103; ,
growth to manhood in, 105, 106,
108; , and Hymn to Delos, 116;
, invocation of, 77, 87; , king-
ship in, 17, 18, 79, 92, 109, 127,
200; , omphalos in, 1034, 106;
, prosperity in, 150; , Ptolemy II
in, 78, 79, 105, 108, 11214,
14851, 204; , Rhea in, 9192,
95, 96, 97, 105, 16364; , scholia
on, 90; , self-referentiality of, 150;
, serpents in, 134; , use of
Homer in, 95; , use of Theogony
in, 76, 8587, 89, 95, 10214, 127,
146, 149, 158, 208, 252, 253; Lock
of Berenice, 9n18, 154, 228n162,
254; Victory of Sosibius, 99
Callisthenes, use of Homer, 95, 233n177,
252, 25354
Callixeinus, On Alexandria, 246n29
Calypso, island of, 96, 126, 233n177
Cameron, A., 77n7, 87n39, 250
Cassander (king of Macedon), 37
Chaos: in Adoniazusae, 167; Apophis as,
225; Callimachus on, 87; defeat by
rulers, 120, 138; in Egyptian cos-
mogony, 51, 19899, 209; in Hymn
to Delos, 164, 165, 224; Pytho as,
118; Seth as, 51, 119; struggle with
maat, 199, 255
Chemmis (Delta), 23n9, 56, 116;
Herodotus on, 5758; as place of
bees, 107. See also Achmim (Chem-
mis, Upper Egypt)
Chemmitae, 23; games of, 26; Herodotus
on, 47; Perseus worship of, 56n109
280 Index
Chephren (pharaoh), 159n114
Childric (Merovingian king), 4, 5,
Chiron (centaur), 212n103
Chremonidean War, 115
Chronos, 199
Chrysippus (doctor), 30
Cippi (apotropaic plaques), 13435, 136
Circe, in Argonautica, 19394, 204, 222,
Clarysse, W., 7n14, 241n14, 242n15
Clauss, J. J., 77n7, 78, 113, 127n19,
Cleanthes, Hymn to Zeus, 82
Cleitarchus, 65
Colchis: as Egyptian colony, 33, 175,
177, 204, 214, 22223, 226, 235; as
foundation of Sesostris, 176, 214;
mixed marriages in, 192; as night re-
gion of sun, 222
Colonization: civilizing process in, 195;
Greek, 191
Conception, divine, 5254, 128, 130
Concord, temple of, 178
Constellations, 228; Argo as, 221-22; in
Heracliscus, 126
Conte, G. B. 76n4
Copresence, in Ptolemaic culture, 195,
Corybantes, 88, 89, 106
Cos: in Encomium for Ptolemy, 158,
159, 162; as primeval island, 116;
Ptolemy IIs birth on, 17, 97, 114,
116, 119, 127, 158, 165; relation-
ship to Delos, 165
Cosmogony, Egyptian, 11, 5859; in
Argonautica, 20910; chaos in, 51,
19899, 209; and Hymn to Zeus,
100; primeval hill in, 100101;
sunrise in, 23334, plate 6; syn-
cretism in, 51; voyage of Re in,
Cosmogony, Greek, 81; Apolloniuss use
of, 197, 198, 255; of Diodorus Sicu-
lus, 199n71; and kingship, 86
Cosmology, Egyptian, 200; in Argonau-
tica, 19799, 208, 21819; chaos in,
119, 202; night voyage of the sun in,
21837; Seth in, 139
Cosmology, Greek: Empedoclean,
19798, 200; of Pherecydes,
199200, 201
Couretes, 88, 89, 90, 92, 105, 106
Court poetry, Alexandrian: audience of,
140; emerging monarchy in, 249;
Greek models for, 250; Heracliscus
as, 125, 143; humor in, 75, 170
Courts, Hellenistic: encomia in, 148n84;
poetry of, 171n1
Creation myths. See Cosmogony
Cretans, as liars, 83n28, 85, 88, 89, 92,
Crete, as birthplace of Zeus, 79, 80, 84,
89, 9194, 100, 103, 257
Cronus, 41, 90; in Theogony, 102
Cults: in Alexandria, 142, 244; of Apis,
245; to Apollo, 237; chthonic, 101;
of Demeter, 142n63, 247; Dionysiac,
83; of dying gods, 246n34; of Great
Mother, 107, 188, 2034; of Greek
Alexandrians, 244; of Isis, 4, 15n41,
142; at Memphis, 239; Ptolemaic,
1516, 38, 45, 152n91, 162, 247;
role in Greek identity, 25152; ruler,
38; of Sarapis, 1516, 142, 247; syn-
cretistic, 8, 247; of Theoi adelphoi,
39; of Theoi Soteres, 152n91, 162
Cultural assimilation: aetiology in, 18,
72; by Alexandrian Greeks, 78, 21;
of Herodotus, 8; by Ptolemies, 16
Culture: barbarian, 174; classical, 172;
dynamics of borrowing in, 5; folk-
loric similarities in, 11; priority in,
24, 33, 183, 241
Culture, Egyptian: fragrance in, 15455;
Hecataeuss elevation of, 36;
Herodotus on, 2728; individuals in,
52; inuence on Alexandrian writ-
ers, xi, 67; literacy in, 49; magic in,
214; solar journey in, 221
Culture, Greek: civilizing role of, 195;
liminality in, 196; literacy in, 49;
and North African culture, 194,
257; triumph over barbarism,
17475, 187
Culture heroes, 37n53, 38; establishment
of cults by, 248; Heracles as, 145;
Olympians as, 90; Uranus as, 41;
Zeus as, 42, 91
Curtius Rufus, Quintus: on Alexandria,
181n26; on Ptolemy I, 129n25
Cyrenaica: Greek control of, 182;
prophecy on, 20818
Cyrene: foundation myths in, 179n21;
Greek colonization of, 180, 181; in-
termarriage in, 191n49
Danae, myth of, 25, 26, 128; in Si-
monides, 133
Danaids: Hecataeus on, 33; irrigation of
Argos, 99; kingship legends and, 26
Danaus, myth of, 89, 25
Dat, 230; twelve hours of, 221, 231. See
also Underworld, Egyptian
Index 281
Delos: as light, 118; relationship to Cos,
165. See also Callimachus, Hymn to
Delos; Homeric Hymn to Apollo
Delphi: foundation story of, 210; as om-
phalos, 93, 104; temple of Apollo at,
Delphyne (serpent), 211n97, 212, 217
Demeter: cults of, 142n63, 247; in
Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 126,
14041; identication with Isis, 7
Democritus, 32, 146n76; relationship to
Euhemerus, 37n53
Demophon, 14041
Demosthenes, 251n46
Demotic language: as administrative lan-
guage, 13; documents in, 24142; in
Greco-Roman period, 221n132; lit-
erary protocols of, 68; priestly oaths
in, 48
Dendera, temples at, 57
Detienne, M., 86, 114
Diodorus Siculus, 17, 146n76; on the af-
terlife, 47; on Busiris, 62; cos-
mogony of, 199n71; on Dionysus,
84; on Epimenides, 88; epitome of
Euhemerus, 37; epitome of
Hecataeus, 32n35; foe smiting in,
6263; on Giants, 6364; on Seso-
sis, 16061; on spontaneous genera-
tion, 2056
Diogenes Laertius: on Epimenides, 88; on
Eudoxus of Cnidus, 30, 31
Diomedes, in Encomium for Ptolemy,
157, 158
Dionysius Scytobrachion, 17, 3943; on
Amazons, 175; Argonautica, 3940,
175, 224; on Athena, 41, 207n88;
Dionysus in, 39, 4142, 43, 175; on
Egyptian deities, 175; on Heracles,
14546, 175; on Jason, 174n6; on
kingship, 42; Libyan stories, 39,
4142, 175; on Medea, 40, 193n51;
rationalizing by, 39, 42, 175; reloca-
tion of divinities, 208n92; on Zeus,
Dionysus: birth of, 8283, 84; conict
with Titans, 42; as culture hero,
248; Dionysius Scytobrachion on,
39, 4142, 43; Homeric Hymn to
Dionysus,8284; identication with
Osiris, 7, 15, 84, 230, 24546; in
Ptolemaia festival, 245; Zagreus, 89
Divinity: of Alexander the Great, 70, 72,
130, 152, 155, 157; in Argonautica,
194; of Arsinoe II, 153n93; in
Egyptian thought, 50; Euhemerus
on, 167; Hecataeus of Abdera on,
16869; of Heracles, 131, 136; in
hymnic tradition, 169
Doliones (Argonautica), 186, 203
Dorians, Egyptian ancestry of, 29n25
Dougherty, C., 187n40
Douris vase, 174n6
Dragons teeth, sewing of, 205, 206, 215
Dream of Nectanebo, 68n143
Drepane (island), 230
Edfu temple, 46, 57; description of ritu-
als at, 211n98; friezes of, 56
Education: of Heracles, 123, 137,
14245, 165; of princes, 35,
14245, 165
Egypt: and archaic Greece, 21; associa-
tion with barbarism, 29; association
with tyranny, 26; capitals of, 239;
cereal crops of, 23839; in Euripi-
des, 28; foundation myths of, 45;
Greek immigration to, 8, 2023,
240, 241; Greek population of, 16,
23, 47; Greek receptions of, 3;
Greek views of, 2132; Hecataeuss
account of, 3236; Hellenization of,
8, 183; inuence on Western culture,
5; power structure of, 168n33; as
primordial mother, 2078; priority
over Greece, 24, 30, 33, 43, 183,
18990; religious festivals of, 4546;
shared culture of, 23637; sponta-
neous generation in, 2056; stability
of institutions, 176n12, 198n61; as
Two Lands, 18, 50, 55, 23841.
See also Cosmogony, Egyptian; Cos-
mology, Egyptian; Kingship,
pharaonic; Pharaohs
Egypt, Greco-Roman: administration of,
242n15; brother-sister marriage in,
Egypt, Lower: bee symbolism of, 3n7,
107; geography of, 238, 239; under
Ptolemies, 239
Egypt, Ptolemaic: ethnicity of, 242n15;
priesthood under, 1213; temples of,
16, 45, 57; underworld books in,
Egypt, Upper: geography of, 23839
Egyptians: bilingual, 46, 241; knowledge
of hieroglyphics, 48; religiosity of,
Eileithyia (goddess), 91, 101, 158
Eleusinian mysteries, 146, 166, 247;
Danaids and, 25n17; establishment
of, 14142
Embalming, Greeks familiarity with, 154
Emergence, myths of, 86, 114. See also
282 Index
Cosmogony, Egyptian; Islands,
Empedocles, 19798, 200; conception of
meigma, 205
Empereur, Yves, 15n43, 240n10
Encomia: in Hellenistic courts, 148n84;
and mythic hymns, 148n82; prose,
147, 148
Enemies, ritual burning of, 138n48
Ennead (primal forces), 110
Epic: Hellenistic, 148n84; Homeric, 171;
Roman, 171, 172; temporal frame-
work of, 17273
Epigeioi (divinized humans), 37
Epigonids: marriages of, 192; philoso-
phers advice to, 32
Epimenides of Crete, 40n63, 82, 8790,
106n92, 112; attributions to, 88n40
Eratosthenes, 15, 226n151; as royal
tutor, 248n40
Eros: as bearded child, 81, 82; birth of,
8081; as generative force, 81; in
Hesiod, 82n27
Ethnicity: of Alexandria, 173, 240,
Eudoxus of Cnidus, 23, 3031, 48n90;
chronology of, 24n14; underworld
in, 221
Euergesia, 15970
Euhemerus of Messene, 17; on bees,
107n95; Callimachuss use of,
9091; on divinity, 167; on Hera-
cles, 145; on kingship, 43; rationali-
zations of, 3639; Sacred Register,
37; on Zeus, 37, 90, 107
Euhesperides, renaming of, 182n29
Eumolpidae, 247
Euphemus, gift of clod to, 180, 192, 194,
201n74, 202, 208, 209, 223, 255,
Euripides: Helen, 27, 28; Iphigenia in
Tauris, 26
Europa, abduction of, 174
Eurydice (wife of Ptolemy I), 118n125,
Eustathius, commentary on Dionysius the
Periegete, 97n68
Festivals: Alexandrian, 153, 155,
16768, 24448; of Ammon, 45n78;
effect on public opinion, 248;
Genethlia, 125; of Opet, 225n148,
245; of Osiris, 246n34;
Panathanaea, 64; pharaonic, 4546,
215, 238; Ptolemaia, 24546; Sed,
215, 238, 246; Thesmophoria,
142n63, 247; of Zeus Basileus, 78
Fleur-de-lis, derivation of, 45
Folklore, pancultural, 11
Fontenrose, J., 11n23
Footprints, royal, 167
Fragrance, in Egyptian culture, 15455
Fraser, Peter, 38, 191n49, 243; on hymns
of Callimachus, 78
Froidefond, Christian, 21
Gaia: in Hymn to Zeus, 103; in
Theogony, 1023
Gauls, mutiny against Ptolemy II,
11415, 117, 119, 139, 165, 228,
Genealogy, Greco-Egyptian, 2426
Genethlia (festival), 125
Genres: encomia, 149, 172; epic,
148n84, 171, 17273; epinician,
172; performative, 248; socio-
political milieu of, 7, 10
Geographers, Hellenistic, 184n35
Giants (Greek myth), 62; Diodorus on,
6364; epithets of, 139
Gods: in Dionysius Scytobrachion,
4142, 43; dying, 89, 90, 106,
246n34; in Pherecydes, 199; prena-
tal activity of, 120; statutes of, 10
Gods, Egyptian: analogies with Eros,
82n27; in cosmic order, 52; dwarf,
134n42; identication with Greek
gods, 7, 8, 2021; Manetho on, 46;
syncretism of, 50; trinity among, 53
Gods, Greek: in Argonautica, 178n18;
Euhemerus on, 3738; identication
with Egyptian gods, 7, 8, 2021;
kinship among, 53
Golden eece: in Argonautica, 185, 215,
216, 218, 222, 22526
Goldhill, S., 172n3, 235n183, 256
Gorgon, 133
Government: Egyptian, 28, 29; Isocrates
on, 28; Socrates on, 29
Gow, A. F. S., 123, 125, 126, 135; on
Encomium for Ptolemy, 147n79,
15859; on purication, 137
Great Mother: cult of, 107, 188, 2034;
in Dionysius Scytobrachion, 41; in
Phrygia, 106. See also Rhea
Greece: city-states of, 64, 173, 243, 244;
priority over Egypt, 24, 30, 33, 43,
Greeks: colonization of Mediterranean,
191; in Egyptian population, 16, 23,
47; immigration to Egypt, 8, 2023,
240, 241; intermarriage with non-
Greeks, 19192, 241n14; knowledge
of Demotic, 48; knowledge of Egypt-
Index 283
Greeks (continued)
ian religion, 21; as successors to Per-
sians, 33; unions with barbarians,
174; views of Egypt, 2132
Greeks, Alexandrian: accommodation by,
16; collective identity of, 25152;
cultural assimilation by, 78, 21; fes-
tivals of, 24445; heterogeneity of,
24245; under legal system, 244
Greene, T. M., 25657
Grifths, F., 12223, 227n157
Grifths, J. Gwyn, 58, 11617; on Eu-
doxus, 31n32; on oating islands, 58
Hands, severed, 215n118
Hathor: as Io, 25; as Isis, 50, 56; as nurse
of Horus, 117
Hatshepsut (pharaoh), 5354, 71n152
Hebe, marriage to Heracles, 12627, 137
Hecataeus of Abdera, 14, 17, 90; Aegyp-
tiaca, 3236, 199n71, 205; on the af-
terlife, 47; on benefactions, 166;
Dionysus in, 84, 230n166; on divin-
ity, 16869; on Egyptian religion, 46;
gods in, 37; on Heracles, 145, 146;
on kingship, 3334, 39, 43, 14344,
146, 203; on knowledge of Egyptian,
48n90; on Osiris, 38; political debate
in, 18; purpose of, 36; relationship to
Euhemerus, 37n53; on Sesosis,
3536, 120n130, 176, 17778, 196;
Theocrituss use of, 144; underworld
in, 221; visit to Ramesseum, 44
Hecataeus of Miletus, 22, 23; Apollo-
niuss use of, 223; originary myths
of, 2426; phoenix in, 59n120
Heka (god), 214, 219, 225
Helen of Troy: in Egypt, 2728; paternity
of, 69
Heliopolis, 10n20, 59; Herodotuss
knowledge of, 44
Helios: and Apollo, 237; in Dionysius
Scytobrachion, 41; identication
with Horus, 42; as Re, 214
Hellenes, identity of, 183, 242, 244
Hellenism: of Alexandria, 243; in
Alexandrian poetry, 251
Hellenocentrism, 7
Hellenomemphites, 23, 47, 241; burial
practices of, 221n131
Hephaestus, identication with Ptah, 35,
50, 144
Hera: in Argonautica, 229; birth of, 164;
in Danaus myth, 99; in Homeric
Hymn to Apollo, 118; in Hymn to
Delos, 116; marriage to Zeus, 162,
164, 168, 169
Heracles: as ancestor of Alexander, 70; as
ancestor of Ptolemies, 102, 129,
132, 133, 152; ancestry of, 133; in
Argonautica, 178, 185, 18687,
195, 212, 235; birth date of, 125;
and Busiris, 26, 131; as civilizer, 62,
145; as culture hero, 145, 248;
death of, 141; in Dionysius Scyto-
brachion, 40, 14546, 175; divinity
of, 131, 136; Egyptian afliations
of, 62n126, 13031, 146; in Eleusin-
ian mysteries, 142; Euhemerus on,
145; and golden bowl, 131, 132,
136, 221; Hecataeus on, 145, 146;
humanity of, 141, 142; immortality
of, 141, 142, 145, 146, 166, 186;
labors of, 137, 141, 221; marriage
to Hebe, 12627, 137; as model
prince, 130, 143n68, 144, 146; as
monster-slayer, 178, 185, 186, 187,
210; Near Eastern afliations of,
130, 131; paternity of, 69, 12930,
135, 141; smiting the foe, 62,
131, 138
Hermes, 120
Hermes-Thoth, 226n151
Hermippus, 250n43
Herodotus: on birth of Apollo, 114; on
Busiris, 27; Callimachuss use of,
114; on Chemmis, 5758, 59;
chronology of, 24n14; cultural as-
similations of, 8, 21; on cultural pri-
ority, 24, 30; on Dionysus, 83n28;
on Egyptian culture, 20; on Egyptian
kings, 2728; on festivals, 46; on
Helen, 27; on Heracles, 13031; on
Horus, 59; knowledge of Egypt, 6,
4448; knowledge of monuments,
48; knowledge of priesthood, 44,
46; on the Nile, 97; on Perseus,
2526; on Persian war, 174; on
Sesostris, 34, 17677, 196; sources
of, 44n71; visit to Egypt, 21, 239n4
Hesiod: Alexandrian poets use of, 252;
Eros in, 81, 82n27; imitators of, 87;
kingship in, 255. Works: Catalogue
of Women, 25, 99; Theogony: ,
Callimachuss use of, 76, 8587, 89,
95, 10214, 127, 146, 149, 158,
208, 252, 253; , contest with Ty-
phon in, 21; , kingship in, 86; ,
Muses in, 85, 87, 88, 112; , Near
Eastern elements in, 109; , ompha-
los in, 103; , proem of, 85; ,
Theocrituss use of, 158, 159, 253;
, Typhoeus in, 10910, 111; ,
Zeus in, 86; Works and Days, 111
284 Index
Hesperides (Argonautica), 18687, 194
Hieroglyphic writing, 176n12; bees in,
13; Egyptians knowledge of, 48;
European interest in, 2; Ptolemies
use of, 13, 14
Hill, primeval, 58; in Argonautica, 209;
in Egyptian cosmogony, 100101; in
Hymn to Zeus, 91, 100; pyramids
as, 58; sunrise on, 234
Hipponax, 254
Homer: Alexandrian poets use of, 256;
Callimachuss use of, 76, 95, 252,
25354; heroic behavior in, 252;
Theocrituss use of, 163; tragedians
use of, 251; Works: Iliad, 80, 252;
Odyssey: Argonauts in, 173n5; ,
Callimachuss use of, 95, 233n177;
, marriage in, 155; , narrative
reality of, 185n37; , romantic en-
counters in, 185, 192; , supernatu-
ral light in, 136; , Theocrituss use
of, 151
Homeric Hymn to Apollo: and Hymn to
Delos, 115, 116; Pytho in, 118, 165;
Theocrituss use of, 152, 158, 164
Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 136; Eleusin-
ian mysteries in, 14142; use in Her-
acliscus, 124, 127, 14041, 146
Homeric Hymn to Dionysus, 80, 8284
Homonoia, 164, 178; in Argonautica,
Horapollo, 2, 3, 3n7, 140
Hornung, Eric: on Apophis, 217; on
maat, 5152, 120; on pleonasm, 50;
on voyage of Re, 220, 234
Horus: and the Amazons, 41; attack of
serpents on, 126n17; beauty of,
21213; birth of, 98; birthplace of,
59, 100; in Book of the Dead, 213;
on cippi, 134, 136; defeat of
Apophis, 119; defeat of serpents,
119, 126n17, 165, 211, plate 3; in
Dionysius Scytobrachion, 42, 175;
Eudoxus on, 31; festivals of, 46;
Golden, 13839; as good son, 213;
Herodotus on, 59; iconography of,
55; identication with Apollo, 7, 20,
104, 114, 209, 236, 237; identica-
tion with Helios, 42; identication
with Perseus, 26, 56n109; as morn-
ing star, 216n119; nurses of, 116; as
order, 51; pharaohs as, 53; revival
of, 13435; struggle with Seth, 55,
56; succession of, 42
Horus falcon, 159
Horus-in-Chemmis, 107; and Apollo, 58,
104, 114; birth of, 117
Horus-the-Child: birth of, 237; and birth
of Zeus, 1045; Callimachuss famil-
iarity with, 102; and Eros, 82n27; as
Harpocrates, 15; pharaohs as, 55,
104, 156, 236; Ptolemies use of,
Hr nbw (Golden Horus), 138
Hu (god), 219, 225
Human life, stages of, 219
Human sacrice, 27, 62, 138, 227
Humor, in court poetry, 75, 170
Hunter, Richard, 140n49, 147n82,
154n95, 161, 173n5; on new order,
Hymns: and encomia, 148n82; from Na-
pata, 120; of Philae, 46, 56, 101,
112n114, 120; solar, 60, 234
Hypsipyle (Argonautica), 186, 215n117
Inachus, myth of, 25n17
Insemination, divine, 26, 128
Intermarriage: with non-Greeks, 19192;
in Cyrene, 191n49; Greek and
Egyptian, 241n11
Io: identication with Isis, 25, 211n101;
myth of, 89, 25, 26, 174
Iphicles, 133
Irrigation: of Arcadia, 91, 9598, 116,
164, 200, 203; in Argonautica, 203;
of Argos, 25, 96102; introduction
of, 99
Isis: as consort of Sarapis, 15; cults of, 4,
15n41; and Delos myth, 116; Eu-
doxus on, 31; festivals of, 46; in
ooding of Nile, 101; identication
with Arsinoe II, 153n93, 155;
identication with Demeter, 7; iden-
tication with Hathor, 50, 56; iden-
tication with Io, 25, 211n101;
identication with Selene, 42; magic
of, 218; and Osiris, 56, 57, 155,
168; temples of, 45; tricking of Seth,
Islands: Calypsos, 96, 126, 233n177;
Circes, 204, 222, 230; emerging,
209, 219, 223, 224, 23435, 237,
255; oating, 5758, 11516,
11718; primeval, 126n17; speak-
ing, 165. See also Anaphe; Asteria;
Cos; Thera
Isocrates, 21, 22, 23, 27; advice to kings,
31; Busiris, 2830, 38; encomia of,
147, 148; Evagoras, 31n32;
Nicocles, 31n32
Jason (Argonautica), 184, 191; as civi-
lizer, 212; cloak of, 200202,
Index 285
Jason (Argonautia) (continued)
211n101, 215n117; encounter with
serpent, 21617, 225; as ephebe,
227; as Horus, 212; and Lemnian
women, 185, 186; marriage to
Medea, 192, 224, 230, 231; as
model for kingship, 212, 21415;
murder of Apsyrtus, 21516, 218,
222, 22629, 230; mutilation of Ap-
syrtus, 193, 216n118, 229; as other,
193, 216, 227; in Pindar, 179, 201,
212n104; as product of culture,
2012; sandal of, 19697, 198;
sewing of dragons teeth, 205, 206,
215; on vase painting, 174n6
Jews, Alexandrian, 243n18, 244
Jomard, Edm: Dscription de lgypte,
1, 2
Katasterism, 116n121
Kemp, Barry, 55
Keraunus (son of Ptolemy I), 163
Kingship: Alexanders view of, 1415; in
Alexandrian poetry, 11, 12, 16;
Dionysius Scytobrachion on, 42; in
Encomium for Ptolemy, 1718, 123,
129, 14445, 16061, 165; Euhe-
merus on, 43; Hecataeus on, 3334,
39, 43, 14344, 146, 203; Hellenis-
tic, 32; in Heracliscus, 17, 18, 123,
127, 129; in Hymn to Delos, 117,
147; in Hymn to Zeus, 17, 18, 79,
92, 127, 200; just, 11112;
Ptolemies view of, 15; role of god-
desses in, 214; Theocritus on, 123,
127, 200
Kingship, divine: in Alexander Romance,
67; in Alexandrian poetry, 12; Euhe-
merus on, 3839; falcon symbolism
of, 159; rituals of, 45, 57, 225n148
Kingship, Greek: conferral of benets in,
161; and cosmogony, 86; and
Danaid myth, 26; Egyptian model
for, 43; in Hesiod, 86, 255; limits of,
36; philosophers on, 3132
Kingship, pharaonic: ceremonies of, 52;
in Encomium for Ptolemy, 161; in
Euripides, 28; falcon symbolism of,
159; festivals of, 4546; Greek as-
similation of, 64; Hecataeus on,
3334, 39; iconography of, 51; ide-
ology of, 9, 36, 4964, 109, 113;
Jason as type of, 21415; legitimacy
in, 17, 5455, 15556; as model for
Greeks, 43; priesthoods promotion
of, 35; prophecies concerning, 35;
prosperity under, 100, 161; relation-
ship to cosmos, 51; renewal festivals
of, 215, 238, 246; succession in,
129; sunrise in, 256; symbolism of,
1, 2; theocracy in, 12. See also
Kingship, Ptolemaic, xi; continuity with
past, 68; in Encomium for Ptolemy,
16061; ideological construction of,
9; legitimacy of, 11; prosperity
under, 159; Theocritus on, 123, 127,
14445, 166
Koenen, Ludwig, xi, 7n14, 139n55,
239n6; on Heracliscus, 102, 125,
138, 142; on Hymn to Delos,
Lactantius, 37
Lamentations of Isis, 56
Lemnian women, 185, 186, 192
Leto: in Herodotus, 114, 117; in Hymn
to Delos, 115; identication with
Wedjoyet, 117
Letter to Aristeas, 250
Libya: Argonauts in, 186, 223, 231; clod
of earth from, 180, 192, 194, 202,
208, 209, 223; connection with
Colchis, 175n8; as enemy of Egypt,
182n28; Greek idea of, 18182; in
Pindar, 17980
Light, supernatural, 136, 141
Literature, Egyptian: satirical elements in,
Literature, Greek: discourse on Egypt in,
21; satire in, 68. See also Genres
Lloyd, A. B., 22n4, 58n116
Louis XII (king of France), bee symbol-
ism of, 34, 5
Maat, 5152; in defeat of Apophis, 60;
maintenance of, 53; pharaohs main-
tenance of, 61, 100, 138, 166; strug-
gle with chaos, 199, 255
Magas (brother of Ptolemy II), 180n22,
Magic: barbarian, 174; in Egyptian
thought, 214; Medeas, 197, 217,
218, 225; of Thetis, 212n103
Mammisi (temples). See Birth shrines
Manetho (priest), 14, 46; Greek audience
of, 50n96; on human sacrice, 138;
inclusion in Library, 250n43
Marriage: in Argonautica, 200; brother-
sister, 16, 155, 168, 169, 170, 242;
erotic reciprocity in, 155; between
Greeks and non-Greeks, 19192,
Maschalismos, ritual of, 227
286 Index
Medea: Dionysius Scytobrachion on, 40,
193n51; murder of Apsyrtus, 227; in
Pindar, 179
Medea (Argonautica), 184, 191; ancestry
of, 235; as barbarian, 19394; de-
feat of Talos, 232; magic of, 197,
217, 218, 225, 228; marriage to
Jason, 192, 224, 230, 231; prophecy
of, 181
Medinet Habu, 63
Meigma, 205
Meliae, Dictaean, 106
Melissae (bee maidens), 107
Melqart (god), 131
Memphis: Alexander the Great at,
65n135, 66, 245; Apis cults of, 245;
as center of cult, 239; Ptolemy I at,
13, 240, 245
Memphite Theology, 51n99
Mendes, ram cult of, 153n93
Mendes stele, 1516, 213n109
Menelaus, 27, 28
Mercenaries, 251
Merkelbach, R., 7n14, 48n88, 70n149
Merneptah, Israel stele of, 161
Metaneira, 136, 140, 141
Metternich Stelae, plate 3
Milesian tales, 71
Mineur, W. H., 114n117, 115
Minos, 38; tomb of, 90
Minotaur, 119
Monarchs, French: use of bee symbolism,
34, 5
Monuments, Egyptian: Greek visitors to,
4445; hierogly