Busiris and Phalaris

Fr. 44

      Αἴγυπτος προπάροιθεν ἐπ᾽ ἐννέα κάρφετο ποίας 


Fr. 45

      τὴν κείνου Φάλαρις πρῆξιν ἀπεπλάσατο 


Fr. 46

      πρῶτος ἐπεὶ τὸν ταῦρον ἐκαίνεσεν, ὅς τὸν ὄλεθρον

          εὗρε τὸν ἐν χαλκῶι καὶ πυρὶ γιγνόμενον

Fr. 44 Harder (= 44 Pf., = 51-53 Mass.) EtGen. AB s.v. ποῖα

Fr. 45 Harder (= 45 Pf.) Σ ss3s4, Tz. Lyc. 717

Fr. 46 Harder (= 46 Pf. + SH 252) Σ DEFGQ Pi.P. 1.185

This fragment is not directly linked with the two previous aitia, but Phalaris does return the focus to Sicily, since he was the tyrant of Acragas. The aition begins with a mention of Busiris, the legendary king of Egypt who sacrificed foreigners and was subsequently killed by Heracles. This apparently segues into the larger story of the bronze bull of Phalaris, in which he roasted his victims alive.

Busiris and Phalaris also appear together in Ovid's  Ars Amatoria 1.647–56, suggesting that Callimachus was Ovid’s model.

Fr. 44

Αἴγυπτος -ου, ὁ/ἡ: Egypt

προπάροιθεν: before, in former times

κάρφω: to dry up, wither; (Pass.) be dried up, suffer from drought

ποία -ας, ἡ: grass; time of hay-harvest; summer (Ionic and Epic for πόα, -ας, ἡ)


Fr. 45

Φάλαρις, -ιδος, ὁ: Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum in Sicily, who supposedly roasted people alive inside a hollow bronze bull

πρῆξις -εως, ἡ: doing, business, action, practice (Ion. for πρᾶξις)

ἀποπλάσσομαι: form or mold after; imitate


Fr. 46

ταῦρος -ου, ὁ: bull

καινίζω: use for the first time, make new or strange, innovate

ὄλεθρος -ου, ὁ: ruin, destruction, death

χαλκός -οῦ, ὁ: copper, bronze 

Fr. 44

Egypt  was parched for nine years previous


Fr. 45

Phalaris imitated his practice


Fr. 46

since the man who first used the bull was the one who

devised the new mode of death in bronze and fire

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Suggested Citation

Susan Stephens, Callimachus: Aetia. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-947822-07-8.https://dcc.dickinson.edu/callimachus-aetia/book-2/busiris-and-phalaris