Five Studies in Theocritus’ Narrating Techniques
Chapter 3. Herakles the Sympotic Argonaut: Allusion, Emulation, and Narrative Innovation in Idyll 13
| 113 →
· 3 ·
HERAKLES THE SYMPOTIC ARGONAUT
Allusion, Emulation, and Narrative Innovation in Idyll 13
Within Idylls 6 and 11 Theocritus does not forge an entirely distinct “fictional world” for his Sicilian herdsman Polyphemos,1 but the poet’s bucolic locus and its pre-epic Polyphemos does openly contest the scope of the Homeric vista by envisioning a larger world than Odyssey 9 articulates. There is more to Polyphemos than the epic tradition had suggested. In these Idylls Theocritus embellishes the Homeric narrative by furnishing a “prequel” with a pronounced erotic plot and a powerful iterative quality. Idyll 6 promises potentially limitless recurring encounters of Daphnis and Damoitas reenacting Polyphemos and Galatea’s flirtations. Idyll 11 implies that the Kyklops will perpetually sing by the shores to cure his love. Both Idylls thereby dilate the Kyklops’ narrative life to the point where linear temporal progression nearly grinds to a halt.
However, the allusive and intertextual complex of both poems speeds Polyphemos on his way to his date with Odysseus even as Theocritus strategically appropriates Homer’s voice to reinterpret the Homeric terminus of the Idylls’ narrative trajectories. Idylls 6 and 11 contest Homer’s narrative ← 113 | 114 → hegemony, but Homer’s narrative stability proves indispensable for composing an alternative Polyphemos, the Sicilian compatriot and fellow victim of Eros. The Kyklops is a singular epic figure who is precisely located within a specific literary topos, and Theocritus relentlessly invokes that Homeric figure and setting in order for the...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.