Germanicus Iulius Caesar translated Aratus’ Phaenomena when the Roman interest in astronomy and astrology was on the rise. The Romans, including the imperator, were amazed by the fact that with the knowledge of the motion of celestial objects one can predict the future. And people wanted to learn more about the stars and the constellations. Did Germanicus’ work perform the task of teaching its readers about the heavens? Did he manage to play his role as a teacher? Did he only translate the information contained in Aratus’ text, or did he transfer even the didactic aspect of the poem? And how did he try to make the lecture more interesting? Did he make an attempt to interact with the reader? In this paper, Germanicus’ text will be examined focusing on his didactic strategy. The core of the paper is the analysis of manners used by Germanicus to meet characteristic constituent features of the genre of didactic poetry, which will be briefly introduced in the beginning.
The present contribution starts with the elimination of the recent hypothesis of an Empedoclean model for Lucretius' hymn to Venus and returns to the general tradition of Hesiodic and Hellenistic didactic poetry being its background. Hesiod's two proems, the Homeric Hymns, Aratus' proem and Cleanthes' Hymn offer the material to elucidate the typology of Lucretius' first proem. Then follows a study of the sources (or that of the traditional background) to the main elements of praise. One of the results of this study seems to be an emphasis on the importance of hominum divumque voluptas as a symbol of the Epicurean message about the gods and man, another, the highlighting of the very extensive influence of the 5th Homeric hymn to Aphrodite on the first twenty verses of Lucretius, and the third, the quotation of Parmenides B12, 3 for the equation of Venus and Natura, combined with the traditional (not the Empedoclean) connexion between Ares and Aphrodite. The interpretation of the hymn as a whole starts from the supposition that there is no contradiction between its symbolic meaning and the teaching of Epicurus. This may find support in a study of the concept of God in Lucretius and his ways of metaphorical usage. The background to this is given by Epicurus' attitude towards traditional religion, an attitude which has been followed by Lucretius and given expression in his attack against turpis religio as well as in his adaptation of traditional religious motifs to his poetry.
In the Western literary tradition the concept of the Golden Age and its identification with a special location is as old as the earliest poetic compositions, for it features prominently in the 8th c. BCE didactic epic Works and Days by the Greek poet Hesiod. Filtered through the sophisticated and poetically-determined poetry of the Alexandrians (Theocritus, Aratus), the Golden Age, now linked to an idyllic pastoral landscape, becomes the centerpiece, the common point of reference of all ten poems that comprise Vergil’s earliest work, the Eclogues. In Vergil’s pastoral art the Golden Age is identified with Arcadia, a location allegedly evoking the Greek area at the center of the Peloponnese, proverbial for its rusticity and shunning of civilization, and as a result, free of all pretention. The fashioning, significance and transformation of the Arcadia theme in literature, both ancient and later, and the evolution of the Augustan model, is the topic of the present volume, the structure and objectives of which are detailed in this introductory chapter.