Circe’s Etruscan Pharmaka: reconsidering a fragment of Aeschylean elegy (fr. 2 West)

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Abstract

This article re-examines the sole surviving fragment of Aeschylean elegy alongside the available contextual evidence in an attempt to enhance our currently very limited understanding of Aeschylus’ elegiac output. The first section explores Theophrastus’ citation of this fragment in the Historia Plantarum to demonstrate what we can learn about the original Aeschylean poem from its use within the later writer's discussion. The second section examines how the Italian focus of the fragment fits into a wider historical and literary discourse of interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks in the west. The third and concluding section builds on these findings to examine the possible Sicilian performance context of the original Aeschylean poem to which the fragment belongs. Ultimately the discussion demonstrates that the fragment is an important and hitherto underappreciated early witness of the development of influential cultural concepts regarding interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks in the west, and that the possibility that Aeschylus produced a poem relating to the victory of Hieron I of Syracuse over the Etruscans at Cumae in 474 B.C.E. is worth serious consideration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalThe Classical Quarterly
Early online date29 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Aeschylus
  • elegy
  • Circe
  • Homer
  • Etruscans
  • Hieron I of Syracuse
  • Theophrastus
  • Pindar

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