Poetaster, plagiarist, parrot, and so on. During the last two centuries, Colluthus has been widely reputed an utterly bad poet by both amateur readers and professional scholars: his reputation is not much better than that once enjoyed by, say, Eudocia or Dioscorus of Aphrodito. It is therefore unsurprising that the literary features of his poem have won very little attention from the res publica ... [Show full abstract] philologorum . Efforts have been made to emend its (very badly transmitted) text, and much ingenuity has been devoted to the study of its sources and its diction; but few scholars have tried to analyse the Rape of Helen as a literary work. The present paper hopes to be a first step towards such a goal. Let me say from the very beginning that I am not concerned at all with Colluthus' inspiration, skill or the quality of his poetry. This is not what I mean by speaking of a ‘revaluation’ of our poem. Nor am I trying to follow in the steps of Giangrande, who once made a sustained effort to demonstrate that Colluthus was fond of learned allusion in an almost Alexandrian way—Giangrande rightly pointed to Colluthus' irony, but his interpretations of single passages and phrases were for the most part ill-founded, and it was quite easy for Livrea, in a spirited reply to Giangrande, to dispose of them. My concern is a simple one: what was the aim of the Rape of Helen? Are there any ‘signs of life’ in those 394 hexameters—to put it in other words: are we sure that Colluthus aimed at a slavish rewriting of the story of Paris and Helen with the bare addition of some Nonnian flavour, or rather may we suppose that his poetical project was slightly more ambitious?