Aetia on the web


This site contains a Greek text, English translation, notes, and vocabulary for Aetia (Αἴτια, « Causes ») by the Alexandrian poet Callimachus (310/305–240 BC), along with an introduction, an interactive map of places mentioned, a bibliography, and images of the papyrus fragments on which the text is largely based.

Aetia is a collection of elegiac poems in four books that deals with the foundation of cities, unusual religious ceremonies, and unique local traditions from around the Greek world. It survives not in manuscript form but in papyrus fragments and quotations by later authors. This site is not a complete collection of every identifiable scrap of the Aetia, as is Annette Harder’s monumental print edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). But all coherent, understandable fragments are included, as well as some very short fragments with good explanatory scholia (commentary by ancient scholars).

This project was originally conceived by Prof. Susan Stephens of Stanford University, as a way to achieve four goals:

  • increase access among classicists at every career stage (from undergraduate to senior scholar) to the fragmentary text of the Aetia
  • provide a format for an exchange of information for scholars who are working on aspects of the poem
  • allow immediate integration of new papyrus finds
  • use the visual and spatial capabilities of the web

It began with the collaboration of colleagues at Stanford University, including Fred Porta, and The Ohio State University in 2010, including Benjamin Acosta-Hughes and Aaron Palmore. When the Stanford-OSU team encountered technical difficulties in 2012, DCC inherited a draft of the content, and the present Drupal site was created under my supervision, beginning in January 2013. Prof. Stephens wrote the notes and introductory material. The translation is by Fred Porta (Stanford), thoroughly revised by Meagan Ayer (Dickinson; Ph.D., Classics, University at Buffalo, 2012). Daniel Plekhov (Dickinson ’14) created the table of contents and revised the Greek text. The vocabulary lists derive from a dictionary initially created by Aaron Palmore (OSU) and Fred Porta (Stanford). Katie Cantwell (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Nicholas Stender (Dickinson ’15), and Meagan Ayer edited and expanded this list into fuller running lists that conform to the DCC house style: all words not included in the DCC Core Greek Vocabulary are glossed. I further edited these lists and inserted links to Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography Mythology (as digitized at Perseus) and to other reference works as appropriate. Meagan Ayer further edited and formatted the Greek text. She collected a comprehensive list of places mentioned in the Aetia and inserted links to Pleiades for each one in the notes and vocabulary fields. She also collected a comprehensive list of the papyrological sources of the text, inserting into the notes fields links to the authoritative database of metadata at Trismegistos. Katy Purington (Dickinson ’15) created the map of places mentioned in the Aetia, using MapBox. The original DCC format was designed by Chris Stamas, and the sites are created and maintained on the technical side by Dickinson web developer Ryan Burke.

The creation of this site was made possible by the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies at Dickinson College, at Dickinson’s Department of Classical Studies and the Mellon Fund for Digital Humanities at Dickinson College, and the Department of Classics at Stanford University.

For the Greek text we have employed the editorial supplements in the edition of Rudolf Pfeiffer (Callimachus: vol. 1, Fragmenta. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949), though in a number of places it has been updated to include new finds and the the work of subsequent scholars on Pfeiffer’s text. The majority of these have been incorporated into the texts of Annette Harder. To aid in readability, papyrological notations have been kept to a minimum. Square brackets indicate editorial supplements, which are presented in gray. There are no sublinear dots to indicate doubtful letters, since images of the texts will reveal this information. Iota subscripts and traditional sigmas have been used throughout. In some instances fragments have been truncated, with only those sections which are fully legible and coherent presented. The same applies to the scholia (comments by ancient scholars that often appear on the papyri) and diegeseis (explanatory mythological narratives written by ancient scholars).

I would like to thank Prof. Stephens and everyone who helped make this site possible. If you have a suggestion, or would like to contribute and improve the site, please let me know, or use the « suggest an edit » links on the text pages.

Chris Francese, June 2, 2016,

Auteur : Christophe Cusset

Ancien élève de l'ENS Fontenay/ Saint-Cloud. Agrégé de Lettres classiques. Docteur ès Lettres (Université Lyon II). Professeur de littérature grecque à l'ENS de Lyon.

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