Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

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Journal Article

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Transactions of the American Philological Association



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In the rambling sequence of thoughts in Ecl. 10.31-69 that expresses the troubled state of the lovesick Gallus, Vergil depicts his friend as proposing to abandon elegy for bucolic poetry, and to take up a pair of activities presumably related to this change. These activities--carving love-messages on trees and hunting--are to some extent typical of the unrequited literary, especially pastoral, lover. But these projects may have more than just a general amatory import. It has long been held that both motifs had previously appeared in Gallus' own love poetry. More recently, D. 0. Ross has refined this theory, arguing that Gallus in his Amores had not merely used these general motifs, but had in fact adduced specific stories in which they appear as exempla to characterize his own amatory/literary situation. According to Ross, Vergil is alluding here to two passages in which Gallus had identified himself with two famous lovers of literary myth, namely Acontius and Milanion. While this theory has found adherents, it has also incurred significant resistance. This paper has two purposes: first, to support Ross's argument that Gallus used Acontius and Milanion as erotic exempla in the Amores; second, to argue that specific sources for both Gallan exempla can be identified in the poetry of Callimachus. On this basis, we infer that the Gallan allusions in Ecl. 10 are intended not only to honor Gallus, but in the process of honoring him to call attention to his Callimachean doctrina.

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Copyright © 1986 Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Transactions of the American Philological Association 116 (1986), 241-254. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Date Posted: 12 December 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.