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Nicarchus AP 11.328 and Homeric Interpretation

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image of Mnemosyne

In this paper I argue that Nicarchus AP 11.328 is not merely a parody of the tripartite division of the cosmos recounted at Iliad 15.189-93. This epigram also exploits ancient lexicographical research (i.e. the precise meaning of the adjective ερεις) as well as scholarly discussions on Homeric interpretation (i.e. the allegorical reading of Il. 15.189-93 as a reference to the four elements; the meaning of πντα at Il. 15.189; and the issue of Olympus’ relation to earth and sky). The result is a scoptic epigram that cleverly parodies both Homer and certain interpretive strategies of ancient ‘Homeric Professors’. Finally, this study inscribes AP 11.328 in the wider category of epigrams against grammarians, and shows that Nicarchus uses a parodic technique similar to that recently pointed out in some neglected specimens of Homeric parody, such as the Batrachomyomachia or Crates SH 351.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Classics, Franklin and Marshall College P.O. Box 3003, Lancaster, PA, 17604-3003 USA, Email:


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