This book provides a comprehensive study of the Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi, an influential ancient Greek text that narrates the lives of Homer and Hesiod and their legendary poetic contest. It offers new perspectives on the nature, uses, and legacy of the text and its tale of literary competition.
Located within a recent trend in scholarship that treats ancient biographies as modes of literary reception, the first chapter discusses how, for authors throughout antiquity and beyond, staging an imaginary competition between Homer and Hesiod was an adaptable and flexible way to convey a diverse range of speculations on epic poetry.
The study of the manuscript tradition reassesses the relationships between the text of the Certamen preserved in its entirety in one single manuscript, and a small number of fragmentary witnesses on papyrus. It also presents new textual evidence demonstrating the success and circulation of the text in the Renaissance, and a new critical edition with translation.
The commentary focuses on how the text characterises the two poets and encourages reflection on their respective wisdom, aesthetic and ethical values, divine inspiration, and Panhellenic appeal. It also addresses the role of Alcidamas as a source for the Certamen and identifies other sophistic influences.