La simbologia del mirto e della malva in Luc. Adv. ind. 3

Francesco Nicolai


This paper aims to investigate myrtle and mauve’s symbolic meaning in Adv. Ind. 3, in which Lucian parodies Hesiod’s Theogony (vv. 5-34) to attack his opponent – an ignorant book collector. Making a satirical comparison between Hesiod’s poetic wisdom and the poor knowledge which Lucian’s enemy pretends to acquire by purchasing expensive books, Lucian creates the following parodic scenario: Hesiod receives a laurel branch from the Muses as a symbol of his poetic coronation and Mnemosyne’s daughters whip the bibliophile with branches of myrtle and mauve to chase him away from Helicon. Thanks to a detailed study of the symbolic meanings associated with myrtle and mauve within Greek and Latin literature, I suggest that in Adv. Ind. 3 Lucian treats myrtle and mauve as femininity’s symbols, so that the ignorant book collector sees both his culture and his manhood dramatically reduced by Muses’ humiliating punishment.

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