• Beating the Galatians: Ideologies, Analogies and Allegories in Hellenistic Literature and Art

    Thomas J. Nelson (see profile)
    Ancient Greece & Rome
    Greek literature, Hellenistic, History, Galatians, Gigantomachy (Greek mythology), Callimachus, Seleucids, Ptolemaic dynasty, 305-30 B.C., Lucian, of Samosata
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Permanent URL:
    Hellenistic literature and art commemorated victories over the Galatians through a variety of analogies and allegories, ranging from the historical Persian Wars to the cosmic Gigantomachy: each individual victory was incorporated into a larger sequence in which order constantly quelled the forces of chaos. This paper explores this analogical phenomenon by setting it within a larger Hellenistic context. The first section analyses the various analogies and allegories employed by the Aetolians, Ptolemies and Attalids, comparing these with their 5th-century Athenian precedent and reassessing the case for a Galatian allegory in the Pergamene Great Altar’s Gigantomachy frieze; the second examines how Callimachus manipulated the common Greek-barbarian antithesis with possible intercultural and metapoetic elements; and the third asks how Seleucid ideology might relate to this larger pattern, focusing on Lucian’s account of Antiochus’ ‘Elephant Victory’ (Zeux. 8–11). Although Lucian’s account probably derives from a prose source and not directly from Simonides of Magnesia’s court epic on the subject, I contend that the Syrian writer is likely indebted to the Seleucids’ own self-presentation in portraying Antiochus as the heir of the Achaemenids through a distinctly orientalising motif: the deployment of an exotic secret weapon. The Greek-barbarian dichotomy so prominent elsewhere thus collapses: the Seleucid king was depicted as the ideal blend of East and West, a worthy successor of Alexander the Great.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    All Rights Reserved


    Item Name: pdf nelson-beating-the-galatians-am.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 78