The Weight of Lightness or Shoes of Philetas Cover Image
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A könnyűség súlya, avagy Philétas cipői
The Weight of Lightness or Shoes of Philetas

Author(s): Elvira Pataki
Subject(s): Philosophy, Studies of Literature, Aesthetics, Ancient Philosphy, Philology
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Keywords: Philetas; lepton; Aelien; Athenaeus; Hellenistic aesthetic; melissa; poetological metaphor;

Summary/Abstract: Present-day knowledge about Philetas, the first poietes-grammatikos is extremely scant. According to the only information, which seems rather irrelevant, and which was transmitted by late authors, the poet was extremely thin as a result of his laborious poetical activity. In certain sources (Aelian, Athenaeus) the motif of thinness is completed by a bizarre note: the artist, a leptoteros, had to wear lead weights on his feet against the force of winds. The adjective describing his figure cannot be separated of the primordial aesthetical notion of lepton, and it may suggest a poetological interpretation. In order to support this possibility, the article sheds light on a zoological paradox of Aelien which mentions the peculiar habit of bees, light and musical animals and strenuous gleaners of flowers, who carry stones as counterweight against the winds. The implicit image of a poet as a bee is a traditional metaphor with sacral connotations in the Greek literature, which reappears in the Hellenism. The association of the Coan poet with the bees would fit well into the tradition about the poetry and the creative style of Philetas. He was known to have an ardent interest in the natural sciences (periergos), therefore among his poetical and glossographical fragments more than one item concerning hive, bougony, honey can be found. According to reconstructions, the melissa could have had an important role in his Demeter. On the other hand, the critical announcements of Callimachus and Theocritus on Philetas’ poetry employ the same metapoetical imagery of nature (see the rivalry of the locust and the frog in the 7 Idyll, the opposition of the ear and the oak in the Prologue of the Aitia). The best known work of Philetas, the poem of the alder which is considered as a selfportrait, is based on this as well. Accordingly, the representation of the poet in the anecdote has poetological allusions through the motifs of the slenderness and the counterweights.

  • Issue Year: 53/2009
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 195-217
  • Page Count: 23
  • Language: Hungarian