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a taste for the recherché: statistics and their significance

Since the eighteenth century, scholars have repeatedly drawn attention to a number of salient stylistic features in Rh. that appear to militate against the traditional attribution to Euripides: its verbosity, its grandiloquence, and its penchant for linguistic rarities.160 Indeed, its author's attraction to the recherché is evidenced by the remarkably high number of hapax words with which Rh. is rife—of words, that is, which do not occur anywhere else either in (classical) Greek literature (ἅπαξ λεγόµενα‎) or specifically in extant tragedy (ἅπαξ τραγωιδούµενα‎).161 Seeing that a number of rare words found in Rh. occur only once elsewhere in extant tragedy,162 it is reasonable to pg livsuppose that at least some of these hapax words may perhaps have appeared, albeit sparsely, in fifth- or fourth-century tragedies now lost. Even if this is the case, however, it seems unlikely that such words were common currency.

What importance should we attach to the play's hapax words? High as their frequency is, is it significantly higher than that of hapax elements in Euripides' indisputably genuine plays? The Herculean task of drawing detailed and methodical comparisons between the two categories was undertaken by Leopold Eysert.163 His detailed and generally balanced statistical studies (despite occasional errors, misjudgements, and what may now occasionally seem an excessively mechanical approach to lexical data)164 demonstrated that the percentage of hapax elements in Rh., though higher than that of almost any other Euripidean play, is perhaps not as high as one might expect in view of earlier scholars' emphasis on Rhesus' linguistic rarities. Still, the fact remains that the percentage of hapax words found in Rh.—i.e. the play's ratio of ἅπαξ λεγόµενα‎ to total number of lines—is still a remarkable 2.81%, surpassed only by the satyric Cyclops (3.1%). Moreover, Rh. leaves behind the next play in the list (IT, with a 2.34% proportion of hapax words) by more than 20%. Moreover, Eysert's comparative study of ἅπαξ τραγωιδούµενα‎ in Rh. and Bacchae revealed that such words represent an impressive 7.40% of the Bacchae vocabulary, as opposed to a mere 5.42% in Rhesus.165 We may add that, although Rhesus' linguistic rarities even include some dialectalisms (440–2, 523–5, 910–14 nn.), their significance ought not to be overstated, in spite of e.g. Wilamowitz 1921: 585 n. 1, who thought that the Rh. author was unable to write 'pure Attic'. No one would dream of finding fault with Euripides' Attic style, although he uses Arcadian(?) ἐπεζάρει‎ in Ph. 45 (> Rh. 441, cf. 440–2 n.) and Aeolic/Doric ἔροτιν‎ in El. 625.166

What is worth noting here is that the frequency of hapax usages seems to increase in Euripides' later plays. Thus, according to Eysert's tables, Phoenissae (2.27%) or Bacchae (2.23%) show a far stronger tendency towards recherché language than the early Alcestis (0.6%), Medea (0.63%), or Heraclidae (0.76%).167 Without intimating that Euripides' use of hapax elements advanced progressively, it still appears unlikely that Rh. with its 2.81% of hapax usages is an early play. This seems to add to the cumulative case against pg lvthe theory (propounded most eloquently by Ritchie 260–73, 358) that Rh. belongs to Euripides' youth. For there are more elements from late E. in Rh. On the level of vocabulary, for instance, some of the most striking words or expressions the Rh. author was so quick to lay hands on come from post-420 bc plays, namely Orestes, Hercules, Phoenissae, Troades, Electra, and Erechtheus.168 Such elements include, e.g., πεπύργωται θράϲει‎ (122 n.), χάϲµα θηρόϲ‎ (209 n.), χιλιόναυν … ϲτρατείαν‎ (257–63 n.), ὕϲτερον /-οϲ βοηδροµεῖν /-εῖϲ‎ in 333 and 412 (see 333 n.); ἐπεζάρει‎ (440–2 n.); καρατόµουϲ ϲφαγάϲ‎ (605–6 n.); αἰνιγµοῖϲι‎ (754–5 n.); δυϲθνήιϲκοντοϲ‎ (790–1 n.); τῆϲ ἐµῆϲ ἥψω φρενόϲ‎ (915–16 n.); ὅπλοιϲ κοϲµηϲάμενοι‎ (993–6 n.); etc. Notable is also the extensive imitation of the parodos of Phaethon (see 527–64 n.), a play dated to the period c.420–415.169 Remarkably, Rh. even contains a couple of words which occur only in late E. and/or in fourth-century drama (διαπρεπεῖϲ‎ 616–17 n.; ἐπικουρῆϲαι‎ 935–7 n.), one word used in a sense not found in fifth-century tragedy (αὐθεντῶν‎ 873 n.), and one word which does occur once in S. but becomes popular with later tragedians (ἀγχιτέρμων‎ 426–8 n.).170 There is, moreover, a small but significant detail pointed out by M. McDonald: the terms for (un)happiness used in Rh. (εὐτυχήϲ‎ [see 56–8 n.], δυϲτυχήϲ, µακάριοϲ, δυϲδαίµων‎) represent a striking deviation from Euripidean norm insofar as Euripides never omits εὐδαίμων/εὐδαιµονία‎ or ὄλβιοϲ/ὄλβοϲ‎ from any of his tragedies. It may be significant that the same distribution of terms is found again in a fourth-century play, namely Menander's Dyskolos, which also prefers εὐτυχήϲ‎, uses µακάριοϲ‎, but avoids εὐδαίμων‎ and ὄλβιοϲ‎.171 Further, as pointed out by Klaus Aichele in Jens 1971: 82–3, Rh. contains a remarkably high number (2. 8) of scenes per episode, a ratio surpassed only by Euripides' late plays (Hel. 3. 2; Ph.: 3; Or. 3. 2; IA 3. 3). Moreover, as Csapo 1999/2000: 418–19 pg lviobserves, evocations by Euripidean choruses of other choruses dancing, and descriptions of music, especially in the context of lamentation or individual song, are a feature of late Euripides (after 420/415 bc): Rh. contains both the former (see 375–6 n.) and the latter (895, see 895–8 n.).172

At first sight, such preponderance, in Rh., of features typical of late E. might seem to suggest a post-420s date. However, this would be an illusion: the play's strict treatment of the iambic trimeter—i.e. its low proportion of resolved iambic feet—is a trait typical of early Euripides (see further p. lxv below). Moreover, it has been argued that Rhesus' colometry and the structure of its lyric parts clearly place it together with such early plays as Alcestis and Medea.173 This, in turn, is consistent with Csapo's observation (1999/2000: 409–12) that the number of lines given to actors' song is proportionally larger in the later plays—with Ba. as a singular exception, with a mere 8.3% of sung lines given to actors as opposed to 47.1% for plays belonging to the period between 415 and 405 bc. Consequently, in Euripidean plays datable before 425 bc actors' song averages 1.7% of the total number of lines per play, and actors account for an average of 13.3% of all song, and 26.3% of all song plus recitative. The corresponding percentages for Rh. are 1.8% (lines of actors' song out of the total number of lines in the play), 9.5% (lines of actors' song out of the total number of sung lines), and 18.3% (lines of actors' song plus recitative [anapaests] out of the total number of sung lines plus recitative [anapaests]). It follows that, on this criterion alone, Rh. should be among the earliest Euripidean plays extant. This is, indeed, corroborated by external evidence suggesting that, if the Rh. we have were genuine, it would have to be a work of Euripides' youth. For when Crates put down a presumed astronomical fault (see 527–36 n.) to Euripides' youthful inexperience he must have relied on didascalic information on the date of the play's production; otherwise, he would have been open to criticism by other scholars able to check the Didascaliae (see Hypothesis b 24–5 n.).174 On the other hand, if Rhesus' avoidance of resolution in trimeters would place it early in Euripides' career, its laxity with respect to interlinear hiatus points to a date closer, say, to Helen than to Medea.175 In conclusion, the evidence of metre and song, like that of language and style, fails to yield a uniform, coherent picture for Rhesus.

pg lviiThat one and the same play can combine metrical and linguistic features both from early and from late Euripides can mean one thing, and one thing only: Rhesus is the work of a later imitator, who naturally felt free to adopt whichever features of Euripidean tragedy suited him, with little regard for chronological or stylistic coherence.176 This ought to be enough to invalidate the assumption (shared by some scholars even today) that the peculiarities of Rh. can be explained away as belonging to a period when Euripides' style was as yet primitive and unformed—even apart from the fact that, as Hagenbach 1863: 29 first pointed out, what little survives from Euripides' earliest play, the Peliades (produced in 455, cf. test. i Kn.) seems to be 'just in his ordinary manner'.177

It should also be pointed out that the author's propensity for the bombastic is not limited to fishing for hapax-words: grandiloquent to a fault, he sometimes utilizes what is evidently meant to be precious tragic style but is in fact bad or contorted Greek.178 A number of such cases are discussed in the relevant portions of the commentary.179 In the same connection, a striking trait of Rh., already perceived by its earliest students and systematically explored by a number of scholars,180 is its author's tendency to filch exquisite words or turns of phrase from earlier literature and thrust them, hotchpotch-like, into his own work, which thus often deteriorates into mere patchwork. For all too often such loans from earlier literature take the form of crude or half-digested quotations, which do not always fit into their new context. The authors most frequently pillaged are, unsurprisingly, Homer and the tragedians, although one does also detect reminiscences from lyric poetry (notably Pindar and Archilochus) and, somewhat unexpectedly, from comedy.181

Like much of the evidence related to the date and authorship of Rh., the stylometric data afford scope only for a cumulative case: none of them, taken individually, is strong enough to prove or disprove Euripidean paternity in a positive way. Still, it is precisely the cumulative effect of such evidence that pg lviiistrongly bespeaks an overeager imitator, rather than Euripides or any other major tragedian. As we saw above, Rh. teems with specimens of choice or pompous or precious language such as is used very infrequently, if at all, by other tragedians, including E. himself in his indisputably genuine plays. And it would be absurd to suppose that the poet who is so sparing in his use of linguistic rarities in all his extant plays should have composed, however early in his career, a tragedy—and an extremely short one at that—in which the percentage of verbal pyrotechnics exceeds that of his other works. Even more importantly, it would be misguided to insist, as Albert 1876: 33–40 did, that seemingly unusual or aberrant usages in Rh. can be paralleled in tragedy, Homer, or the lyric poets. No one denies that many of Rhesus' peculiarities of style and diction can be paralleled elsewhere (even though in his eagerness to prove this Albert committed several factual errors). The point is that, as Ed. Fraenkel 1965: 231–3 rightly stressed with reference to a similar methodological error committed by Ritchie, Rhesus' stylistic aberrations cannot be explained away merely by adducing parallels: for the author of Rh. makes a point of amassing a pell-mell of purple patches, which has little more to commend it than a taste for the recherché. This kind of pastiche technique, Fraenkel continues, is unparalleled in the three tragedians, but often found in interpolated tragic passages, e.g. in the Seven or the Phoenissae, that is, in passages which conceivably originated in the fourth century.182

tragic echoes

It is mostly from Euripides that the author of Rhesus plagiarizes lines, half-lines, turns of phrase, or single characteristic words.183 This partly explains the tenacity with which so many scholars have defended Rh. as a genuine Euripidean work. However, the probative value of this feature is slighter than what one might assume, and cannot be used, per se, as evidence of Euripidean authorship. As pointed out by P. T. Stevens, already in the fifth century (and no doubt in the fourth too, we may add) 'there were almost certainly some dramatists, such as those referred to in [Ar. Ra. 89–91], who wrote in the Euripidean manner and tended, consciously or unconsciously, to reproduce some of his mannerisms both in language and in dramatic technique.'184 That Euripides, more than any other tragedian, is likely to have influenced later tragic style is also suggested by the well-known fact of his incomparable pg lixposthumous popularity in the fourth century and later.185 We must also reckon with the possibility that, as again Stevens argues, 'if the rest of Attic tragedy had survived we might find that the style of Sophocles was more distinct from the tragic koine than that of Euripides (whose originality lies mainly elsewhere) and that a good deal of what now appears to be Euripidean would be seen as common at any rate to a group of dramatists.'186

However this may be, it seems unlikely that the author of Rh. was consciously trying to pass himself off as Euripides, despite what some critics have assumed.187 As a matter of fact, he appears rather to be an eclectic plagiarizer, more attracted by the glitter of 'flashy' turns of phrase than interested in maintaining stylistic consistency. For one thing, there are linguistic rarities in Rh. which never occur (or are attested but once) in E., although they may be found in other tragedians188—a strong argument against Euripidean paternity, which has been scarcely given the attention it deserves.189 For another, the play also contains a significant number of echoes from Aeschylus, who is indeed the author's second favourite source of linguistic material—unsurprisingly, given his notorious grandiloquence.190 It should be noted, however, that Rh. also contains a goodly number of words found in S. and E. but not in A. (Ritchie 168–70), which is enough to invalidate Rolfe's argument (1893: 79, 90–1, 97) that the author of Rh. 'naturally took Aeschylus as his model'. Sophocles is far less frequently pillaged,191 and except for a few pg lxcases Sophoclean reminiscences are neither prominent nor incontestable; this makes it all the harder to understand the opinion of those (unnamed) ancient scholars who thought that Rh. displays distinctive traits of the Sophoclean style (see Hypothesis b 23–4 n.). Eclectic that he is, the author of Rh. sometimes even introduces both Euripidean and Aeschylean or Sophoclean reminiscences into the same passage (cf. 608–9, 790–1 n.). For the hypothesis that the author of Rh. may have been an actor, rather than a professional playwright, and thus conceivably familiar with a large portion of classical drama, see below, pp. lxxii–lxxv.

non-tragic reminiscences

It will come as no surprise that Rh. contains a remarkable number of Homeric reminiscences.192 Not only are Homeric reminiscences to be found in all tragedians (especially in A., whom the author of Rhesus seems, as we saw, to be particularly fond of),193 but also the Doloneia was a major source for the configuration of the myth in Rh. (see above, pp. xvii–xviii).194 There are also a handful of more or less transparent allusions to early lyric poetry, notably Pindar and Archilochus.195 Somewhat unexpectedly, there is also one occasion on which—in a context where the comic mode seems momentarily to prevail—the author has gone as far as to admit verbal echoes from Aristophanes' Acharnians (see 675, 680, 683–4 nn.). In several passages, a tragic hapax or a characteristic turn of phrase or a stylistic mode found in Rh. occurs again in, or is typical of the language of comedy.196 These, however, are not sufficient to warrant Burnett's fanciful theory (1985) that Rh. represents an experimental fusion of tragic and comic elements (see above, p. xlvi), especially since the apparently comic string of imperatives in 675 has a tragic parallel in A. Eum. 130.

pg lxiplagiarism and repetitiveness

In most of the examples cited above, there is usually some degree of variation between the literary model and the Rhesus passage that derives from it. On a number of occasions, however, the author of Rh. has gone so far as to plagiarize almost verbatim entire phrases, half-lines, and even on one occasion a whole line from classical drama, namely E. Hipp. 519, repeated nearly unchanged in Rh. 80 (see 80 n.). Half-lines, especially second hemistichs, are repeated much more frequently:197 presumably, these were treated as free-floating syntagmata, detachable building-blocks that could be tacked on to first hemistichs to form a complete line.198 The remarkable facility with which the author is able to detach and re-use segments of tragic verses suggests an uncommon familiarity with the tragic repertoire, and gives additional support to my hypothesis that he must have been a member of the acting profession (see below, pp. lxxii–lxxv). Admittedly, it would appear that Euripides himself, in his genuine plays, was not above indulging in 'plagiarism', especially from Aeschylus; cf. e.g. E. fr. 328. 3 Kn. κἂν θεῶν ϲυλᾶν βρέτη‎ ~ A. Pers. 809–10 θεῶν βρέτη | … ϲυλᾶν‎; also E. Med. 523 ἀλλ' ὥϲτε ναὸϲ κεδνὸν οἰακοϲτρόφον‎ ~ A. Th. 62 ϲὺ δ' ὥϲτε ναὸϲ κεδνὸϲ οἰακοϲτρόφοϲ‎; and E. Herc. 164 δορὸϲ ταχεῖαν ἄλοκα‎ ~ A. Th. 593 βαθεῖαν ἄλοκα διὰ φρενὸϲ καρπούµενοϲ‎ (cf. also Rh. 795–6 n.). But in the first of the above examples the plagiarism, if such it is, is unremarkable, since 'the gods' temples' is an obvious target of ϲυλᾶν‎, while in the following two the appropriation of Aeschylean lines has at least the merit of being a clever and creative one. Striking coincidences in phraseology do occur in other tragedians too, as a review of the exx. cited by M. Parry 1930: 103 (cf. Ritchie 205) will show: (a) E. Ion 1488 ὦ φίλτατ' εἰποῦϲ', εἰ λέγειϲ ἐτήτυµα‎ ~ S. Ph. 1290 ὦ φίλτατ' εἰπών, εἰ λέγειϲ ἐτήτυµα‎; (b) S. El. 677 ἀπωλόµην δύϲτηνοϲ, οὐδέν εἰµ' ἔτι‎ ~ E. Hec. 683 ἀπωλόµην δύϲτηνοϲ, οὐκέτʼ εἰµὶ δή‎; (c) S. Tr. 416 λέγʼ εἴ τι χρήιζειϲ· καὶ γὰρ οὐ ϲιγηλὸϲ εἶ‎ ~ E. Su. 567 λέγ' εἴ τι pg lxiiβούληι· καὶ γὰρ οὐ ϲιγηλὸϲ εἶ‎.199 For one thing, however, such instances are considerably less numerous in the canonical tragedians than in the author of Rh.; for another, exx. (a), (c), and especially (b) above are little more than stereotyped reactions, which may call for formulaic, repetitious phraseology. The author of Rh., on the contrary, is in the habit of merely filching verses (or portions thereof) and pasting them, sometimes with no significant alteration, into his own text, with little concern for context or style, and without even the excuse of reprising formulaic material. Pillaging of classical tragedy seems to be its own excuse with this author.

As well as plagiarizing earlier literature, the author of Rh. also has a marked tendency to repeat himself, most often by latching on to words or expressions that happen to catch his eye and by reiterating them time and again.200 This is not merely careless repetition of the kind one finds sometimes in Greek tragedy:201 it is rather the hallmark of an ungifted author, who for sheer lack of genuine talent is forced to gravitate towards 'purple passages' from classical drama, there to fish for suitably lofty expressions, which he then repeats often ad nauseam.202 True, some of these repetitions could be justified on account of their relevance to the play's subject-matter; this is especially true of military words. However, this proves, on closer inspection, to be a specious argument: as Pearson 1921: 58 n. 3 has shown, repetitions of military words (ϲτρατόϲ, δόρυ, πολέµιοϲ‎) in Aeschylus' Seven (a military drama, if ever there was) are much less frequent than in Rhesus.203

This is not to say that the kind of repetitiveness described in the previous paragraph, or the verbatim quotation of lines and half-lines from Euripidean plays, suffices per se to substantiate the hypothesis of Rhesus' spuriousness. After all, Euripides himself in his genuine plays is anything but exempt from pg lxiiisuch self-quotation. On the contrary, he often repeats the same line from one play to another,204 while in some instances such repetitions occur in the same play.205 Indeed, as was recently suggested by Pickering on the basis of partial statistical researches,206 Euripides seems to be the most repetitive of the three tragedians; indeed, M. Parry 1930: 99 observes that 'Euripides is repeating himself, or borrowing, in every fortieth iambic verse'. Moreover, as Pickering points out (2000: 89), in the wake of Schmid and Stählin 1940: 795 n. 1, there seems to be an increase in repetitiveness from his earlier to his later plays (with the exception of Bacchae). However, apart from the fact that this 'barely noticeable tendency' (Seaford on E. Cyc. 98) is not half as offensive in E. as it is in Rh., it seems that in a great many instances it is purposely used as a means of bringing out an important theme; such is the case, for example, in the triple repetition Hipp. 1031 = 1075 = 1191 (whether Hippolytus is a κακὸϲ ἀνήρ‎ or not is the question on which the entire play hinges).207 In other cases, the words repeated have a quasi-formulaic character, which must account for, and mitigate the repetition (cf. Mastronarde on Ph. 972). Such is the case, for example, in Su. 428 = Med. 546 ἅµιλλαν γὰρ ϲὺ προύθηκαϲ λόγων‎, in Hel. 780 = Ph. 972 φεῦγ' ὡϲ τάχιϲτα τῆϲδ' ἀπαλλαγεὶϲ χθονόϲ‎,208 or in Med. 693 = fr. 602 Kn. (Peliades) τί χρῆµα δράϲαϲ; φράζε µοι ϲαφέϲτερον‎. What makes the author of Rhesus stand out from comparable cases in E. is precisely the fact that his verbatim repetitions, whether of his own formulations or of lines from E., seem to serve no discernible purpose. The Rh. author, one feels, was merely wont to seize upon any eye-catching word, turn of phrase, line, half-line, etc. that his actor's repertoire might afford, with little regard for context, style, or coherence. Indeed, as Pickering's findings (2000: 86–7) show, Rh. ranks relatively low in same-line repetitions or repetitions in the same and adjacent lines; practically, this means that it makes rather sparing use of such figures as anadiplosis, anaphora, and pg lxivpolyptoton. On the other hand, its general index of repetitiveness is quite high; incidentally, by this token alone Rh. comes closer to some of Euripides' later plays (Tro., Or., IT) rather than to his earliest period, as Ritchie and others have assumed on the basis of metrical criteria (see below, p. lxv). Chronology aside, the rate of repetition in Rh. far surpasses anything we find in E.: even Ritchie himself (218–25), who compiled lists of repetitions in E. Hipp. and Ba. in order to prove the well-known fact that E. was no stranger to repetition, was forced to admit that 'In neither of these plays […] is the repetition on the same scale as in Rhesus, especially if difference of length is taken into account. There would indeed seem to be no other play of Euripides which approaches Rhesus in this respect.'209

a note on metre

It has long been observed that Rhesus' metrics are disciplined and unadventurous, both in the spoken and in the lyric parts. The lyrics, in particular, are remarkably neat and unpretentious, their modulations flowing with exemplary smoothness (although one does come across the occasional jarring note, cf. e.g. 692–727 n.). As they are analysed exhaustively in the respective portions of the commentary,210 I refrain from going into further detail here, except to mention that the play's lyrics sometimes display features unparalleled in extant E. or even in extant tragedy (342–79, 348–51, 675–91 nn., under 'Metre'), and that in at least one case their metrical structure has been described as possessed of an 'un-Euripidean simplicity' (see 895–903 = 906–14 n., p. 309).211 On the other hand, recent and sophisticated studies by Ritchie and Willink have shown that the Rh. author is able to reproduce, with remarkable elegance and precision, many typical traits of classical tragedy in general, and of E. in particular.212 For Ritchie and Willink, this is evidence enough to attribute Rh. to E.: to quote Willink 2002/3: 43, the lyric parts of Rh. are 'fully consistent with attribution to Euripides (influenced indeed by Sophocles); and there are no sufficient grounds for questioning the traditional assignation to an early period of his career, in line with the recognized "early" style of the trimeters.' But the logic here is specious: it should have taken no more than a competent composer of lyric verse to get the knack of making choral songs à la manière d'Euripide—the more so if the composer in question was already familiar with Euripidean pg lxvsongmaking, as a professional actor would certainly be (for the tragic actor hypothesis see below, pp. lxxii–lxxv). This should be enough to address Willink's principal objection, namely that 'Those who adhere to the "4th century" hypothesis will need to explain how the (disparaged) 4th century tragedian came to deploy with such expertise and consistency a mid 5th century style in the lyrics, despite intervening developments in musical composition and changes of taste.' More seriously, as I show in the commentary, Willink in particular tends to downplay or simply disregard metrical evidence suggesting especial affinities between Rh. and late E. or tragic poets other than E.213

As for its treatment of the iambic trimeter, Rh. is known for its conservatism—so much so that Hermann, in keeping with his dating of Rh. to the Hellenistic era, thought that the iambics' very elegance and care bespoke a Hellenistic imitator.214 There are only 52 resolutions in 682 trimeters, which amounts to 7.6% of the total number of iambics in the play.215 Many have argued that such strictness is an indication that Rh. is early E.; for as is well known, the later a Euripidean drama, the higher the proportion of resolutions it contains.216 Predictably, Ritchie (260–73, 358) insisted that Rh., with a 8.1% resolution ratio (i.e. 8.1 resolved iambic 'feet' per 100 iambic trimeters), would have to belong together with the earliest group of Euripides' works, namely Alc. (438 bc, 6.2% resolution ratio), Med. (431 bc, 6.6%), Hcld. (c.430 bc, 5.7%) and Hipp. (428 bc, 4.3%).217 Moreover, following a study of the distribution of different kinds of resolved feet in the various positions of the trimeter, as well as of the extent to which Rh. respects the rules governing the admission of iambic resolution, Ritchie (264–74, 358) concluded that Rh. displays extreme conservatism and sometimes occupies an extreme position in the statistical analysis of resolutions, so much so that it might be even earlier than Alc.218 However, he failed to take into account the fact that a strict treatment of resolutions in the tragic trimeter is also typical of post-fifth-century tragedy: 'In the fragments of Moschion (69 lines) and his contemporaries resolution is absent.'219 Even more importantly, it has been pg lxvishown by E. Harrison that the metrical evidence afforded by Rh. is significantly more complex than the defendants of its authenticity usually make it out to be.220 For one thing, its ratio of iambs to spondees in the first and especially third 'feet' of the trimeter is distinctly the lowest among all the iambic texts used by Harrison as a sample. Indeed, its ratio of iambs to spondees in the first 'foot' (28: 70) brings Rh. closer to Archilochus (27: 70) than to tragedy.221 Moreover, the same ratio in the third 'foot' is 25: 68, on account of which Rh. again approaches Archilochus (27: 70), but also, paradoxically, both Aeschylus' Supplices (28: 66) and, to a lesser extent, Euripides' Orestes (27: 56),222 two plays separated by some six decades. At any rate, within the Euripidean corpus, Rhesus' iambs seem, in this respect, to behave as if they belonged to a later drama than the earliest extant tragedies Harrison examines (Alc., Med., Hcld., Hipp.), which appear to form a coherent group in this respect (cf. Harrison 1914: 209). By contrast, in the fifth 'foot' Rh. has a 60: 40 ratio of iambs to spondees, which actually brings it closer to the remarkably consistent ratios prevailing within the four aforementioned tragedies (60: 40 or 61: 39), whereas later Euripidean plays generally tend to raise the percentage of fifth-'foot' spondees. Finally, Rh. contains only six first-'foot' anapaests (565, 622, 765, 799, 842, 880)223—the only kind of anapaest that its author, in accordance with tragic practice,224 allows himself in the iambic parts; as Descroix 1931: 199–200 points out, such metrical conservatism is paralleled only in early Aeschylus. The image of Rhesus' iambics that emerges from these considerations is of a play behaving erratically, now adopting metrical patterns compatible with early Euripides or even Aeschylus and Archilochus, now complying with tendencies in late Euripides. All in all, it appears that the metrical style of Rh. is too inconsistent to allow us to relate it to other fifth-century dramas.225

This observation is corroborated by further metrical considerations. Thus in Rh. dactyls in the third 'foot' outnumber tribrachs by a ratio of 7 to 1, a much higher proportion than that of any other drama examined by Harrison 1914. Moreover, Rhesus' use of trisyllabic 'feet' anywhere in the trimester pg lxviiseems to place it midway between, say, Hcld. and Andr., which means that Rh. cannot be as early as Ritchie and others imagine. In another contribution, Harrison has observed that Rh. is remarkably lax in its admission of interlinear hiatus, which brings it closer to the late Helen than, say, to the relatively early Medea.226 Of interest is also Harrison's general evaluation of the metrical style of Rh. in the iambics: albeit 'not exactly chary of all such means of varying the metre' it is 'rather shy […] of the rarer kinds'.227 The likeliest explanation for this is that the author of Rh. is an imitator, sufficiently well versed in the metrics of classical tragedy but less daring than a fifth-century dramatist would have been in his treatment of metre.

As a further indication of Rhesus' derivative nature, I point out, as numerous scholars have done before me, that the play uses trochaic tetrameters (683–91, 728, 730), which are wholly absent from Euripides' earlier dramas (see 683–4 n.).228 This is inconsistent with its low ratio of resolutions in iambic trimeters which, as we saw, is a trait of early E., and suggests that the Rh. author worked selectively, picking and choosing from the tragic repertoire he was familiar with. As pointed out above (p. lix), his concern was not so much to pass himself off as Euripides, but rather to emulate the canonical tragic poets and to reproduce what he considered high tragic style as best as he could, without much regard for metrical or linguistic consistency.


160 This is one of the earliest charges levelled against Rh.; see e.g. Valckenaer 1767: 90–1, who claimed (no doubt hyperbolically) that Rhesus contains more rare or archaic words than the whole Euripidean corpus taken together; for a sample list of linguistic rarities cf. Beck 1780: 26–7; Hermann 1828: 296; Strohm 1959: 274 n. 1. Interestingly, a penchant for unusual, eye-catching words is a tell-tale sign of spuriousness also in another pseudepigraphon, namely Ps-Demosthenes' (=Apollodorus') Against Neaera; see K. Kapparis (ed.), Apollodoros 'Against Neaira' [D. 59] (Berlin and New York, 1999), 52.

161 See e.g. 2–3, 5–6 (two hapax), 9, 12, 19, 25, 30, 31, 33, 36–8, 41–3, 64, 74–5, 95–8, 100–1, 133–6, 138–9, 175–6, 177, 195, 205, 208, 231–2, 233–6, 257–63, 269–70, 273–4, 287–9, 296–7, 303–4, 306–8, 311–13, 317–18, 321–3, 327–8 (a semantic hapax), 339–41, 346–8, 348–51, 351–4, 357–9, 360–7 (three hapax!), 374, 380–1, 401–3, 418–19, 440–2, 444–6, 489–91, 496, 503–5, 507–9, 513–15 (two hapax), 523–5, 525–6, 534, 546–50, 551–3 (two hapax), 587–8, 603–4, 613–15, 627–9, 637–9 (a semantic hapax), 683–4, 699–700, 710–14 (two hapax), 715–16, 770–2, 789, 797–8, 804–5, 811–12, 814–15, 816–18, 877–8, 879–81, 886–8, 899–901, 906–9, 921–5 (two hapax), 928–9, 932–5, 941–2, 963–6, 970–3 nn. Cf. Eysert 1891: 18–19; Ritchie 150–6 (with corrections to Eysert).

163 Eysert 1891: 6–14.

164 For criticisms of Eysert see Sneller 1949: 64, and cf. e.g. Rh. 2–3, 133–6, 210–13, 273–4, 351–4, 416–18, 525–6, 736–7, 761, 980–2, 989–92 nn.

165 Eysert 1891: 19–21, in the wake of (and offering corrections to) Vater, pp. cviii–cxii. However, one 'reason for the high totals yielded by Bacchae is to be found in its subject-matter' (Ritchie 148).

166 See Ritchie 176 n. 1.

167 Cf. W. Ridgeway, CQ 20 (1926) 1–19 at 13. Admittedly, there exist late plays in which the percentage of hapax words is appreciably lower (e.g. Hel. at 1. 59%, Or. at 1. 28%), but not as low as in the early plays.

168 The point is made in detail by Ed. Fraenkel 1965: 234–5; see also Kannicht 1966: 296–7 with n. 5 and Conacher (above, n. 133) 189. Orestes was produced in 408; Hercules must have been produced in 416 or 414; Phoenissae is post-412 bc; Troades was produced in 415; Electra seems to fall roughly between 420 and 415 bc. The date of Erechtheus is uncertain, but metrical evidence points to the period between Electra and Helen (412): see M. Cropp and G. Fick, Resolutions and Chronology in Euripides (BICS Suppl. 43; London, 1985), 79. Cf. also W. M. Calder III, 'The Date of Euripides' Erectheus', GRBS 10 (1969), 147–56 = Theatrokratia: Collected Papers on the Politics and Staging of Greco-Roman Tragedy (Zürich and New York, 2005), 267–88, who argues for a production at the Dionysia of 422 bc on the basis of Plut. Nic. 9. 5; but the one-year armistice (423–2 bc) was too brief a period of time for the Athenians to embark on the large-scale construction of the Erectheion implied in fr. 370. 90–4 Kn.

169 See Diggle 1970: 47–9.

170 This conclusion seems to be supported by Ludwig's experiment (1996) in using computer-based statistical methods to determine to what extent there are significant deviations in the distribution of word-categories between Rh. and the other works of Euripides. His conclusion is that Rh. cannot belong together with Euripides' early- or middle-period plays: it could be either very early (earlier than Alc.) or very late. However, a very late date is excluded by the play's strict metrics (see below), while a very early date is incompatible with the significant amount of linguistic material Rh. shares only with Euripides' late plays.

171 McDonald 1978: 309–10.

172 For further intrusions from late Euripides see. e.g. 147–8 n. (fin.).

173 A. Guzmán Guerra, CFC 10 (1976), 63–100, esp. 99–100.

174 A few scholars have tried to discount Crates' early dating of Rh. by assuming chronological confusion. Thus e.g. Albert 1876: 4 suggested that Crates may have confused Lysimachus (archon eponymous for 436/5) with Lysicrates (archon eponymous for 453/2). In a similar vein, H. Grégoire and R. Goossens (AC 3 (1934) 434 n. 1) thought that Crates confused the Euthynos who was archon for 426/5 with the Euthynos who was archon in 450/49, although they fail to mention that the latter's name is uncertain, and that he may in fact have been called Euthydemos. For the reasons behind such special pleading see Pohlenz 1954b: 188.

175 See E. Harrison, CR 55 (1941), 22–5 at 24.

176 The point made here had been anticipated by Hermann 1828: 296 and, partly, by Webster 1967: 6. This feature was insufficiently taken into account in a second instalment of Eysert's work (Eysert 1893), which sought to establish that the number of uoces Euripideae in Rh. is large enough to warrant attribution to Euripides, and that the fashion in which they are used precludes attribution to an imitator.

177 The argument was later repeated by Murray 1913, p. viii, presumably without knowledge of Hagenbach's dissertation. The hypothesis that the peculiarities of Rh. are due to no more than Euripides' youthful inexperience was first put forth by Albert 1876, who was apparently unshaken by the obvious divergences between the style of Rh. and that of the surviving Peliades fragments (ibid. 19–21).

178 On inflated, obscure diction in Rh. see further Ed. Fraenkel 1965: 238.

180 See e.g. Hermann 1828, Hagenbach 1863, Menzer 1867, and Rolfe 1893.

181 Further peculiarities of Rhesus' style have been pointed out by Rolfe 1893: 92–3, but carry little probative weight. See also Porter 1913: 378 and esp. Sneller 1949: 68–70; for criticisms see Ritchie 180–1.

182 See esp. Ed. Fraenkel 1965: 233; cf. Kitto 1977: 318–19. This is something the majority of earlier critics, not just Albert or Ritchie, had failed to grasp; cf. e.g. Matthiae 3.

183 See Index, s.v. 'Rhesus (play)—uoces Euripideae'. Cf. further Eysert 1893; Ritchie 184–90.

184 Stevens 1965: 270.

185 Cf. in this respect Kannicht 1966: 296: 'selbst wenn er [=Rhesus] bezeugtermaßen ein epigonales Werk des frühen 4. Jh. wäre, wäre ja zu erwarten, daß er wesentliche Stilmerkmale mit Euripides teilt'. The definitive account of Euripides' Nachleben has yet to be written, although Schmid and Stählin 1940: 823–32 is still valuable.

186 Stevens 1965: 270; cf. Ragone 1969: 102; Kitto 1977: 318. Even Ritchie 194 admits that it is hard to define what constitutes distinctively Euripidean style, since (i) 'Virtually our only evidence for tragic style other than that of Euripides is supplied by two poets whose styles are both marked by a high degree of individuality', and (ii) 'it is not unlikely that other poets may have approached more closely to the manner of Euripides'.

187 Cf. e.g. Hermann 1828: 279–80; contra, rightly, Hagenbach 1863: 15.

189 Ritchie 164, having conscientiously drawn up a list of 21 such words, arbitrarily selects four (!) of them 'which might be said to belong particularly to tragic diction' (πανδίκωϲ, πρόϲηµαι, ϲαλεύω, φυτάλµιοϲ‎) and concludes that 'it must be purely a matter of chance that these are not found elsewhere in Euripides'.

190 See Index, s.v. 'Rhesus (play)—uoces Aeschyleae'. Cf. further Eysert 1891: 27–9; Ritchie 160–1. For empty grandiloquence in Rh. as a botched imitation of Aeschylean style cf. already Morstadt 1827: 63, though Albert 1876: 31–2 considers this as a sign that Euripides was an impressionable neophyte when he wrote Rh. For a recent reassessment of Aeschylean bombast see A. J. Podlecki in Cairns and Liapis 2006: 11–29, essentially confirming the orthodox view about Aeschylus' proclivity for high-flown language.

191 See Index, s.v. 'Rhesus (play)—uoces Sophocleae'. See also Ritchie 162–3. The word-lists in Rolfe 1893: 79–80 contain 67 items found in A., E. and Rh. but not in S., as opposed to only 18 items found only in S. and Rh. These statistics are of value, even though Rolfe's data are not always accurate; for instance, the list of words shared only by S. and Rh. should not have included ἀγύρτηϲ‎ (see 503–5 n.), ἀγχιτέρµων‎ (see 426–8 n.), διφρηλατέω‎ (see 781–3 n.), εὔβουλοϲ‎ (see 105 n.), κατευνάζω‎ (see 611–12 n.), ὀλοφύροµαι‎ (895–8 n.), πεδιάϲ‎ (282–3 n.), or; ῥινόϲ‎ (784–6 n.).

192 See, for instance, 49–51, 72–3, 178, 193–4, 458–60a, 477–8, 480, 494–5, 523–5a, 609b–610, 611–12, 627–9, 702, 752–3, 784–6, 792, 829–31 nn. Cf. Eysert 1891: 21–6.

193 For Homeric echoes in Aeschylus see Sideras 1971; in Sophocles: S. Radt in Entretiens Hardt, 29 (Vandœuvres-Geneva, 1982), 185–231 at 199–202; P. E. Easterling, BICS 31 (1984), 1–8. Even in the case of Euripides, Eysert 1891: 25–6 showed that, for instance, Ph. and Cyc. are closer to Homeric diction than Rh.

194 For a list of Iliadic echoes in Rh., both thematic and verbal (not all of them convincing), see Fantuzzi 2006: 251–60.

195 For echoes from Pindar see 210–13, 482, 554–6 nn.; cf. also 380–1 n. For Archilochus see 132, 166 nn. There may also be reminiscences from Ion Lyr. in 536–7 (see n.).

197 Compare e.g. Rh. 122 with E. Or. 1568 (122 n.); Rh. 415 with Hipp. 1037 (414–15 n.); Rh. 505 with Hec. 239 (503–5 n.); Rh. 581 with Med. 498 (580–1 n.); Rh. 655 with Hcld. 157 (653–5 n.); Rh. 772 with Med. 612 (see 770–2 n.); Rh. 779 with Alc. 188 (see 778–9 n.); Rh. 808 with Hcld. 960 (see 808–10 n.); Rh. 869 with E. fr. 696. 1 Kn. (see 869 n.); Rh. 916 with E. fr. 370. 59–60 Kn. (see 915–16 n.); and 974 with fr. 885 Kn. (see 974–5 n.). Cf. on this point already Beck 1780: 25 with n. 1.

198 A comparable case (one among many) is Solon fr. 30 West: ἀρχῶν ἄκουε καὶ δικαίωϲ κἀδίκωϲ‎ (with West's testimonia), the latter hemistich of which occurs again in [Men.] Mon. 592 Pernigotti (codd. Wo Wi), and is somewhat varied in P.Oxy. XLII 3006, col. i. 10 ἄρχοντι π(ε)ίθου καὶ δικαίωϲ κἀδίκωϲ‎ (wrongly labelled by ed. pr. P. Parsons as 'unidentified': see J. Diggle, ZPE 16 (1975), 76); cf. also Ar. Ach. 373 ἀνὴρ ἀλαζὼν καὶ δίκαια κἄδικα‎. For similar instances in gnomic literature see V. Liapis, HSCP 103 (2007), 261–98 at 292 n. 88.

199 M. Parry 1930: 103 also cites a couple of less convincing exx. (cf. Ritchie 205): E. Ph. 1194–5 (see Mastronarde ad loc.) ~ A. fr. 38 R.; E. fr. 362. 5 Kn. ~ ?A. PV 505. On repetitions between different works of the same dramatist or between works of different dramatists (cf. Ritchie 205 n. 1) see, e.g, A. B. Cook, CR 16 (1902), 146–58, 256–67 at 151–4; M. Parry 1930: 97–114; P. W. Harsh, Hermes, 72 (1937), 435–49 (on repetition in E.); H. W. Miller, AJPh 65 (1944), 26–36 (on repetition in Ar.); P. E. Easterling, Hermes, 101 (1973), 14–34 (on repetition in S.).

200 Cf. Beck 1780: 25 with nn. 2, 3; Pearson 1921: 58; Strohm 1959: 265, 274 n. 2; on such repetition as a sign of second-rate imitation see Hermann 1828: 290. A high rate of repetition, even of the commonest words, is also found in Apollodorus' speeches that are traditionally attributed to Demosthenes: see J. C. Trevett, Apollodoros the Son of Pasion (Oxford, 1992), 108–8; on repetititiveness in Against Neaera see Kapparis (n. 160) 52–4.

201 See e.g. Jebb on S. OC 554; Davies on S. Tr. 88 ff. The most notorious instance of such repetition is perhaps E. Ion 2–3 θεῶν‎ παλαιὸν οἶκον ἐκτρίβων‎ θεῶν‎ | µιᾶϲ ἔφυϲε Μαῖαν‎. On 'careless' repetition and whether it was deemed noticeable by the Greeks see P. E. Pickering, CQ2 53 (2003), 490–9.

202 See Index, s.v. 'Rhesus (play)—repetitions'. Cf. also the use of ὑπερβαλών‎ IV. LANGUAGE AND STYLE; METRE, at line-end, in 844 and 989 (Pearson 1921: 58).

203 This important observation is passed over by Ritchie 218–19. Note, however, Sneller 1949: 71 n. 2, who points out that there are irreducible repetitions in the Seven, mostly called for by the subject, e.g. πύλαι, πύργοϲ, µόροϲ, λιτή, λαγχάνειν, ἐπώνυµοϲ, κόµποϲ‎ and derivatives, βία‎ + gen. etc.

204 Cf. e.g. Su. 428 = Med. 546 (quoted below in the text); El. 255 = Hipp. 885 (cf. Valckenaer ad l.) εὐνῆϲ τῆϲ ἐµῆϲ ἔτλη θιγεῖν‎; Hel. 780 = Ph. 972 (quoted below in the text). See further the list in W. S. Barrett 2007: 472 n. 12. We shall see immediately below, however, that the quasi-formulaic character of most of these lines may partly account for their repetition.

205 Cf. Hipp. 898 ~ 1049 ξένην ἐπ' αἶαν λυπρὸν ἀντλήϲει(ϲ) βίον‎ (no interpolation to be suspected, cf. Barrett on 1049, Valckenaer on 1048; the echo is probably deliberate); Hipp. 1031 = 1075 = 1191 εἰ κακὸϲ πέφυκ' ἀνήρ‎ (cf. 394–5 n.); Alc. 419 ὡϲ πᾶϲιν ἡμῖν κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται‎ ~ 782 βροτοῖϲ ἅπαϲι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται‎; Herc. 169 = 733 = 756 τῶν δεδραµένων δίκην‎ (a deliberate echo, cf. Bond on 756). For Aeschylean instances cf. (Sneller 1949: 72) Th. 245 = 475 ἱππικῶν φρυαγµάτων‎, 431 = 446 µεϲηµβρινοῖϲι θάλπεϲιν‎ (446 del. Verrall, prob. West). On Selbstzitate in tragedy see also E. Stemplinger, Das Plagiat in der griechischen Literatur (Leipzig and Berlin, 1912), 189–90.

206 Pickering 2000: 86–7, 89, 100. On 'unconscious repetitions' in the Greek tragedians (esp. E.) see also Cook (n. 199 above), 151–4; Jackson 1955: 220–2; cf. also Pickering at n. 201 above.

207 Cf. again 394–5 n., and Kannicht 1966: 296 n. 2, who makes an all-important distinction between 'sinnvollen' and 'sinnlosen Iterationen'.

208 The Helen line was deleted by Valckenaer (prob. Diggle), although both Kannicht on Hel. 780–1 and Mastronarde on Ph. 972 think it should be retained.

209 Quotation from Ritchie 224.

210 Cf. also Ritchie 319–27 for a convenient overview of the different types of metre used in the lyrics of Rh.

211 Cf. already Matthiae (p. 4) and especially Hermann 1828: 288, who perceptively remarked that the Rh. author is no bolder or more innovative in his lyrics than one should expect from a mere imitator of classical tragedy.

212 See Ritchie 259–344, and Willink 2002/3.

213 See e.g. 454–66 n. under 'Metre', 527–64 n. under 'Metre'; and 692–727 n.

214 See G. Hermann, Observationes de Graecae linguae dialectis (Leipzig, 1807), p. x = Opuscula, i (Leipzig, 1827), 136; cf. also his Elementa doctrinae metricae (Leipzig, 1816), 124.

215 West 1982: 86.

216 For a history of the relevant scholarship, and for detailed discussion of the criteria involved in determining resolution, see Ceadel 1941. See also, with criticism of Ceadel's method, Cropp and Fick (n. 168 above), 1–8.

217 The percentages are taken from Ceadel 1941: 70, Table 1.

218 Cf. already Ceadel 1941: 72–4.

219 Quotation from West 1982: 86. Porter 1913: 379 objects that 'We have no evidence that [Moschion] founded a school.' Indeed; but neither have we any evidence against the assumption that Moschion's metrical strictness was part of a general tendency that also characterized (or perhaps culminated in) the metrical rigour of the Hellenistic poets.

220 See Harrison 1914: 209–10.

221 Cf. Descroix 1931: 59–60, who concludes that the versification of Rh. is thoroughly un-Euripidean, apes the style of Aeschylus, and even goes beyond that to imitate the iambic poets. See, however, Ritchie's strictures (280–3).

222 See the table in Harrison 1914: 207. For discussion of Harrison's results see Ritchie 274–80.

223 Spengel 1857: 13–14.

224 Cf. D. Kovacs, Euripidea Altera (Leiden, 1996), 97–8, 102–3.

225 Ritchie 274–80 attempts to downplay the importance of Harrison's argument by attempting a comparison with E. Hcld. and finding, in one scene, a higher proportion of third-'foot' spondees than Rh. Embarrassingly, however, his comparative tables are marred by blunders: as pointed out by Fitton-Brown 1964: 71, Ritchie 'has inadvertently exchanged all the figures in his two columns and also entered 76 instead of 67 in the sixth place of the second column!' For criticisms against Harrison cf. also Ceadel 1941: 72–4.

226 See E. Harrison, CR 55 (1941), 22–5 at 24.

227 Quotation from Harrison 1914: 210.

228 Cf. Webster (above, n. 176); Fitton-Brown 1964: 72 as against Ritchie's absurd assertion (293) that 'The simple fact that trochaic tetrameter is used in Rhesus but not in the earlier plays of Euripides cannot in itself carry any weight as evidence that Rhesus was not written by Euripides in the early part of his career' (emphasis mine).

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