A Grasshopper's Diet—Notes on an Epigram of Meleager and a Fragment of Eubulus

Classical Quarterly 16 (1):103-112 (1966)

Abstract
‘Quid vero fit, quod poeta hanc plantam, tanquam munus locustae inprimis gratum, commemoret, nemo dixit; nee ego dicere possum’—so Jacobs in his note on the seventh line of this epigram . Among later commentators, Mackail thinks ‘can hardly mean “leek” here’ and he assumes it to be ‘groundsel’; Dain in the Budé edition is satisfied with the rather prosaic explanation that it is an ‘observation très juste … la cigale ne se nourrit que des sues des plantes’. I hope to show that the diet of leeks and dewdrops from the mouth is promised by the love-sick swain of Meleager's poem for the same specific reason—to refresh the grasshopper's ‘voice’ for a new day's beguilement by song and persuasion to the sleep which will again free him from the cares of love. Although the ancients were aware of the means by which such insects produced their incessant sound, they remained faithful to the poetic tradition, which made them drink dew as a prelude to their singing, first found in Hesiod, Scut. 395, and clearly expressed in a couplet of Antipater of Thessalonica
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DOI 10.1017/s0009838800003402
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