The study of Hellenistic literature continues to thrive. Some of the less well known authors are now getting deserved attention, as shown by the recent edition and translation of Philetas, Alexander of Aetolia, Hermesianiax, Euphorion and Parthenius in the Loeb series (Hellenistic Collection, ed. J.L. Lightfoot, 2009). The fascinatingly obscure works of Euphorion have also been given a French translation in Euphorion, Œuvre poétique et autres Fragments, by B. Acosta-Hughes and C. Cusset (2012). But it is the big authors who continue to profit most, and the past few years have seen editions of the Aetia by G.-B. D’Alessio, G. Massimilla, Y. Durbec, A. Harder, and S. Stephens (in her revolutionary on-line version which is available at http://dcc.dickinson.edu/callimachus-aetia/callimachus). We also have the fourth book of Apollonius’ Argonautica by R. Hunter (2015), to follow up on his ground-breaking edition of the third book (1989), M. Giuseppetti’s L’isola esile. Studi sull’Inno a Delo di Callimaco (2013), M. Heerink’s Echoing Hylas. A study in Hellenistic and Roman metapoetics (2015), a general study entitled The Poets of Alexandria by S. Stephens (2018), and so much more. And all the while, A. Harder’s splendid Groningen workshops (the fourteenth will take place in 2019) have been leading to the regular publication of collections of essays on both indivudal authors (Callimachus, Apollonius Rhodius) and on topics raging from religion to genre, science, and politics. The second Groningen workshop was devoted to Theocritus, and the year of its publication, 1996, now looks like a watershed in the study of this poet, because that same year also saw the appearance of R. Hunter’s superb Theocritus and the Archaeology of Greek poetry. Hunter’s 1999 commentary in the Cambridge ‘green & yellow’ series on a selection of texts also sets a very high standard for the interpretation of this poet. Two decades on, we now have Présence de Théocrite, in the admirable Présence de… series, in which recent years have seen, for example, the publication of Présence du roman grec et latin (2011), Présence de Suétone (2009), Présence de Lucrèce (1999), Présence d’Horace (1988). Theocritus gets a mighty volume of 626 pages, and given the variety and scope of the papers assembled here it seems useful to provide a complete list of all the titles, which are divided into seven sections, as follows :
1-Tonalités modales de la voix poétique
M. Briand, L’éloge (et le blâme) chez Théocrite : effet – recueil, effet – discours, trans-généricité. C. Kossaifi, La houlette de Mnémosyne. Écouter et transmettre le chant dans les Idylles bucoliques de Théocrite. V. Pace, Singing women in Theocritus : magic, genre and gender in Idylls 2 and 15. F. Daspet, Les lieux de chant dans les Idylles pastorales de Théocrite. H. Richer, La IVe idylle de Théocrite est-elle une “idylle sur rien” ? A. Blanchard, Le mystère de l’Idylle IX de Théocrite. M. Borea, L’architecture rythmique des idylles éoliennes de Théocrite (Id. XXVIII-XXX) : une double lecture.
2-Images, contexte et trivialisation
M. Papadopoulou, Poems from the world of wool : Dress and identity in Theocritus’ Idylls. L. de Lesdain, Le quotidien héroïque d’Héraclès (Théocrite, Idylle XXIV, 1-10). E. Prioux, L’enargeia chez Théocrite : du modèle homérique à la réception des Idylles.
C. Cusset, Les voix féminines dans les Idylles de Théocrite : une question de genre ? F. P. Manakidou, Femmes et politique : les mères chez Théocrite. A. Fountoulakis, Rethinking Gender Roles and Generic Identities : Sexual Jealousy in Theocritus, Id. 14 and Lucian, Dial. Meretr. 15 and 8. M. G. González Galván, Confidencias de amor y violencia (Teócrito, Id. XIV).
4-Autour de quelques discours amoureux
A. Köhnken†, Lover’s grief and lover’s complaint : Non-bucolic poems in Theocritus. J. Pilipović, Phármakon des Piérides. Vers l’érotologie de l’Idylle 11. M. Fantuzzi, Theocritus’ shepherdly Eros. F. Cairns, Battus and Corydon in Theocritus Idyll 4.
5-Théocrite et ses devanciers
A. Billault, Les Idylles de Théocrite et le Phèdre de Platon. A. Testut-Prouha, L’Idylle I, une réécriture philosophique du Phèdre ? B. Daniel-Muller, Les Argonautiques d’Apollonios de Rhodes : un hypotexte méconnu de l’Idylle II de Théocrite ?
6-Les poètes augustéens et Théocrite
A. Kolde, Le bétail bucolique, de Théocrite à Virgile. A. Remillard, Virgil Ecl. 6 and the Greek Bucolic Tradition. F. Collin, L’Arcadie de Théocrite et de Virgile. H. Vial et C. Kossaifi, De Théocrite à Virgile. Permanence et transformations dans un passage des Métamorphoses (XIII, 738-898). F. Klein, “Les plus lentes des déesses” ? L’Idylle 15, l’enfance d’Adonis et une (re)lecture ovidienne de Théocrite.
7-Postérité de Théocrite au-delà de l’Antiquité
D. Driscoll, Parting with pastoral : Theocritus in literary imperial symposia. J. Bastick, Présences de Théocrite dans le roman de Nicétas Eugénianos, ou l’esquisse d’un renouveau bucolique à Byzance. C. Longobardi, Présence (et absence) de Théocrite dans les commentateurs latins tardifs. C. Chauvin, Un écho de Théocrite. La renaissance de la poésie pastorale dans les églogues de Dante, Pétrarque et Boccace. T. Ragno, The sorceress’ song. Theocritus’ text on the operatic stage: the case of Antonio Cipollini’s Simeta (1889). R. Poignault, Marguerite Yourcenar et Théocrite.
Summaries in both French and English of all the papers are provided at the end of the book. Overall, the collection provides a faithful picture of the current state of Theocritean studies. Most of the topics one would expect to find coming up are indeed discussed here, either in detail or in passing : sources, models and intertextuality, the nature of the original collection, bucolic and non-bucolic poems, gender, reception, and so on ; and we also get studies of individuals poems. Certainly, one of the volume’s stated ambitions, to fill a gap in the study of Theocritus in France, is well filled. The contributors include an attractive collection of big names in Theocritean studies (e.g. Blanchard, Cairns, Fantuzzi, Cusset, Köhnken, whose death in August 2017 is duly noted in the introduction), younger scholars, and doctoral students. Readers will be able to appreciate obvious virtues, especially the wide range of topics discussed with useful bibliographical coverage and the clear sense of the originality and brilliance of this poet and of his extraordinary influence on later literature. There are a few slips and gaps along the way. The J.P. Eider cited in A. Remillard’s interesting paper is in fact J.P. Elder ; she should perhaps also have consulted the intriguing paper by J.J. Clauss, ‘Vergil’s Sixth Eclogue: The Aetia in Rome’, in M.A. Harder et alii (edd.), Callimachus, (Groningen 2004) pp. 71-93. F. Collin should have cited R. Jenkyns, ‘Virgil and Arcadia’, Journal of Roman Studies 79 (1989) 26-39 and perhaps also the introduction to P. Gagliardi, Commento alla decima ecloga di Virgilio, (Hildesheim 2014). All those who write about Vergil here seem to fail to mention S. Posch, Beobachtungen zur Theokritnachwirkung bei Vergil, (Innsbruck 1969). On Daphnis as discussed by C. Kossaifi see W. Scholl, Der Daphnis-Mythos und seine Entwicklung von den Anfängen bis zu Vergils vierter Ekloge, (Hildesheim 2014). B. Daniel-Muller should have given more attention to the problem of relative chronology when discussing complex links between Apollonius and Theocritus ; on the dating of Apollonius see the important paper by J. Murray, ‘Anchored in Time: The Date in Apollonius’ Argonautica’, in A. Harder et alii (edd.), Hellenistic Poetry in Context, (Louvain 2014) 247-284. As for the gaps, the introduction consists mainly of a summary of the papers and does not attempt any kind of synthesis. Nor is there an index of any kind – even simply an index of all passages of Theocritus discussed would have been an extremely useful addition to the volume. It would have been good to have had more on the history of bucolic poetry between Theocritus and Vergil and also on the influence of Theocritus on other Latin poets. Politics and historicizing approaches also get relatively little space. But when one has been offered a lot, it is impolite to complain. The colloquium that took place on 14-17 October 2015 in Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand must have been a highly enjoyable occasion for all involved, and the volume rising from it is a worthy addition to the very useful series in which it appears. It is one all scholars working in the field of Hellenistic poetry as a whole will want to dip into. It is also a book that all those working on Latin bucolic poetry will have to consult.
Damien P. Nelis, Université de Genève
Publié en ligne le 11 juillet 2019