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Tabula iliaca

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Tabula iliaca

A Tabula Iliaca ("Iliadic table") is a generic label for a calculation of the days of the Iliad, probably by Zenodotus, of which twenty-two fragmentary examples are now known. The Tabulae Iliacae are pinakes of early Imperial date, which all seem to have come from two Roman workshops, one of which seems to have been designed to satisfy a clientele of more modest aspirations.

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Description of tablets

The term is conventionally applied to some twenty-one marble panels carved in very low relief in miniature rectangles with labeling inscriptions typically surrounding a larger central relief and short engraved texts on the obverse. Little can be said about their sizes, since none survives complete. It appears that the largest rectangular tablet is 25 cm by 42 cm. The border scenes, where they can be identified, are largely derived from the Epic Cycle; eleven of the small marble tablets are small pictorial representations of the Trojan War portraying episodes from the Iliad, including two circular ones on the Shield of Achilles. Another six panels depict the sack of Ilium. On the reverse of the Borgia Tabula is a list of titles and authors of epic works, with stichometry, a listing of the number of lines in each epic; though these have occasioned great interest, W. McLeod demonstrated that, far from representing the tradition of Hellenistic scholarship, in every case where facts can be checked with the accepted canon, the compiler of the Borgia Table errs, citing an otherwise unattested Danaides, ascribing a new poem to Arctinus. McLeod suggests literary fakery designed to impress the nouveaux-riches as embodied by the fictional character Trimalchio, who is convinced that Troy was taken by Hannibal; Nicholas Horsfall finds the "combination of error and erudition" designed to impress just such eager newly educated consumers of culture with showy but spurious proofs of their erudition: "The Borgia Table is a pretense of literacy for the unlettered," is McLeod's conclusion. Michael Squire, in "The Iliad in a Nutshell: Visualizing Epic on the Tabulae Iliacae" (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), reviewed in "BMCR" sees in them a more sophisticated product.

Tabula Iliaca Capitolina

One of the most complete examples surviving is the Tabula Iliaca Capitolina, which was discovered around Bovillae, near Rome. The tablet dates from the Augustan period, around 15 BCE. The carvings depict numerous scenes of the Trojan War, with captions, including an image of Aeneas climbing aboard a ship after the sacking of Troy. The carving's caption attributes its depiction to a poem by Stesichorus in the 6th century BCE, although there has been much scholarly skepticism since the mid-19th century. Theodor Schreiber's Atlas of Classical Antiquities (1895) included a line-by-line description of the tablet with line-drawings. The Tabula Iliaca Capitolina is currently in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

References

Tabula iliaca Wikipedia


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