Greek Mythography in the Roman World

By Alan Cameron | Go to book overview

3
Mythological Summaries and Companions

1

Let us turn from sources to models. The fact that Narrator’s learning is derivative does not deprive it of all interest. We have at any rate identified its affinities with a particular type of text, early imperial mythographic treatises. But the Narrationes is not itself a mythographic treatise. Unlike Parthenius and Ps-Apollodorus, it purports to be a guide to a single classical text. Whatever its shortcomings, its form is clearly defined and consistent: a sequence of brief narrative summaries with occasional explanatory notes and source references. Are there any parallels for such a literary form? There are indeed—several. The closest is the Diegeseis to Callimachus’s Aetia and Iambi. The reason the closeness of the parallel was not recognized long ago is that the nature of the Diegeseis itself has never been fully understood.1

Five (perhaps six) papyri come into play.2 The title Diegeseis is only attested for one of them, a Milan papyrus of 13 largely complete columns, with summaries of every aetion in the last book of the Aetia, all the Iambi, the Hecale, and the first two of the hymns.3 Each summary begins by quoting the first line of its section. Paul Maas at once identified the Milan papyrus as part of the same work as another text published in the 1930s, PSI 1219, the misleadingly entitled Scholia Florentina,4 consisting of similar summaries of the prologue and the first two aetia of book 1 of the Aetia.5 Like the Diegeseis, this fragment begins by quoting the first line of each section. Its most notable feature is two solid pieces

1. I am here developing and expanding the interpretation of the Callimachean Diegeseis I briefly outlined, without reference to the Narrationes, in Cameron 1995, 123–6

2. All five are printed in full in van Rossum-Steenbeek 1998, 259–78, nos. 43–7; for the sixth, below.

3. Originally published by M. Norsa and G. Vitelli; republished with useful introduction, notes, essays, and plates by A. Vogliano, with appendixes by L. Castiglioni and P. Maas in P. Mil. Vogl. 1 (formerly cited as PRIMI) (1937), 66–173 The title appears between the end of bk. iv of the Aetia and the first of the Iambi:

It is thus possible that only the Aetia summaries were so called, but since the nature of the work continues unchanged thereafter, there seems no good reason so to restrict the reference of the title.

4. To avoid scholiastic associations, I shall not be using this title. Pfeiffer more appropriately applied the same title to PSI 1094 (ii.xvi no. 19), a series of philological notes on the Iambi (F 191).

5. Gnomon 10 (1934), 437; P. Mil. Vogl. I [note 3] 155–6; cf. Pfeiffer ii. xxviii.

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