Ambuhl_children as Poets

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    Children as Poets: Poets as Children? Romantic Constructions of Childhood and HellenisticPoetryAuthor(s): Annemarie AmbhlReviewed work(s):Source: Hesperia Supplements, Vol. 41, Constructions of Childhood in Ancient Greece andItaly (2007), pp. 373-383Published by: The American School of Classical Studies at AthensStable URL: .

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    CHAPTER 20

    Children as Poets?Poetsas Children? RomanticConstructions of Childhoodand Hellenistic Poetryby nnemarieAmb?hlHELLENISTIC AND ROMANTIC "INVENTIONSOF CHILDHOOD"Which was the historical moment when the idea of "childhood" was born?1The French cultural historian Philippe Aries claims that themodern concept of childhood as a separate stage of lifewas invented by thebourgeoisiein the 17th century.2 ther theories attribute the "discovery of childhood"to the age of Rousseau and Herder and toRomantic poetry. Interestinglyenough, an analogous development has also been postulated for ancientGreek culture.The Hellenistic age is said tohave discovered childhood asa subject in itsown right, in contrast to the literature and fine arts of earlierperiods,which onlymentioned children inpassing and did not significantlydifferentiate the visual representation of children from that of adults. According to thiswidespread view,which has been revised to some extent byrecent research,Hellenistic poetry and artwere able to represent childrenin a lifelike, "realistic" fashion for the first time inGreek history.3The series of "inventions of childhood" distributed over a long stretchof time indicates that these notions of childhood are not to be confusedwith the authentic experience of childhood by real children in any givenhistorical circumstance. On the contrary, all reconstructions of childhood,

    1.1 would like to thank the organizers and the audience of the symposium"Constructions of Childhood in theAncient World" atDartmouth Collegefor their valuable comments, especiallyFroma Zeitlin and Jean Sorabella. AdaCohen kindlyprovidedthepassagesfrom chiller intheEnglish translation. Aleida Assmann (Konstanz), withwhom I discussed a previous versionof thismaterial, helped me conceivea clearer picture of the differencesbetween Hellenistic and Romanticnotions of childhood.

    2. Aries 1960,1962. Aries's pioneer

    ing thesis has been modified considerably by subsequent research (seeCunningham 1998).3. See, e.g., Herter 1927,1993. Forthe evolutionary model applied to therepresentation of children in successiveperiods of Greek literature and art, seeZahn 1970;R?hfel 1984a; see also Sier2002; Bergemann 2002. A comprehensive, detailed, and stimulating surveyof the development of the imagery ofchildren inGreek art from Aegean prehistory to theHellenistic period is nowoffered by the catalogue accompanyingthe exhibition at the Hood Museum

    ofArt (Neils andOakley 2003); seeespecially the essay by Beaumont 2003,which traces the naturalistic

    depictionof various stages of childhood back tothe Classical period. The methodological problemof identifyinghange andcontinuity in the Hellenistic attitudetoward children as compared to thatof earlier periods is addressed in aseries fpublicationsbyGolden (1990,pp. 171-173,1992,1997); for theproblems inherent inmodern reconstructions of Greek childhood, see alsoDickmann 2001.

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    including scholars' reconstructions of childhood in past societies, are inevitably influenced by cultural presuppositions. Childhood in this senseturns out tobe a retrospective construction by adults who project theirownfeelings and values onto their images of children and childhood.In this chapter I approach the concept of childhood from a historicalperspective by exploring some of theways inwhich thehistory of ideas andthe history of scholarship have shaped modern assessments of childhoodin antiquity ingeneral, and the interpretation of childhood's role inHellenistic poetry inparticular.My special focus ison the connection betweenchildhood and poetics, which can be traced back to thepoetry and literarycriticism of the Romantic period. The interest in the motif of the child,allegedly shared by the Hellenistic and Romantic ages, has often servedto bridge the gulf that separates these two historically unrelated epochs.Their enthusiasm for children isbelieved to reflect their common interestin the simple life, sparked by nostalgia for theGolden Age and lost childhood.My aim is to question these apparently self-evident correspondencesbetween theHellenistic and Romantic periods from a critical perspectiveand to reexamine the application of a romantically conditioned "poetics ofchildhood" to the interpretation ofHellenistic poetry in the lightof selectpassages from Callimachus.

    CALLIMACHUS'S "POETICS OF CHILDHOOD"AND ITS ROMANTIC ORIGINSMy startingpoint isBruno SnelFs influential essay "?ber das Spielerischebei Kallimachos" (Art and Play inCallimachus), firstpublished in 1946 aspart ofhis book Die Entdeckung des Geistes (The Discovery of theMind). InSnell's essay, children and childhood serve as pervasive metaphors forCallimachean poetics. In proof of his theory, nell interpretsthe etymologicalfyrelated terms "child" {naiq) and "play" (7caiCeiv, 7tociyviov) hat appear inCalrimachus's works as self-descriptions of his poetry.4The playfulmoodexhibited inCalrimachus's poems is said to correspond to the character ofthe Callimachean narrator,who likes to pose as a naive child.5 This general description of Calrimachus's childlike spirit is then transferred to hisportrayal of the goddess Artemis as a child in theHymn to rtemis.

    Because Callimachus isgenuinely filled with the spiritof childhood,hewas the first among Greek poets to be able to picture the behaviour of children in true colours, though, of course,with an admixture of ironywhich guarded him from losing himself entirely to theworld of the child.... But theway inwhich Callimachus looks atthe littleArtemis has something grandfatherly about it;yet he isnot sentimental about her, he does not dispense with the superiorperspective of the grown-up: he does not become an artificial childhimself.6

    The combination of childlike playfulnesswith reflective irony, hich Snellidentifies as hallmarks of Callimachean style,culminates in the seeminglyparadoxical formula ofCallimachus's "new, knowing naivete" ("eine neuewissende Kindlichkeit"):

    4. Snell 1982a,p. 271 (= Snell 1948,p. 259): "He himselfcalls his poetry"childishplay" {paizeinandpaignion).He constructed his slender works "likea child" {pais hate), as theTelchines sayof him intheprologue to the itia (line6)." For the context of the quotation,see pp. 379-380.5. Snell 1982a,p. 271 (= Snell 1948,pp. 258-259): "He often stresses theplayful nature of his poetry by castinghimself in the role of the ing?nu_Ancient myths whose truth he findshard to credit, and stories invented byhimself, he tells with a semblance ofchildish seriousness. This is one of the

    most peculiar forms of his wit."6. Snell 1982a,pp. 271-272 (= Snell1948,p. 259).

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    CHILDHOOD AND HELLENISTIC POETRY 375But just as in his portrayal of children Callimachus never forgetshimself to the point of affecting a false infantility, o also in all otherrespects he never abandons his ironyand his superiorwit.Withoutsetting up theories or programmes, he stands for a new, a knowingnaivete; his playfulness stems from the strength of his intellect; it isthe genial spirit of one who surveys a lost treasure from the heightsof his scepticism rather thanweeping sentimental tears.7Snell's concept ofCallimachus's childlike poetics has exerted a lastinginfluence on Callimachean scholarship.However, just asmodern discourseon childhood isgenerally influenced by ideas originating at the end of the18th and thebeginning of the 19th centuries, Snell's interpretation is alsobased on a tradition of thought deriving from aesthetic theories of thesame period. After all, Snell introduces his essaywith a reference to two

    contrasting "turningpoints" in thehistory of literature:on theone hand, theintroduction of a new, learned, and playful styleofpoetryby theAlexandrianpoets in the earlyHellenistic age; on the other hand, the replacement ofmannerist rococo poetry by the era of Sturm undDrang (Storm and Stress)and the accompanying idea of theOriginalgenie (original genius) around1770, which he illustrates by quoting a passage from the young Goethe's"Wandrers Sturmlied" ("Wanderer's Storm Song"). In this context, healsomentions the Romantics' longing "for the age of childhood" and theiryearning "fora return to the simple and artless forms of life."8 Snell doesnot draw explicit parallels between Hellenistic andRomantic poetry in thisrespect. Nevertheless, his essay seems to have received seminal impulsesfrom the poetics ofRomanticism and the immediately preceding period.For instance, Snell's reference to theHellenistic poets' fascinationwith "the simple life" and their return "to the earliest speech ofman, topoetry," unmistakably relates toHerder's "Abhandlung ?ber denUrsprungder Sprache" ("Essay on theOrigin of Language" [1772]).9 Herder sawan analogy between ontogeny?the childhood of individual human beings?and phylogeny?the childhood ofmankind?and therefore associated the language of childrenwith the original natural language made upof a collection of elements ofpoetry.This ideawas subsequently developedinto the Romantic concept of the child as a natural poet.10For early Romantic poetics, Schiller's treatise "?ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung" ("On the Naive and Sentimental inLiterature"[1795]) also played a crucial role. In Schiller's argument, childhood istransformed from a biological fact into a philosophical concept as defined

    7. Snell 1982a,p. 276 (= Snell 1948,p. 263).8. Snell 1982a,p. 280: "Theromantics may have longed for the ageof childhood, they may have yearnedfor a return to the simple and artlessforms of life; at the same time, however,Greek culture was, in some shape orother, their ultimate goal. In the courseof the nineteenth century we often finda violent rejection of all things classical,and here we may detect the echoes of

    certain Storm and Stress ideas regardingthe primitive genius." In my view, thecontrast between the "age of childhood" and "Greek culture" implied inthe English translation is not found intheGerman text(Snell 1948,p. 267),which, on the contrary, appears to correlate the two objects of desire.9. Snell 1982a,p. 276 (= Snell 1948,p. 263): "The philosophershad triedto control the world and life by meansof a rational system; the new writers

    re-discover the great appeal of non.reflective simplicity, and so they turnto the earliest speech ofman, to poetry.The cultured men from the big citiesare fascinated by primitive customs, byunspoiled manners, by the simple life."10. For the topos of the poet as achilddeveloped inthe18thcenturyyVico, Hamann, and Herder, see Schaub1973, pp. 1-26. See also nn. 20 and 21below.

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    376 ANNEMARIE AMB?HLboth retrospectively and prospectively and thuspointing in two directions:on the one hand, itrepresents a longed forbut forever lost natural state; onthe other hand, it is a futuregoal that is characterized as the poetic ideal.For modern man, however, a returnto thenaivete of childhood isattainableonly on a secondary level byway of culture and reflection.

    There aremoments in our lifewhen we accord to nature inplants,minerals, animals, landscapes, aswell as to human nature in children, in the customs of country people and of the primitiveworld,a sort of love and touching respect, not because itpleases our sensesnor because it satisfies our intellect or taste (the opposite of bothcan often be the case) butmerely because it isnature.... They arewhat we were; they arewhat we shouldbecome again.We werenatural like them and our culture should lead us back to naturealong the path of reason and freedom. They are, therefore, at thesame time a representation of our lost childhood, which remainseternallymost precious to us and thus theyfill uswith a certainsadness. At the same time they are representations of our highest perfection in the ideal, so that they transport us into a state ofelevated emotion.11The fundamental difference between nature and culture corresponds totwogenres ofpoetry: thenaive and the sentimental. In thisdichotomy, the

    concept of naive poetry is associated with childhood, the original genius,and the ancient Greeks. However, whereas the distinction between genuinelynaive and secondary, sentimental poetry primarily serves to set up aboundary between antiquity and themodern age, the twomodes ofpoetryare not

    exclusivelylinked with the two

    respective ages, especiallysince the

    sentiment of the naive?strictly speaking?presupposes consciousness ofthe loss of spontaneous naivete.12Accordingly, the succession of naive andsentimental poetry can be projected back into thehistory ofGreek literature:Euripides as a "sentimental" poet trying to retrieve the naive is set againstAeschylus, who is considered a truly "naive" poet.13 It is no coincidencethatmodern scholarship oftenviews Euripides as a precursor toHellenisticpoetry, especially with regard to his depiction of children.The debt of Snell's essay to literary theories dating to the end of the18th century and the beginning of the 19th century can now be assessedmore precisely. Snell's attribution of a "new, knowing naivete" to Callimachus has its conceptual background in Schiller's "naivete in the seconddegree," which characterizes the poet of sentimental poetry and which is

    11. Schiller1981,pp. 21-22(= Schiller1962,pp. 413-414). Theemphasis ismine.12. Schiller1981,p. 24 (= Schiller1962,p. 419): "The naive isa childlikequality where it is no longer expected andcannot therefore be attributed in thestrictest sense to real childhood." Theemphasis ismine. For the equivocationsand

    paradoxesinherent in Schiller's

    terminology, see Szondi 1972.13. Schiller 1981,pp. 34-35(= Schiller1962,p. 432): "But theexperience of the naive and the interestin it is naturally much older and datesalready from the beginning of moraland aesthetic corruption. This changein the kind of emotion is, for example,already very striking inEuripides whenyou compare him with his predeces

    sors, especially with Aeschylus, andyet the former poet was the darlingof his time." ee also Schiller1981,p. 97,n. 17 (= Schiller1962,p. 438 n.):"In modern, even in themost recentperiods, we have naive works too in allclasses, even ifno longer of a completely pure type; and among the oldLatin poets, even among the Greeks,there is no dearth of sentimental poets."

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    CHILDHOOD AND HELLENISTIC POETRY 377not to be confused with banal sentimentality. Like the sentimental poet,Callimachus tries to capture the "appeal of non-reflective simplicity" bymeans of a secondary, reflective "childlikeness" ("Kindlichkeit").14WithSnell's interpretation taken literally, allimachus seems tohave anticipatedSchiller's philosophical program of

    a return to childhoodbyway

    of reflection. In fact, the direction of influence rather runs the otherway: Schiller'scategories are thrown back onto Callimachus's poetry.In conclusion, the close parallels between Schiller's and Snell's conceptsof childhood, as indicated by their respective texts, strongly suggest thatSnell's essay should be interpreted in the light of the Romantic traditiontowhich it still adheres unquestioningly.

    THE ASSOCIATION OF HELLENISTIC WITHROMANTIC POETRY AND THE CONCEPT OFTHE CHILD AS POETIn a general sense, Schiller's treatiseplayed an influential role in thehistoryof literarycriticismwell into the first decades of the 20th century.15 n accordance with the succession of naive and sentimental poetry,Hellenisticpoetry could be defined as "sentimental" poetry, in opposition toArchaicand Classical literature representing the "naive" phase ofGreek poetry. Inaddition to Schiller, the aesthetic theories developed by his contemporaries

    Winckelmann, Herder, and the Schlegel brotherswere also instrumentalin conceiving the history of literature as an evolution of literary epochs inanalogy to stages of life.16Scholars thus came to see theHellenistic and theRomantic epochs asperiods of "decadence" following aClassical era, often expressing negativejudgments about their aesthetic value.17 In thisway, the allegedly sharedcharacteristics ofHellenistic and Romantic poetrywere explained by their

    14. Snell 1982a,p. 276 (quotedabove in n. 9). See also Snell 1982a,p. 272 (= Snell 1948,p. 260): "Theworld of play ... is here blended withmature learning, and it is this genialmixture of youthful emotion and intellectual scepticism which makes for theripe grace of this distinguished art."15. For the persistent influence ofSchiller's treatise on the interpretationof Hellenistic poetry inmodern scholarship, see Pietsch 1999, pp. 163-174.Alpers 1990 sketches chiller's nfluenceon another of Snell's essays (1982b) andon themodern idea of pastoral, whileHabinek 1998, pp. 15-33, evaluates thesurvival of Schiller's categories in thecriticism of Latin literature.16. See Szondi 1972.For thehistoryand criticism f thebiological paradigm

    applied to literary genres, see Barchiesi2001; for Romantic influence on thetheory of genre (especially tragedy),seeMost 2000. In a general sense, themodern age often defines its relationship to antiquity metaphorically interms of the adult's attitude toward hisown childhood (Schmitt1988,p. 187).17. For the definition and evaluation of Hellenistic poetry in the historyof literary criticism, see Pfeiffer 1960;Kassel 1987.The dichotomy etween"Classical" and "Romantic" and thecomparison of Hellenistic poetry withRomanticism is a standard feature ofhandbooksdatingfrom he late19thand early 20th centuries: e.g., Susemihl1891,vol. l,pp. 167-173 (implicit);Mahaffy 1896,pp. 240-242 (boththe Classical and the Romantic are

    represented inHellenistic poetry); seealso K?rte 1911 (Callimachus as "aGreek Romantic"). Even WilamowitzMoellendorff (1924, vol. 1, pp. 88-90),who defendedHellenistic poetryagainst "'classical' depreciation" by againassociating

    itwith Romanticism, was"not quite immune against romanticinfection"Pfeiffer960,p. 152; seealso Schwinge 1985,pp. 163-167;Pietsch 1999,pp. 14,169-170). Ananalogous tendency exists in the historyof art,where Hellenistic representations of children are regularly labeled as"rococo" (see Klein 1921, pp. 131-139;Bieber 1961,pp. 136-143; Pollitt 1986,pp. 127-141; Fowler 1989,pp. 52-53,126-127); cf. Beaumont 2003, pp. 7981, who emphasizes the contradictorycharacteristics of Hellenistic art.

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    378 ANNEMARIE AMB?HLshared characterization as times of "old age."Accordingly, theirpredilection for the representation of children was interpreted as a symptom oftheir nostalgia for a lost "childhood," namely original poetry,which theysought to retrieveon a secondary, "cultivated" level. his implicit theoreticalbackground resulted in remarkably parallel descriptions ofHellenistic andRomantic poetry,which are repeatedly characterized by keywords like romanticism, sentimentalism, nostalgia, or artificiality:following theirescapistimpulse to return to the origins, these allegedly hyperrefined civilizationsfound theirfavoritepoetic themes in such homely, but hitherto unexplored,territories as the simple life of rustics, the emotional secrets ofwomen'shearts, and especially in the naive innocence of children.18Even if these seemingly obvious parallels between Hellenistic andRomantic poetry may be to some extent justifiable,modern interpretersare often trapped in the vicious circle of projecting Romantic influencesontoHellenistic poetry.Fortunately, thebiological paradigm applied to thehistory of literature and the related view of theHellenistic era as a periodof decadence have now become obsolete. During the last few decades, newapproaches toHellenistic literaturehave shifted the balance in favor of amore positive assessment of itscharacteristics, especially itshighly intertextual character and its self-conscious stance toward the literary tradition.Nevertheless, certain concepts originating inRomanticism are stillmaintained in contemporary scholarship in a rather unreflecting way.

    Among these, the child as ametaphor for the poet plays a crucial role. Inthis context, it is revealing that Snell's essay on Callimachus, which wasdeeply influenced byRomantic concepts, is, in turn,quoted by a historianof Romantic literature to substantiate his claim that the idea of the poetas a child already existed before the Romantic period.19 However, thenotion of the child as a natural poetic genius, or in reverse, the image ofthe true poet as a childlike creature, is an essentially Romantic idea thatpresupposes the positive evaluation of the child's innocence and godlikenature in the Christian tradition.20 In the works ofRomantic poets likeH?lderlin, Novalis, Blake,Wordsworth, and theircontemporaries,we oftenfind the image of thepoetic child,which, because of its closeness to natureor paradise, is able to tap the sources of creative imagination directly.21 n

    18. See, e.g., Zahn 1970, p. 27(lecture elivered in1926);Herter1927,p. 256; 1975a,pp. 390-391;1975b,p. 588; 1993,p. 374;R?hfel1984a,pp. 185-191; Fowler 1989,p. 4;Vogt 1993, p. 8. For Romantic literature, see, e.g., Abrams 1953, pp. 103114; Schaub 1973,pp. 7-11.19. Schaub 1973,p. 11 andn. 35.20. For the history of the idealizationof the childand itspoetologicaldimension, see Assmann 1978a. Forthe cult of childhood as connected toprimitivism, see Boas 1966.21. The summary presentation

    attempted here inevitably entails asimplification of the complex Romanticidea of childhood, which evolved during a considerable period of time fromthe second half of the18thcentury othemid-19th century. For the Romantic concept of childhood in general,seeAlefeld 1996 and Baader 1996; forthe related and sometimes contrastingconcept of Romantic youth, see theessays inOesterle 1997. For studies onindividual authors and their varyingconcepts of childhood, see Schaub1973 (on Brentano),Assmann 1978b(onWordsworth),Michaelis 1986

    (on Rousseau and French literature),Ewers 1989 (on Herder, Jean Paul,Novalis, andTieck),Winkler 2000(from Goethe toThomas Mann), andPlotz 2001 (onWordsworth, Lamb,De

    Quincey, and Hartley Coleridge). For arecent survey of the poetics of childhood from Romanticism to contemporary children's literature, see Natov2003. Livingston 1984 approachesthemyth of the child as poet from a practical perspective. Higonnet 1998 tracesthevisualhistory f ideal childhoodfrom Romantic portraits to contemporary photography.

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    CHILDHOOD AND HELLENISTIC POETRY 379the other hand, thegrown-up poet,who has been alienated fromhis childhood, can only recoverhis poetic inspiration ifhe succeeds in returning tothat lost state of grace.In the ancient Greek tradition, however, children aremainly definednegatively

    as deficientbeings

    that lack the physical and mental capacitiesof adults.22Even if the babbling speech ofyoung childrenmaybe considered charming, adults imitating children are criticized for their ridiculousbehavior (PI. Grg. 485b-c). In contrast toRomantic theories, childish language isnever invoked as a poetic ideal.23Therefore, the Romantic notionof poetical childhood should not automatically be applied toHellenisticpoetry.Rather, themotif of the child needs tobe checked carefully againstthe context and the function it assumes in any given text.

    THE MOTIF OF THE CHILD IN CALLIMACHUS:THE PROLOGUE TO THE AITIA AND THE HYMNTO ARTEMISAs an illustration, Iwill take a closer look at some passages fromCallimachus that have been read as a programmatic manifesto of a "poetics ofchildhood," and Iwill propose an alternative approach.24 In thePrologueto theAitia, the persona of the old poet looks back on his life in order todefend his style of poetry against theTelchines?spiteful but ineffectiveliterarycritics in the disguise ofmythical gnomes.25The motif of the childfirst appears in a reproach by theTelchines, who accuse the poet of stillcomposing small-scale poetry?like a child?despite his considerable age(fr.1.1-6 Pfi).riOA?(XK]l |IOlT??.%?V?? ?TUTpU?oDGlV (XOl?fl,

    vril?e? o?Mot>OT|? O?K ?y?vovxo (pl?Ol,?IV?K?V0?% ?Va?lO|I0C ?lT|V?K?? V\ aaiA{r|.]oc? ?v KoXXa?q uvdgoc %iAiao-ivTl.].01)? f?pCQOCC,7C0? ' ?7CtXUT0OV X[

    7T0??OCT?, C?V ' ?T?C?VT] ?KOC?, UK???yn.The Telchines, who know nothingof poetry and hate theMuses, oftensnipe at me, because it's not a monotonous

    uninterrupted poem featuring kingsand heroes in thousands of versesthat I've produced, driving [?]my song insteadfor little stretches, like a child,though the tale ofmy yearsisnot brief.26

    Unfortunately, because of the lacuna at the end of line 5, theunderlyingmetaphor cannot be restoredunequivocally: depending on themissing verb,the poet is compared eitherwith a child unrolling a book roll littleby little{eX[?cg(?), a child driving a spinning top over a short distance (?A-[a\)vco),or a child speaking in short sentences (??,[?cjo:).27Nevertheless, it seems

    22.Herter (1975c; 1993,pp. 374375) stresses the differences betweenthe predominantly negative ancientview of the child as a deficient beingand the positive Christian evaluation;see also Assmann 1978a, pp. 98-101;Garland 1990,pp. 127-129. Sier2002,on the other hand, emphasizes thatthere are also certain positive connotations attributed to children inGreekliterature and philosophy.23. This is not to say that childlanguage does not occasionally appearinGreek literary texts (e.g., inCallim.

    Hymn 3.6); still, it is not used consistently, and adult speech is always considered the norm (see Golden 1995).24. The following takes up somethoughts from my dissertation on children and young heroes inCallimachus(Amb?hl2005) ina summary ashion.25. Among recent interpretations ofthe Prologue, see especially A. Cameron1995;Asper 1997; Sier 1998; Schmitz1999;Hunter 2001;Acosta-Hughesand Stephens2002.26. Trans. F. Nisetich, Oxford 2001.

    27. Pfeiffer 's edition prefers theconjecture ?X[iaaco proposed byHuntto 8^[or?vco advocated by Friedl?nder;for ?X\z%a, see now Acosta-Hughesand Stephens2001.

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    38o ANNEMARIE AMB?HLclear that, in accordance with the predominant ancient view, the referenceto the child is introduced by theTelchines in a negative sense to insult anadultwho, inappropriately,behaves like a child.28Moreover, thepoint doesnot suggest any innate poetic qualities of the child but rather emphasizeshis young age, his small size, and the accompanying physical or intellectualdeficiencies. Even if thepassage is interpreted as alluding toCalrimachus'sEpigram 1 Pfi,where children playing with spinning tops and shoutingcommands unwittingly give oracular advice to a stranger, the idea of thechild as a poet or the equation of poetrywith playing,which scholars inthe wake of Snell have interpreted as a self-description of Calrimachus'spoetics, does not seem to be founded on theGreek text.29

    Admittedly, the fact that themotif of the child in thePrologue isfirstintroduced in a negative sense does not preclude the possibility that thenarrator could subsequently refute the reproach by assigning a differentmeaning to it. Indeed, some lines later he takes up the topic of childhood, but at the same time claims that he had never been an ordinarychild after all. In this fictitious autobiography, the traditional motif of apoet's initiation by a deity isgiven a characteristic twist. In contrast to thelegends about other poets' vocations, Calrimachus's younger alter ego, atthe crucial moment, isneither a passive infantnor a young shepherd likeHesiod. Instead, when he has, for the first time, set awriting tablet on hisknees,Apollo appears before him and proceeds togive him advice on howtowrite poetry (fr.1.21-24 Pfi):

    Kai y?p ote 7cpcoTiGTOvjjxr?? m ??Jlxov ?0r|KayOUVaOlV,A[7CO]??C0V?17U?V JIOl ?KIOC/

    f.] ... ?oi??, to jLi?v uo? ?rci 7??xurcov0p?\|/ai, xf]]vMo?crav 5' coyaO???7ixa??r|v

    The very first time I sat down and putawriting tablet on my lap,my ownLykian Apollo said tome:"Make your sacrificeas fat as you can, poet, but keepyour Muse on slender rations."30Of course, this is not a realistic school scene but it conveys the ideathat the boy Callimachus is a child prodigy, who in his first attempt at

    writing is already a poet and needs to be told justwhich style to choose.Again, the passage does not invoke childhood as the ideal condition forpoetic production; on the contrary, this extraordinary child, in the fashionofyoung gods or heroes, skips the phase of learning and imperfection associated with childhood so that he emerges prematurely as a full-fledgedpoet. In direct opposition to the retrospectiveRomantic idea of the child asa natural wonder and Utopian prototype for the adult, the ancient conceptof "child prodigy" is a ideological construction focused on the image of theadult as the ultimate stage of perfection.31Accordingly, Apollo's poetics isno "poetics of childhood," which would presumably imply a spontaneous,uninhibited manner of composing.32 Such an interpretationmay be supported by the proverb about the "knife in a child's hands" quoted by the

    28. See, e.g., A. Cameron 1995,p. 183; Schmitz 1999,p. 160.29. Snell 1982a,p. 271 (quotedabove in n. 4). Muth 1972 takes upSnell's thesis and combines itwiththe theory of play as an anthropological principle of culture developed byHuizinga 1971 (originally 938).Theattribution of a play theory to Callimachus has been revised critically byWeber 1993, pp. 187-199, and Asper1997, pp. 209-210. For the connection

    with Epigram 1 Pf, see Acosta-Hughesand Stephens2001.30. Trans. F. Nisetich, Oxford 2001.31. See Assmann 1978a, p. 100.For the motif of the "wonder child"

    associated with gods and heroes, seeHerter 1975c;Beaumont 1998; 2003,pp. 62-63, 69-71.

    32. Taking an opposite view, bothAsper 1997,pp. 149-150, and Sier1998, p. 23, associate themetaphor ofthe child with scrupulousness and slowness in composing.

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    CHILDHOOD AND HELLENISTIC POETRY 381narrator in fr.75.9 Pf. in order to restrain himself from speaking rashly.Quite on the contrary, according toApollo, composing poetry requirespainstaking effort: "avoiding the ruts carved in the boulevard, even if itmeans driving along a narrower path" (fr.1.26-28 Pf.).33It follows that,when some time laterCallimachus's poetic persona, likeHesiod, as a young man meets theMuses onMount Helicon in a dream,he does not need to be initiated to the status of a poet but immediatelystartsquestioning theMuses in the fashion of a busy interviewerwho iscollecting material for a story. his tale is theAitia themselves, theworkthat has established the fame of the old poet, who purports to be tellingus the "true story"ofhis life in thePrologue. In the fictitious cosmos of theAitia, thefigures of the poet as a child, as a young man, and as an oldmanallwork together in constituting the complex framework of the text.Like themetaphor of the child inCallimachus's Prologue, the littleboy depicted on the shepherd's cup in heokritos's firstIdyll (45-54), whoisweaving a cage for crickets and is totally absorbed inhis play, has alsobeen interpreted as symbolizing the poet himself.34The musical qualitiesof crickets and the long tradition that the poetological metaphor ofweaving has enjoyed inGreek poetry may support such an interpretation inthe context ofTheokritos's bucolic poetics. But, just as inCallimachus's

    Prologue the figure of the poet appears at different stages of his life, inTheokritos's ekphrasis the image of theplayful boy isaccompanied by thatof a hardworking old fisherman (39-44) and that of two lovesick youngmen quarreling over a woman (32-38). Therefore, the image of the boyshould not be read in isolation but be set in relation to the other figuresthat representdifferentaspects of heokritos's poetry.Only as an ensembledo the three stages of lifemake upTheokritos's bucolic world.35Recently, thePrologue to the itia has been interpreted in terms strik

    ingly reminiscent of the Romantic concepts discussed above: the old poetsufferingunder theweight of tradition fears losing his creativitybecauseof his old age; therefore,he wishes to be rejuvenated so that he mightregain his childlike poetic energy and originality.36 In my view, the textdoes not encourage such a romantically conditioned interpretation in thespiritofWordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections ofEarly Childhood." The poet does notwish tobe rejuvenated by?literallyor metaphorically?becoming a child again but, rather, hopes to gainimmortality through his poetry,which he keeps producing despite hisold age. On thewhole, thePrologue gives

    the impression of a continuousevolution of the poet's life from childhood to old age inwhich no stage oflife isprivileged. Childhood isnot the ultimate goal to be regained at theend of lifebut the auspicious beginning that is confirmed by the old poet'striumph over his enemies. By reconstructing his life as a beloved of theMuses from childhood to old age and even beyond, Callimachus createshis own biographical myth in analogy to the legends associated with theheroized poets of the past.In close parallel to the reconstruction of his own fictitious biographyin thePrologue to the itia, in theHymn to rtemis Callimachus constructsthe character of his divine addressee from her childhood {Hymn 3.1-8,26-32).

    33. Trans. F. Nisetich, Oxford 2001.34. See Cairns 1984,pp. 102-105;Goldhill 1987,p. 2;Hunter 1999,pp. 62, 82. For the tradition of thepoetological metaphor ofweaving inGreek lyric poetry, see N?nlist 1998,pp. 110-116.35. In a similar way, inTheokritos'sseventhIdyll theyoungpoet Simichidasis initiated by the elder Lycidas, whilein Longus's novel the old gardener Philetas tells the young lovers Daphnis andChloe the tale of his encounter with theboyEros.According toBowie 1985,both texts allude to theHellenistic poetPhilitas of Cos.36. Sier 1998,2002, pp. 75-76;Hunter 2001; see also Acosta-Hughesand Stephens2002, pp. 245-246.

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    '?px?|iiv {ov y?p ??xxcppov ?i?ovx?00i ?rjc0?G0ai)?)uv?ou?v, xfjx?cja Aayco?oAiai X?pi?ovxaiKai %opo? ?uxpi?acpfi? Kai ?v o?p?cjiv ?\j/i?aa0ai,ap%ji?voi cb? t? rcaxpo? ?(p??o|i?vr| yov?x?aairca?? ?xi KOUpi?ouaa xa?? 7tpoa??ui? yovfjaf8o? jioi 7iap0?v?r|v a?coviov, ?nna, (pvX?coEiv,Kai TcoA/u -uuariv, va jir|uoi Ooi?oc ?p?Cn,8o? ?' io?? Kai x?cjaco?f] jcai? ?i7couaa y?V?ia?o? f|0??? naTpo?a\\faoQai, noXk?q ?? jLiaxrivxav?aaaxo %?ipacpixpi? iva \j/a?a?i?. 7iax?ip ?' ?7t?V?DO? y??aaoa?,(pf| ? Kaxapp??oDv '?x? |J,oioiaixa 0?aivaix?kxoi?v, XDX0?VK?v ?yo) C,K)Xy\\iovoqHpri?XcoojLi?vric?,?yoi|Lii. (p?p?u,x?ko?, oao' ?0?Ar||Li?(;aixi??i?, Kai ?' ?XXa Tcaxrip xi |X?i^ova ?dSa?i.Of Artemis we sing (it isno lightmatterfor singers to leave her out) towhom the bow shotand the hare hit and the chorus throngedand sporting in themountains are a delight:beginning at themoment when, a girl still,she climbed her father's knees, and said to him"Daddy, letme stay a virgin for everand letme be very famous, more than Phoibos,and give me a bow and arrows..."

    And when she had said all this, the child, eagerto grasp her father's beard, reachedagain and again, tryingto touch it,without success.Her fathersmiled and nodded, and stroked her, saying"What do I care forHera's jealousy,when goddesses bear me children likeyou!Have all thatyouwant so badly,my girl,and other presents bigger stillyour fatherwill give you."37The image of thegoddess as a littlegirl sittingon her father sknees andwith girlish charm trickinghim into granting her all her future attributesand functions is thusnot simply a cute example of aHellenistic genre scene.

    Rather, it assumes a crucial function for the poetic fabric of theHymn, aswe witness the divine child herself inventing her future identity.Artemisis a very literate child indeed, for she seems to have read all the earliertexts inwhich she appeared. The dialogue with her father,Zeus, and hercompetition with her brotherApollo, whom she aims to outdo, are to beinterpreted in the lightof an intertextual relationship to the literarytradition that had already given shape to the image of the adult goddess.38 Increating hisArtemis, Callimachus aims to establish an aetiological perspective similar to the focus found inmany of hisworks. In an innovativeway,

    37. Trans. F. Nisetich, Oxford 2001.38. This strategy can be related tothe intertextualode Barchiesi 1993

    calls "future reflexive." For the occasional representations of the infantArtemis in 4th-century art and inHellenistic literature, see Beaumont 1998;see also Cohen, this volume, Fig. 13.4.

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    CHILDHOOD AND HELLENISTIC POETRY 383he applies aetiology not only to explain external features like the originsof names or customs, but also to point to the origin of literarycharacters.The child Artemis on Zeus's knees is the aition for the adult goddess inthe sameway that theyoung Callimachus's meetings with Apollo and theMuses are the aition for the old poet's enduring success.

    CONCLUSIONCallimachus is innovative in employing themotif of the child in awayquite distinct from the Romantic nostalgia for lost childhood often attributed toHellenistic poetry.The children in his works may indeed beseen as referring to the "origins," but in a sense very different from theRomantic idealization of poetical childhood. In an aetiological manner,Callimachus reconstructs the childhood of the characters inhis poetry toexplain and re-create their identity. In the sameway that aetiology servesto link the presentwith the past, the children inCallimachus's poetry arealways set into a relationship with adult figures. In theHymn toArtemis,the child Artemis interacts not onlywith Zeus but also with her intertextual predecessors who represent "older" images of herself,while in thePrologue to theAitia, the figure of the poet himself appears as a child, asa young man, and as an old man. In this complex structure,childhood isnot exclusively associated with innovation nor isold age exclusively linkedto the tradition of the past; rather,both are intricately interconnected soas to represent complementary aspects ofCallimachean poetics.39 In hismetaliterary constructions of childhood, Callimachus acknowledges thepast tradition by integrating it intohis texts as a projected futurewhile atthe same time, by going back to an imaginary starting point, he succeedsin establishing a new tradition.Although his poetic images of childhoodmay appear to be removed from their historical context, they stillmanageto convey specific cultural conceptions, thushelping us understand ancientbeliefs about children and childhood in a more nuanced fashion.

    39. This modifies somewhat theinteresting discussion inHunter 2001,who traces the representation of thehistory of literature as a process of agingand the association of rejuvenation withinnovation to Simonides, Timotheus of

    Miletus, and Callimachus.