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A Moment’s OrnamentThe Poetics of Nympholepsy in Ancient Greece$
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Corinne Ondine Pache

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195339369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195339369.001.0001

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Goddesses in Love and Nympholeptic Heroes

Goddesses in Love and Nympholeptic Heroes

(p.71) 3 Goddesses in Love and Nympholeptic Heroes
A Moment’s Ornament

Corinne Ondine Pache

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 returns to the literary sources and focuses on the interaction between myth and genre. After a brief examination of the different paradigms (and their possible origins) for encounters between goddesses and immortals, I analyze the encounter between Aphrodite and Anchises in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite. Although we find few explicit examples of nympholepsy in Greek poetry, I argue that we find a mirror image of the cultic practice in the popular poetic motif of the goddess or nymph falling in love with a mortal man. Or, to put it the other way around, the localized religious phenomenon of nympholepsy reproduces at the cultic level the poetic narrative of the goddess falling in love with a mortal. Hymnic poetry gives its own twist to the nympholeptic narrative by privileging etiology and the pan-Hellenic dimension of this version.

Keywords:   Aphrodite, Anchises, Homeric Hymns, Pan-Hellenic poetry, Myth, Genre

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