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"Cast in later Grecian mould," Quintus of Smyrna's reception of Homer in the postHomerica

July 2010

This dissertation examines the relationship between the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Quintus of Smyrna's Posthomerica, a 14-book epic of the third century CE. It argues that Quintus bridges the narratives of the Iliad and the Odyssey and redeploys Homeric style in order to re-activate the cultural power of Homer under the Roman Empire. The first chapter analyzes Quintus' depiction of the Muses. The ways in which the goddesses are represented encodes the contemporary conflict of constructing a Greek identity as panhellenic or epichoric in the language of the past. This demonstrates the Posthomerica's deep engagement with the position of Hellenism and its connection to the past. The lack of an opening invocation to the Muses is part of Quintus' strategy for tapping into Homeric power: he connects the Iliad with the Posthomerica but also respects the boundaries of the Homeric text. The second chapter explores how Quintus occasionally draws his audience's gaze away from the primary narrative of the heroic past and towards their own present. This is done through landscapes, a simile involving the arena, Odysseus' testudo maneuver, and Calchas' prophecy about the Roman empire. These passages fuse the two time-frames together, which implicates the past in the construction of the present. In the third chapter specific nodes of intertextuality between the Posthomerica and the Iliad/Odyssey are the primary focus. It is argued that the intertextual web is incomplete, and that the audience must engage their education (paideia) to fill in the narrative gaps. This engages them in creating a Hellenic identity from the narratives of the past with knowledge derived from the present. The fourth chapter contextualizes Quintus with other hexameter poets of the first through fourth centuries CE who treated the Trojan War narrative, including Nestor and Pisander of Laranda, Triphiodorus, and hexameter papyrus fragments.