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Headword: *parqe/nios
Adler number: pi,664
Translated headword: Parthenius, Parthenios
Vetting Status: high
[Son] of Heraclides and Eudora, though Hermippus says Tetha [was his mother]; from Nicaea or Myrleia.[1] A poet writing elegies and in various metres. He was taken by Cinna as war booty, when the Romans defeated Mithridates [sc. VI Eupator] in war. Then he was freed by reason of education and lived until the time of the Emperor Tiberius. He wrote elegies, Aphrodite, the funeral elegy for the wife Arete, an Encomium of Arete in three books, and many other works.
He wrote about metamorphosis.
Greek Original:
*parqe/nios, *(hraklei/dou kai\ *eu)dw/ras, *(/ermippos de\ *th/qas fhsi/: *nikaeu\s h)\ *murleano/s, e)legeiopoio\s kai\ me/trwn diafo/rwn poihth/s. ou(=tos e)lh/fqh u(po\ *ki/nna la/furon, o(/te *miqrida/thn *(rwmai=oi katepole/mhsan: ei)=ta h)fei/qh dia\ th\n pai/deusin kai\ e)bi/w me/xri *tiberi/ou tou= *kai/saros. e)/graye de\ e)legei/as, *)afrodi/thn, *)arh/ths e)pikh/deion th=s gameth=s, *)arh/ths e)gkw/mion e)n trisi\ bibli/ois: kai\ a)/lla polla/. peri\ metamorfw/sews e)/graye.
C1 BC/AD; OCD4 Parthenius.
Parthenius is best known to us as a teacher of several Roman poets from Transpadane Gaul, including Virgil and Cornelius Gallus (see Dyer). After the Second Mithridatic War in 73 BCE the Romans enslaved the inhabitants of Nicaea in Bithynia, as they did to all the Greek cities that had preferred Mithridates to the crippling Roman taxation system, thus providing an influx of anti-Roman intellectuals who were to change the intellectual history of Rome. The Cinna mentioned here is almost certainly the poet Helvius Cinna, who came from a Roman family prominent in the territory north of Cremona; his work was influenced by Parthenius (and his death is immortalized as a case of mistaken identity in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar).
To say that Parthenius was freed from slavery "by reason of education" is ambiguous, either "because of his learning" or "in order that he become an educator" (see Dyer).
The status of the work on Arete, Queen of the Phaeacians in the Odyssey, in three books is unclear. It is possible that the encomium was divided into three books but more probable that Aphrodite is the name of the first, Funeral Elegy of the second, Encomium of the third. We have surviving the Erotica Pathemata dedicated to Cornelius Gallus and containing plots for works on female sexual obsessions (recently edited in English and in German: see bibliography). Clausen has argued that Vergil based the suicide of Dido in the Aeneid on one of them.
We know nothing of his work on Metamorphoses (also mentioned at nu 261), a subject also undertaken by Ovid, perhaps in reaction.
[1] Myrleia may have been a colony of Nicaea in Bithynia (modern Iznik); cf. alpha 4173. At mu 1442 Suda confuses the adjective Myrleanos used here, as if it was the name of the city, and claims it was later known as Apamea (but obviously not the well-known Apamea in Syria). Its position is not known. For Nikaia as P's city of origin cf. Stephanus of Byzantium s.v.
Clausen, Wendell, Virgil's Aeneid and the Tradition of Hellenistic Poetry (Cambridge, 1987) 5-8
Dyer, Robert R., "Where did Parthenius Teach Vergil?" Vergilius 42 (1996) 19-24
Lightfoot, Jane L. Parthenius of Nicaea: the extant works (Oxford, 1999)
Brodersen, Kai, Liebeslieden in der Antike: die Erotica Pathemata des Parthenios (Darmstadt, 2000)
Keywords: biography; chronology; economics; ethics; geography; history; military affairs; meter and music; poetry; women
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 3 November 2001@09:42:49.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented bibliography; cosmetics) on 4 November 2001@04:53:22.
David Whitehead (augmented bibliography) on 4 November 2001@10:37:49.
Robert Dyer (Slightly altered notes and bibliography) on 5 November 2001@03:44:49.
David Whitehead (augmented note and keywords; cosmetics) on 18 June 2002@03:32:12.
Catharine Roth (added italics) on 31 August 2011@12:04:09.
Catharine Roth (removed defunct link) on 1 September 2011@00:54:12.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 17 September 2013@04:10:41.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 10 August 2014@04:20:19.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 15 June 2021@19:39:21.


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