Prologue: Against the Telchines

Fr. 1

      πολλάκ]ι μοι Τελχῖνες ἐπιτρύζουσιν ἀοιδῇ,

           νήιδες οἳ Μούσης οὐκ ἐγένοντο φίλοι,

      εἵνεκεν οὐχ ἓν ἄεισμα διηνεκὲς ἢ βασιλ[η

           . . . . . .]ας ἐν πολλαῖς ἤνυσα χιλιάσιν  

5    ἢ . . . . .] . ους ἥρωας, ἔπος δ' ἐπὶ τυτθὸν ελ[

           παῖς ἅτε, τῶν δ' ἐτέων ἡ δεκὰς οὐκ ὀλίγη.

      . . . . . .].[.]και Τε[λ]χῖσιν ἐγὼ τόδε· ‘φῦλον α[

           . . . . . . .] τήκ[ειν] ἧπαρ ἐπιστάμενον,

      . . . . . .]. . ρεην [ὀλ]ιγόστιχος· ἀλλὰ καθέλκει,

10       . . . . πολὺ τὴν μακρὴν ὄμπνια Θεσμοφόρο[ς·

      τοῖν δὲ] δυοῖν Μίμνερμος ὅτι γλυκύς, αἱ γ' ἁπαλαὶ [

           . . . . . .] ἡ μεγάλη δ' οὐκ ἐδίδαξε γυνή.  

       . . . . .]ον ἐπὶ Θρήϊκας ἀπ' Αἰγύπτοιο [πέτοιτο

           αἵματ]ι Πυγμαίων ἡδομένη [γ]έρα[νος

15   Μασσαγέται καὶ μακρὸν ὀϊστεύοιεν ἐπ' ἄνδρα

           Μῆδον]· ἀη[δονίδες] δ' ὧδε μελιχρ[ό]τεραι.

      ἔλλετε Βασκανίης ὀλοὸν γένος· αὖθι δὲ τέχνῃ

           κρίνετε,] μὴ σχοίνῳ Περσίδι τὴν σοφίην·

      μηδ' ἀπ' ἐμεῦ διφᾶτε μέγα ψοφέουσαν ἀοιδήν

20       τίκτεσθαι· βροντᾶν οὐκ ἐμόν, ἀλλὰ Διός.’  

      καὶ γὰρ ὅτε πρώτιστον ἐμοῖς ἐπὶ δέλτον ἔθηκα

           γούνασιν, Ἀπ[ό]λλων εἶπεν ὅ μοι Λύκιος·

      ʿ. . . . . . .]. . . ἀοιδέ, τὸ μὲν θύος ὅττι πάχιστον

            θρέψαι, τὴ]ν Μοῦσαν δ' ὠγαθὲ λεπταλέην·

25  πρὸς δέ σε] καὶ τόδ' ἄνωγα, τὰ μὴ πατέουσιν ἅμαξαι

            τὰ στείβειν, ἑτέρων ἴχνια μὴ καθ' ὁμά

      δίφρον ἐλ]ᾶν μηδ' οἷμον ἀνὰ πλατύν, ἀλλὰ κελεύθους  

            ἀτρίπτο]υς, εἰ καὶ στεινοτέρην ἐλάσεις.’

      τῷ πιθόμη]ν· ἐνὶ τοῖς γὰρ ἀείδομεν οἳ λιγὺν ἦχον

30       τέττιγος, θ]όρυβον δ' οὐκ ἐφίλησαν ὄνων. 

      θηρὶ μὲν οὐατόεντι πανείκελον ὀγκήσαιτο

            ἄλλος ἐγ]ὼ δ' εἴην οὑλ[α]χύς, ὁ πτερόεις,

      ἆ πάντως, ἵνα γῆρας ἵνα δρόσον ἣν μὲν ἀείδω

            προίκιον ἐκ δίης ἠέρος εἶδαρ ἔδων,

35  αὖθι τὸ δ' ἐκδύοιμι, τό μοι βάρος ὅσσον ἔπεστι  

            τριγλώχιν ὀλοῷ νῆσος ἐπ' Ἐγκελάδῳ.

      . . . . . . . Μοῦσαι γὰρ ὅσους ἴδον ὄθματι παῖδας

            μὴ λοξῷ, πολιοὺς οὐκ ἀπέθεντο φίλους.

      . . . . . . . . . . . . .]σε[. .] πτερὸν οὐκέτι κινεῖν

40        . . . . . . . . . . . . .]η τ[]μος ἐνεργότατος.

Fr.1 Harder (= 1 Pf., = 1 Mass.)
  1-40 
 P.Oxy. 2079 fr. 1, add. P.Oxy. 2167 fr. 1 ad. vv. 14-21,
  [image], Trismegistos 59397
  1 PSI 1219 fr. 1, 1 (= Σ 1b, 1) [image] Trismegistos 59399
  6 Heph. 52.10 sqq.
  11-12 see Σ 1d, 11-13
  14 see Julianus Anticensor, AP 11.369
  15 Σ D.T. 460.7 sqq.
  17 Eust. ad Il. 9.364
  18 Plu. De Exil. 10.602f
  19 EtGen. AB s.v. διφῶ
  20 Heph. 52.13 sq.
  21-22 A.D. Synt. 441.3 sqq.
  34 Σ Theoc. 4.16a
  35 EtGud. 232.22 sqq
  36 Σ CDEH Pi. O. 4.11c
  37-38 Σ Hes. Th. 82

1-8. Callimachus begins by defending himself against his critics, whom he labels "Telchines." The Telchines were mythological figures, sorcerers or magicians, who became hateful to the gods, and whom Zeus or Apollo obliterated. The Florentine Scholia (lines 3–8) identify the Telchines with a few of Callimachus' contemporaries, most notably the epigrammatists Asclepiades and Posidippus. But despite ancient and modern speculation, it is not certain if Telchines refers to real individuals or is a fictional adversary.

2. This line has been understood in two ways: (1) νήιδες stands alone (= ignoramuses) and Μούσης is taken with φίλοι, or (2) Μούσης is taken with both, i.e., Harder's translation: "ignorant of the Muse, they were not born her friend."

5. ελ[: see Recreating the Aetia, Example 7 for a discussion of the proposed restorations.

9-12. In this section Callimachus mentions the elegist, Mimnermus (line 11) and refers to a number of contemporary poems, e.g., “Bountiful Thesmophoros” and the “Fat Lady.” There have been various attempts to identify them: Pfeiffer, on the basis of the Florentine Scholia (lines 12–5) identified the first with the Demeter of Philitas of Cos, the second with Mimnermus' Nanno. Another contender for the “Fat Lady” is Antimachus of Colophon's Lyde. Since none of these poems survive intact, it is impossible to determine which suggestion is correct. Further, it is important to realize that each conjecture is based on a priori assumptions about the exact nature of the poetic dispute. Is Callimachus expressing an anti-Homeric, or at least an anti-epic, bias (as is generally taken to be the case) by opposing epic poems (e.g., of Antimachus) to elegies (of Mimnermus)? Or is the prologue, as A. Cameron (1995) has recently argued, a stylistic debate about the composition of elegiac poetry? In the latter case the contrast will be between poems of differing length and/or quality written by the same poet (that is, two by Philitas and two of Mimnermus).

13-20. This section contrasts long (Massagetae shooting arrows, Persian schoenus) vs. short (Pygmies) and loud (cranes, thunder) vs. clear-sounding and delicate. The child may also serve as an image of the small.

16. See Recreating the Aetia, Example 6 for a discussion of this restoration.

21-34. These lines have often been imitated by Roman poets: Callimachus articulates the privileged status of the poet as one who is favored by Apollo and the Muses. He claims that Apollo came to him when he first began to write. The god set out guidelines for the composition of poetry in a series of oppositions that are related to the oppositions of the previous section: the untrodden path vs. the public thoroughfare, delicacy vs. bombast, thin Muse vs. fat sheep, the cicada vs. the braying ass. The fragment ends with the poet wishing for immortality and likening himself to the cicada who feeds only on dew, and probably also to the dying swan who sings sweetest just before its death (lines 39-40).

31. Note the effect of the spondaic ending, mimicking the sound of a braying ass: ὀγκήσαιτο. 

33-36. The syntax of these lines is convoluted, probably to simulate ecstatic speech.  It is arranged chiastically with ἵνα γῆρας...τὸ δ’ ἐκδύοιμι as the outer elements, ἵνα δρόσον ἣν μὲν ἀείδω the inner.

 

Bibliography

Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin.  2012. “The Cicada's Song: Plato in the Aetia.” In Callimachea II. Seconda Giornata di Studi su Callimaco (Roma, 12 maggio 2005), edited by Antonio Martina, Adele-Teresa Cozzoli and Massimo Giuseppetti, 17-34. Rome: Scienze e Lettere.

Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin, and Susan A. Stephens. 2001. "Aetia Fr. 1.5: I Told My Story Like a Child." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 136:214-16.

———. 2002. "Rereading Callimachus' Aetia fragment 1." Classical Philology 97:238-255.

Ambühl, Annemarie. 2004. “Entertaining Theseus and Heracles: the Hecale and the Victoria Berenices as a Diptych.” Callimachus II, Hellenistica Groningana 7, edited by M. Annette Harder, Remco F. Regtuit & Gerry C. Wakker, 23-48.  Dudley, MA: Peeters.

Asper, Markus. 1997. Onomata allotria: zur Genese, Struktur und Funktion poetologischer Metaphern bei Kallimachos (Hermes Einzelschriften 75). Stuttgart: F. Steiner. 

Cameron, Allen. 1995. Callimachus and his Critics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Clayman, Dee. 1977. ‘The origins of Greek literary criticism and the Aitia prologue.’ Wiener Studien 11:27-34.

Crane, Gregory. 1986. "Tithonus and the Prologue to Callimachus' Aetia.Zeitschift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 66:269-278.

Hunter, Richard L. 1989. "Winged Callimachus." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 76:1-2.

Kerkhecker, Arnd.1988. "Ein Musenanruf am Anfang der Aitia des Kallimachos." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 71:16-24.

Krevans, Nita. 1991. " 'Invocation' at the end of then Aetia Prologue." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 89:19–23

———. 1993. ‘Fighting against Antimachus. The Lyde and the Aetia reconsidered.’ In Callimachus (Hellenistica Groningana 1)edited by M. Annette Harder, Remco F. Regtuit & Gerry C. Wakker, 149-60.  Groningen: Egbert Forsten.

Luppe, Wolfgang. 1997. "Kallimachos, Aetien-Prolog V. 7-12." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 115:50-54.

Magnelli, Enrico. 1999. ‘Quelle Bestie dei Telchini (sul v. 2 del prologo degli Aitia.’ Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 127:52-8.

Pontani, Filippomaria. 1999. ‘The first Word of Callimachus’ Aitia.’ Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 128:57-9

———. 2011. “Callimachus Cited.” In Brill’s Companion to Callimachus, edited by Benjamin Acosta-Hughes, Luig Lehnus, and Susan Stephens, 93-117. Leiden: Brill.

Spanoudakis, Konstantinos. 2001. ‘Poets and Telchines in Callimachus’ Aetia-Prologue.’ Mnemosyne 54:425-41.

Wimmel, Walter. 1975. ‘Philitas im Aitienprolog des Kallimachos.’ In Kallimachos (Wege der Forschung 296), edited by A.D. Skiadas, 70-80. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. 

Fr. 1

πολλάκι: (adv.) many times, often (Ep. and Lyr. for πολλάκιs)

Τελχίν -ῖνος, ὁ: a Telchine, one of the Telchines; first inhabitants of Crete, first workers of metal

ἐπιτρύζω: to twitter or squeak (Cameron 1995: 340); to murmur or grumble at (+ dat.)

ἀοιδή -ῆς, ἡ: song, a singing; a poem, poetry

νῆις -ιδος: (adj.) unpracticed, ignorant, unknowing

Μοῦσα -ης, ἡ: one of the Muses, the inspiring goddesses of song and poetry

ἄεισμα -ας, τό:  a song, poem (poetic for ᾆσμα -ατος, τό)

διηνεκής -ες: continuous, unbroken, uninterrupted

ἀνύω: to accomplish, produce

χιλιάς -άδος, ἡ: a thousand, thousands, many thousands

ἥρως ἥρωος, ὁ: a hero 5

τυτθός -όν: little, small; short (in length)

ἅτε: just as, so as

δεκάς -άδος, ἡ: a decade, group of ten years

φῦλον -ου, τό: a race, tribe, class, nation of men

τήκω: waste, waste away, eat away

ἧπαρ -ατος, τό: liver; the seat of strong emotions like anger and fear; the “heart”

ἐπίσταμαι: to know, understand, be able

ὀλιγόστιχος -ον: consisting of a few lines, concise

καθέλκω: draw down, drag down, depress, outweigh

ὄμπνιος -α -ον: nourishing, well-fed, bountiful, flourishing (an epithet of Demeter) 10

Θεσμοφόρος -ον: law-giving, law-bringing (an epithet for Demeter)

Μίμνερμος -ου, o: Mimnermus, poet from Colophon or Smyrna, active ca. 630–600 BC, thought in antiquity to have been the “inventor” of Greek elegy  

γλυκύς -εῖα -ύ: sweet, delightful 

ἁπᾰλός -ή -όν: soft to the touch, tender

Θρῆϊξ -ϊκος, ὁ: Thracian

Αἰγύπτιος -α -ον: Egyptian

πέτομαι: to fly

αἷμα -ατος, τό: blood, bloodshed

Πυγμαίοι -ων, οἱ: Pygmies, a race of dwarves said to have lived on the upper Nile who were destroyed by cranes

ἥδομαι ἡσθήσομαι ἥσθην: enjoy, delight in, revel in

γέρανος -ου, ἡ: crane, a bird

Μασσαγέται -ῶν, οἱ: the Massagetae, an ancient Eastern Iranian nomadic people, famous for their archery15

ὀϊστεύω: to shoot arrows, shoot with an arrow

Μῆδος -ου, ὁ: a Mede or Persian

ἀηδονίς -ίδος, ἡ: nightingale; (metaph.) poem  (= ἀηδών)

μελιχρός -ά -όν: honey-sweetened, honey-sweet; sweet

ἔλλω (=  ἔρρω: mostly in imperative, ἔρρε / ἔρρετε): away! begone!

βασκανία -ας, ἡ: malign influence, the evil eye;  jealousy, or Jealousy (personified)

ὀλοός -ή -όν: destructive, deadly, baneful, spiteful

αὖθι: on the spot

σχοῖνος -ου, ὁ: rope; the schoenus, a unit of land-measure used esp. in Egypt, having a length of several kilometers

Περσίς -ίδος: (fem. adj.) Persian

σοφία -ιας, ἡ: wisdom, skill

διφάω: to search after; expect, look for

ψοφέω: to sound, make a noise, to resound

βροντάω: to thunder 20

ἐπιτίθημι: lay, put, or place upon

δέλτος -ου, ἡ: writing tablet

γοῦνα γούνων, τά: knees (poetic for γόνυ γόνατος, τό)

Ἀπόλλων -ωνος, ὁ: Apollo

Λύκιος -α -ον: Lycian (an epithet of Apollo)

ἀοιδός -οῦ, ὁ: singer, poet

θύος -εος, τό: sacrifice

παχύς -εῖα -ύ: thick, stout; fat, fatty; ὅττι πάχιστον “as fat as possible”

τρέφω θρέψω ἔθρεψα: to rear, raise, nourish; to feed; θρέψαι: aor imperat mid 2nd sg

λεπταλέος -α -ον: fine, delicate; slender, slim

ἄνωγα: (old Ep. pf. with pres. sense) I command, order (esp. of kings and masters); (also of equals and inferiors) I advise, urge 25

τά ... τά: “where . . . there”

πατέω: tread, walk, go

ἅμαξα -ης, ἡ: wagon, carriage

στείβω: tread, walk, go

ἴχνιον -ου, τό: track, footprint; ruts carved by wheels

ὁμός -ή -όν: one and the same; common, joint

δίφρος -ου, ὁ: chariot

ἐλᾶν: future infinitive > ἐλαύνω, drive

οἶμος -ου, ὁ/ἡ: way, road, path

πλατύς -εῖα -ύ: broad, flat, wide

κέλευθος -ου, ἡ: road, path

ἄτριπτος -ον: not worn hard by work, trackless, unworn

στεινός -ή -όν: narrow

ἐνὶ τοῖς … οἳ: among those who

ἀείδω: to sing

λιγύς λιγεῖα λιγύ: clear, sweet, shrill

ἦχος -ου, ὁ: sound (later form of ἠχή)

τέττιξ -ιγος, ὁ: a cicada, grasshopper 30

θόρυβος -ου, ὁ: a noise, cry, voice

ὄνος -ου, ὁ/ἡ: ass, donkey

θήρ θηρός, ὁ/ἡ: a wild beast, animal, brute

οὐατόεις -εσσα -εν: long-eared

πανείκελος -ον: like in all points, alike, just like

ὀγκάομαι: to bray (like an ass)

ἐλαχύς -εῖα, -ύ: small, short, little; οὑλαχύς = ὁ ἐλαχύς, “the small one”

πτερόεις -εσσα -εν: winged, feathered 

ἆ: exclamation expressing pity, envy, contempt, etc.

γῆρας γήραος, τό: old age

δρόσος -ου, ἡ: dew, pure water

προίκιος -ον: free, freely given

δῖος δῖα δῖον: heavenly, noble, divine

ἀήρ, gen. ἀέρος or ἠέρος, ἡ: air

εἶδαρ -ατος, τό: food, sustenance

ἔδω: to eat

ἐκδύω: to take off, strip off 35

βάρος -ους, τό: weight

ὅσσον: as much as (Ep. for ὅσον)

ἔπειμι: to be upon, set upon

τριγλώχις -ινος: three barbed, three cornered (an epithet of Sicily)

ὀλοός -ή -όν: destructive, fatal, deadly

Ἐγκελάδος -ου, ὁ: Enceladus, the giant, upon whom Zeus threw the island of Sicily

ὄθμα -ατος, τό:  eye (= ὄμμα, -ατος, τό)

λοξός -ή -όν: slanting, crosswise, askance

πολιός -ά -όν: grey, grizzled, grisly (in old age)

ἀποτίθημι: put away, lay aside, cast aside

Fragment 1b Harder (= Σ Flor. 1-15; 1, p. 3 Pf.) PSI 1219, [image] fr. 1, 1-15, Trismegistos 59397

[πολλάκι μοι Τελχῖνες ἐπιτρύζουσιν] ἀοιδῇ

      [c.23                           ]τει.δ. . .]. . [. .].

      [c.13             ]. Διονυσίος δυ[σ]ί, τῷ..

      [c.12          ]νι καὶ τῷ ἲλειονι καὶ Ἀσκλη-

5    [πιάδῃ τῷ Σικε]λίδῃ καὶ Ποσειδίππῳ τῷ ονο

      [c.12          ].υρίππῳ τῷ ῥήτορι καὶ Ανα                   

      [c.12         ]βῳ καὶ Πραξιφάνῃ τῷ Μιτυ-

       [ληναίῳ, τοῖς με]μφομένο[ι]ς αὐτοῦ τὸ κάτισ-

       [χνον τῶν ποιη]μάτων καὶ ὅτι οὐχὶ μῆκος ηρα

10   [. . . . . . .]. .[. . . . . . . . . . .]ουμενο.[.]οι.[. .].

       . . .].ων λου.[.]ο.[.].πα. .[. . . .]

       [παρα]τίθεταί τε ἐν συγκρίσει τὰ ὀλίγων στί-

       [χων ὄν]τα ποιήματα Μιμνέρμου τοῦ Κο-

       [λοφω]νίου καὶ Φιλίτα τοῦ Κῴου βελτίονα

15   [τῶν πολ]υστίχων αὐτῶν φάσκων εἶναι [. . . .

 

["Often the Telchines grumble at my] song"…

 . . . and Praxiphanes the Mity[lenean,]7

who crtiticized [him] because of the

meagreness of his poems and because no length …

          .          .            .            .             .

He compares the short12

poems of Mimnermus of Colophon

and Philitas of Cos, saying they are better

than those of many lines ...

 

 

1d Harder (= Σ Lond. 11-12, 22; p. 3 and 7 Pfeiffer) P.Lond.Lit. 181 col. II [image], Trismegistos 59363

ἐδίδαξαν αἱ ἁπαλ(αί),1.11-12

οὐκ ἐδίδ(αξεν) ἡ μεγάλ(η)

λέγει ὅτι γλυκ(ὺς) ὁ Μίμ(νερμος)

.           .           .

Λύκιο(ς)· ἐπεὶ ξένο(ις) ᾕδ(ε)ται·1.22

(ἐστὶ) δ᾽ ἄλλ(ως) κ(αὶ) μαντ(εῖον) ἐν Λυκ(ίαι),

 ὁ δ᾽ Ἀριστο(τέλης), ἐπεὶ Λητ()

τίκτο(υσα) εἰς λύκο(ν)

μετέβαλε

 

"The delicate showed

but the large woman did not show"

He says that Mimnermus is sweet.

.          .            .

Lycius: since he takes pleasure in strangers;

Alternatively, there is also his oracle in Lycia.

According to Aristotle, because Leto

changed into a wolf when she was

giving birth.

Fr. 1

Often the Telchines grumble at my poetry

(ignorant, they weren't born friends of the Muse)

because I did not complete a single continuous poem

in many thousands of lines either on kings ... or on heroes, 

but, like a child, I ... work (?) on a small scale 5

though the decades of my years are not few.

... and  I (say) this to the Telchines: “tribe ...

... that know how to waste away in bile,

... of a few lines, but nourishing Demeter 

by far outweighs the long...10

and of the two, the delicate ... showed that Mimnermos 

is sweet but the large woman did not.

Let the crane, delighting in the blood of the Pygmies

...fly (far) from Egypt to the Thracians, 

and let the Massagetai shoot from a long distance at the 15

Mede. Poems are sweeter for being short.

Off with you, destructive race of Envy. And from now on

judge poetry by its art, not by the Persian schoenus.

Do not look for a loud sounding song

from me; thundering (is) not my job, but that of Zeus.” 20

For, when I first placed a writing-tablet on my

knees, Lycian Apollo said to me

“... poet, raise your sacrificial victim as fat as possible,

but, good man, keep your Muse slender;

and this too I ask (of you), walk a path unbeaten by wagons,25

don't drive your chariot along the common ruts of others

nor upon a wide road, but (on) unworn

tracks, even if you will be driving more narrow (ones).”

I obeyed him; for we sing among those who love the clear sound

of the cicada, and not the din of asses.30

Let another bray just like the long-eared beast,

but let me be the little one, the winged one.

Oh, yes indeed! that I may sing living on dewdrops,  

free sustenance from the divine air;

that I may shed old age, which weighs on me 35

like the three-pointed island on destructive Enceladus.

For whomever the Muses did not look askance at as a child

they will not put aside as a friend when his head is grey.

... no longer to move its wing

... the most vivid

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Suggested Citation

Susan Stephens, Callimachus: Aetia. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-947822-07-8.http://dcc.dickinson.edu/callimachus-aetia/prologue-against-telchines