Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Two Examples of Epipompē in Tibullus

Tibullus 1.1.33-34 (tr. J.P. Postgate):
But ye, ye thieves and wolves, have mercy on my scanty flocks; from great herds must ye take your spoil.

at vos exiguo pecori, furesque lupique,
  parcite: de magno est praeda petenda grege.
Robert Maltby, Tibullus: Elegies. Text, Introduction and Commentary (Cambridge: Francis Cairns, 2002), ad loc. (p. 133):
The couplet is an example of auersio (ἀποπομπή), a prayer that evil should be averted from one's self onto others, cf. Cat. 63.92-3 procul a mea tuus sit furor omnis, era, domo:/ alios age incitatos, alios age rabidos, Priap. 86.19-21 quare hinc, o pueri, malas abstinete rapinas./ uicinus prope diues est negligensque Priapus:/ inde sumite. Further examples in N-H on Hor. Carm. 1.21.13 and Fedeli on Prop. 3.8.20. Here the prayer is addressed indirectly to Pales.
I have a minor clarification on a point of terminology. Richard Wünsch was apparently the first to use the terms apopompē (ἀποπομπή) and epipompē (ἐπιπομπή) to describe two different ways of banishing evil. See his "Zur Geisterbannung im Altertum," Festschrift zur Jahrhundertfeier der Universität zu Breslau = Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde 13/14 (1911) 9-32. Wünsch used apopompē to mean simply driving away evil, epipompē to mean driving away evil onto someone or something else.

In most of the exorcisms recorded in the Gospels, Jesus drove demons away from the possessed — this is apopompē ("sending away"). But at Gadara (or Gerasa or Gergesa, Matthew 8.30-32, par. Mark 5.11-13 and Luke 8.32-33), Jesus drove the demons into a herd of pigs — this is epipompē ("sending to or against"). The examples from Tibullus, Catullus, and the Priapeia adduced by Maltby are all examples of epipompē, not apopompē.

There is another example in Tibullus, at 1.6.85 (haec aliis maledicta cadant = "may these curses fall on others"). See Maltby ad loc. (p. 279):
the curse of an unhappy old age is averted on to others; for this form of apotropaic prayer, cf. Cat. 63.92-3 procul a mea tuus sit furor omnis, era, domo:/ alios age incitatos, alios age rabidos.
For more on this topic see my web page on Epipompē, to which I will add these two examples from Tibullus soon.

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