Swift, L. A.
Archilochus the ‘anti-hero’? Heroism, flight and values in Homer and the new Archilochus fragment (P.Oxy. LXIX 4708).
Journal of Hellenic Studies, 132 pp. 139–155.
This article investigates how flight in battle is presented in the newly discovered Archilochus fragment (P.Oxy LXIX 4708) and compares it to the Homeric treatment of the issue. It argues that the traditional dichotomy between scholars who see Archilochus as ‘subverting’ epic values and those who see him as continuous with them is too simplistic, and that the new poem provides clear evidence of a more nuanced approach to epic material. The fragment’s approach reflects many of the subtleties found in Homeric attitudes to flight, and in this respect we see Archilochus using the cultural authority of epic to add weight to his argument. Nevertheless, the choice of the Telephus myth, which tells the story of a mistaken conflict, is an ironic one, and the narrative foregrounds the ways in which the Achaeans at Mysia fall short of heroic norms and perhaps casts aspersions on the contemporary scenario to which the mythological conflict appears to be compared. Hence the poem contains competing strands of consolation, celebration of an aristeia and mockery in a way which demonstrates Archilochus’ varied and subtle relationship to epic.
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