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Table of contents :
1. Numinous wealth
2. An Apollonian beginning
3. A healing story
4. A household shrine
5. A new god arrives
Conclusion: comic miracles.
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COMEDY AND RELIGION IN C L A S S I C A L   AT H E N S

This book opens up a new perspective on Aristophanic drama and its relationship to Greek religion. It focuses on the comedy Wealth, whose fantasy of universal enrichment is structured upon a rich and largely unexplored framework of traditional stories of Greek religious experiences, such as oracles, miracle cures, and the introduction of new gods. The book examines the form and function of these stories, and explores how the playwright adapts them for his own comic purposes, grounding his comic fantasy on stories of philanthropic divinities who dependably respond to the needs of their worshippers. The collaboration of these deities, who act in tandem with their worshippers, achieves the comic fantasy. Francisco Barrenechea also addresses the larger question of how comedy participated in the religion of its time by imagining and dramatizing beliefs, and reveals the salutary bond that can exist between humor and religion in general. Francisco Barrenechea is Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research interests include ancient Greek drama, as well as its reception in the Hispanic world. Among his publications are articles on stories of Greek miracle cures, the reception of Greek tragedy in Mexico, fragmentary plays, and Latin epic. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Loeb Classical Library Foundation.

COMEDY AND RELIGION I N C L A S S I C A L   AT H E N S Narratives of Religious Experiences in Aristophanes’ Wealth

FRANCISCO BARRENECHEA University of Maryland, College Park

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06-04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107191167 DOI: 10.1017/9781108120579 © Francisco Barrenechea 2018 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2018 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, Elcograf S.p.A. A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Barrenechea, Francisco, author. Title: Comedy and religion in classical Athens : narratives of religious experiences in Aristophanes’ Wealth / Francisco Barrenechea. Description: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018003777 | ISBN 9781107191167 (hardback) Subjects: LCSH: Aristophanes. Plutus. | Greek drama (Comedy) – History and criticism. | Religion and literature. | Greece – Religion. Classification: LCC pa3875.p6b377 2018 | DDC 882/.01–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018003777 ISBN 978-1-107-19116-7 Hardback ISBN 978-1-316-64167-5 Paperback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Contents

List of Figures Acknowledgments Notes on Translation List of Abbreviations

page vi vii x xi

Introduction

1

1 Numinous Wealth

11

2 An Apollonian Beginning

43

3 A Healing Story

69

4 A Household Shrine

107

5 A New God Arrives

137

Conclusion: Comic Miracles

162

Bibliography Index

181 195

v

Figures

1.1 Red-figure chous from Athens, ca. 400 bc. Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Antikensammlung, F 2661. From Stackelberg 1837: plate xvii. Photograph: F. Barrenechea. page 22 1.2 Votive relief, second half of the fourth century bc. Athens, Agora Museum, S 1251. Image courtesy of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens: Agora Excavations. 23 3.1 Votive relief, first half of the fourth century bc. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 3369. Image courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute. Photograph: H. Wagner, DAI, Neg. D-DAI-ATH-NM 3312. All rights reserved. 79

vi

Acknowledgments

Writing this book was never a lonely endeavor, and I had the fortune of having wonderful people accompany me from start to finish. I  would like to thank, above all, Helene Foley, on whose generous presence I have counted since the earliest stages of my writing to provide valuable guidance and support. I  am also extremely grateful to Eva Stehle, who patiently revised early drafts of a few chapters of this book and offered extensive and constructive feedback. Mary-Kay Gamel provided unstinting support during the final stages, for which I  thank her as well. My anonymous readers, who identified themselves to me, also deserve my deepest gratitude:  Alan Sommerstein, for his invaluable comments and corrections, and Emmanuela Bakola, whose detailed criticism and willingness to meet and discuss the book did much to improve it and bring it to its final shape. When my project was still at the dissertation stage, Helene Foley, James Coulter, Ralph Rosen, Suzanne Saïd, and Nancy Worman all kindly provided feedback. The invitation of Radcliffe Edmonds III to a conference at Bryn Mawr College provided a major impulse that helped me reframe, revise, and rewrite the project from the ground up, so my thanks go out to him as well. Portions of my work were presented at the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, and the Greek Drama Conference V at the University of British Columbia. I wish to thank my colleagues at the first two institutions for their hospitality and generous feedback, and especially to Lesley Dean-Jones and Fritz Graf, whose comments during and after my presentations gave me much food for thought. My thanks go out to Hallie and Toph Marshall as well, who kindly arranged for my presentation to be read at the Greek Drama Conference when I was unable to travel to Vancouver. I  also presented my material at the Center for Hellenic Studies, where I  benefited enormously from the conversations that I had with Peter Agócs, Anne-Sophie Noel, Nikolaos Papazarkadas,

vii

viii

Acknowledgments

Hanna and Joseph Roisman, and Caroline Stark. Special thanks are also due to Judith Hallett and Sarah Ferrario, who invited me to present my work in the Washington Ancient Mediterranean Seminar, where I had the honor of having David Konstan as a respondent. I am very grateful to him for his remarks on my paper on that occasion. Mary Lefkowitz and Astrid Lindenlauf were also generous in sharing with me their work in progress. I have also been fortunate to enjoy the support of various institutions while writing this book. First of all, I would like to thank the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University, and especially its director, Gregory Nagy, and wonderful staff, for their support and hospitality, which made my stay there as a junior fellow in the fall of 2015 an enjoyable and productive one. The Loeb Classical Library Foundation provided me with a generous fellowship that allowed me to take a year off from teaching in 2016–2017 to bring this book to its conclusion. I am also grateful to the College of Arts and Humanities of the University of Maryland, College Park for accommodating my two research leaves, and especially to the chair of my department, Lillian Doherty, for her unfailing support. I also wish to thank the rest of my colleagues, Eric Adler, Jorge Bravo III, Judith Hallett, and Gregory Staley, who have provided a wonderfully congenial atmosphere these past few years. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Michael Sharp, my editor at Cambridge University Press, and to Sophie Taylor, for their generous help throughout the stages of publication. My thanks go out to Orla Mulholland too, whose thorough and patient editing of my wooly English improved it considerably, and Pam Scholefield, who helped me with the index. I would also like to thank the editor of Phoenix for allowing me to include in Chapter 3 a portion of an article that I published in the journal in 2016. The German Archaeological Institute and the Agora Excavations of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens kindly gave me permission to use images from their archives as well. Many friends have accompanied this book along the way: special thanks go out to Spencer Cole, John Hughes, and Bruce King for their goodhumored comments on various drafts of the manuscript. Mark Payne gave feedback on early versions of a couple of chapters, and Janet Downie and Alicia Montemayor were happy to entertain my many questions via email and in person. Neha Choksi, Daniel Ercilla, Gustavo Ortiz-Millán, Martín Solares, and Agustín Zarzosa provided invaluable support throughout, and I am much indebted to them.

Acknowledgments

ix

Lastly, I  would like to thank my mother and father, Carmen Cuadra Iglesias and Fernando Barrenechea Pastor, not only for their kind patience with this book, but especially for the many joyful visits to sanctuaries and shrines that I have shared with them, which have inspired in many ways the pages that follow.

Notes on Translation

Names of well-known gods, historical figures, authors, and works are given in their familiar English forms (i.e. Asclepius, Socrates, Plato, Symposium). Less familiar deities and personal names, including those of dramatic characters, are transliterated (i.e. Hesychia, Nikomachos, and Trygaios). Greek texts are likewise transliterated, with one important difference with respect to the personal names: I render upsilon as ‘u’ (i.e. dunamis in place of dynamis). The Greek text of Aristophanes is from the Oxford Classical Texts (Wilson 2007a), and the translation from the Loeb edition (Henderson 1998–2007), except where noted.

x

Abbreviations

Adler Arnott Chantry Degani DGE Didyma FGrH Fontenrose Higbie IG IEleusis IMagn. LiDonnici LIMC L-P

A. Adler. Suidae Lexicon. Leipzig, 1928–38. W. G.  Arnott. Menander. 3  vols. Cambridge, MA, 1997–2000. M. Chantry. Scholia in Aristophanem, Pars iii. Fasc. 4a/b. Groningen, 1995–6. H. Degani. Hipponactis Testimonia et Fragmenta. 2nd ed. Stuttgart-Leipzig, 1991. F. R.  Adrados et  al. Diccionario Griego–Español. Madrid, 1980–. J. Fontenrose. Didyma:  Apollo’s Oracle, Cult, and Companions. Berkeley, 1988. F. Jacoby. Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. Berlin–Leiden, 1923–. J. Fontenrose. The Delphic Oracle:  Its Responses and Operations. Berkeley, 1978. C. Higbie. The Lindian Chronicle and the Greek Creation of Their Past. Oxford, 2003. Inscriptiones Graecae. Berlin, 1873–. K. Clinton. Eleusis:  The Inscriptions on Stone. Athens, 2005. O. Kern, ed. Die Inschriften von Magnesia am Maeander. Berlin, 1900. L. R.  LiDonnici. The Epidaurian Miracle Inscriptions. Atlanta, 1995. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. Munich– Zürich, 1981–1999. E. Lobel and D. Page. Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta. Oxford, 1955.

xi

xii LSJ Massa Positano

MW PCG

PMG POxy. PW RICIS Schwenk SEG ThesCRA TrGF

Abbreviations H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, H. S. Jones, and R. McKenzie. A Greek–English Lexicon. 9th ed. Oxford, 1996. L. Massa Positano. Scholia in Aristophanem, Pars iv. Tzetzes, Jo. Commentarii in Aristophanem. Fasc. 1. Prolegomena et Commentarium in Plutum. Groningen, 1960. Hesiod, Fragmenta Hesiodea. Eds. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford, 1967. R. Kassel and C. Austin. Poetae Comici Graeci. Berlin– New York, 1983–. An asterisk (*) means that a fragment or testimony is attributed by conjecture to a certain comedy. D. L. Page. Poetae Melici Graeci. Oxford, 1962. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri. London, 1898–. H. W. Parke and D. E. W. Wormell, The Delphic Oracle. Oxford, 1956. L. Bricault. Recueil des inscriptions concernant les cultes isiaques (RICIS). 3 vols. Paris, 2005. C. J.  Schwenk. Athens in the Age of Alexander:  The Dated Laws and Decrees of “the Lykourgan Era” 338–322 B.C. Chicago, 1985. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Leiden, 1923–. Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum. Basle–Los Angeles, 2004–. R. Kannicht, S.  Radt, and B.  Snell, eds. Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta. Göttingen, 1971–2004. A double asterisk (**) means that a fragment is attributed by conjecture to a certain author.

Introduction

This book seeks to open up a fresh perspective on Aristophanic comedy and its relationship to Greek religion. My focus is on Wealth, staged in 388 bc, which presents a miraculous and fantastical solution to the age-old problem of economic inequality:  The god Wealth, blinded by a misanthropic Zeus to keep him away from his poor but righteous worshippers, is healed and redistributes his benefits to all people.1 I propose that this comedy is structured upon a rich and largely unexplored religious framework, based on traditional narratives of religious experiences that permeate the plot and underlie its comic fantasy. Attention to this framework, I believe, yields a more holistic reading of the play, clarifying aspects that have puzzled interpreters, such as the unusual hands-on participation of gods in the dramatic action, as well as certain episodes that are often passed over in interpretations of the comedy, in particular its main messenger speech, which reports the crucial moment when Wealth is cured by the healer god Asclepius. In order to understand this framework, I shall examine in detail the form and function of the traditional narratives out of which it is made, showing how Aristophanes incorporates religious elements into his drama in ways that have not previously been taken into account. My analysis has also led me beyond these narratives and the play itself to a larger question: How did Aristophanes’ comedies take part in the various discourses on religion that existed in his time? Could his humorous dramatization of these narratives, which at times is quite provocative and even subversive, have a role in religious discourse, in transmitting and even transforming belief? The play Wealth offers an excellent opportunity not only to explore these questions but also, and more significantly, to examine the bond between humor and religion in general. 1

Aristophanes staged an earlier comedy with the same title in 408 bc. For the relationship of this play to the Wealth of 388 bc, see Sommerstein 2001: 28–33. I agree with his view that the second Wealth is a new creation, and not a revised version of the earlier play as other scholars have argued.

1

2

Introduction

The past decades have seen a remarkable revival of interest in Wealth.2 Especially intriguing are its inconsistencies and tensions, and particularly the criticisms made throughout the play, but above all in its agon or formal debate, against the comic fantasy at its core: the moral redistribution of riches.3 Is Aristophanes using irony to undermine this fantasy deliberately? This question remains contested and has provoked sharply opposed stances.4 Some deny that there is any irony present, and interpret Wealth as a call for social and political change which is sympathetic to the citizens impoverished by Athens’s defeat in the Peloponnesian War, whereas others see the comedy as an escape into fantasy to distract the audience from the pressing social and economic inequalities of the time.5 The question has been revisited so often that a number of scholars have taken a step back from it and criticize the ironic readings themselves, but the discussion remains lively.6 As a result, critics are again giving serious critical attention to Wealth, which until relatively recently was one of Aristophanes’ least studied plays.7 The debate on the comedy has for the most part kept to the moral, social, and political ramifications of its fantasy of wealth redistribution. This is understandable, given the contemporary focus on these topics in light of the still-pressing problem of economic inequality.8 Religion is not something we would normally contemplate in this connection, yet it clearly plays a role in the comic fantasy of Wealth. For instance, the ritual establishment of the god Wealth in the home of an individual has been read as marking a breakdown of social and civic relationships in the play: Since the individual has now been made wealthy and self-sufficient, he turns his 2

3

4 5

6

7 8

Flashar’s brief but influential 1967 study of the play heads a series of articles, dissertations, and monographs that have done much to advance our understanding of it. Some of the most influential and frequently cited studies have been Konstan and Dillon 1981, Sommerstein 1984, and Olson 1990. See also Heberlein 1981, Dillon 1987, Bowie 1993: 268–291, Möllendorff 1995: 213–219, Newman 1999: 21–69, Sfyroeras 1995, Lévy 1997, McGlew 2002: 171–211, Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002, Willi 2003b, Fiorentini 2005, Ruffell 2006, Revermann 2006: 261–295, Zumbrunnen 2012: 99–122, Tordoff 2012a, Ludwig 2014, and Orfanos 2014. The dissertations are Dillon 1984 and Tordoff 2005:  178–211. The monographs are David 1984 and Fernández 2002. For a full account of the major scholarship up to 2002, see Fernández 2002; more concise accounts are available in the recent editions of Wealth, Sommerstein 2001 and Torchio 2001. Flashar 1967 was not the first to observe these inconsistencies. See Konstan and Dillon 1981: 378, n. 10, for the earlier scholars who took them into account. The debate was begun by Flashar 1967. For the first position, see Sommerstein 1984; for the second, Olson 1990. Tordoff 2005:  192–200 offers an overview of the main contributions to this debate. Those who have taken a step back are McGlew 2002: 171–191, Ruffell 2006, Zumbrunnen 2012: 99– 122, and Tordoff 2012a. McGlew 2002: 175. On the issue of economic justice, see Zumbrunnen 2006: 319–320.

Introduction

3

back on the community.9 In a more optimistic interpretation, the character of Wealth has been related to the comic aspects of the god Dionysus and the festival in which the play was performed.10 These interpretations have been illuminating because they trace ritual, festival, and mythical patterns in the comedy that locate and make sense of the plot and characters within a specific religious context. Similar approaches to other comedies have been particularly fruitful for understanding the religious dimension of Old Comedy, yet it is clear that religion in Aristophanes is still a topic that merits more attention.11 This current in research has for the most part reflected a preoccupation with ritual, rather than other aspects of religious life or belief. This has long been a feature of studies of Greek religion more generally, with the result that religious experiences that are not specifically related to ritual have not been sufficiently explored in Aristophanic scholarship.12 Nevertheless, some scholars have begun to give attention to these issues, and recent studies of Wealth have shown how Aristophanes frames the issue of redistribution in terms of religious reciprocity, that is, the belief that the gods respond to the attentions of their worshippers, which was fundamental to Greek religion.13 The present book continues the conversation begun by these scholars of Aristophanes by opening up other religious patterns besides those of ritual, festival, and myth. I attend to the narratives of religious experiences that Aristophanes adapts in his comedy,14 namely divination, incubation, epiphany, and the introduction of a new god. Since the plot of the comedy dramatizes the establishment of a god in a particular location in the community, this also led me to consider spatial practices in Greek theater and religion. And, given that the new god is portrayed as a personification, I  also examine Aristophanes’ engagement with this mode of thought in Greek culture as well. 9 10 11

12

13 14

Bowie 1993: 290–291. Sfyroeras 1995. For another festival connection of the play, see Bierl 1994. Studies of other comedies are provided by Auffarth 1994, 2007; Bierl 2009, 2012, 2013; LadaRichards 1999; and Riu 1999. The need for more work on religion in Aristophanes is noted by Revermann 2014: 286 and Scullion 2014: 340. Harrison 2007: 374 has drawn attention to the “primacy of ritual in the modern study of Greek religion,” which he finds has had a limiting effect on our understanding of it: “Ritual activity is perceived as the substance of Greek religious experience,” he explains, while “conceptions of the divine [are] at best secondary and dependent on ritual.” See also the criticism and comments in Kindt 2012: 30–32, Rubel 2014: 6, 9–13, and Gagné 2015: 94–95. Bowie 1993: 273–278, Zumbrunnen 2012: 99–108, 113–122, and Ludwig 2014. This is analogous to the project of Bowie 1993: 5, who “tries to see what different structures inform and illuminate the different plays.”

4

Introduction

The form and function of the narratives that communicate these religious experiences have received a fair amount of attention in their own right in recent research. These narratives have been shown to have recurring motifs and patterns of events, which I  will discuss in detail in the chapters dedicated to each related experience. Such a pattern has been seen, in a study of oracular tales, as a mark of oral transmission, in which divinatory experiences are made to conform in the telling to a set structure of events that serves to validate the experience.15 Some of these patterns became so entrenched in the culture that they even gave rise to minor literary genres, as in the case of incubation tales and epiphanies, during the Hellenistic period.16 The pattern in these tales has even been explained as a “cultural model” that provides “a way of perceiving a phenomenon even before it is described,” or as a “learned cultural pattern” that prepared worshippers for what to expect from this experience, helping them identify and make sense of it.17 In brief, these narrative patterns provide a recognizable perspective and structure for the successful, persuasive, and even authoritative communication of their respective religious phenomena. This recent  attention to narrative has accompanied a healthy reappraisal of belief in the study of Greek religion.18 Johnston, for instance, has noted how narratives in general “contribute significantly to the sharing of ideas, beliefs, and practices that are connected with religion.”19 Yet, as Harrison points out, the role of narratives in this “transmission, reinforcement and transformation of belief ” is still “underestimated” in the scholarship.20 Johnston herself has already begun to address this issue in her work on mythic storytelling, as have some of the scholars that study the particular narrative patterns that concern me.21 15 16

17

18

19

20 21

Maurizio 1997. Cf. Giangiulio 2014. See Bing 2009: 217–233 and Wickkiser 2013 for the iamatika genre; and Parker 2011: 10 and n. 22, and Petridou 2015: 1 and n. 3, for the epiphaneia genre. For the “cultural model,” see Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 352. For the “learned cultural pattern,” see Dickie 2004: 160 and 179–180. Cf. also Gebhard 2001: 453 and Petridou 2015: 11–20. See also Sourvinou-Inwood 1991: 3–23, 244–245, and 1995: 1–9 for a broader and more sophisticated conceptualization of these cultural models. For the renewed interest in narrative, see Kindt 2016b and Harrison 2015b; the latter provides an overview of recent work. For the reappraisal of belief, see Feeney 1998: 12–46, and especially Versnel 2011: 539–559, who vigorously argues for its importance. Cf. also Harrison 2015a. Johnston 2017a: 141. With respect to Greek religion, Kindt came up with the concept of the “theology of the story,” which refers to “the way in which in the ancient Greek world, views about the nature of the gods and their availability to human knowledge were articulated not only explicitly in critical discourse but also, and perhaps above all, in narrative form: as stories” (2016b: 13). See the comments of Harrison 2015b on this concept. Harrison 2015a: 26. Although a “systematic and comprehensive” treatment is still required (Kindt 2016a: 155), there has been no lack of work on the topic: to name a few, see the recent studies of Johnston 2015a and 2015b,

Introduction

5

On oracular tales, for example, Maurizio has argued that the process of “structuration” of oracular experiences to fit the narrative pattern “demands that we consider seriously the religious beliefs that informed their transmission.”22 In the chapters that follow, I follow the example of these scholars and give serious attention to some of the beliefs associated with the patterns that concern me: How oracle stories convey the idea that one can communicate with divinities; how incubation tales attest to the conviction that worshippers can come into direct contact with a deity in dreams, who would then cure their ills; how stories of the introduction of new gods testify to the belief that individuals or communities could establish a beneficial relationship with an outside deity who sought to be established among them; and how the belief in religious reciprocity that I  mentioned above, and the related idea that gods care for men, pervade all of these examples and constitute an overarching theme of Wealth. In addition, I touch upon a few psychological states that recur in the narratives of these experiences, such as perplexity, in the case of oracular stories; amazement, in the case of epiphany; and anxiety, in the case of new god tales, which can also be related to the issue of belief. In this respect, I follow Harrison’s call for a broader understanding of belief, one that would encompass emotions in additions to issues of trust and knowledge of the divine.23 Aristophanes employs these narrative patterns, and the beliefs and expectations they convey, for his own creative and comic purposes, much like he does with the mythic and ritual patterns.24 He often elaborates, subverts, or even innovates on them: At times he parodies their original function; at times he embraces it; often he does both at once. More significantly, he “performs” these narratives, working on them “experimentally and constructively” to give them a dramatic meaning that is pertinent to the genre, as Auffarth has argued regarding his use of ritual.25 To determine how he dramatizes these narrative patterns, the chapters that follow will compare his versions with those from sources outside comedy, in particular epigraphic material from Classical and Hellenistic sanctuaries, which can give us a sense of the shape and function of these narratives in a specifically

22 23 24

25

in relation to myth; Kindt 2016a, regarding oracular narratives; Petridou 2015, on epiphanies; and in general Kindt 2012: 36–54. Recent collections of essays are offered by Eidinow, Kindt, and Osborne 2016, on narrative and Greek religion, and Johnston 2017b, on religion in general. Maurizio 1997: 312. Harrison 2015a: 25. On Aristophanes’ use of ritual, Graf 2007:  61 notes its use “as a tool to shape the audience’s expectations and perceptions.” Auffarth 2007: 393, 407–409.

6

Introduction

religious context.26 Since the playwright deftly blends these patterns with generic features of Old Comedy, such as prologues and messenger speeches, it is also pertinent to consider how these structural elements influence his treatment. By contrasting Aristophanes’ versions with the original story patterns of religious experience, my study seeks to illuminate how the genre creates its own type of religious discourse, one that is in dialogue with other accounts of the same experience, including those of different genres.27 For Wealth is not merely a fantasy based on humorous dramatizations of religious experiences and beliefs, but also a participant in that “mobile set of discourses with varying degrees of overlap and competition” that constitutes “[t]he field which modern scholars call ‘Athenian religion’,” which includes “the overlapping and competing discourses we call ‘literature’.”28 The healing stories of Asclepius found in Epidauros and Aristophanes’ own narrative version of this experience both form part of a larger system of narratives associated with the god and his miraculous treatments, which we must attend to if we are to understand Greek religious beliefs and how they are handled in comedy. In stating that Wealth is an example of religious discourse, I  do not mean that comedy itself is religious in nature. I  am aware that scholars have argued this point from the genre’s ritual origin and festival context,29 but I wish to keep my study independent of this approach in order to concentrate on the religious connections that the play makes on its own. Nor am I  stating that all Aristophanic Comedy participates in religious discourse: The genre of Old Comedy is remarkably heterogeneous, featuring plays where religion is arguably absent, such as Assemblywomen, and plays in which it has an important role, such as Birds, Clouds, Peace, and Women at the Thesmophoria. What I mean is that I will be treating Wealth in particular as a dramatic fiction whose plot is thoroughly engaged with religious issues. This religious framework of Wealth is not unique. Stories of the introductions of new gods structure the plot of Peace as well, as we will see. And one can also find, among the fragments of comedies produced in the fifth and fourth century bc, tantalizing glimpses of plays whose plots seem to hinge on some of the religious phenomena studied in this book.30 Newly 26 27 28 29

30

See Johnston 2017a: 150–151 for the comparative approach to Greek religion. See Kindt 2016b: 14–15. Feeney 1998: 25. Recent examples are Sourvinou-Inwood 2003:  172–177 and Revermann 2014:  277–281. See also Brelich 1969. See Bowie 2010 for a survey of comedies, fragmentary and complete, that can be connected to specific myths, rituals, festivals, and a few of the religious experiences mentioned above.

Introduction

7

arrived gods, for instance, appear as characters in Aristophanes’ Seasons (test. *ii and fr. 581 PCG) and perhaps in Eupolis’ Dyers (test. iia and d, and fr. *93 PCG). Snippets of narratives of miracle cures can be found in Aristophanes’ Amphiaraos (fr. *21 and 22 PCG), Antiphanes’ Mendicant Priest of Cybele (fr. 152 PCG), and possibly in his Asclepius as well (fr. 47 PCG). An oracular consultation might have featured in the plots of two comedies called Trophonios, written by Cratinus and Alexis, since their action took place in Boeotia (Cratinus fr. *235 and Alexis fr. 239 PCG), the site of the oracular shrine of the title character. These glimpses suggest that Wealth, far from being an outlier, can instead be considered an example of what might have been a common type of comic plot, one based on stories of these kinds of encounters with the divine. Comedy’s mocking treatment of religion can be perplexing, so I will clarify my approach to this issue. I do not consider such treatment to be irreligious.31 It has recently been shown that mocking deities is traditional not only to Greek literature beyond comedy, but also to Mediterranean religions more broadly,32 and that humor is integral to certain Greek rituals and festivals, including the one in which comedy was performed.33 Further, I do not believe that Aristophanes’ mockery reflects a generalized crisis of religious belief in Athens during the Peloponnesian War.34 Recent studies have argued that there is a strong continuity in religious practice and belief across the fifth and fourth centuries bc,35 and that the famous religious crises and scandals of the period should be understood within the framework of a vigorous and complex religious system which made room for change and innovation while at the same time affirming and defending tradition.36 More significant is the question of just how ‘seriously’ one should take comedy’s presentation of religious experiences and beliefs. Does comedy provide a merely fictional portrayal, one to be treated as separate from 31

32 33

34

35

36

Scullion 2014: 347–348 gives a useful overview of the discussions concerning the treatment of the gods in Greek comedy; see also the excellent summary of earlier views in Hoffman 1974. Thankfully, the idea that Aristophanes is irreligious has fallen out of favor (Parker 2005: 149). It might have been based on Christian prejudices regarding the incompatibility of humor with religion, and Goldhill 2016 examines how these prejudices have manifested themselves in the scholarship of Greek tragedy. Graf 2007: 66 and Revermann 2014: 276 are recent examples, but see already Hoffman 1974. See Hewitt 1917:  183–184, Carrière 1983:  51–52, Parker 2005:  149, Halliwell 2008:  155–214, and Csapo 2016. Brelich 1969:  24, n.  17 and Hoffman 1974 summarize earlier views linking comedy to religious decline. See also Mikalson 1983: 110–113. For example, Mikalson 1983: 110–118, Yunis 1988: 26–27, Auffarth 1995, Flower 2009, and Rubel 2014: 157–158. For tradition and innovation, see the overview of Kearns 2015. I will return to this topic in Chapter 5.

8

Introduction

‘real’ religion?37 Sourvinou-Inwood argued that the gods in Greek comedy are “comic constructs.” In her view, the fact that Aristophanic comedy often refers to itself metatheatrically as a performance “does not entail that representations of the gods in comedy were accurate reflections of the real gods of lived religion,” since in that case the gods would have been exposed as dramatic fictions.38 For her, the audience’s awareness that what they are watching is not a representation of actual divinities was what allowed comedy to treat gods, festivals, and rituals irreverently. Yet she also notes that these comic constructs are not “insulated from the real world of the polis,” and that in order to understand their humor one has to reconstruct the religious assumptions that underpin them.39 For instance, Aristophanes’ Women at the Thesmophoria presents its audience with a comic version of an actual religious festival. How the play’s depiction of the festival reflects the latter is still debated,40 yet one must assume that the audience would have had to share at least some common assumptions about the actual religious festival in order to appreciate what the playwright is doing in his humorous adaptation. Sourvinou-Inwood’s acknowledgment of the cultural context of humor would seem to run counter to her idea that the comic construct does not reflect actual religion,41 yet it is important to keep her distinction in mind, not merely as a measure of caution when using Greek comedy as evidence for the religion of the time, but also as an important step towards understanding how the genre plays a role in actual religious discourse. I agree that its treatment of religion is ‘constructed,’ but I believe that this, precisely, is the way in which the genre participates in religious discourse, namely by exploring and even performing familiar issues within a distinct imaginative space, that of comic fantasy, with all the incongruities and distortions that the latter introduces into the process.42 If Aristophanes’ humorous intervention in Plato’s Symposium is any indication, comedy was certainly welcomed as an interlocutor in dialogues concerning the divine, taking its place among tragedy, medicine, and philosophy.43 Consequently, 37

38 39

40 41 42 43

With respect to tragedy, Mikalson 1991 is perhaps the most often quoted representative of this view, though it has received much criticism: for instance, Feeney 1998: 24–25, Sourvinou-Inwood 1997: 164–170 and 2003: 5–6, and Harrison 2007: 373–374. Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 53. See in general 52–53 and 172–177. Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 177; see also 294–295. On the possibility of recuperating these perspectives, see for instance Easterling 1985: 44, Pelling 1997, Versnel 1998: 100–102, Harrison 2007, and in particular Scullion 2014, who attends in his discussion to the difficulties involved. Recent contributions are Bowie 1993: 205–217, Habash 1997, Tzanetou 2002, and Bierl 2009: 83–265. See for instance the criticism in Miles 2011. Cf. Riu 1999: 40–41, 229–232 and Ambler 2013: 4–5. Ambler 2013: 5–6 and Gagné 2015: 86.

Introduction

9

I will consider comedy “an agent of religious thought,” and Aristophanes’ treatment of religion, a “legitimate religious expression.”44 This perspective on the positive relationship of humor to religion is now widely accepted outside the field of Classics, particularly in humor studies.45 My first chapter, dedicated to personifications, flags up the issues raised by the religious dimension of the play and its treatment in scholarship. Scholars tend to see characters such as Wealth and Peace in Aristophanes’ comedies primarily as literary devices. This approach yields a rather limited reading, since it does not take full account of the fact that personifications in Greek thought could also be the manifestations of actual supernatural entities. In order to make this point, I consider recent studies that address the problematic status of personifications as divinities in visual representations.46 I argue that, if we are to approximate the original audience’s understanding of the play, the character of Wealth should be understood as a supernatural power. The image and myths crafted by Aristophanes for this god introduce the theme of beneficial divinities into the play. Chapter 2 turns to oracular consultations. Aristophanes fuses the expository function of the comic prologue with the story pattern related to these divinatory experiences, particularly to the process of their interpretation. His purpose is to introduce his comic plot as a collaborative creation authored by both gods and men: The characters join forces to interpret an oracle of Apollo, from which they concoct the plan to heal Wealth. Apollo himself, through the revelation of his divine will, also participates in the creation and fulfillment of the comic fantasy, sanctioning it in his role as advisor to men and as a beneficial deity who helps their endeavors. The third chapter focuses on the traditional healing stories associated with the experience of incubation at the sanctuaries of Asclepius. The pattern of these stories provides the template for the messenger speech that reports on the healing of Wealth in the comedy. Aristophanes adopts and expands the religious purpose of these texts, which is to proclaim the god’s goodwill towards his suppliants. At the same time, and in tune with his craft, the playwright transforms the figure of Asclepius: He endows the god’s action in the comedy with a political and symbolic dimension that transcends the individual miracle, thereby giving a new meaning to his traditional portrayal as a kindly deity. 44

45 46

The first quote is from Gagné 2015: 84, and the second from Gilhus 1997: 12. See also Harrison 2007: 374 and Kindt 2016a: 11. See for instance Berger 1997, Gardner 2005, and the essays in Hyers 1969. Stafford 2000, 2007; and Borg 2005.

10

Introduction

The following two chapters are dedicated to the arrival of the god Wealth in the community. Chapter 4 examines how his reception and epiphany redefines the performance space of the play: When the god is welcomed into Chremylos’ household and manifests his powers, a private, domestic space is transformed into a public, religious one. This space is then set in opposition to important offstage sacred and civic spaces, as all worshippers now relocate their ritual activities, such as sacrifice and dedications, to the place where the new divinity Wealth resides. In addition to exploring the connection of Wealth’s epiphany inside the household, which is related in a messenger speech, to other narratives of this particular religious experience, I  also attend to the fluidity of Aristophanes’ treatment of space, which is essential to understanding the spatial conflict that erupts between new and established cults. A semiotic approach to theatrical space provides me with a theoretical framework able to account for the transformation wrought by Wealth’s epiphany.47 The fifth and last chapter turns to stories related to the introduction of new gods into a community. Wealth’s comic fantasy is established and explored through this narrative pattern, presenting the plot as the outcome, once again, of the collaboration of divine agents and their mortal sponsors, and as a significant event in the religious life of the community. The pattern brings with it anxieties, particularly in relation to how new cults disrupt established ones, but also hope, in the definition of the new arrival as a philanthropic and salvific divinity by association with similar gods already present in the polis, such as Asclepius. The comedy reconciles the tension between new and established gods by enshrining the new philanthropic cults within civic religious practice. In my conclusion, I  examine the larger issue of how Wealth engages with the religious life of its times, by focusing on the miraculous nature of the comic fantasy and on the belief in reciprocity that informs it – two elements that have previously been interpreted in a skeptical and ironic light. Wealth, I  argue, offers a celebratory and hopeful vision of human and divine interaction that reflects the rise in popularity of philanthropic deities in Athens, while at the same time making room for skepticism, incongruities, and impossibilities, which are no strangers to the other religious discourses of the time. In this way, the playwright’s craft testifies to a salutary bond between humor and religion, bringing together the incongruous nature of humor with that of the miraculous.

47

Lowe 1988, 2006; Revermann 2006; and McAuley 1999.

Ch apter 1

Numinous Wealth

At the start of Wealth, before a word is spoken, Aristophanes presents to the audience a visual gag, at first sight quite a simple one. A man, blind (13) and old (265), enters the stage alone and slowly picks his way from one of the eisodoi, or entrance passageways, into the orchestra of the theater. He is squalid (84), and in a wretched state (athliōs diakeimenos 80); age has worn him down to total decrepitude, to “a geezin’ heap of ills” (270), as he is later described. No one leads him (15–16), so he advances cautiously, hesitantly, tottering (121). Chremylos, the protagonist of the play, and his slave Karion soon follow him on stage, but they enter at a certain distance and do not engage him at first. The doddering, dirty pauper holds the stage momentarily – a humorously incongruous figure to lead off a play called Wealth. His silent presence continues to draw the curiosity of the audience during the initial dialogue of the master and his slave (1–55), who are likewise drawn to the figure. This character, it is soon revealed, is Wealth personified, and he is one of the most wonderful inventions of Aristophanes’ comic art. The playwright brings together in this single enigmatic figure various Greek conceptualizations of wealth. At times, the character represents material possessions; at times, the state of being wealthy. He stands for the power, granted by unlimited resources, to do whatever one wants. He shares the character traits of those who possess riches, but also reflects the desires of those who do not. He is the object granted, but also the power to grant it, and, in the latter respect, he is a divinity, who is even given his own myth in the play. Aristophanes delights in playing with these different facets, constantly modulating his audience’s understanding of the character, both when on stage and off, in different comic situations:  moral, economic, erotic, political, and religious. This chapter will explore what I call the ‘numinous’ dimension of the figure, which is essential for understanding the character of Wealth, the 11

12

Numinous Wealth

comedy as a whole, and its interaction with the religious life of the times. There may seem nothing remarkable about the assumption that Wealth is a god. He is clearly identified as one in the comedy, and scholars have been happy to treat him as such as they untangle the complex web of concepts that the figure represents – so much so, that in all but a few studies the character’s status as a divinity within the comic fiction has been taken for granted. The phenomenon of personified deities in Greek religion is perhaps seen as too commonplace to merit further comment, yet this familiarity can blind us to an important problem: Our contemporary mindset fails to do justice to the extent and significance of personification in the culture in which the play was written and performed. To treat personification merely as a poetic or rhetorical device is too limited a view to account fully for its function in Greek culture, as I argue in the first two sections of this chapter, which tackle the interpretative problems that the phenomenon of personification presents for us. The next section then examines two characteristics that mark Wealth as a divine power in traditional portrayals of the figure that would have been familiar to both Aristophanes and his audience: his power as ploutodotes, a granter of material abundance, and his portrayal as a wandering being. Finally, I examine the myths Aristophanes creates around the personification, which further articulate this numinous aspect of the character.

Personification in Greek Thought Aristophanic comedy offers its audience and readers a plethora of personifications. Besides Wealth and his counterpart Poverty, we find gullible Master People (Demos) of Pnyx Hill in Knights, War as a cook raising a ruckus in Peace, and the bickering Stronger and Weaker Arguments of Clouds, among many other characters with speaking or silent parts.1 Other comic poets employed this type of characters as well, such as Cratinus and Pherecrates, who respectively brought Comedy and Music on stage to complain bitterly about their mistreatment at the hands of their practitioners.2 Personifications as characters are also found in tragedy, though they are not very numerous in the plays that have come down to us:  for instance, Power (Kratos) comes on stage to bind Prometheus, 1

2

Newiger 1957 and Komornicka 1964 are the major studies of personification in Aristophanes. For the character of Wealth in particular, see Newiger 1957: 165–182, Komornicka 1964: 125–134, and Hertel 1969: 20–28. See also the more recent studies of Fernández 2002: 132–142 and Fiorentini 2006. See Cratinus’ Wine Flask test. ii PCG and Pherecrates’ Chiron fr. 155 PCG.

Personification in Greek Thought

13

Madness (Lyssa) descends ex machina to seize the suffering Heracles, and Death approaches the house of Admetos to take his wife away. Contemporary scholars tend to understand these characters as the dramatic embodiment of a rhetorical and poetic device that “brings to life, in a human figure, something abstract, collective, inanimate, dead, non-reasoning, or epitomizing,” as a recent definition of personification puts it.3 The character of Wealth, for example, would be the living representation, in the form of a blind old man, of various Greek ideas related to material abundance. Yet this definition does not fully account for the extent and significance of personification within Greek culture. In a still valuable essay published in 1954, Webster cautioned that personification should be understood in a wider sense, as a significant “mode of thought” of the culture. As he put it, it is “a means of taking hold of things which suddenly appear startlingly uncontrollable and independent – the rolling stone, the blaze of the sunrise, the incurable disease, the irresistible desire, or the rule by which men conduct their political affairs. They all seem to have some life and so are in some way [understood to be] human.”4 Consequently, as Parker notes, certain things – negative or positive – that were thought to have great power over the lives of men could be treated at times as being “in a sense divine.”5 In Greek religious belief, this mode of thought, coupled with the anthropomorphism that is characteristic of the Greeks’ treatment of their gods, led to powers being given a personalized form in order to visualize and comprehend them better, so that they could be honored, prayed to, or placated.6 The prevalence of personification in Greek thought is thus a challenge for contemporary scholars. How do we know when a personification is a fictional being created from an abstract concept for a literary, rhetorical, or even dramatic purpose, and how do we know when it is an actual divinity? Certain cases are straightforward: Praxagora’s striking address to a lowly oil lamp as a trusted confidante in Assemblywomen leaves little doubt about the category to which it should be assigned. But other personifications are harder to classify, especially those that at some point actually received religious worship, such as Peace. When Peace is apostrophized in a choral ode of Euripides, are we dealing with a poetic device or a divinity?7 3 4 5 6 7

Fowler 2012: 1025. Webster 1954: 10–11; see also Parker 1996: 235. Parker 2011: 78; see also Shapiro 1993: 12. Stafford 2007: 71. Fr. 453 TrGF; the question is raised by Stafford 2000: 184–186, who sees in this choral ode a possible testimony that Peace was already considered a goddess in the late fifth century bc.

14

Numinous Wealth

When Aristophanes uncovers the statue of Peace in the comedy of the same name, are we to understand it as the artistic representation of an abstract concept, or a true goddess? Yet, if we could go back in time and ask Athenian audience members to make this distinction, they would have been perplexed: They could range easily in their thought from actual deity to figure of speech (and vice versa) without tripping over this distinction as we do. The ‘either/or’ nature of the questions reveals that we have difficulty grasping the larger phenomenon of personification in Greek culture. We mark a distinction between a religious phenomenon and a literary device that does not exist in ancient thought. When in studies of Greek religion Greek deities such as Themis or Nemesis are defined as personified “abstract qualities or ideas,” we are using a category that makes sense only to us.8 For a Greek worshipper, in Bendlin’s words, “[t]he boundary between literary personification and those personifications which were the objects of cultic adoration is indistinct and permeable.”9 Scholars who have written on personification in Aristophanes, like those who have studied the phenomenon in Greek religion and art history, are well aware of the problem that a given figure could have been understood to be the representation of an actual divinity and not merely a poetic or rhetorical device.10 However, they have for the most part focused on the aspect that is perhaps easier for us to comprehend, namely the literary dimension of personifications. No specific reason is given for this choice, but an illuminating study of personification, by Paxson, has clarified what may be at stake here. Divinities that personalize abstract concepts constitute “an anthropological problem, not a literary or poetic one.”11 Paxson is indebted to Whitman, who distinguishes between, on the one hand, the “practice of making an abstract condition a personalized god … of giving an actual personality to an abstraction,” which would be a proper object for anthropological or religious study, and, on the other hand, “the practice of giving a consciously fictional personality to an abstraction,” which would fall in the ambit of poetics or rhetoric. Whitman thus distinguishes two separate phenomena, one pertaining to religious belief and the other to literary representation, both known by the same name ‘personification,’ creating terminological difficulties. In anthropology and religion, the term refers to those divinized “abstract conditions” that spring from animism 8 9 10

11

Parker 2011: 77. Bendlin 2007: 843. See for instance the remarks in Komornicka 1964: 30–31 and 129, and Taillardat 1965: 481, n. 2. For the issue in Greek religion and art, see Shapiro 1993: 14, Stafford 2000: 12–13, and Borg 2005: 202. Paxson 1994: 6.

Personification in Greek Thought

15

in general and, in the case of Greek religion, from the tendency to give human form to deities. In sum, the contemporary demarcation that sets ‘actual’ and ‘fictional’ personifications apart from each other would explain why Aristophanic scholars have chosen to focus on the latter.12 The analysis of the character Wealth in Newiger’s study of personification in Aristophanes illustrates the issues raised by this demarcation. Newiger recognizes that the character was considered a divinity in Greek culture and is attentive to its representation as a divine power,13 but his decision to study Wealth in the light of Hegel’s classification of symbolic forms of art leads him to a literary interpretation of the character. The character Wealth, according to this classification, is an “allegory,” a form that consciously presents itself as a symbol.14 That is, according to Hegel, a concept is presented as a person; it becomes “conceived as a subject” or individual, “[b]ut this subjectivity in neither its content nor its external shape is truly in itself a subject or individual; on the contrary, it retains the abstraction of a universal idea which acquires only the empty form of subjectivity.”15 What matters in Hegelian allegory is the transmission of the meaning of an abstract concept; as a result, the concept necessarily dominates the external form as well as the personification itself, which are transformed into attributes of the concept in order to make its identification clear and straightforward.16 Take, for instance, the typical personification of the concept of time often found in funerary monuments. Time is portrayed as being old – a personalizing characteristic – and holding a scythe and an hourglass, attributes that make the figure easily identifiable. This figure, for Hegel, would be an allegory, since the concept dominates the person and its attributes. The figure does not invite the viewer to imagine Time as an actual subject or individual: It does not raise the question of whether he has any trouble fitting his scythe into a taxicab, or complains about his rheumatism because he spends too much time perching on damp memorials. Instead, what leaps out immediately and clearly from the figure leaning on a tomb is the abstract concept it represents. In the light of this Hegelian concept of allegory, Newiger sees a conflict between the elements that form the personification of Wealth. The 12 13 14 15 16

Whitman 1987: 271–272. Newiger 1957: 166. Newiger 1957: 177. Hegel 1975: 399. Hegel contrasts his definition of allegory with that of a riddle: The latter also seeks to convey the meaning of a universal concept, but it consciously “semi-veils” (1975: 397) or “disguises” it (1975: 398) with an external form from which the meaning can be guessed.

16

Numinous Wealth

character represents not only a supernatural being, a daimon whose power is to grant wealth, but also the concept of Wealth and, in addition to this, the object, material possessions or riches. Departing from the assumption that, if the character is a god, then it “will be understood as an agent, as a personified power, as a function,” Newiger argues that when the figure is linked both to this function (the granting of riches) and to the object it represents (riches), “then the divine aspect of the character would be called into question.” As the plot develops, he argues, the character is further objectified (versachlicht), and his power as a divinity is progressively erased by the concept and the object that the character represents.17 By this move, Aristophanes sets up the abstract concept of Wealth as a topic for discussion, transforming his comedy into a discourse comparable to a philosophical or sophistic treatise.18 In the face of this didactic purpose, the personality of the character becomes “only a rational construct to facilitate the representation [of the concept] on stage”;19 it is a mere prop (Requisit) to set up the exposition.20 Newiger’s analysis continues to influence readings of the personification. Though largely agreeing with him, Fernández and Fiorentini have argued that more attention needs to be paid to the human and tangible, or “personal,” attributes of the figure,21 yet this criticism does not weaken Newiger’s overall argument, because he does not deny that these attributes exist. However, the possibility that this personification represented an actual divinity in Greek religious life would complicate Newiger’s argument. He does take this point into account, but does not address the difficulties posed by personification as a mode of thought within Greek culture. This oversight is surprising, because Hegel himself cautions that, if a form represents a Greek divinity such as Justice (Dike), an “absolutely independent being,” it cannot then be an allegory, because it cannot be “empty of subjectivity.”22 Newiger’s approach could not, for example, account fully for the image of Health (Hygieia) in Greek votive reliefs, since the figure was acknowledged to be a “subject” who received worship in Athens 17 18 19 20 21 22

Newiger 1957: 166–167, 170; see also 171. Newiger 1957: 173, 177. Newiger 1957: 172. Newiger 1957: 177. Fernández 2002: 136, 141; Fiorentini 2006: 151. It is worth citing Hegel’s definition of this divinity in full:  “The Dike of the Greeks  … is universal necessity, eternal justice, the universal powerful person, the absolutely substantial basis of the relations of nature and spiritual life, and therefore herself the absolutely independent being whom individuals, gods and men, have to follow” (1975: 400).

Personification in Greek Thought

17

as a goddess.23 As regards Wealth, if he is an actual deity and established as such in the popular imagination, then Aristophanes’ character would represent an anthropomorphized supernatural power who, as a “subject,” acknowledges the cult offered to him. In Hegel’s terms, the figure hence could not be merely dependent on the abstract concept or object whose power it personifies. While Aristophanic scholarship has kept to the safe confines of the literary, recent work on personification in Greek art has fully engaged the interpretative challenge of accounting for both the ‘actual’ and the ‘fictional’ dimension of this phenomenon.24 Borg’s recent work deserves particular attention, since it tackles the scholarly aporia that has arisen from this dichotomy.25 In an article on the Meidias painter and his circle, she notes how the debate over the curious iconography of their vases, which portray the goddess Aphrodite surrounded by a remarkable number of personifications, has led to two distinct positions, familiar by now from my previous discussion. The debate pits those who see some of these figures, such as Desire (Himeros), Play (Paidia), Sweet-Talk (Hedylogos), and Yearning (Pothos), as fanciful but superficial embodiments of concepts associated with the goddess’s sphere of influence, against those who see, in the representations of ‘serious’ concepts such as Good Order (Eunomia) and Good Repute (Eukleia), possible evidence for the early cult of deities who certainly received worship much later, in the imperial period.26 Borg acknowledges the complex nature of personification as a Greek mode of thought, and notes how radically different it is to our own experience of the phenomenon,27 but she nevertheless argues that the reality of a divinized concept, however important it may be to the society that worships it – or to the anthropologist or scholar of religion who studies it – is not really significant for an audience’s understanding and appreciation of a story or visual representation in which such a concept features as a character. For instance, an ancient Athenian may well have been familiar with Health as a deity, but his understanding of her symbolic pairing with Aphrodite and other personifications in the vase paintings would depend not on this knowledge, but on his reflection upon the abstract meaning that she represents in connection with the other figures.28 Borg thus seeks 23 24 25 26 27 28

For the cult of Health, see Stafford 2000: 147–171. Shapiro 1993, Stafford 2000, and Borg 2005. Borg 2005: 199. Borg 2005: 193–194. Borg 2005: 202. Borg 2005: 199.

18

Numinous Wealth

to resolve the scholarly aporia by limiting the debate to the symbolic function of personification within the field of fictionality. Her explanation is worth quoting in full: [T]he meaningfulness and truth of a narrative or pictorial representation does not, or at least not necessarily, depend on the factual existence of the protagonists but on the belief that the characters and concepts embodied by them are existent [within the fiction] and that their actions and mutual attitudes [in the story] are both relevant and morally acceptable. Thus, the decision, so important for modern scholars of art, whether a certain expression is meant figuratively or ‘literally’, whether a nomen denotes a person or a thing, was obviously unimportant for much of antiquity – at least as long as the reading led to acceptable results. … It thus seems that for an ancient listener, reader or viewer the status of a personification with respect to her fictionality or divinity was not crucial as long as the overall message was appreciated. (Borg 2005: 201)

Could we say the same about the personifications of Wealth or Peace in Aristophanes? Was it of no consequence to ancient readers and viewers of the comedies whether the characters were actual divinities or literary figures, in order for them to understand and enjoy the story fully? At least in the case of these two characters, we need to be cautious about following Borg. Even if we were to begin from the assumption that Wealth and Peace were never worshipped as actual divinities, that they are only figurative characters, poetic and rhetorical vehicles that symbolically embody the many facets of the concepts they represent, even so the comic fiction of the plays presents us with a situation in which these characters are treated as divinities, enmeshed within a religious framework in which they receive worship that reflects actual practices and which recurs to the cult of personifications in Greek religion. Borg, it should be noted, does make clear that it is exactly that blur between the actual and the fictional that gives a literary or artistic representation its power. Yet this remark raises the question: How does the ‘actual’ enhance the ‘fictional’? If this blurring results in a more vivid reading, even if it was not necessary for the sense, can we not say that it is important? The same issues arise if the process is reversed. Stafford, when discussing fictional personifications in ancient drama, comments that “the fact that [these personifications] were presented in physical form must have helped, alongside representations in the visual arts, to give them substance as actual individuals in the popular imagination.”29 If these fictional representations 29

Stafford 2000: 13.

Personifications and Religious Cult

19

contribute to the perception of Greek personifications as actual powers, can they then be easily separated from such powers in a symbolic reading? We can concede to Borg that the actual may enhance the fictional and yet still not be necessary or crucial to the reading; but can this view be maintained in the case of a comic fiction that presents the establishment of cult for a personification, and in which the fictional meaning depends on the audience seeing the character as a divinity? In the next section, I shall address the possibility that the character of Wealth was, in the popular imagination, the representation of an actual divinity. I  want to widen our understanding of this aspect of the character, since Wealth’s treatment as a deity in the comedy is central to understanding the play’s religious framework. This is not to argue that the character cannot be regarded as a concept personified to facilitate its discussion, as in Newiger’s reading, or even as an object, as illustrated by many passages in the play itself. This variability between different ways of understanding the personification is part of this mode of thought, a feature of the device of personification itself. Yet, as we will see in the following chapters, even the most passive, ‘objectivized’ portrayal of the character  – for instance, as the abundance that fills the household  – is, within the dramatic fiction, imbued with the supernatural power of a divinity. I may here run the risk of slipping into an exclusively numinous understanding of Wealth, the polar opposite of Newiger’s objectification, but I believe that it is a risk worth taking if it opens our eyes to a rich aspect of the use of personification in Aristophanes: its religious dimension. In a way, I  am encouraging readers to make the same conceptual jump as Blepsidemos, a friend of Chremylos, in the first scene of the play. Having at first interpreted Wealth exclusively as material possessions, he is quickly disabused of this impression by the protagonist. To Blepsidemos’ question, “You’ve got wealth? What sort (poion 392) of wealth?” Chremylos replies, “The god himself ” (392). Thus, Blepsidemos’ concept of wealth is expanded to encompass the daemonic power of the personification as its ultimate signification.

Personifications and Religious Cult Is there a way to tell whether an actual deity lies behind a personification in Athenian drama, rather than a poetic or rhetorical figure? Stafford’s work on personifications in Greek religion provides a simple guideline:  Ask if they were recipients of religious cult. “Any figure to whom sacrifices are made,” she says, “must be deemed capable of

20

Numinous Wealth

acknowledging the fact, since those who make the sacrifices are hoping for a response. In other words, such a figure must have a degree of consciousness,” and thus would have been considered an “absolutely independent divinity,” as Hegel would put it.30 Some of the divinized personifications that Stafford surveys, such as Nemesis and Peace, featured in Athenian drama: Cratinus staged his comedy Nemesis in 431 bc , and, since Aristophanes’ Peace and Wealth got their names from the presence of these personifications in the plot, one can surmise from the title of Cratinus’ lost Nemesis that the eponymous goddess played a role in it too.31 Moreover, Stafford has suggested that the performance of Nemesis may be related to a surge of interest in the cult of this goddess at Rhamnous when her sanctuary was rebuilt in the 430s– 420s bc .32 Panacea (Panakeia), a personification that has a cameo role in Aristophanes’ Wealth (702–703, 730–732) as a companion of Asclepius, was already a figure of cult at the time the play was staged. She is attested as a recipient of sacrifice in a sacred law from the Sanctuary of Asclepius at Piraeus (IG ii 2 4962.7–8) dated to the early fourth century bc , and, later in that century, on the great altar of the sanctuary of Amphiaraos at Oropos (Pausanias 1.34.3). If sacrifices were performed in honor of this figure, then  – according to Stafford’s guideline  – she would have been imagined as looking favorably on these offerings, and, hence, was perceived as having a mind of her own.33 In the case of Wealth, we have a fictional deity that possibly received cult in Classical Athens, and in the case of Peace one that definitely received it, though not verifiably at the time Aristophanes staged his first Peace in the spring of 421 bc. Yet Borg and Stafford rightly point out that a lack of evidence for cult does not exclude that a personification could have been envisioned as an object of worship. The fact that a supernatural power is acknowledged as such, they observe, is sufficient to establish the possibility of its being treated as a divine entity, and thus being “capable of receiving worship, whether or not her cult is actually observed anywhere,” as Stafford observes in reference to Pindar’s one-off evocation of the goddess Tranquility (Hesychia).34 The case of Peace supports her remarks: Fifty years after Aristophanes’ Peace, Athens established a public

30 31 32 33 34

Stafford 2000: 2; Hegel 1975: 400. See also Versnel 1995: 385. As suggested by Bakola 2010: 171; cf. also Cratinus, Nemesis test. ii PCG. Stafford 2000: 92. See also Camp 2001: 106, 112, and Rubel 2014: 125–127. Cf. Stafford’s conclusion on the origin and cult of Heath (Hygieia) (2000: 167–168). Stafford 2000: 12; Borg 2005: 202.

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21

cult in honor of this personification, in 375/4 bc, and the cult quickly grew in importance during the fourth century.35 MacDowell comments that Aristophanes’ early imagining of a cult of Peace might have helped turn this cult into something “desirable,” while Stafford suggests that it may have made the goddess familiar to an Athenian audience before she was even established in the Athenian agora.36 What about the eponymous personification of the comedy Wealth? Parker is confident that this is one of those figures “sufficiently well integrated into Olympian mythology, or closely associated with particular Olympians, for it to be easy to think of them as ordinary gods.”37 In Athenian religion Wealth is primarily associated with Demeter, and appears in vase paintings and votive reliefs as a member of the circle of divine beings associated with her cult. On this evidence, one could identify Wealth as a god and elevate him to the same rank as Nemesis and Peace, yet I do want to tread with caution here. Wealth may have a bona fide mythical pedigree in Athenian religion, but the evidence for his cult is tenuous and disputed.38 Panacea offers a notable contrast, since she did receive cult but had no myth beyond her genealogical connection as daughter of Asclepius. The only cultic testimony we have of Wealth – a prayer in Aristophanes’ Women at the Thesmophoria that mentions his name straight after Demeter and Persephone – is compromised by the fact that a scholium indicates Ploutōn (297) as an alternative reading for Ploutos (Wealth).39 The god Ploutōn (Pluto), as the husband of Persephone, is the 35 36 37 38

39

For the cult of Peace in Athens, see Stafford 2000: 173–177; for its importance, Parker 1996: 230. MacDowell 1995: 193 and Stafford 2000: 193. Parker 1996: 233. See also Auffarth 1995: 356. For the cult of Wealth, Hamdorf 1964: 49 is a good starting point for the evidence; the more recent work is Stafford 2000:  180–182. Cf. also Clinton 1992:  39–55, Clinton 1994b,  and Clinton and Palagia 2003: 272–280. Clinton makes a convincing case that the boy in the Great Eleusinian relief could be Wealth and discusses the possible role of this figure in the mysteries (1992: 63, 91–94). Yet Clinton and Palagia also remind us that the boy’s identity is still much disputed (2003: 263–272). The proper name Ploutōn has the general meaning of “He who possesses or gives material abundance” (Wüst 1951: 992). The name is applied to the husband of Persephone not only for euphemistic or apotropaic reasons, but also because his power is conceived in terms of agricultural fertility. However, it is not exclusive to this figure, and is also used to refer to other entities who have or give abundance. For instance, a river in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound is called Ploutōn because it “flows with gold” (805–806). Wealth likewise is called Ploutōn because he grants material abundance, and not because he is identified with the husband of Persephone. The figures are not treated as one and the same. In Wealth 727, where he is referred to as Ploutōn, the scholia offer three explanations for the name: It can be a proper name derived from Wealth’s own name Ploutos (schol. vet. 727b Chantry), an alternative name “just like the way Hades is called Ploutōn” (schol. vet. 727d Chantry), or simply a joke (schol. vet. 727a Chantry). In the other two examples of this usage (Sophocles, fr. 273 and 283 TrGF, cited by schol. vet. 727d Chantry), the name is applied to a disguised Zeus who fills a household with riches, thereby identifying him as an anonymous wealth-giving deity. (See

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Figure 1.1

Red-figure chous from Athens, ca. 400 bc.

more likely reading, since he appears in surviving inscriptions along with Demeter and Persephone as an Eleusinian deity to whom sacrifices were made.40 Wealth has yet to appear in this type of inscription. We thus have to rely not only on the textual but also on the visual evidence in our attempt to identify Wealth as a divinized personification. Yet this evidence is still subject to Borg’s contention that, even if we could satisfactorily ascertain that Wealth was a god, this fact would not be important for understanding a context in which the figure appears. Her point can be illustrated by an Athenian chous (ca. 400 bc) which displays a unique iconography related to Wealth (Figure  1.1). The chous portrays two, and perhaps three, personifications, all of which are labeled. Victory (Nike) appears driving a chariot with winged horses towards a tripod. To her left is a childlike figure, identified as Gold (Chrysos), who is dressed in a luxurious, sleeved long chiton.41 On the other side of the tripod, a young boy identified as Wealth (Plotos) reaches out to touch it. Victory and the tripod may allude to a competition or an agonistic setting. Wealth himself may represent the prosperity or abundance that permits a dazzling participation in the contest, or the prosperity that is granted by the divinity in whose name the contest is held. The same could be said of Gold, if that figure is indeed a personification.42 Here, if

40 41 42

Chapter 4, pp. 125–126.) In the art of Classical and Hellenistic Athens, Ploutos (Wealth) and Ploutōn (Pluto, husband of Persephone) are also treated as distinct: Ploutos is depicted as a naked, beardless youth (Clinton 1992:  49–51, 96), whereas Ploutōn appears as a mature, bearded figure (Clinton 1992: 96, 105–107; see also Clinton 1994b: 420 and Stafford 2000: 181–182). See for instance IG i3 5 (= IEleusis 13), dated to ca. 500 bc. See LIMC Ploutos 17. On the iconography, see Clinton 1992: 53 and Clinton and Palagia 2003: 272–274.

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Figure 1.2 Votive relief with worshippers approaching Demeter (far left), Kore, and a male god carrying Wealth on his left arm, from the Athenian agora, second half of the fourth century bc.

we follow Borg, the question of whether Wealth is a divinity or not would add little to an understanding of the meaning of the grouping. The figure can be interpreted as a plain representation of the concept of Wealth, either as status or as material possessions. The same could be said of the various vase paintings and texts that relate Wealth to the Eleusinian deities. One can take the figure’s presence in these images simply as a symbol of agricultural abundance representing the favors of Demeter.43 His status as an actual god would not add much to the reading. Yet, when a personification is featured in a religious context, to treat it merely as a ‘fiction’ may be too restrictive. Wealth appears in two Athenian votive reliefs dedicated to the Eleusinian goddesses in the second half of the fourth century bc (Figure  1.2). The figure is easily identifiable by his cornucopia, and is held in the arms of a god.44 These reliefs are set up in acknowledgment of the power of the divinities represented on them, either to thank them or to ask a favor in return. 43 44

See Coin-Longeray 2014: 103–106. Athens, Agora Museum, S 1251 and 1646; LIMC Ploutos 15–16. For the various proposals regarding the identity of the god holding Wealth, see now Lawton 2017: 56.

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When Wealth appears in this context, is he still to be considered only in terms of a fictional personification?45 Borg’s caveat could still be applied in these cases: Wealth, for a viewer abstracting the inherent concepts, might simply represent the abundance associated with the Eleusinian deities.46 But that would sidestep the cultic context of these objects, which implies an aim to acknowledge or visualize the personalized and divine power of this personification for the purpose of worship or dedicatory offerings. We should keep in mind Stafford’s and Borg’s observation that acknowledgment of a supernatural power already signals the possibility that it could receive cult. It is a short step to suppose that the figure of Wealth may have been understood as the image of an actual deity by the carvers, dedicators, and visitors to sanctuaries who marveled at these objects as testimonies to the presence of gods in their lives.

Defining the Divine Agency of Fictional Wealth Given the uncertainty about whether a cult of Wealth existed, I  will consider the character initially as a fictional personification, but I will identify its characteristics as a fictional divinity. Later, in my last two chapters, I will look at Wealth in the context of his fictional worship. Aristophanes’ Wealth does not exist in isolation. The character is based on existing traditions that already personified Wealth as a divine power at a fictional level, and these traditions would have been recognizable to the playwright’s audience. Early commentators on Wealth noted the playwright’s debt to these previous portrayals, but Aristophanes himself flags them up at the start of the comedy.47 Chremylos and his slave react to the revelation of Wealth’s identity by asking him, “Are you really that (ekeinos) Wealth?” (82). The demonstrative ekeinos refers here to a personification of Wealth that is independent of the one on stage, and which the audience is now invited to compare to the character they see. Since what shocks Chremylos and Karion is Wealth’s wretched and ragged state (80), the existing image must have been the opposite. Later Blepsidemos, who has not yet seen Wealth, asks Chremylos if Wealth is “truly (ontōs) blind” 45

46 47

The question is complicated by the fact that the figure of the god with Wealth seems modeled on Cephisodotus’ statue of Peace, dated to the first half of the fourth century bc, which also carries Wealth in her arms. Scholars tend to associate this statue with the cult of Peace established by the Athenians in the agora around the same time, though it is not known whether it was the actual cult image. See Stafford 2000: 175–176. Clinton 1992: 557. For instance, Tzetzes, ad 87 Massa Positano.

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(403).48 Once again, an existing way of imagining the personification in Greek culture – in this case as blind – is contrasted with the character on stage. These traditional portrayals introduce different ways of visualizing the power of the  personified concept, and they help us to explore how Aristophanes molded the audience’s understanding of the supernatural aspects of his character. The textual and artistic testimonies to personifications of Wealth are well known to scholars, so I will provide only a brief overview of the traditional figures as a necessary framework for my discussion.49 Despite being a minor figure, Wealth has a long pedigree dating back to the seventh century bc. Already in Hesiod’s Theogony and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter there are succinct but clear personifications of Wealth as a deity who, as the son of Demeter, grants agricultural and material abundance to men.50 His relationship with Demeter was still flourishing in the Athens of Aristophanes’ time, where he appeared as a young man or child in vases and votive reliefs depicting Eleusinian deities, as we have seen.51 This Eleusinian connection, in particular, would have been an important reference point for the figure of Wealth in the Athenian imagination. Yet this was not the only wealthgranting deity an Athenian would have known. Hesiod also mentions that the men who lived in the Golden Age of Kronos were transformed into daimones who dispense wealth according to the will of Zeus. Although they are not personifications like Wealth, they share this divine prerogative with him. Other, similar wealth-granting deities also graced the Athenian stage. Cratinus’ Wealths, performed in the 430s bc, featured a chorus of wealth gods who, like Hesiod’s daimones, are identified with the Golden Age; however, Cratinus innovated on the tradition, transforming them into Titans.52 As in the case of Hesiod, these Wealths are clearly not mere figures of speech, but deities. Finally, there is the striking personification of blind Wealth, which first appears in the poetry of Hipponax, a century before Cratinus and Aristophanes, and would go on to have a long life in the Greek imaginary, with Aristophanes’ character one of its most important permutations.

48

49

50 51 52

Aristophanes also connects the character to proverbs related to a personified wealth:  “Ah yes, everyone says (legousi pantes) that nothing’s more cowardly than wealth” (202–203), exclaims Chremylos when he observes the craven reaction of Wealth to his plan. Sommerstein provides an excellent summary of the evidence (2001: 5–8); see also Torchio 2001: 24– 28, and more recently Tomassi 2010: 252–263. For the visual evidence, see Clinton 1994b. Theogony 969–974; Hymn to Demeter 486–489. LIMC Ploutos 5–11, 13–15. See Farioli 2001: 55–56 and Bakola 2010: 135–136, 208–210. See further Bakola 2013: 228–236.

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These figures have different characteristics (young or old, blind or allseeing, related to the age of Kronos or that of Zeus), but they all share a feature that identifies them as deities, namely the power to grant riches.53 It is helpful to recall here Parker’s observation, with respect to ruler cult in the Hellenistic period, that gods are conceived in Greek thought as active forces rather than essences.54 What gods do is usually what defines and identifies them as powers; their supernatural action is what manifests their existence. The Golden Age daimones of Hesiod’s Works and Days are defined in terms of their function as wealth-givers, or ploutodotai (126). Personifications such as Wealth, Peace, and Health may embody a state of well-being that is desired or prayed for, but it is their portrayal as agents that grant this state, their dunamis as manifested in their individual action, that defines their status as divinities. Thus the character of Wealth, even if fictional, can be identified as a god when it embodies the agency that grants material abundance. Divinized personifications may have originated in the abstraction of the power of a personal divinity, in particular from the benefits the latter conceded.55 The goddess Health, understood as “good health, physical soundness which is a necessary prerequisite of a good life,” as Stafford defines her, would thus personify the condition brought about by the healing power of Asclepius, with whom she is frequently associated.56 Yet this personification is already treated as an independent being in the earliest surviving testimonies. The inscription of the Telemachos Monument, commemorating the foundation of the Athenian sanctuary of Asclepius on the south slope of the Akropolis, records that, when the god arrived in the polis in 420/19 bc, Health “came along” with him (hama ēlthen SEG 47.232.16–17). In similar terms, Wealth can be understood as the embodiment of the benefits of Demeter. Yet  already in the earliest testimonies Wealth is referred to as an independent power. The Hymn to Demeter, for instance, states that goddesses send him to those they favor (488–489), but specifies that Wealth is the one “who gives abundance to men” (489). It was also feasible to picture Wealth as an agent acting on his own, as we saw in the chous described above, and will see in Hesiod’s portrayal of Wealth as the wayward son of Demeter. 53

54 55

56

Likewise in Birds Peisthetairos points out the birds’ ability to grant riches as one of the characteristics that identifies them as gods (529 and 723). Parker 2011: 79. For an excellent summary and bibliographical guide to the diverse theories related to the origins of the cult of personifications in Greek religion, see Stafford 2000: 235–239. Stafford 2000: 150; for the origin of the personification, see 151–156.

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This power proper to a deity, the dunamis of a personification acting as an independent agent, which appears as a characteristic of the traditional personifications of Wealth, is also a significant element of Aristophanes’ portrayal of the character. A  key scene for the definition of the character centers on this aspect:  In the prologue, right after Wealth reveals his identity, Chremylos and Karion try to persuade an apprehensive Wealth to remain with them and allow himself to be cured of his blindness. Their strategy, stated at the start of the scene, is to reveal to the character the extent of the power he embodies.57 As Chremylos announces, “I’m going to show you that you’re far more powerful (polu / meizon dunamenon) than Zeus” (128–129). The entire scene is an excellent example of the mode of thought of personification at work, as Chremylos and Karion bring up multiple manifestations of the power embodied by the personification; these are even accompanied by a flurry of statements of the form “because of you / him” to drive home the point, indicating that Wealth is the one responsible (160–181). Yet at the root of all of these examples lies the dunamis of the personified concept, a point that Wealth himself brings up in the middle of the scene, when he asks in amazement: “Can I do all that, and singlehandedly?” (ego tosauta dunatos eim’ heis ōn poiein? 186).58 This focus on the dunamis of the personification is further linked to the characteristics of a deity by the fact that the scene may parody a religious hymn.59 Medda argues that the persuading of Wealth humorously inverts the traditional relationship between gods and men portrayed in these religious texts.60 Instead of proclaiming the power of the god, as is typical of a hymn, Chremylos persuades Wealth of his own power. The scene may reverse the pattern, but the issue of the deity’s power remains its core. What is more, the persuasion scene defines Wealth’s power explicitly as the capacity to depose another deity – in this case Zeus. The contraposition here, it should be observed, is not between a concept, or object, as opposed to a god, but between two divine powers, as we will discuss in the section that follows. Blind wealth is coaxed to behave as a power both independent of and superior to Zeus. 57 58

59

60

See Konstan and Dillon 1981: 390. A similar reaction is exhibited by the Sausage Seller in Knights (162ff.) and the bird chorus in Birds (465ff.), who react in astonishment when they hear about powers they were not even aware they had. The phrase “because of you,” discussed in the previous paragraph, mimics the style of these hymns, as Torchio points out (2001: ad 160–168). See also Dunbar’s (1995) comment to Birds 1546. Medda 2005.

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Before turning to Wealth’s relationship to Zeus, I note another characteristic of the traditional figures of Wealth that can be linked to the agency of a divinity, namely their portrayal as ‘wandering’ supernatural beings. This attribute appears already in the earliest description of Wealth, who, according to Hesiod in the Theogony, “goes everywhere over the earth and the vast surface of the sea” (Theogony 972–973). And although the Golden Age daimones of Hesiod’s Works and Days are not personifications, they are still described as “going about everywhere over the earth” (125). These wandering agents can be sent by gods, as is the Wealth of the Hymn to Demeter, whom Demeter and Persephone “send to dwell in the great home” (488) of those they favor. But already in Hesiod’s Theogony there is no indication that Wealth is acting for the sake of the goddess Demeter; he makes rich “whoever encounters him (tōi … tuchonti) and into whose hands (hou k’ es cheiras) he comes (hikētai)” (973). This reflects a different view of Wealth: Absent a god to send him, the divinity’s agency is pictured as being unpredictable and subject to chance. Hipponax’s Wealth picks up on this image of an independent, wandering deity who, the poet complains, has not come to his house, though Hipponax innovates by explaining this capriciousness as a result of Wealth’s blindness.61 This tradition led to the idea that Wealth cannot tell whether he is going to the house of a good or a bad man, a feature that is central to the myth that Aristophanes constructs around his character. Yet Aristophanes restores to this personification the idea that it is acting on behalf of other divinities, in particular the god Zeus, with interesting consequences to which I now turn.

Crafting Myths for Wealth Mythmaking often accompanies personification within Greek thought, both manifesting and giving substance to the personification. This “adaptation to specific mythological roles” helps personifications “achieve both persistence and individuality” in the wider culture, Shapiro notes.62 When Aristophanes set out to write his comedy about Wealth, he crafted a story around a personification that already had a myth, or rather myths, of varying complexity. These myths ranged from the establishment of genealogical connections, perhaps the simplest of mythical patterns, to the 61 62

Hipponax 44.1–2 Degani. Shapiro 1993: 12.

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more complex (though brief ) narratives that featured Wealth in his role as ploutodotes.63 The myth that provided the departure point for Aristophanes’ comedy is Hipponax’s portrayal of blind Wealth, but the playwright innovates on Hipponax’s version by attributing the character’s blindness to the malicious action of Zeus.64 This blindness is healed in the course of the comedy, restoring morality to Wealth’s distribution. In this way Aristophanes transforms Hipponax’s capricious figure into one closer to that of the Hymn to Demeter, who dispenses benefits according to deserts.65 Through this, Wealth takes on the mythical role of a rebellious divinity who goes against the will of Zeus, like Prometheus.66 As it is often noted, the plot of Wealth is patterned upon myths of conflict between generations of deities, particularly upon the so-called succession myths, where a reigning god is deposed by another. I will come back to this conflict in the ensuing chapters, when I study the role of Apollo and Asclepius in the comedy and consider Wealth’s subversion of the worship of Zeus. Suffice it to say that these “succession” myths, which are reflected in the theme of the return of the Golden Age, so dear to Old Comedy, make clear that Aristophanes’ overall treatment of the personification is that of a deity.67 In the remainder of this chapter, I examine two other myths Aristophanes crafts around the figure of Wealth that directly define his attributes as a deity: Firstly, that of his pairing with a begrudging Zeus; and secondly, that of his contest with another deity in the benefits they offer, when Wealth is pitted against the personification of Poverty. What unites these myths is the link between moral character and divine reward. Generous and Begrudging Gods In the first myth, Aristophanes depicts Wealth’s dispensing of riches in two ways: in a positive light, as a reward for good actions, but also in a negative one, as the malicious withholding of such a reward. Both are present in the early traditions related to the power of divinities as ploutodotai, together with a middle ground, in which a deity is imagined to distribute riches 63 64

65 66 67

For the genealogical connection, see Webster 1954: 19–20 and Stafford 2000: 10. As various scholars have observed; see most recently Sommerstein 2001:  8 and Fiorentini 2006: 148–149. As noted by Sommerstein 2001: 8. Noted by Newiger 1957: 168, Konstan and Dillon 1981: 383–384, and Bowie 1993: 278–284. I thank David Konstan for calling my attention to the presence of these succession myths in the portrayal of the personification of Wealth.

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capriciously, without attending to moral character. These perspectives can be taken as examples of the different levels of desire, hope, confidence, uncertainty, or outright dejection attached to expectations of reciprocity between gods and men in Greek religion, to which I will return at the end of this book. For now, my interest is in the various ways these three types of divine action are visualized. The positive end of the scale is the confident, hopeful affirmation that good actions and character are appropriately recompensed by divinities.68 This idea appears already in Homer’s Odyssey, where a just and “godfearing” (19.109) king is rewarded with a supernatural material abundance “because of his good leadership” (19.114).69 In the Hymn to Demeter, Demeter and Persephone send Wealth to those “they favorably love” (487). This optimistic perspective on divine reward may also lie behind Hesiod’s “noble” (Works and Days 123) Golden Age daimones, whose power to enrich is linked to their supervision of “judgments and wicked acts” (124–126). These supernatural beings respond to Zeus’s plan (122), and their power is described as a geras (126), that is, a gift of honor or prerogative, whose granter is most likely the god who brought them into existence, Zeus. This would make them the agents of a beneficial divine regime that duly supervises and rewards moral action.70 Other perspectives try to account for the challenge to this optimistic view posed by the fact that the dishonest are often rewarded with riches while the honest stay poor; this failure of reciprocity between gods and men is one of the initial complaints in Aristophanes’ play (87–94). In the Odyssey, as well as the Zeus who rewards moral actions with wealth, we also find a Zeus who dispenses prosperity to good and bad men “however he pleases” (6.188–189), or a mix of “good and evil now to one man, now to another” (4.236–237).71 In this case, the “plan of Zeus” is disconnected from any sense of reward for moral or pious acts, and is portrayed as inscrutable to mortal understanding; it is something that Zeus does because “he can do everything” (4.237), and which men have no choice but to endure (6.190). This conception is later found also in Theognis. He uses the image of a balance to describe how Zeus dispenses poverty and riches indiscriminately, “now on this side, now on that” (157–158), without attending to the moral character of the people he is rewarding (377–385); 68

69 70 71

See now Sommerstein 2017 for an overview of this positive perspective in Greek epic and drama, together with the negative one that I cover in the next paragraph. See also Hesiod, Works and Days 225–237. The personification of Justice has the same role in Aeschylus’ so-called Dike play (fr. 281a TrGF). Cf. also Achilles’ speech about the two urns of Zeus: Iliad 24.525–533.

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again, this can only be endured (398). This concept also lies behind the independent figure of Wealth in Hesiod’s Theogony, whose action is not explicitly related to any other divinity’s plan, even though he is called the son of Demeter; the figure rewards those to whom he comes “by chance” (tōi  … tuchonti 973), which would rule out any moral reckoning in his dispensing of gifts. As mentioned above, Hipponax and other poets pick up on this capricious aspect of the personification in their depiction of a blind Wealth. But whereas the ‘chance’ Wealth of the Theogony is still “noble” (esthlon 972), ‘blind’ Wealth is described in an unflattering light. Hipponax attributes Wealth’s absence from the poet’s house to the fact that he has a “contemptible mind” (deilaios … tas phrenas 44.4 Degani). Timocreon states that he is the root of all evil, and employs the image of the wandering deity, “appearing” (PMG 731.2) on land and on sea, to wish that he would just “make his home in the underworld” (2–3), wandering away from the world of the living. We do not know, given the fragmentary state of their work, whether these poets linked this blind, negative Wealth to a particular divinity – as far as we can tell, the personification is treated as an independent power – but the figure’s capriciousness could be easily related to the conception of major deities, such as Zeus, as dispensing wealth as they please. Aristophanes is our first surviving testimony to tie the capriciousness of the personification of blind Wealth specifically to Zeus, but this Zeus is not the divinity who dispenses goods and evils indiscriminately to men; on the contrary, he deliberately keeps his divine reward away from those who most deserve it.72 In this respect, he is the opposite of Zeus the benefactor of the good and honest. This is apparent in the mythical aition Aristophanes creates to explain the blindness of the figure: Wealth originally served the capricious dispensation of riches by Zeus, but, when he threatened to benefit only the honest, Zeus put a stop to this insurrection by blinding him so that he could not recognize them (87–92). This is Aristophanes’ explanation for the initial status quo of the world in the play, the reason why the honest are poor and the dishonest rich. Blind Wealth, as we have noted, was seen as capricious, but, as Sommerstein has observed, Aristophanes’ myth exculpates this figure and transfers all responsibility for the sorry state of affairs to the divinity he serves.73 72

73

On the general treatment of Zeus in Aristophanes, see now Ambler 2013 and Sommerstein 2017: 19–21. Sommerstein 2001: 8.

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It is illuminating to contrast, in this respect, the Zeus of Wealth with that of Aristophanes’ own Peace. In the latter play, the protagonist blames Zeus for the constant infighting between Greeks (56–63, 102–108), but Hermes exculpates his father by revealing that the real culprit in the current state of affairs is humanity itself, which prefers war over the peace treaties the gods repeatedly attempt to make (211–212). As a result, the gods in disgust abandoned men and retreated higher into heaven, leaving War in their place (195–209).74 The fact that Zeus forbids that Peace be dug up from the cave where War has cast her (371–372) can thus be read not as a malicious act, but as punishment for the Greeks’ bellicose behavior. The Zeus of Wealth, on the other hand, is depicted as an openly malicious divinity, acting out of what is specifically called a phthonos towards men (87–92). As Given has recently observed, Wealth is the only comedy in which a divinity, Zeus, is directly responsible for the initial problem of the play.75 This shift amounts to a redesign of the image of the god.76 How are we to understand Zeus’s phthonos towards men? Phthonos, understood in English as “begrudging,” “envying,” or “feeling jealousy,” is generally a negative emotion in Greek society, as Sanders states in his recent study of the concept in Archaic and Classical Greek culture.77 A public speaker, for instance, usually refers to this socially and morally unacceptable emotion in order “to accuse others of phthonos, to instruct others not to feel it, or to deny feeling it oneself ”; the term is also used to bring discredit on the person who is said to feel it.78 Phthonos, according to Sanders, is an emotion that is felt towards equals, and so is applied by men to men,79 but, curiously, it can also refer to the gods in their dealings with mortals. In the “phthonos of the gods,” the gods are said to feel this emotion towards humans who are “excessively fortunate,” and are seen as the god’s equals in the sense that they “share a high level of good fortune only allowed to a god,” making them an appropriate target of phthonos; although this emotion is still negative and dangerous in human eyes, from the divine perspective it can be justified as counterbalancing a

74 75 76 77 78

79

See Olson 1998: xxxix–xlii. Given 2009: 109, 112–114. Cf. also Sommerstein 2017: 19–21. As observed by Fiorentini 2006: 149. In addition to Sanders 2014, see also the newly published study of Eidinow 2016. For the employment of phthonos as an accusation, see Sanders 2014: 35–36; for its use to bring discredit, see his p. 5. See also Eidinow 2016: 220. Sanders 2014:  34. For a quick review of several definitions of divine phthonos, see now Eidinow 2016: 206–207.

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too-fortunate state with a misfortune.80 Zeus’s feeling of phthonos for those benefited by Wealth could be understood in this light, just as in Hesiod’s account of Prometheus he begrudges and counters the good fortune brought to mortals by the Titan’s illicit gifts. However, in Wealth Zeus’s phthonos is not directed at men in an “excessively fortunate” position, such as might warrant a correction, since in this case they were never rich to begin with.81 If Zeus’s reaction can be classed as divine phthonos, it would have to be considered a pre-emptive action against the future state of excessive good fortune heralded by Wealth’s threat, which would run counter to the order of things as established by Zeus. However, we should note the anomaly:  Wealth, already part and parcel of Zeus’s capricious order, only had the intention of correcting his distribution in favor of the honest, but has not yet had the opportunity to act. There was no transgression to punish, only the threat of transgression. Zeus’s action thus serves to make human life miserable by eliminating any possibility that the good can be rewarded. Zeus’s phthonos is open to another, discreditable interpretation. It could be not just a pre-emptive feeling, but a pre-existing feeling, an emotion that is unmasked or brought into the open by Wealth’s threat. If Zeus feels phthonos towards men as they are, as subjects to his capricious plan, then his emotion would have no reasonable foundation: There is no ground for him to censure mankind, and he cannot be bringing men down to their appropriate level, because they are already in their place. Since it is hard to imagine how Zeus could feel phthonos towards anything men possess that he might want, the emotion would have to reflect Zeus’s attitude to the power he already holds, in this case control over the power to grant wealth. His phthonos could be understood as a “begrudging sharing,” as Sanders defines it, a refusal to share a benefit that he has in abundance, a meaning of phthonos that is prevalent in Greek culture.82 In each of these two cases, and in that of the “phthonos of the gods” previously mentioned, another dimension of the emotion is present: Zeus’s jealous guarding of a prerogative.83 But, here again, given that Wealth did not initially carry out his threat, Zeus is acting against those who are not his equals; he may see them as potential equals, and fear that, but it is not yet a reality.

80 81 82 83

Sanders 2014: 42–43. See Fiorentini 2006: 149; pace Bowie 1993: 271–272. Sanders 2014: 38. See also Eidinow 2016: 217. Cf. Ludwig 2014: 207. Sanders: 2014: 46.

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This uncertainty about why Zeus would feel phthonos  – whether his emotion is directed at the possibility that men could become fortunate (which would be justified), or at the present state of humans’ misfortune which is no threat to his position (unjustified in this case, and discreditable) – leads us to another aspect of phthonos that could apply to Wealth. The god’s attitude might simply reflect a malicious feeling, Schadenfreude, which takes delight in the fact “that someone I have an invidious dislike for has come to some harm,” in Sanders’s words; in that case the emotion need not be “felt toward those particularly fortunate.”84 This ‘harm’ would be the ongoing state of affairs under Zeus’s control, which he is unwilling to change, as is shown by his pre-emptive action against Wealth. From this perspective, Homer’s and Theognis’ resigned view of Zeus’s plan as a mix of good and bad would contrast with an image of a god here who, in dealing a bad hand to mankind, and in particular to the honest and just, the only people (monous 93) who honor him above all (93–94), does so out of sheer malicious pleasure.85 Does it make sense for the honest – or indeed, for anyone – to pray to a god like this? The myth of Zeus at the core of the play thus cuts to the heart of the relationship of reciprocity between gods and men.86 I will return in the conclusion of the book to this topic, which is central to the religious dimension of the play. Yet, by its contrast, the myth of a phthoneros Zeus helps to illuminate an important facet of Wealth as a divinity. The personification of Wealth is revealed to be the opposite of the divinity he serves, for Wealth is an aphthonos being, one who seeks to reciprocate the good actions of men by freely sharing what he possesses, and one who does not feel threatened by their good fortune, not even if it is excessive. In brief, Wealth is revealed to be a benevolent and generous divinity towards men. Aristophanes thus transforms the proverbial blind Wealth from a capricious and morally handicapped figure to a divine being who duly rewards the pious, just, and honest behavior of worshippers. As discussed above, there are various divinities who match this profile when granting material abundance, including Zeus himself in his positive dimension. However, an Athenian audience would have connected it with the figure of Eleusinian Wealth, since the latter’s role is eminently positive and beneficial.87

84 85 86

87

Sanders 2014: 46, table 3.1(b); 40–41. See recently Given 2009: 113. As noted by Bowie 1993:  273–275. On the relationship of phthonos and reciprocity, see Eidinow 2016: 222–232. As noted by both Sommerstein 2001: 5 and 8, and Fiorentini 2006: 149–150.

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A Contest of Deities The second myth of Wealth in the comedy can be traced in its wellknown (and much-discussed) agon, or formal debate, which sets out the benefits offered by Wealth and another characterized personification, Poverty (Penia).88 I suggest that this scene is patterned on the contests of divinities for possession of a land, where they vie with each other, bidding with the benefits they confer. This previously unnoticed mythical paradigm builds on both the presentation of the character of Wealth as a divinity and the myth of Zeus that we have just examined. The character of Poverty is not explicitly treated as a deity in Wealth, but, as Komornicka has observed, there is something “quasi-divine” about the figure. Komornicka bases this view on Poverty’s comparison of herself in one scene to a despoina of men (533), a title usually (but not always) applied to a goddess;89 on this point I would agree rather with Sommerstein that the image refers instead to a household mistress supervising slaves.90 Yet, I  would argue that the treatment of Wealth as a divinity that we have been tracing in the comic fiction, which is particularly notable in the agon where he is called a god at the beginning and end (446, 452, 620), affects the portrayal of Poverty as well. She should be seen, in her opposition to Wealth, as more than a simple personified concept. The appearance of Poverty marks an important shift in the play. The main topic so far has been Wealth and his power; the allusions to poverty have been negative and serve only as a contrast to the fortunate condition of wealth.91 But for one episode the spotlight is given to Poverty, and in a wonderful reversal the character argues that she is a beneficial divinity to men, unlike pernicious Wealth; the latter becomes the negative counterpoint to her self-presentation as a philanthropic power. How is this figure defined by, and how does it contribute to, the numinous aspect of the personification of Wealth in the play? A brief overview of the conceptualizations and personifications of poverty that existed before Aristophanes wrote his comedy may be useful. Personification as a Greek mode of thought also applied to phenomena

88

89

90 91

For recent discussions, see McGlew 2002: 177–187, Ruffell 2006: 84–92, Revermann 2006: 283–287, Zumbrunnen 2012: 117–120, and Ludwig 2014: 206–208. It should be noted that, despite making this point, Komornicka is not convinced that the figure should be considered entirely a deity (1964: 126). Sommerstein 2001: ad 533. These allusions are: the lack of means that accompanies honest behavior (28–29, 218–219), the contempt encountered by the poor (149–159), and the wretched lives they live (253–254).

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considered baneful and undesirable, imagined as powers to be reckoned with; these could be visualized as personifications in order to offer them cult and so to placate them.92 The power of poverty, paradoxically, is the powerlessness it inflicts on men due to lack of resources.93 This aspect of the personification appears early (and became quite popular) in the genealogical pairing of Poverty with another personification, Resourcelessness (Amechania), of whom she is said to be the sister or daughter.94 This ‘powerlessness’ already hints at a redemptive feature of poverty, albeit one not tied specifically to the personification. A lack of means, Theognis observes, pushes men to be resourceful (179–180). This necessity to “escape” (Hesiod, Works and Days 637–638) or “seek release” (Theognis 180) from the condition of poverty – i.e. to acquire the means to make a living – becomes a feature of Aristophanes’ defense of the personified concept. His Poverty paradoxically cites the concept that she represents, together with need, as the way she compels men to be resourceful (533). The idea that Poverty teaches moderation through frugality, hard work, and piety, which appears in Aristophanes’ defense of her (553–554, 563–564), can already be glimpsed in Theognis, who replies to the rich man who reproaches his poverty with the words, “I do have some possessions, and I’ll earn others, by praying to the gods” (1115–1116). More often than not, however, Theognis lambasts Poverty as a teacher of utterly shameful skills (619–622), corrupting men out of necessity (386–392), in short as an absolute evil (173–178, 181–182).95 The honest are the only ones who may have the moral character to bear Poverty (393–400), but this character is not born from her. There is no evidence of a cult of Poverty in Athens or anywhere else in the Greek world. But again, as with Wealth, there is nothing that would impede it.96 There are testimonies to sanctuaries belonging to grim personifications throughout the Greek world, such as Fear (Phobos) at Sparta, and the so-called Madnesses (Maniai) outside Megalopolis.97 92

93 94

95 96

97

A collection of testimonies related to the personification of Poverty can be found in Newiger 1957: 163 and Komornicka 1964: 126. Coin-Longeray 2014: 157. Hesiod already links both personifications in Works and Days 496–497. Alcaeus identifies Resourcelessness as a sister of Poverty (fr. 364 L-P); Theognis, as her daughter (384–385). Cf. Coin-Longeray 2014: 164–166. Aelian (fr. 19) and Philostratus (Life of Apollonius of Tyana 5.4) report that an altar to Poverty existed in the Roman city of Gades. Plutarch mentions the shrine of Fear in Cleomenes 8–9, while Pausanias is our only witness to the cult of the ‘Madnesses’ (8.34.1). His suggestion that the name of these goddesses is an epiklesis of the Eumenides may very well be correct, given that the sanctuary was said to be located at the spot where Orestes was first struck by madness. However, one can deduce from Pausanias’ need to clarify their identity, and from the fact that there was a sanctuary to the Eumenides close by (8.34.2), that the locals may have thought of these Madnesses as independent deities.

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Herodotus, toying with this aspect of Greek thought, has the Andrians oppose the Athenians’ gods Persuasion (Peitho) and Necessity (Ananke), in whose name they make inordinate demands on the island, with their own gods Poverty and Resourcelessness (8.111) – a familiar pairing. This juxtaposition might be taken as illustrating that these four divine beings are merely concepts manipulated to make a rhetorical point, yet Persuasion did in fact receive worship.98 The key point, again, is acknowledgment of a superhuman power – whether or not it receives cult. In this light, the claim of the Andrians, despite its obvious humor, is based on the perception of certain constraining circumstances that escape human control. Despite the lack of a cult, the personification of Poverty is connected, from Hesiod on, with the action of one god, Zeus, who gives men Poverty just as he gives them Wealth.99 Theognis sees Poverty as the result of the action of a malicious and unjust Zeus when he complains that the latter only rewards the dishonest (373–383). Scholars of Wealth have often cited these examples of personifications of Poverty in Greek culture, but for the most part they treat them as literary devices. With respect to the agon of the comedy, Prodicus’ story of Heracles at the crossroads is frequently adduced as a parallel. In that account, Excellence (Arete) and Vice (Kakia) approach Heracles and ask him to choose between them by citing the benefits they will make available to him.100 The parallel of Prodicus’ account would support a reading of the agon in terms of Hegelian allegory: What matters is the abstract concepts the personifications represent, and not their personified forms. As Newiger explains with respect to the agon in Wealth, “it does not seem so important that Penia is a divine-demonic force that brings poverty, but rather that the significance of poverty is expressed. The discussion is not about the characters of Ploutos and Penia, but about poverty and wealth as concrete phenomena of human existence.” The personification is in the service of the presentation (Entfaltung) of a concept; so much so, Newiger continues, that any other character could have delivered her speech.101 98

99 100

101

For the worship of Persuasion, see Stafford 2000:  111–145; Hamdorf 1967:  63–64 collects the evidence. Hesiod, Works and Days 638; cf. also 717–718. Xenophon, Memorabilia 2.1.21–34). See Torchio 2001:  169–170. Prodicus, however, may be just one example of a tradition of presenting arguments for or against contrasted concepts via the device of personification; the agon of the stronger and the weaker argument in Clouds comes closer to Prodicus, in that there the two forms of education argue for their respective benefits before Strepsiades and Philippides. For opposed personifications in Greek drama, see Revermann 2006: 212–213. Komornicka notes the connection of the agon of Wealth with Clouds and the trend towards the “social-pedagogical-philosophical” discussion of Wealth and Poverty (1964: 125). Newiger 1957: 160–161.

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For Newiger, the goal of the personification of Poverty in this scene is a didactic one, which she herself points out as she embarks on her defense: “Learn,” she exhorts her antagonists, “I’ll easily show that you are completely mistaken” (473–477, cf. also 563). What matters for Newiger is the rhetorical function of the figure, which is used to teach the concept that she represents in a manner that recalls contemporary sophistic debates.102 The result is a sophistic encomium of poverty with parallels in contemporary practice, as the recently discovered conclusion to Alcidamas’ Praise of Poverty reveals. Alcidamas does not use a personification to present the argument, but he does adopt the same didactic and even combative tone that Poverty uses in Aristophanes’ comedy, pitting reason and argument against conventional but erroneous beliefs.103 The encomiastic effect in Aristophanes is strengthened by the fact that the opposing concept, Wealth, is absent from the stage. As a result, the (supposedly) erroneous beliefs of the human characters become the target, dismissed by Poverty as “wits  … blinded by truly primeval styes” (582). We may compare Alcidamas, who refers to men “enslaved by the conventional (tei sunetheiāi)” (POxy. 78.5130, fr. 1, col. ii. 22). For this argumentative purpose, the personified form of Poverty is not significant. In this respect, it contrasts markedly with that of Wealth, whose physical portrayal as a wretched blind man is crucial for the development of the comic plot. Yet this reading of personified Poverty’s function in the agon – as mere concept  – passes over some striking aspects of the character which also help illuminate the divine status of the personification of Wealth. On the one hand, Poverty can be linked to the myth of phthoneros Zeus, in that her sudden entrance portrays her as an avenging figure sent by the god to punish the infringers of his rule. On the other hand, she enters into a competition with Wealth who, as we have seen, was defined in the prologue as a beneficial divinity. We may consider first her portrayal as divine agent of Zeus’s punishment. When Chremylos and his friend Blepsidemos are about to contravene Zeus’s will and carry out the healing of Wealth (410ff.), an action that had left Wealth weak with terror even just imagining the consequences (116–127), Poverty suddenly appears and orders them to stop, issuing a stream of threats against them for daring even to attempt their plan (418– 421). Her threats would remind the audience of Wealth’s own earlier failed attempt, which was stopped in its tracks by Zeus himself. Revermann 102 103

Newiger 1957: 161–162. See more recently Ruffell 2006: 87–88. POxy. 78.5130, fr. 1, col. ii.17–24.

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mentions how the sudden entrance of the figure “clearly echoes the abrupt intervention of a deity … so familiar from tragedy,” particularly in that it interrupts the action on stage.104 Her initial identification as an Erinys (423–425) confirms this impression.105 Furthermore, her intervention is comparable to that of another deity, Hermes, who also seeks to thwart the transgressions of Zeus’s will in Aristophanes’ Peace and Wealth. In Peace, Hermes announces Zeus’s displeasure at the attempt to dig out Peace, and threatens to let him know of the infraction (362–381); in Wealth, Hermes arrives after Wealth is healed, to warn Chremylos’ household of their imminent punishment for their transgressive act (1103–1109). Poverty is the only character in the comedy to defend the status quo and therefore, one may surmise, the will of phthoneros Zeus about which Chremylos had complained so bitterly.106 While Wealth’s insurrection breaks free from a malicious divinity, Poverty’s intervention as a divine agent seems designed to ensure that Zeus’s rule is maintained as is. Yet the discussion and debate that follow do not explicitly tie Poverty to Zeus. She argues for her own beneficial role within society, as if she is an independent power ministering to men. Thus, the agon does not explicitly present a defense of the order of Zeus. Rather, it portrays a daimon who is competing with another in the benefits they offer in order to remain in a land. The power of Wealth has already been introduced in the prologue, so now Poverty is given the chance to present her benefits to men. In this respect, the personified figure of Poverty as a daemonic being  – pace Newiger  – becomes an important component of the character. The agon of Wealth is not simply a didactic presentation of competing benefits, such as Heracles faces in Prodicus’ account. What is at stake in this debate is the question of which personification will be allowed to exercise his or her benefits, with the loser getting “kicked out of Greece” (463). Aristophanes reminds his audience of these stakes at the start and end of the episode (462–463 ~ 604–607). Granted, Aristophanic agones usually end with the loser being rejected by the community, as in Knights, where the losing Paphlagonian is banished to do menial business at the city gates (1398–1401), but the particulars of the expulsions and incorporations are different in each comedy. In Wealth, Poverty ties her benefits to her continued residence in the land, in the households of the characters. This 104 105 106

Revermann 2006: 284. See Sfyroeras 1995: 242–243, Revermann 2006: 286–287, and Ruffell 2006: 85. Sfyroeras 1995: 246 notes her defense of the status quo, but aligns her perspective with the point of view of the rich, and not of Zeus. See also Olson 1990: 237.

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in part reflects the traditional portrayal of Poverty as a power who is present in a certain place, for in contrast to wandering Wealth, Poverty ‘stays’ at home. As Theognis complains to Poverty, “why are you waiting to leave me and go to some other man?” (351–352); and in Aristophanes Poverty informs Chremylos and his friend that, “I’ve lived with you for many years” (437).107 Wealth, for his part, manifests his power upon arrival in a land and household. This notion of staying or arriving highlights the importance of the personified figure as opposed to the concept represented, since the physical presence and movement of the characters into and out of specific spaces determines the exercise of their power, as we will see in Chapter 4. The connection between the benefits of supernatural powers and their residence in a community taps into the myth, mentioned above, of the contest between gods for possession of a land. That between Athena and Poseidon for Attica was certainly familiar to an Athenian audience: Both gods offer benefits to the inhabitants, and one is chosen as the tutelary deity of the land.108 Aristophanes himself had already employed this type of myth in the agon of his earlier comedy Seasons. A fragment (fr. 581 PCG) offers a glimpse of how the contest played out. A new deity who already received cult in Athens (12–14) explains to an antagonist one of the benefits that she (or he) brings  to the land, namely a climate where all types of foodstuff grow all year.109 The deity’s interlocutor, who may be a traditional Greek god, criticizes this benefit by pointing out the confusion of having every seasonal product available at the same time, and interjects that he (or she) would not have offered it (11). Cicero’s brief summary of an unknown Aristophanic comedy that featured a trial of foreign gods (dei peregrini iudicati) may refer to Seasons (test. *ii PCG), and the fragmentary agon would fit this plot, which ended with the expulsion of the foreigners from the polis, bringing a return, we may surmise, to the traditional benefits (and seasons) of the Greek gods. The aspects of the personification of Poverty that we have reviewed – her role as agent of the divine punishment of Zeus, and her participation in a contest to ‘stay’ and benefit the inhabitants of the land – suggest that the characterization of the abstract concept as a daemonic power matters 107 108

109

Translation mine. For the same sentiment, see Menander, The Bad-Tempered Man 209–211. The myth is already present in Herodotus 8.55. Frazer briefly discusses the literary sources (1921: 2.78–79, n. 1) and Marx the artistic ones (2011). Another contest is that of Hera and Poseidon over the land of Argos, registered by Pausanias (2.15.5 and 2.22.4). We know that this deity is a new arrival because he (or she) implies that he has not spent much time in Athens: Note the use of the future (fr. 581.1 PCG) and the potential optative (5), in reference to the fact that the antagonist has yet to see the benefits the deity confers.

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as much as the concept itself, in that it portrays Poverty as a divine opponent of Wealth. This would make the character, if not a full-rounded deity, certainly more than just a literary device. The debate in the agon points in the same direction. Poverty tries to prove that she is the source of all good things (agathōn apantōn … aitian 469) for men, with the importance of this idea emphasized by its repetition in ring composition at the start and end of her presentation (469–470 ~ 593–594). This claim, as mentioned before, sets up her speech as a sophistic encomium. Yet Poverty’s agon is the counterpart to Wealth’s persuasion scene, in which Wealth was set in opposition to Zeus (124–129) by the claim that it is Wealth, and Wealth alone, who motivates everything (monotatos … pantōn aitios 182).110 In the light of this parallel, Poverty’s speech becomes that of a divinity persuading men of her powers.111 The view that the character personifies a mere concept presented for didactic purposes hence needs to be revised to take account both of the myth and of the type of debate into which she is inserted.112 Wealth’s persuasion scene develops the myth of the person (not the concept) by inviting him to rise up against a malicious Zeus to reclaim his divine power. In much the same way as the persuasion scene denigrates Zeus in order to praise the power of Wealth, Poverty now denigrates Wealth; and in much the same way as Wealth was earlier presented, in contrast to Zeus, as caring for the well-being of men, Poverty now presents herself as a power that cares for men (468–470, 558–559, 563–564, 575–576). To allow Poverty to make this claim, Aristophanes develops traditional traits found in early personifications of Poverty. For instance, the lack of means that accompanies Poverty, familiar from her genealogical pairing with Resourcelessness, teaches men not to be evil but to seek a livelihood. In its earliest manifestation this search took place despite Poverty: Men are told to escape the want she imposes (Theognis 179–180). Aristophanes, in contrast, makes her mistress (despoina) of all skills and arts (532–534). Moreover, the moderation that her condition imposes on men is said to improve them morally and physically (553–564). In making these 110 111

112

Gelzer 1960: 99, cited by Hertel 1969: 17. Torchio observes this connection between the claims to power of Wealth and Poverty as the “first principle” that “moves the world” (2001: ad 468–470). Cf. also Konstan and Dillon 1981: 386–387. Other aspects of the personification complicate its supposedly straightforward presentation of a concept. Poverty, much like Wealth, is initially treated as a puzzle by the rest of the characters as well, so the concept the character embodies cannot have been immediately transparent for the audience. Moreover, her appearance as a pale (422), terrifying (417), and manic (424) figure, her comparison to an Erinys (423), and the fact that she speaks like a loudmouthed, bad-tempered vendor or inkeeper (426–427), much like the ones who appear in Frogs 549–578, would make her an unappealing vehicle for debating the concept. On her general unpleasantness, see McGlew 2002: 178–181.

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arguments, Poverty brings up for comparison the negative aspects of the power of Wealth upon those who are enriched: Wealth has a corrupting and unhealthy influence over men; it is abundance, and not want, that makes men bad. (Whether she is convincing or not is a different issue.) The character of Poverty also needs to be seen in the light of the larger plot, concerned as it is with the arrival and benefits of new gods. Our survey of the numinous dimension of the personifications has so far stayed at the level of mythic narratives, in which divinized powers, whether fictional (Poverty) or perhaps actual (Wealth), take part in transgressions of divine orders and contests over benefits. Chapter 5 of this book will consider another type of narrative present in the play which draws out even further the divine dimension of the personification of Wealth. That story pattern relates to an actual event in the religious life of the polis: the introduction of a new divinity. As it occurs in Wealth, the subversion of the unfair order of Zeus is enacted by his fall not only from Olympus, but also from his position in the cultic space of the polis. His place is taken by Wealth, who is portrayed as fully a deity who receives worship. But, before we get there, the intervening chapters will examine the role of two other deities whose interventions are crucial to the religious dimension of the plot of the play.

Ch apter 2

An Apollonian Beginning

Before Aristophanes focused his audience’s attention on the numinous quality of the personification of Wealth, he had already introduced another divine intervention to the dramatic action. As Chremylos and Karion make clear in their initial dialogue, the bizarre stage action that leads off the prologue, in which the blind lead the sighted, is the outcome of an oracular consultation at Delphi (8–14). Chremylos has consulted the oracle because he faces a moral quandary, namely that the dishonest – the “temple robbers, politicians, informers, rascals” (30–31)  – prosper in society while the “just and god-fearing” (theosebēs kai dikaios 28) like him do not. To Chremylos’ question whether his son should change his ways and become a criminal (panourgon 37) and dishonest (37), so that he can be rich, the god commanded (ekeleue 42): “Do not let go (mē methiesthai 41)  of the first person you meet upon leaving the temple, and persuade (peithein 43)  him to go home with you” (41–43). The personification of Wealth, the first person met, thus comes wrapped in an oracular enigma “cried out” (39) by Apollo “from his golden tripod” (9). This Apollonian beginning sets the comic personification and plot within a larger, supernatural framework, that of divination. The decrepit figure of Wealth may confound the expectations of the audience by his appearance, but the link between personification and oracle (8ff.) raises expectations that are not confounded. The audience is encouraged to see the figure as part of a command that will lead to the solution of Chremylos’ initial problem; that this solution will come to pass, given its divine source, is seen as certain. The initial action that results from this command still poses interpretative difficulties, which are part and parcel of the process of consulting and interpreting oracles, as we shall see, but its inscription within this type of divinatory method already sets on it a stamp of divine approval, and even a tone of optimism, which carries over to the comic plot. 43

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An Apollonian Beginning

In this chapter, I will first review recent scholarship on oracles and their connection to religious belief, before introducing the type of oracle featured in Wealth, so-called first-met oracles, and the story pattern associated with them. I argue against the usual presentation of them as legendary, because Greek audiences did in fact give them credence as actual testimonies of divine will and favor. Next I examine how first-met oracles are employed both in epigraphic texts and in drama, to identify which elements of the story pattern were thought to be most relevant to the religious experience they represent. It is of special significance that, even though these oracles were usually issued as commands to be followed, they were nonetheless portrayed as in need of interpretation in order to comprehend the divinity’s advice. This is corroborated by the fact that Aristophanes in Wealth fuses this story pattern with the expository function of his comic prologues, which typically move the audience from a state of perplexity to one of full understanding: His enactment of the oracle in Wealth presents the process by which oracle consultants identify, discuss, and make sense of a divine command, a process that in this case creates the comic plan. Finally, I argue that this human aspect of oracular consultation, which has been the principal focus of most scholarship on Greek oracles, should not obscure the fact that the whole process is accompanied by a keen awareness of the will of the god and his beneficial role in human affairs.

First-Met Oracles The practice of divination is a familiar feature of Greek religious life, so it is surprising that scholars have only recently begun to take Greek testimonies about divination in good faith, as reflecting a system of belief, as Bowden remarks.1 This change of attitude, which Bowden sees as a reaction to a previous lack of interest in divinatory practices as expressions of Greek religion, has achieved important insights into the social and religious function of oracles.2 Søresen has recently defined divination from the point of view of human cognition, as “an act of communication” that “involve[s] established models or signs produced by a specific practice that reveals relevant but otherwise inaccessible knowledge.”3 Access to this information is based 1

2

3

Bowden 2005: 32. The following pages are much indebted to Maurizio 1997, Parker 2000, Bowden 2005, Beerden 2013, and Sørensen forthcoming. See also Giangiulio 2014 and Kindt 2016a. Bowden 2005:  157–159; see also Maurizio 1997:  308. Johnston 2008 offers a useful survey of the studies of divination from antiquity to the contemporary age (1–32). Sørensen forthcoming: 332.

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on “the representation of the involvement of superhuman agents of some sort,”4 who guarantee the reliability of the “undisclosed social strategic information” revealed in the divinatory practice, since these agents “are generally represented as having unlimited access to it.”5 Whereas the role of these agents would not usually be given consideration in a divinatory practice such as drawing lots, in Greek oracular divination the communicative sign was represented as emanating from a specific god or gods. Belief in the practice was grounded in the intervention of a supernatural “advisor … with powerful authority” to guide the decisions of men.6 In this respect, oracles were normally consulted in the Greek world “as a guide to action,” as Parker notes, “and not as a means of stripping the veil from the future to satisfy simple curiosity.” The expectation was that the god, speaking through his oracle, would pass “judgment on possibilities [of action] put forward by the consultant,” and would help move “the consultant … from doubt to action by providing counsel that is apparently objective and uniquely authoritative.” This revelation would hence be able to provide “reassurance that among all available courses of action the one he chooses is the most advantageous.”7 I return later in this chapter to this belief in a divine advisor. But first we should consider the so-called first-met oracles. A  good number of these are found in the surviving oracles from Delphi and Didyma. In Fontenrose’s classification, they belong to the category of “conditioned commands,” which are “made contingent upon a future event: the inquirer must act when such and such happens or is met or is seen – often something surprising or seemingly impossible; or, if not surprising, a person or object of a designated class first encountered.”8 This last subcategory is what constitutes the ‘first-met’ motif. This type of oracle follows a distinct formula, usually phrased as, “When you first meet X, do Y.”9 The answer to a consultant’s request for advice depends on following instructions and carrying out the command when the condition is met. The action commanded often directly affects the person/thing met, who thus becomes not only a marker signaling this action but also its object, and at times also the agent who will lead the consultant to the solution. 4 5 6 7 8 9

Sørensen forthcoming: 315. Sørensen forthcoming: 332. Scott 2014: 30. Parker 2000: 77–78. Fontenrose 1978: 15. Though in a few cases, as Stehle has specified, the “first” idea and the command may be implicit (2009: 255).

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This conditioned command, by its very oracular nature, brings along with it “an implicit prediction of success.”10 Pausanias’ brief account of the origin of the Lophis river in Haliartos (9.33.4) is a straightforward example of a first-met oracle. When a ruler of this arid region asked the Delphic oracle where he could find water, the god told him to kill the first person he met when returning home; this person, tragically, turned out to be his own son, but the command was followed and from the child’s spilled blood the river was miraculously born. In Fontenrose’s classification, conditioned commands like the previous example are mostly legendary; they belong to “traditional tales of events which were supposed to have taken place in the dim past,” that is, these oracular responses were not delivered in historical times, or they share the characteristics of “timeless folktales and fables.”11 Since the first-met motif is also present in popular narratives from other cultures, it is usually classified as folkloric.12 This ‘folktale’ and ‘legendary’ categorization has led to the establishment of a distinction between fictional and genuine or historical oracles. As Maurizio points out, this has prevented the ‘fictional’ ones from receiving serious consideration by “the historian and literary scholar alike.”13 Yet, as with the phenomenon of personification in Greek culture, this distinction is not one that a Greek audience would have made, and it may even be an impediment to understanding the oracular process fully.14 The classification as ‘folkloric,’ for instance, could be extended to oracle stories in general. Roberts has observed how “many concepts and expectations [related to oracles] appear to have been based on a kind of folklore of oracles, a tradition of oracle types and oracle tales which crossed genres, and existed as well outside literature.”15 Maurizio has developed these ideas further, noting how belief in oracles, and their authority, depends on this very ‘folktale’ quality, which she locates in the recurring plot structure of many oracular narratives, especially those found in Herodotus, Plutarch, and Pausanias. The plot elements that make up this structure are “crisis, consultation, interpretation, action, [and] confirmation or refutation of interpretation made evident in the oracle’s fulfillment.”16 The recurrence 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Stehle 2009: 255. Fontenrose 1978: 8–9. See, for instance, Torchio 2001: ad 41, who gives a few examples. Maurizio 1997: 308. For a recent criticism of this approach, see Kindt 2016a: 8–10. See Kindt 2016a: 9. Roberts 1984: 19–20. See also Giangiulio 2014: 225–226. Maurizio 1997: 311. Giangiulio 2014: 216 finds a similar pattern at work. See also Kindt 2016a: 157.

First-Met Oracles

47

of this sequence “indicates that a process of ‘structuration’ has taken place during which … [oracular] tales have conformed to this narrative structure.” She explains that “this process is a result of oral transmission and is conducted in the service of creating memorable stories that reflect the world view of their tellers.”17 ‘Fictional’ first-met oracles would therefore not be treated differently from ‘genuine’ ones, since they would be understood to originate from the same oracular practices familiar to all Greeks; they would thus be structured to fit the same, culturally meaningful narrative. Moreover, it is their adherence to this pattern that would confirm their truthfulness and authenticity while nourishing belief in the oracle’s divine nature, though “[i]ronically,” Maurizio adds, “it is precisely these traits that cause modern and even some ancient critics to become skeptical of an oracle’s authenticity or dismissive of its literary value.”18 Even if to our contemporary eyes these first-met tales have all the trappings of the folkloric or legendary, “the status of these tales as products of oral transmission demands that we consider seriously the religious beliefs that informed their transmission.”19 The use of a first-met oracle in the foundation story of the Greek polis of Magnesia on the Maeander may illustrate how alien to Greek thought is the contemporary preoccupation with separating the ‘folkloric’ or ‘legendary’ elements from those that are ‘historical.’20 In the year 208/7 bc, this polis decided to reorganize its most important festival, in honor of Artemis Leukophryene, into a Panhellenic event. Embassies were sent to other states, requesting that they recognize this new event as well as the inviolability of their city, which had recently been decreed by an oracle of Apollo.21 One of the documents offered by the ambassadors as proof of Magnesia’s connection to Apollo and the larger Greek world was the foundation story of the polis (IMagn. 17). According to this account, the long-wandering colonists from Magnesia in Thessaly consulted the oracle at Delphi about where they were to found their polis; the god commanded them to take the first man they met upon leaving the temple as their guide (L165 Fontenrose, PW 380). This man turned out to be Leukippos, son of Bellerophon, who led them to settle in Ionia. The states to which the 17

18 19 20 21

Maurizio 1997: 311–312, basing her claim on the work of the oral historian Jan Vansina. This “syncopation” of oracle stories, she adds, shows that “the primary means of transmission of Delphic oracles was word of mouth” (1997: 313). Maurizio 1997: 321. Maurizio 1997: 312. Bowden 2005: 55. Sumi 2004: 79. See in particular the analysis of Platt 2011: 151–160.

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An Apollonian Beginning

embassies were sent did not ignore their request due to the ‘legendary’ quality of the story they told; on the contrary, they accepted Magnesia’s claim and acceded to their petition, and their responses and the foundation story were inscribed in stone and set up in the agora of Magnesia as a testimony to the diplomatic success of the polis. The recognizable pattern of the first-met oracle would have made the foundation account persuasive, and would have invited listeners to situate the story in the tradition of Apollonian oracles that Maurizio has highlighted. This tradition portrays this type of oracle as a genuine response of the god, validating the authenticity of Magnesia’s foundation oracle as well as acknowledging the polis’s successful relationship with Apollo. A Greek audience would have been familiar with these first-met oracles from different sources, particularly literature and historiography. For instance, there is Herodotus’ account of the Dolonci, who were told that the first man to offer them hospitality after leaving Apollo’s temple was to settle  their affairs (Herodotus 6.34–36). In drama, Aristophanes and Euripides offer excellent examples of this type of oracle which exploit its dramatic potential. In the case of Aristophanes, the fact that the oracle appears in an entirely fictional work of art would not have affected the audience’s perception that the god could have pronounced it, since it fit the model. Moreover, the playwright strengthens the influence of the oracular tradition by enacting the process of making sense of oracular pronouncements, one that the original audience would surely have experienced at some point in their lifetime, be it at an individual or a political level. We will return to this point shortly, after surveying how Aristophanes and Euripides incorporate the tradition of these first-met oracles into their plays. In Wealth, the first meeting – the condition associated with the oracle – takes place off stage before the play begins, as Karion reveals in his initial dialogue (8–17). The result of this encounter is the puzzling stage action that leads off the play. The command is carried out in the course of the prologue, as Wealth is finally persuaded to accompany Chremylos home (230–231). Euripides’ Ion goes a step further and plays out in front of the audience both the meeting and the command: Xouthos exits the oracular shrine, catches sight of Ion, and straightaway embraces him as his son (515– 519). The effect of these first-met oracles is that what seem to be chance encounters are transfigured into elements of a supernatural communication, and, as such, a sign in need of interpretation. The background that sets up this stage action would have been familiar to an Athenian audience. The crises that move Chremylos and Xouthos to resort to Apollo for guidance – concerns about, respectively, material prosperity

First-Met Oracles

49

and childbearing  – were typical occasions for oracular consultation.22 Likewise, the questions asked in these occasions are of the type most often found in the surviving testimonies: They seek advice concerning possible courses of action to remedy the situation. The testimonia usually phrase their questions as “Should I do X?” or “Will it be better for me to do X?”23 In the case of childbearing, for instance, consultants at Dodona do not normally ask “Will I have children?” but “To which god should I pray to have children?”24 This question is an excellent example of how oracular consultations are not aimed towards acquiring knowledge about future events, as Parker has noted, but towards obtaining reliable advice about performing an action.25 Chremylos’ consultation about whether he should teach his son to be “a criminal, unjust, a good for nothing” (37) in order to “get ahead in life” (38) can be related to the questions about trade that survive from Dodona, which ask whether one should take up a certain craft or service in order to “fare better.”26 The enactment of the oracle in Wealth focuses on the first person met; as I  have already discussed in my first chapter, Aristophanes draws the audience’s attention to the blind man at the start of the play. Euripides, in contrast, places dramatic weight on the moment of consultation (404– 409, 420–424, 510–516), heightening the expectation around Apollo’s reply to Xouthos. In the course of both scenes, the consultants of the oracle, Chremylos and Xouthos, identify Wealth and Ion (respectively) as the condition of the oracular command, and thus as part of the god’s communication with men. These two first-met characters are also the objects of the command: Wealth is to be taken home, and Ion to be embraced as a son. In the case of Wealth, as in the foundation story of Magnesia on the Maeander, the person met is identified as the agent who will solve the consultants’ initial problematic situation. The preserved first-met responses are, for the most part, clear in the instruction and advice given, much like the replies received by Chremylos and Xouthos. Yet in the plays the meaning is not as straightforward as one might wish. Both playwrights stage debates about the oracle in an effort to relate this enacted sign to the question and initial situation that 22

23 24 25 26

See Eidinow’s catalog of surviving oracular consultations from Dodona related to work (2007: 93– 100) and childbearing (2007: 87–93). These topics are also found among the Delphic oracles related to domestic affairs in Fontenrose 1978: 439–440. Bowden 2005: 37; Beerden 2013: 213–214. Eidinow 2007: 88. Parker 2000: 77. Eidinow 2007: 94.

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An Apollonian Beginning

motivated the consultation. A first-met oracle may seem an odd topic for heated discussion, given that its fulfillment seems to lie simply in following the god’s instructions to the letter. Many of the stories about this type of oracle preserved from Delphi and Didyma are indeed this straightforward. For instance, two other mythical figures who inquire about how to get children, Kephalos (L82 Fontenrose, PW 322)  and Lyrkos (57 Didyma), are instructed to have sex with the first female they meet, which they proceed to do without questioning the oracle. And when Herodotus’ Dolonci are told to settle their affairs by taking home the first man to offer them hospitality, they happily inform Miltiades, their first host, that he is the man chosen by the god, without delving further into how this man’s background is relevant to their situation (Herodotus 6.35; Q109 Fontenrose, PW 60). Yet a few first-met oracles are not specific enough, and hence prompt some hesitation over their meaning. In these cases, there is space for interpretation and further clarification by means of a second consultation of the oracle.27 In the foundation account of Magnesia on the Maeander the immediate reaction of the colonists is not to rush out of the temple and greet their new leader, but to ask the oracle again about his identity (IMagn. 17.36–37, L166 Fontenrose, PW 381). The reason for this additional consultation is not given in the foundation story, but it appears to be a cautious attempt to avoid doubt over any detail of the oracular communication. Uncertainty is also manifested in the reactions of firstmet individuals to their role in the oracle. Leukippos, the man met by the Magnesians, “happily obeyed” (asmenos hupēkousen, IMagn. 17.44) the oracle, but sought to confirm his role by consulting Apollo on his own account (IMagn. 17.44–45, L167 Fontenrose, PW 382), and Miltiades did the same regarding the request of the Dolonci (Herodotus 6.35–36; Q110 Fontenrose, PW 61). The fulfillment of these oracles is thus not just a matter of following instructions, but also of examining their details and, most importantly, agreeing to their significance in relation to the initial situation, be it through discussion or the additional consultations mentioned above. The consultants of Wealth and Ion stay true to the first-met oracular narrative in that they gladly follow the command of the god, but the persons they meet complicate any such straightforward adoption of the oracle and open up a discussion about what to make of it and how to fulfill it. Ion struggles to make sense of how he could be the son of Xouthos, whom he draws 27

For the practice of second consultations, see Bonnechere 2013.

An Oracular Prologue

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into an examination of how this could have happened before he finally accepts the god’s oracle (534–562). In Aristophanes, it may seem that the straightforward answer to Chremylos’ situation, the command to take (the personification of ) wealth home, ought to be enough to resolve the situation. Yet before the command is carried out, there is a discussion of the meaning of the oracular sign, followed by a scene in which Wealth has to be persuaded to agree to his part in the oracular action. Once this is achieved, the oracle is fulfilled.

An Oracular Prologue If a god is related to the poetics of Old Comedy, that god is usually Dionysus; yet Sfyroeras has recently made the case that the genre is open to Apollo as well. Focusing on Aristophanes’ Knights, he has traced the playwright’s use of myths and themes related to Apollo, particularly his image as the god who brings order to chaos.28 Wealth is an ideal play for investigating this connection further, since it fuses the practice typical of Delphic oracles with the expository function of the comic prologue, aligning the process of interpreting a divine oracle with that of putting together the plot of a play. We may begin with the feature of Aristophanic comic prologues that best relates to oracular communications, namely the puzzling stage action with which Aristophanes often opens his comedies, as in Wealth. This device is employed primarily for story exposition, which is the conventional function of the prologue.29 Through such an enactment, the playwright ‘shows’ the story before he begins to ‘tell’ it: Before he clarifies the action with a speech or a dialogue, Aristophanes invites the audience to speculate not only about the action that is unfolding on the stage, but also about the meaning behind the elements that constitute the action itself. 28 29

Sfyroeras 2009. The playwright himself seems to have understood it in these terms: In the contest of playwrights in Frogs, Euripides singles out “the verbal exposition of the story” (hē phrasis tōn pragmaton 1122) as one of the functions of the prologue, and all the prologues he cites are from tragedies with initial expository monologues. On the basis of these examples, ta pragmata must refer to the narrated events, the story itself. This definition matches Aristophanes’ own practice: The expository monologue to the audience in the prologues of Knights, Wasps, and Peace begins by announcing the same function, even using the same terms: a verbal exposition (phraso in Knights 36, and Peace 52; kateipo in Wasps 54) of the story (to pragma in Knights 36; ton logon in Peace 50, and Wasps 54). Logos in this last example is the precise, almost technical term employed in comedy to refer to the story of the play; see Olson 1998 on Peace 50 for other examples of this usage. This expository function has consequently been taken as a basis for scholarly analysis and classification of the prologue: for instance, Mazon 1904: 170 and Händel 1963: 182–198.

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An Apollonian Beginning

In brief, what the playwright presents is a dramatic riddle, an ainigma, for interpretation.30 Scholars have read these puzzling beginnings as pure entertainment with little to do with the development of the story.31 But Felson-Rubin has called our attention to the fact that “[p]uzzles and clues incite spectators to probe unceasingly and to wonder: ‘What’s going on here?’ or ‘Where is the action headed?’ or ‘Why is that character dressed that way?’ Puzzlement keeps them hypothesizing and testing their hypotheses, a shuttling activity which produces a second drama in their consciousness to correspond to the drama happening before them on stage.”32 This process encourages them to piece together possible storylines for the play both from the objects and events they see on stage and from the characters’ riddling explanations of these same stage actions. The audience is thus invited to engage actively with the expository function of the prologue, to approach the stage puzzle as a topic for discussion. This interpretative challenge in turn provides much entertainment in itself. Aristophanes deploys a metatheatrical gesture in two of his comedies to reveal how this collaborative process is expected to work. The visual puzzle that opens Peace is flagged straightaway by the characters as an ainigma (47).33 One of two slaves, who have been busy kneading and carrying dung cakes for a voracious offstage beetle, takes a break to imagine the reaction of a spectator to the scene just played out: οὐκοῦν ἂν ἤδη τῶν θεατῶν τις λέγοι νεανίας δοκησίσοφος· “τὸ δὲ πρᾶγμα τί; ὁ κάνθαρος δὲ πρὸς τί;”

(43–45)

Well, by now some young smart aleck in the audience may be saying, “What is going on? What’s the point of the beetle?”

The second slave answers his colleague by pretending to overhear the reply of another imagined spectator, one sitting next to that imaginary, inquisitive young man:

30

31 32

33

For a study of the term and its association with divination, see Struck 2004: 170–179, who finds an affiliation between allegorical readings and the interpretation of oracles. See for instance Arnott 1993: 14–18. Felson-Rubin 1993: 35; this function is also mentioned by Lowe 2006: 52. See also Dillon 1984: 88 and Revermann 2006: 262–263. On “guessing games” in Greek drama in general, see Fantuzzi and Konstan 2013. See also Knights, where the oracle of the Paphlagonian is described as being “subtly enigmatic” (sophōs ēinigmenos 196).

An Oracular Prologue “Δοκέω μέν, ἐς Κλέωνα τοῦτ’ αἰνίσσεται, ὡς κεῖνος ἐν Ἀΐδεω σπατίλην ἐσθίει.”

53 (47–48)

“In my view it’s a riddle about Kleon, because he’s eating loose shit in hell.”

Both imagined spectators are portrayed as seeking a further purpose or meaning to what they see and hear, in order to ‘get’ the story. The sarcastic term dokesisophos (43), “smart aleck” or “wise guy,” which the slave applies to the imagined viewer of Peace, confirms this collaborative involvement, as Aristophanes frequently acknowledges the audience’s intellectual skill by calling them sophoi and dexioi, encouraging them to get a joke or an allusion, appreciate the cleverness of his art, or listen to advice.34 The prologue of Wasps presents a similar collaborative attempt at interpretation by opening with a bizarre scene in which two slaves and their master keep watch on a house surrounded by a net. One of the slaves reveals that they are guarding their master’s insane father (67–71), but before he explains the nature of the illness that needs such extravagant supervision he explicitly invites the audience to “guess” (topazete 73) what it is. Like his counterpart in Peace, the slave in Wasps treats the odd initial scene and his own exposition as a stage puzzle, and both slaves take turns repeating (and mocking) the answers suggested by audience members (74–85), before finally clarifying the story.35 The supposed interpretations offered by Peace and Wasps are wide of the mark, but despite their failure they make clear the interpretative and collaborative demands of the prologue puzzle. This process, as we will now see, parallels that of interpreting the communication of oracles. Oracles and their interpretation play an important role in several Aristophanic comedies, where to control the interpretation of an oracle is to have the power to determine the outcome of the story.36 At the start of Knights, the Paphlagonian is said to cozen Demos with his collection of oracles (61–63), but his fate is sealed when the slaves steal, read, and interpret the oracles he had guarded so carefully (109ff.). Later in that play, the Sausage Seller triumphs over the Paphlagonian by producing and interpreting his own collection favorable to Demos (960ff.). In other plays, professional seers and oracle-sellers also seek to hinder the protagonists 34

35 36

For instance, Clouds 521, 525–527, 535, 575; Wasps 64–65; Frogs 676–677, 700. See also Pherecrates fr. 163 PCG. This clarification only begins in full at Peace 50 and Wasps 87, respectively. See Tordoff 2005: 71–72, as well as Smith 1989. Stählin 1912: 172–186 provides a survey of the mantic theme and its diverse functions in Aristophanic drama.

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by reading unfavorable oracles in their possession (Peace 1045ff. and Birds 959ff.);37 needless to say, the protagonist produces his own favorable interpretations to defeat these opponents and drive them off the stage.38 In these examples, as Smith has shown, Aristophanes is exposing the manipulation and outright fraud of oracle-mongers, who choose and twist their oracles for demagogic purposes or to obtain political advantage.39 In Aristophanic comedy this charge is not extended to the consultation of Apollonian oracles, which are not treated with skepticism. Unlike the satirical portrayal of the oracle-mongers, who break into the action to deliver unrequested (and self-interested) advice from their own collections, those who consult Apollo seek the god on their own initiative, with their own concerns, and claim direct access to his divine advice. Peisthetairos, for instance, gets the better of the oracle-monger of Birds by claiming to have an oracle which he “personally wrote down from Apollo” (982), thereby besting the oracle-monger’s method of divination.40 The specificity, immediacy, and unpredictability of direct consultations would make manipulation of the process difficult, rendering the testimony of an oracle consultant more trustworthy than that of the oracle-mongers.41 Whereas Knights and Birds treat the mendacity of the oracle-mongers, among surviving Greek comedies Wealth provides the most detailed engagement with the process of directly consulting and interpreting oracles. Yet Smith claims that the Delphic oracle is here merely a plot device, and further adds that it “is not an object of scrutiny in its own right.”42 As we will show, the riddling opening scene in Wealth is more than a simple element of plot, or even a technique of exposition. The oracular process of discussing and fulfilling the oracle lays the groundwork for a dynamic of collaboration, in which the characters integrate themselves into a common front to carry out the comic plan of healing Wealth and enriching the honest. The creation of this common front highlights the assurance of and belief in divine benefaction, which will become a central theme of Wealth. 37

38

39 40 41 42

On the role of these two figures in Greek society and their presence in comedy, see Fontenrose 1978: 152–157 and Smith 1989. One more example: Lysistrata cheers up the flagging spirits of the women by reading them an oracle that foretells their victory (Lysistrata 767ff.). Smith 1989: 147; see also Bowden 2005: 56. Dunbar 1995: ad 982. As Smith 1989: 151–152 points out. Smith 1989:  153; see also Stählin 1912:  183–184 and Scullion 2014:  344–345, who is of the same opinion.

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Stage Action as Oracular Communication The identification of the stage action with an oracular sign is made in the first spoken lines of the play. The slave Karion relates that a visit to the oracle of Delphi took place prior to their entrance (8–14), and identifies the incongruous behavior in the stage action – the fact that his master is following a blind man (15–17)  – with the outcome of this consultation. This much Karion knows and reveals to his audience, but he does not know what situation motivated his master to consult the oracle, what question he posed, or what the god’s reply was. This information is introduced by Chremylos at the prompting of his slave (18–21): He relates his situation and the first-met command he received as a reply. He confirms (44) that the man they are following on stage is indeed the man singled out by the oracular command, and so that the action on stage, the act of following, is the enactment of the oracular command received. The blind man on stage, who has been singled out by Apollo (53–55) as the condition for the fulfillment of his command, is also treated as part of this oracular sign:  After the blind man rebuffs Chremylos’ polite request to reveal his identity with a curt “I say to you: go to hell” (62), Karion mocks his master with the retort “Accept the man and sign (ornin) of the god” (63).43 That is, Karion tells his master to accept the rude reply of this individual as an ornis, an explicitly divinatory sign. His abuse derives its humor from the oracular origin of the stage action. First-met commands, as noted above, give the impression that they only need to be followed to resolve the situation. In this respect, Chremylos’ initial strategy, of following the command with no questions asked, would be the right choice. Yet Karion mockingly pushes for an understanding of the oracle that runs counter to this approach: He treats the first-met person as a verbal omen whose meaning needs decoding, and thereby opens it up for discussion. Apollo was perfectly capable of providing “simple answers to simple questions,” as Parker notes, but, given the symbolic manner in which divinatory practices communicated, oracles could still leave some room for doubt even when worded in the simplest manner, as we saw in the case of Leukippos and Miltiades.44 At the most basic level, the fact that any verbal expression in Greek culture “may like virtually anything else in the world be taken as a sign for divinatory purposes” would explain the urge to seek further meanings even for the most straightforward replies.45

43 44 45

My translation. Parker 2000: 80. Roberts 1984: 20.

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There has recently been a debate on the enigmatic nature of oracles. The majority of scholars see this quality as essential to them and their process of interpretation.46 Harrison, for instance, has stated that “[t]he equivocal nature of many prophecies and the interpretation that this necessitates are not merely suffered as necessary evils: they are considered apparently to be of the essence of prophecy.”47 However, Bowden and Bonnechere, from different angles, have contested the significance of this characteristic. Bowden in particular argues against what he calls “deliberate ambiguity,” that is, oracular replies that are designed to deceive the consultant; as he observes, “divine wisdom is often not easily graspable for mere mortals, but for the [oracle] stories to mean anything that divine wisdom has to be potentially graspable”; for him, there is “only one correct interpretation of the oracular response,” and that is what gives force to the stories that invoke oracles.48 Indeed, when Croesus rebukes Apollo for his supposedly ambiguous oracles, the Pythia responds that he should have inquired further, and that therefore the fault was his (Herodotus 1.90).49 Bonnechere, on the other hand, has studied these follow-up consultations of an oracle, and finds that the practice also calls into question the existence of deliberate ambiguity; at times, they ask for further information concerning a response that was already clear, and at other times, when the answer was ambiguous, they ask for clarification.50 But a question remains:  If it is granted that oracles are not ambiguous, why do they elicit an anxiety that calls for further investigation? What is it about this type of communication that invites such a response? The answer, surely, is that divinatory communication in general is by its very nature symbolic, a point that is central to Sørensen’s definition of divinatory practices:  “If divination is a type of communication,” he asks, “why does it consistently violate ordinary expectations of communication? Distorted language, formations of geometric figures, random configurations of sticks or cards, cracks on the bones of animals or footprints of a fox are all far from the prototype of intentional communication – spoken language. Even when the oracle has the form of a linguistic encoded message, this is more often than not put in a cryptic form that sets it apart from ordinary linguistic interaction.”51 I would argue that even 46 47 48 49 50 51

See, for instance, Gould 1985: 22, Parker 2000: 79–80, and Kindt 2016a: 159–164. Harrison 2000: 150; see also Parker 2000: 79–80. Bowden 2005: 51. Cited by Bowden 2005: 50. Bonnechere 2013: 93. Sørensen forthcoming: 328–329.

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a seemingly non-cryptic message can easily be treated as cryptic, given the nature of the communication involved. This quality of the oracular sign is what Karion humorously, and perhaps naturally, highlights when mocking his master for not understanding the ornis. Sørensen further specifies, regarding the symbolic quality of divinatory responses, that “[in] order for [such responses] to serve as communication, an expert interpreter is needed to link the sign to the meaning.”52 In Greek oracles, the onus of interpretation fell on the person who consulted the god, be it an individual, a community, or a polis. In Greek culture this characteristic is unique to divinatory practices, as Beerden observes: “In a Greek society where isonomia was, at least in theory, at the basis of society, the relative lack of institutionalization and systematization of divination might be attributed to the idea that contact with the supernatural should take place in a way accessible to all and should not be the prerogative of a few.”53 Of course, one could call on the professional oracle-mongers so derided by Aristophanes, who might intervene and offer advice in specific instances, but with Apollonian oracles the final interpretation was for the consultants to decide.54 In Wealth the playwright’s integration of the oracle into the expository function of the prologue, which invites the ‘smart-alecks’ to interpret what they see before them, is an indication that the oracle is meant to be anything but straightforward, that something lies else behind the simple first-met command. The initial stage enactment in Wealth differs from the other ‘puzzling enactments’ of comedy, in that it is specifically identified as an oracular sign, and an Apollonian one at that. In Peace and Wasps the characters in the initial scenes can deceive and tease the audience because they themselves understand the action in which they participate. They create the enigmas, so they are able to explain their meaning fully. The opening enactment of Wealth differs in that none of the characters understands the action in which they participate. Felson-Rubin’s “getting it” in this case applies also to the characters themselves, who attempt to come to terms with the sign set out for them by Apollo. The need for interpretation becomes clear from the attitudes displayed by the characters that enact first-met oracles, not only in Wealth but also in Euripides’ Ion. Already in the course of Karion’s monologue, the slave 52 53 54

Sørensen forthcoming: 329. Beerden 2013: 228. As Johnston 2008:  55–56 indicates, “Apollo might offer help to an enquirer  … but it was the enquirer’s responsibility to decode it.”

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attempts to come to terms with the action in which he is involved. Despite the origin of the puzzling behavior, which would signal to the audience that the action means something, he dismisses it at first, interpreting the behavior of his master following a blind man as a divinely induced madness, for which he blames Apollo (8–10) who “sent off his master crazy” (melancholont’ apepempse 12). In this respect, he reacts in a way that is not very different to Ion’s, when Xouthos comes out and rushes to hug him; the boy remarks, “Has some god-sent derangement (theou tis … blabe) afflicted you?” (520). This expression of utter befuddlement still ranks as a first attempt to make sense of the action, albeit at the simplest level, namely as a reaction and complaint against the bizarre nature of the ainigma. Chremylos’ initial take on the oracle is the opposite of Karion’s despair. As far as Chremylos is concerned, the god spoke clearly (saphōs 40), so he obeys him without question. The way he describes his situation – his initial presentation of the unjust distribution of wealth as something in the past (28–31) – would even indicate that he considers his situation as already resolved by his following of the command. Yet, as Karion’s badgering reveals, Chremylos does not understand the point of the god’s revelation. In a similar manner, Ion counters Xouthos’ revelation of the command by declaring “you misinterpreted the riddle” (esphalēs ainigm’ akousas 533), and begins to cross-examine Xouthos’ interpretation of the god’s words. Karion in Wealth treats his master in a similar fashion: (Κα.)

εἶτ’ οὐ ξυνίης τὴν ἐπίνοιαν τοῦ θεοῦ φράζουσαν, ὦ σκαιότατέ, σοι σαφέστατα ἀσκεῖν τὸν υἱὸν τὸν ἐπιχώριον τρόπον; (Χρε.) τῷ τοῦτο κρίνεις; (Κα.) δῆλον ὁτιὴ καὶ τυφλῷ γνῶναι δοκεῖ τοῦθ’, ὡς σφόδρ’ ἐστὶ συμφέρον τὸ μηδὲν ἀσκεῖν ὑγιὲς ἐν τῷ νῦν γένει.

(45–50)

(Karion) Well, don’t you see the god’s point, which tells you quite plainly, you supreme dummy, to raise your son according to the local norm? (Chremylos) How do you figure that? (Karion) It’s so obvious, even a blind man could see it: In our age, the key to real success is to avoid every wholesome practice.

Once informed of the oracle’s response, the slave brings the discussion of the stage action back to its symbolic content, phrased as the intention (ἐπίνοια 45) of the god reflected by the command. Both slave and master stress the role that personal interpretation plays (οὐ ξυνίης 45, κρίνεις 48)  in figuring out this intention. Furthermore, Karion’s interpretation

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mocks his master’s inability to probe further into the events he narrates and enacts. In this light, his choice of σκαιότατος (46) as a term of abuse for his master is to the point. The connotation of this term is boorish stupidity, an incapacity to understand, appreciate, or produce subtle thought, the exact opposite of the ‘smart-alecks’ and the ‘wise’ demanded by both the Aristophanic prologue’s expository function and the process of making sense of the oracle.55 Both Karion and Chremylos believe that the god responded in a clear manner (σαφέστατα 46, δῆλον 48), but what is clear and obvious for one is not so for the other, so their rival claims set them in conflict. The slave’s proposed interpretation of the oracle mockingly rejects Chremylos’ literal approach, and produces a facetious interpretation that restricts itself to the first-met person: The injunction to follow a blind man is an allusion to the proverbial saying “it is obvious even for a blind man” (48–49).56 According to Karion, the blind figure is the god’s symbolic response to Chremylos’ original question about whether he should educate his son to become dishonest and therefore rich (47). Chremylos rejects Karion’s reading of the oracle, yet his intervention has had its effect, in that it reveals that the straightforward reading has not adequately fathomed the oracle. In his response to his slave, Chremylos directs the audience’s attention back to the enactment, but this time he links the interpretation of the oracle to the blind man’s identity: οὐκ ἔσθ’ ὅπως ὁ χρησμὸς εἰς τοῦτο ῥέπει, ἀλλ’ εἰς ἕτερόν τι μεῖζον. ἢν δ’ ἡμῖν φράσῃ ὅστις ποτ’ ἐστὶν οὑτοσὶ καὶ τοῦ χάριν καὶ τοῦ δεόμενος ἦλθε μετὰ νῷν ἐνθαδί, πυθοίμεθ’ ἂν τὸν χρησμὸν ἡμῶν ὅ τι νοεῖ.

(51–55)

That can’t be the oracle’s drift; no, it must be something loftier. Now if this fellow would just tell us who he is, and the why and wherefore of his coming here with us, we’d soon find out what our oracle means.

The questions that the master proposes to ask the blind man refer back to the slave’s initial inquiry about the stranger’s identity and motivation (53–54 ~ 24). Both master and slave, in their ignorance of the meaning of the oracle, shift the burden of exposition onto the third character on stage, the figure that is the condition and object of the command (52–54). The 55

56

The term is used repeatedly by Socrates of the intellectual shortcomings of his pupil Strepsiades (Clouds 629, 655, 790), and by Bdelykleon with respect to his father’s education in Wasps 1183. Cf. for instance Plato, Sophist 241d and Republic 465d.

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revelation of the identity and story of Wealth, which we reviewed in the previous chapter, thus becomes the precondition for understanding what the oracle means (ὅ τι νοεῖ 55). The command has been fully acknowledged as a symbolic communication. Interpretation Parker has observed that, in Greek oracular divination, “[a]rguments about the interpretation of particular oracles are so common as to suggest that they are not a by-product but an essential part of the institution’s working.”57 An oracle could certainly be accepted without question, as the Dolonci and Xouthos illustrate, but the general tendency is for a reply to be accompanied by a discussion of what it means. This attempt to establish meaning could even lead to the curious phenomenon we mentioned above, that if a consultant (or someone else involved with the oracle) thought that some part of the information provided by the oracle needed specification, he would consult it again for further clarification, as Miltiades and Leukippos did. In this respect, as Johnston notes, “the divinatory process did not divest human individuals of all personal responsibility.”58 This interpretative process is in fact what establishes the meaning of the oracle. The “critical judgment [of individuals], as manifested through debate,” Johnston continues, “could significantly change what the oracle ‘meant’ and therefore its effects on the human world.”59 Maurizio argues that it is the existence of this very debate, in addition to the acceptance of the divine origin of an oracle, that gives the oracle credibility; those involved in this debate can be said to “author” an oracle and, in the process, “deem it authentic – that is, they accept it as a divine utterance with predictive value,” thereby incorporating it into the oral tradition of oracular tales.60 Maurizio is referring here to the reception of oracles by a political community, yet she makes clear that the same process of “authoring” and “accepting,” of constructing oracular meaning and authority through debate, can be found at the individual or private level. As an example, she adduces the oracular discussion in Euripides’ Ion:  Xouthos and Ion both “author” and “authenticate” the “oracular performance” by examining, as far as their limited human perspective allows, the various ways in which the oracle relates to their situation (534–562). Even though the interpretation 57 58 59 60

Parker 2000: 80. Johnston 2008: 51. Johnston 2008: 51. Maurizio 1997: 316–317.

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they finally agree upon is mistaken, as the audience knows, Maurizio notes the care with which the playwright has set up the process, for the sake of his own dramatic exploration of the oracle. Can one find this process at work also in the oracular performance in Wealth? At first sight there seems to be no need for interpretation. If we consider the first-met character’s identity – and leave aside for now both his story and his paradoxical appearance – the fact that he is Wealth would seem to leave no doubt over the oracle’s meaning:  Apollo’s solution to Chremylos’ problem is to take home what the personification represents, the power that grants wealth, as well as the object wealth itself, which will make him and his son rich, and without the need to turn to crime. Yet the action of the play reveals that this reading of the oracle, which is already an interpretation, if a simple one, is quite mistaken. When Wealth is first taken into Chremylos’ household, which is the action that one might suppose would fulfill the command, this does not solve his poverty. Several actions not specified by the oracle will yet take place before it is fulfilled. Chremylos first has to take Wealth to be healed at the hands of Asclepius, and finally Wealth enters the household once again – in keeping with the oracle – to make Chremylos rich. The god did not spell out these extra steps in his command, yet without them his oracle would not have been fulfilled. Chremylos is the one responsible for coming up with these actions and giving shape to what eventually becomes the comic plan, yet his contributions spring from that ‘authoring’ process we have sketched above, by taking the elements in the oracular communication that Apollo gave him to interpret and relating them to his personal situation. How is the comic plan ‘authored’ out of the oracle? Chremylos had already declared during the initial discussion with his slave that the identity of the first-met man, the object of the command, would clarify its meaning (52–55). And, indeed, the personification’s myth is the startingpoint from which the comic plan is constructed. Wealth’s story is connected to Chremylos’ initial situation in their shared concern for a just distribution of wealth; both agree that the present situation is a problem, and seek to solve it. This intersection of similar problems provides the opportunity for Chremylos to appropriate Wealth’s previous intention as the solution to his own situation, and consequently to attempt to heal the latter’s blindness so he can carry out his original plan: (Χρε.)

φέρε, τί οὖν; εἰ πάλιν ἀναβλέψειας ὥσπερ καὶ πρὸ τοῦ, φεύγοις ἂν ἤδη τοὺς πονηρούς;

62

An Apollonian Beginning (Πλ.) (Χρε.) (Πλ.)

φήμ’ ἐγώ. ὡς τοὺς δικαίους δ’ ἂν βαδίζοις; πάνυ μὲν οὖν·

(94–97)

(Chremylos.) All right now, suppose you regained your sight, just as it was before, would you now regularly shun the wicked? (Wealth) Yes I would. (Chremylos) And you’d visit the just? (Wealth) Absolutely.

In this light, the oracle of Apollo can be reinterpreted as: To solve your situation, take Wealth (and his intention) home; that is, make it your own. Wealth, the first-met person, also contributes to the authoring of the oracle in that without his acquiescence the command cannot be fulfilled. The collaboration of Wealth is essential since he is the divinely appointed agent. Much like Miltiades and Leukippos, Wealth is taken by surprise when presented with these duties assigned by the oracle. But instead of an additional consultation, what comes into play is a persuasion scene, which we have discussed in the previous chapter. The god had specified this action in his original command to “persuade [Wealth] to accompany” them home (peithein  … xunakolouthein 43). In this respect, the scene recalls the prologue of Knights, where the unwitting Sausage Seller is likewise persuaded to take on a role that an oracular interpretation has assigned to him (193–222). Apollo’s Sanction The role played by Chremylos and Wealth in ‘authoring’ the oracle, in giving it its final, meaningful shape, nonetheless should not obscure the fact that Apollo is still at the center of the comic plan, acting through the symbolic communication played out before the audience’s eyes – a point that would not have been lost on an audience familiar with the oracular process. Modern scholars do acknowledge the god’s role in oracular divination, but they tend to focus on the human side of the process, particularly on the function of oracles within the decision-making process of political bodies. Morgan offers a good illustration of this approach, defining oracles as “regulatory mechanisms which enable community authorities to use divine sanction to achieve a consensus of opinion over difficult, often unprecedented, and potentially divisive decisions.”61 Bowden, however, has recently reacted against these readings, arguing for the importance of putting the divine back into the heart of the process. Religious matters, 61

Morgan 1989: 17. See also Vernant 1974: 21 and Beerden 2013: 221, 223.

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he explains, were also central to the political and social life of a polis like Athens:62 “Athenians had to know what it was that the gods wanted from them, and how they could maintain their favor, and once they knew, they had to act upon it. The Athenian democracy was above all a system for establishing and enforcing the will of the gods.”63 This concern with divine approval would carry just as much weight as that of human consensus in the interpretation of oracular communications.64 There were, moreover, situations that went beyond human opinion, that “could be entrusted only to a god” and his knowledge, such as the use of sacred land, which only the god could sanction.65 Thus Apollo was not merely a stamp deployed through the oracular process to sanction difficult human decisions; he was more than an “ancient management consultant” to help guide human choices, to use a term from the business world suggested by Scott.66 He was a powerful authority figure whose will needed to be consulted and adhered to when determining the ‘better’ course of action, be it religious, political, or personal. This attention to the will of the god helps to clarify the curiously immoral nature of Chremylos’ question, which asks the god whether it would be more fitting to educate his child to become a criminal, “since that’s the way to get ahead in life” (38). Can the god be asked for advice on a dishonest action? As it turns out, surviving consultations do attest to a few instances that involved obtaining an individual or political benefit through illegal or unjust means. Oracles from Dodona feature the questions of slaves inquiring about running away, as well as a chilling consultation of a man seeking to re-enslave a freed man.67 The few immoral oracles preserved in Herodotus include the reaction of the god, who invariably takes umbrage and punishes the consultant, since the latter has sought his advice in order to act in an unjust fashion. The Pythia’s reply to the Spartan Glaukos (Herodotus 6.68), for instance, who asked for permission to perjure himself so that he could keep some money that had been entrusted to him, seems emblematic of the mindset behind these consultations, which function as morality tales:68 The 62 63 64 65 66 67 68

Bowden 2005: 8–11. Bowden 2005: 159. Bowden 2005: 132. Bowden 2005: 133. Scott 2014: 30. Eidinow 2007: 47, 101. As noted by Eidinow 2007: 47.

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Pythia promised retribution for his attempted oathbreaking, and sternly added, after Glaukos asked for forgiveness, that “to tempt the god and do the deed is the same” (Q92 Fontenrose, PW 35–36).69 Glaukos eventually returned the money but was still punished by the god, by having his lineage extinguished. The Apollo of Wealth does not sanction Chremylos’ consultation by responding: “Yes, it is best for you to educate your son to be a criminal”; but neither does he rebuke or punish the protagonist for daring to ask such a thing. Why does Chremylos get away with his question? The easy way out would be to say that this is a comedy, and that the consultant is the typical comic protagonist who seeks to transgress the social (and divine) order. Yet I believe the answer lies rather in the nature of Chremylos’ initial situation, which, as we have seen, is the result of a ‘cosmic’ act of injustice that both affects and transcends him: the withholding of riches from good men by a misanthropic deity. The ‘authored’ oracle is indeed transgressive in that it goes against the will of the Zeus of the play, but the latter has been judged and found to be malicious by his victim Wealth – the first-met person – by the consultant himself, and, as we now see, by a fellow Olympian as well. Since Apollo’s oracle gives rise to the plan to rebel against the malevolent deity, his intervention is implicitly seeking to rectify the immoral situation, revealing his intention to right an injustice. An interesting parallel is Xenophon’s account of King Agesipolis, who consulted the oracles of Zeus at Olympia and Apollo at Delphi on whether he should recognize a sacred truce that would be detrimental to Spartan interests (H12 Fontenrose, PW 174). In this case, however, the situation was different from the immoral consultation of Glaukos. Agesipolis asked whether he should accept a sacred truce that was being deceitfully declared by his Argive rivals outside of its appropriate time; both oracles agreed that it was “pious” (osion) not to observe a truce “that was unjustly enjoined” (adikōs hupopheromenas Xenophon, Hellenica 4.7.2). In the same light, since Chremylos’ consultation is a desperate plea in the face of grave injustice, his question would not have been treated as impious. And the answer provided by the god is equally blameless, in that it skirts around the original immoral consultation to give a different solution to Chremylos’ situation.

69

Cf. also the response to the Kymaeans about killing suppliants (Herodotus 1.159; Didyma 6C).

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Human and Divine Collaboration What is unique about the Greek approach to divination, in Johnston’s words, “is that the Greeks viewed divine and human means of accomplishing the desired effects as complementary, rather than mutually exclusive. … [A]lthough the gods are superior to humans, humans are expected to engage with them, rather than simply wait, passively, for what the gods hand down.”70 The simple act of approaching the oracle, of performing the ritual of consultation itself, already shows an active engagement by the human, but the process of ‘authoring’ the oracle shows more clearly the complementary action of men; and the god, too, participates through his act of symbolic communication, which reveals his will and also sanctions the undertaking with his authority. An awareness of this process of collaboration can help solve an ongoing debate regarding Chremylos’ role in the play, while also illuminating the various agencies that drive the comic plot. Many scholars take Chremylos to be a typical Aristophanic protagonist: He shares the distinctive traits of such characters, such as old age (33–34), an association with the countryside (223), and, above all, the fact that he is the master of a household (2), a father (35), and a husband (250).71 Even his initial presentation as a deranged individual (1–17) is a feature of a few of Aristophanes’ protagonists, such as Trygaios (Peace 54ff.). He has also been read as all-powerful: Fernández points out that the main events of the play all seem to be the result of his own initiative; he is the one who decides to consult the oracle, persuades Wealth to carry out his original intention, and comes up with the idea of taking Wealth to Asclepius to be healed (410–412);72 Revermann further notes the almost “complete control” displayed by Chremylos over the movements of Wealth.73 As I  hope to have shown in the previous section, these decisions should not be attributed to the sole invention of Chremylos. They, and the comic plan they constitute, all spring from the authoring of Apollo’s oracle. Along these lines, the “control” of Chremylos over Wealth, to which the latter has acquiesced through persuasion, can be read as an attempt to keep the oracle on the path to its fulfillment. On the other hand, some have argued that Chremylos lacks the powerful agency and inventiveness of the other Aristophanic protagonists. For

70 71 72 73

Johnston 2008: 59–60; cf. also 104. See also Kearns 1990: 325. See Fernández 2002: 117–118. Fernández 2002: 98, 116; see also Sineux 2006: 198. Revermann 2006: 264.

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Halliwell, for instance, the protagonist of Wealth has been downplayed “to a role which is no longer a central and driving force of dramatic energy.”74 This perspective stems in part from the larger role that divinities play in the comedy. Gods do appear as helpers in other plays of Aristophanes, but Wealth is the only comedy in which the comic plan can only be achieved through their intervention.75 Contrast, for instance, Trygaios in Peace: Although the protagonist is following the instructions of the god Hermes, it is his ingenuity and strength, combined with the manpower of the chorus of Greeks, that discovers and pulls out Peace from underneath the pile of rocks where she was hidden. In Wealth, as we have seen, it is the god Apollo who guides Chremylos to the solution, and, though the protagonist does come up with the idea of curing Wealth by incubation at the sanctuary of Asclepius, it is only this latter god who has the power to perform the healing.76 Yet such a belittling view of Chremylos’ agency overlooks the collaborative dynamic that is set in motion by the oracle. The process involves the divine, but human agency also plays a central role in articulating it. What the oracle of Wealth presents to its audience is a common front of gods and men, who jointly participate in the fulfillment of the comic plan. “Divination … more than any other religious act, confirms not only that the gods exist, but that they pay attention to us,” Johnston has said.77 The statement certainly holds true for the oracles of Apollo, and also applies to the incubatory ritual associated with healing deities like Asclepius, another form of divination which will occupy us in the next chapter. Oracular consultation treats Apollo as having an active interest in mortal affairs, providing authoritative advice and information that would otherwise be inaccessible to human knowledge; he is thus portrayed, through his gift of prophecy, as a helper and even a benefactor of humankind. But another aspect of Apollo’s intervention in the comedy Wealth is relevant to his function as benefactor, namely his role as an opponent of Zeus’s malicious regime. In its simplest manifestation, his command goes against the will of Zeus in that it directs Wealth to those who deserve him. Seen in this light the oracle of Wealth is a remarkable occurrence 74

75 76 77

Halliwell 1997: 202–204 extensively discusses this diminution of the character. Ruffell 2006: 102 likewise mentions that “the role of the protagonist is seriously diminished, beyond the establishment of the new world orders.” Konstan and Dillon 1981: 378–379, n. 10, also remark on Chremylos’ “modest credentials as a comic hero.” Sommerstein 2001: 22, with n. 92. See Fernández 2000a: 58. Johnston 2008: 4–5.

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because, as Johnston reminds us, in the traditional portrayal of the oracular deity, “[t]he information that Apollo handed down was not understood to begin with him. As Apollo himself says, it was Zeus’s will that determined what would happen and he only passed those decisions on to mortals.”78 However, Graf has pointed out that Apollo could be conceived as an independent agent; the prevalence and prominence of his oracles, which outnumbered those of Zeus, may have raised doubts about just how subservient Apollo’s oracles would have been to his father’s decisions.79 Aristophanes’ Wealth offers a unique example of how this possibility was imagined. In the comedy, Apollo’s advice is issued not just independently of Zeus, but also contrary to his father’s will. In this respect, Aristophanes is tapping into the figure of a rebellious Apollo, which featured in a familiar myth of the time: his retaliation against Zeus for the death of his son Asclepius.80 The myth is present in Hesiod’s Catalog of Women, Pherecydes, and Pindar,81 and serves as a backstory for Euripides’ Alcestis: When Asclepius, the son of Apollo, attempts to bring a mortal back to life by means of his medical arts, Zeus obliterates him for this transgression.82 Angry at Zeus, Apollo then avenges his son by attacking and killing the Cyclops.83 As punishment, Zeus forces him to serve a mortal, Admetus.84 In the myth Apollo’s transgression, unlike that of his son Asclepius which we will examine in the next chapter, is purely an act of retribution against Zeus’s disciplinary measure. His oracle in Wealth, in contrast, shows him seeking to benefit mortals by correcting the unfairness of Zeus’s regime. In this respect, he behaves much like his mythic predecessors Prometheus or even Wealth himself. While the healing of Wealth may be taken to represent the return to a pre-Olympian order, Apollo’s role in the comedy signals a dissatisfaction with Zeus’s lack of justice on the part of the younger Olympian gods, which Bowie has already noted in Hermes’ quick desertion to Wealth’s camp later in the play.85 The scene is thus set 78

79 80

81 82 83 84 85

Johnston 2008: 51, citing Eumenides 615–618; she also refers to the Homeric Hymn to Hermes 533–538 and the Hymn to Apollo 132. Graf 2009: 56. As discussed already in treatments of Apollo in Wealth by Bowie 1993: 273, 278–279, and Sineux 2006: 209. Hesiod 51 MW, Pherecydes FGrH 3.35a, and Pindar, Pythian 3.55–59. Euripides, Alcestis 3–4, 121–129. Hesiod 52 MW and Euripides, Alcestis 5–6. Hesiod 54(a)+57, 54(b)(c) MW, and Euripides, Alcestis 1–2, 6–9. Bowie 1993:  283 already raises the question, when discussing the role of Hermes, of a possible Olympian “dissatisfaction with Zeus.”

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for a dethronement, with the complicity of the younger Olympian generation, who see to it that a truly philanthropic god takes Zeus’s place. During the persuasion scene, Wealth seeks reassurance from Chremylos concerning the plan to cure his blindness:  “And how will you manage that? You’re a mere mortal” (211), he asks. Chremylos replies: “I have high hopes from what (ex hōn) Phoebus himself told me” (212–213). I close my discussion with this little exchange related to the oracular prologue that Aristophanes has presented to his audience. The phrase agathen elpida (212) – literally “good hope” – is a good description of the reassurance that a typical consultant would gain by being privy to information accessible only by supernatural means, a reassurance that follows, or is caused by, the communication of the god. It is indeed “out of what Apollo speaks” that the comic plan is authored and the solution to Chremylos’ problem is achieved; but the plan and solution were always in the god’s mind. To Wealth’s question, “You mean he’s in on this too?” (214), Chremylos confirms that the god does share this knowledge, that he is implicated (xunoida 214) in the action they have authored based on the oracle. This chapter has shown how the oracular process itself deepens this complicity between gods and men, making it more intimate than it might otherwise have seemed. We do not see Apollo during the prologue, but he has been present on stage through the enactment and discussion of his command, which will accompany the characters, in the form of the comic plan, until the oracle is finally fulfilled.

Ch apter 3

A Healing Story

Karion bitterly blames Apollo at the start of Wealth for sending his master out “crazed” (melancholonta 12) after the consultation, and so belying his reputation as a healer (iatros 11) and wise prophet (mantis … sophos 11). The interpretative process of the prologue quickly disproves this hasty judgment. What had seemed like a senseless action prescribed by the god is shown to have a certain and even salutary meaning, which sets the characters on their way to restore justice to the distribution of wealth in the community. This motif of the divine healer returns in the messenger speech of the play, where Asclepius, son of Apollo, picks up where his father left off and restores Wealth’s eyesight through his superb medical skills. The cure takes place offstage, in the sanctuary of the god, from where the slave arrives to report it back onstage in the form of a lengthy messenger speech (627–759). The similarity of this comic narrative to the stories of miracle cures, or iamata, associated with Asclepius, has often been noted.1 Aristophanes’ messenger speech is in fact frequently cited as the oldest, most complete testimony to the healing ritual of incubation practiced in the sanctuaries of this god.2 Yet the playwright’s adaptation of the structure and function of the iamata as an element within the comedy has received scant scholarly attention, even though it forms a pivotal moment of the drama: For without Asclepius’ intervention neither Apollo’s oracle nor the comic plan that sprang from it would have been fulfilled. Roos and Sineux are the only scholars to have thoroughly examined the messenger speech in relation to the iamata.3 Roos’s main concern is to 1

2

3

The first publication of the Epidaurian iamata already links them to Aristophanes’ messenger speech (Kavvadias 1883: 218). Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.145–146. See also Sineux 2006: 195. Roos provides a range of scholarly opinions on the reliability of the messenger speech of Wealth as evidence for the ritual (1960: 55–58). See also Ehrenheim 2015: 17–18. Roos 1960 and Sineux 2006. Studies of other aspects of the messenger speech are Fernández 2000b, who provides a structural analysis, and Tordoff 2012b, who focuses on its paratragic elements.

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prove that Aristophanes was not mocking the cult of Asclepius; he does so by demonstrating that what seems ridiculous in the comic healing story is also found in the iamata set up in sanctuaries, and that any derision for the god is to be blamed on the character of the narrator, a scurrilous slave. Sineux, for his part, further explores the role of the slave, noting how his transgressive behavior allows him to adopt the position of the audience, witnessing what he is not allowed to see, and how his narrative matches the mediating role that sanctuaries played in the miracle tales. This chapter will complement and expand on Sineux’s analysis. I begin from the observation, made by Sineux and others, that the messenger in Wealth, by delivering what amounts to a comic healing story, brings into the plot the main narrative focus of the iamata – the direct intervention of the god in human life – and also incorporates their original religious function, the proclamation of the power and goodwill of the healing god. I  will examine how the structure and sequence of events in the comic narrative, which still remain unexplored, contribute to this function. I will also consider further the slave’s role as mediator, particularly in his function as witness within the narrative itself, and open up various facets of the character and action of Asclepius as portrayed in the comic healing story, which Sineux and others have only just begun to examine.4 The first section of this chapter provides a general introduction to the iamata. I briefly describe the divinatory practice of incubation at their heart, and then review their narrative pattern and function, focusing in particular on the earliest surviving examples, from the sanctuary of Asclepius in Epidauros.5 After presenting evidence for the circulation of these stories in Aristophanes’ time, I examine how the playwright adapts elements of the iamata into his messenger speech, highlighting their aretalogical function, communal dimension, and the authenticity and effectiveness of the incubatory experience they recount. In the final section, on Asclepius’ intervention as an offstage character, I examine how the messenger speech builds upon comic invective and popular beliefs about the god in order to craft a character whose philanthropic role goes beyond the needs of his individual worshippers to acquire a communal, political, and even symbolic meaning. This expands the scope of the traditional iamata, transforming this comic one into an emblem of religious blessings. 4

5

Scholars who touch on the treatment are Konstan and Dillon: 1981: 382, Dillon 1984: 181–186, Olson 1990:  231–232, Sommerstein 2001:  12–13, Fernández 2002:  130, 256–258, 280–281, and ZelnickAbramovitz 2002: 38–39, to name a few. For a general overview of the god’s myth, sanctuaries, and cults, see Suárez de la Torre 2009. A brief account can also be found in Sommerstein 2001: 8–13.

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The Iamata The Epidaurian iamata typically focus their narrative on the divinatory practice of incubation, which was related to the cult of Asclepius but not exclusive to it.6 This practice, as Dorati succinctly defines it, “consists in seeking contact through dreams with a higher power, inside a sacred place, in order to obtain a cure, an oracle, or advice in decisions of particular importance, both at the private as well as the public and official level.”7 Those who practiced incubation, much like the consultants of oracles, sought access to knowledge beyond human ken to solve immediate concerns. This knowledge was usually a god’s outstanding medical expertise, which in the case of Asclepius was thought to exceed that of human doctors. And, just as with an oracle, it was mortals who initiated communication with their supernatural adviser. Oracles, too, were consulted over health concerns, but the approach was different.8 As a number of oracular questions from Dodona attest, consultants invariably asked the oracle which gods they should pray or sacrifice to, in order to be healed or stay healthy;9 they did not expect the gods consulted to do the healing. Those who resorted to incubation did expect the god to cure them directly, through instantaneous, effective treatment, or through his advice or instructions.10 There was no need for a divine referral, as at Dodona, nor for a Pythia to convey the advice from god to consultant, as at Delphi. The marvel of incubation was that the god consulted dealt directly with the worshipper.11 In this respect, incubation shades into something different from divination. It is a ritual practice that invokes the presence and power of the god, granting access even to the god’s touch, which could cure instantly; in other words, it is also an

6

7

8 9 10 11

For a quick introduction to incubation as a form of divination, see Johnston 2008: 90–95. Sineux 2011 and 2013 provides a valuable summary of the scholarship on the topic up to Edelstein and Edelstein 1945, with a particular focus on the cult of Asclepius. For incubation in healing sanctuaries in particular, see Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.145–158, Cilliers and Retief 2013, Dorati 2001, and Harrison 2014. Ehrenheim 2015 is now the most comprehensive study of the ritual elements of incubation. For other cults that practiced incubation in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, see also Petridou 2015: 172–174 and Ehrenheim 2015: 165, 190–195. Dorati 2001: 91. Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 361, Ehrenheim 2015: 18–19, and Harrison 2014: 286 also identify, as a characteristic of the ritual, the ease with which it could be carried out; Harrison also singles out the centrality of the sanctuary space for the ritual. For the ritual per se, see Ehrenheim 2015: 75–97. On the relationship of oracles and incubation, see Ehrenheim 2015: 158–183. Eidinow 2007: 104; see 104–107 for a catalog of this type of consultation. Oberhelman 2013: 9. Johnston 2008: 90–91 and Suárez de la Torre 2009: 46.

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epiphany.12 This vivid religious experience is at the heart of the two types of healing story I will consider in this chapter: the Epidaurian iamata, and the comic healing story in Aristophanes’ Wealth. Incubation was such a familiar feature of the cult of Asclepius by the time Aristophanes began staging his plays that in Wasps, produced in 422 bc, he refers to the practice with the simple phrase “to lay (someone) down at the temple of Asclepius” (kateklinen … eis Asklepiou 123), with no need for further explanation.13 Stories of the treatments that consultants experienced at the hands of the god must have already been in circulation by that time, years before the Epidaurian iamata set them down in writing.14 These latter documents, which were inscribed in the second half of the fourth century bc, derived from written and visual testimonies of miracle cures by Asclepius, as found in earlier inscriptions, votive reliefs, paintings, anatomical ex-votos, and other dedications that dotted the sanctuary.15 Oral accounts of incubations were also collected, LiDonnici has argued, some of which were associated with particular dedications.16 She tentatively dates the earliest of these sources to within a century before the surviving inscribed accounts of cures.17 The Epidaurian iamata display a particular narrative structure and function which reveal the existence of a “cultural model” at work,  as Dorati and Guidorizzi have argued. They define this model as “a way of perceiving a phenomenon,” in this case the experience of incubation, “even before it is described, and that remains substantially unchanged.”18 12 13

14

15

16 17 18

For incubation as epiphany, see most recently Petridou 2015: 171–193. This verb is used as shorthand for the ritual in Wealth 411 and 621 as well. On the terms used to refer to incubation, see Ehrenheim 2015: 19–21. IG iv2 1, 121–124. Editions with commentary of the Epidaurian iamata are Herzog 1931 and LiDonnici 1995. Nehrbass 1935 and Prêtre and Charlier 2009 provide stylistic and medical commentary, respectively. Fragments of other collections of iamata survive from the Asklepieia at Lebena and Rome, though these are later than the Epidaurian inscriptions. Individual iamata also survive from Epidauros, Athens, Lebena, Pergamon, and many other sanctuaries. Recent editions with commentaries of these collections and individual inscriptions are Girone 1998 and Prêtre and Charlier 2009. Most are gathered in Edelstein and Edelstein 1945:  1, test. 426, 439–441 for the Lebena collection; test. 438 for the Rome one; for individual iamata, see test. 424, 428, 431, 432, and 442. On the iamata themselves, in addition to these editions, see Dillon 1994, Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996, Dorati 2001, Sineux 2007a, Martzavou 2012, and Graf 2015: 506–510. For the date of the inscriptions, see LiDonnici 1995: 17 and n. 13. For a study of the sources on which the collection is based, see LiDonnici 1995: 40–49; see also, more briefly, Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 349–351. For healing stories associated with votive offerings, see iamata A1 and A15 LiDonnici; a version of the latter is also found in an independent monument:  IG iv2 1, 125 = Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 1, test. 431. LiDonnici 1995: 50–60. For her dating of these sources, see LiDonnici 1995: 81–82. Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 352.

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This model, as they have shown, was so pervasive that it survived relatively unchanged through late antiquity. More significantly, as Dorati and Guidorizzi and others have recently shown, the model was much influenced by the agenda of the sanctuaries.19 By “sanctuary” I  refer to the personnel in charge of selecting the individual testimonies for the Epidaurian collection. They did not transcribe them mechanically or randomly: They selected, adapted, and embellished oral and written tales that were already in existence, created new ones from dedicated objects and visual testimonies, and attended to the arrangement of the tales, in order to give a certain impression of the cult and the deity. They also included in the story elements that would confer authenticity, such as references to sources, and testimonies of how the god confounded incredulous readers of the tales, as well as witnesses.20 Through this process, the sanctuary shaped the expectations of the worshippers about the experience of incubation, helped them comprehend this experience, gave them hopes that they would be cured, instructed them on proper (and improper) behavior in the sacred precinct, and ensured that the stories served propagandistic purposes in the presentation of the god and the sanctuary.21 The wide range of the patients’ places of origin – from Epiros to Cnidos – testifies to the success of this endeavor, and gives a sense of the reach of the iamata across the Greek world.22 Given this control over individual narratives, the sanctuary iamata, through the narrative pattern they represent, instilled and perpetuated a way to frame and repeat the religious experience of incubation, as well as establishing a preference for certain narrative topics and formulas, which would have helped the worshippers to shape their own accounts of dream experiences into an easily identifiable form. As with the oracles surveyed in our previous chapter, the presence of a recurring narrative structure and motifs, a pattern that in this case was authorized by the sanctuary, also marked a healing story as authoritative.

19

20 21

22

For the influence of the sanctuary, see especially Dillon 1994, Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996, Dorati 2001, Sineux 2007a, and Martzavou 2012. See Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 361 and Sineux 2006: 204. On preparing the patients mentally and shaping their expectations, see for instance LiDonnici 1995: 18, 52; and Martzavou 2012. On their comprehension of the experience, see Dorati 2001: 115, and the hope for a cure, LiDonnici 1992: 41, Dillon 1994: 240, and Ehrenheim 2015: 141. The proper behavior in the sanctuary is discussed by Dillon 1994: 240 and Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 358. For propaganda related to the god and the sanctuary, see Dorati 2001: 97. See also Ehrenheim 2015: 141– 146, Petridou 2015: 331, and Graf 2015: 506–510. The Epirote appears in iama B11 (31), and the Cnidian in B12 (32) LiDonnici.

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Five short stories from the Epidaurian collection will suffice to exemplify the main characteristics of the iamata narrative: Alketas of Halieis. This man, being blind, saw a dream. It seemed to him that the god came to him and opened his eyes with his fingers, and that he first saw the trees in the sanctuary. When day came he left well. (IG iv2 1, 121.120–122 = A18 LiDonnici)23 Euhippos bore a spearhead in his jaw for six years. While he was sleeping here, the god drew the spearhead from him and gave it to him in his hands. When day came, he walked out well, having the spearhead in his hands. (IG iv2 1, 121.95–97 = A12 LiDonnici) Kleinatas of Thebes, who had lice. This man, having a great multitude of lice on his body, came and slept here, and he sees a vision. It seemed to him the god stripped him and, standing him up straight, naked, cleared the lice from his body with a broom. When day came he left the Abaton [i.e. the sacred space where incubation took place] well. (IG iv2 1, 122.45–49 = B8 [28] LiDonnici) Pamphaes of Epidauros, [having] a cancerous sore inside his mouth. [This man, sleeping here,] saw a vision. It seemed to him the god opened his mouth [with his hand, took out the sore,] and cleansed his mouth, and from this [he became well]. (IG iv2 1, 123.134–137 = C23 [66] LiDonnici)24 Pandaros of Thessaly, with tattoos on his forehead. [Sleeping here,] he saw a vision. It seemed that [the god] bound a fillet around his tattoos and told him that, when he was outside of the Abaton, [to take off] the fillet and dedicate it in the temple. When day came he rose and took off the fillet, and he [saw] his face [clear] of the tattoos. He dedicated the fillet, [which had] the letters from his forehead, in the temple. (IG iv2 1, 121.48–54 = A6 LiDonnici) These stories are not interested in the ritual action of incubation per se, but in the personal miracle accounts that come out of it.25 After providing a kind of lemma for each story, which identifies the consultant and the reason for the consultation, they focus on the dream vision that is the product of incubation, that is, on the moment of contact with the divinity that provides access to his medical knowhow. This experience had been at the heart of the cult since its earliest instantiations.26 Forms of the verbs 23

24 25 26

The translation of this passage is mine; all other translations are from LiDonnici 1995, except where indicated. The restored text of this and the following fragmentary iamata is marked in square brackets. As noted by Ehrenheim 2015: 17. Ehrenheim 2015: 171.

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enkatheudein and enkatakoimasthai (“to lie down”) mark the moment of incubation proper, when the consultant lies down to sleep, but only rarely do they introduce the dream vision, as in the cure of Euhippos.27 Instead, the iamata regularly employ a two-part formula, “s/he saw a dream (enupnion)” or “vision (opsis),” followed by “it seemed to him/her (edokei hoi) that …,” as can be seen in the four other stories quoted above. The second clause introduces the dream vision itself in the form of an indirect discourse; that is, the narrative adopts the perspective of the consultant to relate the encounter with the god. Thus in the case of Alketas, his first glimpse of the trees of the sanctuary, told through his point of view, touchingly signals the healing of his blindness. Formulaic expressions appear at the end of the iamata to mark the conclusion of the dream vision and the subjective perspective, and to signal the positive outcome of the experience.28 One formula that appears in the story of Pamphaes, “from this he became well,” specifically links the previous dream vision to the achievement of health. The other recurring formula appears in the stories of Alketas and Euhippos: The words “when day came,” which indicate the moment of waking, are combined with variations on the phrase “s/he left well.” The emphasis on departure in the latter phrase, which may at first sight seem trivial, identifies the sanctuary as the privileged location for this type of experience. Correspondingly, the arrival at the sanctuary is at times also marked in the narrative, as in the case of Kleinatas. The iamata do sometimes give attention to another important stage in the ritual, the required dedicatory offerings or sacrifices in gratitude for a successful consultation, but in most of these cases the offerings are linked to the narrative of the dream vision.29 Thus in the story of Pandaros, the object he dedicates is the very fillet that the god used to heal him in the dream vision.30 The preliminary offerings before incubation appear in only one story,31 but are introduced only insofar as they relate to the circumstances

27 28 29

30

31

The other two examples are A15 and A19 LiDonnici. For a complete list of formulaic expressions, see LiDonnici 1995: 23. For the preliminary rituals of incubation, see Ehrenheim 2015: 23–75; for the rituals after incubation, 97–109. In addition to the story of Pandaros, see also iamata A1, A4, A5, and A7 LiDonnici; although the miracle of iama C4 (47) does not involve a dream vision, the dedication is nevertheless tied to the intervention of the god. Other iamata mention dedications as simply a ritual stage: B2 (22) and C3 (46). Dedications also feature in C12 (55), D2 (68), and D3 (69), but these stories are too fragmentary to be of use. This stage is also mentioned in D2 (68) LiDonnici, but the story is also too fragmentary.

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of a particular cure: A mute boy suddenly speaks at this stage of the ritual, in order to promise a sacrifice for his miraculous recovery (A5 LiDonnici). A comparison of the iamata with the format and content of one of their sources – dedicatory inscriptions – helps tease out the model at work in these narratives. Unlike the votive epigram recorded in the first iama of the Epidaurian collection (A1 LiDonnici), which already contains an incubation story in miniature (“Kleo bore a burden in her stomach for five years, until she slept here, and he made her well” IG iv2 1, 121.8–9), the majority of dedicatory inscriptions to Asclepius set up during the fourth century bc focus instead on the ritual act of the dedication itself. In this respect, they follow the typical format of votive offerings in Greek religious practice of the time, which feature the name of the grateful worshipper, a verb of dedicating (typically anetheke, “s/he set up”), the god who is receiving the offering, and sometimes the object dedicated.32 Occasionally the reasons for the dedication are included, but they are subordinated to the action of dedicating.33 Such detail is unusual. Some dedications do mention that they are the result of dreams or visions, but they do not explicitly refer to the ritual of incubation, found in almost all of the iamata as a formula.34 Even if we allow that the incubatory experience could have been portrayed by visual means in a votive relief accompanying the inscription, and that the illnesses treated could be deduced from the anatomical depictions of body parts that were set up as offerings, the information provided by any accompanying dedicatory inscription would still not be enough to account either for the typical narrative focus of the iamata or for their description of specific cures. Further elaboration or embellishment would have been necessary, which an established oral tradition of healing stories would have provided. Dorati and Guidorizzi classify the iamata as “a specialized portion of the  much vaster [body of] aretalogical literature,” since their purpose was to testify to the power and excellence of the god displayed in incubation, a function that is acknowledged by most scholars.35 The dedicatory epigram recorded in the first iama (A1 LiDonnici) sums up this function in a clearly programmatic way: “one should marvel not at the size of this plaque, but at the 32

33

34

35

For the composition of Athenian votive descriptions in the fourth century bc, see Giovagnorio 2015: 80–85. See for instance IG ii2 4357, dated to the first half of the fourth century bc: “After being saved from wars and having been ransomed … and set free, he set up [this relief ].” For this type of dedications, which are not exclusive to Asclepius, see van Straten 1976 and Renberg 2010. Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 345; this function is also mentioned, for example, by Dillon 1994: 253– 254, Sineux 2006: 210, Versnel 2011: 414, and Graf 2015: 506–507.

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action of the divine (to theion)” (IG iv2 1, 121.7–8). Applying these pious words to the narrative pattern of the iamata, one can say too that it is not the stories themselves, but the power of the god made manifest through them that merits amazement and wonder. The fact that they were inscribed on stone slabs and set up in the Abaton of the sanctuary makes clear their immediate intended audience. Yet the iamata, despite what the name of their location might lead us to think, were not off limits to other visitors.36 Individual iamata were also scattered throughout the sanctuary, as the story of Ambrosia indicates (A4 LiDonnici), who read the cures while “walking about the sanctuary” (IG iv2 1, 121.34–35). They were thus accessible to a wide audience. Another way in which the sanctuary compilers strengthened the aretalogical dimension of their iamata was by including characters who are skeptical about the cures.37 In a handful of stories, we find people who express disbelief and even scoff at the tales they read in the sanctuary, or who laugh at the hopeless condition of some consultants. Both types are eventually confounded and made an example of by the action of the god.38 Asclepius renames one of these scoffers Disbeliever after he cures him in incubation (A3 LiDonnici) since, in the god’s own words, “you doubted [the stories] before, though they were not unbelievable” (IG iv2 1, 121.31–33).39 The aretalogical purpose also explains the inclusion of a seemingly inappropriate story in the collection, that of a broken cup that is miraculously put back together at the sanctuary (A10 LiDonnici). The story features no healing or dream vision, but it does feature a challenge to the power of the god: As the baggage carrier who broke it fretfully tries to piece it together again, a passerby rebukes him for it, and adds, in a joking allusion to the power of the god, that “not even Asclepius in Epidauros would be able to make it sound (hugie poesai)” (IG iv2 1, 121.84–85).40 The slave then takes the cup to Epidauros, where the god proves that nothing, not even objects, is beyond the bounds of his healing abilities. The practice of selecting and inscribing testimonies of miracle cures at Epidauros did not begin with the collection that has survived; LiDonnici has tentatively identified groups and patterns of stories within the collection that may indicate earlier collections.41 The practice may have 36 37 38

39 40

41

LiDonnici 1995: 19. See Dillon 1994: 251–252, 254. For the exemplary nature of these mockers, see for instance Dillon 1994:  251–252, Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 357–358, Dorati 2001: 106, Sineux 2006: 204, n. 34, and Sineux 2007a: 60–62. For other scoffers, see A4 and perhaps B16 (36) LiDonnici. Another story that features people laughing at consultants with impossible demands is A9 LiDonnici. LiDonnici 1995: 76–82.

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existed already at Epidauros during Aristophanes’ lifetime, but it seems not to have crossed the Saronic Gulf to Attica when the first sanctuaries of Asclepius were founded there around 420 bc, a good thirty years before Wealth was staged. Even though the Epidaurian sanctuary seems to have had a hand in the introduction of the cult to Attica and partly influenced the rituals of the new establishments, there is no evidence that sanctuaryapproved collections of iamata were set up in the Attic sanctuaries.42 The Athenian Asklepieion did record individual dedications for administrative purposes, including the names of those who set them up, but not the stories associated with them.43 Yet we find evidence for the cultural model at work in the new foundations, in the marble votive reliefs portraying incubation scenes. These appeared in Attica along with the sanctuaries of Asclepius, as well as in the sanctuary of the healer god Amphiaraos at Oropos, where the practice was also followed.44 This type of commemoration testifies to the success and familiarity of incubation in Athenian religious life. They are, in a way, the visual representation of the “sleeping, she saw a dream” formula of the iamata: The images of patients lying on a bed signal the moment of incubation, while the portrayal of the god in action, touching and healing the patient or attending to her treatment, represents the culmination of the dream vision.45 When donors chose to depict an incubation scene in their reliefs, they sought to portray the efficacious treatment of the god for the purpose of acclaiming his power, as Sineux has observed.46 In this respect, the reliefs can be related to the iamata, which also highlight the treatment and serve the same purpose. Furthermore, the fact that these representations were set up in the precincts of the healing gods also indicates the sanctuaries’ control, and so their endorsement, of these pictorial representations of the incubatory experience.47 The famous Archinos relief (Figure 3.1), dated to the early fourth century bc, exemplifies an attempt to portray, in visual terms, a healing story at the sanctuary of Amphiaraos that uncannily resembles one of 42

43

44

45

46 47

For the Epidaurian connection, see Clinton 1994a, Parker 1996:  178, Wickkiser 2008:  90–105, Ehrenheim 2015: 185–187, and Nutton 2013: 106–108. For the practice of recording dedications, see Aleshire 1989: 103–110, and 37–51 for an analysis of the listed dedications. LiDonnici (1995:  42) and Ehrenheim (2015:  108) note the abundance of votive reliefs in Athens compared to Epidauros. On the Athenian practice of setting up votive reliefs during this period, see Lawton 2009. For a recent study of the iconography of these reliefs, see Sineux 2007c. Comella 2002:  46–48, 73–74, 103–104, 132–133, also offers a useful survey of this visual tradition. Sineux 2007c: 13, 15–16. As suggested by Petsalis-Diomidis 2006: 213.

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Figure 3.1 Votive relief of Archinos from the sanctuary of Amphiaraos at Oropos, first half of the fourth century bc.

the more complex iamata, the cure of a man with an ulcerous toe (A17 LiDonnici).48 The iama tale is as follows: the man was taken outside the Abaton “during the day (methamera)” (IG iv2 1, 121.114) and “fell asleep” (115–116). Suddenly, “a snake came out of the Abaton and healed his toe with its tongue … When he woke up and was healed, he said he had seen a vision:  it seemed to him that a young man, beautiful in appearance, had sprinkled a drug on his toe” (116–119).49 Archinos’ relief also involves a real snake and a dream healer; as scholars have remarked, it simultaneously portrays both the waking and dreaming states of the treatment. To the right side of the relief, flanking the incubation scene, is the figure of the donor, Archinos, who stands with his right arm raised in a gesture 48

49

Herzog (1931: 89) seems to have been the first to compare the relief to the iamata. See also Holtzmann 1984: 891–892, Petsalis-Diomidis 2006: 209–210, Sineux 2007b: 203–206, Wickkiser 2008: 51, Platt 2011: 44–46, and Versnel 2011: 404–406. Translation mine.

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of adoration. His dream vision, what “seemed to him” to happen (to use the iamata formula) after he fell asleep, is represented in the left half of the relief, where the god treats his shoulder. In the right half, Archinos is asleep while a sanctuary snake licks (or bites) the same spot the god is treating.50 One could argue that this last scene is the product of what the donor or the artist imagined took place outside the dream vision, yet these two still chose to portray the snake healing as independent from the donor’s vision, as something that only a third-party witness, awake while the treatment was in progress, would have experienced. Through this choice, the viewer of the relief becomes an implicit witness, with full access to the miracle inside the sanctuary. This inclusion confirms Archinos’s subjective experience by making the event concrete and visible to all outside the dream world, a typical strategy of the sanctuary narratives, as we will see. Aristophanes’ text itself constitutes another piece of evidence for the existence of iamata in Athens at the time, in the presence of healing stories in his comedies. Wealth is not the only example. His comedy Amphiaraos (414 bc), as far as we can glimpse from its fragments, may also have contained an iama that featured the epiphany of Amphiaraos and a medicinal treatment; in this respect, the core of the story would not have been very different from that of Wealth.51 A narrative snippet preserves the words of the god addressing his daughter Iaso, a scene that recalls the presence of Iaso, along with Asclepius and Panacea, in the messenger speech of Wealth.52 Another fragment, which mentions a female character preparing some sort of concoction, may belong to the same narrative, and could parallel Asclepius’ preparation of a medicinal plaster in Wealth 716–720;53 the female character could have been an attendant like Panacea in Wealth 730–732 or Iaso in fr. *21 PCG. More tentatively, a third fragment may contain an allusion to incubation, as Kaibel noted, in that someone calls for a cushion and pillow to be brought out of a house; the words recall Chremylos’ order to Karion to bring bedding out of the house before they depart to incubate in Asclepius’ sanctuary (624–626).54 Since incubation 50

51 52

53

54

I follow here the usual scholarly interpretation of the relief. For another approach, see Platt 2011: 44– 46, who suggests that the scenes on the relief, rather than constituting a simultaneous narrative of a single cure, could also stand for different ways of representing an epiphany. See Sineux 2007b: 201–202. Fr. *21 PCG; we know the line comes from a narrative because Amphiaraos’ words are introduced by ἔλεξ(ε). Fr. 22 PCG; the temporal connective particle epeita, which introduces it, is a mark of comic narrative: see Dover 1987: 28. Fraenkel 1962: 126–127 and other scholars use the presence of these and other temporal conjunctions to identify narratives in the fragments of Middle Comedy. Fr. 18 PCG; see this edition of the fragment for Kaibel’s interpretation.

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was also practiced in the cult of Amphiaraos, it is very likely that a messenger also delivered an extended narrative of this religious experience.

The Comic Iama Compensating for the meager remains of Amphiaraos’ comic iama, Wealth offers a wonderfully complete and richly detailed example. Aristophanes’ use of a messenger to report the miracle cures of Asclepius and Amphiaraos is not so much because a miraculous occurrence like these would take place offstage in Greek drama, but rather because this type of miracle was typically reported through narrative, that “particular vehicle of enunciation and representation” related to this experience, in Sineux’s terms.55 The messenger speech reporting the healing of Wealth has important features in common with the later iamata. In addition to the expected focus on the incubatory experience, there is a similarity in form and content, as well as in their aretalogical purpose.56 Aristophanes does introduce significant expansions and departures from the traditional healing stories; although one could attribute these simply to the greater length of messenger narratives, a closer reading reveals that they serve to stress and amplify the religious dimension of the event reported. In a manner similar to the lemmata of the Epidaurian iamata, Karion at an early point in his speech identifies the consultants and their illnesses, in this case Wealth (634–635) and the politician Neokleides (665–666), who likewise has an eye ailment. The speech for the most part keeps to the main sequence of events found in the majority of the healing stories – arrival, incubation, dream vision, the moment of waking, and departure healed – marking each with phrasing that recalls the formulas of the iamata.57 For instance, the report begins with the phrase, “Well then, as soon as we came (aphikometha) to the god …” (653). These indications of spatial transference are conventional to messenger speeches in ancient drama,58 but the example from Wealth parallels the use of aphikneomai in the iamata to signal the centrality of location to incubation.59

55 56 57

58

59

Sineux 2006: 209. Sineux 2006: 203–206. Sineux notes the parallel as well, though he singles out only three stages: illness, intervention, epilogue (2006: 205). See, for example, Euripides’ Andromache 1085: “When we came (ēlthomen) to the famous sanctuary of Phoebus …” Cf. also Euripides, Medea 1136–1137 and Iphigenia in Tauris 1327. The point is stressed once again in 659: “then we went (ēimen) to the god’s precinct.”

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The moment when Wealth is made to lie down for incubation is indicated simply by a verb that refers to the ritual, in this case kataklinein (“to lay [someone] down” 662).60 Yet Karion then expands on the moment of incubation (663–671), relating how his party set up their own beds (663), and noting the presence of other “suppliants of the god” (664) incubating at the sanctuary (665–668) and the command of the temple attendant that all “go to sleep” (katheudein 669). These additions open up the healing story beyond the individual experience, to include the larger community of worshippers, as we shall see in a moment. The next step in the sequence would be the dream vision and the arrival of Asclepius, to which the iamata attach their most specific formulas, but Karion here interrupts the story and gives the audience a report of his own antics at the temple (672–696), for reasons we will consider in a moment. Yet even during this interval the wife of Chremylos, who is the slave’s interlocutor, keeps the sequence of events on track through her expectation that the god is about to arrive.61 She is apprehensive about how the god would take her slave’s shameless behavior (684) and is impatient to know the moment when he finally appeared (696). The slave eventually returns to the standard sequence of events once the god arrives (697), and continues by reporting the god’s treatment of his patients (697–747). Karion concludes his report, as the healing stories do, with an explicit reference to the moment of waking and the restoration of health. The sleeping Wealth suddenly “stood up and could see” (738). Neokleides also departs “after leaping up” (anāixas 723) from his bed. At this point, the messenger expands on the moment that marks the end of incubation and the encounter with the divine: He reports the disappearance of the god and his divine agents (740–741), and brings into the picture the larger community of worshippers, Wealth’s “fellow incubators” (742), who get up to congratulate Wealth, “staying awake” (egregoresan 744) for the rest of the night “until the new day lit up” (heōs dielampsen hemera 744) – an ending that recalls the generic closing formula “when it became day” of the Epidaurian iamata, as Torchio already notes.62 Karion’s report incorporates three elements that are not typically found in the narrative pattern of the iamata. First, he includes the preliminary rituals that precede incubation, which are mentioned only twice in the Epidaurian narratives. Karion describes purification by washing (656–658), 60 61 62

The same term is used in Wasps 123. See Fernández 2000: 80. Torchio 2001: ad 744.

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and a sacrificial offering (660–661). Ritual action is given precedence at this point of the speech, as the narrator’s attention focuses on the appropriate execution of all the steps leading up to incubation, done “as it seemed proper” (hōsper eikos ēn 662). The paratragic language of 661 (“a sacrificial cake for Hephaistos’ fire”) adds a solemn tone to the procedures. Sineux has surmised that the basic function of these extra steps in actual ritual practice was “to guarantee that the rite of incubation would be effective.”63 If we extend his observation to their inclusion in the comic messenger speech, we can see that the proper performance of these steps would also assure the audience of the play that a dream vision will be forthcoming; they would have expected this during the interval created by the slave’s antics. The second element that Karion adds to the narrative pattern of a healing story is the externalization of its aretalogical function. Sineux has already observed that Karion, through his focalization of the events he relates, constructs a “veritable discourse on the divinity and his power,”64 but it is the joyous acclamation of the god by the narrator and his interlocutors that brings out this religious function of the model. The comic healing story begins and ends with acclamations of the power of Asclepius, succinctly vocalizing what is implicit in the iamata’s narrative. At the start of the scene, the slave celebrates the healing of Wealth, mentioning that the latter has found Asclepius to be a “kindly healer” (paionos eumenous 636); the words strike a religious tone since, as Willi notes, the adjective eumenēs (“kindly, well disposed”) is frequently employed in prayer.65 The chorus responds to this initial acclaim with the words, “I will acclaim (anaboasomai) Asclepius, blessed in his children and a bright beacon for humankind!” (639–640).66 The verb anaboao, literally “to raise a shout,” is not merely a generic call for celebration. Roux comments on Euripides’ Bacchae 1154, where a similar brief outburst by the chorus acclaims (anaboan) an event,67 that the term designates “the ritual acclamation that accompanies a wonder … and any manifestation of divine power.”68 This acclamation recurs at the end of 63 64 65 66

67 68

Sineux 2006: 202. Sineux 2006: 210. Willi 2003a: 28–29 and n. 87. I have modified Henderson’s translation here to fit my interpretation of anaboasomai (639) as ritual acclamations. Roux 1970: 560–561. Roux 1970: 587. As a further example she adduces a passage from Dionysius of Halicarnassus where a paralytic healed by Apollo leaves his bed “after acclaiming (anaboesas) the god” (6.68); see also Aristides, 2.20–23. Peterson records the use of anaboao and boao in acclamations of the Christian god (1926: 191, 222). This sense of ritual acclamation is not noted in the LSJ and DGE, which translate anaboao in Wealth 639 as “to call up” and invocar, respectively.

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Karion’s healing story, where he concludes his report by praising (epēinoun 745) Asclepius’ action. His master’s wife immediately replies, “How great your power (dunamin), my sovereign lord!” (748). Her remark reprises the earlier praise by the chorus (639–640), but singles out for acclaim specifically the god’s power. The role of the chorus in these acclamations is to show that the aretalogical purpose of the comic iama finds a response in the larger community to which Chremylos’ household belongs. This implicit move from the individual’s experience out to the social group likewise underlies the Epidaurian iamata, as is made clear by their placement within the Abaton, and also by their documenting of the reactions of readers. In Wealth, Karion from the start establishes an order among the proclaimers and beneficiaries of the miracle healing, which runs up from the chorus of poor old men and the community of the honest (627–630), whom he first addresses, to his master’s wife (644–646), to the mention of Chremylos (633), and finally to Wealth (634), the individual who is the central, direct beneficiary of the cure. At the end of his speech, Karion traces this succession of beneficiaries back again to the community which the chorus represents, with an extended description of the communal celebration that follows the healing (750–759), which the chorus are asked to join (760–763). The third and seemingly most striking departure of the messenger speech from the story pattern of the Epidaurian iamata comes after the patients have laid themselves down for incubation, the moment when the dream vision would have been expected. In contrast to the iamata, which adopt the point of view of the consultant, Karion does not give the audience Wealth’s perspective on whatever it was he dreamt; they only have access to the messenger’s point of view on the events that took place during incubation. But the narrator is not dreaming. In his report, the boundaries of sleeping and waking in reference to incubation are clearly marked by the temple servant’s injunction to “go to sleep” (669), and by the getting up of Neokleides (723) and Wealth (738). Karion, however, states that he “could not go to sleep” (672). Even though he does say, after his antic interlude, that he “took a rest” (anepauomēn 695), which could be interpreted, as Sommerstein remarks, to mean that he did fall asleep after all, he later makes clear that he is still perceiving the events in a waking state, since he excitedly wakes up his master (740) when he sees Wealth “get up” (738) with his eyesight restored.69 It is in this explicit waking state that the messenger experiences the miracle cure of Wealth. 69

Sommerstein 2001: ad 695.

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Sineux reads this vigil of the messenger as a transgressive act that stems from two typical traits of the slave character in Old Comedy:  gluttony and unscrupulousness.70 The slave stays awake because he is hungry for a pot of broth lying near him (672–675), and, in order to get it, disobeys the temple servant’s order to go to sleep. Thanks to this infraction, Sineux argues, the messenger remains awake to see what others would be forbidden to see, becoming a “mediator between the characters and the audience” through this transgression.71 While I recognize the unruly nature of the slave’s actions, which is crucial for the portrayal of the god (as we will see in the next section), Karion’s spying should not be considered only in a negative light. This transgressive comic action can be linked to the aretalogical function of the healing stories, particularly through the motif of the witness awake, that is, a third party who is awake to witness the cure, which is sometimes found in their narrative and visual representations.72 According to Sineux, a third-party witness in the space where incubation takes place would not be allowed in the actual ritual. The Epidaurian iamata offer support for this reading: a certain Aischines climbed a tree to peep into the Abaton, where patients were incubating, only to slip and fall, damaging his eyes (A11 LiDonnici). Scholars have read in this tale a divine punishment for an infraction, and an admonishment from the sanctuary about the proper behavior expected from visitors:  no peeping into the sacred space where incubation is performed. Yet Karion makes clear that he performed the preliminary rituals to sleep inside the space for incubation, and that he is there not as a patient, but as a companion of Wealth and his master. And even though the problem of his infraction remains because he does not follow the priest’s command, the episode itself provides a useful barometer for his actions: the reactions of his interlocutor, the pious wife of Chremylos. When Karion begins to describe the god’s treatment of his patients, she does not chide him for seeing what is not allowed, but for claiming to see anything at all after covering his head with his cloak out of fear (710–715); it is the purported autopsy of his report, and not his unlawful spying, that earns him a rebuke. More significantly, Karion’s infraction receives no comeuppance at all, unlike that of Aischines.73 70 71 72

73

For the slave’s transgressive behavior, see also Fernández 2000: 75 and Tordoff 2012b: 150. Sineux 2006: 197–199; for his role as mediator, 210. See Barrenechea 2016 for a detailed exposition of this claim in relation to the influence of the sanctuaries on these representations. The rest of this section summarizes those points of my argument that are pertinent to the discussion of this chapter. Pace Sineux 2006:  202–203, who sees his blinding by the smoke of sacrifices given in thankoffering for the healing of Wealth (819–822) as the punishment for his infraction – a strange form

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Yet the presence of a witness is not confined to comic portrayals of healing stories; they are found in the iamata as well, which tend to objectivize and authenticate the incubatory experience by including this motif.74 Although Karion is awake, what he witnesses is no different from what consultants see in their dream visions in the iamata:  medicinal treatments, healing by touch, cleansing, and animal cures.75 Sineux attributes this to the fact that Greek culture had “a conception of dreams according to which their content – a vision – possesses the same force of reality as that which one sees while awake; this vivid quality of the vision endows it with “a kind of autonomy with respect to the dreamer,” which makes it possible to imagine others having access to it.76 Indeed, it is often difficult to distinguish a sleeper’s dream from a waking vision in Greek literary accounts.77 This is true for the iamata as well.78 Yet, perhaps because of this difficulty, at times they do take care to distinguish between these two states. They not only use a formula to mark the start of incubatory sleep, as Karion does in his report, but also indicate the few occasions in which a particular cure took place while the patient was awake (hupar).79 Dorati and Guidorizzi understand this distinction as a way in which the sanctuary made objective the subjective nature of the dream vision, in order to single out a particular dream as significant and effective, and also guarantee its authenticity.80 The iamata feature what Dorati and Guidorizzi call “objective dreams,” that is, narratives in which the consultant leaves the sanctuary with tangible proof of the god’s action. The iama of Euhippos is one of these, in which he exits with the extracted spearhead in his hand (A12 LiDonnici).81 Another example is the presence of third-party witnesses who testify that the dream had an effect on the real world. When incubation is involved, the witnessing of these effects takes place the morning after, as in the case of the priest (B3 [23] LiDonnici) who, when the sons of the god could not finish an operation by sunrise, saw the patient’s “head removed from the

74 75

76 77 78 79 80 81

of punishment indeed, given the joyful nature of the news he imparts of the enrichment of the household. Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 363–367. See now Petridou 2015: 189–192. For pharmacopoea, see A4, A9, B20 (40), and B21 (41) LiDonnici; for healing by touch: A18, B11 (31), and B21 (41); for cleansing: A7 and B8 (28); for animal cures: A17, B13 (33), B19 (39), B22 (42), C1 (44), and C2 (45). Sineux 2006: 201. As noted by Hanson 1980: 1409. See LiDonnici 1995: 12–13. See iamata A16, A20, and B6 (26) LiDonnici. Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 361. Other patients who leave with tangible proofs of the intervention of the god appear in A6, A13, A14, B10 (30), and B21 (41) LiDonnici.

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body” (IG iv2 1, 122.15) in the precinct.82 Outside the space of incubation, witnessing can occur at any time, as in the case of iama A17 LiDonnici, quoted above, where the snake is seen licking and healing the toe of the sleeping patient in broad daylight. The cure of Sostrata of Pherai (B5 [25] LiDonnici) offers another remarkable example:  After she “saw no clear dream” (IG iv2 1, 122.28) while at Epidauros, the god appeared to her on her journey back home and operated on her in full view of her attendants. This motif is manifested visually in the Archinos relief, which, by including the perspective of a third-party witness, likewise ‘objectivizes’ the real-world effects of the dream. Sineux argues convincingly that Karion takes up in his messenger speech the role of another type of mediator, the sanctuary personnel responsible for the iamata, who “create a particular image of the divinity and … favorable propaganda to the sanctuary itself.”83 He observes that the messenger, too, adds elements that make his account credible and authoritative, for instance by emphasizing his status as an eyewitness, or the acceptance of his account by his listeners.84 Yet the comic slave’s transgressive witnessing should also be seen as part of the process of bolstering belief, not only by showing how the god manifests his powers beyond the individual experience of incubation and the sacred space where it is practiced, as is proper for the aretalogical function of the healing stories, but also by the fact that Asclepius allows a scurrilous slave to assist his show of power without any hindrance or punishment. This only adds to the praise of his divine character, open to all and philanthropic, to which I now turn.

Asclepius as Comic Hero Asclepius’ role in Wealth has elicited surprisingly little attention from scholars. Even Sineux’s recent treatment of the messenger speech focuses more on the narrator than the god.85 Yet, as Sartori remarks, “the deus ex machina of the whole affair is in fact Asclepius.”86 One could argue that his appearance in a narrative, and not as an onstage character, dims his agency in the comedy, but the very use of this comic healing story 82 83 84 85

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Another example is B7 (27) LiDonnici. Sineux 2006: 210. Sineux 2006: 204. Roos’s (1960) comprehensive account of the cult of Asclepius in the play does not directly address the dramatic role of the divinity. Sommerstein 2001, Torchio 2001, and Sineux 2006 offer insightful comments on his actions but not a full treatment. Sartori 1972–1973: 366. See also Fernández 2002: 117.

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in fact underlines the importance of the god’s role in the play, since the purpose of the iamata is precisely to testify and proclaim the all-pervasive power of the god, in dreaming and waking, to the community. Given this importance, we should ask: How does the messenger speech present his character and action? How does it portray the contact with the divine at the core of the incubation ritual? In the remainder of this chapter, I will present different aspects of the comic portrayal of the god. First, I argue that the strategy in Wealth is to transform the god into a hero worthy of comedy, into a sort of boorish savior. Next, I examine how, to create this portrayal, the messenger speech incorporates conceptions of the god as a philanthropic healer that would make an appearance in the iamata as well. I then look at how the comedy gives a political and mythical dimension to the actions of the god, in order to portray Asclepius as a civicminded and even universal healer of social ills. Finally, I  will examine how the pairing of health and wealth that Asclepius and Wealth represent endows Karion’s healing story with a symbolic character, one that has yet to be considered in the scholarship. The Boorish Healer Karion depicts Asclepius in a humorous light, as one would expect in a comedy, but humor also features in the Epidaurian iamata, particularly in connection with the character of the god.87 This humor is not irreverent; to the contrary, it emphasizes the benevolence and power of the deity, and therefore, Martzavou argues, it is “a necessary element for a personal relationship with the divine.”88 In one story, for instance, Asclepius’ laughter portrays him as good-natured and understanding: He laughs at a boy who promises to give him ten dice as an offering for his cure (A8 LiDonnici), an offer which he accepts. Other stories present a mischievous god, much like a joker, particularly when treating disbelievers and liars. In these cases, the god’s abuse of them is even relished in the narrative: Asclepius, as we already saw, nicknames a repentant miscreant Disbeliever after curing him (A3 LiDonnici); he also provides a witty punishment to the liar Echedoros (A7 LiDonnici), which we will see shortly. Furthermore, he can be almost crassly and humorously indifferent to his patients during incubatory

87

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This is often noted in the scholarship; see for instance Weinreich 1909: 89–90, LiDonnici 1995: 68– 69, and more recently, Sineux 2006: 205, Suárez de la Torre 2009: 41, and Martzavou 2012: 184–185. Martzavou 2012: 190. Cf. also LiDonnici 1995: 68–69.

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treatment, for instance when he suddenly jumps upon the crippled hand of a patient playing dice (A3 LiDonnici). Mocking laughter is present in the iamata too, but it is directed at the stories themselves or at patients, not explicitly at the god. A few accounts mention visitors who “sneered at” (hupodiesure  IG iv2 1, 121.24) and “ridiculed” (diegela  IG iv2 1, 121.35) the iamata. In another story, people laugh at the “simplemindedness” (euethian IG IV2 I, 121.74) of a patient who, even though he had lost an eye, wished to see with it again. As in the case of the slave with the cup (A10 LiDonnici), this ridicule is set up to be gainsaid by the power of Asclepius.89 Aristophanes’ comic iama, however, mocks the god, and does so in part through the identity and perspective of the slave narrator. Sineux has shown this messenger offers “a representation of the world of the gods that befits the slave who cannot conceive that the god has other motivations than he has.”90 This is clear in his account of the actions of the priest of Asclepius (676–683), whom he portrays as gluttonous and rapacious.91 After declaring that his desire for a pot of broth prevented him from sleeping (672–675), Karion narrates how he caught sight of the priest taking food offerings from the sacred table and altars, and concluded (nomisas 682) that this action meant that lay people too could take any food in the sanctuary for their own consumption. As Roos and Sommerstein observe, Karion is here mistaking a sanctioned act for theft: The historical priest of Asclepius was allowed to partake of the offerings made to the god, in particular those on the sacred table.92 Yet, as Verbanck-Piérard notes, the slave also satirizes the priest’s behavior by his choice of words to describe this action. Karion says he sees him “snatching off” (apharpazonta 677) the food. He also describes the priest’s putting food into a sack as an act of consecration (hēgizen 681);93 implicit in this act of hagizein, which originally refers to consecration through burning, is an idea of “consumption,” which adds a further voracious note to his foraging.94 By stating that he is following the example of the priest, Karion identifies his own desires with the latter’s; by referring to this mock “consecration” as a pollen hosian 89 90 91

92

93 94

See for instance Versnel 2011: 406–410 and Graf 2015: 506–507. Sineux 2006: 200. See already Roos 1960: 76–97; Fernández 2000b: 77, and 2002: 206. One should also recall here Aristophanes’ portrayal of priests as bon vivants, sharing in the feasts of the comic characters: cf. especially Acharnians 1085–1094 and Frogs 297. Roos 1960: 77, 80–81 and Sommerstein 2001: ad 678. See also Wealth 1185, which mentions the customary portions (ta nomizomena) of the Priest of Zeus the Savior. Roos 1960: 79; Sommerstein 2001, ad 681. See also schol. vet. 681i Chantry. Verbanck-Piérard 2000: 315. See van Leeuwen 1968: ad 681, for other examples of ironic references to food consumption as acts of consecration.

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(682) – that is, an action that “may be (or is) done (according to divine regulation)” – the slave humorously assigns a ritualistic aspect to the priest’s – and thus his own – gluttony.95 Later Karion pins the priest’s voracity onto the god himself: When asked by Chremylos’ wife if, when he made a lunge for the pot of broth, he did not fear the god (684), he states that he indeed feared the god … might beat him to it (685–686). The slave again mocks Asclepius about eating, when he calls him an “eater of shit” (skatophagos 706). The term skatophagos is prompted by Karion’s interpretation of how the god reacts to a fart induced by the slave’s bloated belly after he guzzled down the broth (697–699). The abusive language could be explained as the scurrilous perspective of the narrating slave, but the divine beings who enter the scene display contrasting reactions that are independent of the narrator’s viewpoint. Iaso and Panacea express visible disgust at the slave’s flatulence (701–703), but the god remains impassive, which earns him the scatological epithet. To judge from the horrified reaction of the pious wife of Chremylos, “Ugh, you’re awful!” (ai talan 706), an interjection used to indicate vigorous disapproval, the expression must have been beyond the pale.96 The coining of epithets with -phagos is a common type of abuse in Aristophanes. For instance, the Boeotian merchant in Acharnians is greeted by Dikaiopolis as a “loaf-gobbler” (kollikophagos 872), since Boeotians in comedy, as Olson observes, were commonly portrayed as gluttons.97 Skatophagos itself as a term of abuse originated from the dietary habits of certain breeds of cattle.98 But already in Wealth the term is glossed by scholiasts as a synonym of anaisthetos, meaning a crass insensibility that stops at nothing – that is, not even from eating filth.99 This sense of the word prevails in later usage, for instance in Menander’s The Bad-Tempered Man 488, where it is a stronger term for agroikos (“boorish”). In Wealth too we find Karion correcting the wife of Chremylos, who had accused him of implying that the god is agroikos (704–705), by stating that the god is actually a skatophagos. However, the term skatophagos can also be related to Asclepius’ traditional livelihood as doctor, and to the medical profession’s inveterate scatological concerns. Already in Frogs, another epithet with -phagos is 95 96 97 98

99

For the meaning of hosia, see Richardson 1974: 225. See Henderson 1991: 192, Labiano Ilundain 2000: 69–70, and Willi 2003a: 65. See Olson 2002: ad 872–873. Schol. vet. 706b Chantry. The dung-eating habits of pigs and billy-goats are brought up by Karion and the Chorus to abuse each other in the parodos of the play (302–315). Schol. vet. 706a Chantry. See Sommerstein 2013: ad Samia 427. See also Epicharmus, fr. 63 PCG.

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used to give backhanded praise to Cratinus in terms of his profession: He is lauded as “the bull-gulper” (tou taurophagou 357)  due to his “tongue” (glottes 357), that is, to his prodigious and powerful comic style.100 The Byzantine commentators Tzetzes and Thomas Magister saw in the term an allusion to doctors and the way they earn their living by perusing the feces, urine, and other excretions of their patients to make their diagnoses.101 This practice certainly existed at the time Wealth was staged. The Hippocratic Prognostic, for instance, gives a thorough overview of how to conduct the examination of, among other things, urine, sputum, vomit, feces, and even flatulence.102 This Byzantine interpretation is supported by Aristophanes himself, since another merdivore of his theater, Kleon, seems to be mocked in the same way about the stench of his business, a tannery.103 But in Wealth there is a sense of true anaisthesia (‘lack of feeling’), and not just of mocking exaggeration, since the god’s insensitivity to Karion’s flatulence would be expected in a doctor. As the Hippocratic treatise On Flatulence explains, medicine brings salvation to men, but, to do so, doctors must endure horrible sights and touch unpleasant things.104 Thomas Magister takes the comic jab at gluttony in skatophagos to its literal extreme by citing the belief that Hippocrates had indeed tasted feces for his diagnoses.105 This explains the god’s lack of reaction, but, again, by reference to his craft: The consummate doctor, he can tolerate things that not even his attendants can bear. When considering how this term of abuse shapes the portrayal of the god, therefore, we should bear in mind that it may allude to his medical competence. But by calling the god this, Karion is also bringing Asclepius in line with the uncouth and boorish behavior that is characteristic of Aristophanic comic heroes. As the character of Agorakritos, sausage seller and savior of the polis, reveals in Knights, a comic hero is perfectly capable of being boorish and vulgar, but at the same time being

100

101 102 103

104 105

Roos 1960: 91–94; cf. Torchio 2001: ad 706, and Sommerstein 2001: 13, n. 63. Gil Fernández and Rodríguez Alfageme 1972 view Asclepius as one of the first surviving examples of the doctor as a character type in comedy. Tzetzes, ad 705 Massa Positano, and schol. rec. 706b Chantry; cf. also Lucian, Twice Accused 1. Prognostic 11. See Peace 47–48, where a foreigner interprets the dung beetle as follows: “In my view it’s an allusion to Kleon, because he’s eating loose shit (spatilen) in hell.” The older scholia (48a–d Chantry) and Suidas (σ 912 Adler) define spatile, an uncommon word for diarrhea, as also meaning the shreds of skin discarded by tanners. But the stench of the tanning process must also be relevant here: See Knights 891–892, Wasps 38, Peace 753, and Olson’s 1998 comment on the latter. On Flatulence 1. See Sommerstein 2001: 13, n. 63. Schol. rec. 706b Chantry.

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a beacon of salvation for the community.106 It is interesting that the later verse hypothesis of that play refers to Agorakritos as a skatophagos several times. Asclepius may be a skatophagos, but he is also – precisely because of this attitude within the comedy – “a bright beacon for humankind” (mega brotoisi pheggos 639–640), as the chorus of Wealth acclaims him. Finally, one should not forget that Karion begins (636) and ends (739, 745)  his messenger speech with aretalogical praise of the divinity and his healing. In sum, as Sommerstein remarks, “everything we hear of Askelpios tends to increase his glory, not to diminish or debunk him.”107 This applies as well to his scatological depiction. The Philanthropic Healer As Parker points out, “all gods and heroes … traditionally had a friendly side; the novelty of Asclepius was to have no other.”108 The characterization of the god in Karion’s narrative and the iamata reflects a number of beliefs concerning the philanthropic nature of this divinity  – his accessibility, effectiveness, and morality – that I will open up in this section. These are introduced at the first mention of Asclepius in the comedy, when Chremylos and Blepsidemos have a short discussion about where to take Wealth for treatment, and briefly lay out the reasons why they have chosen the god to carry out the comic plan. (Βλ.) οὔκουν ἰατρὸν εἰσαγαγεῖν ἐχρῆν τινά; (Χρ.) τίς δῆτ’ ἰατρός ἐστι νῦν ἐν τῇ πόλει; οὔτε γὰρ ὁ μισθὸς οὐδέν ἐστ’ οὔθ’ ἡ τέχνη. (Βλ.) σκοπῶμεν. (Χρ.) ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἔστιν. (Βλ.) οὐδ’ ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ. (Χρ.) μὰ Δί’, ἀλλ’ ὅπερ πάλαι παρεσκευαζόμην ἐγώ, κατακλίνειν ἀυτὸν εἰς ’Ασκληπιοῦ κράτιστόν ἐστι.

(406–412)

(Blepsidemos) So shouldn’t we call in a doctor? (Chremylos) Is there any such thing as a doctor in this town? There’s no fee, and so no practice. (Blepsidemos) Let’s look for one. (Chremylos) I don’t see one. (Blepsidemos) I don’t either. (Chremylos) No, let’s try something I’d already planned, to bed him down in Asclepius’ temple. That’s best. 106 107 108

Cf. Knights 458, 836, and 1319. Sommerstein 2001: 13. Parker 1996:  184. Scholars have often made this observation about Asclepius:  see for instance Sineux 2007a: 60–62, Suárez de la Torre 2009: 40, and Ehrenheim 2015: 174.

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Chremylos relates the absence of doctors from the community, and therefore of medical treatment, to a lack of money to pay their fees (misthos 408). It is not that Chremylos alone lacks the money to pay a doctor: Medical services are unaffordable to everyone, either because of the general poverty of the patients, or from a lack of funds in the polis to retain public doctors, or because of the high fees charged.109 The latter would be a satiric jab at the doctors actually present in the city. Hippocrates’ Precepts 6, for instance, advises doctors to help those who are in need and have no money. By this standard, the situation surveyed by Chremylos would cast the absent practitioners in a bad light.110 This social problem, which is literally “surveyed” (skopōmen 409) by the characters, thus determines the choice, or rather the necessity, of resorting to Asclepius. In Wealth, the cult of Asclepius is portrayed as charging no fees for incubation, either before or after treatment:  Karion’s messenger speech, despite its detailed description of the rituals that precede incubation, makes no mention of payment. This absence of fees makes the god’s skills accessible to the poorer members of society.111 The iamata would later repeatedly portray the god as offering his medical expertise to all, regardless of gender, age, economic, or social standing; many stories involve women, and a few involve children and slaves.112 Dorati observes that the contrast between the greed of human doctors and the free availability of Asclepius becomes a motif in sanctuary propaganda.113 In the iamata there is no mention of an initial fee but, given that their narratives rarely pay attention to the preliminaries of incubation, this is no surprise. Even in thank-offerings the god was not very demanding: We have already seen how he accepted dice from a boy; curiously, dice are in fact found in the lists of dedicatory offerings to Asclepius in Athens.114 This generosity and the application of his healing skills to any member of society was, in part, why Asclepius was traditionally known as the philanthropic god and invoked as a benefactor and savior of humanity.115 109

110

111 112

113 114

115

For a brief overview of the existence of public doctors in the Classical period, see Wickkiser 2008: 16, 19–21 and Nutton 2013: 112. See Cohn-Haft 1956: 21, n. 6, as well as 39, n. 33. Gil Fernández and Rodríguez Alfageme deny this, observing that doctors are not mocked for being greedy in what survives of Greek comedy (1972: 52, 55). See Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.116 and 175–178. Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.116. For slaves resorting to divination, see Eidinow 2007: 100 on their presence at the oracle at Dodona. See Dorati 2001: 101. Aleshire 1989: 44; see also Ehrenheim: “Considering the importance of incubation for the individual, the inexpensive sacrifices and gifts are interesting” (2015: 145). Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.111–113.

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The reality may have been different. The sanctuary of Amphiaraos at Oropos, for instance, charged worshippers one drachma as a fee before incubation in the early fourth century bc (SEG xxii.370); we also hear of the payment of a drachma as a possible fee to incubate in the Asklepieion of Amphipolis.116 A “drachma for Asclepius” is mentioned in an inscription from the Athenian sanctuary of the god, in the second half of that century. Dillon and Aleshire argue that the drachma at Athens was a fee paid by worshippers of the god, though there are other possible explanations for it.117 Even if a fee was paid in these places as it was at Oropos, it need not have been the norm in other sanctuaries, as Ehrenheim has suggested in his recent discussion of the evidence;118 he argues instead that a payment after a successful incubation would make more sense.119 The latter certainly existed at Epidauros and is mentioned in one of the iamata (A4): Asclepius asks a patient for a particularly lavish payment (misthom IG iv2 1, 121.38) – a silver pig – as punishment for her disbelief; note here that the mere fact of payment is not the punishment, since it would have been expected after the cure. The fact that generally no fees are mentioned in the comic and Epidaurian iamata – in the case of A4, the payment happens to be mentioned in the context of a dream vision – may again show the story pattern at work, portraying a generous god. The second belief that lies behind Chremylos’ decision to resort to Asclepius is his trust in the god’s superb medical skills, which are also part and parcel of his philanthropic character. Tradition held that Asclepius practiced the same art as human physicians:  He diagnosed his patients, prepared remedies, performed surgery, etc.120 The only difference was that he knew the art better than any human doctor, and could therefore practice it flawlessly.121 The Epidaurian iamata repeatedly make clear the god’s extraordinary skills. In one of the cures, Asclepius’ “sons” botch an operation while the god is absent and have to fetch him to put everything

116

117

118 119 120 121

For the supposed fee in Amphipolis, see Lupu 2009: 245, 247, and Suárez de la Torre 2009: 42; though Ehrenheim cautions that the inscription is too fragmentary to ascertain what type of fee this really was (2015: 43–44). Dillon 1994: 244, n. 21 and Aleshire 1989: 98–99. Edelstein and Edelstein doubt that a fee was paid at Athens (1945: 2.149 and n. 17). There are other explanations for the drachma: Ehrenheim sees it as a tax on consultations, though he notes that the inscription “does not provide us with any clear evidence for a fee being paid before incubation” (2015: 44). For the norm, see Ehrenheim 2015: 45–46; for his general discussion, 43–48. Ehrenheim 2015: 47–48, 101–102, 134–135. Wickkiser 2008: 44. Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.101. See also Lloyd 1979: 41, Sineux 2007a: 50–51, Nutton 2013: 115, and Versnel 2011: 400–421.

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right (B3 LiDonnici).122 Additionally, many of the diseases mentioned in the iamata were chronic – for instance, eye diseases and paralyzed limbs – which indicates that the patients would have come to the god as their last resort for a cure.123 As Dorati and Guidorizzi observe regarding the iamata, their tendency “to stress the impossibility of a cure, to highlight the seriousness of a malady, [and] to recall the helplessness of doctors, are all variations on the theme of the same desire: to attest to the extraordinary power of the healer god.” This healing power leads back to the aretalogical praise of the healing stories, which is also present in this comic iama.124 In dealing with a chronic ailment requiring supernatural expertise to heal, and faced with a dearth of doctors in the polis, it is only appropriate to have the comic characters resort to the most consummate practitioner of the art for treatment. Moreover, this power of Asclepius to achieve the unimaginable, to restore the eyesight of a man who did not even have an eye (A9 LiDonnici), also makes him an ideal hero to fulfill the comic fantasy. I will return to this point, to the relationship of comedy with the miraculous, in the conclusion to my book. Not only does Aristophanes’ Asclepius heal expertly, there is also a moral diagnosis in his treatment of his patients. He rewards his honest worshippers and chastises the pernicious ones. The messenger speech manifests this aspect of the healer in the juxtaposition of two patients:  In addition to Wealth, Karion introduces Neokleides (665–666), a politician of the time who is seeking to rid himself of a similar ailment, blindness. Asclepius’ action consists not only in healing Wealth, which is what the audience expects, but also in harming the corrupt Neokleides; in this respect, the two treatments complement each other.125 At the end of his report, Karion makes clear that Asclepius deserves praise for both (745–747). In the Epidaurian iamata, we see the same belief at work. Asclepius is portrayed as a distinctly moral healer, responding to infractions with punishment.126 For instance a fishmonger who cheated the god of a promised tithe saw his merchandise instantly struck by lightning (C4 [47] LiDonnici). Another aspect of Asclepius in this moral portrayal is his kindliness towards his patients. He pardons and benefits those who 122

123

124 125 126

LiDonnici notes that the “sons” mentioned in iama B3 “may be either secular doctors associated with the temenos (the ‘Asklepiads’), or Asclepius’ mythological sons, Machaon and Podalirios, though their clear incompetence here makes this unlikely” (1995: 103, n. 9). On chronic ailments and Asclepius, see Wickkiser 2008: 58–61; on the god as a patient’s last resort, Wickkiser 2008: 29. Dorati-Guidorizzi 1996: 355; see also Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.102, n. 4. See Dillon 1984: 51–52, Fernández 2000b: 79, Sineux 2006: 208, and Sommerstein 2017: 21, n. 12. Sineux 2006: 205–206.

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have a change of heart;127 even the fishmonger, after confessing his misdeed, saw his fish come back to life. In a few of his punishments, the god manifests a sort of good-natured mischievousness: He chastises those who mock the iamata, yet he still eventually cures them to prove how misguided they were, as we saw in the case of the man nicknamed Disbeliever (A3 LiDonnici). A juxtaposition of treatments similar to that of Wealth is found in the Epidaurian iamata collection as well. These are the stories of Pandaros (A6 LiDonnici) and Echedoros (A7 LiDonnici), which contrast the god’s attitude towards righteous and dishonest patients. The pairing is unique in that they originally formed a single story, as LiDonnici observes,128 which was split into two to fit the format of the collection, which is based on individual cures. The “illness” of these two men is actually a social stigma, a literal one: They come to the god to have him remove brands and tattoos (stigmata and grammata IG iv2 1, 121.48, 67–68) from their foreheads; even though the stories make no mention of their social position, these marks would have identified them as slaves. In Pandaros’ story, which I have quoted above, Asclepius removes the tattoos from his forehead, and in the next iama, he puts these marks on the face of Echedoros, in addition to the ones he already had, as punishment for lying about the money Pandaros had given him to dedicate as an offering. Unlike the other surviving iamata pertaining to transgressors, who are eventually healed by the kindly god, Echedoros’ story ends in his comeuppance, as a lesson that the god can see into men’s hearts. The reason for this unusual ending is that the story was almost surely concocted for this moral lesson, as can be surmised from the unusual Greek name of the patient, which in this context can clearly be interpreted as a speaking name, Gift-withholder, as Perdrizet has observed.129 In contrast to this pair of iamata, which focus primarily on the god’s sanctioning of individual behavior, Aristophanes shows the treatments in Wealth as having a wider impact in the community which expands the philanthropic portrayal of the god. Asclepius’ treatment of Neokleides imbues the traditional healing story with a civic dimension, as Sineux and several other scholars have noted.130 The god restores the community to health by hindering this politician’s participation in the Assembly; in this 127 128 129 130

Sommerstein 2001: 10. See also LiDonnici 1992: 38 and Sineux 2007a: 62. LiDonnici 1995: 26. Perdrizet 1911: 92. Torchio 2001: 36, n. 175 and ad 724–725, and Sineux 2006: 208.

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way, the benefits of the healer deity are tied to the political. And through his treatment of Wealth Asclepius cures a universal and social ill. The Political Healer Neokleides, the first patient treated by Asclepius (716), was a politician active in the early fourth century bc, and a target of Aristophanes’ comic invective. He appears as an offstage character in Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen and in his lost play Storks, both dated to the first decade of the fourth century bc. Nothing is known of him apart from what these three plays tell us: He was a speaker in the Assembly, had some sort of eye condition, and was thought to be a thief, a perjurer, and an informer.131 However, his small part in Assemblywomen provides a revealing intertextual connection with Wealth, in that the former comedy already establishes a link between his eyesight and political action.132 In Assemblywomen Chremes mentions Neokleides in his account of a meeting held by the Prytaneis to discuss how to save the polis. According to Chremes, when Neokleides stood up to address the Assembly, the crowd derided and rebuked him for having no authority to deliberate about saving the polis, if he had not even saved himself (esosato 402) from his own eye ailment (397–402). From the crowd’s perspective, the political authority of a public speaker should reflect the care he takes to procure his own health.133 Blepyros, who is listening to Chremes’ account, seizes on this conflation of health and authority, and answers Neokleides’ reported plea for a cure (403–404) – and consequently, one can infer, for the restoration of his political clout – by giving him the medical and political remedy he deserves: a mixture of fig juice, garlic, and spurge applied to the eyelids (404–406), which would have damaged Neokleides’ already bad eyesight, and would therefore put out of action a speaker considered to be a nuisance in the Assembly (254–255). In the healing story of Wealth, Neokleides is looking for this “salvation,” seeking the treatment that will improve his eyesight, and so presumably 131

132 133

Cf. Dillon 1984: 51–52. He is said to have bleary eyes in Assemblywomen (254 and 398) and to participate in the Assembly (398–402), often as a nuisance (254–245). In Wealth, he is blind (665), a thief (666), and a perjurer in the Assembly (725). In Storks, he was mocked for being an informer (fr. 454 PCG). This same Neokleides may be the one mentioned in a saying transmitted by the Suda: “more thievish than Neokleides” (ν 193 Adler). This connection is noted by Dillon 1984: 51. For another example of this opinion, though in reference to the medical profession, cf. Hippocrates, On the Physician 1: “It is generally considered that those who are not healthy in body are not able to take good care of others.”

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his political influence, by appealing to the most effective of healers. His presence at the sanctuary testifies to his belief in the power of the god; he follows the ritual of incubation dutifully, like the rest of the patients, lying down to sleep in accordance with the instructions of the temple servant. Yet despite his apparent piety, Karion identifies the man as a thief, having “a sharper eye than the sighted when it comes to stealing” (666), much as the iama of Echedoros (A7 LiDonnici) starts by identifying the patient as an untrustworthy character. It is not disbelief that gets Echedoros punished – he seems to be just as convinced as Pandaros that Asclepius has the power to erase his tattoos – but the fact that he attempts to deceive the god. Given his character, a benefit to Neokleides would be a disservice to the community. In Assemblywomen, a medical remedy was proposed in the context of a political assembly; in Wealth, the remedy is applied in an incubatory experience, but given a political interpretation. As Karion reports, Asclepius prepares a poultice for Neokleides that applies almost the same treatment as that proposed by Blepyros (718–720), and blinds his patient completely. In Assemblywomen the political intention and effects of Blepyros’ suggestion are left to the audience to infer from the Assembly’s rebuke and from the ingredients, but in Wealth Karion quotes Asclepius’ own explanation for this treatment: ὁ δὲ θεὸς γελάσας ἔφη· “ἐνταῦθά νυν κάθησο καταπεπλασμένος, ἵν’ ὑπομνύμενον παύσω σε τὰς ἐκκλησίας.”

(723–725)

The god laughed and said, “Now sit right there with that plaster on, so I can stop you disrupting Assembly meetings with sworn objections!”134

The fact that the god’s words are presented in direct discourse – the only instance of such discourse in the messenger speech – leaves no doubt about his motivation:135 His treatment reduces Neokleides’ possibilities for political action, not only as punishment for the meddlesome quality of his interventions, but also to free the political process from obstruction.136 In 134 135

136

I here follow Sommerstein’s translation and interpretation of the passage. See note 136 below. In the Epidaurian iamata, the god also issues commands in direct discourse at times, as Sineux observes (2006: 205). There has been much discussion of the precise nature of the action that Asclepius seeks to impede. Sommerstein 2001:  ad 725 offers the clearest and most convincing explanation, which I  hence quote in full:  “The term hupomosia (verb hupomnusthai) was applied to various procedures by which an objection could be raised on oath which would obstruct or delay an Assembly decision or a court case, but the reference here is to one of these procedures in particular. When the Assembly voted, as it normally did, by show of hands, its presiding officers estimated which side had the majority and announced their decision to the meeting. If any citizen then asserted on oath that the

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blinding Neokleides, Asclepius uses his medical skill to purge the polis of a bad politician.137 The reaction of Chremylos’ wife to the treatment of Neokleides recognizes this larger dimension of Asclepius’ action, praising him for acting to the benefit of the polis: “That god’s a true patriot (philopolis), and smart (sophos) too!” (726). By philopolis she means the application of professional skill for the common good, as a later episode in the play clarifies: An informer complains that he is faring badly under the new order inaugurated by the restoration of Wealth’s sight; this is not fair, he says, because he is a useful man and philopolis (900). An honest man then cross-examines him to see if there is any truth behind the informer’s claim, first determining his trade and then considering in what respect this activity benefits the polis (902ff.).138 This link between professional skill and the good of humanity may be applied also to ancient medicine, and some works in the Hippocratic corpus stress this connection. For instance, Precepts 6 indicates that “where there is love of man (philanthropie), there is also love of the art (philotechnie).”139 Similarly, Plato talks about a politikos Asclepius who refuses to apply his skill to people whose unhealthy lifestyle makes them of no use to the polis.140 It is thus no surprise that Chremylos’ wife links the god’s quality as philopolis with that of being sophos, clever in his craft. The Universal Healer In a contrast to Neokleides’ treatment, the slave reports that Asclepius cured Wealth without saying a word. Sartori saw this silence as a sign that the god is here acting while unaware of his patient’s identity, but this is impossible given his treatment of the politician: The god’s superior knowledge extends to the moral character of those who approach him.141 We can hence surmise that the god is aware of Wealth’s intention, and so Asclepius’ silent healing reveals his consent, validating and legitimizing the action that Wealth is about to embark upon.142 Asclepius is doing with respect to

137 138 139 140 141 142

outcome had been wrongly judged, the vote was taken again. … It would appear that Neokleides had been in the habit of challenging vote declarations in this way: Asclepius, by making him totally blind, wishes to make it impossible for him to do so, since no one who had not seen the hands go up could possibly swear that the vote had been incorrectly assessed.” Thus schol. vet. 726 Chantry: “He took revenge on the corrupter (ton lumeona) of the polis.” See especially Wealth 905 and 911–912. See also On the Physician 1; both are noted by Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.113, n. 9. Republic 3.407e. Sartori 1972–1973: 366. As already noted by Fernández 2000b: 79; and also 2002: 176, n. 173; 332, n. 58.

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health what Wealth intends to do with respect to his own distribution; that is, both gods dispense their respective gifts – health and wealth – by taking into account the moral standing of those who may benefit from them. Asclepius’ healing is an anticipation of the moral order of Wealth, but with respect to the “health” of the community. The healer participates in the restoration of a just distribution of wealth. Asclepius may be contravening Zeus’s will in doing so, but the latter has been revealed in the comedy to be inherently unjust, a situation that the two philanthropic gods, Wealth and Asclepius, are rectifying. In the messenger speech, Aristophanes restores to Asclepius his mythical role as transgressor, as he did for Apollo in the prologue of Wealth, and Prometheus as collaborator in Birds.143 In one version of the myth, Asclepius dares to resuscitate the dead; Zeus, seeing in this action a transgression of his cosmic order and a threat to his authority, strikes him down with a lightning bolt – which led to Apollo’s insubordination mentioned in the previous chapter.144 The story would have been familiar to an Athenian audience: Greek tragic choruses refer to it, longing for Asclepius’ power over death.145 Zeus’s punishment of Asclepius is not mentioned in Wealth, but it closely parallels Wealth’s own transgression and punishment in his brief initial narrative (87–92). Both Asclepius and Wealth sought to transgress divine ordinances for the sake of men, and suffered for it. One aspect of Asclepius’ myth could complicate his intervention in the play. In the Republic, Socrates rebukes the tragic poets and Pindar for stating that the god raised the dead back to life because of avarice (aischrokerdeia 3.408b–c; cf. Pythia 3.54–58), a vice that Plato is not willing to concede in someone who was born of a god. In this light, the participation of Asclepius in a play called Wealth could have raised a few eyebrows. Some might have supposed, given the plot to cure Wealth, that the god acted out of greed. But even though the play alludes to the greed of human doctors, it is silent about the god’s motives. It would have been feasible to bring avarice into the picture, for the simple reason that a negative trait would not be uncommon in Old Comedy’s portrayal of divinities. Aristophanes often latches on to the vices of gods when he introduces them on stage, making these qualities 143

144 145

See Newiger 1957: 168, Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002: 35, and Sineux 2006: 208–209. For the myth of Prometheus in Wealth, see Bowie 1993: 278–284. A recent survey of the myths related to Asclepius can be found in Suárez de la Torre 2009: 27–36. Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1022–1024, and Euripides, Alcestis 121–129. See Edelstein and Edelstein 1945: 2.48–50 for a survey of the testimonia of Asclepius’ myth, and more recently Suárez de la Torre 2009.

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an essential component of the characters. His cowardly Dionysus in Frogs, for instance, is predicated on the effeminate traits of the god, his gluttonous Heracles in Birds and Frogs on the superhuman qualities of the hero. This heightening of their negative traits may seem at first sight to disrespect both gods, but they actually make them effective, relatable, and likable as comic characters. At any rate, even if Asclepius acted out of avarice, the act itself remains the ultimate benefit his skill could confer on humankind. His death, for Pindar and the tragedians, is still a terrible tragedy, in that it removed the last hope of humanity to escape death. The playwright does treat the god with a good dose of humor, but his portrayal is far removed from the more rollicking handling of Dionysus or Heracles. We have seen how his reaction to a fart earns him the name of skatophagos, but Asclepius is also made comic by applying in Wealth the remedy suggested by Blepyros in Assemblywomen, who was the bomolochos of that scene. To cap it all, he accompanies his action with hearty laughter at his own mischief (724). His treatment of the politician is humorously rough as well, even turning out his eyelids to make the poultice sting more (721–722). Yet this comic treatment of the god is still relatively gentle; his actions would not have been out of place in the sanctuary narratives. The Symbolic Healing Lastly, I  will examine how Aristophanes innovates on the portrayal of Asclepius and on the format of the healing story itself, by giving symbolic weight to his two treatments; this choice adds depth to the philanthropic intervention of the deity. We have already seen how Neokleides’ purge is given an explicitly political dimension through his identity, the god’s declared intent, and the latter’s praise as philopolis. But there is also symbolism in Asclepius’ cure of the god Wealth. This healing, I argue, should be understood as an ainigma, one that is “shown” through the narrative, much as the initial enactment of the comedy “shows” the ainigma of the oracular command. It symbolizes the union of wealth and health as the most desired blessing in human life, a traditional concept in Greek thought. We should recall at this point that the incubatory experience, at root, is a divinatory practice, and that the dream vision that results from it can be treated as symbolic communication. This aspect of the experience might escape us if we only examined the testimonies of fourth-century

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healing stories, including Aristophanes’ own comic iama: The communication between god and worshipper is straightforward, and his treatment and advice is immediate and effective. As Downie observes, the “rhetoric” of the Epidaurian iamata is one “of prescriptive clarity and therapeutic cures, of aretalogy and communication.”146 Since these stories focus on the proclamation of successful outcomes and the praise of the power of the god, this tradition “generally elides any interpretive process” concerning the dream vision, thereby “downplaying human engagement in the process of interpretation and implementation.”147 Yet later narratives of miracle cures, both on the stage and in the sanctuaries, do take interpretation into account. In Plautus’ Curculio, which is set in Epidauros, a patient of Asclepius exits the temple and asks the people he meets to help him make sense of a dream (245–273); in Aelius Aristides’ narrative of his own incubatory experiences in the Sacred Tales, interpretation becomes a constant concern.148 And the earlier Epidaurian iamata do include one narrative that portrays the god’s intervention as requiring interpretation:  Kallikrateia approaches the god as a diviner, in order to ask him about hidden treasure (C3 [46] LiDonnici). Asclepius also plays this role in another iama, where he helps locate a missing person (B4 [24] LiDonnici), which would suggest that the sanctuaries collected these stories to encourage visitors to look to the god for help beyond medical matters. In the story of the missing person, and in keeping with the rest of the iamata, he gives straightforward instructions, but in Kallikrateia’s case Asclepius answers her request with a riddle. The advice, in this case, is not immediate, but requires interpretation; she even has to seek the help of a human seer (mantis) to make sense of the god’s words.149 The communication with the god at the heart of the iamata already at this early stage had the potential to be treated as an ainigma. Karion’s description of the treatment of Wealth opens up various levels of signification, which are related to the attributes of Asclepius and the identity of Wealth. At a literal level, Asclepius is the effective and instantaneous healer of a blind old man, which is what one would expect from an iama. Yet, as we have seen, the audience of the comedy is also aware that the patient is a supernatural being whose power is being restored, and 146 147 148 149

Downie 2013: 127. Downie 2013: 111–112; see also 2014: 107. See Downie 2013 and 2014. On dream interpreters, see Ehrenheim 2015: 99–101. On Asclepius as an oracular god, see Graf 2015: 509–510.

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that the mythical background of both the patient and his healer marks this treatment as a momentous transgression against the cosmic order of Zeus. There is an additional level of meaning, a narrative ainigma present in the physical encounter of the two deities, to which I now turn. In the prologue of the comedy the references to the physical appearance of the character of Wealth (old, blind, dirty, shabbily dressed) explore the connection between deity and material riches.150 In the messenger speech, the character continues to embody a supernatural power:  Chremylos’ mention of Wealth as a deity (620) and Karion’s celebration of the upcoming display of his powers (760–763) both frame the report. Yet the stress on his human corporeality in the messenger speech does not relate primarily to material wealth, but to the character’s identification as an everyday patient of Asclepius. He is referred to as an old man (andra 654, aner gerōn 658). Asclepius interacts physically with Wealth as he does with any of his patients: He sits by him (727) and touches his head (728)  – physical gestures that can be found in votive reliefs of incubation, indicating the god’s closeness to his patients.151 The narrative also focuses on the afflicted body part that symbolizes Wealth’s lack of moral discrimination. Fiorentini notes how in the prologue Aristophanes refers to this blindness with the term ophthalmia (115), which makes it an identifiable physical ailment.152 The messenger narrates how the god treats this body part. He wipes the patient’s eyelids with a clean cloth (729), which represents, in therapeutic terms, the removal of impurities that impede a clear moral vision, much as he removes the marks from Pandaros’ forehead.153 Finally, the god calls out two snakes that lick Wealth’s eyelids and restore them to health (732–736), an instant therapeutic cure found in several Epidaurian iamata (735–736). Ogden proposes that this “healing licking” of the snakes can likewise be associated with cleansing and even purification.154 150 151

152

153 154

As argued by Fiorentini 2006. Cf. for instance Fernández 2002: 264. Asclepius touches the head of his patients: Athens, National Museum inv. 2462 and 2489 (LIMC Asklepios 109); Piraeus Museum inv. 405 (LIMC Asklepios 105). Asclepius sits next to the patient in incubation: Kassel, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Sk. 44 (LIMC Asklepios 89); Amphiaraos is depicted in a similar fashion in a fragmentary relief at the Oropos museum (LIMC Amphiaraos 61). Fiorentini 2006: 150–151. But note that this manuscript reading has been challenged: see Wilson 2007b: 201 and Torchio 2001: ad 115. The god cures blindness in the Epidaurian iamata by touch as well: see A18 LiDonnici. For snakes as healers in the iamata, see A17, B13 (33), B19 (39), B22 (42), and C2 (45) LiDonnici. For snake-licking as a cleansing treatment, see Ogden 2013: 368–369.

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Asclepius’ physical treatment of his patient’s corporeal (but symbolic) illness brings the personification momentarily into a special type of relationship with the divine healer. The cult of the latter at the time had already gathered around him a number of other deified personifications, such as Panacea and Health. These figures, as we saw in my first chapter, were thought of not as abstractions of the supernatural healing power of the god, but as independent beings in their own right who were the recipients of individual worship in Asclepius’ cult. The messenger speech brings Wealth momentarily into this circle of attendant personifications. By healing him, Asclepius is portrayed not only in his traditional attribute as a giver of health, but also as a giver of wealth, since he restores the personification’s power to act morally. The personification, through his role as patient in the incubatory process, is made to depend on Asclepius: The power of wealth is therefore subsumed into that of health. This ranking is already found in a sympotic song that was popular at the time of Wealth, which calls health “the best thing for mortals,” placing it above the desire to “be rich by no devious means” (PMG 890).155 This view of health, according to Aristotle, was a common maxim in his time (Rhetoric 1394b 11). The privileged position of health in the comic iama thus sets the ensuing enrichment on a sound physical and moral footing. In restoring Wealth to health, Asclepius also restores order to the cosmos. Discussing concepts of healing in ancient Greek religion, Graf reminds us that disease, as perceived in the cult of Asclepius, was generally “a problem of the body that can be healed by special knowledge and experience.”156 He contrasts this conception with an earlier belief that saw illness as an evil that came from outside the body, which could only be removed by sacrifice or prayer to a supernatural power. This conception may account for the questions posed at the oracle of Zeus and Dione at Dodona that we mentioned above, concerned as they are with identifying gods to pray to in order to be healed. Graf relates this view of disease to Apollo, since divination and even purification are associated with him.157 Already in the prologue of Aristophanes’ Wealth we see Apollo adopting this role, pointing out the deity responsible for the disease (Zeus) as well as the deity to cultivate (Wealth) in order to solve the cosmic imbalance in the distribution of riches. In the comic iama, 155 156 157

Ariphron’s hymn to Health (PMG 813) also sets Health over all other blessings. Graf 2009: 101. See also Graf 2015. Graf 2009: 99.

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Wealth’s blindness straddles both conceptions: It is a physical ailment, one that is treatable through Asclepius’ medical knowledge, but it is also an affliction brought by Zeus’s phthonos. In this respect, Asclepius through his act of healing partakes in his father Apollo’s power to restore order, and provides a medical solution to complement the oracular one given by Apollo in the prologue. This pairing of personification and healing deity through incubation represents the unique Aristophanic concept of plouthugieia, “health-andwealth.” The two concepts that make up this word, Dunbar observes, “were so often closely linked as complementary blessings in religious contexts that Aristophanes could compound them” in his coinage.158 Ischomachos in Xenophon’s On the Household, for instance, prays that the gods will grant him wealth and health, among other favors, in recognition of his proper and pious behavior (11.8); similarly, a grandfather’s prayer for his grandsons asks Zeus Ktesios to give them health and wealth (Isaeus 8.16). In this religious sense, the concept plouthugieia appears twice in Aristophanes’ comedies, in Paphlagon’s dream of Athena “pouring down plouthugieia with a ladle” over her people (Knights 1091), and as one of the benefits the birds promise to men if they recognize them as gods (Birds 731).159 Humans can also provide plouthugieia, as Aristophanes indicates in Wasps 677, but the “blessing” bestowed is that of the allies bribing Athens’s corrupt political leaders with luxuries and food (Wasps 677). In the case of Wealth, the two characters who embody these concepts are gods who, as we have seen, are portrayed as moral actors; this rather points to the positive religious sense of the concept. Moreover, the traditional blessing of plouthugieia applies to the wealth that is well acquired (ktesin agathen, Isaeus 8.16), increased in an honorable manner (kalōs auxomenou, Xenophon, On the Household 11.8) and not by devious means (adolōs PMG 890.3). The healing allows for a moral redistribution of wealth, and the wealth that is granted through this process is honest and divinely sanctioned. The narrative ainigma of plouthugieia that caps Aristophanes’ healing story is a remarkable example of how the playwright expands and even innovates on the religious components of the traditional narrative pattern, while keeping to its original motifs and aretalogical purpose. The imprint of the sanctuary’s agenda is visible in the good-natured portrayal of Asclepius 158

159

Dunbar 1995: ad 604–605. See also Auffarth 1995: 351–357. Bastianini and Gallazzi 2001: 227–228 provide an extensive list of testimonies that mention health and wealth in tandem. Cf. also Birds 588–606, where the granting of health and wealth, among other benefits, is presented as the prerogative of divine beings.

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as a philanthropic and above all moral healer, and in the dramatized acclamation and joyful reception of the healing, which opens up the communal reach of the model. My next chapter will continue to explore this communal dimension by attending to the reception of that other major deity of the comedy, Wealth, inside the household of Chremylos – a reception that is accompanied by another type of pattern, this time related to the performance space.

Ch apter 4

A Household Shrine

Karion brings his messenger speech to a close by congratulating the chorus on their coming good fortune:  “You’ll never again come home to hear the news that there’s no more grain in your sack” (762–763). When he states that there will be no messenger (oudeis … angelei 762) to report the chorus’s lack of means, it is because he himself has just announced their new abundance. The slave thus celebrates his performance as a bringer of good news to his own household, but does so by imagining the domestic messengers from the other households. Their abundance, too, stands for the abundance in the messenger’s own household. In this respect, the household of Chremylos is integrated into a larger community. But is this private, domestic space truly just like any other honest household? When Wealth returns healed from the temple and physically enters one household, that of Chremylos, does he enter all other honest households at the same time? Or does his presence inside this space make it unique? The following pages examine the curious nature of this space and the role it plays in developing the religious framework of Wealth. It is only recently that this space’s connection to religion has been noticed. Lowe notes that the dramatic action of receiving and ritually establishing a divinity is an important element in defining the space of the play, a pattern to which I  will return in the next chapter.1 Fernández makes the key observation that the stage action in the second half of the comedy turns the house of Chremylos into “a public space, a kind of sanctuary, where the pious arrive to worship the newly healed god.”2 Zelnick-Abramovitz has made the same point, offering valuable comments on the religious function of the space,3 but neither she nor Fernández has explored the larger significance of their observations, which further illuminates the religious dimension of the play. 1 2 3

Lowe 2006: 51. Fernández 2002: 254, and see also 360. Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002: 35–36.

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This chapter focuses on one element of the theatrical space of Wealth, the skene building, and how the presence of the character Wealth in its interior affects the way the building is defined. After a brief introduction to Aristophanes’ use of space, I first explore why he chose to stage the reception of Wealth into the household of Chremylos twice in the course of the play; that this stage action is important for the development of the personification and ultimately for the comic fantasy has been noted in the past, but the impact of this double entrance upon space in performance merits more attention. The following section is then dedicated to the miraculous abundance that eventually fills Chremylos’ household. I propose a new model to make sense of this event, based on another important Greek religious experience, the epiphany; this abundance would thus be the manifestation of the divinity’s power. I then focus on a succession of ritual actions – dedications, sacrifices, and establishments of divinities – that redefine the skene from its original presentation as a household into a shrine. Finally, I consider the cultural conventions regarding sacred space, in particular those related to the establishment of shrines in domestic households, in order to illuminate both  the private and public character of the fictional space created within the skene of Wealth.

The Treatment of Space in Aristophanic Comedy Some observations on Aristophanes’ general treatment of space will be useful to orient the discussion.4 As Revermann observes:  “There can be theatre without words. There can be theatre without costume, or props, or even movement. But there cannot be theatre without a space where actor and onlooker make contact, experience physical co-presence, and become performer and spectator respectively.”5 The place in which this contact occurs is the presentational space, that is, the physical space where the actors present their performance to the audience.6 In the Theater of 4

5 6

Revermann 2006: 107–129 and Lowe 1988 and 2006 are fundamental for the topic. The bibliography has been growing steadily: Revermann 2006: 108, n. 1, gives the most recent publications, to be complemented by those in Lowe 2006: 48, n. 1, who also records a few earlier studies. Of these, I have found Wiles 1997, Edmunds 1996, and Padel 1990 particularly valuable. Fernández 2002: 245–294 offers a detailed study of the spatial dimension of Wealth, and Revermann’s performance analysis of the comedy includes numerous observations on the topic (2006: 261–295). Revermann 2006: 107. The terms ‘presentational’ and ‘fictional space,’ which I  employ in the following paragraphs, are borrowed from McAuley’s taxonomy (1999:  27–33). For a critical overview of the terminology proposed by a number of influential theater scholars, see McAuley 1999: 17–23. As she observes (1999:  24), theater scholars tend to establish their own taxonomy according to their

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Dionysus of the early fourth century bc, the presentational space consisted essentially of three spaces:  the orchestra, which was an open, outdoor space in which the chorus and actors performed; the skene, a closed-off wooden building with at least one doorway that allowed the performers easy access from the orchestra to the interior;7 and the eisodoi, two open passages between skene and orchestra that led out from the latter.8 These spaces were invested with theatrical meaning by the combined action of the performers and the spectators; they were “activated,” as McAuley puts it, as fictional spaces within the performance.9 These fictional spaces represent the locations of the story-world of the play. They include, but also go beyond, the presentational space, since they can encompass one or more fictional places outside the latter.10 Communication between offstage and onstage fictional spaces in the Greek theater took place for the most part through the skene door and the eisodoi. In contrast to the presentational space, which remains unchanged, the types of fictional space mapped onto it are multiple and constantly change from one performance to the next. The capacity of presentational space to be given different fictional meanings in performance is a quality inherent in any element brought into the frame of a theatrical performance. The facility by which these items acquire various meanings is termed in theater semiotics the ‘mobility’ or ‘transformability’ of the theatrical sign. What this means, as Elam explains, is that any item within the performance frame, including presentational spaces, becomes a sign-vehicle that is capable of conveying different signifieds: In dramatic performances, “there are no absolutely fixed representational relations” between an item on stage and what it is meant to represent.11 This theoretical approach influenced the studies of Wiles and Revermann on the ‘polysemous’ quality of tragic and comic performance space, respectively, which are now landmarks in the field.12 This quality of the presentational space helps explain the different ways in which the tragedians and Aristophanes handle its fictionalization. The contrasting terms ‘fixity’ and ‘fluidity,’ applied to tragedy and comedy

7

8

9 10 11 12

theoretical approach to the phenomenon, and studies of space in ancient Greek drama have been no exception. The façade of the skene could be used as a backdrop to a performance; actors could also perform on its roof (Mastronarde 1990). For the use of the eisodoi as presentational spaces, see Mastronarde 1979: 20–26 and Revermann 2006: 135–136. See McAuley 1999: 8 and Revermann 2006: 107. McAuley 1999: 29–30. Elam 2002: 11. Wiles 1997: 165; see also Revermann 2006: 109.

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respectively, are regularly employed to describe this difference. Tragedy’s space is said to be ‘fixed’ because almost all surviving plays are set in a single, defined fictional location. Once this location is mapped onto the presentational space, it usually does not change during the performance.13 In contrast, the definition of the presentational space in Aristophanic comedy seems less stable than that of tragedy; as a result, scholars frequently describe its treatment of this space as ‘fluid.’14 In a 1988 article, Lowe describes the impression given by this space: “The conventions of Old Comic performance assume a [presentational] space that remains empty of concrete [fictional] identity until and unless one is specifically supplied, and in which continuities of location and their attendant associations may slide from existence as soon as they stop being invoked in stage action.”15 The first part of Frogs is an often-cited example of this phenomenon.16 As Dionysus moves around the onstage space, the definition of the skene and orchestra changes in an astonishing, quick succession of fictional places, without the character setting a foot off stage. The meaning of a theatrical sign may be arbitrary in theory, but in practice this is not the case. It is true that no item in performance represents one thing and one thing only, referring to it exclusively, but certain relationships are repeatedly established, even expected, in performance. As Revermann reminds us, even presentational space is never truly empty of significance.17 Both he and Lowe have recently called for a more critical approach to the idea of ‘fluidity’ in Aristophanic comedy, adducing factors and conventions associated with the presentational space that delimit its range of meanings.18 Take, for instance, the skene, which will be the focus of this chapter. Though this presentational space is defined in differing ways in performance, its definition is usually conditioned by its physical nature and its function within the architecture of the Greek theater. The word skene in Greek designates a temporary dwelling, and particularly refers to tents of the sort put up at campsites by soldiers, or by visitors attending one of the many festivals around Greece. The theatrical 13

14

15 16 17 18

See Taplin 1977: 103–104. Changes of location do take place in tragedy, most famously in Eumenides 235 and Ajax 815, but they are rare. This fixity in the fictional definition of the presentational space is prevalent enough to be considered a convention of the tragic genre. See, for instance, Taplin 1977: 103, n. 2, and Lowe 2000: 170. Revermann 2006: 108. For earlier scholarship that mentions this quality of the theater space, see Taplin 1977: 104, n. 2, Saïd 1997: 340–341, and now Bowie 2012: 359, n. 2. Lowe 1988: 39. Bracketed additions are mine. See also Dearden 1976: 42–46. See, for instance, Lowe 2006: 59. Revermann 2006: 110; see also 113. Lowe 2006: 48–49 and Revermann 2006: 108.

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skene, which was also a temporary building set up for the dramatic festival, received its name, one may assume, because it shares the characteristics of these spaces.19 Not surprisingly, in almost all the Greek dramas that have come down to us, both tragic and comic, the skene is usually defined as a dwelling within the fictional world.20 Yet meaning is not limited to the physical characteristics of the presentational space. “All [theater] spaces, both architectural and dramatic,” Revermann reminds us, “have their own semantics, aesthetics, history, sociology, and ideology. Hence the way in which a particular play operates within this spatial framework reveals a great deal about any theatrical tradition, its drama, and the society which produced it.”21 At its most basic level of significance, as dwelling, the skene represents the Greek household, and, as such, scholars agree that it is a powerful symbol of the latter’s social and cultural values.22 One can go further than this, and several studies have already identified other cultural symbolisms inherent to this space. In a seminal article Padel, for instance, has studied the skene in relation to various conceptions of interiority in Greek culture, and more recently Bakola has explored in detail the connection of its interior to the earth as source of fecundity and abundance.23 The relationship between the different presentational spaces also establishes important symbolic patterns that determine meaning. Lowe argues, for instance, that the action of many of the comedies of Aristophanes is plotted along the axis of the enclosed physical space of the skene and that of the open orchestra, an arrangement that is also frequently found in tragedy. This pattern, he argues, defines the stage door “as a boundary between symbolically-opposed onstage and offstage worlds, whose precise oppositional significance can be differently constructed in different plays, but most naturally involves some kind of opposition between private interiors and public exteriors.”24 Lowe’s pattern is an excellent guide to how meaning is established in the spatial practice of Aristophanes, and is certainly applicable to Wealth. The latter is one of 19

20

21 22 23 24

See Chantraine 1999, s.v. σκηνή. Padel 1990: 341–343 offers an excellent brief introduction to the physical space of the skene. This is an early example of a feature that would become ubiquitous in Western theater; in this dramatic tradition, Elam notes, “we generally expect the signified class to be represented by a vehicle in some way recognizable as a member of it” (2002: 11). In this case, the vehicle of the skene both represents and is recognizable as a member of the class of dwelling. Revermann 2006: 110. See for instance, in the case of Wealth, Fernández 2002: 250. Padel 1990 and Bakola 2014. Lowe 2006: 63.

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the few Aristophanic plays, along with Knights and Wasps, in which the dramatic action is focused almost exclusively on the stage door of the skene.25 However, as Lowe cautions, each play deserves individual attention regarding its spatial meaning. Even in a play like Knights, the opposition between the skene door and orchestra can at times be disregarded, as in the Pnyx scene starting at line 751, where the action is focused exclusively in the orchestra space. In his overview of the comedies, Lowe also considers how other themes and conventions shape the “spatial logic” of each play.26 In this respect he is close to Revermann, who argues that the seemingly arbitrary nature of Aristophanic fictional space should be understood in terms of the associative “comic logic” that arises from the situations and themes of each play.27 My own analysis of the “logic” of the skene in the comedy will start from these guidelines offered by Lowe and Revermann. While I recognize the contributions of Padel and Bakola to the study of the symbolic dimension of the skene, my study will apply a more modest and straightforward reading of this space as a simple household. Departing from Lowe’s conventional opposition of public and private, I will show that this convention is not clear-cut in the case of Wealth. Its domestic space turns out to be not an exclusive but an inclusive place, and the contrast established between its interior and its exterior is made not in terms of private versus public space, but as competing public spaces. In this light, I argue that the spatial “logic” of the comedy is determined by the following interrelated elements: the reception of the personification of Wealth inside the household, the epiphany of his powers, and the ensuing transformation of the space into a household shrine, each of which will be treated in turn in the next sections.

The Two Receptions of Wealth As I  mentioned above, Lowe has already pointed out that the action of receiving a god is central to the definition of the presentational space in Wealth; Paradiso also commented that “the incorporation of Wealth into the home of Chremylos and the manner in which this is carried out constitute the core of the comic plot.”28 Aristophanes presents this action 25 26 27 28

Revermann 2006: 127, 264; cf. also Lowe 2006: 51. Lowe 2006: 59. Revermann 2006: 108; see especially 120 and 128–129. Lowe 2006: 51; Paradiso 1987: 250.

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twice during the course of the play: Each time Wealth enters the skene, the spectators’ attention is focused on this space; each time, they are invited to revise their understanding of that same space, that is, to consider how the circumstances of reception have changed since the previous time, and how these changes now affect the definition of the space. By means of this repeated pattern, Aristophanes establishes a thematic continuity in his use of space which he then modulates throughout the play. The definition of the skene is intimately tied to the effect of the personification within this space. By instructing Chremylos to take Wealth “home” (oikade 43), Apollo’s oracle had made the skene a part of the solution to his predicament, and Wealth’s reception and enrichment of the interior of this space is part of the comic plan.29 As Chremylos himself spells out in his initial invitation to Wealth: σὺ δ’, ὦ κράτιστε Πλοῦτε πάντων δαιμόνων, εἴσω μετ’ ἐμοῦ δεῦρ’ εἴσιθ’· ἡ γὰρ οἰκία αὕτη ’στὶν ἣν δεῖ χρημάτων σε τήμερον μεστὴν ποιῆσαι καὶ δικαίως κἀδίκως

(230–233)

Now, Wealth, most puissant of all divinities, please come inside here with me, because this is the house you’ve got to fill up with riches this very day, by fair means or foul.

Chremylos accompanies these instructions with the demonstrative αὕτη (232), identifying the skene as his household for the first time in the play, and singling out its interior as the space where Wealth is to exert his power. By this he both defines the space and links it to the necessity, or even the obligation, for the new arrival to fill it with riches, an offstage event that he expects will take place in the immediate future (τήμερον 232). Yet there is something curious about this reception. Wealth first enters at 252, but does not make the household rich. Only when Wealth is taken out again to the Sanctuary of Asclepius (625–626) and returns with his eyesight restored, does he re-enter the household (801) and accomplish the expected enrichment. In both cases the stage action is the same: Wealth is welcomed inside a private, domestic space. And in both instances the character confirms the importance of the reception by making the act of entering an interior, offstage space the central issue of a speech that he pronounces beforehand. What is the meaning of this repetition?

29

Fernández 2002: 249.

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Scholars have generally interpreted it in light of Wealth’s recovered eyesight and agency. A brilliant article by Konstan and Dillon, in particular, provided the key to making sense of it. They distinguish the character’s presence, which brings a miraculous abundance (irrespective of morality), from his vision, which is the symbol of his power to redistribute wealth to the honest. In their opinion, Aristophanes “does not want the fact of [Wealth’s] presence” at the start of the play “to resolve at once the problem of injustice which drove Chremylos to consult the oracle to begin with. This will rather be accomplished by enabling him to see again, so that he can visit good men and avoid bad.  … But this does not mean that the matter of the god’s presence is no longer of relevance to our play. On the contrary, it can now be reserved for quite another function … when Plutus has his real epiphany – then his presence will signal a new age of prosperity for all.”30 This view has met some criticism in light of another oddity related to the reception of Wealth into the household. According to Konstan and Dillon, the presence of Wealth inside the household after the first reception “confers the blessing of Wealth”;31 Olson and Revermann have rightly objected that there is no indication that this is actually the case until after the second reception.32 Konstan and Dillon themselves partly concede this point, in that they note how the announcement of the enrichment is postponed until after the second reception, and admit “some delay in the god’s efficacy.”33 Given this delay, Olson concludes that, during the greater part of the play, it is vision, more than presence, that is the harbinger of prosperity.34 Yet Revermann has shown that Konstan and Dillon’s point about the importance of presence is still valid: Despite the postponement of the restoration of Wealth’s vision (and Chremylos’ enrichment), the purpose of the first reception, he argues, is to ensure “the presence (and benefits)” of Wealth inside the household of Chremylos. As he explains, “both the parodos celebrating the blessings of wealth and the agon on the value of wealth and poverty respectively take place with Wealth firmly established, albeit invisible, in the central scenic background and therefore in the audience’s perception. … But despite being offstage for most of the play, his presence is always palpable and attracts dramatic attention.”35 30 31 32 33 34 35

Konstan and Dillon 1981: 389. Konstan and Dillon 1981: 391; Lowe is under the same impression (2006: 51). Olson 1990: 230–231, n. 29; Revermann 2006: 270. Konstan and Dillon 1981: 392. Olson 1990: 230–231, n. 29. Revermann 2006: 265.

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My reading of the double reception is indebted to Konstan and Dillon’s distinction between vision and presence, and to Revermann’s application of this distinction to the first reception. Yet the former two scholars do not attend to the issue of dramatic space, and Revermann’s study of the reception can be further enriched by attending to the speeches that Wealth pronounces before entering the skene, which are essential for understanding how the personification and the space that receives him evolve. The first speech (234–244) picks up the expectation, voiced by Chremylos (230–233), that the entrance of Wealth will make the household rich, thereby calling attention to the effects of presence; but the story he tells, coupled with the proxemics of the scene, also creates an expectation of mistreatment that may await Wealth at the hands of Chremylos. These expectations are purposely foiled in order to prepare for the manifestation of Wealth as divine agent. Latent Wealth Wealth’s first speech gives a harrowing account of his past receptions inside the households of a miser and a spendthrift: ἀλλ’ ἄχθομαι μὲν εἰσιὼν νὴ τοὺς θεοὺς εἰς οἰκίαν ἑκάστοτ’ ἀλλοτρίαν πάνυ· ἀγαθὸν γὰρ ἀπέλαυσ’ οὐδὲν αὐτοῦ πώποτε. ἢν μὲν γὰρ ὡς φειδωλὸν εἰσελθὼν τύχω, εὐθὺς κατώρυξέν με κατὰ τῆς γῆς κάτω· κἄν τις προσέλθῃ χρηστὸς ἄνθρωπος φίλος αἰτῶν λαβεῖν τι μικρὸν ἀργυρίδιον, ἔξαρνός ἐστι μηδ’ ἰδεῖν με πώποτε. ἢν δ’ ὡς παραπλῆγ’ ἄνθρωπον εἰσελθὼν τύχω, πόρναισι καὶ κύβοισι παραβεβλημένος γυμνὸς θύραζ’ ἐξέπεσον ἐν ἀκαρεῖ χρόνῳ.

(234–244)

By heaven, I really hate going into a strange house: I’ve never gotten any good out of it. If I find myself in a miser’s house, he immediately digs a hole and puts me underground, and if a decent friend of his comes to call and asks for a little loan, he swears he’s never even laid eyes on me. And if I find myself in a degenerate’s house, I’m thrown away on whores and dice, and in no time I’m out on the street naked.36

Wealth’s offstage presence represents the material riches of his possessors: He is buried (238, 240) and thrown away (243) like treasure and coins. Yet his 36

I have altered Henderson’s translation to provide a more literal translation of line 236.

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account also makes clear that, although blind and mistreated, his physical presence also has an effect. Wealth still made the households rich upon entry. In this respect, the speech follows the traditional portrayal of Wealth as a wandering ploutodotes deity discussed in the first chapter: Enrichment is defined by the god’s movement into and out of a place. Thus the ruin of the spendthrift is indicated by the fact that Wealth is once again thrown out into the street, not only as an object, but also as a person, “naked” (244).37 Both the chorus and Blepsidemos, the characters who arrive after the first reception of Wealth, assume that the offstage household space is rich already, given the presence of the personification inside it, and that it is the source of Wealth, the place from where his benefits will be distributed. Chremylos himself raises this expectation when, calling in the chorus as allies, he indicates that they are to gather “here” (entauthoi 225), that is, in the orchestra in front of his household, to get “an equal share of this Wealth” (225–226). The same holds for Blepsidemos, who asks Chremylos why, if Wealth is in his house, he has not sent the god around to his friends (398). The expectation set up in these scenes is so strong that scholars have sometimes assumed, as we have seen, that the household becomes rich immediately upon Wealth’s first reception. However, his presence inside the skene breaks the pattern of abuse and abundance set up by his own narrative. To Blepsidemos’ question of whether the rumor is true that he is now rich (346), Chremylos answers that he is not yet rich “but I very soon will be, god willing” (347); in his case, the presence of Wealth has not resulted in enrichment. This expected enrichment, which had been an integral component of Chremylos’ initial invitation to Wealth, is left in suspense. Further, Wealth’s speech, together with the proxemics of the scene, charges the simple action of his entrance into the house with an expectation of danger to his character. The speech functions as a way of delaying his stage exit into the skene, turning his first entrance into Chremylos’ household, as Revermann observes in relation to a similar delay in Clouds, into “a significant event with far-reaching consequences.” In Clouds Socrates instructs Strepsiades to enter the skene, but the latter hesitates at the threshold (509), fearing what awaits him inside (507–508); he ultimately has to be prodded to enter the building (509).38 In the same 37

38

For Wealth’s anthropomorphic portrayal in this passage, see Sommerstein 2001: ad 237–244; for the various meanings of the personification in the speech, see further Torchio 2001: ad 237–244. Revermann 2006: 206.

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manner, Chremylos has to coax Wealth one more time (249) after his initial invitation before they finally cross the threshold of the skene together (252). Wealth’s forebodings come from his previous (and repeated) mistreatment inside other households, which give the skene a symbolic charge. The interior is identified with the hidden intents of mortals. This symbolic function of the skene has been recognized by Padel, who remarks that this “background illusory house is important … as a structure parallel to the individual self. The skene, and what it stands for, is an image of the unseen interior of a human being.”39 In his previous entries, blind Wealth lacked the ability of an Asclepius to know the hidden hearts of his worshippers. The drama of his incorporation into the interior space emphasizes the importance of recovering vision, and this prepares the way for a vindication of the character of Chremylos, whose moral character has raised suspicions among scholars.40 Yet just as the expectation of enrichment is thwarted for now, so is the menace to Wealth, which is left in suspense. His speech introduces the examples of mistreatment with the formula, “when I  happen to enter” (ἢν … εἰσελθὼν τύχω 237 ~ 242), presenting them as a general occurrence. As Wealth makes clear, each time (ἑκάστοτε 235)  he enters someone’s house he suffers a mishap. Wealth thus raises the expectation that the same may be true of his reception inside the house of Chremylos, that is, that this new space may fit the pattern he has just narrated. He is thus treating this space as exemplary in a negative way, as another possible instance of his continuous suffering. This time, however, inside this space, nothing happens to Wealth. Eventually, the character is moved out of the skene (625) to be healed, which, in a way, ‘resets’ the expectation of enrichment and the question of whether it is deserved. Aristophanes’ reason for holding off the effects of Wealth’s presence, as Konstan and Dillon have pointed out, is to highlight the ensuing restoration of his vision. For if his initial entry resulted in riches, how could we be sure of Chremylos’ character? Both expectations are paused until Wealth’s entry with vision: then we can be sure that Chremylos deserves his reward. Nonetheless, as Konstan, Dillon, and Revermann have all remarked, the first reception is needed to alert the audience to the importance of the character’s presence. I  would add that this presence is made more surprising and remarkable by its latency, that is, by the fact that the reported 39 40

Padel 1990: 358. For instance, Flashar 1967: 159–160, Konstan and Dillon 1981: 387–388, Lévy 1997: 206, and the criticism of this suspicion by McGlew 2002: 182–184.

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effects of Wealth’s power for now remain hidden. For Wealth, contrary to all expectations, shows himself neither as an object that indiscriminately fills the households of the honest and dishonest alike, nor as the agent who grants it. In sum, he does not manifest his traditional power. In contrast to his narrative, a vivid illustration of his miserable life under the rule of Zeus, this latency is already a remarkable transformation. Manifest Wealth Both expectations are raised once again when Wealth returns from the sanctuary of Asclepius and re-establishes his relationship with Chremylos’ household by entering it a second time. The circumstances could not be more different from the first entry. In his second speech before entering the skene (771–781), Wealth announces his regained agency and links it to his reception in the house. He both declares and carries out his intention of filling the household with riches, singling out the household of Chremylos as the goal of his movement; yet the general nature of his statement also turns this space into an example of the collective benefits he now makes available to other honest households as well. The elaborate way in which Wealth’s second entrance is prepared, as Revermann comments, has a “spotlight” effect on his regained power.41 On the physical level, if the character’s mask did not change to indicate to the audience that he is no longer blind, his confident entrance on stage, alone and without the tottering motion of his initial entry, would have made it clear that his movements towards the skene door are now resolute.42 Wealth needs no guiding hand, prompting, or cajoling, nor does he waver before entering the household. In sharp contrast to the first reception, Chremylos does not take the lead this time around, and arrives on stage only after Wealth has finished his speech (782). Revermann remarks that this is the only scene in the play where Chremylos does not direct the movements of Wealth; “from now on,” he adds, “the presence of Wealth is a powerful one.”43 Wealth’s second speech reprises the initial problem of the play  – the unjust distribution of wealth – in a notably different way from the prologue narrative that explained his blindness (87–92). Instead of a mythical

41 42 43

Revermann 2006: 288. For the change of mask, see Sommerstein 2001 and Torchio 2001: ad 770/771. Revermann 2006: 288. Fernández also recognizes Wealth’s independence in this scene (2002: 263).

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aition for his condition, he gives a vividly emotional description of his previous inability to distinguish the good from the bad: αἰσχύνομαι δὲ τὰς ἐμαυτοῦ συμφοράς, οἵοις ἄρ’ ἀνθρώποις ξυνὼν ἐλάνθανον, τοὺς ἀξίους δὲ τῆς ἐμῆς ὁμιλίας ἔφευγον, εἰδὼς οὐδέν. ὦ τλήμων ἐγώ, ὡς οὐτ’ ἐκεῖν’ ἄρ’ οὔτε ταῦτ’ ὀρθῶς ἔδρων·

(774–778)

I feel shame at my own misadventures, realizing the kind of people I used to associate with unawares, while in complete ignorance I shunned those who deserved my company. How pitiful that in both respects I acted wrongly!

Both speeches focus on the character’s misfortunes; both give a reason for Wealth’s previous unjust distribution and his intention to rectify it. But in the present speech Zeus’s grudge against men and his blinding of Wealth are reduced to unspecified “misfortunes” (συμφοράς 774), and the unjust distribution is recast, more strikingly, as simply an involuntary act (akōn 781). Wealth’s capacity for moral discernment is thus made the central concern of his speech. He abandons its presentation in terms of blindness and seeing, as was done in the prologue, and so mentions neither Zeus, nor his healer Asclepius, nor his supporter Chremylos. By excluding direct references to punishers, helpers, and physical ailments, the character’s reflection explains his previous acts as if they were merely the result of faulty discernment. Moreover, he describes his future restoration of morality to his distribution in language that depicts it more as a change of mind than as the removal of a physical handicap. He talks about his embarrassment (αἰσχύνομαι 774) at his past actions,44 and uses phrases such as “it escaped my notice” (ἐλάνθανον 775), “in my complete ignorance” (εἰδὼς οὐδέν 777), and “I acted wrongly” ([οὐκ] ὀρθῶς ἔδρων 778), which do not fit his earlier self-portrayal as the would-be benefactor of humanity, pre-emptively punished by Zeus. In this respect, his speech becomes a sort of confession, in which the character accounts for his past actions in psychological terms.45 44

45

Already schol. vet. 774b Chantry understands the meaning of aischunomai in these terms: “After he came to perceive and understand what he was doing, his realization that he was consorting with unjust men makes him feel ashamed.” Torchio 2001 also notes the confessional tone (ad 774–781). The paratragic tone of the speech increases the gravity of the occasion:  See Rau 1967:  145, 208. An interesting parallel to Wealth’s words is an anonymous comic monologue (fr. adesp. 1001 PCG) that portrays a confession in the metaphorical terms of a passage from disease to health (“as if I laid down at the precinct of Asclepius and was saved” 9–10), and from darkness (“darkness clouding my mind” 6–7) to light (“I now discovered this sun” 12–13).

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This talk of reformed behavior is accompanied by a brief programmatic statement (779–781), the general tone of which makes clear that the household of Chremylos is to be made an example of his change of mind. In this statement, the character declares that he will show (deixo 780) to all men (pasin anthropois 780) that previously he had given himself involuntarily (akōn 781) to the wicked (tois ponerois 781), and that he will do so by completely reversing (palin anastrepsas 779) his previous, unjust distribution. To prove that he has now resolved to give himself to those worthy (tous axious 776) of his company, he carries out a single action: He enters the household (791). As a result, when he finally crosses the threshold of the skene, this domestic space becomes inscribed within the larger community of honest households he plans to benefit. One more aspect of the second reception also defines the agency of Wealth in terms of his integration into the household space:  the katachusmata ritual that ends the scene. This ritual accompanied the reception of new members of a household, specifically slaves and brides, and involved showering them with figs, dates, nuts, and other treats next to the hearth, as a symbol of prosperity.46 Chremylos’ wife welcomes the personification in this way, declaring that she is performing it “as if for a newlybought pair of eyes” (769), that is, as if Wealth had just been acquired as a slave. Thus, the katachusmata scene at first appears to gainsay the display of agency by Wealth; to Revermann, it “reaffirms the impression of subordination, appropriation, and Chremylos’ control over Wealth,” not only as material possessions, but also in reference to his agency.47 Yet the traditional role of the personified god as a giver of wealth complicates this ‘servile’ joke. The wife’s preparations raise the expectation that treats are going to be thrown to the audience, but Wealth stops her at the last minute and asks her to perform it at the hearth inside the household, “as is the custom” (hōsper nomos 795). This illustrates his previous programmatic statement: “The first time I enter your house (emou … eisiontos eis ten oikian) with my sight restored, you shouldn’t be bringing anything out, but rather taking something in” (791–793). To bring katachusmata outside would diminish the possessions inside the household, but it is also contrary to the traditional manifestation of Wealth’s power, whose entry inside a household signals an increase in prosperity.48 In entering, 46

47 48

See Torchio 2001: ad 768–769, as well as Paradiso 1987: 256–259 and Oakley and Sinos 1993: 34. For the symbol of prosperity, see schol. vet. 768a.5–6 Chantry. Revermann 2006: 289. Thus, rightly Sommerstein 2001: ad 792.

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he not only instructs the mistress of the house on the proper way to carry out the ritual, but, more significantly, he displays his traditional agency as ploutodotes. As we shall see in the next section, the report of the marvelous events that follow upon his reception into the house continues to stress that even the objects that are both caused by and represent Wealth are imbued with the supernatural power of the personification.

An Epiphany in the Household After Wealth’s second reception, Karion enters the stage from the skene and at long last satisfies the expectation of enrichment by delivering a second messenger speech on the miraculous abundance that Wealth has brought inside the household. This narrative re-establishes the relationship between the personification and the space by giving it the form of a divine epiphany. This alters the definition of the skene as a space, which is now not only an example of the benefits Wealth confers upon the community, but also the unique abode of the divinity. This narrative has been seen as a variation on the myth known by the Greeks as that of the archaios bios, the “good old days” or, as we term it now, the Golden Age, in which the motif of spontaneous abundance figures prominently.49 In this myth, the abundance is depicted as a state of agricultural self-sufficiency, in which nature of its own accord miraculously provides sustenance for all men.50 Without denying the importance of this myth for the comic fantasy, I propose that stories related to the epiphany of divinities better account for the abundance portrayed in Karion’s narrative. Konstan and Dillon have referred to an “epiphany” of the character in the second half of the play, where “his presence [signals] a new age of prosperity for all,”51 but the scene has so far not been discussed in terms of this specific religious experience. Within the context of Greek religion, an epiphany is usually defined as the manifestation of a god’s presence and power.52 This experience was a familiar feature of Greek religion; “[t]o the Greek mind,” Graf reminds us, “epiphanies were real and they were vital. Gods were irrelevant if they could not manifest themselves to humans.”53 Epiphanies were quite varied, and 49

50 51 52 53

See for instance Konstan and Dillon 1981, Dillon 1984:  189–190, and Bowie 1993:  282. On the Golden Age motif in Greek comedy in general, see Ruffell 2000 and Farioli 2001. Baldry 1952: 83. Konstan and Dillon 1981: 389. See also Dillon 1984: 185. The definition is from Graf 2004: 112. See also Petridou 2015: 2. Graf 2004: 113. The following brief introduction to epiphany owes much to Graf 2004, Dickie 2004, and the seminal article of Versnel 1987.

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ran the gamut from the bodily appearance of divinities to their appearance in dream visions, and, finally, to their manifestation through miracles and signs.54 Versnel explains that in the latter case, “gods were neither seen nor perceived, but their presence was proven by their performance.” In other words, the miraculous events testified to the gods’ presence nearby.55 Epiphanies appear in a wide range of texts, including drama and historiography, but there are also stand-alone narratives that focus entirely on the experience, though the examples that survive are from the Hellenistic period.56 The so-called Chronicle of Lindos, for instance, which dates to 99 bc, has a section entitled “epiphanies” that is dedicated entirely to these stories, and it is attested that other historians wrote individual works with this title from the third century bc onwards.57 Like the iamata and oracular tales surveyed in the previous chapters, epiphany narratives also share certain elements and motifs. Dickie’s broad overview of these tales, which runs from the Archaic to the imperial period of Greek culture, maps a set of shared features that, he argues, reflects “a pattern of learned responses” to this experience; that is, the pattern of these narratives prepared worshippers for what to expect from an epiphany, helping them identify, validate, and make sense of the experience.58 Among the elements that Dickie singles out are reactions of astonishment and fear, prayer and sacrifice, and acclamations of the deity.59 In this last respect, I would add, accounts of epiphanies serve a clear aretalogical purpose in that they celebrate the power of the god. The first epiphanic account in the Lindos chronicle can illustrate some of these recurring elements. It features two divine manifestations – a dream apparition and a miracle – but the main focus is on the latter, a marvelous rainstorm that is explicitly identified as an epiphany (D. 34 Higbie). The story relates how, during the siege of the acropolis of Lindos by Darius’ admiral Datis, when the Lindians were about to surrender for lack of water, the goddess Athena appeared to one of their leaders in dreams and told them not to lose heart, since she was going to ask her father Zeus to send rain. The Lindians then requested a truce, informing Datis of the apparition. He laughed and conceded their request. The next day, 54

55 56

57 58 59

I follow here the classification of Versnel 1987. On epiphany in general and its varieties, see now Petridou 2015, particularly 29–105, and Platt 2015: 493–496. Versnel 1987: 51. For epiphany in tragedy, see for instance Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 459–511. See also Platt 2011 on visual representations of epiphanies. See Higbie 2003: 276, Parker 2011: 10, n. 22, and Petridou 2015: 1, n. 3. Dickie 2004: 160 and 180. See now Petridou 2015: 18–20. For astonishment, see Dickie 2004: 168; for prayer and sacrifice, 177–178; for acclamation, 172–173.

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a rainstorm fell on the besieged, replenishing their reserves. In keeping with the motifs of epiphany accounts, Datis is said to have been “struck with amazement … at the epiphany of the goddess” (kataplageis … tan tas theou epiphaneian D. 33–34 Higbie). As the story makes clear, the besiegers instantly recognized that this sudden, miraculous abundance was a sign not only of divine favor, but also of Athena’s presence. As Datis declares, “the gods protect these people” (D. 46–47 Higbie). This epiphany, the chronicle reports, immediately moved Datis to make several dedications to Athena at her temple at Lindos, in recognition of her power (D. 34–42 Higbie). Greek drama too features epiphanies, though more often than not it prefers to stage them rather than reporting them through narratives, as in the frequent appearances of gods via the mechane in the conclusions of Euripidean plays; these dramatic epiphanies at times display the fear and amazement highlighted by Dickie.60 Signs and miracles that indicate the presence of a god are also dramatized, as in the striking case of Euripides’ Bacchae, where Dionysus’ liberation from his imprisonment is accompanied by an aural and visual epiphany which features the god’s voice, a shaking palace, and a flame shooting up from the tomb of Semele; the chorus reacts in fear (600–601, 604–605) to this manifestation and acclaims the god (590) while noting his presence inside the palace (589, 602–603). Comedy also has epiphanies, but unlike tragedy, where the appearance of the gods in the course of the play is almost always a momentous event, comic gods can appear on stage among mortals without eliciting the reactions expected from these experiences, as in the case of Hermes in Wealth. Yet when a manifestation of a divine power is called for, be it corporeal, as in the case of the appearance of the statue of Peace in the comedy of that title, or through miracles and signs, as in the case of Wealth, comedy rises to the occasion. Wealth in fact is rife with epiphanies: Karion’s comic iama reports not only Asclepius’ physical epiphany, but also the manifestation of his healing powers. And not only does Wealth appear in the prologue in a bodily manifestation, but much dramatic emphasis is placed on the eventual revelation of his identity, which is another traditional element of epiphanies.61 The epiphanic nature of the events narrated in the slave’s second messenger speech is signaled right at the start by a vivid image. He describes 60 61

See for instance Euripides, Heracles 815–821, Ion 1549–1552, and [Euripides], Rhesus 885–890. For this revelation as a characteristic of epiphanies, see Richardson 1974: ad 268.

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the miraculous abundance as a “heap of goods” (agathōn sōros 804) that “has burst into the household” (eis ten oikian / epeispepaiken 804–805).62 Karion goes on to detail this “heap” which filled the household, resolving the personification of Wealth into various material components, which are the focus of his narrative: Our grain tub’s filled with white barley, our casks with dark fragrant wine, and all our purses are full of gold and silver like you wouldn’t believe. Our well’s full of olive oil, our jars are brimming with perfume, and the attic with figs. Our saucers, dishes, and pots have turned to bronze, and those worn-out fish platters are silvery to behold. Our kitchen’s suddenly turned to ivory. We slaves pitch pennies with gold staters, and in our luxury we no longer use stones to wipe our bottoms, but cloves of garlic every time. Right now our master’s in there all garlanded and offering up pig, goat, and ram, but the smoke’s driven me outside here. (806–821)

The narrator’s indication of amazement (hōste thaumasai 809) at the transformation brought about by the reception, and the sacrifice that concludes the report (819–821) match recurring elements identified by Dickie. But there is an additional reason to see this event as an epiphany:  The new abundance occurs not just as objects, as goods stored inside the household, but also as a force, as sharing the agency of the personification. Consider the startling verb that Karion uses to introduce the “heap of goods”: These riches, as the slave puts it, “burst into” (epeispepaiken 805) the household. This term indicates a sudden and even disruptive entry  – for instance, that of an enemy breaching the city walls, a jealous lover crashing a rival’s drinking party, or a distraught man breaking into his household.63 This type of manifestation is also typical of epiphanies. When narrating the celebrated encounter of Philippides with Pan, Herodotus employs the verb peripiptei (“to fall in with” 6.105), “stressing” in this way, Versnel notes, “the suddenness of the experience.”64 The goods, in their sudden irruption, are the manifestation of the power that grants them, but they are also imbued 62

63

64

This initial image is a reversal of the initial presentation of Wealth as having arrived with a “heap of ills” (kakōn … sōron 270). For the verb eispaio applied to a military attack, see Josephus, The Jewish War 4.67; the scholiasts to Wealth note that this is its proper meaning (schol. vet. 805a and schol. rec. 805b Chantry). For the lover, see Lucian, Dialogues of the Courtesans 15.1. The messenger of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King uses this verb to describe the irruption of the distraught protagonist into the palace (1252), which distracts him from witnessing the death of Jocasta (1251–1253). Versnel 1987: 49; he goes on to compare this action to the sudden onset of theoleptic states related to Dionysus and the Nymphs (49–50). Herodotus uses this verb again to describe how a mystery boat “fell in with” the Corinthian warships fleeing the battle of Salamis, and told them to return to join the victorious Greeks – an event that is presented as a supernatural encounter (8.94).

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with that same power. Wealth as object has filled the household space, but through his own agency. The epiphanic dimension of the second messenger speech of Wealth is reinforced by the fact that it is an adaptation of a passage in Sophocles’ Inachos that described, as a scholiast informs us, how “everything” inside an interior space “became full of good things after Zeus entered [it] (tou Dios eiselthontos)” (fr. 275 TrGF). The location where this took place in the Sophoclean original is not specified, but it is almost certainly the household of the title character, because we know that Zeus entered this household early in the play in order to transform Inachos’ daughter Io into a heifer.65 The extent of the adaptation in Wealth is debated,66 but more important is the context of the Inachos passage:  The abundance follows upon the entrance and manifestation of a divinity inside a household. A second fragment from the Inachos corroborates the relevance of the context through the identification of the god thought to be responsible for the abundance. At one point in Wealth, Aristophanes refers to the title character as Ploutōn (727) instead of Ploutos, that is, by a proper name denoting an actual person, which means “he who grants and/or has wealth,” instead of a personified concept.67 A scholiast parallels this usage by citing a line from Sophocles’ Inachos: “the entrance of Ploutōn” (fr. 273 TrGF). Scholars have linked this fragment to the entrance and manifestation of Zeus, and debate whether the name Ploutōn here may indicate that the Zeus of the play Inachos is actually Hades, i.e. Pluto, the “Zeus” of the underworld.68 But another explanation is possible. The speaker, unaware of the identity of the supernatural visitor, could have suggested this name on the basis of the miraculous effects of his reception. In Inachos, Zeus entered the household of Inachos in disguise, and a fragmentary exchange from the first part of Sophocles’ play repeatedly refers to the man who transformed Io as a “stranger.”69 Versnel indicates that, in the case of miracles that “prove” a deity’s presence, these are “often of a kind that betray the specific nature of the god involved.”70 The miraculous abundance would have led the speaker 65

66

67

68

69 70

See fr. **269a TrGF, which preserves the original line numbering of the play at line 36. The report of the transformation of Io takes place around line 300. Regarding the extent of the adaptation, Radt observes:  “quae ex his Sophocli adscribenda sint, incertum” (fr. 275 TrGF); see also schol. vet. Ploutos 806b Chantry. For the meaning of the name, see Wüst 1951: 992. For the use of the suffix -ōn, -ōnos to create proper names, see Chantraine 1933: 161 (§120). This idea was proposed by Seaford 1980; a summary of the discussion can be found in O’Sullivan and Collard 2013: 317. For mentions of the “stranger,” see Sophocles fr. **269a.23, 45, and 49 TrGF. Versnel 1987: 52.

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to guess that the god was a wealth-granting divinity, which he therefore identifies as Ploutōn, unaware that the true identity of the god in this case is Zeus himself. The difference in the play Wealth would be that, unlike the case of mistaken identity in Inachos, the title character of the comedy actually is both the god and the abundance, both personal entity and personified riches, whose nature is perfectly reflected in his own manifestation. We can tease out a third detail of the Sophoclean epiphany from another fragment of the Inachos (fr. 283 TrGF), even though its reading is uncertain. A character mentions the god Ploutōn once again, together with the purpose of “avoiding blame,” or as an outcome of being “blameless” (two possible translations for the phrase amempheias charin in the fragment). The fragment may hint, as Stephanie West observes, that the abundance in the Sophoclean drama, for which Ploutōn is imagined to be responsible, could have been some sort of restitution or reward.71 To support this interpretation, she points to a mythic parallel: the Philemon and Baucis episode in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where Zeus and Hermes in disguise are received by a poor but honest couple, and make their divine favor and presence known by a miraculous abundance of wine (8.679–680), and by the transformation of the thatched hut that received them into an ornate, marble temple (8.698–702). This epiphany through physical presence and abundance comes very close to Karion’s messenger speech. In this light, the sudden enrichment of the household in Wealth, which is undoubtedly presented as a divine reward, would once again be associated, through its Sophoclean model, with the manifestation of a god’s power. But is this divine reward unique to Chremylos? As previously noted, both Wealth’s second speech and Karion’s report from inside the household depict this space as exemplary. Wealth singles out the house of Chremylos as an example of the rewards he now intends for honest men: In entering it, Wealth enters them all. The slave’s repeated role as messenger, announcing the abundance enjoyed by the chorus but from inside his own household, also establishes this space as exemplary. Karion’s performance acts as a bridge between the epiphanic experience of the household of Chremylos and that of the community of good men represented by the chorus. This exemplary quality of the messenger speech might lead us to conclude that Wealth is also present as a divinity in other offstage, honest households, but this is quickly disproved. As the subsequent stage action makes clear, the household of Chremylos is treated as a unique space, distinct from other households. Wealth may be present as material possessions in other 71

West 1984: 298. See also Seaford 1980: 26.

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households, he may have exerted his power in these spaces, but as a supernatural agent, as a divinity, he is only present within the household represented by the skene. The uniqueness of the space is underlined by the words and ritual actions of the various mortal visitors who arrive right after Karion’s report of the epiphany. In contrast to the chorus and Blepsidemos in the first part of the play, who seek their share of riches, the new arrivals do not seek a portion of the interior abundance; rather, they seek the god.

Relocating Ritual The presence of Wealth inside the skene, Revermann has noted, becomes a powerful referent in the second part of the play, even though the character remains for the most part out of sight of the audience.72 When the informer accuses Wealth of making him poor, for instance, he refers three times to the divinity behind the closed doors with the demonstrative houtos (858, 865, 946). But it is the honest man, who enters right after the slave reports the epiphany, who specifies the exact nature of this presence. As he says to his companion: “Come along, my child, so we can visit the god (hina pros ton theon iōmen)” (823–824). The expression of moving “towards the god” (pros ton theon) implies coming not only into the presence of the god, but by extension also into his precinct.73 This sense is found, for instance, in Karion’s earlier use of the expression at 653, “as soon as we came to the god (pros ton theon),” in reference to the sanctuary of Asclepius. The honest man repeats the phrase “towards the god” three more times in twenty lines, to drive home this point.74 Another visitor, an old woman, confirms this identification when she asks the chorus, “Have I really come to the dwelling of this new god? (epi ten oikian … tou neou toutou theou)” (959–960). Her expression, “the dwelling of this new god,” indicates that she regards the skene as a domestic space in which Wealth now resides, a perspective she then backs up by calling someone from inside to attend her (964). As a result, the definition of the skene undergoes a perceptible shift in the second half of Wealth. The focus on this space is maintained but it is no longer identified solely as the house of Chremylos. Instead, the skene is treated as if it contained a sanctuary of Wealth.

72 73

74

Revermann 2006: 265. Cf. also Menander’s The Bad-Tempered Man: When Knemon refuses the invitation to attend his daughter’s wedding at the shrine of Pan, Simiche chides him by saying, “When these people want to take you to the god (pros ton theon), you say no” (876–877). In addition to Wealth 823–824, see also 827–828, 840–841, and 844.

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Fernández and Zelnick-Abramovitz were the first to observe this shift. They note in passing how not only the words of the visitors, but also their actions, treat the space as a sacred precinct, as the mortal worshippers approach the space where Wealth resides to pray and set up their votive offerings to the new god.75 However, neither of these two scholars presented evidence for this in detail, as will be done in this section. In addition to defining the skene as a religious space, the honest man also states that he has come “to pay the god my respects” (proseuxomenos 841), and Karion echoes this statement at 958: “Now let’s go inside so you can make your devotions to the god (hina proseuxēi ton theon).” Moreover, when the honest man declares in 844, “I’m bringing my cloak to the god, to dedicate it (anathesōn) to him,” the action he announces, that of setting up thankofferings, is one that is performed at a location where a god is present, that is, at a shrine or sacred precinct. The same ritual intent is displayed by another visitor, the young lover, who wishes to dedicate (anatheinai 1089) a garland to the god Wealth (tōi theōi 1088). Likewise, Karion’s act of violence against the informer at lines 926–943 parodies the act of dedication. After forcing him to strip and wear the shabby old cloak that the honest man was going to dedicate to the god, the slave mockingly states that the informer would be a better place to dedicate it (kallion anatethesetai 938).76 Karion even nails the old shoes of the honest man to the mask of the informer, in the way a votive offering (like a wooden tablet) would be set up on a tree (942–943).77 This ritual activity of dedication, it should be noted, is not taking place at other rich households; neither the honest man nor the young one, for instance, set up their votive offerings in their own house, but only in the house of Chremylos. The sacrifice reported at the close of Karion’s messenger speech (819– 821) is another ritual that signals a change in the definition of the skene. This ritual should be understood as a thank-offering for divine favor. The fact that this event takes place inside a household would be unremarkable, were it not for the type of sacrifice involved. The slave refers to the ceremony with the verb bouthutein (819), a word usually applied to large and solemn sacrifices, and identifies the type of offering as that of animals from three different species, called a trittoia. On the surface, this lavish sacrifice humorously illustrates the fantastic abundance now present in the honest household. Yet the surviving historical evidence for the trittoia, as 75 76 77

Fernández 2002: 360 and Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002: 35. In the ascription of lines to characters I here follow Wilson 2007a. See Sommerstein 2001: ad 943.

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Sommerstein observes, points to its use in public offerings.78 The nature of this sacrifice thus complicates the straightforward identification of the interior of the skene as a domestic space. Chremylos’ offstage sacrifice signals the demise of two offstage spaces associated with Zeus, when Hermes and a priest, starved of offerings, cut their ties to Olympus and to the sanctuary of Zeus the Savior, respectively, and seek to be installed in the space where sacrifices and other dedications are being offered now.79 The demise of this sanctuary, a real religious landmark in Piraeus, is central to the redefinition of the skene as a religious space, since the space of Wealth with its ritual activity is marked as a competitor to an established cult of the polis. The realignment of sacred spaces in the play is confirmed by the radical transformation of their respective functions. The priest informs Chremylos that, since everyone is already rich (1178), no one is sacrificing to Zeus anymore. He then describes the previous and current use of the space under his supervision: καίτοι τότε, ὅτ’ εἶχον οὐδέν, ὁ μὲν ἂν ἥκων ἔμπορος ἔθυσεν ἱερεῖόν τι σωθείς, ὁ δέ τις ἂν δίκην ἀποφυγών, ὁ δ’ ἂν ἐκαλλιερεῖτό τις κἀμέ γ’ ἐκάλει τὸν ἱερέα. νῦν δ’ οὐδὲ εἷς θύει τὸ παράπαν οὐδὲν οὐδ’ εἰσέρχεται, πλὴν ἀποπατησόμενοί γε πλεῖν ἢ μύριοι.

(1178–1184)

When they had nothing, the merchant back safely from a voyage would make a sacrifice, and the man acquitted in court, and the man whose sacrifice was auspicious would invite me over as a priest. But now not a single one sacrifices anything at all, or even comes to the temple, except for countless thousands looking for a toilet.

The priest contrasts the cultic activities of giving a thank-offering with the actions of the current visitors, who are now putting this offstage space to the lowliest of uses. The euphemistic verb apopateo (1184), which means “to walk apart” with the implicit idea to relieve oneself, is especially pointed, since it treats the temple as now being out of the way – a striking contrast 78

79

The term bouthutein is employed even when oxen are not involved:  See Sommerstein 2001:  ad 819 and ThesCRA i.2a. Sacrifices:  61. For the trittoia, see ThesCRA i.2a. Sacrifices:  110, and also Sommerstein 2001: ad 820. Cf. Fernández 2002:  254–255 and Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002:  35. Regarding sacrifice, ZelnickAbramovitz 2002: 36 notes an echo of the language of religious regulations in the slave’s reply to Hermes that “it is not possible to take out” (ouk ekphora 1138) a portion of the sacrificial meat; she sees this remark as evidence of the transformation of the skene into a shrine.

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to its previous popularity and the present influx of mortal visitors to the “dwelling of Wealth” (959–960). Moreover, the transformation of the precinct into an appropriate spot for defecating indicates that the typical religious laws of purity are no longer being enforced in the offstage space: The sanctuary has simply ceased to be used for religious activities.80 Chremylos even mocks the priest by instructing him to take his portion of the new “offering,” shit (1185). When the priest renounces his duties to the old divinity (1186–1187) to take up a position “right here” (enthad’ autou 1187), that is, inside the skene, the collapse of the offstage sacred space is complete. The dwelling of the new god has now supplanted an established cult of the polis and even acquired its own priest. Another curious indication of the coexistence of a household and a shrine is Hermes’ attempt to wheedle his way inside the skene.81 The god treats this reception as an act of hidrysis (1153), that is, as a ritual establishment, as if he were a sacred image, like the statue of Peace in Aristophanes’ comedy of the same name.82 Hermes first calls upon Karion to receive him as a xunoikon (1147), a “fellow inhabitant.” The term suits a mortal household, but when the slave asks him how he would benefit the space (1152), Hermes proposes various cult titles, or epikleseis, to reflect his new role in the space. The scene is remarkable in that it allows us to explore the function of these epikleseis, as Parker recommends, “in relation to the physical and social contexts in which they were used.”83 A few of them can be associated with specific locations. The first cult title Hermes proposes, for instance, is that of strophaios (1153), the god of the door hinge. Hermes himself points to the spot where he would like to be installed:  “by the door” (1153). This space is, in fact, the traditional place where herms were erected, namely by the entrance to the house. Since these images were part of the domestic cult of Athenian households, Hermes would thus be treating the skene as a private household.84 However, the last cult title complicates this identification. He is finally established as Hermes enagonios (1161), that is, as the god of competitions since, as he explains, “holding artistic and athletic contests is perfectly congenial to Wealth” (1162–1163). When Hermes indicates that this role is “most 80

81

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83 84

I follow here Astrid Lindenlauf ’s paper on waste regulations in Greek sanctuaries, which she presented at Bryn Mawr College in April 2011. I thank her for sharing it with me. Recent studies of the episode are Olson 1990:  236–238, Newman 1999:  34–37, Sommerstein 2001: 15–17, and Ludwig 2014: 215–217. Cf. Peace 923, 1090–1091, Wealth 1191–1193, and Aristophanes fr. 591.84–89 PCG. For the ritual, see Burkert 1985: 89 and Olson 1998: ad 923. Parker 2003: 180. For the cult, see Parker 2005: 19–20 and ThesCRA viii.4b Hauskulte, gr., 2.4.

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appropriate” (sumphorotaton 1162) to Wealth, as Sommerstein clarifies, he is not only referring to wealth as the financial resources necessary to pay for competitions, but also to Wealth’s status as a new divinity, in whose honor Hermes will supervise the games. Sommerstein further notes, regarding the phrase “to hold contests” (poiein agonas 1163), that “competitions were said to be ‘held’ either by a state, or by a cult-association, or by their patron god.”85 The known references to cults of Hermes enagonios are in fact associated with competitions in religious sanctuaries. Sacrifices were offered to him in this capacity during the Eleusinia games organized by the sanctuary of Demeter at Eleusis, and Pausanias notes that there was an altar of Hermes enagonios in the precinct of Zeus at Olympia, erected “not far from the entrance to the stadium.”86 Hermes’ role in the new space would thus be one that is more suited to a public sanctuary. At the end of this scene, Karion drolly exploits the multivalent relationship between Hermes’ epithets and the offstage space he wishes to join. He sends the god inside with an invented epiklesis, diakonikos (1170), “servant god,” to perform the menial duty of washing tripe at the well (1169). The Hermes episode may conclude by giving humorous prominence to the domestic, but his hidrysis offstage as enagonios has already marked the inside of the skene as a space that spans the private and public, the domestic and religious. As Karion observes, it is useful for the god to have “so many names” (1164) – a versatility he shares with the space that receives him. The presence of Wealth inside the skene endows the domestic shrine with worshippers, rituals, an aspiring priest, and even an ancillary divinity. At the end of the comedy, Wealth’s own hidrysis in the Akropolis brings to an end his identification with the skene, but even in this final stage movement we can see how far the definition of the skene has evolved. As Chremylos announces to the priest: ἱδρυσόμεθ’ οὖν αὐτίκα μάλ’ – ἀλλὰ περίμενε – τὸν Πλοῦτον, οὗπερ πρότερον ἦν ἱδρυμένος, τὸν ὀπισθόδομον ἀεὶ φυλάττων τῆς θεοῦ.

(1191–1193)

We’re going to install Wealth right now – but wait – right where he was installed before, as permanent guardian of the Opisthodomos of Athena.87

85 86

87

See Sommerstein 2001: ad 1162. For the sacrifice to Hermes at Eleusis, see Parker 2005: 328 and IG i3 5.3; for the altar at Olympia, Pausanias 5.14.9. I have altered Henderson’s translation here to reflect the Greek more closely.

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The command “but wait” (ἀλλὰ περίμενε 1191), and the stage action it implies, is striking. This abrupt remark, as Sommerstein observes, would imply that the priest, upon hearing of the establishment of the god, had made a motion to enter the skene;88 that is, he had assumed that this action would naturally take place inside the skene, the location where Hermes had just been admitted for his own hidrysis, and the place to which ritual activities had been transferred from the priest’s former sanctuary.

A Household Shrine This transformation of a domestic interior may seem radical to us, but it may not have been so for the original audience, not only in terms of the “logic” introduced by the relocation of ritual activities, but also in relation to their expectations of what constitutes sacred space. Aristophanes’ redefinition of the skene as a sacred space is based on existing cultural conventions permitting flexible assignment of spaces for different activities within Athenian households. There is ample literary evidence that shrines were commonly set up in Athenian homes, and that divinities other than the typical household gods were granted their own space in them.89 An oft-quoted passage from Plato’s Laws (909d–910c) even attacks this custom, which he depicts as pervasive and in need of regulation. Keeping to comedy, a household shrine plays a central role in the plot of Menander’s Apparition, where a mother set one up to conceal a passageway that allowed her to meet in secret with her daughter next door. Domestic shrines must have been a familiar feature of religious life at the time if she would not have raised suspicions by doing this.90 The process by which a certain domestic space was assigned for a ritual practice is not dissimilar to Aristophanes’ own treatment of presentational space. In a recent study of Classical Greek houses, Morgan argues that spaces in private buildings were generally “blank canvases, capable of changing their role according to the needs of the occupants. This means that a room can change from being a domestic space into being a workplace or even a religious space in a short period of time.”91 She argues that ritual activities, and the introduction, manipulation, and presence of religious artifacts, would have been enough to transform a domestic space 88 89

90 91

Sommerstein 2001: ad 1191. For household religion in general, see Faraone 2008, Boedeker 2008, Morgan 2010: 143–165, and ThesCRA viii.4b Hauskulte, gr. For the establishment of private sanctuaries, see Purvis 2003. See Apparition 51–56, and test. vi Arnott. Morgan 2010: 54.

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into a religious one, even if only temporarily.92 The archaeological evidence supports this. At Olynthus, for example, portable altars have been found in a wide variety of rooms in the excavated fourth-century houses. The so-called House of the Tiled Prothyon is particularly revealing. Cahill’s study of the organization of the house, based on the artifacts found in each room, suggests that the presence of portable altars in two rooms indicates that these spaces were set apart for religious practices; the rooms showed no sign of having been used for other domestic activities, such as food preparation or cooking.93 Given this arrangement, Cahill floats the possibility that the house “might have served as a sanctuary,” but he is more inclined to think that it was “more probably … a household particularly concerned with ritual.” As he mentions, Robinson and Mylonas even proposed that the house belonged to a priest.94 The audience would hence not have been surprised by the creation of a shrine inside the household space of Wealth. But would these household shrines have been readily accessible to the general public, as in the comedy? Chremylos and his slave keep the space under their domestic supervision, alternating on stage to control who enters, yet only one of the visitors, the informer, is excluded.95 All the other visitors  – the honest man, the old woman, her younger lover, and even the god Hermes – are welcomed into the presence of the god. As McGlew has observed, in sharp contrast to a comedy like Birds, in which the majority of the intruders are denied access to Peisetairos’ newly founded city, Wealth can be read as an “exercise in social inclusion” in creating a new community.96 92

93

94 95

96

More permanent religious spaces did exist in Classical Greek households. In addition to courtyard altars, known from literary testimonies and archaeological evidence, there is also the case of a shrine discovered in a so-called terracotta factory in Corinth. This building, now identified as a domestic household where clay figurines were produced, had a room with two fixed altars that was used as a ritual space for several generations, from the end of the fifth century bc up to the destruction of the house in the last decades of the following century (Williams 1981: 418–420). Household shrines with fixed altars have also been identified in Classical households recently excavated in the ancient deme sites of Aixone and Halai Aixonidai (Papadopoulou 2015–2016: 105–106). Cahill 2002: 144–147. Robinson, who excavated the house, saw small ash deposits in the center of one of the rooms and a crushed lead patera that lay nearby as signs of a religious ceremony; these deposits, he suggests, may come from sacrifices carried out at one of the altars (1946: 222–223). Cahill 2002: 147. The suggestion is actually Mylonas’: see Robinson 1946: 209. For the supervision, see Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002: 35. For recent analyses of the rejection of the informer, see McGlew 2002: 185–186, Ruffell 2006: 99–101, and Ludwig 2014: 209–210. McGlew 2002: 186. Revermann 2006 has also rightly pointed out that there is “a forceful message [of inclusion] inherent in the handling of the intruder sequence” (292). No one is rejected in Lysistrata and Assemblywomen either: In the latter, the nature of the comic plan includes all the inhabitants of the polis from the start, even troublemakers like the selfish man; and in the former, the women’s plan returns the warring Greek husbands to their wives and domestic life. The comic plan of Wealth, on the other hand, does initially mark out a certain group for exclusion – the dishonest but rich – who are specifically contrasted to the poor but honest. Aristophanes could have

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The procession at the end of the comedy, which sets off from the household, further testifies to this inclusive quality. Although Chremylos himself organizes the procession, the characters who take prominent roles in it are not related to the skene as members of the household. The priest of Zeus the Savior, who wanted to transfer his duties to the interior space, is asked by Chremylos to lead the procession to the Akropolis, where Wealth will finally be established. The old woman, who had exited into the skene at 1096, now re-enters the orchestra unannounced from the same space and is given a role in the procession, carrying the offering for the establishment of the divinity (1197ff.).97 Her return to the stage is remarkable, in that few arrivals in the second half of the comedy, once admitted into the skene, make a second onstage appearance.98 Like the priest, she is not a member of the household of Chremylos; she is related to it only as a devotee of the new god who resides there. In a study of private cults in Classical Greece, Purvis has observed  that, “Whereas domestic cults relied on invitations to rites for extra-familial participants, and were thus private in terms of their exclusivity, those outside the household assumed the admission of all unless otherwise specified by cult regulations”; outside cults “tend to be characterized by an attitude of inclusion, rather than exclusion.”99 In the play, Chremylos and Karion may be in charge of inviting people into the presence of Wealth, but these others also approach the god of their own volition, seeking inclusion in a space that does not turn them away. Wealth’s domestic shrine thus shares this feature of the “outside” cults, blurring the lines between the domestic and the public. Parallels for this situation can be found outside comedy. Morgan has recently made the interesting suggestion that, as no sanctuaries and public shrines have yet been found in the excavated site of Olynthus, spaces for worship should be sought inside the buildings that until now have been identified as households.100 She proposes, for instance, that a suite of

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99 100

followed Peace in the second part of his comedy: There, he nicely balances and contrasts pairs of arrivals, who are alternately accepted and rejected depending on whether they stand for peace or war, respectively. He did follow this pattern in the first two arrivals, the honest man and the informer, but all subsequent arrivals, including those formerly associated with misanthropic Zeus, are incorporated into the new cult of Wealth. The text does not reveal whether more characters entered the stage to form part of the procession. Wealth is played in this scene by a mute actor, so other characters (for instance, Karion) could have appeared as mutes too. Moreover, given that the Old Woman’s stage entrance out of the skene is unprepared and unannounced, the entrance of other characters could have been done in a similar fashion. See Sommerstein 2001: ad 1194–1209. A similar example is the return to the stage of the Spartan and Athenian delegates in Lysistrata; see Henderson 1987: ad 1216–1238. Purvis 2003: 5–6. Morgan 2011: 460–463. For a detailed description of building B vi 7, see Morgan 2010: 83–85.

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rooms in house B vi 7, which featured an altar, a statue of Asclepius, and an andron where couches were set up, could be a shrine to the healer god “owned or cared for by a resident family but available for general use.”101 Cahill, as we have seen above, is inclined to see the House of the Tiled Prothyron as a domestic space, though he does float the possibility that it could have been a sanctuary. In contrast to the possible shrine in house B vi 7, which was accessible from the entrance corridor to the building, and set apart from the courtyard around which the residential space was located, the access to the proposed shrines of the House of the Tiled Prothyron was through the courtyard of the house. Cahill has associated the evidence for food preparation and cooking in another room in the building with its use as a sanctuary, but since weaving was practiced as well, it likely also served as a domestic space.102 Could this be a sanctuary that was open to the public and was also a domestic space? This would not be hard to imagine, given that there is evidence for transformations of domestic spaces that go further than this example and even beyond Aristophanes’ own treatment of religious space. For instance, a mid-fourth-century Attic inscription reports that, in accordance with an oracle, the Athenian Demon offered his house and garden to Asclepius, and that the demos made him the god’s priest.103 The act of dedication, as well as the owner’s new role, would imply that these domestic spaces were now treated as a sacred, public space under his supervision. In his brief interpretation of the use of space in Wealth, Lowe argues that the dramatic action of the comedy “negotiate[s] a strongly-thematised relationship between private and public spaces in which the [skene] door to the hero’s house is the principal boundary, and movements across this boundary mark key phases in the establishment and extension of the new utopian order” of the comedy; in this light, the skene, after the second reception of Wealth, becomes “a kind of indoor utopia,” an “individualistic private space,” in Lowe’s words.104 This interpretation follows his proposal, noted at the start of this chapter, that there is a convention, shared with tragedy, that makes “the stage space in front of the skene … a zone of contestation and mediation between the domain of the private individual or family and the wider community of the polis and the world outside.”105 101 102 103 104

105

Morgan 2010: 85. Cahill 2002: 146–147. IG ii2 4969. See Parker 1996: 250. Lowe 2006: 51; cf. also 56. Bowie shares this perspective, noting how “control of the universe has passed from the palaces of Olympus to the house of one just man” (1993: 291). See also McGlew 2002: 183. Lowe 2006: 63.

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Yet the tension between the interior domestic spaces and exterior public ones in Wealth goes beyond this conventional opposition. Lowe’s observation may hold true for the contrasted receptions of the first part of the play, but after the second reception of the god, the “logic” of how the space is defined changes. The new utopian order ushered into Chremylos’ household by Wealth’s miraculous enrichment can be considered as private and domestic, but it is not tied to a single individual, since it is manifest in other households at the same time. It is ultimately to be understood as exemplary, even communal. The indoor space of the skene may be the “scenic encapsulation” of this utopia in a domestic space, as Revermann puts it, yet, as Fernández notes, “the household of Chremylos is the center of the ‘universe’ only insofar as the god inhabits it.”106 And once the household is transformed into a shrine frequented by external worshippers, the private becomes a public space as well. What the resulting space then encapsulates is a particular situation: the tension between the arrival of new cults and the established ones, which will be the topic of my next chapter.

106

Revermann 2006: 290; Fernández 2002: 254.

Ch apter 5

A New God Arrives

In tracing the evolving definition of the performance space of Wealth, we witnessed the arrival of a god and the impact of his establishment on the religious life of the household and the community. These events, as I will show in this chapter, are modeled after stories of cult introduction in Greek religion; the pattern of these “new god tales,” as I will call them, is how the ancient Greeks gave narrative shape to this particular religious experience. The connection of Wealth to the phenomenon has not gone unnoticed in the scholarship. Auffarth, for example, discusses the comedy in his study of the Athenian conception of new gods during and after the Peloponnesian War.1 I  already mentioned how Lowe links Wealth’s treatment of space to cult introduction, which establishes the relationship between the domestic and public spaces in the comedy.2 However, this treatment is in fact part of the larger narrative pattern  of the new god tales, which constitutes the fundamental framework through which the playwright establishes and explores the comic fantasy, presenting it as a significant event in the religious life of the community. This framework also encompasses the comic versions of the individual story patterns we have surveyed in previous chapters. The use of this type of tale in Aristophanic comedy offers a further opportunity to explore how the genre engaged with Athenian religious life. The arrivals of Wealth and Peace have been studied before in terms of narrative patterns. Bowie’s work on myth and ritual in Aristophanes, for instance, argues that an anodos myth – that is, an account of “the return of a god to his full powers after a period of withdrawal”  – lies behind the treatment of these characters in their respective comedies.3 Sfyroeras proposed that the action of Peace follows a specific mythic and festival 1 2 3

Auffarth 1995: 361–363. Lowe 2006: 51. Bowie 1993: 142–145 for Peace, and 272–273 for Wealth. See also Olson 1998: xxxv–xxxviii.

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pattern, that of the re-enactment of the arrival of Dionysus in the Greater Dionysia. Although his focus is more on the symbolism of the festival than on cult introduction, he suggests that the plot could have been influenced by contemporary discussions of the introduction of Asclepius, which took place shortly after Peace was staged; if so, the festival would have “provided a suitable context for reflecting on the arrival of new cults, fictional or real.”4 Miles considers the possibility that Aristophanes’ treatment of Wealth could be parallel to the introduction of Asclepius in the period.5 However, neither she nor Lowe or Sfyroeras elaborate on what the connections between the comedies and these religious events may mean. “It can hardly be doubted,” according to Garland, “that a god’s entry constituted a moment of supreme tension and drama in the life of the community, comparable in intensity to the strength of the community’s yearning for his presence in its midst.”6 This somewhat exaggerates the point – it is hard to imagine that all arrivals generated such a level of anxiety – and what Garland has in mind here are those introductions that had a traceable impact on the public life of Athens, such as those of Bendis and Asclepius. Yet his observation captures a significant aspect of the comic treatment of this event in Wealth and Peace, namely the conflicts and rejoicing that follow the arrival and establishment of new gods in the community. The “new god tales” share with these comedies not only a series of motifs and a sequence of events, but also the expectations – the tension and yearning highlighted by Garland – that are part of the experience of these events. My study of Aristophanes’ treatment of these narratives will pay special attention to these expectations, particularly with regard to the impact of the new god on the existing cults of the community.

New God Tales The introduction of new gods is a common and recognizable feature of Greek polytheism, which Aristophanes’ audience would surely have experienced at some point in their lives.7 For instance, the Thracian goddess Bendis was welcomed to Piraeus sometime in the playwright’s youth, 4 5 6

7

Sfyroeras 2013: 654, n. 8. Miles 2011: 122. Garland 1992: 22. The phenomenon was “evidently one of special importance and sensitivity” for the community, as Parker remarks (2011: 273) with an eye to the trial of Socrates, who was accused of introducing new gods; see also Allan 2004: 125. For recent work on the introduction of new gods, particularly in Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries bc, see Garland 1992, Auffarth 1995, the discussion in Eder 1995: 416–426, Parker 1996: 152– 198, 227–242, Versnel 1998: 102–122, Beschi 2002, Parker 2011: 273–277, Rubel 2014: 99–110, and Anderson 2015. For individual case studies in the Hellenistic period and beyond, see Bonnet and Bricault 2016. For new gods in Greek drama, see Versnel 1998: 156–205, Allan 2004, and Delneri 2006.

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before he began his career in 427 bc, and Asclepius arrived in Athens in 420/19 bc, the year after he staged Peace.8 The practice ranged widely, from an individual setting up an altar to a new god based on a dream, to the establishment of a cult to a god under a new epiklesis, to the decision of a citizen body to bring in gods from outside the community.9 The reasons for these introductions were quite varied, from humdrum personal need to complex social, political, and religious calculations at the level of the polis.10 These reasons may seem pragmatic or self-interested to our contemporary eyes, but behind them lies the belief that the deities involved had given their consent to, or even commanded, their own introduction. Recent scholarship, in particular the work of Garland and Parker, has done much to throw light on the practice, illuminating the recurring features of the process as well as the beliefs and motives involved. Its narrative representation has received less attention, and will be my focus here. That there is a pattern to the evidence is often acknowledged, but usually taken for granted, being glossed, for example, simply as a “conventional narrative of the arrival of a new god,” as Anderson states in relation to Plutarch’s account of the origin of the cult of Sarapis in Alexandria.11 A detailed examination of this type of tale in antiquity is still needed. Nonetheless, two studies have covered enough ground to allow a sketch of its basic components. Schmidt’s 1909 study of new cults in Rome, Alexandria, and Christian Europe posited the existence of a type of legend behind these events that combined motifs from narratives of cult foundations and epiphanies, which he called a “transfer tale” (Übertragungsgeschichte).12 And in 2001 Gebhard picked up where Schmidt left off, examining the “consistency of the pattern” with more refined results.13 Although more selective in her choice of testimonies, unlike Schmidt she examines

8

9

10

11

12 13

Bendis first appears in an Athenian public account of 429/8 bc (IG i3 383): see Parker 1996: 195; the date of Asclepius’ arrival is known from SEG 47:232. Parker 1996:  153–163 and 2011:  273–275 provides a useful survey of various types of religious innovations related to new divinities. Garland 1992:  4–9, Parker 1996:  186–187, and Anderson 2015 provide an overview of possible motives and interests surrounding the introduction of new gods. For the difficulties in determining these motives, see Garland 1992: 20, 173. Anderson 2015: 319. Other examples of this acknowledgment:  Parker mentions that the story of the arrival of the cult of the Mother in Athens imitates “an aetiological legend of familiar type” (1996: 190). Kearns, when discussing narratives of cult foundations by gods and heroes, mentions that they “provide a template … the pattern” for future foundations (2015: 31). Moyer likewise notes that the foundation stories of the sanctuaries of Sarapis in the Greek world share a narrative pattern and motifs (2011: 168–169). As this chapter makes clear, this pattern is not exclusive to Sarapis and antedates the Hellenistic period. Schmidt 1909. Gebhard 2001: 452–453.

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accounts from the time of Aristophanes, in particular the inscription on the so-called Telemachos Monument (SEG 47:232), from ca. 400 bc, which commemorates the foundation of the sanctuary of Asclepius on the south slope of the Athenian Akropolis. A clarification of terminology is necessary. Gebhard follows Schmidt in referring to the narratives as “transfer tales,” a name that highlights the motif of the transfer of a god and his cult from one location to another. The term was appropriate to Schmidt’s analysis, given the role played by this motif in the tales he chose to focus on:  the voyages of Magna Mater and Asclepius from their home sanctuaries to Rome. Yet the term is rather restrictive, since a transfer is only one of several motifs in the larger pattern, albeit an important one. Not all new gods needed to be transferred. A divinity who was already benefiting a community might ask for proper worship, as was apparently the case with Pan, who rebuked the Athenians for not recognizing the help he had given to them “many times already” (Herodotus 6.105).14 In the case of the eponymous personifications of Wealth and Peace, there is no mention of a transfer because they are not portrayed in the comedy as having previously had a cult outside the community; if anything, they are returning to communities they originally benefited, in part reflecting the anodos mythical pattern we noted above. A focus on conveyance, I believe, also masks the agency in the process of the god himself, whose divine manifestation is the main motif of these tales, as we will see. Another option is to call them “cult foundation tales,” highlighting one of their purposes, namely to explain how a cult was established. Yet, as Garland shows in his study of the aitia of Athenian cults, not all accounts of new foundations arise from the introduction of a divinity,15 so the term would be less precise than Schmidt and Gebhard’s “transfer narrative,” which at least cites a feature that is unique to this pattern. For the purpose of this study I  will refer to the stories simply as “new god tales.” While this term is more general than Schmidt and Gebhard’s formulation, it foregrounds the issue of innovation, and reminds us that the process of locating and founding a new cult revolved around the presence of a god in the community. The remarks of Dorati and Guidorizzi about the narrative pattern of the iamata apply also to the new god tale. These tales too can be considered a cultural model in the way they manifest a certain perception of religious innovation, and one that, like the tales of incubation, had a long life, up to 14 15

On the introduction of the cult of Pan to Athens, see Garland 1992: 47–63 and Parker 1996: 163–168. Garland 1992: 152–170.

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late antiquity and beyond. They are present in Herodotus and Attic drama, but also in Latin poetry and historiography, for instance in Ovid’s account of the arrival of Asclepius in Rome (Metamorphoses 15.622–744), and in Tacitus’ accounts of the transfer of Sarapis to Alexandria (Histories 4.83– 84). The tales feature in non-literary and historical documents, such as the sanctuary inscription of the Telemachos Monument mentioned above, and even in private correspondence, in a letter written by Zoilos in 257 bc, telling of his experience introducing Sarapis to a community in Egypt (P. Cairo Zen. i 59034). Despite their ubiquity, new god tales were not recognized as a distinct genre in antiquity, in contrast to the iamata and the epiphany narratives. Nor were they gathered, like the last two narratives, into collections of tales that would have underlined their generic affinities. For the most part, the primary function of a new god tale is etiological, in that it offers an explanation of how a cult was founded. Yet I would argue that they could also serve an aretalogical purpose, in that the narrative pays much attention to the intervention of the divine in the process, as Schmidt emphasized when he noted epiphany as a central motif of these stories.16 Not surprisingly, new god tales are found in contexts whose purpose is to give testimony to a deity’s power, as in the story of the introduction of Asclepius to Halieis preserved in one of the Epidaurian iamata (B13 [33] LiDonnici). The content and stylistic features of this unusual healing story, which departs from the formulaic character of the accounts of miracle healings, suggest that its source was likely an official monument, as LiDonnici proposed.17 The sanctuary personnel who included this account in the collection must have felt that it also contributed to the acclamation of the power of the god, which, as we have seen, is the primary function of the iamata. The so-called Delian Aretalogy of Sarapis (IG xi 4, 1299 = RICIS 202/0101), of the late third century bc, is a further example. This inscription, set up on a column in the sanctuary of Sarapis by his priest Apollonios, comprises two versions, one in prose and one in verse, of how the god came to the island and found a permanent location.18 The verse account, a hymn written by Maiistas, explicitly treats the tale as 16 17 18

Schmidt 1909: 88–115. See LiDonnici 1995: 36, 61, and 111, n. 40. Engelmann 1975 provides a commentary on the inscription. For an excellent recent analysis of the Delian Aretalogy, see Moyer 2011, who studies its two narratives from the perspective of Egyptian and Greek literary models. He argues that they are a case of successful cultural hybridization, meant to provide legitimacy to the sanctuary and the priestly lineage of the cult as much as to praise the god. Although I am aware of the problems posed by the hybrid nature of these narratives, I have included them in this chapter because they offer an excellent illustration of the cultural model at work in the new god tales, one that existed in the Greek world before Sarapis set foot in Delos.

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one of Sarapis’ “multiple wondrous deeds” (muria kai thambeta  … erga RICIS 202/0101.30–31) celebrated throughout the world. The prose version likewise indicates this celebratory function at the end of its story, where Apollonios praises Sarapis (28) for intervening on his behalf when the new sanctuary ran into legal trouble; to thank the god, he set up the column as an offering. In Moyer’s words, “the power of the divine is central to [Maiistas’] aretalogical narrative.”19 As with the oracular stories discussed in Chapter 2, new god tales have been subject to criticism regarding their value as historical evidence. In fact, the aim of Schmidt’s study was to call their historicity into question by pinpointing their recurring pattern, which he associated with the legendary.20 Although this distinction is still echoed in some of the recent scholarship, it has thankfully not prevented scholars from seeing the new god tales as a representation of religious practice, or from giving them serious consideration as evidence for the introduction of new divinities. Even Gebhard, who likewise considers the stories to be “legends,” concedes that this distinction would have been otiose for their intended audience, since they would not have understood one story to be a “more ‘historical’ ” representation of the process than another.21 On the contrary, as Maurizio, Dorati and Guidorizzi, and Dickie have argued, for the original audience the conventional nature of the tales would have given the experience a recognizable form, which would have helped validate it.22 In its simplest form, as Schmidt observed, the pattern of a new god tale consists of two fundamental motifs: the epiphany of a divinity, and the establishment of his or her cult in a community.23 The story of the introduction of the cult of Pan to Athens, recorded by Herodotus (6.105), is a good illustration. The god appeared to Philippides and commanded him to ask the Athenians why they did not acknowledge his help; they then set up a sanctuary and annual sacrifice for him. But new god tales allow further elaboration, and frequently display a number of additional, significant motifs. As identified by Schmidt and Garland, these are: the existence of an initial crisis; an oracular consultation; the fetching, transfer, and arrival

19 20 21 22 23

Moyer 2011: 180. Schmidt 1909: 87–88. Gebhard 2001: 452–453. Maurizio 1997: 311–312, Dorati and Guidorizzi 1996: 352, and Dickie 2004: 160 and 180. For the role played by the epiphany motif in these tales, see Schmidt 1909: 88–115. On epiphany in cult introduction in general, see Garland 1992: 14–18 and now Petridou 2015: 274, 277–279, and 321–326.

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of the god; the accommodation he receives; and the presence of conflicts, which arise at various stages in the process.24 The crises can be of many kinds. For instance, Pan appeared to Philippides on the eve of the Battle of Marathon, and Herodotus makes clear that the Athenians set up his cult in recognition of his help in obtaining victory. More often than not, a more ordinary threat, such as an illness, sets the process in motion, as in the case of Thersandros (B13 [33] LiDonnici), whose affliction by consumption led to the founding of the cult of Asclepius in Halieis. The epiphany of the god often solves the crisis: In the case of Thersandros, who did not find a cure at Epidauros, a sacred snake from the sanctuary sneaked into his wagon and accompanied him home, where the creature healed him. At times, no crisis is evident, just an epiphany in which a god expresses a desire to be established somewhere new,25 as in the case of the Delian aretalogy, in which Sarapis appears to Apollonios in a dream and instructs his priest to build him a sanctuary (RICIS 202/0101.13–18, 49–59).26 Another recurrent motif in this story pattern is the consultation of an oracle, often Apollo’s at Delphi, for guidance related to the crisis or even the epiphany, if the god’s intent was not entirely clear. The oracle usually instructs the community to welcome the new deity. This motif corresponds to the Greek practice of consulting oracles to sanction religious activity, including the establishment of a new god, or to seek advice on which god to pray to in certain circumstances.27 The new god tale of Halieis, for instance, relates how the polis, at a loss over what to do with the Epidaurian snake present in their community, consulted the oracle at Delphi, which instructed them to keep it and establish a precinct to Asclepius (B13 [33] LiDonnici).

24

25 26

27

A list of motifs appears in Schmidt 1909: 87 and Gebhard 2001: 452, 455, and 473–476, tables 1–4, where she tabulates the presence of each motif in her testimonia. For the process of introducing a new god considered independently of the narratives, see Garland 1992: 14–22, Allan 2004: 124–125, Parker 2011: 273–277, Kearns 2015: 31–33, and Anderson 2015: 309–312. See Parker 2011: 273 and n. 1. The two stories of the Delian aretalogy may seem like outliers when compared to the other new god tales, given that Sarapis was present in Delos for two generations before Apollonios built this sanctuary. Yet, as Moyer points out, Maiistas, by applying the “epic paradigm” of the figure of Odysseus (2011: 187) in his hymn, “describes the god’s temporary arrangements and the search for a permanent home as if Sarapis were wandering from foreign land to foreign land” (2011: 188). The narrative of the hymn thus depends on the typical pattern of the new god tales, replaying (so to speak) the god’s original introduction in the account of his transfer to a new sanctuary. For the consultation of oracles in relation to new gods, see Garland 1992: 20–21, Parker 2011: 274, and Kearns 2015: 32.

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On the movement of divinities, Gebhard notes that, if they were not already present in the community, an embassy would be sent out to fetch their statue, cult object, or some other symbolic representation.28 The gods would then journey and be welcomed into the new community. The inscription of the Telemachos Monument indicates that Asclepius “came up from Zea” to the Eleusinion (SEG 47:232.9–10), and that Health, companion of Asclepius, “came along” (16–17) to his new sanctuary at Athens. At times, the gods took the initiative, as in the case of Thersandros’ sacred snake, which hitched a ride to Halieis in his wagon, as we have seen. Gebhard points out another important motif that follows the arrival, the question of where in the community to locate the god.29 Sometimes we hear that a god received temporary lodgings.30 Sarapis stayed in rented quarters in Delos before requesting his own sanctuary (RICIS 202/0101.13– 18, 49–55), and Asclepius first lodged in the Eleusinion of Athens before moving to his sanctuary (SEG 47:232.9–12). Sometimes, as in the stories of Pan in Athens and Asclepius in Halieis, the god was established in a permanent location with no intermediate stops.31 The process of introducing a divinity did not always run smoothly, and the stories sometimes feature the additional motif of resistance in the community to the arrival of the god or his establishment.32 Stubborn and often violent opposition is a familiar feature of the various stories related to the introduction of Dionysus throughout Greece, including Athens;33 the account of the arrival of Cybele in Athens even features the murder of the sponsor of the cult at the hands of the Athenians.34 Often resistance manifests itself in other ways, for instance in the hesitation over what to do after an epiphany, in the case of the sacred snake at Halieis, but more earthly conflicts are also mentioned, such as the legal problems that enmeshed the sanctuaries founded by Telemachos (SEG 47:232.20–23) and Apollonios (RICIS 202/0101.23–26, 66–70), which landed the latter in court. This obstacle is sometimes overcome by the human sponsor, and sometimes by the divinity itself, as in the case of Sarapis, who, as Maiistas’ 28 29 30 31

32

33 34

Gebhard 2001: 455; see also Garland 1992: 121. Gebhard 2001: 455. See Petridou 2015: 324–325. In the case of Halieis, one can also infer that the sacred animal that came along with Thersandros would have had to reside in some temporary location, possibly the patient’s own house, while the polis deliberated about what to do with it. See for instance Petridou 2015:  323–324, on Themistocles’ introduction of the cult of Artemis Aristoboule. Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 72–73 and Kearns 2015: 32. Versnel 1998: 105–111.

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hymn informs us, struck Apollonios’ prosecutors mute at his trial (RICIS 202/0101.84–90); in this respect, and as the hymn makes clear, the conflict itself can also be an occasion for an epiphanic revelation.

The Comic New God Tale In the light of the pattern and motifs of the new god tales, what can we say about how Aristophanes has adapted this narrative? How do his comedies reflect the stories of introducing new gods to a community? The pattern is present in a number of other plays, including tragedies. Euripides’ Bacchae comes to mind at once, since it includes the motifs of the arrival of a god, his epiphany, the establishment of his cult, and the stark opposition it meets, but other plays hew more closely to the narrative pattern. Aeschylus’ Eumenides, for instance, dramatizes the final stage of the tales, in the establishment of the Erinyes as the Semnai Theai. In contrast, the plot of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris follows the initial and middle stages of the pattern: a crisis involving the surviving children of Agamemnon, a command from the Delphic oracle to take the statue of Artemis to Attica, and the conflict with the locals in the process of transporting the sacred object; the establishment of the cult is not staged in this tragedy, but it is announced in Athena’s speech at the end. In comedy, the pattern is integral to Peace, which stages the personification’s arrival and establishment. It is arguably present also in Birds, where Peisetairos reminds the birds of their divine status and incites them to reclaim it, though this comedy focuses rather on the foundation of a new polis and its dominance over heaven and earth.35 In comparison, Wealth is remarkable in that its dramatic action matches the majority of motifs highlighted by Schmidt and Gebhard, and follows the pattern of the new god tale from beginning to end. We have a crisis – the unjust distribution of riches caused by the “illness” of blind Wealth – and a consultation of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, which issues the command to take a god “home” (oikade 43). We witness the god’s reception, an epiphany of his full powers, and how he is provided with a temporary 35

See Bowie 1993: 151–166. Stories of colony foundations are also linked to new god tales. Two of these, the foundation stories of Massalia (Strabo 4.1.4) and Epidauros Limera (Pausanias 3.23.6–7), are linked to the introduction into these locations of the cults of Ephesian Artemis and Asclepius, respectively. See in particular Gebhard 2001:  452, 458–460, who argues that these stories served as models for the “transfer narratives.” There seems to have been more examples of the pattern in Aristophanes: See for instance fr. 591.84–89 PCG, from an unknown play that featured a goddess who was brought up (85) from an unspecified location and ritually installed (85–86) in the agora.

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dwelling before he is installed in a permanent location in the community. At the same time, Aristophanes subtly manipulates some of the motifs of the pattern of the new god tales, in particular the oracular consultation, the role of the divinity in his own establishment, the location where the god is received, and the conflicts that arise in the process. In this way the playwright is able to pursue the ramifications of Garland’s “moment of supreme tension” that the introduction of a new god represented for a community, for his own comic purposes.36 We have already seen how the motif of the oracle, which is linked to the expository dynamic of the play’s prologue, dramatizes the process by which mortal and divine figures participate in making sense of the puzzling oracular command, in order to devise the comic plan. This activity can be related to a significant aspect of the new god tales, namely the collaboration between new gods and their sponsors in the process of introduction. The degree to which mortals and divinities participate in the new god tales, as well as in the actual religious practice of introducing new gods, has been a subject of scholarly debate. This debate can also throw light on the issue of Chremylos’ agency as protagonist of the comedy, and the supposedly passive role of Wealth, which we discussed in Chapter 2. From the new god tales we know the names of agents, such as Philippides, Telemachos, and Apollonios, who took it upon themselves to face the community on behalf of their gods, arrange for their accommodation, and even at times go to court for them.37 Often the community also played a role in cult introductions.38 The narrative of Asclepius’ arrival in Halieis, for instance, clearly specifies that the polis took the initiative in the process. Thersandros may have actually played a larger role, but the narrative presents him as somewhat oblivious to the process, unwittingly bringing home the snake that ends up healing him; after the epiphany, the narrative focuses exclusively on the polis and its decisions. Telemachos’ introduction of Asclepius to Athens would appear to be a clear case of a private foundation, since he calls himself the “first” (SEG 47:232.3) to establish a sanctuary for the god and his divine associates in Athens, and indeed the cult came under public control much later, by the 340s bc.39 However, the intervention of the polis can be glimpsed between the lines. The new shrine was established on the south slope of the Akropolis, within a sacred area known 36 37

38 39

See p. 138 above. On the role of individuals in actual introductions, see Parker 1996: 185–186 and 2011: 274–276; for their role in the establishment of gods in comedy, see Miles 2011: 122. Anderson 2015: 310–312. See Aleshire 1989: 14–15.

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as the Pelargikon, so Telemachos presumably would have needed official authorization to set up his precinct.40 Garland and Allan see the introduction of a deity as the combined endeavor of individuals and communities,41 but too much focus on the mortal sponsors, individual or collective, obscures the divine agency involved.42 Kearns observes that, though the Greeks did talk about “introducing” a new cult, they also referred to this practice as the “arrival” of a god. That is, from their perspective it was the deities themselves, more than their human sponsors, who motivated their own introduction.43 On the Delian aretalogy of Sarapis, Engelmann has argued that Maiistas’ hymn would have been more comprehensible to Greek worshippers because it treats in detail the “aspirations and will” of the sponsor, who is abetted by the god; both god and sponsor would then “stand alongside each other as equal factors” in the narrative.44 But Moyer has countered this view by stressing the aretalogical function of the narrative, which gives pride of place to the god.45 Even outside an aretalogical context, the new god tales make clear that it is the gods through their epiphanies – the voice of Pan in the lonely mountain, the stowaway snake in the wagon – who manifest their will and set the process in motion, at times even guiding the sponsor to the very place where they want their sanctuary built, as Sarapis did in Delos. From the perspective of the new god tales, the human sponsors can thus be understood as the chosen agents of their gods.46 Aristophanes’ handling of Wealth in the prologue may seem very far from Sarapis’ show of divine agency, given the character’s blindness and his need to be persuaded to regain his power. Yet the playwright brings out the agency of the character by skillfully manipulating, through the comic treatment of space, the motif in the new god tales of locating the divinity. We have seen how the unique double reception of Wealth in Chremylos’ household plays with the expectation of the personification’s latent power. More striking still is the transformation in the comedy of a domestic space into a public shrine, which causes the downfall and transfer of the cult of Zeus the Savior to the location where Wealth is now present. The latter is 40 41

42 43 44 45 46

See Parker 1996: 180–181 and n. 99, and Wickkiser 2008: 75–76. See for instance Garland, who talks about a “co-operative enterprise” (1992:  20), and Allan’s comments on the “combination of private enthusiasm and public recognition” in the process of accepting a new divinity (2004: 120). As noted by Gebhard 2001: 461. Miles concedes this point as well (2011: 123). Kearns 2015: 31–32. Engelmann 1975: 3. Moyer 2011: 180. Garland 1992: 14. See also Petridou 2015: 325.

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a remarkable subversion of the location motif and an extreme version of the typical conflicts of the new god tales, since this comic destabilization of the cultic life of the polis allows the new god to appropriate, and even usurp, the prerogatives of established deities. By these means Aristophanes explores contemporary anxieties regarding cult introductions.

Subversion, Appropriation, and Incorporation The fact that conflict features as a motif in the new god tales, that it is something expected in them, reveals that a sense of anxiety surrounded the practice, despite its ubiquity in Greek polytheism. I have already mentioned the disputes that embroiled Telemachos and Apollonios, but the tales are seldom explicit about the details. Apollonios mentions only that certain men brought a public charge against the sanctuary and himself (RICIS 202/0101.23–25), and Maiistas simply attributes their motives to phthonos (66). Aristophanes’ new god tale is able to present a full and complex panorama of the conflicts, helped by the plot structure of Old Comedy, in which agones and so-called intruder scenes allow the motif to be developed. However, this anxiety is not merely a matter of genre or narrative pattern. Testimonies independent of both, about the introduction of new gods in Aristophanes’ time, indicate its presence at the very heart of Greek religious belief. While polytheism was an open system that allowed for change and innovation (particularly if this change was felt to bring benefits), it also tended to be conservative, for instance in its instinct to preserve traditional or ancestral cults.47 Not all new gods provoked the same level of anxiety, but some gave rise to a suspicion of impiety (asebeia), that is, to the perception that the new cult and its practitioners had a negative effect on the established cults and even on the moral character of the polis.48 It took time for these arrivals to be accepted and integrated into Athenian society, and this lingering suspicion opened their practitioners to censure in the literature of the period and, in a few famous instances, to prosecution, as in the case of Socrates.49 This tension between the “old” and the “new” (in 47

48

49

On tradition and innovation in Greek religion, see Sourvinou-Inwood 2000:  21–22, Parker 1996: 152–153, Versnel 1998: 130–131, Rubel 2014: 101–102, 109–110, and Kearns 2015: 29–30. See also Auffarth 1995, the discussion in Eder 1995: 416–426, and Allan 2004: 124–125. See Garland 1992: 19 and Anderson 2015: 310 on the danger of diminishing another god’s power. Allan 2004:  125 talks about the need to adjust “the balance of divine powers in the local pantheon.” For useful recent overviews of the concept of asebeia and its range of meanings, see Versnel 1998: 123–131, Rubel 2014: 31–35, and Bowden 2015. For a summary of some of these suspicions, see Versnel 1998: 121–122, and for the literary censure, 129–130. Parker 1996: 162–163 and 199–217 offers an excellent analysis of the trial of Socrates and

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Kearns’s terms) in religious cult helps us to situate the anxieties provoked by the establishment of the god that are left unspecified in the standard narrative pattern but are fully developed in Aristophanes. Attic drama often tackled this anxiety, perhaps most memorably in Euripides’ Bacchae.50 Comedy took a more prejudiced view, turning suspicion into outright mockery of foreign deities.51 Eupolis’ Dyers brought on stage a chorus of effeminate worshippers of the goddess Kotyto, and perhaps even the goddess herself (test. ii and fr. *93 PCG).52 Aristophanes’ Clouds dramatizes the deleterious effects that Socrates’ “new cult” has on society, at least until his “new gods,” the cloud chorus, reveal themselves to be emissaries of traditional religion and punish him and his followers. Poverty’s arguments about the corrupting influence of Wealth can be read in the light of this anxiety, as a warning against Wealth’s effect on the character of his devotees.53 Yet the warnings are not limited to divine adversaries, since Aristophanes also dramatizes the impact of the new gods in other spheres of life: in trade, for instance, when the sickle-maker and the arms dealer celebrate (1197–1208) and bemoan (1210–1264), respectively, the establishment of the goddess Peace; or in politics, as exemplified by the informer’s complaint in Wealth (850–925); and even in the erotic, in the mismatched pair of lovers, a (formerly poor) young man and a rich old woman, who confront each other in Wealth (959–1096). This section will focus on the issues directly related to the new god tale, namely the conflict that arises between the new god and the traditional divinities already established in the polis. Garland reminds us that, in actual practice, new gods were not seen as supplanting existing divinities, but as “a useful supplement” to the latter’s beneficial functions, despite their possible impact on established cult.54 At times, these new arrivals were incorporated into the sphere of cults already established in the community. Herodotus reports that Pan received a sanctuary of his own in Athens, yet a distinctive feature of his cult in Attica is that he was worshipped together with the Nymphs in their sanctuaries.55

50

51 52 53 54 55

that of the courtesan Phryne, two instances of what he calls Athenian kainotheism. Rubel provides a recent overview of current discussions regarding Socrates’ trial (2014: 146–158), together with those of other trials for impiety in Classical Athens (18–45, 64–73). See Versnel 1998: 96–205 for an illuminating study of Bacchae in the light of the tension between established and new cults and its effect on religious belief, particularly as a perceived subversion of the social order. Delneri 2006 is a useful collection with commentary of comic fragments that deal with the topic. See Versnel 1998: 113, and for an extensive study of this fragmentary comedy, Storey 2003: 94–111. See Chapter 1, pp. 41–42. Garland 1992: 4, citing Nock 1933: 7. See also Rubel 2014: 110. For the link between Pan and the Nymphs, see Garland 1992: 61 and Parker 1996: 165–166.

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And Asclepius seems to have been associated with the Eleusinian goddesses and their cult, as we will see below. If older cults, long established in the polis, were not renewed, they would have tended to “fade away” with time.56 But in comedy cults are instantly subverted, even violated. The new god Wealth, as we have seen, not only conflicts with an established cult, but ends up supplanting it entirely. The reception of the new divinity prompts not only the abandonment of sacrifices to the older gods, but even the transformation of an existing sanctuary into a public latrine. This situation reflects the anxiety, mentioned above, that new gods might lead to the neglect of the established cults of the polis, above all the ancestral cults whose proper worship was an element of traditional piety. Such neglect would have been understood by an Athenian of the time as asebeia, as the trial of Nikomachos reveals, which took place ten years before Wealth was staged. Nikomachos had been appointed by the Athenians to oversee the revision and publication of the laws of the polis, including its sacrificial calendar. His task, Parker suggests, probably consisted in combining the older calendar of ancestral sacrifices, ascribed to Solon, with rites added more recently by popular decree.57 This revision landed him in court in 399 bc, accused, among other things, of  adding more sacrifices than instructed, with the result that funds ran out before the sacrifices to the ancestral cults could be performed (Lysias 30.17–21). In his speech for the prosecution, Lysias put forth this accusation to counter Nikomachos’ expected defense, namely, that the prosecutor was attacking the revised calendar and so was himself “guilty of asebeia in seeking to abolish the sacrifices” (hōs asebo kataluōn tas thusias Lysias 30.17). The fact that Lysias anticipated this argument from Nikomachos reveals anxiety even over mere criticism of the sacrificial calendar. Whatever the political motivations behind this trial, the speech conveys a shared understanding, or even preoccupation, that the proper religious duty (eusebeia) was to give preferential treatment to ancestral cults over recent additions (Lysias 30.19), and that not to do so was an act of asebeia. The comic subversion of cults needs to be distinguished from a mythical pattern that is common to dramas related to new divinities. It is often noted that the comic plan of Wealth, like those of Birds, Clouds, and Peace, is patterned upon myths of conflict between generations of deities, which 56

57

Parker 1996: 153. See also 175–176, for an example of the effects of new arrivals on the older healing cults of Attica. A concise presentation of the trial can be found in Parker 1996: 44–45, 218–220. See also Kearns 2015: 32–33.

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are also essential to the plot of Aeschylus’ Eumenides. These myths, which are manifest in the several “succession myths” that exist in Greek culture, are a recurring feature of Greek religious thought, as Allan notes in his discussion of the syncretism of new gods in tragedy.58 I have already mentioned the thematic importance of generational conflict in my discussion of the role of Apollo and Asclepius as transgressors of the rule of Zeus for the sake of humanity, but this mythical pattern also pairs well with the new god tales because the latter reflect the concern that establishing a new god may impact upon the prerogatives of older cults. Nevertheless, the conflict in Wealth and Eumenides differs in that it is presented in terms of the interaction of the new arrivals with actual local cults in the polis, that is, in terms of the motifs of location and opposition found in the new god tales. Wealth and Zeus the Savior The Zeus of Wealth is not just the Olympian deity. He is also Zeus the Savior (Soter), a specific epiklesis of the divinity under which he was worshipped at Athens. The final collapse of the Olympian order in the comedy is thus equated with the collapse of one particular cult of the polis. Why did Aristophanes recur specifically to this cult? The worship of Zeus the Savior was not a new phenomenon in Athens at the time. He was invoked in the third libation after meals by the mid-fifth century bc, as Aeschylus’ Oresteia attests.59 At the time Wealth was staged, he had an altar and statue in the agora where he was also worshipped as Eleutherios, in front of the stoa to which he gave his name.60 Curiously, there is a sudden increase in his popularity at the start of the fourth century. It is telling that Aristophanes’ characters only begin to swear in the name of Zeus the Savior quite late in his long theatrical career, first in Frogs (738, 1433), produced in 405 bc, and then in his two surviving comedies from the early fourth century.61 Wealth itself is the earliest testimony to a sanctuary and flourishing cult of the god in Piraeus, where he was worshipped together with Athena the Savior. This cult became so important that in the 58 59

60

61

Allan 2004: 122. See also Auffarth 1995: 348–349 and Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 241–242. A good overview of the evidence for the cult of Zeus the Savior is Sommerstein 2001: ad 1175. For the third libation, see Sommerstein 1989: 235, Parker 1996: 238, and Scullion 2005. For a succinct account of the cult at Piraeus, see Parker 1996: 238–41 and Garland 2001: 137–138. For the altar and statue in the agora, see Parker 1996: 239 and n. 76, and Raaflaub 2004: 108. Based on the fact that a statue of Conon was erected next to this statue after his victory at the Battle of Knidos in 394 bc, Parker suggests that the “salvation” involved in this cult of Zeus was “primarily public” (1996: 239). See further Raaflaub 2004: 108–110. The oath appears in Assemblywomen 79, 761, 1045, 1103 and Wealth 877.

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years 334/3 and 333/2 bc the public income generated by the sale of animal skins sacrificed to the god exceeded that of all the other gods of the polis aside from Athena.62 Parker comments on this development: “The Olympians retreated from earth, it is sometimes said, in the fourth century; they became too distant to meet the needs or touch the hearts of ordinary worshippers. But Zeus had perhaps never been so generally popular in Attica as when he became Soter.”63 The cult of Zeus the Savior became so prominent that, in a sacred law of 335/4 bc, his cult was mentioned among those of the major gods of the polis, such as Dionysus and Demeter, as well as that of another popular arrival, the healer god Asclepius.64 By setting the cult of Wealth in conflict with that of Zeus the Savior, Aristophanes appears to gain advantage not only of the rising popularity of this cult at Piraeus, but also of the fact that the god, under his “savior” epiklesis, was treated as another philanthropic divinity, and so a worthy competitor of Asclepius. The cult of Zeus the Savior, as portrayed by the playwright, is that of a divinity concerned with the well-being of his worshippers. The priest in the comedy mentions that those who visited the sanctuary asked the god for his assistance or thanked him for it. The examples he gives are a merchant safely returned to port, a defendant thankful for a good outcome at court, and a man who requests favorable omens for an unspecified undertaking (1179–1182). From these examples, one can see that the salvation requested from the god relates to seeking protection while undertaking individual enterprises with uncertain outcomes, two of which are depicted as successful, and so eliciting thank-offerings. Although Aristophanes’ account is the earliest we have of the cult, the picture he presents matches what we know of other cults to gods who receive the epiklesis “savior.” The “salvation” for which these gods were invoked, as Kearns defines it, “implies safety from something,” in the sense of “the weathering of repeated crises, actual and potential.”65 These moments of danger ranged from personal ones, such as illness or a sea voyage, to those that involved the larger community, such as political conflict or even 62 63 64

65

Parker 1996: 239–240 and n. 78, who cites the skin-sale records and their dates. Parker 1996: 240–241. Parker:  1996:  244. This sacred law (IG ii2 333  =  Schwenk 21)  addresses the improvement of the kosmos, or “cult equipment,” as Parker explains, of a “catholic range of gods” of the city (1996: 244). On the question of whether the rise of these new gods, who only had a positive side, pointed to religious change in late Classical Athens, see Auffarth 1995 and the critical responses to his article in Eder 1995: 416–426. Kearns 1990: 324. As she makes clear, the term was also applied to heroes or even mortals who, through extraordinary action, performed the same function.

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natural disasters.66 Zeus the Savior is invoked by characters in New Comedy in relation to sea voyages, as protector during a storm at sea (Menander, fr. 420.6–9 PCG), and in gratitude for a safe and uneventful journey (Diphilus, fr. 42.18–25 PCG), as in a flatterer’s greeting to a rich merchant newly arrived at port. (This last invocation is humorously double-edged, since the flatterer could also be thanking the god for the good fortune of finding someone to live off.) Outside comedy, Lycurgus’ speech against Leokrates (331 bc) alludes to the soteriological function of the Zeus the Savior worshipped at Piraeus. When the orator describes Leokrates’ flight from Athens after the defeat at Chaeronea, he describes how, when sailing away from port, he “was not afraid to betray and look at the Akropolis and the sanctuary of Zeus and Athena the Saviors, gods whom [he] would soon be calling for to protect [him]” (17). Lycurgus not only confirms the sanctuary’s importance to the polis by ranking it alongside the cults of the Akropolis, but also by making it stand for all the traditional cults that Leokrates had abandoned to their fate. More significantly, Lycurgus turns the sanctuary itself into a symbol of the soteriological function of the god, that is, the offer of individual protection to all, which even a betrayer like Leokrates would shamelessly try to exploit in the future. The juxtaposition of Zeus the Savior with Wealth serves to define the characteristics of the new divinity and its cult. The transfer of ritual activities, and even the priest, from the precinct at Piraeus to the new shrine of Wealth indicates that the new arrival has appropriated the actual cult: not only its popularity, as shown by the heavy traffic of visitors, but, more significantly, its salvific character. Confirmation of this appropriation comes in Chremylos’ revelation to the priest that Zeus the Savior (1189) now resides inside the skene (parestin enthade 1189), having come of his own accord (automatos hēkōn 1190). Up to this point, both the priest and the audience would know that Wealth is the god inside the household, so this new piece of information would have come as a surprise. Scholars have long been perplexed by this statement as well, and are split on what to make of it.67 Is Chremylos referring to Wealth, playfully identifying him with the name and epithet of the 66

67

Graf 2012: 1590. See also Kearns 1990: 325, Rubel 2014: 109, and, specifically in reference to Zeus the Savior, Raaflaub 2004: 107–109. In his excellent study of Zeus the Savior in the Oresteia, Scullion 2005 defines the god in this trilogy as a chthonic deity, one who watches over household prosperity, but at the same time as a deity capable of bridging the realms of the Olympian and chthonic. However, I will be considering the god in terms of a more general definition of the “savior” epiklesis, as specified by Graf and Kearns. For the extensive debate, I refer readers to Torchio 2001: ad 1189–1190, who provides a useful summary and a full bibliography up to that year.

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god worshipped at Piraeus, as the scholiasts already proposed?68 This would indicate that Wealth has secured the well-being of all his worshippers, and has therefore rightfully taken over the epiklesis of “savior” and the name of “Zeus” from the old god, because his power has indeed proven to be superior to that of the latter, as Chremylos had earlier revealed (128–129). Or does Chremylos mean that Zeus, too, has taken up a position inside the house?69 If that is the case, the deity must have capitulated out of hunger, like Hermes and his priest, and unexpectedly moved to the interior space where sacrifices are now being held. Arguments have been put forth for each interpretation: Olson and Torchio, for instance, criticize the identification with the actual Zeus by arguing (among other things) that such an important denouement would be completely unprepared for in the dramatic action.70 Sommerstein has countered that, if “Zeus” is indeed Wealth, then it would be difficult to explain why Chremylos reassures the priest in his decision to abandon Zeus – “take heart” (tharrei 1188), he tells him – by revealing what the visitor already knows, that Wealth is inside. While I recognize the validity of both arguments, I side with those that identify “Zeus the Savior” with Wealth, because in my opinion Chremylos’ statement should be treated as a dramatic riddle. With it, he performs a sort of bait and switch to assuage the priest. The latter first takes him at his word (1190), that the actual Zeus the Savior is inside, and immediately moves to enter the household. Yet he is stopped by Chremylos (1191), as we have seen, who then corrects the priest’s initial impression: The riddle is solved not only with the immediate revelation of Wealth’s name (1192), which clarifies who the deity is, but above all with the redirection of the priest’s attention, movement, and duty to the establishment of Wealth outside this space.71 Be that as it may, both views are ultimately based on the understanding that Wealth has supplanted Zeus, as Chremylos announced in the prologue (141–142), and that is what matters to my argument.72 When considered from the perspective of the new god tales, these two interpretations would have different implications. The first would reverse the pattern, in that the new arrival is not incorporated into the space of an established god. Instead, the divinity of the older cult transfers himself 68

69

70 71 72

Schol. vet. 1189 and schol. rec. 1189a Chantry. Scholars who have recently taken this view are Auffarth 1995: 362–363 and Miles 2011: 120. To the list of scholars in Torchio 2001:  ad 1189–1190 who would defend this position, add now Sommerstein 2001: ad 1189–1190 and Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002: 34. Olson 1990: 237–238, n. 50; Torchio 2001: ad 1189–1190. See already Auffarth 1995: 362. See Ludwig 2014: 217 and Sommerstein 2017: 21.

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to the new shrine. Zeus would thus be in the same position as his servant Hermes, having successfully joined the space where cult is now taking place. However, in the light of the anxiety raised by new cults in both narratives and actual practices, I  am inclined to the second interpretation, which implies the radical substitution of an older local cult by a new one. The key here, more than the name “Zeus,” is the epiklesis “savior” taken over from the old god. It does not merely refer to the beneficial role of Wealth but, more significantly, it gives the reason for the transfer of the cult to him. In opposition to the phthonos of a misanthropic Zeus, Wealth secures the well-being of all his worshippers. Wealth is thus the only “Zeus” who merits the title of “savior.” This offers a good illustration of a religious change that Allan calls “internal syncretism,” which “involves the transfer of powers, characteristics, and divine epithets [from one god to another] within a special religious domain,” in this case that of the “savior” gods of Athens.73 A curious triangulation thus takes place in this defeat of Zeus in the comic fantasy of Wealth. The comedy, which initially defined the central conflict as that between a salvific Wealth and a misanthropic Zeus, substitutes a salvific cult of Wealth for the cult of the misanthropic deity. This substitution, in the context of the play, may imply that the cult of Zeus the Savior was that of a deity who did not deserve it. But what is significant is that Wealth brings down Zeus, much as Peisthetairos does in Birds, by appropriating the divinity’s own power, which in this case is his salvific aspect. Wealth and Athena After Wealth’s climactic appropriation of Zeus the Savior, the comedy ends with a sudden and unexpected turn from subversion to incorporation. From being a divinity whose reception had both unsettled and appropriated the cult and characteristics of other sacred spaces in the community, Wealth is now transferred, in keeping with the new god tales, to his permanent location, where he takes his place among the other gods of the polis. The procession in the exodos of Wealth is of a particular type in Athenian religion: one that escorts the movement of a god.74 Processions of this type “functioned as a re-enactment of a deity’s first entry into the community,” 73

74

Allan 2004: 116. See also Parker 1996: 154–155 and 2011: 273, who reminds us that the application of a new epithet to a god was considered another form of religious innovation. See Parker 2005: 179 and also Miles 2011: 122, who relates this ritual practice to cult introduction.

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as Garland observes; likewise, they were a powerful symbol of cohesion and stability, since “their purpose [was] to perpetuate and revitalize the physical and spiritual bonds binding deity to community.”75 A move towards stability would already be apparent in the comedy if Chremylos’ words at 1189–1190 are taken to refer to the actual Zeus the Savior joining the shrine of Wealth. Even though, as we have seen, this arrangement would reverse the standard practice of introducing new divinities, it would nonetheless point towards conciliation and union between the two cults. Yet true stability is only achieved when Wealth is integrated into the sphere of the final local cult with which he interacts, that of Athena on the Akropolis, the main cult of the polis. Once again, Wealth is defined in relation to a cult. The space where Wealth is to be ritually established, as Chremylos reveals to the priest, is “the Opisthodomos of the goddess” (1193). At the time Wealth was staged, this was one of the treasuries on the Akropolis.76 In a study of the inventories from the treasuries of the Akropolis, Harris observes that most of the items kept in the actual Opisthodomos were made of gold and silver, and that the anvils, hammers, and dies used in the minting process were also stored there. From the presence of these items, he conjectures that precious metals were kept there in reserve for minting in case of emergency.77 This would explain the playwright’s choice of space for the establishment of Wealth. The presence of the personification in that spot would stand for the restored monetary resources of the polis. This identification might suggest that Newiger’s process of “objectification,” discussed in my first chapter, is at work in the exodos of the play, yet I wish to push back once more against this understanding of the personification.78 Wealth’s numinous agency is kept in the foreground, in that his function is defined as that of a divine protector, “guarding” (phulattōn 1193) the treasury. Furthermore, the procession that accompanies him to the Akropolis defines his establishment specifically as a hidrysis, a ritual installation (1191–1192), which matches the numinous dimension of the personification traced earlier. This type of ritual applies to sacred objects, the sort that are sometimes brought out in the process of introducing new 75 76

77 78

Garland 1992: 124. See also Petridou 2015: 273, 313–317. The name “Opisthodomos” identifies this space with the back room of a temple (Harris 1995: 40 and Hurwit 2004: 76). There is still debate over whether it is to be identified with the western room of the Parthenon, or with a separate structure, the rebuilt back porch of the Temple of Athena Polias, which was damaged in the Persian sack of Athens. See Harris 1995: 2–5, 40, Sommerstein 2001: ad 1193, and Hurwit 2004: 76–78. Harris 1995: 61. See Chapter 1, pp. 15–16.

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gods, such as cult statues or even animals such as serpents. The objects are perceived as being infused with the divinity’s power, if they are not identified with the divinity itself. Asclepius, for instance, is said to have arrived in Sikyon “in the form of a snake” (Pausanias 2.10.3).79 In comedy, the cult statue of Peace, which is also ritually established (923, 1090–1091), is not merely a representation, but the goddess herself, who at one point communicates her complaints and puts questions, through Hermes, to Trygaios and the chorus (657–705), even turning her head away in disgust at an answer (682–684). In the case of the hidrysis of Hermes in Wealth, there is no sacred object, but the god himself, as a character, who asks for his own establishment (1153) in the new shrine. How can Wealth’s incorporation into the Akropolis compensate for his subversion of the cult of Zeus the Savior? In brief:  by putting the new cult under the control of the political community and, more significantly, under the control of the most important ancestral cult of all, that of Athena Polias. The comedy thus presents us with a unique combination of both subversion and incorporation, which stands out especially when compared to Peace and Birds. The establishment of Peace and her attendants Harvest and Festival in the polis does not overturn Olympos, nor do they subvert, or become assimilated to, any cult of the polis;80 the theme of the play perhaps ruled out a conflict of this type. Their benefits are simply extended to the community at various levels, as is shown in the marriage of Trygaios to Harvest celebrated at the domestic and rural level, in the ritual establishment of Peace in the public space of the orchestra, and in the handing over of Festival to the political body of the Council. In Birds, however, Peisthetairos takes over Zeus’s attributes of power and subverts his position; the hero’s triumph in this case is absolute. The god Wealth likewise deals a cosmic and cultic defeat to Zeus, but, in the final establishment of the god on the Akropolis, the comedy shows his power being harnessed by the patron goddess of the polis. It is delimited and controlled within the space of her sanctuary, an arrangement more restrictive than the establishments in Peace. Aeschylus’ Eumenides offers another parallel, since the establishment of the Erinyes is not presented as a subversion of existing cults in the city; on the contrary, it was the Erinyes’ divine prerogatives that were subverted by the Athenian jury’s acquittal of Orestes. What solves this particular crisis is the new divinities’ integration into the religious pantheon as

79 80

See Gebhard 2001: 461. For divine epiphanies in the form of snakes, see Petridou 2015: 91–96. Cf. Ambler 2014: 147.

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divine protectors of the city, which harnesses their power in a positive way for the benefit of the community. The incorporation of Wealth into the most important public sanctuary of Athens ends the comedy on a political note. As Revermann reminds us, Wealth is one of only two Aristophanic plays that end with a procession towards an actual public landmark. (The other is Knights, where the final destination is the Prytaneion, at 1404–1405.)81 This political dimension was present also at the end of an earlier scene in Wealth, when the informer who had come to Wealth’s shrine, after being mistreated by the honest man and Karion, warns that he would bring “this god” (946) to justice “because he is clearly overthrowing (kataluei 948) the democracy, by his own authority, and did not obtain the approval (oute … pithōn 949) of the council of citizens or the assembly” (947–950).82 Although the informer’s threat is provoked by the disruption of his life as a public prosecutor, and by the violence to which he is subjected by the honest man and the slave (926–943), it can also be linked to the introduction of new gods into the community. His mention of the deliberative bodies of the democracy alludes to the power they held to supervise the process of establishing a god, so the accusation that Wealth has not obtained their approval turns Wealth’s establishment into a matter of public concern.83 An accusation that Wealth is seeking to overthrow the democracy could also be related to religious affairs. The acts of impiety (asebema, Thucydides 6.27.2) of the mutilation of the Herms and the profanation of the mysteries in 415 bc , as Thucydides makes clear, were certainly interpreted by the Athenians as a sign of political conspiracy.84 By these combined accusations, the informer can be said to bring an implicit charge of asebeia against the new cult, raising anxieties about its impact on the community even before Wealth’s subversion of the cult of Zeus the Savior. Chremylos’ move to establish Wealth in the Akropolis puts these doubts to rest by bringing Wealth under proper civic control. This final destination would have reminded the original audience of the political process involved in the reception of a god, since an establishment in the main public sanctuary of the polis would have arguably required political 81 82 83

84

Revermann 2006: 293. The translation is mine. Parker 2011: 273–277 provides an excellent overview of the degree to which the demos supervised the introduction of new cults. See also Garland 1992: 19–20 and Anderson 2015: 309–312. For the accusation, see Thucydides 6.27.3, 28.2, 60.1, 61.1; and Andocides 1.36. Rubel provides a recent and useful overview of these events (2014: 74–98).

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authorization. This authorization is also evident from the final destination of Knights, the Prytaneion. Public servants dined there at public expense, so it is fitting that Demos himself invites Agorakritos to take the place of Paphlagon at the communal table (Knights 1404–1405).85 Yet political deliberations on the incorporation of new deities do not play a part in Wealth. In contrast, in Eumenides the intervention of Athena herself takes the place of the political authorization to establish a new cult: Not only does she define the new powers and prerogatives of the Erinyes (894–913, 927–995), but she also establishes their public sanctuary and cult (804– 807, 834–836, 851–857, 867–869) and organizes the final procession (1003– 1013, 1021–1031), all in the name of the polis and its citizens (881–884, 927–929, 990–991).86 In Wealth the goddess does not intervene. Instead, it is Chremylos who marks the Akropolis as the final location of Wealth and organizes the procession leading there. Both divine and mortal agents can be explained in terms of the phenomenon of introducing new gods, since both play a part in the process, as we have seen. Yet in the case of Wealth, the mortal agent takes a decision that would have been the prerogative of the demos. The final establishment of Wealth in the Akropolis thus suggests a combination of political and divine agency. The decision of the sponsor and the location of this establishment would amount to public recognition that the new order of Wealth is of benefit to the community. The publicly authorized nature of this final incorporation would refute the informer’s accusation that the political bodies of Athens had not been consulted. It also lays to rest any anxieties about the god’s presence in the community, since the action of the play here returns to the usual perspective on the role of new gods in Greek religion, as found both in the narrative pattern and in practice, namely that they are meant to supplement, not replace, existing cults. In Wealth, the disruptive, salvific deity now complements Athena’s protection of the city, and the benefits of his new order, which affected the religious life of the community, are now placed under the aegis of the city goddess. The “yearning,” of which Garland spoke, for the presence of the new god in the community has eventually triumphed over anxiety.87

85 86 87

Rhodes 2008. See Sommerstein 1989: 225–226 and ad 882–884. See p. 138 above.

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A New God Arrives Wealth and Asclepius

There is a third local sanctuary to which the new god Wealth is linked, and that is the sanctuary of Asclepius in Piraeus. The two gods’ interaction is reflected in the comic healing story of the play. The episode might seem like a digression from the pattern of the new god tales, but it can be read in the light of the latter as well. Since Wealth’s incubation at this sanctuary takes place right before his second reception and establishment in the household, his stop in Piraeus arguably reflects the motif of the temporary stay of a new divinity in the sanctuary of an established god. Yet the comic iama, with its narrative of the encounter of Wealth with Asclepius, is better understood as defining the characteristics of the new divinity by juxtaposing him with a god who already received worship in the polis, in a similar way to his interaction with Zeus the Savior. This process of definition can be illustrated by the historical cult of Asclepius himself, who became associated with the Eleusinian deities from the moment of his arrival in Athens.88 Not only did he receive temporary lodging at the Eleusinion, as we have seen, but the Epidauria festival, which fell during the Greater Mysteries, was established to commemorate his initiation at Eleusis.89 The timing of this festival suggests involvement by the Eleusinian priesthood in Asclepius’ introduction. New god tales do not often mention cultic associations – for instance, there is no mention of Pan’s incorporation into the cult of the Nymphs in Attica in Herodotus’ account of his arrival – but the Telemachos Monument hints at this association. In addition to recording Asclepius’ stay at the Eleusinion, its inscription confirms his link to the Greater Mysteries by noting that his arrival took place during this festival (SEG 47:232.10–11). The inscription also mentions the Kerykes, a priestly family involved in the cult of Demeter at Eleusis, in connection with a dispute concerning the location of the sanctuary of Asclepius (20–23). These fragmentary lines have usually been understood as implying that Telemachos had trouble with them after purchasing the land, but Wickkiser has recently suggested that the representatives of the old cult may have intervened in defense of the new one against a third party, once again indicating some sort of association.90 88

89

90

For a recent discussion of the introduction of the cult of Asclepius to Athens and its Eleusinian connection, see Wickkiser 2008: 62–76 and Petridou 2015: 182–183; see also Aleshire 1989: 7–12, Garland 1992: 116–135, Auffarth 1995: 344–347, Clinton 1994a, and Parker 1996: 175–185. See Garland 1992:  123–124, Clinton 1994a, Parker 1996:  179, Wickkiser 2008:  74, and Nutton 2013: 107. Wickkiser 2008: 74–75, but cf. also 101. Lawton 2015 has recently proposed that a shrine to the god may also have existed in the Eleusinion, the site of his temporary location, on the basis of a number

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Asclepius, though an established deity when the comedy was produced in 388 bc, was one of those new arrivals whose incorporation Aristophanes and his audience would have witnessed in their lifetimes. Through his association with Eleusis, the philanthropic character of Asclepius became linked to established deities who likewise promised a better life for mortals. In the comic iama Asclepius also acts in his traditional role as helper of humanity, by restoring morality to the distribution of Wealth. Since Wealth is portrayed as a moral agent, the encounter of these two gods would underscore their shared philanthropic character, and the salvation provided by their presence as new gods in the community, gods who truly have the best interests of their suppliants at heart. We thus have a dramatization of a successful relationship of reciprocity, not only between likeminded divinities, linked by similar temperament and benefits, but also between these divinities and their worshippers, a larger point related to the religious dimension of the play that will be discussed in my conclusion.

of votive reliefs dedicated to the god discovered in the area of the Eleusinion and the Athenian agora, in some of which Asclepius appears together with the Eleusinian divinities.

Conclusion Comic Miracles

In Wealth “gods are everywhere,” Sommerstein has remarked. In contrast to Assemblywomen, a “secular” comedy in which the remedy to the initial problem is “devised and implemented entirely by human intelligence and human effort, without divine assistance of any kind,” Chremylos depends on the cooperation of three divinities – Apollo, Wealth, and Asclepius – in order to carry out the comic plan of the play. Without the help of Asclepius “his plan would have failed, without either of the other two it could never even have been begun.”1 Chremylos’ reliance on the goodwill of two gods in particular, Asclepius and Wealth, produces not one, but two miraculous events: Wealth’s healing, and his redistribution. Aristophanes, according to Sommerstein, seems to have envisaged that nothing less than a miracle could save Athens from the problem posed by its impoverished inhabitants and their thirst for a fair distribution of riches. I would like to take Sommerstein’s observation a step further and propose that, in the light of the religious framework analyzed in the previous chapters, the miracle can be perceived in a more optimistic fashion. I here take into account two important elements that pervade this framework: the belief in reciprocity between gods and their worshippers, and the related issue of human and divine action. Wealth affirms this belief, and offers a celebratory and hopeful vision of an efficacious mortal and divine relationship, particularly in the action of philanthropic, savior deities. The earlier comedy Peace, staged in 421 bc, whose plot likewise features the narrative pattern of the introduction of a new god into the community, and a salvific and philanthropic one at that, will offer an illuminating comparison. The comic fantasy of Wealth does not underplay the difficulties associated with reciprocity, yet the motive for including them, and for the fact that 1

Sommerstein 2001: 21–22, especially n. 92, and 2017: 20–21. This reading is a significant departure from his 1984 interpretation, which I mentioned in the introduction (p. 2). On this divine assistance, see already Sartori 1972–1973: 366, and more recently, Given 2009: 115 and Miles 2011: 119.

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the play invites skepticism about the miracle, is precisely to boost its positive religious message. In this the comedy, with its impossibilities and incongruities, is participating in the religious discourse of its time, which likewise made room for skepticism. When discussing miracles as evidence for Greek religious belief, Parker recommends “delicate handling,” given that “there is no Greek word for ‘miracle,’ and the word is absent because the concept is absent.” What we find instead is the perception of a “range of unusual occurrences that may have a divine origin,” which sometimes receive the name of “wonders” (thaumata) or “portents” (terata), as in Herodotus, or in the specific case of the miraculous healings of Asclepius at Epidauros, “cures” (iamata).2 They could also be called “epiphanies,” particularly when they signaled the presence of a god.3 My previous chapters dealt with several of these occurrences in their narrative and dramatic instantiations: the marvelous ornis of the first-met oracle, the comic iama of Asclepius, the arrival of the new god Wealth in the community, and the supernatural manifestation of his presence. In the following pages, I will use the word “miracle” to refer to the impossible and incongruous nature of the comic solution of Wealth. Here we have a comic miracle in line with the most incredible and even absurd cures of the iamata, which are nevertheless performed by the philanthropic god for the sake of his worshippers, no matter how foolish or scurrilous they are. And just like the other extraordinary examples of divine intervention in human affairs, this type of miracle can also speak to religious belief, even if it takes place in a comic performance.

Appraising the Miracle Scholars usually approach the religious fantasy of Wealth, when they do not leave it at the level of a simple fairy-tale, with a certain degree of skepticism, in part from the belief that the comedy subverts its own fantasy, which I mentioned in my introduction. Earlier studies, for example, claimed that Chremylos and the other visitors become impious when they stop sacrificing to traditional deities, contradicting Chremylos’ claim in the agon that the god’s generosity would lead them to become good and “pay due reverence to the divine” (ta … theia sebontas 497).4 Other 2 3 4

Parker 2011: 9–10. Versnel 1987: 50–51. Sommerstein 1984: 317–318. Examples of these “impious” readings are Süss 1954: 311–312; Newiger 1957:  174–175; Flashar 1967:  165, 167, 170; and more recently, Zelnick-Abramovitz 2002:  35 and Tordoff 2005:  194. For “pious” readings, see for instance Dillon 1984:  203–204, Sommerstein 1984: 325–326, Möllendorff 1995: 217, and Ludwig 2014: 204–205.

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scholars have adopted a skeptical attitude because of the miraculous nature of the play itself, and interpret it as an intentional evasion, as evidence that the comedy, by placing its solution in supernatural hands, is pointing out the insoluble nature of the problem of redistributing riches.5 Thus Ruffell sums up Sommerstein’s more recent reading of the play, quoted at the start of this chapter, as “expressing the futility of fantasy.”6 Olson reads the fantasy as an attempt at social control through religious belief: Since the comedy treats the initial social and economic difficulties as a “divinely sanctioned” situation, the problem can “only be corrected through a miracle ... the sort of thing that occurs onstage and not in the real world.” This solution, he concludes, amounts to an “opiate” against any type of social or political action to improve the lot of Aristophanes’ audience.7 Graf takes a similar view, claiming that at the root of the comedy lies the “disturbing” message that “traditional worship depends on the grossly unjust status quo of social life.” That is, the worshippers that keep the cult of the gods alive are those most in need; were their needs fully met, cult would no longer be necessary. “Comic irreverence,” he states, “can turn into scathing social and theological criticism.”8 Considering these scholars’ approach to the miracle of the play, should we then say that the comedy’s framework of narratives, together with the beliefs they convey, are questioned as well? And how should we approach a play based on narratives that, as we shall see, already give voice to skeptical views of the religious experiences they relate, views that modern scholars may find not very different from their own? Behind these interpretations lies, in part, that “rationalizing cast of mind” that Sourvinou-Inwood denounces in interpretations of Euripidean drama, which tends to “privilege religious skepticism” and, in other instances, that “postmodern perceptual cast [that] privileges the subversive, ironic, and self-deconstructing mode.”9 These perspectives can be misleading, since “skeptical or outright negative opinions on life and the gods” are common in ancient drama, as Graf cautions; they should not be taken as a sign of crisis or “despair,” but rather “as a sign of maturity.”10 In other words, one should bear in mind that Greek polytheism was a complex religious system with no fixed authoritative text or theology, without 5 6 7 8 9

10

For example, Konstan and Dillon 1981: 394, Sommerstein 1984: 327, and Tordoff 2005: 203, 210. Ruffell 2006: 70. Olson 1990: 238–239, 242. Graf 2007: 68–69. Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 291–292. For a recent overview of some of these perspectives at work in Euripides, see Lefkowitz 2016: 60–67, 107–108. Graf 2007: 69.

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a “constant kernel of agreed and revealed belief.” This system had room not only for a variety of beliefs, some of which were opposed or inconsistent, but also for ambiguities, doubts, and even criticisms.11 This aspect of Greek religion can be seen clearly in the way different genres approach religion, each of them revealing its own particular bias in its treatment of the material.12 In the case of tragedy Parker claims that the “complex and heterogeneous” qualities of the genre reflect the “jostling mass of competing beliefs and values and interpretations and uncertainties” of Greek religion itself.13 He contrasts tragedy with Athenian oratory, which treats religious issues with more optimism, but also with some censorship, given its political context; for instance, when questions arise about whether a community has lost divine protection, speakers often assign responsibility to unspecified supernatural powers, in order to avoid blaming any particular god.14 In brief, what the treatment of religion in these two genres reveals is “the wildly divergent public debate on the role of gods in human life,” as Graf concludes with respect to ancient drama.15 Skepticism is a part of the complexity of the Greek polytheistic system. As Feeney reminds us, “the boundaries of credence are constituted by what one will not give credence to  – there is no belief without disbelief.”16 Harrison has shown that, for instance, Herodotus’ skeptical attitude towards certain religious experiences is not only a sure indication of his “interest in divine intervention,” but also part of a strategy to reinforce belief.17 This strategy is also present in other accounts of divination, in which, according to Harrison, accusations that oracles may give fraudulent advice do not cast doubt on the practice itself but explain why certain oracles do not come true, and so preserve belief.18 Another use of skepticism can be found in the sanctuary narratives surveyed in the previous chapters, in their inclusion of characters who display this attitude: The Lindian Chronicle records how Datis “laughed” (egelase D. 27 Higbie) at 11

12

13 14

15 16 17 18

The quote is from Feeney 1998: 46. See also Auffarth 1995: 339–340; Parker 1996: 210, who is quoted approvingly by Harrison 2000: 17; Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 242; Mastronarde 2010: 156–157, 205; Kindt 2012: 19–25; and Goldhill 2016: 169. On inconsistency in Greek religion in general, see the introduction of Versnel 1998: 1–35. Parker 1997: 157. See also Mikalson 2003: 7, Mastronarde 2010: 156–157, Gagné 2015: 86, and Kindt 2016b: 31. Parker 1997: 148. See also Feeney 1998: 46. Parker 1997: 155–157. Cf. also Willey 2015: 73–75, who mentions that even between orators there is a different creative engagement with religious issues. Graf 2007: 69. See also, with respect to comedy, Ambler 2013. Feeney 1998: 22. Harrison 2000: 14. Harrison 2007: 381.

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the Lindians’ expectation that Athena would intervene in favor of them. The Epidaurian iamata tell of incredulous pilgrims who scoffed at the stories and patients as a way to bolster their aretalogical purpose. Disbelief in fact is a motif in a couple of the iamata: Ambrosia (A4 LiDonnici) is said to have walked around the sanctuary reading stories about “the lame and the blind becoming well from [only] seeing a dream,” and mocked them as “unlikely and impossible” (apithana kai adunata IG IV2 1, 121.35–36). Her tale is remarkable for this metanarrative quality, for drawing attention to what must have been recognized as a typical reaction of worshippers to the stories. Yet, as the chronicle and the iamata repeatedly make clear, the actions of Athena and Asclepius overcome even the most unbelievable and impossible situations, refuting their skeptics and assuring the faithful that even what may seem most laughable is within their power. The tale of Disbeliever (A3 LiDonnici) takes the juxtaposition of disbelief and belief a step further. This man, who came to the god with a paralyzed hand, “did not believe” (apistei IG IV2 1, 121.24) and even sneered at the stories; the god healed his hand, but commanded him to change his name to “Disbeliever” (Apistos) because he “doubted (apisteis) [the stories] before, though they were not unbelievable (ouk eousin apistois)” (IG IV2 1, 121.31–32). The god thus turned him into a living, breathing example of that juxtaposition of belief and disbelief, by having his regained health, his now supple hand, ironically give the lie to the new name he carries. My concluding reflections on  the comic miracle of Wealth take their starting point from a similar juxtaposition, in which skepticism accompanies belief in the god. I propose that Wealth can be read as a fantasy that builds upon the “good hope” that mortals place in the gods, in the words of assurance that Chremylos speaks to Wealth based on his trust in Apollo’s oracle (212–213). I am aware that my reading will sound naïve or simplistic to many, as coming straight out of “Pietyville,” as Scullion humorously put it.19 But I believe that a focus on the pious content merits as much consideration as readings that attend exclusively to the ironies and ambiguities. There were, I do not doubt, sophisticated people in the original audience who, just like contemporary scholars, would have scrutinized the play with a skeptical eye, savoring the clever ways in which the comic fantasy challenges traditional beliefs.20 Yet I want to stress that my reading is built upon an awareness of these challenges. In this respect, it is important 19 20

Scullion 2014: 348. On the problem of the different attitudes towards the gods that would have existed among the audience of Old Comedy, see the recent, perceptive discussion in Scullion 2014: 348–349.

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to bear in mind, as Scullion and other scholars have recently remarked, that the less sophisticated audience would also have been alert to the religious problems and ambiguities that arise in the comedy,21 because these very difficulties are themselves part of traditional belief. The skepticism raised in Wealth in a way could be said to correspond to that initial reaction of the pilgrims of Epidauros, who shake their heads in incredulity at the tales they read in votive tablets and inscriptions. But Aristophanes’ plot, like the Epidaurian healing stories, does not stop at that. The stories make room for skepticism, yes, but their point is the resolution of this skepticism. One needs to get to the end of these tales and see how belief is juxtaposed to disbelief, how it supersedes the latter, in order to get the full force of the experience. Not to do so would be to lose sight of the whole picture, or even worse, to miss the punchline. For that jump from skepticism to belief is what leads us to enjoy that coexistence of opposites that underlies the miracles – to smile at a blessed man, cured by the god and now called “Disbeliever.” We can stop if we like at the laughter of incredulity; but if we do, then we cannot go on to that laughter mixed with joy and astonishment at the impossible, which is the laughter that arises from the miracle. This jump, I believe, is integral to the miraculous solution of the comic fantasy of Wealth, and gives it its specific force. In this regard, my reading  is sympathetic to Ruffell’s criticism of the ironic and non-ironic readings of the play. He argues that both approaches, despite their opposition, “privilege logic and coherence within a simple binary” in their treatment of the comic context.22 This goes against the nature not only of comedy, but also of humor in general, balanced as it is on a “structural tension between plausibility/implausibility, concrete/ imaginary and logic/illogic” – a point that I will come back to later.23 What is best, Ruffell proposes, is “to embrace the multi-stranded nature of the discourse” of comedy, or in other words, that “clash of plausibilities,” ironic and straightforward, “which critique each other and which provide ample ammunition for spectators to think with.”24 Yet “that’s not to say there are no directions and structures that are pointing audience response in certain directions,” and through which the comic fantasy would render “plausible” a “principle of hope.”25 I believe the religious framework I have explored 21 22 23 24 25

See Scullion 2014: 349 and 353, Gagné 2015: 93–94, and Kindt 2016b: 31. Ruffell 2006: 76. Ruffell 2006: 75. Ruffell 2006: 75 and 103. Ruffell 2006: 103. Cf. also Zumbrunnen 2012: 100, 107, 119, who makes a similar observation, and Ambler 2013: 21–22.

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in my previous chapters provides one of these structures, which directed the original audience to consider the fantasy from the standpoint of the expectations and beliefs associated with narratives of religious experiences. The following section will consider perhaps the most important of these beliefs, that of religious reciprocity, which is integral to the miraculous solution of the comic fantasy, including the difficulties it creates. Bowie and Zumbrunnen have done much to lay the groundwork for the study of this issue in their interpretation of the plays, so I shall begin by turning to their work.26

Reciprocity Reciprocity (charis) is “the principle and practice of voluntarily requital” of a beneficial act with another beneficial act, in Seaford’s succinct formulation.27 The voluntary nature of this practice is important since, as van Wees observes, “[w]hat characterizes reciprocity  … is that the exchange is overtly, in ideology and in performance, motivated by generosity, even if, more or less covertly, enlightened self-interest or even outright egoism features quite largely.”28 He adds that it is only when this exchange of benefits is accompanied by a mutual display of generosity and goodwill that it “constitutes a strong force for social cohesion.”29 This definition applies not only to reciprocity among men, but also to reciprocity between mortals and gods, which has the same cohesive force. This relationship of mutual benefit is at the heart of Zumbrunnen’s interpretation of Wealth. In his opinion, the redistribution of riches, the reordering of what he calls the “economic reality” of the community, is embedded within cultural concepts and practices that are not economic.30 In this respect Dover had already observed that Wealth “is less about 26

27

28 29 30

Bowie 1993:  268–291 and Zumbrunnen 2012:  99–122. Fernández 2002:  107, 110 and n.  74, 112 touches on the topic as well. For an approach to reciprocity that is very different from mine and reaches a different conclusion, see now Ludwig 2014, who examines the role of self-interest and moral incentives in the new dispensation of Wealth. He argues that these factors end up doing away with the need for further divine action after the initial enrichment, thus anticipating the secular idea of charity found in modern liberalism. Seaford 1998: 1. For a quick overview of Greek terms related to reciprocity, see Parker 1998: 108–114. The definition I provide above is that of positive reciprocity, though a negative understanding of reciprocity, namely of requiting harm with harm, is also found in the scholarship: see for instance Seaford 1998: 1 and van Wees 1998: 20. van Wees 1998: 19. van Wees 1998: 25. Zumbrunnen 2012: 117. For this embedding of the economic within “non-economic relationships” in Greek society of the Classical period, particularly those that involve reciprocity, see Seaford 1998: 6, and especially van Wees 1998: 34–41.

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economics and sociology than about magic, fantasy, and the supernatural.”31 Zumbrunnen defines this “supernatural” element as meaning that the economic is subsumed into a larger cultural concern to recognize the limits of human agency. Chremylos “acknowledges that we are ruled by forces that seem in the course of everyday life to elude us, whether they appear as gods or as supposed dictates of (human) nature. Chremylos, though, rejects the idea that these forces are purely and simply beyond our control. His appreciation of both the possibility and the challenge of alleviating human suffering through redistribution thus simultaneously depends on and reflects a deep recognition of the human condition.”32 This recognition, I contend, is ultimately religious in character. Wealth may acknowledge the limits of the human condition, but it also remedies this situation by trusting that a relationship of reciprocity can be established between the all-powerful gods and their mortal worshippers, a relationship that alleviates the effect of these limits. Greek religion is founded on the belief that the worshipper can indeed enter into a relationship of mutual benefit with a god;33 the problem is that the parties to this relationship, and the benefits they offer each other, are unequal in the extreme. As Parker reflects, a worshipper who approached the god to petition for a favor, or to requite a favor granted by the god, used “language that stressed the idea of like for like, tit for tat, reciprocity,” and consequently “was doubtless not normally contemplating the radical dissimilarity between the favors on the two sides in quite the same way.”34 There are numerous examples of this phenomenon in the texts that evince the narrative patterns which, as we have seen, structure Aristophanes’ Wealth. On the value of the requital, the iamata make clear that Asclepius good-humoredly accepts even the dice offered by a boy in gratitude for his healing. Despite the asymmetry of the relationship, both the iamata and the new god tales offer clear testimonies of the goodwill of gods, who respond to individual requests and seek out sponsors, respectively, in order to grace them with divine favors. Parker observes that Greek worshippers traditionally considered their relationships with the gods in terms of their relationships with other human beings, in order “to pretend that the gap between man and god was not too wide to be bridged, and to found that social relationship without which the gods and the world would be completely beyond our grasp.”35 31 32 33 34 35

Dover 1972: 209. Cf. also Reckford 1987: 359–360. Zumbrunnen 2012: 120. Parker 1998: 105. Cf. also Gould 1985: 15–16 and Yunis 1988: 50–55. Parker 1998: 122. Parker 1998: 125.

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The achievement of the comic fantasy and the exploration of its outcome are all based on the establishment of a new, beneficial reciprocal relationship between gods and their devotees. We have seen how Aristophanes creates a comic myth for Wealth that opposes him to a malevolent Zeus who defaults on his obligation to reciprocate the offerings of his most devoted followers, and who is thus unworthy of any worship he receives. In contrast Wealth, who is portrayed as a new god, does respond favorably and generously to his worshippers. Reciprocity also features in the oracular beginning of the comedy, and in the framework of the new god tales that structures the entire drama. In both cases, the gods respond efficaciously to their human devotees. A  collaborative dynamic of gods and men in interpreting the oracle sets up the comic fantasy, in which Apollo solves the initial problem of the play by pointing to the establishment of a new god in the community; in this way he introduces into the plot the dynamic of religious reciprocity, with the expectation of mutual benefits. Reciprocity is also present in the messenger speech of the healing of Wealth:  Karion’s account of the ritual of incubation and the divine epiphany associated with it give proof of an effective relationship between divinities who are interested in the well-being of their mortal worshippers, and the worshippers themselves, who successfully obtain divine favor. At the same time, and given the presence in the narrative of Asclepius, another recent arrival in Athens, Karion’s messenger speech testifies to the beneficial power of new gods and the rewarded faith of their devotees in the community. The comic healing story thus parallels the relationship found in the new god tales, which also proclaim the willingness of divinities to benefit a community and the active role of their sponsors in bringing these divine favors into the community. Bowie recognizes the importance of religious reciprocity in his interpretation of Wealth, though he sees it through skeptical eyes. He observes that Zeus, by blinding Wealth to keep him away from the honest, ruptures the expected reciprocity that gods owe their worshippers, an action that also negatively affects reciprocity among men.36 The comic plan of the play, according to Bowie, seeks to heal the breach, but Poverty in the agon criticizes this resolution before it has even taken place. Poverty, Bowie explains, points out “a contradiction in Chremylos’ position: He is troubled that the charis-system has broken down, but wishes to introduce another world which would also have no place” for it. If riches are made widely available, people would then be self-sufficient, with no need 36

Bowie 1993: 273–275.

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to ask for or repay reciprocal favors from others.37 Bowie is careful to point out that the dire warnings of Poverty do not materialize and spoil the comic fantasy. Yet three episodes could support the validity of her criticisms: Hermes’ complaints about the ceasing of exchanges between gods and men, the abandonment of the sanctuary of Zeus the Savior, and the emphasis Bowie detects in the play on the establishment of Wealth in the household of an individual to the detriment of the polis. Reciprocity remains the key issue in the series of relationships examined in the second half of Wealth. A “strong system of mutual obligations,” Tordoff has observed, remains firm even after Wealth has distinguished the good and rewarded them.38 The arrival of the honest man and the informer, for instance, gives rise to a discussion of the repayment of services rendered to friends and to the polis, respectively. But I would specify that these obligations are subsumed within the larger issue of religious reciprocity. A single question underlies these conflicts involving reciprocity: Has Wealth’s generosity been well applied? That is, has the new god given his worshippers their just deserts? Variations of this question are put in the mouth of the informer (846–867) and the old woman (967–969, 1025–1026). Despite the different problems of reciprocity that each arrival presents for scrutiny, the generosity of Wealth overrules all complications, no matter how thorny the issue, and incorporates the complainants (except the informer) into the space of the new god.39 This is true even in perhaps the most complex case of reciprocity examined on stage, that of the rich old woman and her (formerly poor) younger lover, whose unequal and mercenary relationship raises questions about their moral character, and hence about the benefits that Wealth has conferred on them.40 The old woman is even assured by Chremylos that her petition to the god to have the young man come back to her will be granted (1200–1201). Only the informer is left out, in part because he ends up rejecting the god straight out: When asked to abandon his unsavory trade for a better one, he counters that he will never do that, not even if they gave him “Wealth himself ” (ton Plouton auton 925). This focus on the beneficial actions of divinities invites a reconsideration of the episodes that seem to underscore Poverty’s warning about the end of social, civic, and religious relationships. In Hermes’ complaint about the 37 38 39 40

Bowie 1993: 290–291. Tordoff 2005: 203. See already the inclusive quality of the new abode of wealth in chapter 4, pp. 133–134. Bowie 1993: 276–277. See most recently the analyses of Sommerstein 2001: 15–16, Ruffell 2006: 82– 83, and especially Ludwig 2014: 211–215.

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lack of sacrifices and in the abandonment of a sanctuary – events directly related to reciprocity between men and the gods – the issue is not that the type of reciprocal relationship that existed between these parties has now come to an end in general, but that worshippers are turning their back on deities who have not kept their part in this relationship.41 Hermes may complain that no one sacrifices “to us, the gods” (1116), but not all the gods merit this abandonment. As Karion explains to Hermes, it is meted out because they treated their worshippers badly (kakōs epemeleisthe 1117); that it “serves them right” (dikaiōs 1124) because they “did harm” (epoieis zemian 1124) to those that do them good. In contrast, Asclepius is praised in the play for his cures that benefit the polis, and Wealth receives a lavish sacrifice. Likewise, the establishment of Wealth in Chremylos’ household does not do away with claims of human or divine reciprocity:  The skene is transformed into the abode of a philanthropic god, open to the public, and becomes the place where he now receives his worshippers, who petition him for favors or hold him accountable for granting (or not) what each thinks she or he deserves. It also becomes the place where votive offerings are set up for the new god – further confirmation that reciprocity is alive and well. Hermes and the priest of Zeus the Savior seek to benefit from this redirection of offerings, by transferring to the space where sacrifices are now being made, so they can have their share. Lastly, there is no sign of a collapse of the polis in the play due to lack of reciprocity, as Bowie claims; on the contrary, the treatment of the skene as a competing, public religious space, together with the narrative pattern of the new god tales, strongly emphasizes the shift from the individual to the civic level, with the proper establishment and worship of Wealth in the sanctuary of Athena as protector of the goddess and the polis.42

Human and Divine Salvation The relationship of mutual benefits at the heart of religious reciprocity also manifests itself in the human and divine collaboration that achieves the comic fantasy of Wealth. We have explored this issue in previous chapters, particularly in relation to the interpretation of the oracle and the introduction of the new god. Here I approach it from the perspective of comic salvation. In Aristophanic comedy, the protagonist who solves the initial problematic situation of the play is usually addressed as savior; when 41 42

Cf. Sommerstein 1984: 325–326 and Sommerstein 2001: 16–17. See already Auffarth 1995: 363.

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divinities collaborate, Given remarks, it is usually to approve what the protagonist is carrying out, or to provide favorable conditions for the human agent to accomplish the comic fantasy.43 Yet Wealth is a curious outlier, in that the role of savior is transferred to the gods, who intervene in response to their worshippers with miraculous actions. As we have seen, the character Wealth is defined in the course of the play in terms of the known “savior” deities of his time: Not only does he appropriate the epiklesis of Zeus the Savior, since he can more effectively reciprocate the prayers of the latter’s worshippers, but he is also associated with the actions of a salvific Asclepius, who is praised by the chorus specifically as “a great light (pheggos) for humankind” (640). This metaphoric use of pheggos to refer to savior figures is applied to Agorakritos in Knights 1319, and is also present in Greek tragedy.44 Asclepius’ philanthropic and civic-minded action in the comic healing story foreshadows Wealth’s own generous actions toward men and the polis. This does not mean, however, that the mortal comic hero is no longer the savior; on the contrary, Chremylos tells the chorus to see to it that they become “true saviors of the god” (327) in carrying out the comic plan. Wealth achieves salvation for his comic worshippers, but the latter also help the initially weak god, by persuading him to collaborate in the comic plan, by taking charge of his introduction into the polis, by confronting Poverty in his name, and by offering him a space where he can be worshipped. Salvation through combined human and divine agency is also a feature of Aristophanes’ Peace. Yet the handling of these issues in the earlier play is in marked contrast to Wealth, in that Peace stresses the human agency in the plot. A crucial element of that play exemplifies the difference: In contrast to Wealth, the blame for the initial situation of the play – the constant fighting of the Greeks during the years of the Archidamian War – is attributed to human, and not divine, responsibility. In anger at the Greeks for choosing war when the gods proposed peace treaties (203–220), Zeus and the other Olympians decamp to a higher place so they no longer see or hear the Greeks quarreling. In their place they leave War – a god better suited to such worshippers. Although it was War who imprisoned Peace inside a cave, away from the company of men (221–223), Zeus himself instructed that she not be dug up again, on pain of death (371–372). Yet, in contrast to Wealth, this baleful action of Zeus is not portrayed as a misanthropic act, but rather as the result of divine anger at the unrepentant violence of 43 44

Given 2009: 116, 126–127. See for instance the use of phos in Euripides’ Heracles 531 and Orestes 243.

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humanity, a situation that recalls the withdrawal of Reverence (Aidōs) and Nemesis to Olympus in Hesiod’s Works and Days (197–201).45 Given the estrangement of the Olympians, the presence of hostile War, and the fact that Peace is portrayed as a weak goddess, human agency becomes the only way to solve the situation, as has been recognized in current interpretations of the play. Correspondingly, the comic protagonist, Trygaios, who in collaboration with the chorus rescues Peace and establishes her cult in the community, is celebrated in no uncertain terms as the “savior” (865–866, 914–915) of the comedy.46 As a result, scholars have tended to read Peace as a comic fantasy in which “the traditional gods still exist but no longer have much to do with real human life,” as Olson puts it.47 Their withdrawal from human contact implies, for him, that “the action of the play as a whole is predicated on the hope that we are equally capable of redeeming and saving ourselves and of constructing a new world which will be both more livable and perhaps ultimately more sacred than the old.”48 Ambler too believes that the gods in the comic fantasy, through withdrawal or weakness, have abdicated their care for mortals.49 I do not deny the dramatic focus on human agency in Peace, yet we should not lose sight of the subtle way in which the play dramatizes the intervention in the plot by gods who do care for human affairs, and who are therefore portrayed as philanthropic. The chorus and Trygaios, when trying to win Hermes over to their side, call him “most friendly to men (philanthropotate)” (392–394); Olson reads this as “manipulative flattery pure and simple, since nothing Hermes has done so far suggests that he is at all well-disposed towards men,” yet the characters might also be evoking his traditional closeness to men, as Bowie remarks.50 Given has argued that in this play Hermes and Peace are instrumental in “giving good fortune, so long as humans are sensible enough to take advantage of it.”51 Hermes’ intervention is crucial in this regard. First, he is persuaded not to denounce the mortals to Zeus, by means of an extravagant promise of religious reciprocity: Trygaios promises that, in return for the god’s goodwill, all sacrifices and rituals will be celebrated in his honor (416–420). 45 46 47 48 49 50 51

Cf. also Theognis 1135–1142 for the same motif. See Given 2009: 116. Olson 1998: xl. Olson 1998: xlii. Ambler 2014: 144. Olson 1998: ad 392–394 and Bowie 1993: 139. Given 2009: 115.

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But Hermes also tells Trygaios how to establish the new goddess and her companions, setting up in effect the dramatic action of the second half of the play.52 In doing so, he temporarily assumes the role of guide to the mortal characters, thus living up to his role as helper.53 His “actions set something of a divine seal on Trygaeus’ liberation of Peace,” Bowie concludes – an observation that also fits the intervention of Apollo and Asclepius in the healing of Wealth.54 The goddess Peace is more problematic than Hermes for understanding divine action in Peace. Though Peace is the source of the benefits celebrated in the comedy, her representation as a cult statue, and her maltreatment at the hands of men and War, make it difficult to imagine her as a figure endowed with agency or a numinous power.55 Wealth too is portrayed as initially weak, but the play later portrays his triumphant return on stage, explicitly announcing his intention to display his regained power. Yet even the statue of Peace, which becomes an important reference point in the second half of Peace, is not without numinous connotations, as Cassio notes.56 He points out that the statue is portrayed as “a cult object towards which one can only feel veneration,” in contrast to her attendants, Harvest and Festival, personified characters who are treated as a bride and a prostitute, respectively. He also adds that the statue’s fixity and continuous presence on stage sets her at a distance from the dramatic action in a manner befitting her divine status and power.57 Ambler, too, is right to highlight the importance of how the goddess Peace is conceptualized in the comedy, since Trygaios manipulates her presentation in order to overcome the differences among the members of the Panhellenic chorus and unite them in “pursuing their own best interests.”58 Furthermore, in the light of the new god tales presented in the previous chapter, the cult statue – revealed, prayed to, established, and worshipped – is a reminder of the part played by the gods in their own introduction, which often takes the form of the arrival of a cult object.

52 53 54 55 56 57

58

On the role of Hermes in Peace, see Bowie 1993: 139–142. Cassio 1985: 65–67. Cf. also Newman 1999: 31–32. Bowie 1993: 142. See for instance Ambler 2013: 23. Cassio 1985: 47–48. For divine epiphanies in the form of cult statues, see Petridou 2015: 49–64. Cassio 1985: 48. He mentions that Zieliński believed that a real cult statue was actually established in the theater of Dionysus in the course of the play. Although Cassio thinks this is far-fetched, he does give credit to him for “understanding like no one else the central role of the statue in the comedy” (1985: 49–50). Ambler 2014: 151.

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The Religious Discourse of Wealth The emphasis on human agency in Peace has been related to the historical context in which it was composed, rehearsed, and performed, namely the diplomatic maneuvers of 422–421 bc to bring peace to the warring Greek poleis; the treaty was ratified days after the performance.59 But what can we say about Wealth, which shares with Peace the motif of the combined action of human agents and philanthropic gods, but focuses instead on divine action? Does it too reflect some aspect of its historical moment? Wealth’s comic fantasy is often read in the shadow cast by the Athenian defeat in the Peloponnesian War.60 Scholars see in it a nostalgic return to an idealized past, as an escape from the economic and social difficulties of the polis. The fantasy, after all, portrays the establishment of Wealth as a restoration: the final procession will take Wealth to the place “where he had been ritually established before” (1192), as Chremylos announces. This turn of events is usually understood as part of the mythic pattern in which a divinity returns to power by overthrowing Zeus’s rule and restoring the “good old days” that preceded it. In this case, the location where Wealth is established, a treasury, would imply that these “good old days” were those of the prosperous Athens at the height of its imperial power.61 This nostalgic reading is attractive, but one should tread with caution. The nature of the comic fantasy, the redistribution of wealth on a moral basis, would certainly fit the impoverished Athens of 388 bc.62 But the topic is not exclusive to the period. Cratinus’ Wealths, for instance, also dealt with riches acquired by dishonest means, and a trial on this very charge is preserved among the fragments (fr. 171.46, 66–71 PCG). The issue of moral redistribution might have also been featured in the comedy, judging from the Hesiodic wealth-granting deities that form the chorus of the play. Yet Wealths was not produced in a time of economic hardship, but in the 430s or early 420s bc, when the Athenian empire was at the height of its power. The topic, Bakola suggests, refers to the political scandals that implicated Pericles and his associates at that time, which involved accusations of mismanagement of public funds.63 Thus, ethical questions about the acquisition of wealth seem appropriate to both prosperous and desperate times. 59 60 61 62 63

See Olson 1998: xxx–xxxi and Ambler 2014: 138. For an overview of some of these readings, see Csapo 2000: 123–125. See Torchio 2001: 42 and Tordoff 2005: 204–205. See for instance David 1984: 3–4 and Strauss 1986: 163–167. Bakola 2010: 213–218. See also Bakola 2013.

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It is also possible, I would argue, that the reference to a return of past prosperity in Wealth reflects a renewed confidence in the present circumstances of the polis.64 Like Peace, which performed the restoration of the eponymous deity to Athens at a particular historical crossroads when a peace treaty was a real possibility, the restoration of Wealth could have aligned with the hopes of a resurgent Athens during the Corinthian War (395–386 bc). This more optimistic reading of Wealth gains support from recent studies of the polis in the early fourth century bc, which have questioned the bleak picture described by earlier scholarship.65 By 388 bc, Athens had already rebuilt her walls and fleet with Persian money, and recovered the islands of Lemnos, Imbros, and Skyros, which were strategic for the grain route from the Hellespont. Andocides, when trying to persuade the Athenians to make peace with Sparta in 391 bc, asked them to be content with keeping these three elements, walls, fleet, and territories, since they had been the “starting point” (arche) (3.37) for the prosperity of the polis in the past, and consequently for the future as well. However, the Athenians rejected the peace, likely because of their desire to recover their empire and overseas possessions, and with them, their previous prosperity.66 This confidence can also be seen in the light of the establishment of a god in the “here and now” of the audience watching the comic performance.67 As Wealth (1191–1192) and Peace (601–705) make clear, their title gods were previously part of the community. Wealth is explicitly said to have been ritually installed before, which suggests that drama of his arrival has been played out before, and found a satisfactory resolution at the level of the polis, incorporating the god and his benefits into the community. In this respect, the new god tales of these plays become, in Gebhard’s original term, “transfer tales,” from a location in the Athenian past to the same place, but now in the polis’s (comic) present and eventually its future. Moreover, the replay of Wealth’s original establishment can be associated with the so-called advent festivals of the Greek religious calendar, which commemorated the god’s arrival in a community.68 This type of festival, Petridou remarks, “celebrates a divine manifestation that took place in the 64

65

66

67 68

In this respect, Torchio already observed that the ending “expresses the wish that Athens may become as rich as she used to be” (2001: 42). For instance, Austin 1994: 528, Davies 1995, Akrigg 2007, Taylor 2007, and Ober 2015: 232–236. In relation to the pessimistic readings of Wealth, see already the words of caution in Strauss 1986: 163– 165, and also Dillon 1987, Bowie 1993: 268–269, and Revermann 2006: 294. See in particular Missiou 1992: 55–86, and also Strauss 1986: 141, 160, Seager 1994: 108–109, 115, Dillon 1987: 157–159, and Ober 2015: 229. For the “here and now” of comedy, see Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 46–47. See already Sfyroeras 2013, who focuses on the connection of Peace to the advent festival of Dionysus.

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past, while it simultaneously secures divine alliance and protection for the times to come.”69 The repeated establishment of Wealth would thus also support a more optimistic view of the comedy. In my final reflections I wish to return to the miraculous dimension of the comedy, to consider Wealth’s positive focus on divine agents in terms of the religion of Aristophanes’ time. We have seen that the comic fantasy of the establishment of the god Wealth is based on the achievement of an efficacious philanthropic and salvific divine dispensation, one tied to the popularity of local gods such as Asclepius and Zeus the Savior who were known mainly for their salvific and philanthropic qualities, and whose interactions with Wealth endow the new god with these qualities. As already noted, philanthropic deities were not new to the religious life or comic performances of the early fourth century bc. Asclepius had arrived in the late 420s bc, and already Aristophanes’ Amphiaraos, staged in 414 bc, had played with the cult of another local healer god which shared many characteristics with that of Asclepius, including the experience of incubation. Wealth provides evidence of their continuing popularity during the early fourth century bc, as we saw in the previous chapter. The religious framework of the comic fantasy harnesses the favor of philanthropic cults for the benefit and glory of the larger community. This framework may be fictional, but the religious experiences that underlie it were tried and true for the audience. The comic narrative matches and validates the hope people placed in the efficacy of these experiences and in divine reciprocity, in the belief that the gods do care about their worshippers. Scholars who compare the treatment of religion across genres in Classical Greece have concluded that comedy in general tends to offer “an optimistic presentation of the positive side of the god’s perceived behavior towards mortals,” as Sourvinou-Inwood puts it.70 Parker observes that comedy in this respect is close to oratory, which likewise presents a favorable view of the gods, while, as mentioned before, it censors any statements concerning individual gods that could be perceived as negative.71 Yet, as we have seen, comedy, like tragedy, does not censor the troubling aspects of Greek religion. The genre, if it so chooses, can provide a complex exploration of divine actions, religious experiences, and beliefs, one that questions them, and toys with doubts and ambiguities, while at the same time – and one should not forget this – reaffirming belief. We 69 70 71

Petridou 2015: 273; see also 315–316. Sourvinou-Inwood 2003: 46, following Parker 1997. Parker 1997: 143–144. See also Parker 2005: 148.

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saw in the previous chapter how the comic adaptation of the new god tales handles a conflict already present in the narrative pattern, that of the impact of a new cult on established ones, itself rooted in the conflict between tradition and innovation that is inherent to the religious system. The comedy exaggerates the conflict by bringing about the downfall of an established cult, of Zeus the Savior; by this it raises issues of asebeia related to the new cult of Wealth and poses questions about the proper worship of old and new gods. Nevertheless, this extraordinary challenge to the power of local divinities has a positive outcome for the community in the comedy. Cassio, when discussing what he deems the “perpetual contradiction” of Aristophanic comedies, that they present positive solutions for communal problems that are impractical outside the fantasy, and which come with their own complications, asks: “when does the sense of impossibility, of the inadequacy of the response, creep into the audience’s consciousness again”?72 I believe that the sense does not slowly return at the end of the performance, as if the audience was waking up from a comic reverie; on the contrary, it is present from beginning to end, or to use Cassio’s formulation, it is constantly “creeping into” their perception, being recalled by the events themselves. Incongruous scenarios are an identifiable feature not only of Old Comedy but of humor in general. This type of situation, together with the emotional and intellectual response to the perceived incongruities, has been recognized as a condition for finding something humorous. This is, in a nutshell, the incongruity theory of humor.73 The theory is often criticized for being too broad in scope,74 but it will prove useful for my final reflection, in which I argue that, in the case of Wealth, the general, incongruous nature of humor aligns with that of the miraculous religious experiences dramatized in the comedy. Since Greek religion has room for criticism and mockery, doubts and skepticism, it too can be conceived as “a complex interplay of congruity and incongruity,” a characteristic not only of polytheism, but also of religion in general, as Gardner reminds us.75 In other words, religion by its very nature has the possibility of making humor happen. The various religious experiences surveyed in this book can count as incongruities, in the 72 73

74 75

Cassio 1985: 145–147. A brief and extremely lucid overview of the theory is provided by Smuts. See also Carroll 2014: 16– 37, who provides an exhaustive examination of those conditions that would mark an incongruous situation as humorous. See most recently Carroll 2014: 37. Gardner 2005: 4194.

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sense that they are perceived as puzzling, unexpected, or even impossible, both in their narrative form and in their comic dramatization. Humor is not present in all representations of these experiences, but it does appear at times. For instance, as we have seen, the Epidaurian iamata include cures whose absurdity or impossible nature cause bystanders or patients to respond with mockery or laughter, and we already mentioned the incredulous laughter of Datis regarding the epiphany of Athena. In the case of the oracle tales, the process of finding meaning behind incongruous or riddling supernatural communications usually results in intellectual satisfaction, not humor;76 yet the occasion it gives for mistaken interpretations can certainly lead to humor, particularly in drama. While these misreadings are usually a source of dread in tragedy, playwrights were certainly aware of their humorous potential, as the misguided recognition of Xuthus and Ion in Euripides’ Ion delightfully illustrates. Comedy exploits this potential for sure, and we have seen how in Wealth the dramatization of the process of interpretation is made to dovetail nicely with the amusing and puzzling expositions that are typical of the prologues of Old Comedy. Not all religious incongruities are comic, nor all comic incongruities religious. But in the case of Wealth, both comic and religious incongruities are nicely intertwined in the plot. As we have seen, Wealth’s generous redistribution results in complex situations that give rise to further incongruities regarding reciprocity. Doubts arise in the course of the play – much like the reactions of the incredulous in narratives of oracles, epiphanies, and healing stories – which threaten to subvert the positive aspects of the divine action. Yet these doubts are themselves overturned by the miracles of the comic fantasy and the final transference of philanthropic, savior deities to the heart of the cult of the polis, thereby strengthening the genre’s overall optimistic vision of the action of the gods. The miracles of Wealth, like the miraculous phenomena outside comedy, are perfectly capable of squaring the circle. This particular fantasy thus reflects, precisely through its nature, the traditional belief, the good hope, that philanthropic gods through proper divine reciprocity can make the impossible possible, the incongruous into something wondrously fitting.

76

See Carroll 2014: 34–37 for a discussion of puzzles in relation to the incongruity theory of humor.

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Index

Page numbers in italics are figures; with “n” are notes. Acharnians (Aristophanes) 89n. 91, 90 “advent” festivals 177–8 Aeschylus Eumenides 145, 151, 159 Oresteia 151 Prometheus Bound 21n. 39 agency divine first-met oracles 44–51 and Poverty 38–41 and Wealth 24–8, 62, 114, 118, 124–5, 147–8, 159 human, of Chremylos 65–6, 146, 169 in Peace 173–6 Agesipolis, King 64 agon 2, 35–42, 114, 163, 170 ainigma 51–3, 56–60, 101–6 Aischines 85 Alcestis (Euripides) 67 Alcidamas, Praise of Poverty 38 Aleshire, S. B. 94 Alexis, Trophonios 7 Alketas of Halieis 74, 75 Allan, W. 147, 151 allegory 15, 37 amazement, and epiphany 5, 122–3 Ambler, W. 174, 175 Amphiaraos (Aristophanes) 7, 80–1, 178 Ambrosia 77, 166 Amphiaraos (sanctuary at Oropos) 20, 94 votive relief of Archinos 78–80, 79f. 3.1 Anderson, R. 139 Andocides 177 Antiphanes Asclepius 7 Mendicant Priest of Cybele 7 anxiety, and new gods 5, 10, 138, 148–51, 159 Apollo 9, 170 and oracular prologues 62–4, 66–8 Apollonios 141–2, 143, 144–5, 148

Apparition (Menander) 132 Archinos relief 78–80, 79f. 3.1 aretalogical function of epiphany narratives 122 of iamata 70, 76–7, 81–5, 87, 92, 95, 102, 105 of new god tales 141–3, 147 Aristides, Aelius Sacred Tales 102 Aristophanes Acharnians 89n. 91, 90 Amphiaraos 7, 80–1, 178 Assemblywomen 6, 13, 97–9, 101, 133n. 96 Birds 6, 26n. 53, 27n. 58, 133 Heracles in 101 and new gods 145 and oracular consultation 54 and plouthugieia 105 Prometheus as transgressor 100 succession myths 150–1 and Zeus 155, 157 Clouds 6 personification in 12 skene 116 on Socrates’ “new cult” 149 succession myths 150–1 Frogs 51n. 29 Heracles in 101 portrayal of priests 89n. 91, and space 110 and Zeus the Savior 151 Knights 12, 27n. 58, 39, 159 interpretation of oracles 53 oracular prologues 51 and plouthugieia 105 and space 112 Lysistrata 133n. 96 Peace 6, 91n. 103, 173–6, 177 ainigma 52–3, 57 divine collaboration 65, 66

195

196

Index

Aristophanes (cont.) human agency 173–6 inclusion 133n. 96 and new gods 145, 157, 162 personification 14, 18, 20, 39 succession myths 150–1 War 12 Zeus in 32–3 Seasons 7, 40 Storks 97n. 131, 97–9 Wasps ainigma 53, 57 and incubation 72 and plouthugieia 105 and space 112 Women at the Thesmophoria 6, 8, 21–2 Asclepius 6, 20, 66, 139, 144 as comic hero 87–8, 162 as boorish healer 88–92 as philanthropic healer 92–7, 173 as political healer 97–9 symbolic healing 101–6 as universal healer 99–101 and Disbeliever 77, 88, 166 and the Eleusinian cult 150, 160–1 and Halieis 141, 143, 146 healing of Wealth 83–4 and the Telemachos Monument 26, 140, 144 and Wealth 160–1 Asclepius (Antiphanes) 7 asebeia (impiety) 148, 150, 158, 179 and Chremylos 163 Assemblywomen (Aristophanes) 6, 13, 97–9, 101, 133n. 96 Athena, and Wealth 155–9 Auffarth, C. 137 Bacchae (Euripides) 83, 123, 145, 149 Bad-Tempered Man (Menander) 90 Bakola, E. 111, 176 Beerden, K. 57 belief 4–5, 162–3 see also reciprocity; skepticism Bendis 139 Bendlin, A. 14 Birds (Aristophanes) 6, 26n. 53, 27n. 58, 133 Heracles in 101 and new gods 145 and oracular consultation 54 and plouthugieia 105 Prometheus as transgressor 100 succession myths 150–1 and Zeus 155, 157 Blepsidemos 19, 92–3, 116 Bonnechere, P. 56 Borg, B. 17–18, 22–3, 24

Bowden, H. 44, 56, 62–3, 67 Bowie, A. M. 137, 168, 170–1 Cahill, N. 133, 135 Cassio, A. C. 175, 179 Catalog of Women (Hesiod) 67 Cephisodotus, statue of Peace with Wealth 24n. 45 chorus of Wealth 84, 116 chous 22–3, 22f. 1.1 Chremylos agency 65–6, 146, 169 divine collaboration 65–6 entrance 11 on the god residing in the skene 153–4 and impiety 64, 163 on the installation of Wealth 131–2, 156, 158–9 interpretation of the oracle 58–60, 61–2 invitation to Wealth 27, 113, 117 morality of question to Apollo 63–4 and the personification Wealth 19 and reciprocity 169, 170–1 sacrifice 128–30 on the visit to the oracle 55, 58–60 on where to take Wealth for treatment 92–3 Cicero 40 Cleomenes (Plutarch) 36n. 97 Clouds (Aristophanes) 6 personification in 12 skene 116 on Socrates’ “new cult” 149 succession myths 150–1 collaboration, human and divine 10, 65–8, 146–8, 172–3 colony foundations 145n. 35 comic fantasy 2–3, 8–10, 163–4, 166–8, 170–1, 176–80 and the Golden Age 121 Peace as 174 commands, oracular 43–4, 45–51, 55 conditioned commands 46 conflict, and new god tales 143–59 Corinthian War 177 Cratinus 12 Nemesis 20 Trophonios 7 Wealths 25, 176 “cult foundation tales” 140 cults 17, 36–7 Eleusinian deities 23f. 1.2, 23–4, 25, 150, 160–1 Nymphs 149, 160 and personification 19–24 Socrates’ “new cult” 149 see also new gods Curculio (Plautus) 102 cures see iamata Cybele 144

Index daimones granting benefits 39 granting wealth 16, 25–6, 28, 30 Datis 122–3, 165–6, 180 dedication 128, 135 Delian Aretalogy of Sarapis 141–2, 147 Demeter 23f. 1.2, 21–2, 23–4 Homeric Hymn to Demeter 25, 26, 28, 30 dice as votive offerings 88–9, 93, 169 Dickie, M. 122, 123, 142 Dillon, M. 94, 114, 117–18 Dionysus 3, 144 Theater of 108–9 Disbeliever 77, 88, 166 divination 3 see also incubation; oracular consultation doctors 90–1, 93 Dodona 49, 49n. 22, 63, 71–2, 104 Dolonci 48, 50 domestic shrines 131, 132–6 Dorati, M. 71, 72–3, 76, 86, 93, 95, 142 Dover, K. J. 168–9 Downie, J. 102 dream visions 74–5, 78–80, 79f. 3.1, 82, 83, 84, 86–7, 101–2 Dunbar, N. 105 Dyers (Eupolis) 7, 149 “eater of shit” (skatophagos) 90–2, 101 Echedoros 88, 96, 98 Ehrenheim, H. von 94 eisodoi 109 Elam, K. 109, 111n. 20 Eleusinian deities/cult 23f. 1.2, 23–4, 25, 150, 160–1 Engelmann, H. 147 Epidaurian iamata 71–8, 82 fees 94 and humor 88–9 and interpretation 102 portrayal of Asclepius 95–7 and skepticism 166 and snakes 103 on witnesses to incubation 85 epiphanies 3, 72, 80n. 50, 108, 163 and amazement 5, 122–3 of Amphiaraos 80–1 narratives 10, 121, 123–5 and new god tales 141–5 and Wealth 10, 121–7 epiphany narratives 10, 121, 123–5 Euhippos 74, 86 Eumenides (Aeschylus) 145, 151, 159 Eupolis, Dyers 7, 149 Euripides 48 Alcestis 67 Bacchae 83, 123, 145, 149

197 Frogs 51n. 29, 101, 110, 151 Ion 180 first-met oracles 48, 49, 50–1, 57, 58, 60–1 Iphigenia in Tauris 145

fantasy, comic see comic fantasy Feeney, D. 165 fees, for incubation 93–4 Felson-Rubin, N. 52, 57 Fernández, C. 16, 65, 107, 128 Fiorentini, L. 16 first-met oracles 44–51 fixity 109–10 fluidity 10, 109–11 folktales, and oracles 46–7 Fontenrose, J. 45 formal debate (agon) see agon Frogs (Aristophanes) 51n. 29 Heracles in 101 portrayal of priests 89n. 91, and space 110 and Zeus the Savior 151 Gardner, R. 179 Garland, R. 138, 146, 147, 149, 156, 159 Gebhard, E. R. 139, 142, 144, 145n. 35, 177 Gift-withholder 96 Given, J. 32, 173 Glaukos 63–4 gluttony 85, 89–90, 91 gods, new see new gods Golden Age 25–6, 28, 29–30, 121, 176 Graf, F. 67, 104, 121, 164 greed of healers 100–1 Guidorizzi, G. 72–3, 76, 86, 95, 142 Halieis 141, 143, 144 Halliwell, S. 66 Harris, D. 156 Harrison, T. 4–5, 165 healing stories see iamata Health 26, 104 “health and wealth” (plouthugieia) 105–6 Hegel, G. W. F. 15, 16–17, 20 Hermes 39 hidrysis in Wealth 130–2, 157 in Peace 174–5 and reciprocity 171–2 and ritual space 129, 130–2 Herodotus ambiguous oracles 56 and the Dolonci 48, 50 on immorality of questions posed to oracles 63–4 on Philippides and Pan 124, 142–3, 149 and skepticism 165

198

Index

Hesiod 25 Catalog of Women 67 Theogony 25, 28, 31 Works and Days 26, 28, 30, 174 hidrysis 130–2, 156–7 Hippocrates 91 Precepts 93, 99 Prognostic 91 Hipponax 28, 29, 31 Histories (Tacitus) 141 Homer, Odyssey 30 Homeric Hymn to Demeter 25, 26, 28, 30 honest man (in Wealth) 99, 127–8, 133, 158, 171 House of the Tiled Prothyron (Olynthus) 135 household shrines 132–6 hymns 27 Homeric Hymn to Demeter 25, 26, 28 iamata 9, 69–87 Iaso 80–1, 90 impiety see asebeia (impiety) Inachos (Sophocles) 125–6 inclusion 112, 133–4 incongruity theory of humor 179–80 incorporation, and new gods 155–9 incubation 3, 5, 9, 66, 69–70, 178 fees for 93–4 votive reliefs 78–80, 79f. 3.1 see also Epidaurian iamata; iamata informer (in Wealth) 99, 127, 128, 133, 149, 158–9, 171 inscriptions, dedicatory 76–8 installation of gods see hidrysis interpretation of iamata 102 of oracular consultations 53–4, 60–2 intruder scenes 148 Ion (Euripides) 48, 180 first-met oracles 48, 49, 50–1, 57, 58, 60–1 Iphigenia in Tauris (Euripides) 145 irony 2, 166–8 Johnston, S. I. 4, 60, 65, 66, 67 Kallikrateia 102 Karion (slave) 11 on Asclepius 89–90 and Hermes 131 messenger speeches first 69–70, 81–7, 107, 170 second 121, 123–5, 126–7, 128 moving “towards the god” 127 on Neokleides 98 persuasion of Wealth 27

on the visit to the oracle 55, 57–60 katachusmata 120–1 Kearns, E. 139n. 11, 147, 152 Kerykes family 160 Kleinatas of Thebes 74, 75 Knights (Aristophanes) 12, 27n. 58, 39, 159 interpretation of oracles 53 oracular prologues 51 and plouthugieia 105 and space 112 Komornicka, A. M. 35 Konstan, D. 114, 117–18 Kore see Persephone Laws (Plato) 132 Leokrates 153 Leukippos 47, 50, 55 LiDonnici, L. R. 72, 77 Lindian Chronicle 122–3, 165–6 Lowe, N. J. 107, 110, 111–12, 135, 137 Ludwig, P. L. 168n. 26 Lycurgus 153 Lysias 150 Lysistrata (Aristophanes) 133n. 96 McAuley, G. 109 MacDowell, D. M. 21 McGlew, J. F. 133 Magnesia on the Maeander 47–8, 50 Maiistas 142, 144–5, 148 Martzavou, P. 88 Maurizio, L. 5, 46–7, 60–1, 142 Medda, E. 27 Meidias painter 17 Menander Apparition 132 Bad-Tempered Man 90 Mendicant Priest of Cybele (Antiphanes) 7 messenger speeches of Wealth first 69–70, 81–7, 107, 170 second 121, 123–5, 126–7, 128 Metamorphoses (Ovid) 126, 141 Miles, S. 138 Miltiades 50 miracles 162–8 see also epiphanies; iamata mobility of the theatrical sign 109 mockery 7, 89–92 morality 100 of Chremylos’ question to Apollo 63–4 and Wealth 29, 119 Morgan, C. 62 Morgan, J. 132–3, 134–5 Moyer, I. S. 139n. 11, 147 mythmaking 28–42

Index narrative patterns 4–6 see also Epidaurian iamata; epiphany narratives; iamata; new god tales; oracle stories Nemesis (Cratinus) 20 Neokleides 81, 82, 95, 96–9, 101 new god tales 10, 137–48 new gods 3, 5, 6–7, 10, 177–8 and anxiety 5, 10 and the appropriation of Zeus the Savior in Wealth 151–5 incorporation of 155–9 new god tales 10, 137–48 and subversion of cults 150–1 Newiger, H.-J. 15–17, 37–8, 156 Nikomachos 150 Nymphs, cult of 149, 160 Odyssey (Homer) 30 offerings sacrifices 75–6, 83, 128–30, 172 votive 76–80, 88–9, 93, 128, 172 Ogden, D. 103 Old Comedy 3, 6, 29 and Dionysus 51 intruder scenes 148 portrayal of divinities 100 prologues 180 and slave characters 85 old woman (in Wealth) 127, 133–4, 149, 171 Olson, S. D. 114, 154, 164, 174 Olynthus 133, 134–5 On the Household (Xenophon) 105 Opisthodomos see treasuries, Akropolis oracle stories 5, 46–7, 180 oracular consultation 9, 43–4 commands 43–4, 45–51, 55 first-met oracles 44–51 and human and divine collaboration 65–8 and new gods 143 oracle stories 5, 46–7, 180 oracular prologues 51–4 and Apollo 62–4 interpretation 53–4, 60–2 oracular communication 55–60 and perplexity 5 types of questions 48–9 oratory, and religion 165 Oresteia (Aeschylus) 151 Ovid, Metamorphoses 126, 141 Padel, R. 111, 117 Pamphaes of Epidauros 74, 75 Pan 124, 142–3, 144, 149, 160

199

Panacea 20, 21, 104 Pandaros of Thessaly 74, 75, 96, 98 Paradiso, A. 112 Parker, R. 13, 21, 26, 45, 55, 60, 92, 130, 139n. 11, 152, 163, 165, 169, 178 patterns, narrative 4–6 Pausanias 36n. 97, 46, 131 Paxson, J. J. 14 Peace 157 in choral ode by Euripides 13 statue with Wealth (Cephisodotus) 24n. 45 Peace (Aristophanes) 6, 91n. 103, 139, 173–6, 177 ainigma 52–3, 57 divine collaboration 65, 66 human agency 173–6 inclusion 133n. 96 and new gods 145, 157, 162 personification 14, 18, 20, 39 succession myths 150–1 War 12 Zeus in 32–3 Perdrizet, P. 96 Pericles 176 perplexity and oracular stories 5 see also ainigma Persephone 23f. 1.2, 23–4 in Homeric Hymn to Demeter 28 in Women at the Thesmophoria 21–2 personifications 3, 9, 12–19, 104 and mythmaking 28–42 and religious cult 19–24 and Wealth 24–8 Pherecrates 12 Pherecydes 67 philanthropy of gods 10, 100, 101, 152, 162–3, 178, 180 Asclepius 92–7, 161, 173 in Peace 174–5 and Poverty (in Wealth) 35 Philippides 48, 50, 142–3, 146–8 phthonos 32–4 Pindar 20, 67 Piraeus, sanctuary of Asclepius at 20, 160 Plato 99 Laws 132 Republic 100 Symposium 8 Plautus, Curculio 102 plouthugieia (“health and wealth”) 105–6 ploutodotes 12, 29, 116, 121 Ploutōn (Pluto) 21–2, 125–6 Plutarch Cleomenes 36n. 97 on Sarapis 139

200 politics 149 and oracles 62–3 and oratory 165 and Pericles 176 trial of Nikomachos 150 and Wealth 157–9 see also Neokleides Poverty 35–42, 149, 170–1, 173 Praise of Poverty (Alcidamas) 38 Praxagora (Assemblywomen) 13 Precepts (Hippocrates) 93, 99 presentational space see space, in performance, treatment of priests 89–90, 129–30, 131–2, 134, 153–4, 172 Apollonios 141–2, 143, 144–5, 148 Kerykes family 160 processions 134, 156–7, 176 Prodicus 37 Prognostic (Hippocrates) 91 prologues Old Comedy 180 oracular 51–4 Prometheus, in Birds 100 Prometheus Bound (Aeschylus) 21n. 39 proverbs, on wealth 25n. 48 Purvis, A. 134 puzzling see ainigma raising the dead 100–1 receptions of Wealth 112–13 reciprocity 10, 30, 162, 168–72, 180 in Peace 174–5 and redistribution of wealth 3, 180 redistribution of wealth 2–3, 105, 168–9, 176 and reciprocity 3, 180 religious discourse 6–9, 176–80 Republic (Plato) 100 Resourcelessness (Amechania) 36, 41 Revermann, M. 38–9, 65, 108, 109, 110, 111, 114, 116, 117–18, 120, 127, 136, 158 ritual 3, 114–32 dedication 128, 135 hidrysis 130–2, 156–7 katachusmata 120–1 see also incubation Roberts, D. H. 46 Roos, E. 69–70, 89 Roux, J. 83 Ruffell, I. A. 164, 167 sacred space 108 see also household shrines Sacred Tales (Aristides) 102 sacrifices 75–6, 83, 128–30, 172 salvation, human/divine 172–5

Index Sanders, E. 32–4 Sarapis 139, 141–2, 144–5 Delian Aretalogy of Sarapis 141–2, 147 Sartori, F. 87, 99 Schmidt, E. 139, 141, 142 Scott, M. 63 Scullion, S. 166 Seaford, R. 168 Seasons (Aristophanes) 40 new gods in 7 Sfyroeras, P. 51, 137–8 Shapiro, A. 28 shrines, domestic 131, 132–6 Sineux, P. 69–70, 81, 83, 85–6, 87, 89 skatophagos (“eater of shit”) 90–2, 101 skene 108, 110–12, 172 and the reception of Wealth 112–13 as sacred space in performance 114–32 skepticism 10, 47, 163–8 in iamata 77 slave see Karion Smith, N. D. 54 snakes Archinos relief 79–80, 79f. 3.1 curing of Thersandros 143, 144 curing of Wealth 103 and Halieis 143, 144 Socrates 100, 148 Sommerstein, A. H. 35, 84, 89, 98n. 136, 129, 131, 132, 154, 162 Sophocles, Inachos 125–6 Søresen, J. 44–5, 56–7 Sostrata of Pherai 87 Sourvinou-Inwood, C. 8, 164, 178 space household shrines 132–6 in performance skene as sacred 114–32 treatment of 108–12 sacred 108 sponsors, of the new gods 10, 144–5, 146–8, 159, 169 Stafford, E. 18, 19–20, 26 statues, Wealth (Cephisodotus) 24n. 45 Storks (Aristophanes) 97n. 131, 97–9 “structuration” of oracular experiences 5, 47 subversion of cults 150–1 “succession” myths 29, 151 symbolic communication 60, 62, 65, 101 Symposium (Plato) 8 Tacitus, Histories 141 Telemachos 146–7 Monument 26, 140, 141, 144 Theater of Dionysus 108–9

Index Theognis 30–1, 36–7, 40 Theogony (Hesiod) 25, 28, 31 Thersandros 143, 144, 146 Thomas Magister 91 Thucydides 158 time, portrayal of 15 Timocreon 31 Torchio, M. C. 82, 154 Tordoff, R. 171 tragedy and personification 12–13 and religion 165 “transfer tales” 140, 145n. 35, 177 transformability of the theatrical sign 109 treasuries, Akropolis 131, 156 trittoia 128–9 Trophonios (Alexis) 7 Trophonios (Cratinus) 7 Trygaios 174–5 Tzetzes, John 91 van Wees, H. 168 Verbanck-Piérard, A. 89 Versnel, H. S. 122, 124 Victory, on chous 22–3, 22f. 1.1 votive offerings 76–8, 88–9, 93, 128, 172 reliefs 78–80, 79f. 3.1 wandering gods 12, 28, 116, 143n. 26 War (in Peace) 12 Wasps (Aristophanes) ainigma 53, 57 and incubation 72 and plouthugieia 105 and space 112 Wealth and Asclepius 160–1 shown on chous 22–3, 22f. 1.1 Wealth (in Wealth) 2–3, 49 and Athena 156 blind man 38, 49, 58, 59–60 and epiphany 10, 121–7 healing of 81–7, 102–6, 114, 175 installation at shrine 114–32, 134, 155–9

interpretation of the oracle 61–2 and mythmaking 28–42 oracular communication 55 personification 11–12, 13, 15–17, 18, 19 and cult 20–4 and divine agency 24–8 persuasion scene 41–2, 67–8, 113 receptions of 112–13 and reciprocity 170–2 as savior 173 and Zeus the Savior 151–5 see also Hipponax Wealths (Cratinus) 25, 176 Webster, T. B. L. 13 West, Stephanie 126 Whitman, J. 14–15 wife of Chremylos 82, 90 and katachusmata 120–1 on Neokleides’ treatment 99 Wikkiser, B. L. 160 Wiles, D. 109 Women at the Thesmophoria (Aristophanes) 6, 8 and Wealth 21–2 Works and Days (Hesiod) 26, 28, 30, 174 Xenophon 64 On the Household 105 Xouthos (in Ion) 48–51, 58, 60–1 Zelnick-Abramovitz, R. 107, 128 Zeus and Asclepius raising the dead 100–1 in Inachos (Sophocles) 125–6 in the Odyssey 30–1 in Peace 32–3, 173–4 and phthonos 32–4, 38–9 portrayal by Hipponax 29 in Wealth 31, 66–8, 170–1 Zeus the Savior 179 sanctuary 129, 147–8, 171 and Wealth 151–5 Zoilos 141 Zumbrunnen, J. 168–9

201