Stones And Birdsigns

The first two sections of the Milan papyrus in some ways dominate the book.25 For one thing, together they make up a third of its length. For another, they are the most unusual sections in terms of their subject matter. They are not only unusual as categories of epigram, but unlike some of the other 'odd' sections (lafiariKa, ¿ttttiko) they cannot easily be seen as a specialized subset of a recognizable epigram type (votive, funerary, etc.).

This is not to say that these epigrams are completely unparalleled in the corpus. I have already mentioned two 'stone' epigrams which appear in the amatory books of the Anthology and a few 'drinking' epigrams about engraved amethysts; in addition there are single epigrams here and there which echo the themes of these first two sections. A sweating statue appears in AP 9. 534, there is one animal oracle (D. L. AP 7. 744, a steer which licks a man's cloak, predicting his death) and one humourous bird-oracle (Nicarchus 11. AP

25 A repair at the beginning of the papyrus raises the possibility that other sections preceded the Xl8lko.; see Johnson, above, Ch. 4, but also the arguments of the original editors (BG, p. 13) and the discussion by Stephens and Obbink, 'The Manuscript', 13—14. For the present, in spite of these uncertainties, it seems appropriate to treat the Xidiicd as the opening section, especially since even in Johnson's reconstruction at least one editor (the scribe making the repairs) judged that these poems could serve as the beginning of the roll.

186, the night-raven as an omen of death is conquered by the song of Demophilus). Stone poems are more common, although still rare.26

The closest parallels to the overall content of these two sections, however, is in prose, and a Hellenistic author closely linked to Posidippus in other respects happens to have written two treatises which include material related to the themes found in these epigrams. That author is Callimachus, and the treatises are (respectively) Collection of Marvels throughout the World, by Location (frr. 407-11 Pf.) and On Birds (frr. 414-28 Pf.).

The first of these two works is particularly interesting. The excerpts from Callimachus' wonder-book are the first surviving examples of the genre of paradoxography. Some argue that he founded the genre; others believe he found it already partially developed in fourth-century sources.27 In either case, his treatise is recognized as giving the genre its defining shape and character, and the form remained popular throughout antiquity.28

The wonder-book and the study of birds are not his only non-poetic works. Callimachus was a prolific prose author. Titles (and in many cases citations) survive from seventeen different works, and although some may be duplicates (e.g. Local Month-Names might be a sub-section of Local Nomenclature), his range and output is impressive. The most famous work is the IlivaKdc (frr. 429—53 Pf.), whose full title in English is Registers of all those Pre-Eminent in Literature and of their Writings in 120 Books. This was long taken (erroneously) as a catalogue of the Alexandrian library; numerous fragments survive, and it has been extensively studied by historians of bibliography.29 Most of the other prose works are lexicographical (glosses, compilations of local terms) or aetiological (foundation stories, barbarian customs, a treatise on nymphs, another on athletic contests). The treatises on marvels and birds are the only ones oriented more towards nature than culture.

The citations from the treatise on birds are primarily from either Athenaeus or the scholia to Aristophanes' Birds, and these two

26 Jasper carved with cows: 9. 746, 747, 750; Indian beryl carved by Tryphon: 9. 544; vein-ing on a piece of acoetonus: 11. 695. On 9. 752, an amethyst ring, see Gutzwiller, 'Cleopatra's Ring'.

27 R. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship (Oxford, 1968), 134-5; P- M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Alexandria (Oxford, 1972), i. 454; more generally on the development of the genre K. Ziegler, 'Paradoxographoi'.

28 Texts of the paradoxographers in A. Giannini, Paradoxographorum Graecorum reliquiae (Milan, 1966).

29 F. Schmidt, Die Pinakes des Kallimachos (Berlin, 1922); R. Blum, Kallimachos, trans. H. H. Wellisch (Madison, 1991).

authorities not surprisingly focus on rare bird-names. But the treatise also included material on bird-omens: the last fragment (fr. 428 Pf.) reports that the corncrake (Kpe£) is a bird unlucky for weddings. Compare AB 25, which describes three omens (in this case based on meeting particular types of people rather than birds),30 two of which are omens connected with weddings.

There were presumably more passages like this one in the On Birds, but we also find bird-omens in the Collection of Marvels. We hear from Callimachus of birds guarding the island of Diomedes who recognize the nationality of visitors: they are hostile to barbarians but welcome Greeks (fr. 407, §172). The Eneti consult jackdaws to discover whether enemies will invade across various parts of their border (fr. 407, §173). The city of Krannon always has two crows (fr. 408).

In this second treatise we also find some material on stones. There are rivers which turn anything dropped into them into stone (fr. 407, §161) and several examples of stones which catch fire (fr. 407, §§166, 168,31 170). If more of the treatise survived there would probably be further parallels, but the extended excerpt from Callimachus' work preserved in Antigonus of Carystus {Mir. 129—73) is largely about water-marvels—rivers which catch fire, springs which bleach hair, rivers which cure disease, springs in which nothing floats, etc.32

The connections with Posidippus appear even more clearly in later wonder-books derived from Callimachus, like the pseudo-Aristotelian Mirabiles AuscultationesIn the Palatine wonder-book, if someone afflicted with jaundice sees a yellow bird called the '¿Krepoc, he will be cured (PP 3); the Celts use an oracle of a pair of crows to decide guilt and innocence in trials (PP 10). In the Mirabiles Auscultationes we hear of stones shaped like cylinders which are placed in the temple of Cybele as offerings; the Palatine wonder-book tells of bizarre

30 7rp€cfivc, the first 'omen' here and the subject of poem 28, is possibly a pun: this word is also the name of a kind of wren. See D. Petrain, TFpzcfivc .

31 Cited from Theophrastus' On Stones. The paradoxographers from the beginning report their sources, see Ziegler, 'Paradoxagraphoi', 1141.

32 Antigonus organized his own wonder-book by type of marvel rather than by location, and he seems to have been primarily selecting aquatic marvels when he copied these selections from his predecessor (ibid.).

33 There is some justification in considering these (potentially) as contemporary sources for Hellenistic epigram in spite of their later date, because the paradoxographers copy from their predecessors faithfully and frequently. The Callimachean report about the birds of Diomedes, for example, turns up in the Mirabiles Auscultationes (MA 79) and in Pliny's Natural History (HN 10. 127). The crows of Krannon reappear in Antigonus of Carystus (Antig. Car. 15, with two further variants) as well as at MA 126 and in a variant at MA 137, where they guard the temple of Zeus in Pedasus.

polygonal stones found in Spain which 'give birth' to baby stones (MA 162, PP 12. 1; compare AB 10 and 19) We also hear of stones which change colour (MA 174, compare AB 13, 16, and perhaps 8). The second-century-BC paradoxographer Apollonius tells us that magnets draw by day but are inert at night and that adamant does not grow hot when placed in the fire (Apollon. Mir. 23, compare AB

Emphasis on artistry in carving of stones is not inconsistent with wonder-books either. Incised gems are treated by Pliny in the Natural History and several surviving 'marvels' in the paradoxogra-phers involve feats of craftsmanship (e.g. MA 96, on a tapestry; 155, on security measures Pheidias built into his statue of Athena.)

The wonder-books thus contained material very similar to the prodigies and rare stones celebrated in the opening sections of the Posidippus papyrus.34 But the connection goes further than that. The importance of paradoxography for the Milan epigrams lies, I think, in a fundamental difference between Callimachus qua paradoxographer and his scientific sources.35 Wonder-books present examples of phenomena which appear to break the laws of nature. Although they present these items in a rational, objective manner, scrupulously citing sources like Eudoxus as witnesses to the incredible facts they are reporting, they do not explain the violations of natural law in scientific terms.36 Their aim is not the satisfied 'aha!' of understanding but the round-eyed 'oh!' of wonder.

Consider the phenomenon of the statue as prodigy, the subject of poem 30. Theophrastus treats sweating statues like the one in our poem in his treatises on plants, and explains them logically as the result of fluid in the wood emerging under the influence of moist, southerly air (Hist. Plant. 5. 9. 8; Caus. PI. 5. 4. 4). By contrast, the pseudo-Aristotelian MA reports on a statue of a golden bull at the temple of Artemis Orthia which utters sounds when hunters enter the shrine. No explanation is given (MA 175).

The connection between the wonder-books and many of the Milan

34 In considering the stone and omen sections together, I leave aside many other potential programmatic implications involved in opening the collection with the stone poems. P. Bing, below, Ch. 7, comments on the geographical range of the poems; Hutchinson, 'The New Posidippus and Latin Poetry', is one of many to note the analogy between the 'small-scale artistry' of the gems and Posidippus' own epigrams.

35 These sources are named in the citations and include Aristotle, Theophrastus, Eudoxus, Timaeus, Theopompus, and Lycus.

36 When explanations are offered, they are typically aetiological. For example, the birds of Diomedes who can distinguish Greeks from foreigners are said to be the transformed companions of the hero (Call. fr. 407, §172).

epigrams, then, does not lie merely in the coincidence of reports about oddly shaped stones or magnets or vatic birds. They share an aesthetic of surprise, a fascination with the incredible. So big! So small! Cured instantly! Changes appearance! Poem 17, describing the action of the double-action magnet stone, tells us (11. 5—6):

. . . o Kal repac ei; cvoc avrov, ■n&c Svo ¡¿i^cirai ^epfiaSac 'It's quite a prodigy, how on its own | it can imitate two [different] stones.'37

o Kal repac, 'it's quite a prodigy!' is a metrical paraphrase of the conventional formulae of the wonder-book inviting us to say 'oh!': dav^acTOV, davfiacia, TcpaTOoSccTcpov, '¿Siov.3S Further examples of wonder-formulae appear both in the magnet poem and other stone poems. In AB 13, a stone which changes appearance when wet is called davfji' airarrjc (13. 2) The snakestone is a great wonder, davfia . . . ¡jieya (15. 7). The magnet is not only a prodigy, but a marvel, dav/jbdciov (17. 2). And if the restored text is correct, the gigantic stone cast ashore by Poseidon is described as a 'monster-work' (reiparo-epyov, 19. 10).39 Now this, the formulae advertise, is truly amazing, truly prodigious, truly singular.

The XidiKa and olu)vocK(miKa sections, then, provide a very distinctive opening to the Milan epigram papyrus. Their strong links to prose treatises, especially wonder-books, establish a didactic tone which colours the whole collection.40 Adaptation of prose material is common in Hellenistic poetry, as Aratus and Nicander demonstrate. Nevertheless, the connection with Callimachean prose in particular is significant. Not only have scholars already noted links to the poetry of Callimachus in both the previously published works of Posidippus and the Milan text, but Callimachus himself clearly uses his own prose treatises as source material for his verse.41

37 Translation adapted from that in AB.

38 Antig. Car. 7.1,8.1, 20. 1, Apollon. Mir. 23, Ps.-Arist. MA 40, 61, 92, etc.

39 Restored from the papyrus text jeppayoepyov, see BG ad loc.

40 See Obbink, 'Posidippus on Papyri Then and Now', who argues (17) that the omenpoems have 'subliterary' overtones. Note too that Bing, 'Posidippus' Iamatika' believes the cure-poems to be based not on inscribed verse epigrams in shrines of Asclepius but rather on elaborate prose inscriptions at Epidaurus recording 'wonder-cures'.

41 On Callimachus and Posidippus, see L. Lehnus, 'Posidippean and Callimachean Queries' with further references. As Lehnus points out, the links raise intriguing questions when juxtaposed with the assertion in the Scholia Florentina (on fr. 1. 1 Pf.) that Posidippus is one of the Telchines. In a recent essay (Krevans, 'Callimachus and the Pedestrian Muse') I argue that Callimachus' own poetry shows consistent and detailed correspondences with the material in his prose treatises. Posidippus and Callimachus must be distinguished, however, from the

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