This essay aims to redefine the place of the Camenae within the evolution of Roman carmen. It analyses the documented association of the purifying fons Camenarum with the cult of Vesta and by extension with the salvific prayer-carmina of her virgines; and it takes the Camenae from the archaic origins of their cult, with reflections on Etruscan and other territorial interests, to their appearance in the epic laudes of men in the third and second centuries BC. The identification of Camenae and Muses, it is argued, pre-dates Livius Andronicus' “Camena,” and is best understood as a component of the Numa-legend as it emerged towards the end of the fourth century. Pythagorean Muse-cult, reflecting the Muses' traditional interest in civic homonoia (concord) and law-making kings, played a part; and an agent of change was the reformist Appius Claudius Caecus, author of the first attested Roman carmen. The wider context lies in the cultural interplay of Rome, Etruria, and Greek southern Italy in the early and middle Republic.
The Camenae in Cult, History, and Song*
A version of this paper was presented at the Congreso “Lengua Poética y Religión en Grecia y Roma,” held by the Facultad de Filología at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, 31 May-1 June 2012. I am grateful to the organizers for their kind invitation to participate, and to those present for stimulating discussion. I also thank Professor Denis Feeney, Professor Joshua Katz, and Professor Christopher Smith for comment and bibliographical advice, and the Editors and two referees of Classical Antiquity, for their help in getting the article into final form. For its conclusions, I remain solely responsible.
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Alex Hardie; The Camenae in Cult, History, and Song. Classical Antiquity 1 April 2016; 35 (1): 45–85. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2016.35.1.45
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