Enrico Emanuele Prodi
In the context of a research project on ancient scholarship on archaic Greek iambos, this paper focuses on the canonical edition of Archilochus’ poems.
Most archaic lyricists seem to have circulated, in the late Hellenistic and Roman periods, in one canonical edition. The study of ancient scholarship has much to gain from paying attention to these editions and the criteria that shaped them; Negri (2004)’s masterful investigation of Pindar’s Epinicians is a case in point. An examination of the canonical edition of Archilochus can thus brings us closer to discerning its structure and scrutinising the meaning that this structure may have carried.
Citations of Archilochus in ancient sources assure us of four books in the first instance: Elegies, Trimeters, Tetrameters, and Epodes. Hephaestion and Stephanus of Byzantium mention the shadier Iobacchoi, whose attribution to Archilochus – as Hephaestion’s testimony makes clear – was contested already in antiquity. Each of the other four books is represented by several papyri. The present paper relies mostly on the combined evidence of papyrology and of ancient quotations, especially those found in works dedicated to metre.
There is insufficient evidence concerning the Elegies, though there is one possible hint that the order may have been alphabetical. The ordering of the Trimeters is also not open to recovery on the present state of our knowledge, but a glance at P.Oxy. XXII 2311 fr. 1 (fr. 48 W.) will show that its only surviving column was probably the first of the book. The first verse of the Tetrameters is known from several metricians (fr. 88 W.), but it is hard to assess the book’s overarching structure; nonetheless, ancient editorial practice suggests that the piece in asynartetes that, on the testimony of Hephaestion and Athenaeus, was included in the Tetrameters (frr. 168–171 W.) was placed at the end of the book.
More can be said, however speculatively, of the Epodes. Lasserre (1950) attempted a detailed reconstruction of their internal order, but his results are invalidated by flawed assumptions on the citation practice of ancient metricians and on the relationship between Archilochus’ Epodes and Horace’s, as shown by Carrubba (1965). Still, Hephaestion assures us that fr. 172 W. was the beginning of the first Epode (a fact confirmed by several other metricians) and strongly suggests that fr. 182 W. opened the first poem to have been in a different metre from the first (that it was the second poem altogether is not certain). P.Köln II 58 shows that the two poems represented by frr. 196–196a and 188–192 W. were consecutive, in this order. Most recently, the re-edition of BKT X 11 by Ucciardello (2012) showed that, contrary to the opinion of its first editor Schubart (1950), it preserves not hexameters, but epodes where hexameters alternate with shorter verses—and that the papyrus probably belonged to Archilochus’ Epodes and stood at the very end of the book.
If all these data are true, then it can be argued that the ordering of the Epodes had a metrical rationale. The book began with one or more poems composed entirely in iambics, then moved on to epodic structures that combined an iambic first verse with a dactylic shorter one; at the junction preserved by the Cologne papyrus, there was a switch from dactylic elements in the second verse only to dactylic elements in the first verse only; and lastly, if Ucciardello’s identification of the Berlin papyrus is correct, at least one poem composed entirely of dactyls. This suggests that, by structuring the book according to a hierarchy from most iambic to least iambic (much as in Callimachus’ Iambs), the anonymous editor wished to stress the primary importance of iambos in the Epodes, just as in Archilochus’ works more broadly.
Materiality of Writing