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The Date of Corinna

C. M. Bowra

The Classical Review / Volume 45 / Issue 01 / February 1931, pp 4 - 5

DOI: 10.1017/S0009840X00054834, Published online: 27 October 2009

Link to this article: http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0009840X00054834

How to cite this article:

C. M. Bowra (1931). The Date of Corinna. The Classical Review, 45, pp 4-5 doi:10.1017/

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evolved the very peculiar theory that generally recognised, that it is useless
the connexion of the Greeks with the to reply with a contemptuous ignoro,
Troad dates only from 700 B.C. And, ignorabo. The attitude of this school
lastly, Rudolf Dahms, author of Bias of Homerists will probably recall to
und Achilleis, in a review of Bethe's some a historic scene at Towcester a
work, quotes the above words from the century ago. ' He won't,' said Mr.
preface, and remarks that it is ' delight- Slurk; 'not that he's afraid. Oh no!
ful to read this, in view of so much He won't?
blilhenden Phantasiegebildes.'1 But the A. SHEWAN.
cogency of these identifications and St. Andrews.
their bearing on both Greek prehistory P.S.—Kretschmer returns to Alak-
and Homeric origins have been so
sandus and Vilusa in Glotta XVIII.
Phil. Woch. 1927, 1282.


IN Hermes LXV. (1930), pp. 356-365, of literary anecdotes requires some basis
Mr. E. Lobel has put forward, with of fact, and when Mr. Lobel denies the
some uncertainty, a view that Corinna whole tradition outright, he strikes at
was not a contemporary of Pindar, but the roots of ancient chronology and can
lived at some later period before 300 B.C. only be justified if he provides really
Coming from an authority so distin- cogent evidence to prove his case.
guished, and combined with much that This indeed he tries to do. He
is acute and just on questions of lan- points out that Corinna, unlike most
guage and metre, this opinion is bound early poets, commonly fails to lengthen
to receive serious consideration. But if a vowel naturally short before the
we examine it closely, we shall see that combination of a mute and a liquid. In
the arguments on which it is founded this respect her practice is the opposite
are unpersuasive. of that of Sappho and Alcaeus, and Mr.
Mr. Lobel's first argument is that the Lobel finds this 'would appear unques-
view that Corinna was a contemporary tionably to be a sign of relative late-
of Pindar is based on the fragment ness.' Here, then, is an important view
where she takes Myrtis to task for trying requiring close consideration. The
to compete with him (Bergk P.L.G. facts are undoubtedly as Mr. Lobel
III., fr. 21). This, we are told, is no states them, but they do not prove his
evidence for date; nor need we regard contention of a late date. In the first
it as corroborating the different stories place, though Sappho and Alcaeus
of Pindar's relations with Corinna lengthen naturally short vowels before
known from Plutarch, Aelian, Pausanias the combination of a mute and a liquid,
and Suidas. Mr. Lobel dismisses these not all early poets follow the same
pieces of evidence as ' contradictory and practice. Pindar freely leaves them
somewhat childish information.' It is short. In Olympian I. there are nine
of course true that the scholars of cases of it : 1. 2 e%ox& TTXOVTOV, 1. 17
Alexandria and Byzantium liked to have Qafxa rpdire^av, 1. 19 vwo yXv/cyrdrais,
stories which'involved the juxtaposition 1. 40 'AyXadrplaivav, 1. 60 f^era rpi&v,
of famous names, and that as they ib. orl KXiyfraK, 1. 66 TO^ raxuTrorfiov,
recorded quarrels between Pindar and 1. 89 ave<f>p6vna-ev, 1. 106 eVtV/JOTro?, and
Bacchylides, so they liked to think of this frequency of shorts is maintained
Pindar being taught or censured or throughout his work. Bacchylides pro-
defeated by Corinna. The stories vides : I. 4 aloXdtrpvfwoi'i, I I I . 65
themselves may well be fabrications, •n-Xeiova ypvabv, ib. 83 ocrid ZpSsv, IV. 2
but they would never have won any ac- 6 Xpt/o-OKO/ua?, V . 107 evda nXij^vpmv,
ceptance had the Alexandrian scholars ib. 153 vvfiarov he irveav, X I I . 45 6va-
not believed that Pindar and Corinna al Kpalvwv, ib. 74 Tr&TpaMV, ib. 191
were contemporaries. Even the tritest i re fipoTwfaXea, XIV. 44 SieBpa-
fi£v, XVI. I Kvavonpaypa, ib. 39 7ro\e- that of poets who are on any calculation
two generations earlier.
fiapX% Kvcotricov, ib. 108 vypoicri -Koaaiv,
ib. I l l 'A/juplrpirav, XVIII. 16 <f>evyi A second serious objection may be
Xpvaea. The papyrus of Ibycus' poem levelled against Mr. Lobel's theory.
to Polycrates (Ox. Pap. 1790) gives: He says that there is not ' any reason
1. 21 apx% H\ei<r0epl8a<i, 1. 47 IloXv-based on internal evidence why we
Kpare<; ; and Timocreon's poem to should not suppose that she lived at a
Themistocles gives three cases in twelve time when the form in which her poems
lines: 1. 7 e? TrdTpiB' 'lakvaov, 1. 10 were made public corresponded exactly
w7ro7rXe<»9, 1. 11 yjrvxpa icpea. Nor is . . . to the form in which the Berlin
the usage entirely absent from the papyrus preserves them.' This means
Lesbian poets, on whom Mr. Lobel that there was no fisraypafifiaTicrfioi
bases his case. In the normal poems, and that the poems as we have them,
of Sappho we find 6ir\oi<rt {a 5, 19), written in the Boeotian spelling used
and in the abnormal fiaXoBpoirrjes from 350 to 250 B.C., are substantially
(i| 2 a 2). The Wedding of Hector and as they were written by Corinna. This
Andromache cannot be pressed as evi- point however is delusive. The poems
dence, as its authorship and date are as we have them cannot have been
alike uncertain, but it provides 1. 8 written just like this, for the simple
iXiy/iard xpvaia and 1. 14 d%\o?. reason that the existing spelling causes
Having drawn his rules to exclude these metrical anomalies which are removed
cases, Mr. Lobel thinks that oTrXotat if we substitute a more normal form.
must be corrupt, and that /ia\dSp6'7rr)e<iThe papyrus gives us I. 20 icpovtpiav, II.
being ' abnormal' needs no further con- Boviv, 59 icpovcpdSav, 69 aZovroiv ?, 74
sideration. It is equally easy to believe Ovpiefc, in accordance with the revised
that Sappho sometimes, though not Boeotian spelling. But these forms are
commonly, varied her usual practice, all unmetrical, and the metre can only
and allowed a vowel naturally short to be restored if we read Kpv<f>iav, Sveiv or
remain so before a mute and a liquid. Svoiv, KpvcpdSav, dSvrtop, 'Tptev?. The
The general conclusion to be drawn conclusion can only be that Corinna
from this evidence is that the practice wrote a language more akin to the
of Corinna does not differ substantially standardised language of Greek poetry
from that of Pindar, Bacchylides, Iby- than the spelling of the papyrus
cus, and Timocreon. She does indeed would at first lead us to think. She
employ this usage more than they do, wrote before the new spelling was intro-
but she agrees with them in employing duced; it distorted her quantities and
it in addition to lengthening a short no argument can be drawn from it to
vowel before a mute and a liquid. Her fix her date after its introduction.
freedom in this is markedly different The conclusion must be that Mr.
from the strict rules of Alcman and Lobel's case breaks down on these two
Alcaeus, and, to a lesser degree, from points, and that, if he wishes to discredit
those of Sappho. But if we accept the an ancient tradition supported by quite
traditional date for Corinna, this is just reputable classical authority, he must
the result we should expect. Her prac- find other and more cogent evidence.
tice is that of her contemporaries, not C. M. BOWRA.
Wadham College, Oxford.


cJ/ vvv, teal rbv iWciirovr' &TI of the unusual dXBaLveiv ica/cd of 557, I
i/c/ialas, Kal T6V Qtifiov xP^""fi
12 (SXauTij/iOK iXSalvoura (Tw/xaTos iroktiv, can get a sense; but not a good one.
13 &pav T tyov0' %KO.(FTOV outre ffVfAirpeTris, In this crisis the boys too must fight;
x6X« T' aprjyew Kal 6e&v eyxupluv and so must the old men; but if the
fiiti/jLotffi, Tifjias /A7; '%akei<pdijvai Trore.
painful topic of tumours is to be
I HAVE been trying to make this out broached at all, one would have thought
legitimately; and by a fair comparison that such a handicap to the warrior