Sunday, May 30, 2021

W/W: A Lover's Betrayal: Myrmex & Athena, Servius, In Aen. IV.402

 De qua fabula talis est: in Attica regione quaedam puella Myrmix nomine fuit, Minervae ob castimoniam et sollertiam dilecta, quae postea hoc modo Minervae in se odium concitavit. Namque cum vidisset Minerva Cererem segetes invenisse, volens ipsa ostendere Atticis quo expeditius segetes parerent, aratrum dicitur invenisse. Quod cum manu ageret, et Myrmix ei adhaereret, ausa est occulte aratri stivam subripere, et apud homines se iactare, infructuosum esse Cereris munus, nisi suo uterentur invento, quo terra aratro resoluta expeditius ederet fructus. Quod cum proditum aegre tulisset Minerva, Myrmicem illam virginem in formicam convertit eamque, ut proditricem, adversam frumentis, quae semper insequitur et subripit, esse praecepit. Quae res cum Iovi miserationem movisset, excogitavit quemadmodum formicae honorem daret. Nam cum Aeacum, filium suum ex Aegina susceptum, Thessalis imponeret regem et agros ipsos videret hominibus indigere, formicas colligi in unum iussit easque in homines commutavit: unde Myrmidones appellati sunt.

--Servius, In Aen. iv.402

Once upon a time, there was an Athenian woman named Myrmix, whom Minerva cherished [dilecta] on account of her chastity & dexterity.   But soon Minerva's love turned to hatred. 

For when the goddess saw that Ceres had discovered agriculture, she wanted to show the Athenians how to farm more efficiently, and so (as the story goes) she invented the plough. 

Myrmex eavesdropped on the goddess as she was tilling the land, and the woman dared to steal the plough. Then she bragged that Ceres' crops would be worthless without her [Myrmix’s] invention.   

Minerva didn't handle this well. She transformed Myrmex into an ant and ordered her to act according to her nature: a traitor who always chases after & steals the grain of others.

Pitying the girl, Jupiter figured out a way to honor the ants.  For when he acknowledged the paternity of Aeacus (his son through Aegina), he made him king of Thessaly, and, seeing that the territory had no inhabitants, he ordered Aeacus to collect ants into one place and then he transformed them into people. This is why they are called the "Myrmidons," the "Ant people."



Name:  Maurus Servius Honoratus

Date:  4th – 5th c. CE (???)

Works:  In Vergilii carmina comentarii



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Little is known about the author or manuscript tradition for the grammatical commentary of Vergil’s Aeneid.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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