The Comic Function of Ekphrasis in Theocritus’ Pharmakeutriai

  • Kazimierz Korus Jagiellonian Univesrsity in Krakow
Keywords: mime; Theocritus; comic character of the ekphrasis Pharmakeutria


According to the author, a proper interpretation should have a genological character. It means that one should accept the obvious truth that this work is a mime. Therefore it has its distinctive features. It is also harmoniously combined with the requirements of lyrical song. It is designed to arouse to laughter, or rather perhaps smile (γελωτοποιεῖν), and not to move with wistful song of a complaining girl, a fact that has up to know been assumed by modern scholars in all earnestness. The ekphrasis of magic examined by Fritz Graf (1995) confirms the presumptions of interpretation. This scene (l. 1-63) is comic in character, let it suffice to mention the comic tirades of the maid and four (I mention only the principal ones, not all of them) mode to arouse laughter, i.e. διαστρέφειν τὸ ἀληϑές, παράχρουν, ἑτερόσχημον, πλεονάζειν combined with αὔξησις (amplificatio or gradatio ad absurdum). Similarly, they have been used in the second part of the work in combinations between the first and the third, the second and the fourth. This in an unambiguous manner confirms from the genological point of view that Pharmakeutria belongs to mime as a literary genre.


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