Lycambes, the most famous of Archilochus' whipping boys, is everywhere upstaged in the surviving iambic texts and testimonia. This paper seeks to reconstruct something of Lycambes' voice and its role in the Archilochean tradition. I begin with a reconsideration of Archilochus' ““first epode”” and argue that Lycambes is styled as an older public rival to Archilochus who questions the role of the poet's iambos. The preliminary results of this section are then strengthened by drawing upon two relevant episodes in the later ancient reception of Archilochean poetics: the sniping between Aristophanes and his older rival Cratinus and the Mnesiepes Inscription's tale of the uproar surrounding Archilochus' first performance. Lycambes emerges from this study as a character constructed to question the value and status of the iambist within the social space of contemporary Paros. As such, his criticisms afford Archilochus the opportunity to trumpet his claim to the very cultural capital that Lycambes strives to deny him. More than just a private enemy, Lycambes raises aesthetic and ethical debates that can still be heard throughout the iambographic tradition.
- ©© 2008 by the Regents of the University of California