Posidippus 122: composition and structure

Posidippus’ epigram on Doricha, a hetaera from Naucratis and the lover of Sappho’s brother Charaxus, is usually interpreted as a variation of the poetic topos that opposes the mortality of physical beauty and the immortality of poetry: Doricha herself is gone, but her name lives in Sappho’s verses. However, this reading of the poem clashes with other sources that state plainly that Sappho’s reaction to Charaxus’ love aff air was highly negative (Hdt. 2, 135; Athen. 13, 596b). Following an examination of textological problems and of the poem’s structure, the article proposes a different interpretation. It is shown that Posidippus emphasizes the part played by the city of Naucratis to preserve Doricha’s memory against the working of time and Sappho’s influential disapproval, while his own epigram, engraved on a real or imaginary monument for the courtesan, will help to re-establish Doricha’s rightful fame.

Kazanskaya M.N. Posidippus 122 composition and structure