CLAS 160/CPLT 244 Notes as of 11/1/95

To Notes as of October 2, 1995

XII. And now we need know to a little history, but you will find that we

just can't rid of Homer:

A. In the year 338, Philip II of Macedonia defeated the combined

armies of Athens and Thebes at the battle of Chaeronea.

1. About the only thing the Greek states ever had been able to

agree upon was Homer and the Panhellenic Games

2. SOME of them had barely stayed cohesive enough to win the

great war against the Persian invasion of 480.

3. The major allies of THAT war, Sparta and Athens, proceeded

to eviscerate each other in an exciting exercise called the

Peloponnesian War, 431-404 while the Persians thoughtfully

poured on Kerosene whenever the flames looked likely to go


4. Contrary to what many would have you believe (And don't

blame Thucydides) the fun didn't stop there.

5. Sparta tried to rule Greece with Persian support, which got

everybody angry enough to rally around Thebes, which put

Sparta down in the great battle of Leucta.

6. With Sparta gone, the various cities of the Peloponnese

proceded to turn each other into chutney at regular intervals.

7. Thebes tried to conquer Phocis, and the Phocians proceeded to

grab Delphi and use the riches there to hire mercenaries in the

340's in a horror called the 2nd Sacred War.

8. So all Greek aspirations, culture, and thought boiled down to

the Macedonians ending up with the pie--except that...

B. Philip's family had always valued Greek culture

1. Philip's grandfather Archelaus had taken in the great

Athenian tragic playwright Eurpides (died c. 406)

2. Philip's family went so far as to claim descent from Achilles, as

one of Philip's precocious heir Alexander's tutors hammered

home by calling Alexander "Achilles" and he himself


3. Alexander's last and most famous tutor was Aristotle, who took

charge of him was he was 13 in 343. Would it terribly surprise

you to know that Alexander considered his most valuable

possession a copy of the Iliad that Aristotle had worked over

for him?

4. Philip was assassinated under mysterious circumstances and

Alexander proceeded to show that he was a better man than

ever his father was...

C. How do you write about superheroes when somebody's made

Achilles look sick?

1. Just to give you an idea of how great was Homer's influence on

Alexander, when Alexander launched his great campaign

against the Persians, he

a) Arrived at Troy, got off the boat, and sacrificed to


b) Then went with his best bud Hephaestion to sacrifice to the

tombs of Achilles and Patroclus

c) And THEN sacrficed to Priam by way of apoligizing for his

ancestor Pyrrhus/Neoptolemus having done him in.

2. Alexander proceeded after that, with periodic single combats,

sulks in his tent, and terrible angers, to conquer the Persian

Empire and a good chunk of Afghanistan and India in the

years between 336 and his death in 323. Oh, and when

Hephaestion died in 324, Alexander exterminated the entire

tribe of the Sacae as, he said, a funeral sacrifice to

Hephaestion, for whom he conducted the Mother of All


3. Unfortunately, the one way Alexander had NOT emulated

Achilles was in forgetting to leave an heir of an age to KEEP all

Alexander had conquered for him: Alexander IV d. c. 310 and

the empire hopelessly fragmented.

XIII. And NOW we get into the world that created Apollonius of Rhodes

and the Argonautica: The Hellenistic Age, 323-31 (politically, at


A. Alexander's generals killed each other and large numbers of

other people off in what we call the Wars of the Diadochi in

between 322 (death of Perdiccas) and 281 (Corupedion).

B. The old Greek city states banded together into leagues that

spent most of their time voting as a group to which of the

general-kings they were going to toady.

C. Admittedly, the city-state of Rhodes had sent one of the most

dangerous of these men packing in 305, with a dangerous

combination of strong walls, the finest navy the world had

(has?) ever seen, and a shocking willingness to die in order to

remain free. Tyrranies have a hard time coping with that sort

of thing.

D. The Gauls had the bad luck to invade around 281, when the

assorted general kings paused from trying to kill each other to

turn the troops and war machines on them. That was

something of a vindication of Greek culture and science, as

they saw it. It certainly didn't lead to another dark age, as it

might have and would.

XIV. End as of 10/27/95

A. After a great deal of bloodshed and waste, the Eastern

Mediterranean basically divided itself into thirds:

1. The original kingdom of Macedonia, under Demetrius's

descendants, that spent its time trying to get back into Greece,

fighting the Ptolemies over the Aegean islands, and quarreling

with the Seluecids over Asia.

2. The Seleucids were in charge of the central section of

Alexander's empire, as far as Indian, and spent two centuries

watching pieces of it break off while they fought with the

Ptolemies over lower Syria and tried to keep Pergamon down

and the Antigonids out.

3. And then there's Egypt and the Ptolemies:

a) Ptolemy I, Alexander's cavalry commander, had beaten it to

Egypt early (in 323) and was able to hold it since he only

had to defend the Sinai frontier and make sure he had a

powerful fleet.

b) Demetrius scared the hell out of him (and hence, his support

of Rhodes), and, as I mentioned, he'd founded the Museum

at his capital of Alexandria as a weapons laboratory.

c) He took his powerful fleet and tried to fight his way back

into Greece and the Aegean Islands

d) Another thing he did was to hire a Rhodian named

Timosthenes to make a detailed survey of the Mediterranean

coast, and outside through Gibraltar and up the Atlantic

coast. Timosthenes voyage and the account of his voyage

were as well known as they were useful to Ptolemy's fleet

and diplomats

4. One damn useful weapon in this period was propaganda. All

of the rulers of the three super-powers (and Pergamon) spent a

great deal of time trying to appear more Greek than the others,

and so Ptolemy and his heirs did not object to the philology

soon taking place at his weapons laboratory. In fact, Ptolemy

became one of the most famous book grabbers who ever lived...

5. Now, one of the people who ended up running his library was a

fellow named Callimachus

a) Born in Cyrene, migrated to Alexandria, where he wrote an

annotated catalogue (the pinakes) that still lets us know

how much we've lost.

b) Became enamored of a style of poetry we call pastoral or

idyllic, which emphasizes the beauty and intricacy of nature,

character, and plot, every word carefully chosen, scenes and

emotions carefully and fully described.

c) Would it surprise you to learn that a fellow named

Apollonius was one of his prize students? Keep that in

mind when you're reading the Argonautica.

d) Now, possibly because Callimachus' own longer poems, the

Aetia and the Hecale did not do well, Callimachus came to

believe, and to convince others, that a short and intricately

crafted poem was superior to a long poem, such as Homer's


(1) Do you suppose this was because Homer had left no room

for a rival?

(2) How is someone going to be the best at what he does if

somebody else has done it so well previously?

e) Callimachus could describe a beautiful scene in beautiful and

intricate words, and he also had a real genius for epigram.

6. Apollonius, however, still thought that Homer could be rivaled.

a) He has started work on the Argonautica early, but it had not

been well received.

b) Legends after the fact also say that he was promoted higher

in the Library than Callimachus was--and I can tell you from

experience that libraries can be pretty tense places!

c) It led to open warfare, and "experience and guile defeated

youth and inexperience," as the saying went--Callimachus

won. One of his shots survives: <1MEGA BIBLI/ON,


d) An assortment of hymns to Ptolemy II and his sister/wife

Arsinoe (the Philadelphia story!!) seems to suggest that

Callimachus had influence at court and so...

e) Apollonius lost so badly that he had to get out of town!

XV. End as of 10/30/95

1. Now, Rhodes (as I know better than anyone else) was at almost

exactly that time both culturally and physically at daggers

drawn with Alexandria. Signs of the war with Rhodes:

a) Callimachus's hymn saying that Ptolemy II (283-246) would

rule "the sea and the lands that are on the sea" was the

equivalent of a red light to Rhodes.

b) Ptolemy II constructed and controlled the most powerful

fleet ever to sail the ancient Mediterranean, and conquered a

great deal of the Asian coast and many of the Aegean


c) War of Ephesus, 240's--Rhodes strikes back, and wins!

d) Claim that Ptolemy II's Rhodian physician had tried to

poison him, spies, hostility. Apollonius had a place to go!

e) At that very time, because of their hostility, Rhodes was

reopening new trade routes into the Pontus/Euxine sea, in

order to have an alternate source of grain than Ptolemy II's


f) Alexander hadn't done a lot up there--still strange territory,

which gives an author room to work.

g) Timosthenes the Rhodian had just made an epoch-making


h) Tyrant kings--large rivers--people fleeing--Ta Da!

2. Signs of the war with Callimachus

a) Four long books instead of eight shorter ones

b) Integration of the idyllic/bucolic elements of Callimachus's

style of poetry into the Argonautica--Read some of the

other stuff for samples.

(1) Description of the coast and voyage in Bk I.

(2) Medea in Bk III.

(3) Incredible range of the Argo's voyage

c) King bids sailor go: Timosthenes again

Evil king in strange land full of sorcery: Aeetes/Ptolemy, Colchis/Egypt