Helen Epigrammatopoios. Classical Antiquity. 2005;24(1):1-39.Abstract.
Ancient commentators identify several passages in the Iliad as ‘epigrams.’ This paper explores the consequences of taking the scholia literally and understanding these passages in terms of inscription. Two tristichs spoken by Helen in the teikhoskopia are singled out for special attention. These lines can be construed not only as epigrams in the general sense, but more specifically as captions appended to an image of the Achaeans encamped on the plain of Troy. Since Helen’s lines to a certain extent correspond to the function and style of catalogic poetry, reading them specifically as captions leads to a more nuanced understanding of both Homeric poetry and Homeric self-reference. By contrasting Helen’s ‘epigrams’ with those of Hektor, one can also discern a gender-based differentiation of poetic functions.