Musaeus, Hero and Leander

LCL 421: 291

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My interest in Musaeus’ poem was awakened when I observed that the poet, in narrating the sad romance of Hero and Leander, not only, as a true follower of Nonnus, made verbal borrowings from the authors who comprised the educational background of a γραμματικός of this late period, but also shaped the course and motivation of whole scenes by modelling them on famous antecedents to which he made clear allusions. Among these antecedents in particular he used the meeting of Odysseus and Nausicaa in the Odyssey and the encounter of the lovers in Plato’s Phaedrus. As he was also found to cite the Hymns of Proclus, it was easy to guess that he was familiar with the interpretations in the light of which Homer and Plato were understood and employed in late Neoplatonism, and therefore that his allusions to these authors and his significant blending of this pair of authorities—exactly what we find in the poems of Proclus himself—amounted to more than merely external literary borrowing. So the question posed itself whether the poem had an allegorical meaning expressed through these allusions in the manner we already knew well from Proclus, As a proposal for research during my residence at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington in 1966–1967 I set myself to extend my researches into Christian

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.musaeus-hero_leander.1973