Tantalizing Testimonia: A Collection of Tidbits on the Homeric Batrakhomuomakhia

Yes, we are obsessed with the Homeric “Battle of Frogs and Mice”–but that obsession is nearing its telos as we get closer to completing our commentary.  Here is a random collection of ancient testimonies about the poem:

Greek Anthology, Exhortatory Epigrams 90.1–2:

῞Ομηρος αὐτοῦ γυμνάσαι γνῶσιν θέλων, / τῶν βατράχων ἔπλασε καὶ μυῶν μῦθον.

“Because he wanted to exercise his mind / Homer made up the tale of frogs and mice”

Preface to the Scholia to the Batrakhomuomakhia

“[Homer] adapted epic for young children who were especially excited for games [paignia], those whom a general education still milk-fed”.

ἁρμόζει μείραξιν ἁπαλοῖς ὲπτοημένοις περὶ τὰ παίγνια, ὅσους δηλαδὴ ἔτι ἐγκύκλιος παίδευσις γαλακτοτροφεῖ

Plutarch, On the Malice of Herodotus

“And last of all, [he made] the Greeks who were stationed at Plataia ignorant of the contest right up to the end of it, as if there were a Frog-War going on, the kind of thing Pigres wrote while playing around nonsensically in epic verse.”

τέλος δέ, καθημένους ἐν Πλαταιαῖς ἀγνοῆσαι μέχρι τέλους τὸν ἀγῶνα τοὺς ῞Ελληνας, ὥσπερ βατραχομαχίας γινομένης, ἣν Πίγρης ὁ ᾿Αρτεμισίας ἐν ἔπεσι παίζων καὶ φλυαρῶν ἔγραψε.

Statius, Preface to Silvae 8-10

“But we read the Culex and we know the Batrachomachia too / there is no famous poet who has not toyed in style more relaxed than in his other works”

sed et Culicem legimus et Batrachomachiam etiam agnoscimus, nec quisquam est inlustrium poetarum qui non aliquid operibus suis stilo remissiore praeluserit 

Martial, Epigram 14.183

“Read the frogs sung in Maeonian song / or my trifles to smooth out your brow”

, Perlege Maeonio cantatas carmine ranas / Et frontem nugis solvere disce meis ().

Plut. Life of Agesilaos. 15.5:

“Men, when we were defeating Darius there, it was like a Mouse-battle in Arcadia”

῎Εοικεν, ὦ ἄνδρες, ὅτε Δαρεῖον ἡμεῖς ἐνικῶμεν ἐνταῦθα, ἐκεῖ τις ἐν ᾿Αρκαδίᾳ γεγονέναι μυομαχία

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