Toward a commented edition of Eumelus

Similar to other fellows, in my first post I am presenting my main research project.

In the course of nearly a decade, the interest in and knowledge about the epic material attributed to Eumelus of Corinth has grown remarkably. On this area, I myself have endeavored to contribute via a series of studies beginning in 2003 to the present, including the monograph L’epica perduta. Eumelo, il Ciclo, l’occidente (Rome, «L’Erma» di Bretschneider, 2004).

Now I feel the time is ripe to draft an edition that assembles the testimonia and fragments of Eumelus with a detailed introduction and commentary. The task is fairly compelling considering the absence of such a comprehensive resource in the current literature of studies on Greek epics.

The commented edition I propose will consider the latest exegetical essays and some conjectural accounts of attribution (mostly mine) that considerably enrich the material collected in the modern editions (without commentary) of Bernabé, Davies, and West.

Among the testimonia and ‘novel’ fragments that I plan to include, at least as dubia, I am highlighting the following:

  • certain aspects of Pausanias’ description (5.17.5 – 5.19.10) of the chest of Cypselos, scenes of which, whether bearing metric inscriptions or not, could have been inspired by the works of Eumelus (cf. Paus. 5.19.10);
  • POxy 2509 and Apollod. 3.4.4 (exameters concerning the dogs and tearing apart of Actaeon);
  • POxy 2513 (exameters associated with Iphigenia);
  • POxy 3698 (exameters of Argonautic subject);
  • I will also include the fragments of the Cyclic Titanomachy whose ascription to Eumelus rather than to Arctinus seems to me highly plausible and coheres with other surviving fragments of his production.

In the commentary, I aim to present an overall perspective that captures the organic structure and interconnections between the ‘rhapsodies’ and related fragments credited to Eumelus whose works demonstrate a distinct internal consistency.

I will also inter-relate the Titanomachy, the Corinthiaca, the Europia, and the Prosodion for the Messenians, and provide a context and explain the enigmatic titles of works (most likely sections) such as The Return of the Greeks and Bougonia.

Special care will be given to the historical contextualization of a poetic production developed in Corinth during the Archaic age, which while mostly conforming to the interests of the Bacchiads, is able to reflect the cultural, religious, and political links to several regions both nearby and in the periphery of the Greek World. The geographical aspects, connected to the mythographical ones, will merit a specific analysis by virtue of some chronological implications that strongly support a high chronology of Eumelus’ work.

Constant attention will be paid to the inter-textual relationships and especially to the links between the production of Eumelus and the poetic productions (epic in particular) that came before and after. In this way, I intend to illustrate the substantial contacts with the Hesiodic corpus, the Boeotian epic, and other ‘minor’ archaic epic poems as well as with the Homeric tradition. Echoes, both direct and indirect, and imitations of Eumelus’ work will be recorded and elucidated especially in the following literature:

  • archaic lyric poetry: noteworthy are the cases of Simonides and Pindar;
  • Hellenistic poetry: Apollonius Rhodius as well as Callimachus and Euphorion;
  • scholiastic literature;
  • even the late antique poetry of Nonnus of Panopolis.

Research in such a conducive environment as the CHS definitely represents a great opportunity for me to organize the preliminary material to the planned edition of Eumelus and to draft what one may call the ‘Prolegomena’ and ‘Paralegomena’. This is currently taking the form of either one or more articles. In the course of time I would like to compose a monograph where new essays are combined with publications I made over time on this fascinating subject.

Finally I would like to take advantage of this post to thank everyone in the CHS for their welcoming support and assistance in getting me happily settled. I also had the opportunity to work profitably on a parallel project concerning the epic Alcmeonis, which has much to do with Eumelus. But this is another story that I hope to tell another time.