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Homeric Contexts

Trends in Classics Supplementary Volumes Edited by Franco Montanari and Antonios Rengakos Scientific Committee Alberto Bernabe´ · Margarethe Billerbeck · Claude Calame Philip R. Hardie · Stephen J. Harrison · Stephen Hinds Richard Hunter · Christina Kraus · Giuseppe Mastromarco Gregory Nagy · Theodore D. Papanghelis · Giusto Picone Kurt Raaflaub · Bernhard Zimmermann

Volume 12

De Gruyter

Homeric Contexts Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral Poetry Edited by

Franco Montanari, Antonios Rengakos and Christos Tsagalis

De Gruyter

ISBN 978-3-11-027195-9 e-ISBN 978-3-11-027201-7 ISSN 1868-4785 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A CIP catalog record for this book has been applied for at the Library of Congress. Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at http://dnb.dnb.de. 쑔 2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston Logo: Christopher Schneider, Laufen Printing: Hubert & Co. GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen ⬁ Printed on acid-free paper Printed in Germany www.degruyter.com

Preface On 28 – 30 of May 2010 the 4th Trends in Classics International Conference “Homer in the 21st Century: Orality, Neoanalysis, Interpretation” was held in Thessaloniki. The title of the Proceedings is only slightly modified in the present publication, now brought out as Homeric Contexts: Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral Poetry. The event was part of a long-standing consolidated tradition which is still vibrant and dynamic, and will be represented this year by the 6th Trends in Classics International Conference, “Hellenistic Studies at a Crossroads”, to be held in Thessaloniki on 25 – 27 May 2012. As is known, all the Proceedings of these Thessaloniki Conferences are published in the series “Trends in Classics – Supplementary Volumes” (TCSV). Let us offer a quick historical overview of the events and their Proceedings. The first Trends in Classics International Conference was held in December 2007, on the theme of “Narratology and Interpretation”; the Proceedings were published in 2009 as Vol. 4 of the series, with the same title, Narratology and Interpretation, Editors Jonas Grethlein and Antonios Rengakos. The second Conference was held in December 2008, with the title “Language-Text-Literature. Archetypes, Concepts and Contents of Ancient Scholarship and Grammar”. The published version came out in 2011, as nr. 8 of the series TCSV, entitled Ancient Scholarship and Grammar. Archetypes, Concepts and Contents, Editors Stephanos Matthaios, Franco Montanari and Antonios Rengakos. The third Conference, held in 2009, was devoted to drama, with the title “Crisis on Stage: Tragedy and Comedy in Late Fifth-Century Athens”. The Proceedings, published at the beginning of 2012 as nr. 13 of the TCSV series under the same title as the conference, were edited by Andreas Markantonatos and Bernhard Zimmermann. After the 2010 Homer Conference, the fifth in the sequence was held on 27 – 29 May, 2011 and was the first to be devoted to a theme focusing on Latin literature: “Generic Interfaces: Encounters, Interactions and Transformations in Latin Literature”, organized by Stavros Frangoulidis, Stephen J. Harrison, Antonios Rengakos and Theodoros Papanghelis. The Proceedings are forthcoming.



For May 2012 we are now preparing for the sixth Conference, as mentioned above. We are confident that the sequence will continue in the future, producing further important volumes for the TCSV series. The Proceedings published as the present volume focus in particular on Neoanalysis and the Oral Poetry Theory, with special attention to the issues concerning their inter-relation in current Homeric criticism. This question is also addressed in the Introduction. The volume is divided into five parts, which range over a vast array of topics: Theoretical Issues (which opens with the methodological-programmatic essay by Wolfgang Kullmann, the founding father of the “new” Neoanalysis); Iliad; Odyssey; Language and Formulas; Homer and Beyond. In the round table which concluded the Homer Conference “Omero tremila anni dopo”, held in Genoa on 6 – 8 July 2000, Kullmann wrote1: “The congress has proved that the Homeric studies of today are still absolutely alive and have not lost their attractiveness and their importance for our understanding of European history and culture. I am sure it will stimulate vivid discussions in the various countries from which the participants have come”. I am confident we can fully endorse these words, which are just as much in tune with cutting-edge research today as they were at the time: they are a fitting complement to the May 2010 Thessaloniki Conference and its Proceedings and they have lost none of their significance today. Lastly, we would like to express our warmest thanks to Flavia Cecchi and Giulia D’Alessandro for compiling the Indices. Franco Montanari – Antonios Rengakos – Christos Tsagalis


Montanari (ed.) 2002, 671 f.

Contents Franco Montanari Introduction The Homeric Question Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Part I: Theoretical Issues Wolfgang Kullmann Neoanalysis between Orality and Literacy: Some Remarks Concerning the Development of Greek Myths Including the Legend of the Capture of Troy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Gregory Nagy Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Margalit Finkelberg Oral Formulaic Theory and the Individual Poet . . . . . . . . . . .


Elizabeth Minchin Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory in the Poems of Homer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Jim Marks )qwo»r aw me_m 1q]y : A Programmatic Function of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Part II: Iliad Maureen Alden The Despised Migrant (Il. 9.648 = 16.59) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Anton Bierl Orality, Fluid Textualization and Interweaving Themes. Some Remarks on the Doloneia: Magical Horses from Night to Light and Death to Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Casey Du Maneuvers in the Dark of Night: Iliad 10 in the Twenty-First Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Martina Hirschberger The Fate of Achilles in the Iliad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Leonard Muellner Grieving Achilles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Adrian Kelly The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


Part III: Odyssey Jonathan S. Burgess Belatedness in the Travels of Odysseus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ioannis Petropoulos The Telemachy and the Cyclic Nostoi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Christos Tsagalis Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus (Od. 14.199 – 359) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Suzanne Sad Animal Similes in Odyssey 22 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Olga Levaniouk Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim : Questions about Evolution and Fluidity of the Odyssey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Part IV: Language and Formulas A. C. Cassio Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad . . . . . . . . . . .


Pietro Pucci Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad



Naoko Yamagata Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Part V: Homer and Beyond Andrea Debiasi Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ruth Scodel Hesiod and the Epic Cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Jos B. Torres The Writing Down of the Oral Thebaid that Homer Knew: In the Footsteps of Wolfgang Kullmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Stephanie West Some Reflections on Alpamysh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Bruno Currie The Iliad, Gilgamesh, and Neoanalysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


List of Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Indices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . General Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Index of Ancient Names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Index of Modern Names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Index Locorum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

631 631 641 652 666

Introduction The Homeric Question Today* Franco Montanari On 6 – 8th July 2000 a Conference devoted to Homeric studies was held in Genoa, with the title “Omero tremila anni dopo, the Proceedings of which were published in Rome in 20021. Ten years after, the 4th Trends in Classics International Conference, held in Thessaloniki on 28 – 30 of May 2010, was centered around the title “Homer in the 21st Century: Orality, Neoanalysis, Interpretation”; its Proceedings are now published in the present volume, with a slightly modified title: Homeric Contexts: Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral Poetry. There are probably no cogent reasons for establishing a relation between these two events, which took place at a distance of ten years from one another, just as ten years separate the publication of the two sets of Proceedings, save for the fact that they constituted two important occasions for reflections on Homeric studies at the outset of the 21st Century and that a number of scholars attended both events and played a significant role on both occasions. This certainly creates a common thread of a certain significance between the two conferences, but it may perhaps be more interesting to observe and interpret the links and differences on the thematic level and on that of the development of research. The 2000 Genoa Conference was structured into three distinct parts: 1) Il testo: forme dell’espressione e forme del contenuto; 2) La trasmissione del testo: manoscritti ed esegesi antica; 3) Il contesto: archeologia e storia. There was also an extensive “Short Papers” section that addressed a variety of themes, the publication of which takes up one-third of the volume of the Proceedings (a total of sixteen, selected from a widely advertised call for submission)2. Just as the title, of an essentially evocative and symbolic * 1 2

English translation by Rachel Barritt Costa. Montanari (ed.) 2002. As pointed out by M. Finkelberg in BMCR 2005.09.75 “Some of the so-called Short Papers make up for lacunae in the preceding sections … Generally speaking, assigning to these papers (some of which are actually longer than those in the preceding sections) the unenviable position of an appendix to the main corpus neither does justice to the high quality of many of them nor works well in


Franco Montanari

character, in no way implied a dating of Homer3, the aim of the Conference was not to survey the state of the art or to summarize the status quaestionis of every aspect of Homeristics in the transition from the 20th to the 21st Century. Given such a broad-ranging and varied thematic framework, it would have been impossible, on the occasion of one single event, to pursue any aim other than that of presenting a group of authoritative contributions on the various different sectors of Homeristics. The 2010 Thessaloniki Conference had a strikingly different structure. There was a precise focus underlying the organizational intentions and the resulting works: despite the multifaceted approach, with papers reflecting a wide range of different points of view and planes of analysis, the core thematic line was represented by Neoanalysis and Oral Theory, i. e. the two main streams of interpretation and conception of Homeric poetry in current Homeric studies. Also of particular interest was the emphasis placed on the relation and inter-relation between these two visions of the Homeric problem. No paper had been devoted to Neoanalysis in the 2000 Genoa Conference4, but a mention by W. Kullmann during the concluding round table deserves to be recalled: “It seems that these allusions quote fixed texts, like the allusions mentioned by Danek and Schein5. This may, but need not, mean that these were written texts6. I would like to conclude with an open question: is it conceivable that the constant improvisation of the songs, which has been claimed as dogma by the oral poetry theory, had been given up already, before the transition to written texts, and that the singers were constrained to pass over from improvisation

3 4

5 6

terms of the organization of the material”. Finkelberg’s observation is quite correct and her criticism is acceptable (in effect the title Short Papers for the fourth section of the Proceedings is not the best of choice…), but distributing the content of all these papers over the three sections (occupied by the papers of the invited speakers) would have created even greater difficulties. R. Janko, in Montanari (ed.) 2002, 653, felt that the title called for a few words of explanation. However, see the interesting contribution by P. Grossardt on the myth of Meleagros (Montanari (ed.) 2002, 425 – 430), which takes as its starting point a discussion concerning an argument developed by J. Kakridis and concludes with a reference to A.B. Lord (cf. P. Grossardt, Die Erzhlung von Meleagros. Zur literarische Entwicklung der kalydonische Kultlegende, Leiden 2001); and, on a slightly different aspect, the contribution by Danek, cf. below, foll. n. & n. 15. The reference is to two papers read at the Conference: G. Danek, Traditional referentiality and Homeric intertextuality, and S. L. Schein, Mythological allusions in the Odyssey, in Montanari (ed.) 2002, respectively 3 – 20 and 85 – 101. Cf. Kullmann 1984, 142.

Introduction The Homeric Question Today


to the more or less exact repetition of the texts by heart because of their fixed, though oral, character?”7. The “open question” is one of the issues at the center of attention in current debate. In the 2010 Thessaloniki Conference, Neoanalysis played a major role in the panorama of Homeric studies, in addition to – or rather, together with – Oral Theory, acting in relation, cooperation and synergy with the latter. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that given the makeup of Homeristics in the 21st Century, if we set aside the aspects of a primarily historical and archaeological character (which certainly constitute a very lively field), the interplay between Neoanalysis and Oral Theory is one of the main themes of current attention, and it remains the core of the problem even when it is not declared explicitly. This can be explained by noting that it touches a crucial point, namely the conception of the pre-Homeric (both the immediate and non immediate) and its influence on what we call Homer. In effect, even when the critical approach, according to its declaration of intents, is purposely limited to analysis of the text of the poem as it is, in the form in which it has been handed down to us by tradition, the mind is inevitably drawn to the key questions: what was there before the Homeric poems, what was the process through which they were formed, in what relation did they stand to their precedents, that is to say, to the tradition within which they arose? Can one abstain from addressing these questions? I fear not, pace old and new substantially acritical illusions, if such still exist. Whether the arguments start by underscoring the fluidity of improvised oral poetry that subsequently became fixed through various stages, or by assuming the creation of a series of well defined poems that played the role of sources or models, in either case the effort of scholarly studies embody an attempt to define the features of a scenario, the pre-Homeric, which seems beyond our grasp. Specifically, the endeavor is to identify the aspect of a tradition that constitutes the poetic code and the system within which the poems that have come down to us can be positioned and understood. In actual fact, the relation between this final product, however it arose and whoever was its maker, has always been the crux of the problem (and even the ancients themselves raised a number of queries concerning what came “before” Homer). The history of the Homeric question still presents itself as the never-ending story of the different attempts to compare “Homer” with his precedents (in a word, with his “culture”) and to imagine what there was before the Iliad and the Odyssey. It represents an undying desire 7

Kullmann, in Montanari (ed.) 2002, 670.


Franco Montanari

to understand how these poems came to be created, and to interpret them in the framework of a system and a code with which they entertain a dialectical relation of tradition-innovation, as is natural for any literary work. As a matter of fact, problems of this nature have to be addressed for all authors: no poets are studied and interpreted as if they sprang from a void or operated in a desert. Poets always work in the context of a code with regard to which they build up their particular relationship of conservation and renewal, adaptation to and differentiation from a norm. But in the case of Homer these procedures give rise to special difficulties because “Homer” is the first text we know, we do not have his precedents available, nothing of what constituted his traditional culture is left for the modern age to read. Admittedly, some sources of information can be called upon for help, but they are highly problematic and are subject to contradictory interpretations. One such source consists of the evidence and the surviving fragments of the various cyclic epics: here there seems to be a general consensus that their known (albeit only scantily) form is post-Homeric but that their contents are pre-Homeric8. Or take the case of the various comparisons, not infrequently rash and somewhat debatable, or even the case of everything that is known on the text tradition at least up to the Hellenistic age9. All these points are the object of notably differentiated assessments. Overall, none of these sources of information can even remotely aspire to become the kind of evidence that could supply direct knowledge of what was produced prior to the Iliad and the Odyssey and was concretely known to these two works. There remains the fact that the best source – although not the one and only source – of information on the pre-Homeric is certainly Homer himself, together with the many types of analyses carried out on the texts we have. It has always been the case, as is decisively confirmed by modern developments, that the fundamental difficulty of the Homeric question (which concerns not so much the physical person of the poet as, rather, his quintessentially literary and historical-literary aspect) can be stated in precisely these abstract and general terms. Neoanalysis and Oral Theory are the two methodological approaches through which this problem has been addressed. They embody the two forms the conception of the pre-Homeric assumed during the second half of the 20th Century (after the developments ensuing from the research by M. Parry and the embryonic studies by J. T. Kakridis and later the ach8 9

One recent example is the discussion on the Memnon-Sarpedon relationship, by Aceti 2008, 224 – 262. An overview in Montanari 2002, 130 – 135; Montanari 2004, 128 – 138.

Introduction The Homeric Question Today


ievements by W. Kulmann). For several decades these two currents held sharply opposing and apparently irreconcilable views on the very issue of how the pre-Homeric should be conceived and on the genesis of the poems. The divergence was also reflected, roughly speaking, in their areas of geo-linguistic provenance, at least until recently, as Neoanalysis was predominant in studies conducted in the German-speaking area while Oral Theory prevailed among English-speaking scholars. The terms of the controversy are well known and an in-depth description of the dispute would be superfluous here. In a nutshell, Oral Theory sees the genesis of the Homeric poems as arising within the multifaceted background of a fluid tradition of oral poetry, wherein the elements of diction and contents belong to a common heritage and the products of poetic activity have no authorial individuality. Rather, the poetic compositions exist as an improvised performance made possible by a shared heritage of techniques and knowledge that are in no way fixed or preserved. Neoanalysis, on the other hand, which adopts an explicitly unitary stance, contends that the Iliad (fewer studies have been devoted to the Odyssey), more or less in the form in which it has come down to us, is the work of a great individual poet, in other words a genuine “author” who was active and composed it during the final phase of archaic oral epic poetry (one might hazard a guess of between the second half of the VIIIth and the first half of the VIIth Century). The Neoanalysis approach further argues that during the period in question there were already a number of poems in circulation that had been well fixed as individual works: accordingly, Homer is claimed to have built on and adapted thematic motifs of various kinds and episodes from these predecessors, which implies that these earlier compositions can be defined as his models and his “sources”. Thus with regard to the parallels (very specific points, whole motifs or even scenes and structures) between the Epic Cycle and Homer (though the same could be said of the repeated elements found within Homer himself), these can be taken as variants of a common tradition but independent from one another (Oral Theory) or seen as linked by a relation of dependency on a specific source (Neoanalysis). The Oral Theory concept, which holds that themes are “typical”, stands in contrast with the idea put forward by Neoanalysis, in which it is suggested that a particular motif can be drawn from a source and reinterpreted in an individual manner by another poet (for instance Memnon and Achilles in Aithiopis and Iliad). On this point, the difference between the two approaches has been fairly sharp and their positions would appear to be mutually exclusive, but over the last twenty-five years or so (starting from the article by Kullmann in 1984,


Franco Montanari

and continuing to develop right up to the 2010 conference10), a possible conciliatory perspective has begun to take shape. This could lead to a unitary vision of the pre-Homeric based on Neoanalysis + Oral Theory, which could become a crucial factor in 21st Century debate on the Homeric Question. In this context, there are two points that should be regarded as fundamental, and they play a pivotal role in developing the line of reasoning. On the one hand, we have the idea that as the oral tradition evolved over time, it little by little reached a phase of texts that were fixed and more or less stably memorized, although not yet enshrined in the unchangeable medium of the written form. Thus one can speak of gradually fixed performance traditions11. On the other side stands the idea that the “sources” of the Homeric poems need not necessarily have been written poems: they may, instead, have been oral poems fixed by virtue of memorization, and therefore existing in a form that was no longer improvised and unstable, even though it was not written12. It is important, however, to distinguish the individual results of these two analytical approaches – specific passages may be interpreted in divergent ways – from the fundamental elements of the theory. In this perspective and from this point of view, a memorized oral text, i. e. one that is substantially stabilized, is equivalent to a written text, even though in modes and forms that do not coincide exactly with those characteristic of a totally literate civilization, and such a text can act as an individual source/model. Its earlier poetic history may have been part of totally oral poetry, rooted in the traditional practice of improvisation, and the “typical” in the forms of content and expression belongs precisely to this the kind of poetry. But at a later stage, traditional improvised poetry gave way to a situation featuring fixed and individual oral texts, which also allowed for mutual relations of source-model and imitation. Typical scenes or traditional themes could thus become individual motifs belonging to a specific poetic-narrative context and endowed with particular elements peculiar to that individual poem; a scene could be entirely composed of fully traditional elements and yet constitute an individual variation of a certain motif 13. This “evolutionary” vision does not devalue the importance and the weight of traditional improvised oral poetry in the form of the Ho10 11 12 13

To which we should add at least Finkelberg 2011 and Tsagalis 2011. Tsagalis 2011, partic. 225 – 226, 231 – 238. Kullmann 1984, 309; Finkelberg 2011, 198. Kullmann 1984, 315.

Introduction The Homeric Question Today


meric poems and in their genesis: however, it places improvised oral poetry somewhat further back in time as compared to the immediate pre-Homeric, which can now be seen as populated by oral texts that had become stabilized in form and content. But naturally, this should hardly be taken as suggesting a sudden transition from the earlier to the later situation, with the poetic typology undergoing rapid and total replacement. Rather, it is far more reasonable to think in terms of gradual transformation, linked to tastes and fashions, which tended to change rather slowly in an archaic world, in the same way as it has more than once been plausibly conjectured that there must have been a period of coexistence between forms of oral poetry and forms of poetry crystallized through writing. The contents of epic poetry embody the set of mythic stories that make up the great and global “sacred history” of ancient Greek civilization (klea andron te theon te). As W. Kullmann states in this volume: “I have claimed that a special characteristic of early Greek epic is the existence of an oral Faktenkanon (standard list of events) and that epic storytelling, unlike the modern novel, is marked by a strong tendency to preserve its traditional content. Exaggeration, substitution or suppression is allowed but not a strong deviation from the contents of the story that had been established to a certain degree. Apparently there was a rule that some basic elements must not be altered by free poetic invention.”14. It is difficult to establish how long it took for the process of formation and consolidation of a standard list of events concerning a certain mythic story, e. g. the Trojan saga, to take shape and become consolidated. That such a list must have existed in the minds of poet and audience alike would, however, account for the recognition of the events narrated on all occasions, and the audience’s understanding of the story. In this sense, both Neoanalysis and Oral Theory are certainly interested not only in the rich global repertory of the “sacred history” (a reservoir of contents of archaic Greek epic poetry) but also in the Faktenkanon of each single story. Cyclic epic poetry provides us with information on the Faktenkanon of the myth of Troy, which was known to the Iliad and the Odyssey, and therefore to Homer’s audiences. The version of which we know a (meager) part belongs to a post-Homeric phase, but the standard list of events on which their narrative content is based is undoubtedly pre-Homeric, and in the immediately pre-Homeric phase it had shaped the contents of fixed and stable oral poems. On the basis of these arguments we would maintain that the conceptions, interests and results of Neoanalysis and of Oral Theory can be rec14 In this volume, p. 13.


Franco Montanari

onciled in such a manner as to compose a plausible picture of the pre-Homeric and shed light on the genesis of the Homeric poems. But this does not deny that Oral Theory, while invoking the notions of ‘typical’ and ‘theme’ as a means of categorizing the forms through which content is conveyed, has an inclination towards analysis of the forms of expression that concern diction and language, whereas Neoanalysis observes and preferentially focuses on the thematic motifs and the source/model – reutilization/ imitation relations that mould the narrative content of the poems fixed in their stable forms. Finally, having reached this point, a further element can be added: given the vision of the Homeric problem as outlined here, it may be helpful and appropriate to extend the conceptual horizon to include phenomena of intertextuality15. Such a line of investigation would not restrict itself to encompassing the Iliad-Odyssey relation, but would also broaden the viewpoint to take in the relations between Homer and the pre-Homeric, the latter being regarded as populated by fixed and stable (oral) poems16. Considering the prolonged history of Epic Poetry in Greece prior to Homer, we may venture to put forward what may perhaps seem to be a rather oversimplified outline, although there may be some virtue in this type of schematization despite its apparent defects. That is to say, as the temporal frame of reference gradually shifts from the most ancient pre-Homeric period, i. e. from the most distant in time (the phase of totally improvised oral poetry), towards what we have called the immediate pre-Homeric, the conception of traditional epic poetry most specifically embraced by Oral Theory undergoes a transformation, making reference to a process of gradually fixed performance traditions, thereby drawing closer to a conception that more properly characterizes Neoanalysis and which contemplates the possibility of fixed oral poems, even though the weight of the aspects and characteristics of fluid oral poetry highlighted by Oral Theory remains one of the major features of the immediate pre-Homeric and the Homeric phase, above all on the level of diction and expressive style. Enhancement of this evolutionary idea in a long-term perspective could help to reach a non-traumatic solution that would counterbalance 15 Numerous lines of research can be taken into consideration and revived in this perspective, and it would be worthwhile to undertake a survey in this direction. I have in mind, for instance, Danek 1998 and Danek 2002 (in the Genoa 2000 Proceedings). 16 Tsagalis 2011, 228: “Such a highly interactive character and self-consciousness indicate that allusive intertextuality was indeed operating between gradually fixed performance traditions”.

Introduction The Homeric Question Today


the ancient dualism inherent in the question: is it tradition or the individual author that determines the form of the Homeric poems? Both factors are at work, at different stages and in different ways, exerting a variety of influences on numerous different phenomena17. Last but not least, this vision of the evolution of archaic Greek Epic Poetry easily accommodates the idea that, even in the framework suggested by Oral Theory, the position of the Homeric poems in Greek epic tradition was indeed unique, no matter whether they arose in the oral form or made use of writing, this point of view being no longer decisive even in the Neoanalysis perspective18. There still remains, if I am not mistaken, one problematic aspect that cannot be disregarded, although it would be beyond the scope of this Introduction to offer more than a brief reflection. The question concerns the dating, either Mycenean or high archaic (let us say, roughly much more ancient or more recent) of the narrative content of the Homeric poems and of the cyclic poems as we know them. In other words, how far back in time must one go in tracing the origin of the Faktenkanon or standard list of events on the myth of the Trojan War as we can reconstruct it in its overall structure from the Homeric poems + the Cycle? Once again, different positions have been taken on this point. Kullmann: “The story of Telephus is an old component of the Trojan legend and disproved the hypothesis still held by Latacz that the story of the Trojan War was invented in Mycenaean times. At least it presupposes the beginning of the Aeolic colonization in Asia Minor that took place in post-Mycenaean times … It seems plausible that with respect to the Trojan War there was an oral tradition that goes back to the beginnings of Greek colonization but not beyond that timeframe”19. I hope that I have not fallen victim to intellectual bias or to overconfidence, but I cannot bring myself to reject the idea that a concrete and strong evolutionary model is able to explain even the most problematic phenomena that are closely linked to the narrative content. What is there to prevent us from assuming that the Faktenkanon evolved over time, that some aspects underwent a transformation, that some episodes and characters were eliminated while others were added? I fail to comprehend what prevents us from conceiving of a more essential and relatively small-scale Faktenkanon, differen from the one we know, a Faktenkanon with an ancient Mycenaean origin that later underwent various changes in the wake of new needs linked to the subsequent historical pe17 In this perspective, interesting reflections are offered by Tsagalis 2011. 18 Cf. most recently Finkelberg 2001 and in this volume. 19 In this volume, pp. 17 – 18.


Franco Montanari

riods and to its circulation in different settings. It strikes me as entirely legitimate and possible to conceive of a more ancient Faktenkanon of the Trojan saga without the Teuthranian Expedition, in which this element was introduced, together with the necessary adaptations and additions, after the beginnings of Greek colonization. The fact that “the wrath of Achilles and his fight against Hector are not central events of the Trojan cycle of myths”20, yet they do enjoy such a position in the standard list of events that characterizes the myth as it was transmitted to the combined unit Homer + Cycle, may depend precisely on the extension of a previously more restricted canon, that was expanded in response to an evolution of epic poetry, or to the rise of new tastes, or even to the activity of a single author, who adapted elements of the canon to his own poem. Might one perhaps think of a singer who was so brilliant and innovative that he invented something of such beauty and strength as to modify the previous standard list of events? Do we not sometimes think of “Homer” in these terms? How much and up to what point was the Faktenkanon capable of undergoing change? Not only are the roots (anthropological – religious) of a myth distinct from the varied and different historically situated artistic forms that narrate and represent it (whether they are works of verbal or figurative art), but even the canonical structure of a saga also acquires its form over time, it adapts and is moulded through the effects of the manifold forces of history and poetry. I do not mean to imply by these arguments that such momentous and challenging problems have now been solved: I am convinced they remain constantly open to new ideas and to the enquiring mind of research – and in Homericis this is true to the highest degree. I merely believe that today the long-standing Homeric question is moving according to research lines that can be delineated fairly transparently, as Martin West has once again pointed out recently, with arguments that concern more specifically the point of view of composition, authorship and dating rather than what we have called pre-Homeric21. Homeric studies are still absolutely alive, awaiting, of course, the next revolution. Genova, March 12, 2012 20 Kullmann 1984, 317. 21 West’s latest survey is The Homeric Question Today, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 155, 2011, 383 – 393; see also The Making of the lliad, Oxford 2011.

Part I: Theoretical Issues

Neoanalysis between Orality and Literacy: Some Remarks Concerning the Development of Greek Myths Including the Legend of the Capture of Troy* Wolfgang Kullmann General Remarks The theory of oral poetry and Neoanalysis are quite different concepts that have developed independently in different countries and at different times. To a certain extent, the former is more linguistically oriented, the latter more stylistically. Whereas oralists often characterize composition in terms of formulas and themes, i. e. typical scenes, neoanalysts study the relation of the Homeric epics to the epic tradition and hold that parts of the plot of these epics can be explained as the semi-rigid adaption of motifs taken over from other epic contexts, especially of motifs contained in the Cyclic epics. The theories are not mutually exclusive, though scholars especially interested in performance are inclined to see the Iiad as an oral poem, i. e. composed orally and orally alone, whereas neoanalysts, believing in the adaption of motifs, originally had a tendency to believe in a written composition of the Homeric epics. But in order to avoid disagreements let us start with some undisputed statements. There can be no doubt that once, in pre-Homeric times at *

Being the oldest of the contributors I want to express my warmest thanks to my old friend Antonios Rengakos, and to Christos Tsagalis, also on behalf of the other participants. For they have carefully organized this conference which deals with some of the main questions of Homeric scholarship.This meeting is really exceptional, because it aims to bring various trends in the field of Homeric research into contact. Most certainly the genius loci plays a prominent part as well. Not only is Thessaloniki, the location of our meeting, very close to the place of origin of Homeric poetry; moreover, the meeting takes place on neutral territory in respect to other centers where the different schools of Homeric scholarship have developed. So we should use this happy opportunity to exchange our academic views.


Wolfgang Kullmann

least, epic poetry was produced and performed orally. And there can also be no dissension about the fact that in classical times the rhapsode, i. e. the professional reciter, like Ion in Plato’s dialogue, was able to perform the Iliad or larger parts of it in a memorized form and with a text which was at least very similar to our written text. We can leave open whether he learned the text by heart by trusting the memory of his teacher or with reference to a written text available to a guild of rhapsodes. Ion at least is convinced that he is performing the poem of the poet Homer. If we contrast the pre-Homeric singer with Ion, we have to admit that the art of both of them presupposes a quite different performance technique. Things become more complicated if we look at the Homeric epics themselves, because we can sometimes detect in them formulas carefully selected and not improvised. Take for instance Odysseus in the Odyssey. According to Milman Parry’s theory, the character Odysseus possesses his own formula system (Hainsworth). Whether Odysseus is called ‘well-counseling’ (pok¼lgtir) or ‘much-suffering’ (pok¼tkar), depends on the metrical place his name occupies in the verse. In this light, in verses like t¹m d’ !paleibºlemor pqos´vg pok¼lgtir idusse¼r and t¹m d’ Ale¸bet’ 5peita pok¼tkar d?or idusse¼r the different epithets express the same idea, “Odysseus”, without any semantical differentiation. The use of epithets often depends on the pressure exercised on the singer who is composing ‘on the run’ and has to complete the verse. With respect to the example just mentioned, Tsagarakis has shown1 that Parry’s observation does not stand, since in the Odyssey the poet decides according to the context, whether to use the one or the other verse cited above. t¹m d’ !paleibºlemor is employed in order to characterize Odysseus as well-counseling, t¹m d’ Ale¸bet’ when it is better to characterize him as much-suffering. Seen from this angle, the original meaning of the epithets is contextually revived, though by means of a deviation. Memorization is also exemplified in the so-called iterata in Homer. Sometimes long sections of the text are repeated verbatim or with slight variation in a much later Book. For instance, in Book 11 Nestor asks Patroclus to speak with Achilles, but it is not until Book 16 that Patroclus partly repeats Nestor’s words, when he meets Achilles. Sometimes even a single line looks like an allusion to a very remote passage, e. g. Il. 11.55 recalling Il. 1.3. At the former passage it is said that Zeus sent bloody raindrops, because he intended to send many heroes (jevak\r ‘heads’) 1

Tsagarakis 1982, 35 – 39.

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to Hades. So Book 11 seems to be carrying out what had been announced at the beginning of the poem. In Book 1 instead of jevak\r (‘heads’) we read xuw\r (‘souls’). It makes no sense to discuss here the question whether this allusion is based on an oral or written text. At any rate, within the performance this allusion is due to memorization. So it is the common conviction of both oralists and neoanalysts that the dissemination of the Homeric epics took place by performance in a memorized form at least until the middle of the fourth century. We have come to the beginning of the Iliad, and this induces me to speak of Neoanalysis. Long ago I claimed that in Il. 1.5 the phrase Di¹r d( 1teke_eto bouk^ is an allusion to the legend that Zeus had caused the Trojan War in order to relieve the earth from the burden of mankind.2 The same phraseology is used in the first fragment of the Cyclic epic Cypria (fr. 1 PEG 1 = fr. 1 EGF). This epic is commonly dated later than the Iliad, but it shares with the Iliad the motif of the plan of Zeus to kill off a lot of people or, as it is expressed more clearly in the Cypria, to decimate mankind. Apparently, the Iliad refers to an oral tradition by which also the Cypria are inspired. This and other similar observations led me to the conviction that not only the story of the death of Achilles and the story of Memnon, told by the Cyclic epic of the Aethiopis, but the whole myth of the Trojan War, as it is described in the Cyclic epics, belongs to a tradition which existed before the story of the wrath of Achilles, in the way told in the Iliad, came into being.3

The Teuthranian Expedition I have claimed that a special characteristic of early Greek epic is the existence of an oral Faktenkanon (standard list of events) 4 and that epic storytelling, unlike the modern novel, is marked by a strong tendency to preserve its traditional content. Exaggeration, substitution or suppression is allowed but not a strong deviation from the contents of the story that had been established to a certain degree. Apparently there was a rule that some basic elements must not be altered by free poetic invention.

2 3 4

Kullmann 1955, 167 – 192; Kullmann 1960, 228 f. Cf. Kullmann 1960, passim; Kullmann 2005, passim; cf. Burgess 2001, passim; Burgess 2009, passim. Kullmann 1960, 12 f., 15, 185, 234 f., 361; Dowden 1996, 51 – 53.


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This assumption has been confirmed by a recent papyrus finding (see below). In my book Die Quellen der Ilias (1960), I had claimed that a mythical event, known to us from Proclus’ Chrestomathy as belonging to the Cyclic epic Cypria, the failure of the first departure of the Achaean army from Aulis to Troy, was also known to the poet of the Iliad, who suppressed but not erased it completely.5 The Achaeans believed that they landed at Troy, but it turned out that they had destroyed quite a different city and had to sail out again from Aulis eight years later. Some prominent scholars did not believe me, e. g. Page and Hölscher, who criticized my book very harshly.6 But forty-five years later, in 2005, a new Archilochus papyrus was published by Obbink in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 59, in which the poet uses the Teuthranian expedition as an example for an event of his own life.7 Archilochus narrates that he lost his shield like Telephus, the son of Heracles and heir of Teuthras, king of the Mysians, during the Teuthranian expedition. In this fragment (fr. 1, line 5) Telephus seems to be called )qjas_dgr, which alludes to his mother Aqc^, the great-grand-daughter of )qj\r, the eponymous Arcadian hero. Moreover, Archilochus tells us how Telephus puts the Achaeans to flight and drives them back to the coast, and that the river J\zjor was filled with corpses. The name Teuthras is mentioned (line 17) as well as a cry (line 22) and the gratitude to a father (line 25), probably an allusion to an epiphany of Heracles. This amounts to ample confirmation that the story is much older than the Cypria as mentioned by Proclus and ultimately goes back to a pre-Homeric oral performance of an epic that included this topic. Obviously, Archilochus tells the story according to the oral epic tradition. We can now see that the hidden allusion in the Iliad to the ominous oracle of Calchas (Il. 1.106 – 110) which led to the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, carried out before the second departure to Troy, and the remark of Helen that she left her native country twenty years ago (and not ten), as mentioned in the Il. (24.765 – 766), really refer to this Teuthranian expedition. Homer here partially deviated from the Faktenkanon, but this remained an exception. Not only do the Cypria and Archilochus, but also the pseudo-Hesiodic Catalogue of Women refer to this illuminat5 6 7

Kullmann 1960, 189 – 203. Page 1961, 205 ff., esp. 209; Hölscher 1966, 120 f. Obbink 2005, 18 – 42.

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ing section of the Trojan myth (cf. fr. 165.8 M.-W.: T¶kevom )qjas¸dgm).8 Given the apparent importance of this tale for the origins of the story of the Trojan War, it is worthwhile to look at it in detail. Proclus’ summary runs as follows:9 (§ 24) Then setting out they reach Teuthrania and endeavored to destroy it believing that it was Ilion. (§ 25) Telephus comes to help (scil. his compatriots) and kills Thersander the son of Polynices and is wounded by Achilles. (§ 26) As the Greeks sail off from Mysia, a storm falls on them and scatters them. (§ 27) Achilles sets in at Scyros and marries the daughter of Lycomedes, Deidameia. (§ 28) Then Telephus, having come to Argos in accordance with an oracle, is healed by Achilles on the condition that he will be their guide to their sailing voyage against Ilion.10 Who is Telephus? The relevant sources agree that he is the son of Heracles and the Arcadian Aqc^. Apart from Archilochus, the pseudo-Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (fr. 165 MW = 72 Hirschberger)11 states that the gods bring the young Auge to Teuthras, who brought her up together with his own daughters. When Heracles met her on the way to Troy in order to get the horses of Laomedon, he fathered Telephus, the Arcasid king of the Mysians. But Telephus repulsed the Achaeans when they landed there by mistake. Then a heroic deed seems to be mentioned, probably the victory over Thersander, the son of Polynices. The story mirrors the process of the Hellenization of Mysia. In myth, Heracles is a classic Greek progenitor of various famous persons and their descendants (cf. Apollod. 7.7.8). According to the text, his son Telephus, whose mother Auge has Arcadian ancestors, had probably been adopted by the Mysian king Teuthras, and succeeded him. With respect to Auge, Apollodorus (2.7.4) tells the story in a different way.

8 The strange linguistic coinage )qjas_dgm does not only occur with respect to Telephus, but also at other passages of the catalogue (fr. 129, 17.22 M-W). 9 Quoted according to my numeration; see Kullmann 2002a, 156 – 161 = Kullmann 1960, 57 – 63. 10 Translation by Burgess (2001, 178) with some changes. 11 Cf. Hirschberger 2004, 338 – 341.


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“As he was passing by Tegea, Heracles raped Auge without realizing that she was a daughter of Aleos. She gave birth in secret and hid her baby in the sanctuary of Athene, but when the country was ravaged by a plague, Aleos entered the sanctuary, conducted a search, and discovered his daughter’s child. So he had the baby exposed on Mount Parthenion, but it was saved as an act of divine providence: for a doe that had just given birth offered her teat to it, and some shepherds took up the child and named it Telephos. As for Auge, her father handed her over to Nauplios, son of Poseidon, to sell in foreign parts, and Nauplios gave her to Teuthras, king of Teuthrania, who made her his wife”. (Translation by Robin Hard) 12

According to Hecataeus (FGrHist 1 F 29a Jacoby = p. 138 Fowler), when Aleos became aware that his daughter Auge, who had had intercourse with Heracles, had given birth to a child, he exposed her in an ark (k\qman) together with the baby. She then went to Teuthras, who became her lover, and lived with him. This version of Hecataeus is comparatively late. The exposure in an ark is a cliché and certainly not original (cf. Danae¯). These versions may mirror the endeavor of indigenous rulers to Hellenize an Asiatic dynasty by marriage or by pretended descent. But this seems incompatible with the version concerning the Teuthranian expedition and the Trojan War. One of the most interesting points of the story of the Teuthranian expedition is the fact that it presupposes the Aeolian colonization of Asia Minor by the Greeks. Near the mouth of the river J\zjor we find the Aeolic city Elaia, an Aeolic settlement (Strabo 13.1.67). Apparently, there were friendly relations and fraternization between the Greek settlers represented in the story by Telephus and the indigenous rulers represented by the Mysian king Teuthras. In the myth, relations between Telephus and the commanders of the Achaeans are not the best ones. As hinted at by Proclus, Telephus is constrained by an oracle to ask Achilles for help. He can only be healed by a sort of homoeopathic procedure, i. e. by the rust of Achilles’ lance by which he was wounded, provided he promises to serve as a guide on the way to Troy, though he is no enemy of the Trojans. As told by Diodorus (4.33), Telephus marries Teuthras’ daughter Argiope. And in his summary of the Little Iliad (§ 78), Proclus states that “Eurypylus, the son of Telephus, arrives as an ally of the Trojans”. Here the theme of loyalty to the indigenous population comes through. Apparently, it reflects a 12 Hard 1997, 88.

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political reality among the Aeolian settlers, i. e. that the question of the relations with the indigenous population was disputed. It is likely that with respect to Auge Apollodorus preserves the original version, according to which it was at a first stage that a tradition developed narrating Telephus’ birth in Tegea, and only then did his Arcadian origin, deprived of the humiliating details with respect to Auge, become popular among the Asiatic Aeolians. At any rate, the papyrus has proved that the story of Telephus is an old component of the Trojan legend and disproved the hypothesis still held by Latacz that the story of the Trojan War was invented in Mycenaean times.13 At least it presupposes the beginning of the Aeolic colonization in Asia Minor that took place in post-Mycenaean times. The same situation is mirrored in Il. 24.544 – 545, where Achilles tells Priam that in former times the borderline of Priam’s kingdom was delineated by the island of Lesbos, where Macar (the son of Aeolus) 14 had his seat, and by Phrygia and the Hellespont.15 There are also other indications often mentioned in the past, which need not be repeated again in detail.16 At any rate, it 13 Latacz 2010, 277 f. 14 According to h. Ap. 37. For further information about Macar, the founder of Lesbos, see Kullmann 2002, 107 f. with n. 41 and Diodorus 5.81 f. 15 According to this passage Lesbos does not belong to Priam’s realm. The commentaries of Richardson 1993, 333 and Willcock 1984, 318 confirm this view pace Latacz 2010, 348. 16 Cf. Kullmann 2002, 97 – 138, where certain cornerstones of the hypothesis of Latacz were treated critically. For instance, as stated on pp. 119 f., it is not correct that post-Homeric geographers were unable to locate the three places mentioned in Il. 2.500 (Eleon, Hyle, Peteon) and on Mycenaean tablets found in Thebes, as Latacz claims (2010, 314). Strabo was able to locate them (9,2,12; 9,2,20; 9,2,26). Latacz refers to Visser 1997, 261 – 266, but Visser only says that we today are unable to locate them with certainty and that Eleon does not even possess an article in the Realenzykopdie (RE). Unfortunately I. Hajnal in his book (2003, 56 n. 11) accepts Latacz’ claim (2001, 261 ff. = id. 2010, 277 ff.), without looking at the passages himself. Afterwards, in the sixth edition of his book (2010) on p. 431 n. 117, Latacz takes offense that instead of Hyle Strabo only detects Hylai (plural) at the Hylike¯ Limne¯. But it is a widespread linguistic phenomenon that place names vary in number. Cf. Thebe, Thebai; Mykene, Mykenai etc. The identification of Hyle with Hylai is not “a bold conjecture of Strabo”, as Latacz claims. Recently Kolb (2010, 60) pointed out that the important Mycenaean center of Thebes is not mentioned in the Catalogue of Ships, but only zpoh/bai (Under-Thebes). This seems to indicate that the Mycenaean castle had been destroyed when the Catalogue was composed. Cf. West 2011, 112, according to whom the idea that the Catalogue of Ships preserves some sort of Mycenaean roster is untenable.


Wolfgang Kullmann

seems plausible that with respect to the Trojan War there was an oral tradition that goes back to the beginnings of Greek colonization but not beyond that timeframe.

Oral Argonautic Epic As we learn from the Iliad, it is the interest and task of the singer or poet to take care that the deeds of the heroes are not forgotten but praised in the future. The heroes are considered not as poetical inventions but as historical personalities belonging to a better and more vigorous generation than the present. Perhaps they were historical personalities, but we are in no position to confirm this. It is their stories that constitute the main point of interest for both Neoanalysis and the theory of oral poetry (as indicated by the latter’s interest in the various formula systems the heroes possess). Of course, early oral epic featured more heroes than we know from the Trojan legend, some of them of a kind quite unlike the heroes in the Iliad. For example, the mythical tradition, alongside the Catalogue of Ships, knows of another cataloguing of heroes that must have been known to the singers of the Trojan tale. It is a catalogue of all the heroes who got on board of the Argo and embarked in search of the Golden Fleece (Apollodorus 1.9.16) and certainly goes back to an oral catalogue that formed part of the oral epic Argonautica. The ship Argo is mentioned not only in the Odyssey but also in the Iliad, in which Euneos, son of Hypsipyle and Jason, was in contact with the Achaeans at Lemnos (Il. 7.468; 21.41; 23.747). The name his mother gave him refers to the fate of his father, ‘the man with the good ship’, Eu-ne¯os, in a way like Neoptolemos born on Scyros whose father ‘went to war as a very young man’, Neo-ptolemos. Both are given the names by their mothers in memory of their fathers, who have disappeared from their sons’ lives. Probably there is a direct relation with respect to the use of the motifs in both legends. While stopping briefly on an island, both Achilles and Jason beget children, whose mothers stay at home on their islands and cherish the memory of Achilles and Jason respectively when they name their sons. In addition, the motif of embarking employed for the Achaeans at Aulis seems to be borrowed from the embarking of the heroes traveling with the ship Argo in the direction of the Black Sea via Lemnos. In Apollodorus 1.9.16 we find a whole list of the Argonauts, which is of interest to the Iliad. Among them, for exam-

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ple, there is Poias (the son of Thaumacus),17 who plays a prominent part in the adventures of the Argonauts. He kills the giant Talus, a bronze monster at Crete, possessing only one vessel full of blood, by an arrow-shot to the ankle (Apollod. 1.9.26). What has he to do with the Iliad, which does not mention him? Here the Odyssey is helpful. In 3.190 Nestor informs Telemachus about the nostos of the Achaeans. He relates that people said that the Myrmidons under the leadership of Neoptolemos came home unharmed, ew d³ Vikojt¶tgm, Poi²mtiom !cka¹m uRºm (‘also Philoctetes, the noble son of Poias, came home well’). The fact that the author of the Odyssey used an old form of the patronym (Poiantios) indicates that it may have belonged to a formula system pertaining to an oral Argonautic epic. Apparently, Philoctetes’ father’s name belonged to an earlier version of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships, but was substituted by a remark about his stay on the island of Lemnos because of his wound. Apollodorus (1.9.16), who gives additional information, says that Poias was the son of Thaumacus. This must be part of an old tradition. In the Catalogue of Ships, Philoctetes is named as a representative of the Thessalian cities Methone, Meliboia, Olizon, and Thaumacie. The first two are situated in the north-east of Thessaly in the region of mount Pelion and the Peneios-river; Olizon is situated in the north, too, but farther to the west. All three towns should actually belong to the region of Guneus and Prothoos, whereas a city called Thaumacoi in historical times is situated at the borderline with Phocis in the south. All scholars have placed Philoctetes near the Peneios and the Pelion mountain, but in fact he belongs to the south of Thessaly. Apparently Thaumacos is the eponym of Thaumacie and the founder of an old lineage which consists of Thaumacos, Poias, and Philoctetes. This confirms that the list of the Argonauts in Apollodorus contains old material from oral Argonautic epic mediated probably by the so called logographoi. According to Apollodorus, the Argonaut list contained representatives of the whole of Greece. But the Pelopids (and the Atreids) are lacking. They are late colonial intruders from Asia Minor and Lesbos into the mainland mythology, as Martin West has convincingly shown.18 Pelops is a son of Tantalus, who comes from the mountain Sipylos above Smyrna (Pindar, Ol. 1.36, cf. Il. 24.615) and Oinomaus is probably originally at home on Lesbos (cf. Pherecydes FGrHist 3 F 37 = Fowler). Orestes is held responsible for the Aeolic mi17 Cf. Robert 1923, 787; Kullmann 2009, 8 f. 18 West 1985, 157 f.


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gration (Hellanicus FGrHist 4 F 32 = Fowler). It seems that the entire mythology about Troy was imported by the Asiatic Aeolians into the mainland. The absence of Pelopids and Atreids in the list of the participants of the Argonautic expedition is an argument for the comparatively early origin of the whole list. Like the group of the Pelopids and Atreids, Cadmus, the Theban Labdacids, and their kinship are absent from Apollodorus’ list. In the Iliad we hear a lot of details on the Theban War and the expedition of the Epigonoi, but according to mythological chronology these events took place much later. The name Labdacus, the Lambda man, presumably so named for his spread legs in the form of a Lambda, presupposes the introduction of the Phoenician alphabet. Whereas the Pelopid mythology was introduced by Asiatic Greeks, Thebes according to the leading Theban mythology was founded by the Phoenician Cadmus (which may or may not have a historical background). This also becomes clear from the Odyssey, as we learn from the catalogue of heroines in Book 11. As Odysseus tells the Phaeacians, Antiope, a genuine mainland heroine, boasted of having two sons who were the first founders of Thebes (Od. 11.260 f.), that is Amphion and Zethus, coming from Eutresis. Undoubtably this is an ironic allusion to the rival Theban tradition. We see again that the Catalogue of Argonauts in Apollodorus cannot be a late compilation. We are nearly forced to make the reverse conclusion, that well known characters mentioned in the Homeric epics as Laertes, father of Odysseus, and Peleus, father of Achilles, as well as Menoetius, father of Patroclus, were mythologically comrades or companions in the Argonautic adventures. So in the Iliad Menoetius brings the young Patroclus to Peleus because of his involuntary homicide which happened while he was playing (Il. 23.85 – 88). Sometimes it is good to have an old friend from common adventures in youth, for there may be a need to receive help when faced with family problems. I am convinced that a considerable part of the audience of Homeric poetry knew and associated all these things during the performance. Apparently the audience of the Homeric epics must have had some sense of history. Orality as a scientific discipline should begin to write a history of oral literature, which could be fruitful for Neoanalysis, too. Of course, external mythical material, such as that pertaining to the Pelopids and Cadmus, imported another chronological system, not fully compatible with the older chronology of the earlier myth. Between the stories of the Argonautic expedition and of the Trojan War exists a correspondence in the use of motifs. Both lists try to serve a

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Panhellenic interest. In the case of the Argonautic epic this is clear from the Argo motif itself. It is confirmed by Apollodorus’ tale (1.9.16 = I 110), which refers to an oracle given to Jason that told him to select as crew the best men of Greece. When compared to the followers of Agamemnon in the Trojan war, Panhellenism is rather limited in the case of the Argonauts, but the motif of an embarking of representatives of the whole of Greece may have been imported from the Argonautic into the Trojan epic. Reminiscences of the voyage of the Argo and parallel motifs are also attested in the Odyssey, though linguistic influence with respect to formulas is not recognizable. There is some linguistic material, however, in another non-Trojan epic, the Thebaid, as Torres Guerra has shown.19 In other respects the influence of the Argonautic myth on the Iliad is considerable. According to the Homeric Catalogue of Ships a large number of the leaders of the contingents of different regions of Greece are sons or other relatives of Argonauts or Argonauts themselves. Of course, Apollodorus’ list concerning the catalogue of the Argonauts belonging to an oral epic is not absolutely reliable, but it deserves our consideration, especially since the information about Poias has turned out to be very helpful and there is no contamination with mythical material of a later date. Certainly, we cannot be sure that five of the leaders of the contingents really belonged to the oral Argonautic epic, because according to mythical chronology they would have been too old for a second campaign against Troy (Peneleos, Leitus, Ascalaphus, Ialmenus, Euryalus). But it cannot be ruled out that for certain regions no more names were available. According to Apollodorus (1.9.16), the Argonauts mentioned in the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships among the leaders of the contingents, and their fathers and grandfathers are the following: 1. Peneleos [leader 1] son of Hippalmenus (Boeotian) 2. Leitus [leader 2] son of Alektor (Boeotian) 3 – 4. Ascalaphus and Ialmenus [leaders 6 – 7] sons (!) of Ares, (Minyans) 5. Iphitus, father of Schedius and Epistrophus [leaders 8 – 9] (Phocians) 6. Telamon, father of Aias [leader 13] (Salamis) 7. Euryalus [leader 16], son (!) of Mecisteus (Argos)

19 Torres-Guerra 1995.


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8. 9.

10. 11.

12. 13. 14. 15.

Ancaeus, son of Lycurgus, grandson of Pheres, father of Agapenor [leader 20] (Arcadians) Augeas, father of Agasthenes and of Phyleus, grandfather of Polyxenus [leader 24] (Epeian) and of Meges [leader 25] (Doulichion, Echinades) Laertes, father of Odysseus [leader 26] (Cephallenes, Ithaca) Heracles, father of Tlepolemus [leader 30] (Rhodian) and of Thessalus, grandfather of Pheidippus [leader 32] and of Antiphus [leader 33] (Nisyros, Carpathos, Cos) Peleus, father of Achilles, [leader 34] (Myrmidons) Admetus, son-in-law of Pelias, father of Eumelus [leader 37] (Pherae etc.) Poias, father of Philoctetes [leader 38] (Thaumacie, Methone, Meliboea, Olizon etc.) Coronus (or Caeneus?), son of the Lapith Caeneus, father of Leonteus [leader 44] (Argissa etc.).

As a result we see that 19 of 46 leaders are connected with the Argonautic legend. It should be added that outside the Catalogue of Ships Menoetius, father of Patroclus, is included in Apollodorus’ list, too.

Other Myths Other contingent leaders stem from several different myths: Diomedes, Sthenelus and Euryalus come from Argos, Tiryns etc. and belong to the Epigonoi who feature in the Theban epics. Probably another representative of the Epigonoi was Thersander who died at the hand of Telephus during the Teuthranian expedition. Unlike other heroes like Protesilaus who had to be substituted in the catalogue, since he died when the Achaeans landed at Troy, and Philoctetes, who was left behind at Lemnos, but who is nevertheless mentioned in the catalogue, the name of Thersander, successor of Polynices (Paus. 9.5.14; 9.8.7), is left out completely. Surely, the reason is that Homer deliberately conceals the whole Teuthranian expedition.20 Another group are the de-

20 This has some relevance for the Boeotian contingent, as described in the Catalogue of Ships. Whereas Peneleos and Leitus in 2.494 occur at least in Apollodorus’ catalogue of Helen’s suitors (Apollod. 3.10.8), Arcesilaus, Prothoenor and Clonius seem to be mere fillers as a substitute for Thersander destined only to

Neoanalysis between Orality and Literacy


scendants of the Lapiths, Polypoites, son of the Lapith Peirithous, and Leonteus, grandson of the Lapith Caineus, who remind one to the famous fight of the Lapiths and Centaurs alluded to in Il. 1.262 ff. Finally there are the Atreids, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Each of these heroes has his own story.21 We see that the leaders of the Achaeans are a conglomerate coming from quite different mythological traditions. Some of them have no function within the Iliad or only a small one. They are the representatives of troops coming from different independent cities, without being the kings or rulers of the geographical or historical regions to which the cities belong. Apparently, the combination of these traditions is very late. The Argonautic tradition is older than the others and does not presuppose the colonization of Asia Minor. Only Lemnos, the first stop on the way to Troy, was inhabited by Greek women. The tradition of the Atreids and the greater family of the Pelopids is very late. But there is a reference to Pelops’ sister Niobe. So it is clear that he is thought to be the son of Tantalus and the Atreids to be his descendants. Martin West says: “It was the Aeolians, no doubt, who made Pelops a son of the local mountain giant Tantalus, with the implication that those descendants of Orestes who founded the Aeolic colonies were only returning to their ancestral lands. This probably goes back to the eighth century if not earlier.”22

Summary As it is the poetical strategy of the poet of the Iliad to conceal the Teuthranian expedition because of its colonial implications, so he conceals the colonial roots of the Atreids. He is, therefore, able on the basis of the saga of the sack of Troy, which already existed, to produce the picture of a gigantic war between two separated worlds. At any rate, the idea of a combination of different mythological traditions, which characterizes the Catalogue of Ships, cannot be reduced to a Mycenaean origin. The motif of the war against Troy is an invention of the Asiatic Aeolians.

be killed by the Trojans later in the Iliad. Cf. Kullmann 1960, 160, id. 2009, 2 f.; Cingano 2000, 131 with n. 14, 140. 21 For details, cf. Kullmann 2009, 6 – 13. 22 West 1985, 159.

Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry Gregory Nagy Introduction to the Main Argument This essay centers on the ancient Greek practice of worshipping heroes in the context of hero cults. 1 The question to be addressed here is whether this practice was as yet current in the era when Homeric poetry took shape, and whether we may expect any signs of hero cult in this poetry.2 Concentrating on Homeric references to ritual honors received by heroes, I argue that such references are in fact signs of hero cult. Among these signs, as we will see, are references to the prospect of heroic immortalization after death, which is a primary theme of hero cult.3 The main point of my argument, as we will also see, is that these signs are integrated into the overall structure of both the Iliad and the Odyssey.

A Word about Methodology When I speak, as I just did, of the overall structure of the Iliad and Odyssey, I have in mind a special way of looking at Homeric poetry – a special method. I approach the text of this poetry, with all its attested variations, as empirical evidence for the workings of a formulaic system, the 1

2 3

A reliable guide to the material evidence about hero cults in the ancient Greek world is the book of Ekroth 2002, which includes a wide-ranging bibliography tracking the relevant research (there is a helpful review by Currie 2003); also, I recommend the article of Ekroth 2009, which provides a useful overview. Further references in Nagy 2001, 15 n. 1. For background on this question, see Bravo 2009, 13 – 17 (with the corresponding notes at pp. 26 – 28). On myths about the immortalization of heroes after death and on the relevance of these myths to rituals as practiced in cults of heroes, I offer an overview in the essay “The Epic Hero,” Nagy 2006 (this online version of the article provides detailed notes not included in the printed version, Nagy 2005).


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study of which was pioneered by Milman Parry and Albert Lord.4 Such an approach depends on diachronic as well as synchronic perspectives5 in analyzing the operation of this formulaic system in the making of Homeric poetry.6 In using these terms synchronic and diachronic, I rely here on working definitions stemming from the lectures of the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, which I paraphrase this way from the original French wording: A synchronic perspective has to do with the static aspect of linguistic analysis, whereas a diachronic perspective deals with various kinds of evolution. So synchrony and diachrony refer respectively to an existing state of a language and to phases of evolution in the language.7

I note especially the equation here of diachronic and evolutionary. In this essay, I will be contrasting what is basically an evolutionary approach with alternative approaches based on the idea of prototypical written texts of Homer. To view the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey as an overall structure shaped by a formulaic system is radically different from viewing these two epics as texts created by way of writing. From the second point of view, whatever principles of organization we may find in the Iliad and Odyssey would have to depend on the writing down of these two epics at a given time and in a given place. From the first point of view, by contrast, the organization of the Iliad and Odyssey stemmed from the workings of oral poetry. When I say oral poetry, I mean a specialized language derived from ordinary language. Just as ordinary languages are systems that operate by way of rules, so also oral poetry, as a specialized language, is a specialized

4 5 6 7

The primary works are Parry 1971 (that is the publication year of his collected papers), Lord 1960 (2nd edition 2000). For background on the terms synchronic and diachronic (as formulated by Saussure 1916), including remarks on the special relevance of these terms to Homeric studies, see Nagy 2003, 1. Nagy 1996a, 21, 25 – 26. Saussure 1916, 117: “Est synchronique tout ce qui rapporte à l’aspect statique de notre science, diachronique tout ce qui a trait aux évolutions. De même synchronie et diachronie désigneront respectivement un état de langue et une phase d’évolution”. For background on the original wording and on my paraphrase, including remarks on the special relevance of these terms to Homeric studies, see Nagy 2003, 1.

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system that operates by way of its own specialized rules. That is the essence of what I have been calling the formulaic system of oral poetry.8 It would be a gross misunderstanding, however, to think of such a formulaic system as some kind of impersonal machine. Just as ordinary language is spoken by real persons in real situations, so also the specialized language of oral poetry is composed in performances by real persons in real situations. Here I find it relevant to apply the terms langue and parole as originally developed by Ferdinand de Saussure and as later refined by Roman Jakobson: I use the term langue with reference to language as a system and the term parole with reference to language as it comes to life once it is spoken by real persons speaking in real situations.9 To restate the point, then, I am saying that the langue of oral poetry becomes parole when it is composed in performance by real persons in real situations.10 The formulaic system of oral poetry, as a special language, has special rules that go beyond ordinary language, and these special rules can lead to ever higher levels of organization. What I just said about oral poetry on the level of langue can be restated on the level of parole: the fact is, speakers of the special language that is oral poetry can develop special mental powers of organization, and this fact can be validated in empirical studies of living oral traditions.11 So we have reason to expect oral traditions to be capable of generating highly organized structures in the process of composition in performance. Such a capacity, however, will not be recognized by those who assume that oral traditions are by nature disorganized, and this as8 Nagy 1990a 1§§22 – 44 (= pp. 29 – 42). See also in general Bakker 2005. 9 Here is the formulation of Saussure (1916, as translated by Baskin 1966, 14): “[langue] is the social side of language, outside the individual”, which “exists only by virtue of a sort of contract signed by the members of the community”, while parole is “the individual side of language, the individual act”. This formulation, in its translated version, was adjusted by Jakobson in a posthumously published essay “Langue and Parole: Code and Message” ( Jakobson 1990, 80 – 109). For Jakobson, langue is not “outside the individual”, since each individual uses langue. Conversely, when Saussure (p. 13) says about parole that “the individual is always its master,” Jakobson (p. 93) counterargues that parole is “not a purely individual act … but rather an interpersonal phenomenon”. Jakobson emphasizes that parole is an act of receiving as well as sending a message: “the act of receiving … is as indispensable for parole as the act of sending” (p. 92). 10 Nagy 1996a, 15; 1990a 1§2n2 (= p. 17). 11 Nagy 1996a, 19, 26 – 27, 30, 40, 137.


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sumption has in fact pervaded the history of research on Homeric poetry.12 On the basis of this assumption, those who see a unity in the organization of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey will explain such unity in terms of literacy. By contrast, I explain such unity in terms of oral poetics.13 Given that the term unitarian has been used in the past to describe those who see Homeric unity of organization in terms of literacy, I hereby propose to use the term neo-unitarian to describe my stance in seeing this same Homeric unity in terms of oral poetry, and I hope to justify my use of this term as my argumentation proceeds.14 From the viewpoint of a neo-unitarian approach, I argue, references to hero cult in Homeric poetry are interconnected signs embedded in the formulaic system of Homeric poetry.

Different Ways of Looking at References to Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry The argument that I am making here about interconnected signs of hero cult in Homeric poetry goes back ultimately to a book I first published in 1979, The Best of the Achaeans. 15 This argument has been challenged in a book published in 2005 by Bruno Currie on the cult of heroes as reflected in the poetry of Pindar, especially in the genre that we know as the victory ode or epinician.16 In that book, for which I express from the start my deepest admiration, we find a different way of looking at references to hero cult in Homeric poetry – and, more basically, a different way of looking at Homeric poetry. Currie’s argumentation, as we will see, is not only different from mine when it comes to Homer: it 12 Nagy 1996a, 26. 13 See Nagy 2006§40. And, as I point out there, with reference to ethnographic studies of living oral traditions, concepts of unity can actually be recognized not only by the practitioners of these traditions in contexts of live performance but also by those who attend the performance or participate in it. See also especially Nagy 2003, 15 n. 74, with reference to the ethnographic concept of “notional totality”. 14 I recognize that the term can be used in different ways, as we can see from the analysis of Cerri 2010, 85; also Theiler 1962. 15 Nagy 1979, abbreviated hereafter as BA; second edition 1999, abbreviated hereafter as BA 2. 16 Currie 2005.

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seems to be meant as an outright replacement of what I have argued about hero cults and Homer. In what follows, my aim is to respond not only by defending my arguments but also by showing that Currie’s differences with me would be reconciled if I could persuade him to adjust the lens through which he views Homeric poetry. My defense is framed in a form of debate where the question is not whether anyone has won or lost an argument. The question to be faced, rather, is whether the debate can be framed within a broader framework that reconciles what may at first seem to be irreconcilable points of view about Homeric poetry.17 To start my defense, I go back to something I said in the second edition of The Best of the Achaeans, published in 1999, twenty years after the original publication. In the 1999 Preface that supplants the original 1979 Foreword written by James Redfield, I make an overall statement about Homeric references to hero cults. I go out of my way here to situate this statement in my Preface to the 1999 edition of The Best of the Achaeans because most works on Homer published within the last ten years cite only the 1979 edition of my book. In the case of Currie’s work, he too cites only the 1979 edition. As we are about to see, my 1999 statement can be used as a point of departure for defending my views on Homeric references to hero cults. In this statement, which centers on the evidence of Homeric and other poetic passages quoted in The Best of the Achaeans, I argue for the formative influence of the cult of heroes on the epics of heroes as represented by the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey:18 The object of all the readings (of the Homeric and other poetic passages I quote in the book) is to understand simultaneously the form as well as the content of a wide variety of traditional media conveying various basic concepts of the ancient Greek hero. The most basic of all these concepts is a single all-pervasive historical fact of the archaic period and beyond: the cult of heroes. Heroes were not only the subjects of narrative and dramatic 17 My hope for reconciliation is keen. That is not only because I happen to think that Currie’s 2005 book is the best synthesis I have ever read about Pindar but also because this book complements my own work on that author. I have in mind especially the book Pindar’s Homer (Nagy 1990a), in which I analyze hero cults in the context of a large-scale comparative study of the relationship between Homeric and Pindaric poetry. I find most relevant to my work the insights of Currie concerning not only the practices of hero cult, which he views in terms of both ritual and myth, but also the genre of the victory ode itself, which he analyzes most effectively in its genuine historical contexts. 18 BA 2 Preface §3 (= p. vii).


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media but also the objects of worship. This book integrates heroic song, poetry, and prose with the ancestral practices of a wide variety of hero cults.19 More generally, it explores the heroic tradition within the cultural context of Panhellenism, to be defined as an early form of Hellenism that eventually became the nucleus of Classicism.20

As I say explicitly in this 1999 statement, the emphasis in my 1979 book The Best of the Achaeans is on the all-pervasive presence of the cult hero in all forms of archaic Greek literature, including the epic form of Homeric poetry. And here is the way I formulate this presence in the 1979 introduction to the book:21 I have set as my main goal the answer to this vital question about the Achilles of our Iliad: does this Panhellenic figure possess the religious dimension of a cult hero even within Epos? There are other questions that are related: how is myth stylized in epic, and how does poetry in general express the connections between myth and ritual?

The point I am making in this formulation, that Achilles as well as the other heroes who are represented in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey possess “the religious dimension of a cult hero”, differs from the point made in the 2005 book of Currie, who begins his chapter on “Hero Cult” by saying: “There is near total silence on hero cult in Homer”.22 Although Currie recognizes, as I do, that the religious dimension of hero cult as it exists in the historical period of Pindar in the 5th century BCE had already taken shape in the prehistoric period of Homeric poetry, the “final form” of which he dates to the last quarter of the 8th century BCE,23 he goes on to argue for a Homeric “suppression” of such a religious dimension, especially with regard to the theme of the cult hero’s immortalization after death. Besides the word “suppress,” which Currie uses frequently in his relevant discussion,24 he uses also the wording “pointedly overlook” as a synonym.25 Why such a “suppression”? Currie’s book considers three possible explanations. The first explanation, as originally formulated by Theodora Hadzisteliou-Price, is that the medium of epic would have seemed anachron19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Reference here to BA Introduction §§16 – 19 (= pp. 9 – 10). Reference here to BA Introduction §§13 – 15 (= pp. 6 – 9). BA Introduction §19 (= p. 10). Currie 2005, 46. Currie 2005, 48. Currie 2005, 50 – 57. Currie 2005, 55. He also quotes here Lloyd-Jones 1983, 81, who speaks of “a kind of censorship”.

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istic in treating personages of the past as if they were already cult heroes of the present.26 Currie rejects this explanation, noting that media like tragedy are perfectly capable of treating personages of the past as if they were already cult heroes.27 By contrast, according to Currie, the medium of Homeric poetry “suppresses” such a treatment. As I intend to argue, however, Homeric poetry can in fact refer to its characters as if they were already cult heroes. A second explanation for “the suppression of hero cult from Homeric epic” is a formulation that Currie attributes to me. To quote his own wording, I argue that “the Panhellenic orientation of Homeric epic meant that it had to shed any allusions to local hero cult”.28 To back up what he claims I argue, he quotes the following formulation of mine in The Best of the Achaeans: 29 The hero of cult must be local because it is a fundamental principle in Greek religion that his power is local. On the other hand, the Iliad and the Odyssey are Panhellenic. What results is that the central heroes of this epic tradition cannot have an overtly religious dimension in the narrative.

As my wording here indicates, however, I am not saying that epic had “shed any allusions to local hero cult”. I am saying only that Homeric poetry avoids overt references to hero cult. To say it another way, references to hero cult are implicit, not explicit, in Homeric poetry.30 And, as I argue, Homeric poetry not only “alludes” to hero cult but also actually integrates the mentality of hero cult into the overall narratives of both the Iliad and the Odyssey. As for the Panhellenic orientation of the Homeric poems, I submit that Currie has not yet fully come to terms with what I mean by Panhellenism, which is for me an absolutizing tendency rather than any absolute reality in Homeric poetry. In my studies on Homer poetry, the term Panhellenic is relative, not absolute.31 That is why I can describe the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey as “more Panhellenic” than, say, the epic Cycle.32 In other words, the Iliad and Odyssey are less localized 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Hadzisteliou-Price 1973. Currie 2005, 55. Currie 2005, 56. BA 6§29 (= p. 116). This point is picked up by Bravo 2009, 16 – 17. Nagy 1996a, 40 – 41; 2009, 274 – 275. Nagy 1990a 2§36 (= pp. 70 – 71).


Gregory Nagy

in outlook than the epics of the Cycle. A case in point is the theme of heroic immortalization after death, which is a primary characteristic of localized myths that are linked with localized hero cults.33 This theme is made explicit in the Aethiopis, an epic belonging to the Cycle and attributed to Arctinus of Miletus: in this epic, Achilles is explicitly immortalized after death (Aethiopis Proclus summary p. 106.11 – 15, ed. Allen); in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, by contrast, the theme of heroic immortalization is nowhere made explicit for Achilles.34 In this particular instance, then, with specific reference to the theme of immortalization as a characteristic of localized hero cults, I can say that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey are “more Panhellenic” and thus “less localized” in comparison to the epic Cycle. My formulation, as I just repeated it here, has been summarized by Currie: “The argument that the Iliad and Odyssey are ‘more Panhellenic’ than the poems of the Epic Cycle provides for Nagy an explanation of why the former admit fewer allusions to immortalization and hero cult”.35 In this context, while focusing on the concept of Panhellenism, Currie sets up my explanatory model as a foil for his own explanation. Before I turn to Currie’s explanation, however, I must record my disagreement with his own use of the term “Panhellenic” in a secondary argument that he adds in this same context. It has to do with references in the Homeric Iliad to the mortality of the hero Heracles (16.431 – 461, 666 – 683, 18.117). These references avoid any direct mentioning of immortalization, which as we have seen is a primary theme of hero cults. And the fact is, this theme of immortalization after death pervades the myths about Heracles outside of Homeric poetry.36 In terms of my explanatory model, then, the avoidance of references to the immortalization of Heracles in the Iliad is due to the Panhellenism of Homeric poetry, which promotes the exclusion of explicit references to hero cults. And here is where Currie offers his secondary argument against my explanation of such a pattern of exclusion in terms of Homeric Panhellen33 Nagy 2006 §§98 – 99, 107, 113. 34 Nagy 2006 §57. There is, however, an implicit reference to the future immortalization of Achilles in Il. 19.418, as analyzed in BA 10§50n2 (= pp. 209 – 210). 35 Currie 2005, 56. 36 I analyze the myths about the immortalization of Heracles in Nagy 2006 §§74 – 75, 105 – 108. In the ancient Greek visual arts, the death and subsequent immortalization of Heracles can be represented simultaneously: see Pache 2009, 105 – 106.

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ism: “the cult of Herakles, although a Panhellenic and not a local one, is no more immune to exclusion from the Iliad than the cults of other heroes”.37 I disagree with this description of the cults of a hero like Heracles as “Panhellenic”.38 The fact that there were many hero cults of Heracles all over the Hellenic world does not mean that any single one of these cults was Panhellenic.39 I hold that the cults of Heracles and all other hero cults, as cults, were local rather than Panhellenic.40 And, in terms of my argumentation, the Homeric Iliad avoids explicit references to the hero cults of Heracles precisely because these cults were local, just as all other hero cults were local. Currie’s inventory of three possible reasons for “the suppression of hero cult from Homeric epic” culminates in a third explanation, which is his own. In his opinion, the “suppression” results from what he describes as “the literary aims of Homeric epic”.41 This third explanation is presented as a replacement for my own overall explanation, which he describes this way: “Nagy’s understanding of the ‘Panhellenism’ of the Homeric poems is bound up with his proposal of an ‘evolutionary model’ for the genesis of the Homeric poems”.42 Currie goes on to describe as follows my evolutionary model for the making of Homeric poetry: “The theory … makes impersonal, cultural, forces responsible for the suppression of hero cult in the Homeric poems, rather than any literary considerations”.43 I think that this description sets up a false dichotomy between “literary considerations” and my evolutionary model, which I have already described as essentially a diachronic model. Currie derives his wording here from earlier wording used by Douglas L. Cairns in introducing a

37 Currie 2005, 56. 38 Currie 2005, 56. 39 For an overview of the wide variety of the local hero cults of Heracles, see Larson 2009, 35 – 39. A most telling indication of the local character of these various cults is the enormous number of myths concerning different sons that Heracles fathered in different locales: Larson pp. 37 – 38 gives a survey. 40 On the local or epichoric character of hero cults, I offer a survey in Nagy 2006 §§80 – 104. 41 Currie 2005, 56. 42 Currie 2005, 56 and n. 59, where he cites my explanation of the “evolutionary model” in Nagy 1996a, 38 – 63. See also Currie 2006, 8 n. 45. 43 Currie 2005, 56.


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2001 collection of Oxford Readings in Homer’s . 44 Using my evolutionary model as a foil for his own understanding of Homeric poetry, Cairns reads into this model the idea that the “ethos” of the Iliad is “attributable to impersonal forces of historical development”.45 Here, then, is the crux of my disagreement with Currie. He relies on the formulation of Cairns in two ways: (1) he says that I explain “the suppression of hero cult from Homeric epic” in terms of “impersonal, cultural, forces” and (2) he proposes an alternative explanation that is formulated in terms of “literary considerations”. I disagree with the wording he uses to describe my explanation, and, more basically, I disagree with Cairns when he claims that I speak of “impersonal forces of historical development”, to be contrasted with “the role of a single poet’s design and overall conception of his work”.46 The wording of Cairns exemplifies what may perhaps be described as an “old unitarian” approach.47 As I said earlier, it would be a misunderstanding to think of the formulaic system of Homeric poetry as some kind of impersonal machine.48 And, I now add, it would also be a misunderstanding to think of my evolutionary model in terms of “impersonal forces of historical development”. To make this added argument, I return to the terminology developed by Saussure, who juxtaposes langue in referring to language as a system and parole in referring to language as it comes to life once it is spoken by real persons speaking in real situations.49 Applying this terminology not only to oral poetry in general but also to Homeric poetry in particular, I argue that the langue of the oral traditions underlying the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey becomes parole in the process of being performed and reperformed by real persons in real situations.50 And I return here also to the relevant formulation of Jakobson, who 44 In claiming a dichotomy between “literary considerations” and my evolutionary model, Currie 2005, 56 n. 59 cites with approval what Cairns says in his introduction to Oxford Readings (2001, 3 n. 12). 45 Cairns 2001, 35; at p. 35 n. 115, he refers to my evolutionary model as articulated in Nagy 1996a, 92. 46 Cairns 2001, 35. 47 Though Cairns speaks of “a single poet’s design” and of an “overall conception”, it may be inaccurate to label him as a “unitarian”, as we will see in the last footnote of this essay. 48 Further comments on this notion in BA Introduction §3 (= p. 2). 49 Saussure 1966 [1916] 14. 50 Nagy 1996a, 15; 1990a 1§2 n. 2 (= p. 17).

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notes that parole is “not a purely individual act … but rather an interpersonal phenomenon”.51 Applying this formulation to Homeric poetry, I will argue that the parole of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as it comes to life in performance and reperformance, is not at all “impersonal” or even “personal” but “interpersonal”. Another formulation by Jakobson is relevant here: “the act of receiving … is as indispensable for parole as the act of sending”.52 Just as any parole is an act of receiving as well as sending a message, so also the parole of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey depended on the ongoing reception of these epics by the audiences that heard them being performed. Jakobson’s use of the concept of receiving is pertinent to the history and prehistory of Homeric reception, which is the basis of my neo-unitarian formulation of an evolutionary or diachronic model for the making of Homeric poetry.53 In terms of this neo-unitarian formulation, the language of Homeric poetry was a dynamic interaction, through time, of langue and parole. The langue of Homeric poetry, in the course of its evolution during its phase as oral poetry, was not static but ever-changing, ever-evolving, and the linguistic changes that took place in this Homeric langue were conditioned by the historical circumstances of perennial recomposition in performance, which was the essence of Homeric parole. And this parole depended, as I argue, on the ongoing reception of Homeric poetry by the persons attending the performances of this poetry.54 From the standpoint of such a neo-unitarian view of Homeric poetry, what Currie describes as the “suppression” of Homeric references to hero cult is in fact a “literary” phenomenon, but my view of this term “literary” is broader, since it allows for the operation of verbal art in oral traditions, not only in written media. Further, my view of Homeric “suppression” is likewise broader, since I see the general Homeric avoidance of direct references to hero cult as a pattern embedded in 51 Jakobson 1990, 93: this formulation has already been noted at an earlier stage of my essay. 52 Jakobson 1990, 92: again, this formulation has already been noted at an earlier stage of my essay. 53 With reference to Hesiodic as well as Homeric reception, I apply this formulation: “In oral traditions, there is an organic link between reception and performance, since no performance can succeed without a successful reception by the public that sees and hears the performer or performers” (Nagy 2009, 283). 54 As the essay proceeds, I will highlight two historical settings for the reception of Homeric poetry.


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the formulaic system of Homeric poetry. Within the workings of a formulaic system, such an embedded pattern would not have happened overnight, as it were. To put it another way, such a pattern would not have resulted from any single individual poet’s special way of thinking about heroes. Rather, as I argue, such a pattern resulted from an evolution in ways of thinking about heroes within the evolving formulaic system of Homeric poetry. And the evolution of this formulaic system can be viewed in terms of an ongoing and ever-evolving interaction between langue and parole. So I resist the idea of a personal “suppression” of Homeric references to hero cult. Instead, I will argue that Homeric poetry shows a progressive loosening of ties to localized concerns about the cults of local heroes. Such a loosening of ties, as I will also argue, resulted from what I describe as the Panhellenism of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. And the “ethos” of this Panhellenism is not at all “impersonal”. I say rather that it is “interpersonal,” applying again the terminology of Jakobson concerning parole. Homeric Panhellenism can be envisaged as an evolving interaction between the langue of Homeric poetry and the parole that comes to life in the reception of this poetry. This term interpersonal is relevant to the interaction between performer and audience in a wide variety of oral traditions around the world: in many of these traditions, what we consider to be an audience is simply a grouping of persons who not only hear and see the performer but are also considered to be part of the performance.55 Such a blurring of distinctions between audience and group is pertinent to the scenes of person-to-person or person-to-group interaction in Homeric narrative that mirror the conventions of performer-audience interaction in the “real world” that frames the performance of the narrative.56 That “real world”, I argue, is reflected in the Panhellenic reception of Homeric poetry.

55 Nagy 1996, 3, 83 – 85, 217. 56 Nagy 1996a, 54 – 56, following Martin 1989.

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Historical Contexts of Homeric Panhellenism and their Relevance to the Unity of Homeric Composition I highlight here two historical contexts for the Panhellenic reception of Homeric poetry. I will start with the second and more recent of these contexts and then proceed to the first and more ancient one. The more recent of the two contexts was the festival of the Panathenaia as celebrated in the late sixth century BCE in Athens. An important feature of the Panathenaia was a regulation concerning the performance of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey by competing performers known as rhapso¯idoi ‘rhapsodes’. This Panathenaic Regulation, as I call it, required that these rhapsodes collaborate as well as compete with each other in the process of performing, by relay, successive parts of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey (“Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c).57 I argue that this regulation contributed to the unity of these two epics as they evolved over time.58 Such an evolution can best be understood in the light of the first and more ancient of the two historical contexts that I am highlighting. I argue that the Homeric performance units stemming from the Panathenaic Regulation stemmed ultimately from earlier Homeric performance units that evolved at the festival of the Panionia as celebrated in the late 8th and early 7th centuries BCE at the Panionion of the Ionian Dodecapolis in Asia Minor.59 I follow here the analysis of Douglas Frame, who shows that the Panionian versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey were divided into six rhapsodic performance units each, adding up to twelve rhapsodic performance units representing each one of the twelve cities of the Ionian Dodecapolis; each one of these twelve rhapsodic performance units corresponds to four rhapso¯idiai ‘rhapsodies’ or ‘books’ of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey as we know them (‘books’ 1 – 4, 5 – 8, 9 – 12, 13 – 16, 17 – 20, 21 – 24).60 These two historical contexts of Homeric Panhellenization correspond to two different time frames within what I describe as five successive periods in my evolutionary or diachronic model for the making of 57 Nagy 2008/2009 2§§297, 304, 325; 3§§4, 6, 33. 58 Nagy 2002, 42 – 47; also 1996, 69 – 73, 77; 1996a, 75,81 – 84, 101 – 102. 59 Nagy 2009/2010, especially I§§38, 54, 167, 170, 188, 231; II§328; E§§8, 22, 32. 60 Frame 2009 ch. 11.


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Homeric poetry.61 The earlier of the two contexts corresponds to what I classify as Period 2, which extends from the middle of the 8th century BCE to the middle of the 6th, while the later one of the two corresponds to the last few decades of Period 2 and the first few decades of a larger time-frame that I classify as Period 3, which extends from the middle of the 6th century BCE all the way to the later part of the 4th.62 To start, I focus on the two or so centuries of evolution that took place during Period 2, from the middle of the 8th century BCE to the middle of the 6th. I view this period as a decisive time frame for the crystallization, as I call it, of Homeric poetry and, I must now add, also of Hesiodic poetry. I have offered this formulation concerning the crystallization of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey and of the Hesiodic Theogony and Works and Days: 63 These poems … represent the culmination of compositional trends that were reaching their ultimate form, from the 8th century onward, in the context of competitive performances at Panhellenic festivals and other such events. By way of countless such performances for over two centuries, each recomposition at each successive performance could become less and less variable. Such gradual crystallization into what became set poems would have been a direct response to the exigencies of a Panhellenic audience.64

In this earlier formulation, I did not specify which of the Panhellenic festivals I had in mind as the historical contexts for the crystallization of Homeric and Hesiodic poetry. In the present essay, I now specify the festivals of the Panionia and the Panathenaia as, respectively, the initial and the ultimate historical contexts of crystallization for the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. 65 As for the Hesiodic Theogony and Works and Days, by contrast, I specify only the Panathenaia as the ultimate historical con-

61 The five successive periods are summarized in Nagy 2008/2009 P§11, recapping the more detailed presentations in Nagy 1996, 109 – 114 and 1996a, 41 – 43. 62 Nagy 1996, 110 and 1996a, 42. 63 Nagy 1990, 41 – 42 64 Reference here to BA Introduction §§9 – 12 (= pp. 5 – 9). More on crystallization in Nagy 1990a 2§§4 – 6 (= pp. 53 – 54), 23 (= pp. 60 – 61), 14§2 n. 4 (= p. 415). 65 I refer again to the argumentation in Nagy 2009/2010, especially I§§38, 54, 167, 170, 188, 231; II§328; E§§8, 22, 32 (following Frame 2009 ch. 11).

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text of crystallization for these two compositions.66 My reason for reconstructing a shorter time span of crystallization for Hesiodic poetry is this: during the earlier time corresponding to Period 2 in the evolution of Homeric poetry, while the Iliad and Odyssey were already taking shape in the historical context of the festival of the Panionia, there is no trace of any corresponding evolution of Hesiodic poetry at that particular festival. Only in the later historical context of the festival of the Panathenaia do we find traces of a parallel evolution of Homeric and Hesiodic poetry.67 This is not to rule out the possibility that Hesiodic poetry underwent an earlier phase of crystallization in the context of other festivals corresponding roughly to Period 2 in the evolution of Homeric poetry: it is only to rule out the context of the Panionia, the time-frame for which extends as far back as the 8th century BCE. And my point is that only the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey can be dated that far back in time as I reconstruct the historical contexts for performances of such epics. In terms of my overall reconstruction, then, the crystallization of Hesiodic poetry lasted for a relatively shorter time than the crystallization of Homeric poetry, and it started later. This reconstruction meshes with the relative chronology of Homeric and Hesiodic poetry as calculated by Richard Janko. Using as his criteria a set of mutually independent linguistic archaisms and innovations, Janko shows that Homeric poetry preserves a relatively higher percentage of archaisms and a lower percentage of innovations than does Hesiodic poetry;68 more specifically, Homeric poetry tends to be relatively less Ionic than Hesiodic poetry in its formulaic diction, since it preserves relatively more pre-Ionic dialectal forms.69 Janko’s statistics for differences in linguistic archaisms and innovations between the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey and between the Hesiodic Theogony and Works and Days are to my mind negligible in comparison with his important statistics for differences between Homeric and Hesiodic poetry, which are far more pronounced. As a case in point, I cite the final calculations presented by Janko: Iliad 750 – 725 BCE, Odyssey 743 – 713 BCE, Theogony 700 – 665 BCE, Works and Days 690 – 650 66 I refer to the argumentation in Nagy 2009, 294 – 295 for a Panathenaic phase of Hesiodic reception. 67 Again, Nagy 2009, 294 – 295. 68 For an overview: Janko 1982, 200. 69 Janko 1982, 85, 197; Nagy 1990, 61, 63.


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BCE.70 In his more recent work, Janko has situated the dating of Homeric poetry even farther back in time: 775 – 750 BCE for the Iliad and “slightly later” for the Odyssey. 71 For Janko, the fact that Homeric poetry is more archaic and less innovative than Hesiodic poetry in its formulaic diction means that the Homeric compositions were written down at an earlier time than the Hesiodic compositions.72 For me, this same fact means, rather, that Homeric poetry underwent the process that I call crystallization for a longer time and starting at an earlier time than did Hesiodic poetry.73 In terms of my evolutionary or diachronic model, the relatively greater archaism of Homeric poetry does not mean that it was written down earlier than, say, Hesiodic poetry was written down. The point is not that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey were textualized earlier: rather, more simply, these two epics were crystallized earlier. To reverse the relative comparison, I can restate by saying that Hesiodic poetry was still relatively more fluid in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, during a time when Homeric poetry was already becoming relatively less fluid and more rigid. Up to now, I have expressed the idea of relatively more rigidity by utilizing the metaphor of crystallization. From here on, however, I utilize also a slightly different metaphor: the gradual slowing down of fluidity in the ongoing process of Homeric recomposition in performance can be seen as a bottleneck for the flow of that ongoing process.74 In terms of this new metaphor that I am now using, I can say that Homeric poetry flowed through a longer bottleneck than did Hesiodic poetry. Or, to put it in terms of the two separate Panhellenic festivals that became the historical contexts for the shaping of Homeric poetry, I can restate by saying that Homeric poetry flowed through a Panionian bottleneck in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE and through a Panathenaic bottleneck in the 6th century.75 The flow in the course of the second bottleneck slowed down so much that it gradually froze over, facilitating

70 Janko 1982, 231. 71 Janko 1998, 1. A critique of Janko’s methods in calculating relative chronologies has been offered by Jones 2010. 72 Janko 1982, 192, 220 – 221; 1998, 1, 11 – 12. 73 Nagy 1996a, 111. 74 Nagy 2003, 69 – 70; 2004, 30, 185. 75 Nagy 2009/2010 E8.

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the textualization of Homeric poetry in this relatively late period.76 Likewise, Hesiodic poetry flowed through a Panathenaic bottleneck in the 6th century BCE, and it too gradually froze over.77 But Homeric poetry had a head start, as it were, since its flow started slowing down at an earlier date and so it started freezing at an earlier date. By contrast, the relatively later freezing of Hesiodic poetry yielded relatively fewer linguistic archaisms than what we find in Homeric poetry. Keeping my focus on the two historical contexts of the Panionian and the Panathenaic festivals, I turn to yet another aspect of the Panhellenization of Homeric poetry. That other aspect can be formulated this way: the Panhellenic diffusion of this poetry was both centrifugal and centripetal. My original formulation, which was made with reference to the Panathenaia, without any mention of the Panionia, highlighted a comparable phenomenon that is clearly observable in the living oral epic traditions of latter-day India:78 As the comparative evidence of oral epic traditions in contemporary India shows, the institution of Homeric performances at the Panathenaia can be visualized as a process of diffusion. [… But this] diffusion is not restricted to the pattern of an ever-widening radius of proliferation, with no clearly defined center of diffusion. As the Indic comparative evidence shows, there is also a more specialized pattern that can be predicated on a functional center point, bringing into play both centripetal and centrifugal forces. Such a center point … can take the form of a centralized context for both the coming together of diverse audiences and the spreading outward of more unified traditions.

As I went on to argue, the centripetal coming together of diverse audiences representing multiform epic traditions at a festival like the Panathenaia is correlated with the centrifugal diffusion of an ever more uniform epic tradition of Homeric poetry as it radiates outward from its Panathenaic center.79 The wider this Homeric tradition spreads, the closer it gets to achieving its ultimate uniformity. Here I come back to the metaphor of crystallization, which corresponds to the idea of

76 I develop further the metaphor of a gradual freezing over of oral traditions in Nagy 2008/2009 1§7, where I have more to say about the aesthetics of the concept of crystallization. 77 Again, Nagy 2009/2010 E§8. 78 Nagy 1996a, 52. 79 Nagy 1996a, 43; 2003, 70 and n. 76, with further argumentation.


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such an ultimate uniformity in Homeric poetry.80 I am saying that the crystallization of Homeric poetry is Panhellenic – or, to express it in relative terms, that Homeric poetry becomes the most Panhellenic of all forms of epic.81 My evolutionary or diachronic model of Homeric crystallization as an ongoing process extending from the 8th through the 6th century BCE is incompatible with an alternative model built by Janko, which centers on his theory that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey were textualized already in the 8th century BCE by way of being dictated sometime in that early period.82 In terms of Janko’s dictation theory, the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey were already integral texts from the 8th century BCE onward. While arguing against my model of Homeric crystallization, which I view as a process continuing from the 8th through the 6th century BCE, Janko describes it this way: “the progressively wider and wider diffusion of the Homeric poems resulted in their becoming more and more fixed”.83 Janko objects to this model by claiming that such diffusion would have resulted in more and more fluidity instead of more and more rigidity.84 In making this claim, however, he considers only half of my argument, since he views the diffusion of Homeric poetry only in terms of centrifugal forces. He does not take into account the other half of my argument: as I have already pointed out, I argue also for centripetal forces that shape the consolidation of Homeric poetry in the historical contexts of festivals. Cairns says he agrees with Janko in opposing my argument “that the oral tradition of the Homeric poems crystallized in a relatively stable ‘formative’ period from the mid-8th to the mid-6th cent[ury]”,85 and 80 Nagy 1996a, 109. In this context, I compare a similar though hardly identical use of the metaphor of crystallization. It comes from Radloff (1990 [1885] 78), describing the formation of Kirghiz epic traditions: “Like new crystals that develop in a saturated sodium solution during evaporation and group together around a large crystal center in the fluid, or like fine iron filings that cluster around the magnetic pole, all single legends and tales, all historical memories, stories, and songs are strongly attracted to the epic centers and become, by being broken into pieces, parts of a comprehensive picture”. 81 For a comparison of the Panhellenism of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey with the Panindianism of the primary Sanskrit epics, the Maha¯bha¯rata and the Ra¯ma¯yana, see Nagy 1996a, 45 – 47. ˙ 1982, 192, 220 – 221; 1998, 1, 11 – 12. 82 Janko 83 Janko 1998, 12 n. 63. 84 Janko 1998, 11 – 12. 85 Cairns 2001, 3 n. 12, citing Nagy 1996 and 1996a.

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he also agrees with Janko’s dating of the textualization of Homeric poetry in the mid-8th century BCE.86 I must note, however, that his paraphrase of my argument blurs the fact that I view Homeric crystallization as a gradual process, not as some kind of a deep freeze that supposedly lasted for two centuries. Cairns goes on to assume such a deep freeze of Homeric poetry, claiming that I argue for the oral transmission of an already frozen composition. Holding on to that assumption, he asserts that such an argument is untenable even in terms of oral poetics: “but oral transmission makes modification and development inevitable, and consistent archaism on the scale required is surely impossible”.87 This way, Cairns rules out the possibility of oral transmission for Homeric poetry from the mid-8th to the mid-6th century BCE on the grounds that the embedded linguistic archaisms of Homeric poetry would have been gradually eliminated in the process of oral transmission. This is to miss the point of my argument. My model of crystallization does in fact allow for “modification and development”. But the point is, such modification and development would have been gradually restricted in a process of crystallization. In terms of my argument, it is not the archaisms of Homeric poetry that would have been gradually eliminated, as Cairns supposes. Rather, the capacity of Homeric poetry to innovate was being gradually restricted over a period of two centuries in the process that I have been calling crystallization. Although Cairns says that he agrees with Janko when it comes to the dating of Homeric textualization in the 8th century BCE, he actually disagrees with him when it comes to visualizing the form of this textualization: unlike Janko, Cairns posits a Homeric text that stems not from the dictation of an oral composition in the 8th century BCE but rather from the actual writing down of a composition by a literate poet.88 In order to posit such an early date for Homeric textualization, however, Cairns must depend on the linguistic criteria developed by Janko in calculating a relative chronology for the dating of Homeric poetry. And such a dependence is questionable. Cairns does not reckon with the relevant additional linguistic criteria developed by Albio Cesare Cassio, who has argued against the dictation theory of Janko by demonstrating that the diction of Homeric poetry contains embedded linguistic features that extend from the 8th all the way into the 6th century 86 Cairns 2001, 4, citing Janko 1982, 17, 192, 220 – 221; 1998, 1, 11 – 12. 87 Cairns 2001, 3 n. 12. 88 Cairns 2001, 4.


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BCE.89 This is not to question the linguistic criteria developed by Janko in calculating a relative chronology for dating Homeric poetry in comparison to, say, Hesiodic poetry. It is only to question Janko’s dictation theory, which anchors the textualization of Homeric poetry in the 8th century BCE.90 As we see from the evidence collected by Cassio, the textualization of this poetry extended all the way into the 6th century BCE.91 By contrast, Cairns thinks that a “monumental poem” like the Homeric Iliad was composed as a text by a literate poet already in the 8th century BCE and that it was preserved all the way into the late 6th century BCE without any significant interference from “oral transmission”. Here is the way he puts it: “Given that oral transmission of the monumental poem prior to that date [that is, prior to the late 6th century BCE] cannot explain the antiquity of the Iliad’s diction, such a text [that is, a text stemming from the 8th century BCE] must have been a written one”.92 I question what he thinks is a “given” here, and I need to do so because it is precisely in this context that Cairns argues against my evolutionary or diachronic model for the making of Homeric poetry. In making this argument, he associates my model with the idea of Geoffrey Kirk concerning the Iliad as a “monumental poem” that was composed by an “oral poet” in the 8th century BCE and that somehow survived in an unwritten form until the late 6th century BCE.93 Cairns ignores here something I make clear in the same book that he criticizes for ideas that supposedly match Kirk’s idea of the “monumental poem”: the fact is, I have explicitly argued in that book against Kirk’s idea that such a poem was created all at once in the 8th century BCE and was then somehow transmitted as a single creation, without significant changes, all the way into the 6th century.94 Kirk’s idea is not all that far removed from the alternative idea preferred by Cairns, who thinks that the Homeric Iliad was composed as a written text in the 8th century BCE.95 I propose to revisit that alternative idea one last time when I reach the end of my essay. 89 Cassio 1999, 76 – 78; see also Cassio 2002, 108. 90 For a survey of other Homeric dictation theories, see Cassio 2002, 108. For further debate about Janko’s own dictation theory, see Nagy 2003, 49 – 71. 91 See especially Cassio 1999, 81; 2002, 117 – 118; see also Cerri 2010, 94 – 96. 92 Cairns 2001, 3 – 4. 93 Kirk 1962. 94 Nagy 1996a, 110. 95 Cairns 2001, 4.

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Transition Having defended the concept of Panhellenism as it applies to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, I can now pursue my overall argument that Homeric poetry shows a progressive loosening of ties to localized concerns about the cults of local heroes. As we will see, such a trend can be seen as an aspect of Homeric Panhellenism, which shades over what is multiform – and therefore relatively more localized – as it highlights the uniformity of its own evolving unity. And there are two sides to this overall argument. As we will also see, the unity of Homeric poetry, which is evident in the Iliad even more than in the Odyssey, promotes not only a loosening of ties to local hero cults. It promotes also a focusing on a single hero, Achilles, as the primary hero of cult, just as he is the primary hero of the epic that is the Iliad. To make this point, I will now proceed to analyze three sets of Homeric passages. Two of the sets are taken from the Iliad and one from the Odyssey. As we will see, all three sets of passages, even the one taken from the Odyssey, recognize the primacy of Achilles as a hero of cult.

Three sets of Homeric Passages Showing References to Hero Cult In the three sets of passages I have selected, we will see implicit Homeric references to the practice of honoring heroes by way of hero cult. For the moment, I am not considering any explicit references, such as the mention in Il. 2.547 – 551 of seasonally recurring sacrifices made by the Athenians to their cult hero Erechtheus.96 Such explicit references are peripheral to the main narratives of Homeric poetry, whereas the implicit references that I am about to analyze are all central to the unity of those main narratives.

96 On Erechtheus in Il. 2.547 – 551, see Bravo 2009, 14 – 15 and 27 n. 29. Actually, this Homeric passage is a particularly complicated example of Homeric references to hero cults: for an incisive analysis of Il. 2.547 – 551 together with Od. 7.81, where we see another mention of Erechtheus, see Frame 2009, 395 and 445 – 446, with further references. The passages from Il. 2.547 – 551 and Od. 7.81 are both noted by Currie 2005, 47.


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Set One Here I focus on Od. 24.80 – 84, a passage describing the tumulus that will be the tomb shared by Achilles and his dearest friend Patroclus: !lv’ aqto?si d’ 5peita l´cam ja· !l¼loma t¼lbom we¼alem )qce¸ym Req¹r stqat¹r aQwlgt²ym !jt0 5pi pqoqwo¼s, 1p· pkate? :kkgspºmt\, ¦r jem tgkevamµr 1j pomtºvim !mdq²sim eUg to?s’, oT mOm cec²asi ja· oT letºpishem 5somtai.

Next, over these [= the bones of Achilles and Patroclus], a great and faultless tomb was built by us the sacred band of Argive spearmen on a promontory [akte¯] jutting out over the vast Hellespont, so that it might be visible, shining forth from afar, for men at sea [pontos], both for those who live now and for those who will live in the future.97 Odyssey 24.80 – 84

The reference here in the Odyssey to the shared tomb of Achilles and Patroclus complements a set of stylized references to what is understood to be the same tomb in the Iliad (especially 19.368 – 380; 23.125 – 126, 245 – 248).98 And the Homeric description of the tomb shared by these two heroes matches what we know about the tombs of cult heroes from sources external to Homeric poetry.99 I show as an example one such external source, the Heroicus of Philostratus, who flourished in the early 3rd century CE. In this work, Philostratus collected a vast array of details about hero cults, especially the 97 The time frame indicated as ‘now’ here is the era of the heroes who fought in the Trojan War, while the future is of course the ever movable here-and-now of Homeric reception. For a view of Homeric and also Hesiodic reception from the perspective of performance in the here-and-now, as conditioned by historical contingencies, see Nagy 2009, 274 – 275. 98 Detailed analysis in Nagy 2009/2010 II §§50 – 89. As I point out in that analysis, it is made clear in Il. 23.245 – 248 that the tomb to be shared by Achilles and Patroclus should be incomplete while only Patroclus occupies it, and that the final act of making the complete tomb must wait till the death of Achilles. That final act is what we see described in Od. 24.80 – 84. I should add that the setting of the tomb of Achilles and Patroclus, as primarily indicated by the word akte¯ ‘promontory’ in Od. 24.82, is consistent with the setting for the funeral of Patroclus as described in the Iliad: here too the primary indicator is the same word akte¯, as we see in the contexts of 18.68, 23.125 – 126, 24.97. 99 Nagy 1990, 220; in n. 52, there is an analysis of the relevant testimony of Pausanias 2.12.5.

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cults attested in the region of Troy. Most relevant to my argument is his description of seasonally recurring sacrifices performed at the tomb of Achilles by Thessalian emissaries sent to Troy for the sacred purpose of renewing, in a stylized mode of ritual stealth, their ties to the final resting place of their native son (Heroicus 52.3 – 54.1).100 Such external evidence helps us see in a new light the relevant internal evidence of the Homeric Iliad. A case in point is the pervasive formulaic repertoire of Homeric references to the shelters in which Achaean heroes slept and dined and received guests when they were alive and fighting as warriors in the Trojan war: some of these references can be traced back to sacralized pastoral contexts referring to the final resting places of cult heroes.101 In Od. 24.35 – 98, which is the larger context that frames the description of the tomb shared by Achilles and Patroclus in Od. 24.80 – 84, we find that the narrative is pervaded by further references to the hero cult of Achilles. I offer here a brief inventory of some of these references: – 24.36: ekbie Pgk]or uR] , heo?s’ 1pie_jek’ )wikkeO ‘O you olbios son of Peleus, godlike Achilles’. These words are spoken in Hades by the psukhe¯ of Agamemnon (24.35) in response to the psukhe¯ of Achilles (24.24). For the moment, I translate psukhe¯ as ‘spirit’ and olbios as ‘fortunate’. As we will see later, however, both these words have

100 Nagy 2009/2010 II §§47 – 55, 86 – 89. See also the running commentary of Berenson and Aitken 2001, 153 – 165. I also recommend the eclectic comments of Grossardt 2006, 2.719 – 722, though I have to express my disagreement with his skeptical views concerning the historical value of the ritual details formulated by Philostratus. 101 Nagy 2009/2010 II §§56 – 58, focusing on the Homeric uses of the words stathmos, klisia, se¯kos. In another project (A Homer commentary in progress, by D. Frame, L. Muellner, and G. Nagy, forthcoming in Classics), I study the relevance of these sacralized pastoral words to (1) the myth, as retold in the Ajax of Sophocles, about the deranged slaughtering of herds in the Troad by the hero Ajax, and (2) the hero cult of Ajax in the vicinity of Rhoiteion in the Troad and the references to this cult in the Heroicus of Philostratus (18.3 – 5), where we read that herdsmen in the Troad fear the damage that the angry spirit of Ajax can inflict on their herds (see Nagy 2001, 28 n. 21). In the context of this same project, I study in general “the poetics of the angry cult hero” as reflected in such Homeric scenes as the killing of the suitors by Odysseus (with reference to Theognis 1123 – 1125, as analyzed by Nagy 1985 §§68 – 70 [= pp. 74 – 76]).


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deeper meanings, conveying the idea of heroic immortalization after death. 24.37 – 39: !lv· d] s’ %kkoi / jte_momto Tq~ym ja· )wai_m uXer %qistoi / laqm\lemoi peq· se?o ‘On all sides of you [= your corpse], the rest of them, the best, / were being slaughtered, sons of both Trojans and Achaeans, / as they were fighting over you [= your corpse]’. The Achaeans and the Trojans are battling here over the possession of the corpse of Achilles.102 The mentality of needing to possess the body of the dead hero, whether he was a friend or an enemy in life, is typical of hero cults, in that the corpse of the cult hero was viewed as a talisman of fertility and prosperity for the community that gained possession of the hero’s body.103 24.39 – 40: s» d’ 1m stqov\kicci jom_gr / je?so l]car lecakyst_ ‘There you were, lying in a swirl of dust. / You lay there so huge in all your hugeness’. The corpse of Achilles is described here as larger than life.104 As we see from lore preserved in the historical period about cult heroes, they were conventionally pictured as far larger in death than they had been in life.105 24.59: peq· d’ %lbqota eVlata 6ssam ‘They [= the Nereids] dressed you [= your corpse] in immortalizing clothes’. At the funeral of Achilles, his divine mother and her sister Nereids dress the hero’s corpse in ‘immortalizing’ clothes.106 24.73 – 77. After the cremation of the corpse of Achilles, his bones and those of the already cremated corpse of Patroclus are placed into

102 Narratives about this kind of battle are attested also in the visual arts. To cite just one example here, there is a Rhodian Black Figure plate, dated to the second half of the 7th century BCE (London, British Museum 1860,0404.1 A 749), showing the figures of Menelaus and Hector battling over the corpse of Euphorbus (see Bravo 2009, 17). 103 Nagy 1990a 1§29, 6§59 (= pp. 32, 178); 2006 §97. 104 This wording applies to Achilles also in Il. 18.26 – 27, where he stages himself as a corpse in mourning the death of Patroclus and where he is mourned by Thetis as if he were already a corpse (BA 6§24 [= p. 113], especially with reference to 18.71). At 16.775 – 776, cognate wording applies to the corpse of the hero Cebriones. The corpse of Achilles is described as nine cubits long in the Alexandra of Lycophron (860). 105 Survey by Brelich 1958, 233 – 234. Among the striking examples in this survey is the corpse of Orestes as cult hero, described in Herodotus (1.68). 106 On the vital importance of understanding ambrotos as ‘immortalizing’ as well as ‘immortal’, I refer to my argumentation in Nagy 1990, 141, with reference especially to Il. 16.670 and 680. I will have more to say later about these verses.

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a golden amphora that had been given by the god Dionysus to the goddess Thetis. This amphora, as we know from the comparative evidence of other poetic references (especially Stesichorus PMG 234), is a sign of the hero’s immortalization after death.107 24.85 – 86. After the making of the tumulus which will be the tomb shared by Achilles and Patroclus (24.80 – 84), funeral games are held in honor of Achilles. The details of this description match closely the details we can gather from historical evidence about athletic contests held in honor of cult heroes.108 24.91. The athletic contests at the funeral games of Achilles and the prizes to be won in these contests are instituted for the purpose of compensating for his death, and, in this verse, such an act of compensation is expressed by way of the prepositional phrase epi soi (1p· so_), which can be translated roughly as ‘in your honor’. As we can see clearly from a variety of prose sources, the syntactical construct combining the preposition epi with the dative case of a given hero’s name refers to the cult of that hero.109

Set Two I focus here on Il. 23.326 and 331, two verses concerning the se¯ma or ‘sign’ given by the hero Nestor to his son, the hero Antilochus, about the se¯ma or ‘tomb’ of an unnamed cult hero. The two verses come from an Iliadic narration of the instructions given by Nestor to Antilochus about the driving skills required for a charioteer to make a left turn around a landmark. As we learn from the context, this landmark will be used as a turning post in the course of a chariot race that is being planned as the culminating athletic event of the Funeral Games for Patroclus in Iliad 23. In the words of Nestor, this landmark is either a se¯ma ‘tomb’ of an unnamed hero of the ancestral past (23.331) or it was once upon a time a turning post, 107 BA 10§50 (= p. 209); see also Dué 2001. 108 BA 6§30 (= pp. 116 – 117). 109 Collection of evidence in Nagy 1990a 4§7 (= p. 121). Perhaps the most striking example is this entry in the dictionary attributed to Hesychius: Bakkgt}r· 2oqtµ )h^mgsim, 1p· Dglov_mti t` JekeoO !col]mg ‘balletus: a festival event at Athens, held in honor of Demophon son of Celeos’ (further references to this athletic event of simulated warfare in 1990a 4§7 n. 26).


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a nussa (332), used for chariot races that must have taken place in that ancestral past: s/la d] toi 1q]y l\k’ !qivqad]r, oqd] se k^sei. 6stgje n}kom awom fsom t’ eqcui’ rp³q aUgr C dqu¹r C pe}jgr· t¹ l³m oq jatap}hetai elbq\, k÷e d³ toO 2j\teqhem 1qgq]datai d}o keuj½ 1m numow0sim bdoO, ke?or d’ Rpp|dqolor !lv·r E teu s/la bqoto?o p\kai jatatehmg_tor, C t| ce m}ssa t]tujto 1p· pqot]qym !mhq~pym, ja· mOm t]qlat’ 5hgje pod\qjgr d?or )wikke}r. t` s» l\k’ 1cwq_lxar 1k\am swed¹m ûqla ja· Vppour, aqt¹r d³ jkimh/mai 1{pk]jt\ 1m· d_vq\ Gj’ 1p’ !qisteq± to?im· !t±q t¹m deni¹m Vppom j]msai blojk^sar, eWna_ t] oR Bm_a weqs_m. 1m m}ss, d] toi Vppor !qisteq¹r 1cwqilvh^ty.




I [Nestor] will tell you a sign [se¯ma], a very clear one, and you will not let it get lost in your thinking. Standing over there is a stump of deadwood, a good reach above ground level. It had been either an oak or a pine. And it hasn’t rotted away from the rains. There are two white rocks propped against either side of it. There it is, standing at a point where two roadways meet, and it has a smooth track on both sides of it for driving a chariot. It is either the tomb [se¯ma] of some mortal who died a long time ago or was a turning post [nussa] in the times of earlier men. Now swift-footed radiant Achilles has set it up as a turning post [terma plural]. Get as close to it as you can when you drive your chariot horses toward it, and keep leaning toward one side as you stand on the platform of your well-built chariot, leaning to the left as you drive your horses. Your right-hand horse you must goad, calling out to it, and give the horse some slack as you hold its reins, while you make your left-hand horse get as close as possible to the turningpost. (Il. 23.326 – 338)

The se¯ma that is the ‘tomb’ of the unnamed hero at verse 331 is also a ‘sign’ of that hero’s cult, as signaled by the se¯ma or ‘sign’ that is conveyed at verse 326 by the speaker. It is this particular context of se¯ma as ‘sign’ in verse 326 that motivates the title of my present essay, “Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry”. As I show in an earlier essay, “Se¯ma and Noe¯sis: The Hero’s Tomb and the ‘Reading’ of Symbols in Homer and

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Hesiod”,110 we know from evidence external to Homeric poetry that the tomb of a cult hero could be used as the actual turning post of a chariot race.111 In the Iliad, viewed from the standpoint of the overall narrative, the tomb of the unnamed hero from the past becomes the same thing as the turning post of a chariot race from the past. I say this because that past hero and that past chariot race become the present hero Patroclus and the present chariot race that will be held in Iliad 23 to honor Patroclus as a cult hero.112 I focus on the left turn of the chariot that is pictured as racing around the turning post at verses 334 – 338 here in Iliad 23.113 This left turn can be seen as a ritual act of hero cult – once we recognize that the turning post here is being equated with the tomb of a cult hero in the narrative of the Iliad. Such an equation, as we will see, is implicit in the Homeric Iliad. And it is implicit also in the iconographical evidence of a Black Figure vase painting. I have in mind here a picture painted on a hydria that is now housed in the museum of the university in Münster and dated to the late 6th century BCE by Klaus Stähler, who published the editio princeps of the Münster Hydria.114 In this picture we see the hero Achilles himself in the act of participating in the chariot race held in honor of Patroclus. The picture shows Achilles running on foot alongside his speeding chariot drawn by four horses and driven by his charioteer: the hero has jumped off the chariot, which is rounding the tomb that Achilles will be sharing with Patroclus. And the chariot is making a left turn around this tomb. As Stähler demonstrates, Achilles here is engaging in a ritual athletic event that can best be described as a special kind of chariot race: the rider of the chariot, standing next to the driver standing on the chariot platform, must at a given moment leap off the speeding chariot and “hit the ground running” in competi110 Nagy 1990, 202 – 222, a recasting of Nagy 1983. 111 Nagy 1990, 215 – 216, with reference to Pausanias 6.20.15 – 19 and with further comments. Still further comments by Frame 2009, 134 (with n. 31) and 163 (with n. 54). See also Sinos 1980, 48 – 49. 112 Nagy 1990, 215 – 222; further argumentation in 1990a 7§§11 – 16 (= pp. 208 – 212). 113 On the elaborate poetics of describing the left turn in chariot racing, which requires a perfect combination of impulse and restraint for the successful execution of such a left turn, I am guided by the detailed analysis of Frame 2009, 133, 144 – 149, 153 – 156, 162 – 166, 331. 114 Stähler 1967.


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tion with other chariot riders, called apobatai ‘those who step off’ in the Athenian version of this athletic event.115 As Stähler also demonstrates, with reference to the painting on the Münster Hydria and to other paintings, what is being pictured here is the beginning of the hero cult of Patroclus.116 And the ritualized actions of Achilles, as we see from these paintings, show the way for the future observance of rituals of hero cult not only for Patroclus but even for Achilles himself.117 The evidence of these paintings meshes with the evidence of the overall narrative of the Iliad, where Patroclus earns the role of a ritual substitute of Achilles.118 This role makes Patroclus not only a body-double but even a story-double of the central hero of the Iliad, where things happen to Patroclus that would otherwise have happened only to Achilles.119 The most central of these happenings is the ritual death of Patroclus at the hands of the god Apollo in Iliad 16, since this happening in the Iliad prefigures the death of Achilles beyond the Iliad. 120 And there are also other such happenings in the Iliad where the role of Patroclus as a cult hero functions as a substitute for the corresponding role of Achilles. A case in point is the narration in Iliad 17 of the fighting between the Achaeans and the Trojans over the possession of the corpse of Patroclus after he is killed in Iliad 16. Directly comparable is the fighting over the corpse of Achilles as we already saw it described in Od. 24.37 – 39. In view of this centrality of Patroclus as the surrogate cult hero of the Homeric Iliad, it is vital to highlight here a detail we see in the picture of Patroclus as painted on the Münster Hydria. The hero, imagined here as a miniature body-double of Achilles, hovers mid-air over the tomb that he will share with Achilles. And, in this painting, Patroclus is labeled as psukhe¯ (VSUWE). A neutral translation of this word’s meaning would be ‘spirit’, but the more basic meaning of psukhe¯ is ‘breath of 115 Stähler 1967, 15, 32 – 33, 44. Also Nagy 1990, 94 n. 5 and 220 n. 54; further details in 2009a about the athletic event of the apobatai at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens; still further details in 2009/2010 II §§90 – 111. 116 Stähler 1967, 32. 117 Nagy 1990, 94 n. 5 and 220 n. 54, following the argumentation of Stähler as cited in the previous note. 118 For an analysis of the role of Patroclus as the ritual substitute of Achilles in the Iliad: BA 2§8, 17§4 (= pp. 32 – 34, 292 – 293). 119 For a general overview of the role of Patroclus as both the ritual substitute and the narrative surrogate of Achilles in the Iliad: Nagy 2007, 64 – 69. 120 On this subject, I find the book of Lowenstam 1981 to be of lasting value.

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life’, which in the context of hero cults signals the vital force that departs from the body of the hero at the moment of death – only to be reunited with that body after a transition, through Hades, into a paradisiacal setting that I have already described as transcending the temporal and the spatial constraints of mortality.121 Such a mystical reunion of the body with the psukhe¯ is the essence of heroic immortalization.122 This theme of immortalization is implicit in the overall use of the word psukhe¯ in Homeric poetry. I emphasize that the theme is implicit, not explicit, and that the formulaic system of Homeric diction shows this implicitness by actually avoiding the use of psukhe¯ in certain situations and by substituting alternative words like thumos and menos in these situations.123 One such situation is a set of Homeric scenes where a hero swoons, that is, where he loses consciousness but does not die: in such scenes, it can be said that a hero loses his psukhe¯ when he swoons (as in the case of Sarpedon when he swoons in Il. 5.696), but it cannot be said that he wins back his psukhe¯ when he comes to.124 If the hero were dead, then he would not come to. But if he is not dead, then he will come to, that is, he will revive. The point is, in Homeric scenes where we see a hero reviving after swooning, that is, where the hero regains consciousness after having passed out temporarily, the ‘breath of life’ that he regains cannot be expressed by way of the word psukhe¯, which can be used to express only the loss of consciousness at the moment of swooning or dying but not the regaining of consciousness at the moment of reviving. From the standpoint of Homeric diction, to say that the psukhe¯ as the ‘breath of life’ is regained after reviving from swooning is evidently too close to saying that the hero will revive not only after swooning but even after dying.125 Such a pattern of avoidance cannot be explained as a “suppression,” at least in the sense that we have already considered earlier, since this pattern is so deeply embedded in the formulaic system of Homeric poetry. Such depth of embeddedness indicates a lengthy period of evolution for this pattern. By contrast, the idea of a “suppression” that is personally initiated by a literate author who seeks to draw attention away from the theme of heroic immortalization could not account for the sys121 122 123 124 125

Nagy Nagy Nagy Nagy Nagy

1990, 1990, 1990, 1990, 1990,

88 – 93, 115 – 116. 126 n. 30, 142. 87 – 88, with references. 90, with references. 89 – 92.


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tematic pervasiveness that we see in this pattern of avoidance, which produces the effect of actually drawing attention to the theme of immortalization, rather than distracting from it. From a neo-unitarian point of view, this pattern of consistently avoiding references to the return of the psukhe¯ to the body shows a pervasive recognition of the theme of immortalization within the entire formulaic system of Homeric poetry. To use this system, this langue, when you speak the parole of Homeric poetry is to recognize and even to accept the implicitness of heroic immortalization. Just as the theme of heroic immortalization is implicit as a central theme in the Homeric Iliad, it is implicit also in the picture painted on the Münster Hydria. As I show in my essay “Se¯ma and Noe¯sis,” already mentioned earlier, the painting on the hydria signals this theme not only by picturing the psukhe¯ of Patroclus as it hovers over the tomb that he will be sharing with Achilles but also by even labeling the picture, that is, by painting the consecutive letters V-S-U-W-E to spell psukhe¯, where the act of painting these letters that spell out psukhe¯ becomes a se¯ma or ‘sign’ in its own right.126 In the timelessness of the narrative created in this picture, Patroclus and Achilles share not only the same se¯ma or ‘tomb’ but even the same psukhe¯, as indicated by the se¯ma or ‘sign’ for the word psukhe¯. Just as the act of painting the letters that spell out psukhe¯ becomes a se¯ma or ‘sign’ in its own right, so also the act of painting the image that shows the tomb shared by Patroclus and Achilles becomes a se¯ma or ‘sign’ of the tomb. And in fact the word for ‘tomb’ is already se¯ma. It is essential for my argument to repeat here the simple fact that se¯ma is a Homeric word that means not only ‘sign’ but also ‘tomb’. That is what we see in Il. 23.331, where se¯ma refers to the ‘tomb’ of the unnamed cult hero. And we see the same word five verses earlier in Il. 23.326, where it refers to the ‘sign’ given by Nestor to Antilochus. When Nestor says the word for ‘sign’, he is already saying the word for ‘tomb’. Just as the act of painting an image that shows the tomb shared by Patroclus and Achilles becomes a se¯ma or ‘sign’ of the tomb, so also the act of saying the word se¯ma as a ‘sign’ becomes a ‘sign’ of the tomb. And the unspecified tomb of the unnamed hero becomes the specific tomb of the hero named Patroclus, who will be sharing this tomb with the hero named Achilles. Thus the sign given by Nestor to his son Antilochus is not just an unspecified sign about how to drive in 126 Nagy 1990, 220.

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any chariot race but rather a specific sign about how to be a successful driver in the chariot race to be held in honor of Patroclus. Although the sign given by Nestor to Antilochus in Iliad 23 is specific to the chariot race to be held in honor of Patroclus, the actual interpretation of this sign about the best way to make a left turn around a hero’s tomb is not specific but general, even mystical. For Antilochus, as the narrative of the actual chariot race in Iliad 23 elaborates in detail, the sign of Nestor is not only a lesson in chariot driving. It is also a lesson in sound thinking about the management of any crisis in life and about the need to balance impulse and restraint.127 Even more broadly, the sign given by Nestor to Antilochus is a lesson in life, and the traditional poetics of that lesson can extend far beyond the narrative of the Iliad itself.128 The question remains, what is mystical about the sign of Nestor? Here I return to the actual wording: s/la d] toi 1q]y l\k’ !qivqad]r, oqd] se k^sei.

I will tell you a sign [se¯ma], a very clear one, and you will not let it get lost in your thinking. (Il. 23.326)

As we have seen so far, Nestor’s se¯ma for Antilochus is a ‘sign’ of death as marked by the ‘tomb’ of an unnamed cult hero. But now we will see that this se¯ma is also a ‘sign’ of life after death, as marked by the same ‘tomb’.129 The words spoken by Nestor to Antilochus in the verse I just quoted again from Il. 23.326 are matched exactly in Od. 11.126 (rephrased in 23.273). This verse in Od. 11.126 (rephrased in 23.273) is the beginning of a prophecy spoken by the psukhe¯ of the seer Teiresias (11.90, 150; 23.251), who appears to Odysseus during that hero’s mystical sojourn in Hades. As I have argued in the essay “Se¯ma and Noe¯sis,” the 127 Nagy 1990, 216 – 219; Frame 2009, 133, 144 – 149, 153 – 156, 162 – 166, 331. 128 Nagy 1990a 7§§10 – 18 (= pp. 207 – 214). Here I analyze the se¯ma ‘sign’ given by Nestor to Antilochus in Il. 23.326 as pointing not only to the immediate epic narrative about the chariot race in honor of Patroclus but also to an ulterior epic narrative mentioned in the Proclus summary of the Epic Cycle (Aethiopis p. 106.4 – 6 ed. Allen; there is also a mention in Od. 4.186 – 188): in this narrative, best attested in a retelling by Pindar (Pythian 6.28 – 42), Antilochus dies in a chariot fight, giving up his own life while saving the life of his father Nestor, whose chariot had been immobilized. 129 I am expanding here on the argument I presented in Nagy 1990, 219.


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verses of the prophecy point to the future death of Odysseus and to the mystical vision of his own tomb, where he will be worshipped as a cult hero.130 Most revealing is the description of what will happen to people who find themselves in the proximity of the corpse of Odysseus as a cult hero: !lv· d³ kao· / ekbioi 5ssomtai ‘The people on all sides of you [= your corpse] will be olbioi’ (Od. 11.136 – 137, 23.283 – 284). Before we turn to the meaning of olbioi here, which I have left untranslated in this set of verses, I must briefly highlight an analogous set of verses describing the corpse of Achilles: !lv· d] s’ %kkoi / jte_momto Tq~ym ja· )wai_m uXer %qistoi / laqm\lemoi peq· se?o ‘On all sides of you [= your corpse], the rest of them / were being slaughtered, sons of both Trojans and Achaeans, the best, / as they were fighting over you [= your corpse]’ (Od. 24.37 – 39). Having noted this analogy, which touches on the idea of possessing the corpse of the cult hero, I can now turn to the meaning of the word olbioi describing those who find themselves in the proximity of Odysseus as cult hero (Od. 11.137, 23.284). In the Hesiodic Works and Days (172) this same word olbioi describes cult heroes who are immortalized after death and who enjoy a state of bliss in a paradisiacal setting that transcends the temporal and the spatial constraints of mortality.131 In such a sacral context, the word olbioi means ‘blessed’ or ‘blissful’, and I argue that this same meaning applies also to ordinary humans who come into physical and even mental proximity with cult heroes by way of worshipping them. In the sacral context of such proximity, the worshippers can be at least momentarily blessed. By contrast, the cult heroes whom they worship are permanently blessed. But at least the worshippers experience a momentary transfer of bliss from the cult heroes. And there is another side to the argument: whereas the word olbioi can be rendered as ‘blessed’ or ‘blissful’ in such sacral contexts, in non-sacral contexts it can be rendered neutrally as ‘fortunate’. We see both meanings of olbios being used in the story of Herodotus (1.29 – 33) about the encounter of Croesus and Solon, where Croesus understands the word only in the non-sacral sense of ‘fortunate’ while Solon understands it also in the deeper sacral sense of ‘blessed’, referring to the blissful state of afterlife enjoyed by local cult heroes like Tellos of 130 Nagy 1990, 212 – 214. 131 Nagy 1990, 126, with further references.

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Athens and the brothers Cleobis and Biton of Argos.132 As the narrative of Herodotus implies, only those who are initiated into the mysteries of hero cult can understand the sacral meaning of olbios. This implication is evident in contexts where olbios refers to the bliss of initiation into mysteries of immortalization in general, as we see from the use of olbios with reference to the Eleusinian Mysteries in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (480: ekbior dr t\d’ epypem 1piwhom_ym !mhq~pym ‘olbios is he among earthbound humans who has seen these things’),133 as also in a song of lament (thre¯nos) composed by Pindar (F 137: ekbior fstir Qd½m je?m’ eWs’ rp¹ wh|m’ ‘olbios is he who has already seen those things when he goes below the earth’).134 Such contexts show that any initiate is olbios in the sense of ‘blessed’ only to the extent of knowing that you cannot achieve true blessedness before you experience death, which brings immortalization after death. As we can see from the wording of one of the “Orphic” gold leaves, only the immortalized dead can truly be addressed as olbioi (Orphicorum Fragmenta 488.9 ed. Bernabé: ekbie ja· lajaqist´). By now we can understand more clearly the point of the story of Herodotus about Croesus and Solon: only the initiated can understand the deeper meaning of the word olbios. And, it is important to add, only the initiated can understand the aphorism uttered by Solon: call no man olbios until he is dead (Herodotus 1.32.8). That is, you cannot achieve a state of immortalization until after you are dead: until that time comes, you may be fortunate from one moment to the next but you cannot be truly olbios. What holds for the worshippers of heroes holds also for the heroes themselves: heroes cannot be cult heroes until they are dead, and so they cannot be truly olbioi until they reach a blissful state of immortalization after death. So the word olbios is as yet ambivalent when the psukhe¯ of Agamemnon apostrophizes the still living Odysseus by saying: ekbie Ka]qtao p\z, pokul^wam’ idusseO ‘O you olbios son of Laertes, Odysseus of many wiles’ (Od. 24.192). While a hero like Odysseus is still alive, he cannot have the word olbios as his permanent epithet. We see the same principle at work in the case of the hero Priam. Most telling are the words that Achilles addresses to him: ja· s³ c]qom t¹ pq·m l³m !jo}olem ekbiom eWmai ‘I hear that you, old man, were once upon a time 132 Nagy 1990a 8§§45 – 48 (= pp. 243 – 247). 133 Nagy 1990a 8§46 n. 128 (= p. 245). 134 Nagy 1990a 8§46 (= pp. 245 – 246).


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olbios’ (Il. 24.543). When Achilles is saying this to Priam, the old man is experiencing the worst moments of his life. He is neither fortunate nor blessed. Only after death could Priam ever become truly olbios. These contexts of the word olbios are relevant to another context of the same word, which I have already quoted: ekbie Pgk]or uR] , heo?s’ 1pie_jek’ )wikkeO ‘O you olbios son of Peleus, godlike Achilles’ (Od. 24.36). As we saw, the speaker here is the psukhe¯ of Agamemnon (24.35), and he is speaking to the psukhe¯ of Achilles (24.24). By now Achilles is already dead, already housed in his tomb, already a cult hero. In such a sacral context, the word olbios can be rendered as ‘blessed’ or ‘blissful’. In sum, we have seen that the word se¯ma, meaning both ‘sign’ and ‘tomb’ in verses 326 and 331 of Iliad 23, is a sign of hero cult. And we have seen the same double meaning of se¯ma in verse 126 of Odyssey 11 (rephrased in 23.273). Here too, the se¯ma is a sign of hero cult. As I have argued, this word se¯ma in Homeric diction signals not only the tomb of a cult hero but also the very act of signaling that tomb to those who are notionally initiated into the mystical language of hero cult. The double meanings of se¯ma in the Iliad and Odyssey, as I have argued further, are central to the overall narratives of these two epics, which both recognize implicitly the theme of immortalization that we see being signaled by the signs of hero cult.

Set Three Here I focus on Il. 7.85 – 86; 16.456 – 457, 674 – 675, a set of three interrelated passages referring to heroic funerals. The first of these three passages refers to the funeral and entombment of an unnamed Achaean warrior who must be Achilles from the standpoint of the overall narrative of the Iliad: t¹m d³ m]jum 1p· m/ar 1uss]klour !pod~sy evq\ 2 taqw}sysi j\qg jol|ymter )waio_ s/l\ t] oR we}ysim 1p· pkate? :kkgsp|mt\.

And I will give back his corpse, sending it back to their ships with the sturdy benches,

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so that the Achaeans, they with their long hair,135 may ritually prepare [tarkhuein] 136 him and that they may pile up for him a tomb [se¯ma] on the shore of the expansive Hellespont. (Il. 7.84 – 86)

In this passage, we see the same tomb that we already saw in the first of the three sets of Homeric passages I have chosen: it is the tumulus built on the Hellespont to house jointly the bodies of Achilles and Patroclus. And we see here also the same word se¯ma that we already saw in the second set of Homeric passages, where the word was referring to the tomb of Patroclus, soon to become the tomb of Achilles as well. Short-range, something is wrong in the passage I just quoted. The words come from a speech of Hector, who is challenging whoever happens to be the best of all Achaean warriors to fight him in single combat: in Hector’s wording, if he wins this fight and kills his Achaean opponent, then the corpse of that Achaean hero will be buried in a tomb built on the coast of the Hellespont (Il. 7.84 – 91).137 Hector is of course wrong to think that he will kill the best of the Achaeans. In truth, it will be the other way around: it is Achilles, as the best of the Achaeans, who will kill Hector. Long-range, however, there is nothing wrong in this passage when it comes to the vision of the tomb that will be built to house the corpse of the best of the Achaeans on the coast of the Hellespont. That tomb will be the tumulus housing the corpse of Achilles himself (23.125 – 126, 245 – 248), and so the unity of the Iliad will in the end straighten out the ongoing misapprehensions of Hector as one of its main characters.138 The second and the third of the three related passages in this third set of Homeric passages are identical to each other, both referring to the funeral and entombment of the hero Sarpedon in Lycia: 5mh\ 2 taqw}sousi jas_cmgto_ te 5tai te t}lb\ te st^k, te· t¹ c±q c]qar 1st· ham|mtym.

135 After the funeral of Achilles, the Achaeans will no longer wear their hair long: see Philostratus Heroicus 51.13. I propose that we see here an aetiology for the custom of wearing the hair short in the post-heroic age (Nagy 2009/2010 II§87). 136 This translation of tarkhuein as ‘ritually prepare’ is a place-holder for the analysis that follows. 137 BA 2§3 (= pp. 28 – 29). 138 BA 20§§22 – 24 (= pp. 340 – 343).


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And there [= in Lycia] his relatives and comrades will ritually prepare [tarkhuein] 139 him, with a tomb and a stele – for that is the privilege of the dead. (Il. 16.456 – 457 = 674 – 675)

As I have argued in an essay entitled “The Death of Sarpedon,”140 all three of these Iliadic passages refer to a ritual preparing of the dead body for a mystical revivification after death.141 Once again we see the theme of heroic immortalization, which is as I argue a primary sign of hero cult. The word that refers to such immortalization in these three Homeric passages is tarkhuein (taqw}sousi at 7.85, 16.456, 674). So far I have been translating this word as ‘ritually prepare’, but the etymology shows a deeper meaning: as I argue, the Greek word tarkhuein is a borrowing from the Anatolian language that we know as Lycian, and the corresponding Lycian word conveys the idea of ‘immortalize’. The most relevant forms in the surviving corpus of Anatolian linguistic evidence are (1) Lycian TrqqÇt-, name of a Lycian thunder god; (2) the cognate Luvian form Tarhunt, name of the thunder god who is head of the Luvian pantheon;˘ (3) the cognate Hittite form tarhu-/tar(r)uh- (/tarxw-/), a verb meaning ‘be victorious, overcome’.142 ˘ Cognates of˘ this Hittite verb tarhu- in other Indo-European languages convey the idea of ‘overcome’ or˘ ‘transcend’ in contexts where the object of transcendence is death itself.143 I argue that the Lycian and the Luvian names of the thunder god convey the idea of revivifying as well as overcoming, since thunder gods as described in Indo-European languages have the power to use their thunder weapons not only to

139 As I said before, this translation of tarkhuein as ‘ritually prepare’ is a place-holder for the analysis that follows. 140 Nagy 1990, 122 – 142, a recasting of Nagy 1983a. 141 Nagy 1990, 139 – 142. 142 Nagy 1990, 131 – 132. In what follows, I have more to say on the reconstruction of the Hittite form. 143 Nagy 1990, 139. A shining example is the Greek compound noun nek-tar (m]jtaq), consisting of roots meaning ‘death’ (nek- as in nekros ‘corpse’) and ‘conquer’ (-tar, cognate with Hittite tarhu-); see Nagy 2008 (1972) 52 – 53. For more on -tar as in Greek nek-tar and˘ its cognates in other Indo-European languages, see West 2007, 158 and Watkins 1995, 12, 346, 352, 391; in neither of these works can I find references to the relevant arguments in Nagy 1983a (recast in 1990, 122 – 142).

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overcome violently their enemies but also to preserve and thus make sacred their own devotees and even to revivify them.144 My linguistic argument that (1) the Greek word tarkhuein was a borrowing from the Lycian language and (2) the corresponding Lycian word stemmed from an Indo-European root conveying the idea that death can be overcome is supported by the fact that the Homeric narrative of the Iliad highlights the territory of Lycia as the place where the funeral and entombment of the hero Sarpedon will take place after he is killed by Patroclus. Not only that: according to the Homeric narrative, Lycia is also the native land of Sarpedon, where he rules as king. Here I find it most relevant to quote the formulation of Currie: The fact that in the Iliad Sarpedon dies at Troy but is buried in Lycia is most easily explained on the assumption that Sarpedon already had a strong cultic association with Lycia. In that case, Sarpedon’s hero cult at Xanthos in Lycia must antedate the Iliad even if the attestations of the cult are later.145

I agree with Currie’s formulation, and I agree also with his observation that we can see “an apparent immortalization motif” in two further details of the Homeric narrative about the funeral and entombment of Sarpedon: (1) the hero’s corpse is conveyed back to his native land of Lycia by the twins Hypnos and Thanatos (Il. 16.671 – 673 / 681 – 683) and (2) the god Apollo himself anoints the corpse with ambrosia and dresses it in ‘immortalizing clothes’ (16.670 / 680: wq?s|m / wq?s]m t’ !lbqos_, peq· d’ %lbqota eVlata 6ssom / 6sse).146 As a third example of “an apparent immortalization motif” in the Homeric narrative about the funeral and entombment of Sarpedon, Currie considers the proposed etymology of tarkhuein as a borrowing from the Lycian language and meaning ‘immortalize’ in an Anatolian cultural context, but then he backs away by saying: “this etymology

144 Nagy 1990, 197; see also pp. 140 – 141, 190 on the Greek noun, e¯lusion, which can refer both to a place struck by a thunderbolt and to a place reserved for those who are immortalized after death. 145 Currie 2005, 50, with valuable references to secondary sources. 146 Currie 2005, 51. On the basis of what I argue in my essay on Sarpedon (Nagy 1990, 141), I adjust from ‘immortal’ to ‘immortalizing’ Currie’s translation (p. 51) of ambrotos. In my present essay, I have already referred to the analogous dressing of the corpse of Achilles in ‘immortalizing clothes’ (Od. 24.59): peq· d’ %lbqota eVlata 6ssam ‘they [= the Nereids] dressed you [= your corpse] in immortalizing clothes’.


Gregory Nagy

is very uncertain.”147 And, in any case, Currie thinks that the etymology of tarkhuein has no direct relevance to the plot of the Homeric Iliad. To quote his own words about tarkhuein, “it is used by Homer to mean no more than ‘bury’.”148 In distancing himself from the etymological explanation of tarkhuein as meaning ‘immortalize’, Currie is relying on two different secondary sources that offer two different reactions to such an explanation: the first of these two sources simply rejects the proposed etymology by saying that Greek tarkhuein “is surely unrelated” to Hittite tarhu-,149 while ˘ is a borthe second source argues against the idea that the Greek word rowing from Lycian and instead argues in favor of an alternative idea, that it can be traced back directly to a proto-Indo-European form.150 Neither one of these two sources persuades me. I pass over the first source, since all we see there is an opinion, without any argumentation. As for the second source, the argumentation is based on the assumption that the verb tarkhuein must be traced back to a Greek u-stem noun that must in turn be traced back further to a preexisting verb.151 This assumption, however, raises serious morphological and semantic questions: (1) how was the verb tarkhuein derived from a u-stem noun that looks like *tarkhu-, and (2) what would such a noun really mean if the verb that supposedly derives from it gets a meaning like ‘bury’? I find that no one has answers to these questions. But there is a way to explain the etymology of tarkhuein without having to posit an intermediate u-stem noun. Here I turn to my argument that the element tarkhu- in the Greek verb tarkhuein was borrowed from a corresponding element that we find in the Lycian noun TrqqÇt-, which is the name of the Lycian thunder god. And the fact is, this noun TrqqÇt- is not a u-stem noun. As Craig Melchert has pointed out to me in a personal communication, the stem of Lycian TrqqÇt- must have 147 Currie 2005, 51 n. 32, citing Janko 1992, 377 and Janda 1996; see also Currie 2006, 33 n. 146. 148 Currie 2005, 51. 149 Janko 1992, 337. He adds a related opinion, that Greek tarkhuein is also unrelated to tarikheuein, which he translates as ‘pickle’. More on the word tarikheuein, from tarikhos, in Nagy 1990, 139 n. 70; also 1990a 9§§28 – 35 (= pp. 269 – 273) and 2001, 18 – 19. 150 Janda 1996, 81 – 83, positing a proto-form *dhergh-. See also Bader 2001, 35 – 36, who offers a similar argument but posits *terh2- as the proto-form; further argumentation in Bader 2002. 151 Janda 1996, 80.

Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry


been pronounced as something like /tarkw-/ and needs to be reconstructed as *tar-Hw-, which is the Anatolian stem we see at work in Hittite tarhu-, Luvian Tarhunt-, and so on; Melchert also points out that the Hittite˘ verb tarhu- has˘ a built-in extension in -u- / -w-, as we see from ˘ such Hittite syllabic spellings as tar-hu-, ta(r)-ru-uh-, and tar-uh-.152 ˘ that Greek˘ tarkhuein is ˘a borrowThese facts enhance my argument ing from a preclassical Lycian form. The most economical explanation is to reconstruct a thematic noun stem *t(e)rhw-o-, which in its Lycian form would mean something like ‘victorious, overcoming, transcendent’. A factitive verb meaning ‘make victorious, make transcendent’ could then be derived from such a Lycian form. And, in view of the fact that the Lycian noun is the attested name of the thunder god of the Lycians, TrqqÇt-, who is ‘victorious, transcendent’, the corresponding Lycian verb could have a sacred dimension in its meaning, that is, ‘make (someone) victorious over death’ – just as the god TrqqÇt- makes someone victorious over death. I propose, then, that the Greek borrowing tarkhuein can be traced back to such an Anatolian verbal stem. But how are we to imagine the specific details, as conveyed by the word tarkhuein, of the funeral of Sarpedon and of the funeral of Hector? So far, I have argued that the etymological sense of the word is ‘immortalize’, but I have been rendering the word as ‘ritually prepare’ in my working translations. So, in terms of my own argument, the question is this: how do you ‘prepare ritually’ the hero’s corpse so as to immortalize it? In search of an answer, I start by considering the context of tarkhuein in the wording of Hector. As we have already seen, Hector says that if he kills the unnamed hero who is best of all the Achaeans and strips that hero of his armor (Il. 7.81 – 83), then he will give back the corpse of that hero to the Achaeans (84), who will ‘ritually prepare’ that corpse, as expressed by the word tarkhuein (85), and who will entomb it inside a tumulus built on the Hellespont (86). But Hector also says that if things turn out the other way, that is, if the unnamed hero kills him instead and strips him of his armor (77 – 78), then that hero will surely give 152 Melchert to Nagy (personal communication 2011.02.15), revising his earlier views as published in Melchert 1994, 306 ( Janda 1996, 80 based part of his argumentation on those earlier views). Melchert (same personal communication) agrees with Kloekhorst 2006, 97 – 101, who shows that the Hittite verb stem in question is /tarxw-/, spelled alternately ta(r)ruh- / tarhu- (no †tarh- exists!), and ˘ that Lycian q likewise represents a labialized ˘velar. ˘


Gregory Nagy

back the corpse of Hector to the Trojans (79), who will then cremate the body of the Trojan hero (79 – 80). So, in the wording of Hector, the ‘ritual preparation’ of the hero’s corpse as expressed by the word tarkhuein (85) is understood to be the act of ritual cremation. It has been argued, specifically with reference to the words of Hector as spoken in this passage, that the use of tarkhuein here shows the impossibility of deriving such a word from an Anatolian language like Lycian, since the words of Hector are referring here to the ritual procedures of the Achaeans, not of the Trojans.153 In terms of such an argument, the question is: why would the Trojan Hector, as an Anatolian, use an Anatolian word in referring to the ritual of cremation as practiced by the non-Anatolian Achaeans? I counterargue, from a neo-unitarian point of view, that the usage of Hector in this passage accords perfectly with the unity of the master narrative of the Homeric Iliad. The death and funeral of Achilles, culminating in the cremation of his corpse, are previewed from an Anatolian perspective in this passage. Even the death and funeral of the Trojan hero Hector, as narrated at length in Iliad 24, can be seen as an Anatolian preview of the death and funeral of Achilles as narrated ever so briefly in Odyssey 24. And the death and funeral of the Lycian hero Sarpedon, narrated even more briefly in Iliad 16, can then be seen as yet another Anatolian preview, signaled by the word tarkhuein, of the death and funeral of Achilles as the central cult hero of Homeric poetry.154 In terms of my overall argumentation, the intensity of local color that we see in the details describing the death and funeral of a relatively more local hero like Sarpedon promotes a fuller appreciation of Achilles 153 Janda 1996, 81; a similar argument is offered by Bader 2001, 35 n. 27. 154 Of special interest is the fact that the god Apollo is directly involved in the ritual preparation of the corpse of Sarpedon in Iliad 16: as we have already seen, Apollo himself anoints the corpse with ambrosia and dresses it in ‘immortalizing clothes’ (16.670 / 680): wq?s|m / wq?s]m t’ !lbqos_, peq· d’ %lbqota eVlata 6ssom / 6sse ‘anoint / anointed him with ambrosia and dress /dressed him in immortalizing clothes’. In this context, then, Apollo is an Anatolian god, matching the Anatolian hero Sarpedon. By contrast, it is the Nereids who dress the corpse of Achilles in ‘immortalizing clothes’ (Od. 24.59): peq· d’ %lbqota eVlata 6ssam ‘they [= the Nereids] dressed you [= your corpse] in immortalizing clothes’. In terms of Hector’s prediction about the death and funeral of the best of the Achaeans and about his own death and funeral (Il. 7.77 – 91), Apollo figures as the divine protector of Hector (7.81, 83). And it is Apollo who protects the corpse of Hector from disfigurement and decay, even after it has been dragged behind the chariot of Achilles (24.18 – 21).


Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry

as the far more Panhellenic hero of the Homeric Iliad. 155 And some of this local color can even spill over from the epic past into the cultic present. As we will now see, the epic hero Sarpedon who lives and dies in the Iliad can find a way to speak about the cult hero Sarpedon who is worshipped by the people of Lycia.156 Here is how Sarpedon says it, addressing another Lycian epic hero named Glaucus, to whom he speaks not only as a royal companion but also as a fellow cult hero: CkaOje t_ C dµ m_z tetil^lesha l\kista 6dq, te jq]as_m te Qd³ pke_oir dep\essim 1m Kuj_,, p\mter d³ heo»r ¤r eQsoq|ysi, ja· t]lemor mel|lesha l]ca N\mhoio paq’ ewhar jak¹m vutaki/r ja· !qo}qgr puqov|qoio ; t½ mOm wqµ Kuj_oisi l]ta pq~toisim 1|mtar 2st\lem Ad³ l\wgr jauste_qgr !mtibok/sai, evq\ tir ¨d’ eUp, Kuj_ym p}ja hyqgjt\ym· oq l±m !jke]er Kuj_gm j\ta joiqam]ousim Bl]teqoi basik/er, 5dous_ te p_oma l/ka oWm|m t’ 5naitom lekigd]a· !kk’ %qa ja· Sr 1shk^, 1pe· Kuj_oisi l]ta pq~toisi l\womtai.




Glaucus, why is it that you and I get the most honor [verb timn] 157 of all, with a special place to sit, with choice meats, and with full wine-cups in Lycia, and everyone looks at us as gods, and we are allotted a great sector of land [temenos] at the banks of the Xanthos, fine land, orchard and wheat-bearing plough land? And so it is our duty to take our stand in the front ranks of the Lycians, and to meet blazing battle head-on, so that one of the heavily-armored Lycians may say of us: “Indeed it is not without glory [kleos] that our kings are lords of Lycia, who feed upon fat sheep

155 I argue this point at length in Nagy 1990, 132 – 136, with special reference to the Homeric use of the word de¯mos as indicating a local community that has its own ritual practices in particular and its own customary laws in general. 156 For an essay on the capacity of Homeric poetry to maintain contact between the past that is narrated by epic and the present that is recognized by epic performance, see Nagy 2001a (this essay includes an analysis of the relevant theories of M.M. Bakhtin). 157 The verb timn and the noun time¯ can be used in Homeric diction as markers of the ‘honor’ that is given to local cult heroes. See Nagy 1990, 132 – 138, with reference to this passage and to other related passages.


Gregory Nagy

and drink choice sweet wine, since they have genuine strength and since they fight in the front ranks of the Lycians. (Il. 12.310 – 321)

I comment at length about this passage in my essay “The Death of Sarpedon,” and here I quote only my summary, supplemented by further comments that I have integrated into the original footnotes of the essay (the original numbers of these footnotes are enclosed in square brackets):158 On one level, the examples of time¯ recounted by Sarpedon to Glaukos can function as attributes of a living epic hero who happens to be a king; on another level, however, each example can be matched with a corresponding sacral honor accorded to a cult figure. As we know from Greek religious practices attested in the historical era, cult heroes receive libations,[63]159 choice cuts of meat placed on a special table,[64]160 and the allotment of a temenos in the sense of a ‘sacred precinct’.[65]161 158 Nagy 1990, 137 – 138. 159 In my original footnote 63, I cited Burkert 1985, 194, 205. More now on wine as a libation for cult heroes (as opposed to and in some cases in combination with other liquids used in libation: the blood of sacrificial animals, water, milk, honey, oil) in Ekroth 2002, 67 – 68, 70, 75, 139, 254, 278. Of special interest is the analysis by Ekroth (pp. 178, 191 – 192, 206) of the reference in Pindar Olympian 1.90 – 92 to the drinking of the blood of sacrificial animals by Pelops as cult hero, which is drawn into a parallel with the drinking of wine by Hieron and his fellow symposiasts. I agree with the argument of Currie (2005, 75, 301, 353) that the parallelisms between Pelops and Hieron in Pindar’s Olympian 1 are meant as a poetic prophecy: once Hieron dies, he too will be a cult hero in his own right, like Pelops. Also of interest is the analysis by Ekroth (pp. 210, 235 – 237, 245 n. 139) of relevant wording in an inscription dated to the mid-5th century BCE and found at Selinous (SEG 43.630) concerning correct procedures for sacrificing to ancestral cult figures called tritopatores (I offer comments on the meaning of this word in Nagy 1990, 116 n. 118). The wording goes like this: toic tqjitopatqeuci toic liaqoic hocpeq toic heqoeci ®oimom upokheijxac di’ oqovo ‘sacrifice to the polluted tritopatores as to the heroes, pouring wine as libation through the covering [of the sacred place]’ (column A lines 9 – 11 ed. Jameson, Jordan, and Kotansky 1993). Whereas one sacrifices to the tritopatores who are described as miaroi ‘polluted’ by sacrificing hocpeq toic heqoeci ‘as to the heroes’ (column A line 10), things are different with the tritopatores who are not described that way: to them one sacrifices by sacrificing hocpeq toic heoic ‘as to the gods’ (column A line 17). With regard to the distinction between ‘polluted’ and unpolluted tritopatores, corresponding to the distinction between worshipping heroes and gods, I compare the further distinction between the verbs en-agizein and thuein, which refer to the worshipping of heroes and gods respectively. In my analysis of the verb

Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry


As we see from this passage, then, Homeric poetry can in fact refer to its characters as if they were already cult heroes.

Conclusions I have considered three sets of Homeric passages where I find implicit references to the cult of heroes. Comparable are four sets of similar Homeric passages considered by Currie.162 Although there is no space for making any further arguments here, I would be ready to say that all four of Currie’s sets of passages could be counted as examples of implicit references to hero cult. And I include in this count his first set, which overlaps with my third set featuring the two Iliadic passages that refer to the death and funeral of the hero Sarpedon. What I have been describing here as implicit references to hero cult corresponds to a pattern of “suppression” that Currie sees at work in the Iliad and Odyssey. For Currie, as we have seen, such a pattern was shaped by an individual author’s way of thinking. So, the four sets of Homeric passages where Currie sees references to hero cult are viewed as exceptions to a prevailing pattern of authorial thought. As I have argued, en-agizein in Nagy 2006 §90, I argue that it can be interpreted literally as ‘take part in the pollution’. 160 In my original footnote 64, I cited Gill 1974 on trapezo¯mata; I also noted: “Sarpedon’s royal diet of mutton (Il. 12.319) may be correlated with archaeological discoveries at Eretria showing that sheep are the usual victims sacrificed to heroes” (see Hadzisteliou Price 1973, 136). More now on trapezo¯mata in Ekroth 2002, 140, 281, 319. 161 In my original footnote 65, I cited Burkert 1985, 84 – 87 on temenos in the sense of ‘sacred precinct’; on the precincts of Pelops and Pyrrhus as cult heroes, see Burkert 1983, 93 – 103 and 119 – 120 respectively. More now on temenos in Ekroth 2002, 36, 133 n. 13, 143 n. 72, 149, 183 (with reference to Herodotus 5.67), 186 (with reference to Euripides Erechtheus F 65.87 ed. Austin), 200 n. 316, 240, 334 n. 88. 162 The four sets of Homeric passages that are analyzed by Currie 2005, 57 as examples of references to cult heroes involve the following heroes: (1) Sarpedon in Lycia, Il. 16.431 – 461, 666 – 683; (2) Odysseus in Ithaca, Od. 13.96 – 112, 345 – 371; (3) Phrontis at Sounion, Od. 3.278 – 285; (4) Nausithoos in Scheria, Od. 6.3 – 12. In the case of Phrontis, Currie’s references to the comments of Kearns 1989 and Antonaccio 1995a are especially useful. I recommend the further comments of Bravo 2009, 25 (with regard to the image 14935: Athens, National Archaeological Museum). In the case of Nausithoos, I recommend the further analysis of Frame 2009, 245, 247, 276.


Gregory Nagy

however, the “suppression” of Homeric references to hero cult can be understood in a broader sense. It is not that an individual author’s way of thinking suppresses thoughts of worshipping the hero after death. Rather, the entire formulaic system of the Iliad and Odyssey tends to “suppress” the overt expression of such thoughts, that is, to leave them implicit. If Currie is ready to accept such a broader understanding of “suppression”, then I in turn am ready to accept his term. And I offer him reassurances about my use of the term formulaic system: when I speak of the workings of such a system in Homeric poetry, I have no intention of depersonalizing that poetry. In the parole of Homeric performance, the thinking of the persons who spoke and heard the langue of Homeric poetry can come back to life for us every time we read that parole as recorded in the surviving Homeric texts. Every time, that thinking will be ready to engage with us in any and all aspects of Homeric narration. But that thinking needs to be analyzed diachronically as well as synchronically, since the langue of Homeric poetry kept on changing in the course of its lengthy evolution. The parole of each new performance was an instance of change. In the evolving langue of an evolving formulaic system in Homeric poetry, the progressive loosening of ties to localized concerns about local hero cults resulted in the general avoidance of explicit references to these cults not only on the level of narrating the actions of heroes but even on the more basic level of referring to the heroes themselves as cult heroes. That is why, I must now add, there are no explicit references to hero cult in Homeric contexts where we see the word he¯ro¯s ‘hero’ being used.163 Still, a diachronic analysis of the formulaic uses of this word in Homeric poetry reveals indications of the concept of hero cult. These indications are embedded in the formulaic system of Homeric poetry. A case in point is the formulaic association of the noun he¯ro¯s ‘hero’ with the noun He¯ra¯, name of the goddess Hera.164 This association extends to the noun ho¯ra¯, meaning ‘season’ or ‘seasonality’, which is used in contexts describing Hera as the goddess of the seasons, as seasonality personified; it 163 Currie 2005, 60 notes that the attestations of he¯ro¯s in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey show no direct indications of hero cult. Reading his analysis, I do not find it probative that this word he¯ro¯s is used by Homeric heroes in addressing each other and in talking to each other. As I have already argued, Homeric narrative allows its heroes to refer to each other as if they were already cult heroes. 164 Nagy 2008 (1972) 50 – 52.

Signs of Hero Cult in Homeric Poetry


is no accident that Homeric poetry shows Hera being attended by the seasons personified, the divine Ho¯rai (Il. 5.749, 8.393, 433).165 And this noun ho¯ra¯ can refer directly to the seasonal recurrence of occasions for worshipping cult heroes (as in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 265).166 There is an etymological connection of the noun he¯ro¯s with the nouns ho¯ra¯ and He¯ra¯, which is central for understanding the convergences and divergences between cult heroes and epic heroes: basically, the idea of a hero’s unseasonality in life, as narrated in epic, is organically related to the idea of that same hero’s seasonality in death, as realized in hero cult.167 I find it most telling that the central hero of the Homeric Iliad, Achilles, describes himself in Il. 24.540 as pan-a-(h)o¯r-ios ‘the most unseasonal of them all’.168 And the model for this heroic untimeliness of Achilles is the story of Heracles as retold in Il. 19.95 – 133, which goes to the very core of the concept of the cult hero.169 The story of Heracles gets retold even in the name He¯rakle¯s ‘he who has the glory [kleos] of Hera’, which marks both the medium and the message of the cult hero.170 I conclude, then, from the Homeric passages I have analyzed that hero cult was not only a reality for Homeric poetry but also an integrating principle in the formation of this poetry. I reached this conclusion by applying a diachronic approach to the oral traditions that shaped Homeric poetry, and it is this approach that I describe as neo-unitarian.171 165 166 167 168 169 170

Nagy 1996a, 48 n. 79, 2001, 28 n. 21. Nagy 1990a 5§7 (= p. 140), 1990, 136; 2006 §107. Nagy 1996a, 47 – 48, referring also to BA 10§§10 – 13 (= pp. 181 – 184). Nagy 1996a, 48. Nagy 1996a, 47. On the linguistic and thematic background for the etymology of He¯rakle¯s: Nagy 2006 §106, with references. 171 I prefer this adjective to “oralist,” as used by Cairns 2001, 53, who thinks that “oralists” have by now been made obsolete by Classicists who take “familiar” approaches to Homeric poetry: “So much has the tide turned, in fact, that the onus is now on oralists to demonstrate that there is any significant way in which the status of the Iliad as an oral-derived text precludes or limits the application of familiar interpretative strategies”. In response to this way of thinking, I confine myself to observing that familiarity can lead to a narrowing rather than a broadening of perspectives. I sense that such a narrowing is taking place when I read the reaction expressed by Cairns (p. 36 n. 121) to my neounitarian explanation of the dual forms used in the embassy scene of Iliad 9 (Nagy 1996a, 138 – 145, expanding on BA ch. 3): he describes this explanation in one word, “incredible”. His own explanation (Cairns pp. 35 – 36), which posits a rewriting of a preexisting written text, is offered in the context of clarifications about what it means to be a “neoanalyst”.

Oral Formulaic Theory and the Individual Poet Margalit Finkelberg The hypothesis of oral formulaic composition not only has changed beyond recognition the perception of Homer and other traditional poetries all over the world. It has highlighted the traditional background of many works of early literature and enhanced our understanding of the ways in which pre-literary societies accumulated and transmitted knowledge. It stimulated, directly or indirectly, the insights of Eric Havelock, Marshall Macluhan, Walter Ong, Jack Goody, and others whose work has deeply influenced the way in which the cultural role of technologies of communication is perceived in the contemporary world. All this being taken into account, it would be no exaggeration to say that the Parry-Lord hypothesis is one of the major contributions of Classics to contemporary discourse. At some point, however, something went wrong. In recent decades, the number of scholarly publications on matters of formulaic analysis has sharply decreased, and the enthusiasm with which the essentials of oral formulaic theory were discussed in the 1960s has given way to expressed fatigue and a defensive, if not apologetic, attitude. “Homeric oral poetry is in crisis”, stated one author as early as 1987, whereas in 2002 another issued the following verdict: “Formulaic analysis reached a dead end thirty years ago”.1 As far as I can see, the main if not the only factor responsible for this unwelcome development has been the uncritical acceptance of every single tenet of Parry’s original hypothesis by the mainstream Parryism. It was this uncritical acceptance that has led to the emergence of a tacit assumption that, in so far as the oral background of the Homeric poems can be seen as firmly established, nothing remains to be explained about the mode of their functioning. It is doubtful, however, whether unqualified application to Homer of the hypothesis of oral formulaic composition is as justifiable as many are ready to admit. This concerns first and foremost Parry’s view of the relationship between traditional diction and the individual poet. 1

Shive 1987, i; Powell 2002, 7; cf. Finkelberg 2004, 244.


Margalit Finkelberg

The Formulaic and the Non-formulaic Parry maintained that an essential distinction should be drawn between the traditional poet on the one hand and ‘a poet of an individual style’ on the other: while the former, being a vehicle of the tradition, only slightly modified the stock of the formulas he had inherited from his predecessors, the latter aspired at creating an original style of his own.2 Yet, as the study of Homer’s formulaic diction proceeded from the proper to the common names, it became increasingly manifest that not all of Homer’s expressions may count as formulaic and traditional. As a result, the adherents of oral formulaic theory became divided into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Parryists. The ‘hard’ Parryists, beginning with Parry’s disciples A.B. Lord and J.A. Notopoulos, insisted on maintaining at all cost the idea of the onehundred-percent formulaic character of Homer. This approach to Homer’s formulaic diction gradually led to a considerable loosening of the criteria for identifying the basic unit of Homeric composition – so much so that not only single words regularly placed in the same metrical positions but also recurring syntactic and phonic patterns not identical in their wordings began to be identified as formulas. But it was above all the concept of ‘underrepresented formula’, applied indiscriminately to every expression for which no proof of formulaic character could be produced, that has become a deus ex machina of oral theory. Soon enough, however, the tendency to stretch the definition of the formula so that it may equally apply to all Homeric expressions began to be felt unsatisfactory by many. This led to various efforts to replace the formula as identified by Parry with other, more flexible, units of composition, and eventually to the erosion of the very idea of the formula.3

2 3

Parry regarded the emergence of such an individual style in traditional poetry as a symptom of degeneration; see especially M. Parry 1971, 237 – 238 (henceforth MHV). As I argued elsewhere, any revision of Parry’s original definition of the formula would be fatal to the hypothesis of formulaic composition. Namely, if we modify the definition of the formula by introducing additional criteria for its identification (as was done, for example, in Michael Nagler’s ‘generative approach’, which was especially influential in the 1970s and 1980s), all the essentials of Parry’s original hypothesis would collapse and the formulaic theory would cease to work as a valid analytical tool. See further Finkelberg 2004, 238 – 240.

Oral Formulaic Theory and the Individual Poet


On the other hand, such ‘soft’ Parryists as Arie Hoekstra and J.B. Hainsworth, while still maintaining the predominantly formulaic character of Homer, argued for a much higher flexibility of Homeric diction than had originally been allowed for by Parry.4 The revisionist atmosphere that became dominant following the publication of their work made most Homerists overlook a far-reaching implication that their conclusions had for the thesis of the one-hundred-percent formulaic character of Homer.5 This concerns the well-known phenomenon of gaps in the formulaic systems. A formulaic system, or a system of formulas, is a group of expressions of varying metrical shape, specialized for rendering a given idea under various metrical conditions. As Parry has demonstrated, the systems into which Homeric formulas are organized are characterized by extension and economy. Thus, for example, the idea ‘Athena’ is covered by the following series of formulas running from the beginning of the verse up to the bucolic diaeresis: Pakk²r )hgma¸g [[ – [[ – [[ – [ (8x) – [[ – [[ – [ he± ckauj_pir )h¶mg (51x) – [[ – [[ – [[ – ckauj_pir )h¶mg (26x) – [[ – [[ – [[ – [[ Pakk²r )h¶mg (39x).

We can see that the formulaic system at the poet’s disposal allows him to express the idea ‘Athena’ practically in any part of the verse (the system’s extension), keeping at the same time only one formula for each metrical position (the system’s economy). As a result of comparison between Homer on the one hand and Apollonius Rhodius and Virgil on the other, Parry showed that, although these later hexameter poets could also employ fixed expressions, the phenomenon of formulaic systems with the economy and extension involved was altogether alien to them; the same results were later achieved by M. Sale for the Posthomerica of Quintus of Smyrna.6 That is to say, in that they make it possible for the poet to express any essential idea in any part of the verse, the formulaic systems can justly be seen as the central core of formulaic composition. As studies by Hainsworth and Hoekstra have made clear, in so far as one strictly follows Parry’s definition of the formula, it would be hard to 4 5 6

See especially Hoekstra 1965 and Hainsworth 1968. For a fuller discussion, see Finkelberg 2004, 244 – 245. Sale 1996. On the importance of formula systems in Homer, see also Lord 1991, 74.


Margalit Finkelberg

avoid the conclusion that gaps in the formulaic systems are too numerous to be ascribed to the chances of representation. To put it bluntly, there is insufficient evidence for asserting the thoroughly formulaic character of Homeric diction. Similar conclusions have also been reached by other scholars. As a result, today we can claim with a considerable degree of certainty that at least one-third of our text of Homer consists of expressions that cannot be considered formulaic.7 Furthermore, studies of the contexts in which both the formulaic and the non-formulaic expressions emerge have shown that there is a clear-cut functional specialization between these two categories of Homeric expressions. As distinct from the formulas and formulaic expressions, the non-formulaic expressions not only cannot be shown to be modelled on formulaic patterns but are also regularly employed in untypical narrative situations. This allows us to suggest that the formulaic and the non-formulaic elements in Homeric diction were mutually complementary. This phenomenon can be accounted for by the application of the same principle of economy on which Parry based his theory of formulaic composition. That is to say, just as it makes sense in terms of formulaic economy to have formulas and formulaic systems for any frequently recurring idea and standard narrative situation, so it equally makes sense not to overload the poet’s memory in the case of ideas and situations that do not fall into this category and to use individual expressions instead.8 This seems to indicate that even in traditional poetry a considerable allowance should be made for the poet’s individual contribution. The comparative evidence at hand strongly suggests that the recognition of the fact that non-formulaic expressions are germane to Homeric diction is not incompatible with the hypothesis that the Homeric poems were orally composed. Thus, according to M. Sale, only about 65 % of the Wedding of Smailagic´ Meho by the great Southslavic guslar Avdo Medjedovic´ can be considered formulaic, while J.D. Smith supplies similar figures for the Indian epic of Pabuji.9 Indeed, though it is reasonable to suppose that non-formulaic expressions belong to the late layers of the Homeric epics, this does not mean that epic diction before Homer consisted mostly of traditional formulas. If non-formulaic expressions were indeed created in order to fill the gaps left by the systems 7 8 9

See esp. Cantilena 1982, Sale 1989, Finkelberg 1989. Finkelberg 1989, 196 – 197. Contra Friedrich 2007, 22. Sale 1989; Smith 1991, 26.

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of formulas, this would mean that, unlike the formulas, which were preserved in the stock of traditional expressions, the non-formulaic expressions were ephemeral creations that varied from one poet to another. Accordingly, there is reason to assume that (a) there was a systemic tension between the epic tradition and the individual poet and (b) rather than a symptom of degeneration, this tension should be regarded as an inbuilt element of formulaic composition.10 If correct, this assumption would allow for a less rigid construal of Homer’s individual artistry and, consequently, for a far-reaching modification of Parry’s model of a wholly traditional poet who puts his verses together almost automatically. I will further illustrate my point by discussing a series of examples that highlight the occasions on which the theory ceases to work, so to say. All the cases discussed concern the pivotal issue of breaches in formulaic economy.

The Traditional and the Individual Breaches in economy caused by the existence of two equivalent formulas – as, for example, bo_pir pºtmia Nqg and he± keuj¾kemor Nqg – are not very common in Homer. They are usually taken as indicative of the fact that traditional poetry does not keep the same formula forever: owing to social changes and changes in literary taste, to the fact that a given expression may become obsolete or alter its original meaning, new formulas were constantly entering into circulation, with some of them eventually replacing the older ones.11 Now while a breach in economy caused by the existence of two equivalent formulas is indicative of processes operative within epic diction as a whole, the cases when such a breach is observed between a formula and an individual expression may well tell us something about processes underlying the relationship between the individual poet and his tradition. As we shall see, this relationship is much less unambiguous than Parry and his followers assumed.

10 Cf. Russo 1968, 294, on “the tension that exists between tradition and invention” in the Homeric poems (Russo’s italics); Russo, however, sees this tension as characteristic of Homer rather than of traditional poetry in general. 11 Finkelberg 2007, 344 – 345. On the two equivalent formulas for Hera, see now Friedrich 2007, 78 – 80 (with bibliography).


Margalit Finkelberg

In ‘Homeric Formulae and Homeric Metre’ Parry argued that certain metrical irregularities occur because the poet would always rather use a traditional expression – even if this would entail a metrical fault – than abandon the tradition, using an individual expression instead.12 This view of the poet’s preferences obviously proceeds from the assumption that a metrically irregular expression used by the poet in a given context is the only option that the tradition provides for the context in question. After Parry, this thesis has been largely taken for granted.13 If, however, we examine the metrically irregular expressions studied by Parry, we will find that his suppositions cannot account for all of them, for there are cases where the poet could have avoided the metrical fault simply by using a different traditional expression.14 Commenting on the hiatus at Il. 2.571 iqmei²r t( 1m´lomto )qaihuq´gm t( 1qateim^m, Parry remarked: “To enumerate the towns which sent troops to the war, the bards created, among other devices, one consisting in saying in the first half of the line ‘who inhabited such and such a town,’ and in the second half, ‘and such and such a town (or towns)…’ But to make lines of this shape without metrical fault, the second halfline, expressing in the accusative case the idea ‘and such and such a town’, had to begin with a single consonant … But )qaihuq´gm does not lend itself to this device”.15 Yet among the patterns that the poet uses to arrange the names of towns in the Catalogue of Ships there is one that allows him to divide the verse at the penthemimeral caesura and say, in the first half of the verse, “who had such and such a town”.16 The poet could have formed Il. 2.571 after this pattern, avoiding the metrical fault by saying *iqmei²r t( eWwom ja· )qaihuq´gm 1qateimµm. As Parry argued, the hiatus at Il. 4.91 ka_m, oV oR 6pomto !p( AQs¶poio No²ym, describing Pandarus’ men, was caused by adaptation of the formula !p( Yjeamo?o No²ym.17 But this formula also occurs in the form paq’ ©jeamo?o No²ym, which apparently was intended for being used in 12 MHV 196, 237. 13 See e. g. Hoekstra 1965, 9 – 10; A. Parry 1971, xxviii-xxix; Edwards 1971, 90; Janko 1982, 33. 14 For a fuller list of examples, see Finkelberg 1988. 15 MHV 207. 16 Cf. Il. 2.574 Pekk¶mgm t( eWwom Ad( AUciom !lvem´lomto, 607 ja· Tec´gm eWwom ja· Lamtim´gm 1qateimµm, 608 St¼lvgkºm t( eWwom ja· Paqqas¸gm 1m´lomto. 17 MHV 208.

Oral Formulaic Theory and the Individual Poet


metrical environments like the one in question.18 If the poet had turned to this pattern, the line *ka_m, oV oR 6pomto paq’ AQs¶poio No²ym would have been both traditional and metrically correct. Discussing two similar cases of hiatus, Od. 3.64 ¤r d( autyr Aq÷to iduss/or v¸kor uRºr and Od. 16.48 5mha jah´fet( 5peita iduss/or v¸kor uRºr, Parry wrote: “there were no formulae other than the ones we quoted to express, in the same portion of the line, the ideas ‘in the same way Telemachus prayed’ and ‘Telemachus sat there’”.19 Such a formula does, however, exist: Reqµ Sr Tgkel²woio, by means of which the same metrical difficulty is often resolved in the Odyssey. 20 Thus the poet could have avoided hiatus in these cases as well by saying *¤r d( autyr Aq÷hû Reqµ Sr Tgkel²woio and 5mha jah´fet( 5peihû Reqµ Sr Tgkel²woio. As for the question why the poet did not choose metrically regular alternatives in the cases discussed, the answer that most naturally suggests itself in the majority of cases is that he simply did not think of the appropriate expression while assembling his verses. In other words, the metrical flaws discussed above must be due to the poet’s failure to use the system of formulaic diction in a faultless way. The fact that, as distinct from a scholar using a concordance, he did not exploit the range of opportunities offered by the system of traditional diction testifies to the fact that the individual poet, traditional though he is, cannot be regarded as in every respect identical to the system of traditional diction. Now when Homer avoids using such expressions as paq’ AQs¶poio No²ym or ja· )qaihuq´gm 1qateimµm, it is actually certain that the appropriate expression simply did not come to his mind at the moment of the composition. But it may be a different matter when in describing Telemachus at Od. 3.64 and 16.48 he uses the metrically faulty iduss/or v¸kor uRºr instead of the variant Reqµ Sr Tgkel²woio, especially cast for avoiding hiatus on such occasions. It may indeed be suggested that the expression which was actually used by him, metrically faulty though it is, was felt as fitting better the poet’s need to represent Telemachus as Odysseus’ son and to introduce affective overtones absent in the much 18 Cf. Il. 19.1 I½r l³m jqojºpepkor !p( ©jeamo?o No²ym with Od. 22.197 oqd³ s´ c( Aqic´meia paq’ ©jeamo?o No²ym. Parry (ibid.) does mention this variant but makes nothing of it. 19 MHV 203. 20 Most commonly in the expression to?si d³ ja· let´eiv( Reqµ Sr Tgkel²woio : see Od. 2.409, 18.405, 21.101; cf. also Od. 18.60, 21.130.


Margalit Finkelberg

too impersonal Reqµ Sr Tgkel²woio. It is possible, then, that the poet deliberately avoided employing the formula suggested to him by his tradition in order to produce exactly that effect.21 I hope that the following examples will bring my point home. Let us consider first Plato’s misquotation of !kk( Hlai paq± mgus·m 1t¾siom %whor !qo¼qgr (“but I sit here by the ships, a useless burden on the earth”), Achilles’ words at Il. 18.104 (Pl. Apol. 28d). On the one hand, Plato’s version, paq± mgus· joqym¸sim %whor !qo¼qgr (“by the curved ships, a burden on the earth”), replacing the non-formulaic 1t¾siom with the formulaic joqym¸sim, introduces a variant which, from the point of view of the system of formulaic composition, is more ‘correct’ than the verse we find in our text of Homer. On the other hand, Plato’s version, impeccable though it is from the standpoint of the system, banalizes the unique expression 1t¾siom %whor !qo¼qgr, which is both poetically powerful and highly appropriate within the context of Iliad 18. In other words, Plato’s slip of memory, just as our concordance-based corrections of Homeric verses, acts as an attempt at normalization of Homer’s individual idiom by bringing it into correspondence with the system of traditional diction. It is obvious, however, that as far at least as Il. 18.104 is concerned, such normalization would be sharply at variance with the poet’s intention. In other words, the poet of the Iliad is revealed here as, to use Parry’s negative characterization again, ‘a poet of an individual style’, that is, one who prefers a unique but poetically appropriate expression to a well-established traditional formula. During Telemachus’ visit to the palace of Menelaus in Odyssey 4, Helen proposes to entertain the company by recounting ‘plausible things’ (1oij|ta) about Odysseus. Her subsequent story about meeting Odysseus when he penetrated Troy disguised as a beggar evokes an episode related in the Little Iliad. Characteristically, Helen’s words present a unique variation of the traditional formula “I shall recount the truth” (!kghe¸gm jatak´ny).22 Note indeed that Helen’s “I shall recount plausible things” is metrically equivalent to this formula and is therefore redundant from the point of view of formulaic economy. In Homer, the 21 Cf. Friedrich 2007, 93 – 128, who marshals an impressive assemblage of casestudies involving breaches of formulaic economy, all of them intended to demonstrate Homer’s deliberate use of the phrase juste. 22 Od. 4.239 1oijºta c±q jatak´ny ; cf. !kghe¸gm jat²kenom, -na, -ny Il. 24.407, Od. 7.297, 16.226, 17.108, 122, 21.212, 22.420.

Oral Formulaic Theory and the Individual Poet


verb jatak]ceim, ‘to recount,’ regularly evokes the point-by-point narrative succession demanded of a truthful account; accordingly, its combination with the word 1oij|ta, ‘plausible things,’ creates a sharp semantic incongruity: what the poet actually says is that what is being told is a plausible story (1oij|ta) cast in the form of a truthful account (jatak]ceim). In that, it comes close to the phrase “he uttered many lies which resembled truth”, applied by Homer to a lying story told by Odysseus to Penelope, as well as to the utterance of Hesiod’s Muses, who also know how to tell not only truth but also plausible lies.23 That is to say, although what Helen tells is an episode from the Trojan saga, the latter is understood as not differing in essence from the mixture of fact and fiction contained in Odysseus’ inventions. This allows us to conclude that the replacement of a traditional formula by a unique expression attested in Odyssey 4 has been caused by the poet’s wish to express an idea not provided for by his tradition.24 It is probable, then, that quite a few breaches in formulaic economy were due to the poet’s intention to express something for which his tradition has provided no ready-made solution. This testifies to the fact that the individual poet cannot be regarded as in every respect identical to the system of formulaic diction: rather than acting as a passive medium of his tradition he employs this tradition ad hoc in his own idiosyncratic manner.25

23 Od. 19.203; Hes. Th. 27. 24 Cf. Finkelberg 1998, 148 – 150. According to Scodel 2002, 65 n. 1, the word 1oijºta at Od. 4.239 means ‘appropriate’ rather than ‘plausible;’ this, however, does not alter the fact that the word is emphatically put in contrast to ‘truth’, which would normally be expected in such cases. 25 In a recent monograph, Rainer Friedrich identifies a similar kind of tension between Homer and his tradition. Yet, he interprets it diachronically, that is, as a gradual progression from one-hundred-percent formulaic character as characteristic of oral poetry proper to a less-than-one-hundred-percent formulaic character typical of transitional texts, i. e. such texts that are situated midway between orality and writing; he places Homer in the latter category: see Friedrich 2007, 140 – 146. However, comparative evidence testifies unequivocally that one-hundred-percent formulaic character cannot be taken as an indicator of orality (see above, with n. 9); it is more likely, therefore, that the tension between the individual poet and the system of formulaic diction as described in this paper should be taken synchronically rather than diachronically.


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Conclusions There can be little room for doubt that Milman Parry discovered and described the system that underlies the working of Greek traditional diction. Yet, he proceeded from the assumption that the same rules should be applied both to the impersonal epic tradition and to its personal medium, the individual poet. Not infrequently, however, his conclusions seem to have the latter out of the account. It seems indeed that the main methodological problem of Parry and his followers is that they failed to draw a distinction between the system of formulaic diction and the concrete manifestations of this system in the work of individual poets. However no system, oral formulaic or another, can be treated as identical to the individual text that derives from it: the distinction between ‘langue’ and ‘parole’ would certainly be in place here. In other words, the applicability of the oral formulaic hypothesis to Homeric diction cannot be regarded as absolute. Should this conclusion be considered fatal to the theory as we have it? According to the prevailing assumption, in so far as the Parry-Lord hypothesis does not work as a total system it inevitably loses its explicative value and should therefore be abandoned. This is, however, to overlook the fact that the explicative value of the hypothesis of formulaic composition has proved its worth in the work of many scholars whose main interest was not so much the formulaic theory as such but, rather, the study of a given traditional Greek text cast in hexameters. To claim that the formulaic theory does not work in so far as it cannot be indiscriminately applied to the totality of the text of Homer is to ignore that its application in the course of the last seventy years has changed Homeric scholarship almost beyond recognition. This being the case, it would be an unforgivable mistake to abandon the approach that contributed so much to our understanding of Homeric diction. Yet, to sustain the Parry-Lord theory as a valid scientific hypothesis, we have to recognize its limitations and to work out a more comprehensive theory that would include the original hypothesis as its central core.26 26 Earlier versions of this paper were read in spring 2007 at Columbia University and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; I am grateful to the audiences present on both occasions for their helpful comments. My special thanks go to Albio Cesare Cassio and Susanne Saïd for their spirited discussion of the contents of this paper at the Thessaloniki conference.

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory in the Poems of Homer Elizabeth Minchin Introduction Much of my research on Homer and memory has been concerned with the universal structures of memory – that is, with the ways we all organize, store, and access memory and process information.1 I have also over recent years made some room for the study of memory at the personal level (the poet’s representations of autobiographical memory and of the persistence of memory, for example).2 At present, however, I am studying memory not as a universal phenomenon nor as it relates to the individual; instead, my focus is on memories that are common to all members of any one culture and any one social group within that culture. Remembering does not take place in a vacuum. The French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs was the first to show us that memory is a social phenomenon, introducing the term ‘collective memory’ to describe the communal store of shared experiences, shared stories and shared memories that members of any social group acquire over time as they interact with the world around them.3 Jan Assmann, Egyptologist, archaeologist, and cultural theorist, has proposed a different designation.4 He suggests 1 2 3 4

See, for example, Minchin 2001. Minchin 2005; Minchin 2006. Halbwachs 1952, 146 – 177. Assmann had been concerned about the ways in which many scholars (for example, Knapp 1989; Zerubavel 1997) had been applying the term ‘collective memory’ – not only to the social sphere of memory but also to the cultural sphere – and the resulting impreciseness of scholarly discussion. On this, see Assmann 2008, 110; 2006, 9: “it is precisely the misunderstanding of the concepts of ‘collective’ and ‘cultural memory’ that has impeded comprehension of the dynamics of culture up till now”.


Elizabeth Minchin

that we should use the term ‘communicative memory’ or ‘social memory’ to describe this purely social and non-institutional aspect of memory, which stores information about the recent past.5 And, going beyond Halbwachs, he distinguishes social or communicative memory from ‘cultural memory’, which, for Assmann, identifies a culture’s memory for its traditions and institutions – the narratives, songs, and dances, for example, that come from its remote past.6 In the next few pages I shall elaborate on the two modes of remembering that Assmann has identified, drawing attention to their distinguishing features. This will serve as a preface to my discussion of the representation of memory in the epics that we associate with Homer’s name.

Communicative and Cultural Memory Contrasted How far back does a society’s, and a culture’s, memory go? Every society establishes for itself historical horizons beyond which past events are regarded as irrelevant and forgettable. What Assmann would call everyday communication (that is, communicative memory) reaches back no further than 80 years, the span of three interacting generations.7 Formal cultural memory, as I have noted, refers to a remote past.8 Between these two zones of memory there is, in literate cultures, what Jan Vansina calls a ‘floating gap’ between recent memory and what is remote.9 But, for oral societies, consciousness of the past operates on only two levels: the recent past and the remote; there is no ‘floating gap’.10 What do societies remember? The communicative memory of any generation within a society is the accumulation of the recollections of its composite groups. Since each of us as an individual belongs to a variety 5 Assmann 1997, 50 – 1; 2006, 3; 2008, 111; and A. Assmann 2006. 6 Halbwachs could not envisage a mode of memory that was not embodied, as are personal and social memory. For a brief account of cultural memory, see Assmann 1997, 52; 2008, 110 – 111, 117. 7 Assmann 1997, 50 – 51; 2008, 111. 8 Assmann 2006, 24 – 25, 28 – 29. 9 Vansina 1985, 23 – 24, 168 – 169. 10 Assmann 2008, 112; Vansina 1985, 24: “Beyond a certain time depth, which differs for each type of social structure because time is reckoned by reference to generations or other social institutions, chronology can no longer be kept. Accounts fuse and are thrown back into the period of origin – typically under a culture hero – or are forgotten”.

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


of groups, such as family, neighbourhood, even nation, as well as professional groups and associations of all kinds, the social memory of our own generation (that is, all of us, together) comprises a countless number of smaller and larger clusters of shared experience, stories and memories.11 We share these experiences and these memories with those around us in our world – even with contemporaries whom we have never met.12 Many of these memories will be handed down to the next generation, as parents (and grandparents) share their memories with their children and grandchildren – hence the three-generation span of communicative memory. So what do we remember as a culture? Cultural memory refers to fixed points in the distant past (“Fixpunkte in der Vergangenheit”) that mark events of great significance:13 the Trojan War, for example, with its rich tapestry of legend, is such a fixed point for the ancient Greek and Roman worlds; the futile World War I assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 is now acquiring that status amongst Australians and New Zealanders. The cultural memory of a society represents its members’ awareness of what unites them and what distinguishes them from others; it relates to their self-image; and it plays a normative role – those who live in this culture are expected to endorse and to aspire to the same virtues as their ancestors.14 I should note, however, that cultural knowledge may be evaluated differently as circumstances change over time. It is possible that the ‘facts’ of cultural knowledge may be adjusted and even reconstructed, as the world changes.15 But the reverse may also occur: as we try to make our experiences and 11 Communicative memory, by contrast with personal memory (which is at no point shared with others), lives in everyday interaction and communication: Assmann 2008, 111. 12 This claim was made real for me recently when my elderly mother made a new acquaintance. She reported to me with pleasure in her voice, “She remembers the same things that I do!”. For my mother the pleasure lay in the reassuring bond created by shared memories. Although these two women had not met before, they had been members of similar social groups (or what Zerubavel 1997, 82 calls ‘thought communities’) that shared the same interests. 13 Assmann 1997, 52. 14 Assmann 1995, 130 – 133; 2006, 7 – 8. 15 In an Australian context, this change over time is observable in the ways in which Australia Day (26 January) is interpreted and celebrated. The celebration of post-1788 colonization, which, 50 years ago, would have been a cause for self-congratulation, has been abandoned. Australia Day is now observed as a more generalized commemoration of achievement and ‘Australianness’.


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our memories fit our culture’s traditions, we may misremember or distort what might have seemed to us to be ‘unusual’ details. The form that a society’s or a culture’s memories take may be a narrative form. A narrative structure underpins oral histories (communicative memory), our accounts of our own nation’s past (communicative and cultural memory), and the age-old stories that Homer tells (cultural memory) – as well as the stories that are told within them.16 But narrative is not the only medium for memory-work: we should not ignore the role of performance of all kinds, including ceremonies, rituals, and re-enactments, even (or especially) cuisine, in the maintenance of a cultural tradition.17 Whereas social memory is linked to individuals who share information and tells stories to one another in their daily lives, cultural memory is mediated. The bearer of cultural memory is not the man, or the woman, in the street; rather, the bearers of our cultural traditions are specialists in a particular practice, such as priests or teachers, or bards or poets.18 The occasions on which such memories are rehearsed are performances that are marked by a degree of formality; they are ceremonies, whether on a modest or a grand scale.19 There is an important difference between the quality of cultural memory in an oral context and that of cultural memory in a literate society. Whereas, in a literate society, writing has the capacity both to store knowledge and to open up ‘the depths of time’20 and illuminate them, an oral tradition must rely on word-of-mouth transmission of all its rituals, its festivals, and its heroic tales.21 In Homer’s world, there16 Much of our episodic memory-store is underpinned by a narrative-like structure, with a causal chain connecting events and actions: Minchin 2001, 15 – 16, 35 – 36. The transmission of significant memories, too, requires an internally consistent and complete storylike narrative: Zerubavel 1997, 98 – 99. 17 On this, see especially Connerton 1989, 87 – 88. 18 Vansina 1985, 36 – 39; Assmann 1997, 54: “Schamanen, Barden, Griots . . . Priester, Lehrer, Künstler, Schreiber, Gelehrten, Mandarine . . .”. 19 Assmann 1997, 55 – 56. 20 Assmann 2006, 24. 21 The fact that oral traditions have no competence other than memory for storing knowledge is a limitation on the amount of knowledge that can be accumulated as cultural memory. Oral traditions, however, make more creative use of visual imagery and spatial experience as prompts to knowledge of all kinds: see Rubin 1995, 46 – 48; Yates 1966, 1 – 3. On memory cues in the society that Homer depicts, for example, see Scodel 2002a, 99 – 116; on artefacts as prompts for stories, see Minchin 2001, 119 – 122.

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


fore, the bard and the priest transmit much of the wisdom of that society to the next generation; as the guardians of cultural knowledge they preserve the remote past. An account of communicative and cultural memory, as Assmann describes these phenomena, offers us a means of engaging with any oral epic tradition in a number of ways. It gives us, for example, a basis for understanding broader neo-analytical issues, such as how memory for one story in a tradition might contaminate memory for another. At a purely local level, it allows us to think about memory and remembering within the epics themselves and to talk about them in a more rational way. By separating out the social and the cultural from the universal, on the one hand, and from the personal (the memory that is never shared),22 on the other, we may gain some insight into the world that the poet depicts and the way its members remember the past, process the present, and consider the future. As a first step in that direction, I propose to test the validity of these distinctions as they apply within the Homeric epics. I shall observe both how the poet evokes these modes of remembering in his representation of a society of heroes who are preoccupied with memory and how personal, social, and cultural memory play with and against each other in meaningful ways in the narrative. By way of introduction, I offer three brief examples that will allow us to recognize the different modes of remembering – the personal, the communicative, and the cultural – as they are represented in the epics.

Personal, Communicative, and Cultural Memory Personal Memory The poet offers us a rare example of personal memory at Od. 19.392 – 466, when Eurycleia, as she washes the feet of the beggar (Odysseus in disguise), discovers the scar on his leg (392 – 393): m_fe dû %q’ üssom QoOsa %mawhû 2|m7 aqt¸ja dû 5cmy oqk¶m, t¶m pot´ lim sOr Ekase keuj` adºmti

She came up close and washed her lord, and at once she recognized that scar which once the boar with his white tusk had inflicted 22 Assmann 2006, 3.


Elizabeth Minchin

The scar prompts a memory-sequence about a hunting accident that had befallen her ‘absent’ master. What flashes into Eurycleia’s mind at this point is not a memory of the boar-hunt, during which Odysseus sustained the injury, nor of the boar’s attack and the wound which young Odysseus suffered; that segment of the narrative (413 – 462) is a replay of communicative memory (we assume that the nurse has heard this tale from the young Odysseus himself). What she remembers first-hand are the events that preceded the boar-hunt and the events that followed it. She has personal memories of the visit of Autolycus to Laertes’ home, for she herself had presented the old man with the baby his daughter Anticleia had borne (399 – 402); she had requested that Autolycus should name the child (402 – 404); she heard him give the child the name Odysseus (405 – 409) and invite his grandson, when he was grown, to go to Parnassos to visit him (409 – 412). She remembers too the moment when Odysseus left his home for Parnassos, as well as the moment of his return, recovered and rejoicing, and the story he then told of the hunting accident (462 – 466). Thus the old nurse recognized the scar (467 – 468).23 Such a silent canvassing of memory is unique in the epics that we associate with Homer. It represents a clever solution to a narrative problem: how to convey the story about the hero’s scar to the audience in an engaging way, capturing the excitement and the suspense of this long moment – while keeping Odysseus’ identity from the suitors.24 For this reason all the information that lies behind Eurycleia’s recognition of the hero has been presented in silence, as a personal memory.

23 For an extended discussion of Eurycleia’s ‘flashbulb memory’, see Scodel 2002a, 108 – 11, who argues that moments before Eurycleia detects his scar Odysseus too has experienced a similar, but not identical, flashbulb memory (388 – 391). 24 As Russo 1992, 95 observes, Homer emphasizes the suddenness with which the disguise could be penetrated. On suspense at this point of the narrative, see de Jong 2001, 476 – 477: Eurycleia’s personal recollection of how Odysseus acquired his distinctive scar is told before we are told of her reactions (at 467 – 475).

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


Communicative Memory When Nestor – an old man well past his prime, whose age-peers have already died25 – reminisces about his past to the younger heroes of the Iliad, we are observing the kind of interaction that Assmann describes, when memories of the recent past are passed down from one generation to the next and the next – across the span of about 80 years. Nestor’s tales, at Il. 1.260 – 273, 4.319, 7.132 – 756, 11.670 – 761 and 765 – 789, and 23.629 – 645, are vivid narratives, certainly well-rehearsed, that reflect on the old man’s early days when he enjoyed the vigour of youth and, indeed, was just as committed to the heroic ideal as he was in his later years.26 These are communicative memories, in that Nestor shares them with his extended social group. As befits a senior member of this society, he uses them to perform an important educative role, as he tries to persuade his younger listeners to heed the advice of an older man whose vast experience on the battlefield could be instructive. In the Odyssey, by contrast, Nestor’s memories are not intended as a strategy of persuasion. Here in the Odyssey Nestor’s reminiscences at 3.103 – 200, 254 – 328, in response to Telemachus’ enquiries about his father, are more typically the kind of communicative moments that we all share, as we speak of our own circumstances and discuss news of friends and acquaintances.27 Telemachus had asked for information; Nestor is very happy to tell him as much as he knows. As the old man says, at 3.184 – 187, all the information that he passes on about his fellow heroes he has heard from others (who also have been ‘doing’ communicative memory as they share their experiences).

Cultural Memory The poet represents remembering at the cultural level in his account, in his own voice, of Agamemnon’s sceptre, at Il. 2.100 – 108. He tells us that the sceptre, over time, had been passed from Pelops to Atreus, from Atreus to Thyestes, and from Thyestes to Agamemnon. Thus he 25 Il. 1.250 – 252 and, on Nestor’s age, see Kirk 1985, 79; see also Minchin 2005. 26 Minchin 2005, 61, 65 – 66. 27 The length of Nestor’s response, in which he does not actually answer Telemachus’ question about how his father died, characterizes Nestor as an old man who enjoys talking about the past.


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accounts for the three-generation span of social memory. But Homer, in fact, begins his history of the sceptre much earlier in time, in this society’s remote past: we hear the story of its origins. This was a sceptre fashioned by Hephaestus (101). He had given the sceptre to Zeus, who had passed it to Hermes; and he in turn had given it to Pelops (102 – 104):28 Nvaistor l³m d_je Di· Jqom¸ymi %majti, aqt±q %qa Fe»r d_je diajtºq\ !qcezvºmt,7 :qle¸ar d³ %man d_jem P´kopi pkgn¸pp\

Hephaestus gave it to Zeus the king, the son of Cronus, and Zeus in turn gave it to the courier Argeiphontes, and lord Hermes gave it to Pelops, driver of horses

Kirk comments on the language of the description with the words ‘not … very archaic’.29 But the features of the language are not important to my discussion. What is important is that this account of the sceptre is presented as a history that begins in the mists of time, as is appropriate to a symbol of kingship.30 Homer’s characters, like the poet himself, know something of the nature of cultural memory. Helen, for example, at Il. 6.357 – 358, associates the preservation of cultural memories with the singing of traditional oral epic; she anticipates that, in the course of time, she will be given a place in her culture’s memory, as a subject of a significant tale from the remote past. Helen’s story will be a story of shame; but glory too is celebrated in song. Telemachus speaks of Orestes’ fame, which will be celebrated in song in generations to come (Od. 3.203 – 204).31 Song, however, is not the only medium for commemoration at the cultural level. The society of the Iliad and the Odyssey knows the poten28 See the commentary of Kirk 1985, 126 – 127 on the story of the sceptre’s origins. This symbol was created by Hephaestus as a symbol of kingship for Zeus himself, possibly after the defeat of Cronus. Hermes is probably a messenger god here, rather than a player with a more substantial role. 29 Kirk 1985, 126. 30 The genealogy of Aeneas (Il. 20.213 – 241) is another example of the reach of cultural memory deep into the past: Priam is the sixth king in line from (and including) Zeus’ son, Dardanus. 31 Telemachus looks ahead to a time when singers will celebrate the story of Orestes, whose deeds by that time will be recorded in cultural memory. Bards may sing songs of either glory (Orestes) or shame (Helen and Paris; Eurymachus [Od. 21.249 – 255]; and Eupeithes [Od. 24.426 – 437]).

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


tial of landmarks of all kinds, and of grave-markers in particular, as prompts for memories: for example, the tomb of Ilus, son of Dardanus, serves as a landmark on the Trojan Plain (Il. 11.166 – 168); when Elpenor gives instructions for his funerary rites, he asks that after his cremation his grave be marked with the oar he used while alive (Od. 11.71 – 78), ja· 1ssol´moisi puh´shai, so that those to come will know of me, 76; and, finally, we hear Hector’s promise (Il. 7.81 – 91) that, if he takes the life of his opponent in single combat, he will give the body back to the Achaeans so that they can heap up a burial mound for their comrade beside the Hellespont – a mound which will stir the memory of men to come, who will say: “This is the mound of a man who died long ago in battle, who was once one of the bravest; and glorious Hector killed him (89 – 90) . . . t¹ d’ 1l¹m jk´or ou pot’ ake?tai, and my glory will never be forgotten (91)”. Grave-markers do not retain memories of individuals and events, as Zerubavel suggests;32 but they have the capacity to cue memories, even memories from the remote past.33 Those instances that I have described above relate to the ways in which the epics represent the three modes of remembering: in the first instance, a personal memory, one that went uncommunicated, from the recent past; secondly, a string of social memories, all shared generously by old Nestor; and, thirdly, some representations of cultural memory, looking far back into the past from the vantage point of the present – or, indeed, back to the present from the future. I turn now to two scenes that are founded on the interplay of these three modes. I turn first to Andromache’s impassioned plea that Hector should wage war from within the walls of Troy – and his defence of his decision to return to the plain (Il. 6.405 – 665).

Case study I: Hector and Andromache Andromache has based her plea on personal grounds: she is without a father, a mother (413), and brothers (421 – 424). Hector, she argues, must fill those roles for her (429 – 430). He must not venture out onto the plain again. As she speaks, naming these family members, her mind is crowded with images and memories, personal memories of her family, and, most of all, of her mother, who had come ‘here’ 32 Zerubavel 1997, 94. 33 Minchin 2008, 10 – 13.


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‚ to Troy – her use here of deOq , at 426, surely captures a personal recollection – as Achilles’ captive, before she was returned to her father. Hector’s response is at first gently dismissive (G ja· 1lo· t²de p²mta l´kei, c¼mai, “all these things are in my mind also, lady”, 441). He acknowledges the argument that his wife advances, but he is for the moment far more concerned about his own standing in his community: about imputations of cowardice and the shame that he himself would feel (441 – 443) were he to stay within the walls. As he says, he has been schooled to fight and to win great glory for himself and for his father (444 – 446): . . . 1pe· l²hom 5llemai 1shk¹r aQe· ja· pq¾toisi let± Tq¾essi l²weshai, !qm¼lemor patqºr te l´ca jk´or Ad’ 1l¹m aqtoO. . . . since I have learned to be valiant and to fight always among the foremost ranks of the Trojans, winning for my own self great glory, and for my father.

Hector, that is, is preoccupied with memory at both a social and a cultural level: we see the normative force of cultural memory in Hector’s preoccupation with his community’s collective understanding, based on models of heroism from the distant – and the more recent – past, of how a warrior should behave.34 His implicit understanding of how social memory works is evident in his concern that the reports about him that will be handed down to the next generation (and, ultimately, the distant future) should be favourable.35 As Hector speaks, his anxiety about his own future yields to disquiet about that of his wife. This is a particularly tender moment in a justly famous episode, when Hector declares that there is no family member whom he cares about as much as Andromache (450 – 455); and he imagines a scene in the aftermath of the fall of Troy. Andromache is now a captive somewhere in Argos. She weeps as she goes about her work. An unnamed individual, on seeing her weeping, will recognize her, saying (460 – 461): >jtoqor Fde cum¶, dr !qiste¼esje l²weshai Tq¾ym Rppod²lym, fte ]kiom !lvil²womto.

34 Trojan heroes who might serve as paradigms are listed, for example, in Aeneas’ genealogy, at Il. 20.213 – 241. 35 As Hector will say a moment later, at 460 – 461, he aims to be identified as “the bravest fighter of the Trojans”.

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


‘This is the wife of Hector, who was ever the bravest fighter of the Trojans, breakers of horses, in the days when they fought about Ilion.’

This projected ‘memory’ is revealing of Hector as he tries yet again to reassure himself that his reputation will live on in social memory after his death. But what moves us is that he sees her future (even after death has parted them) still entwined with his. In a sympathetic sequel he predicts that, as his name is mentioned in her hearing, Andromache’s thoughts will turn to him yet again, and she will once more feel the pain of loss (462 – 463): so· d’ aw m´om 5ssetai %kcor w¶tez toioOdû !mdq¹r !l¼meim do¼kiom Glaq.

and for you it will be yet a fresh grief to be widowed of such a man who could fight off the day of your slavery.

The poet’s representation of this moment, whereby, through a leap of the imagination, Hector enters the mind of his wife, is very powerful. It is powerful in narrative terms because of its complex layering of temporal reference (present to future; future to past). This complexity demands our attention; it involves us in the moment. And it is powerful in dramatic terms, because we see the hero setting aside his concern about his place in the memory of many over time to contemplate the consequence of his actions and the pain that he will bring upon a single individual, his wife, again and again, as memories of her husband are awakened in her heart. The explicit contrast and finally the interweaving of these different modes of memory in the scene as a whole and, specifically, in the structure of Hector’s response to Andromache contribute to the poignancy of this scene. It is clear to me, as I review the Iliad in the light of Assmann’s proposals, that the poet is concerned throughout with the way his characters use and respond to their memory store, and with the importance the heroes attribute to social and cultural memory. To take this scene as an example, Hector lives his life with social and cultural memory at the forefront of his mind. Constantly measuring himself against the paradigmatic heroes of the recent past and the greater heroes of the remote past, such as the heroes of the earlier generations of Troy, he is preoccupied with creating memories that are sufficiently meritorious to be handed on, as shared memories, within his immediate community and within the wider community of heroes. Andromache, as a woman, a wife, and a mother, is set in contrast: she is preoccupied with the home,


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the family, and with what is between her and Hector alone. Her concern is with the intimate. Andromache, like her husband, values communicative memory, that sum of words and moments shared, especially with Hector; but she puts a high value also on the uniqueness of personal memories. Her lasting regret, at Il. 24.742 – 745, is that she had no chance to hear some last phrase from her husband, a pujim¹m 5por, an indelible memory (744), that she might treasure to herself all her days and nights.36

Case study II: Odysseus on Scheria At Od. 8.72 – 92 and 485 – 531, we observe in Demodocus’ songs two occasions on which social memory, cultural memory, and Odysseus’ own personal memories coincide. Odysseus has been received by Arete and Alcinous in the palace on Scheria. At the end of his stay, as a final gesture of hospitality before he continues on his way, the Phaeacians prepare for him a feast and offer entertainment. They invite the palace bard to offer a song. Prompted by the Muse (73), the blind bard Demodocus sings not an episode from the remote past, as we would expect, but an episode from the Trojan War: he has chosen the story of a quarrel between Odysseus and Achilles (75 – 82). Odysseus’ reaction to the song is surprising. He veils his head with his cloak and weeps (83 – 92), aUdeto c±q Va¸gjar rpû avq¼si d²jqua ke¸bym “for he felt shame for the tears running down his face before the Phaeacians”, 86). Alcinous responds to his guest’s distress sympathetically, calling off the singing, and inviting him to join the men in games. Afterwards Demodocus performs again; he sings the light-hearted song of Ares and Aphrodite (266 – 366). This song gives Odysseus much pleasure (367 – 369). Finally, after the formalities of farewell, Odysseus himself invites Demodocus to sing. The hero, like the bard, turns his thoughts to the relatively recent past; his memory of those events reawakened, he asks the bard to sing the episode of the Wooden Horse (487 – 495). Demodocus sings; and again Odysseus weeps (521 – 522): 36 On pujim¹m 5por, see Martin 1989, 35 – 36; Richardson 1993, 355. My study of the modes of remembering tracks to its origins a peculiar feature of this passage noted by Kirk 1990, 219: the “deliberate conjunction of two styles normally kept distinct … the severe and the heroic on the one hand, the intimate and the compassionate on the other”.

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


aqt±q idusse»r t¶jeto, d²jqu d’ 5deuem rp¹ bkev²qoisi paqei²r.

but Odysseus melted, and from under his eyes the tears ran down, drenching his cheeks.

Why does the hero weep? Homer does not tell us in so many words. But we can deduce that it is not the quality of Demodocus’ singing that makes him respond this way, because, had this been the case, he would have wept also during the story of Ares and Aphrodite. Odysseus weeps only at those stories in which he himself was involved. He weeps even during the story of the Wooden Horse, an account of a stratagem devised by Odysseus himself, a stratagem that was brilliantly executed and highly successful. There has been no persuasive explanation of Odysseus’ tears in Odyssey 8.37 But I suggest that a clue to his tears lies in the coincidence of modes of remembering. What Odysseus has discovered, at first by chance (75 – 81), is that stories of Troy, which he would have expected to encounter in casual talk, as the anecdotage of communicative memory, are now, remarkably, stored in the cultural sphere: a singer on a remote island, only ten years after the fall of Troy, already sings what had been a memory that Odysseus had shared with Achilles and the Achaeans at Troy.38 Overriding the distinction between the recent past and the remote past, between social memory and cultural memory, the poet has produced a powerful moment in the epic.39 He has brought 37 See the comment of van Wees 1998, 11, who refers to “sadness and despair”; de Jong 2001, 75 and 198 observes, correctly, that the Troy veterans in the Odyssey look back on the war with grief, despite their victory: 4.76 – 112 (Menelaus); 11.482 – 491 (Achilles); 24.95 – 97 (Agamemnon). But she is not able to identify why this should be so. As I argue below, each of the veterans she cites is either lamenting a story that ended badly for himself (Achilles and Agamemnon) or that had not yet ended for all concerned (Menelaus, who, at 4.104, laments Odysseus’ unfinished tale). The reasons for Odysseus’ tears here in Odyssey 8 are more complex again, as I shall demonstrate. For discussion of the unfinished tale as a source of unhappiness and stress, see below. 38 Cf. de Jong 2001, 195, who comments on this as a “special form of dramatic irony”. De Jong recognizes (at 196) the shock which Odysseus might feel, but does not identify the significant interplay of different memory modes. 39 It is a daring move on Homer’s part: here the poet has played with time and action, analepsis and prolepsis, in a way that reminds us of the poet of the Iliad, who just as fearlessly compressed and expanded time for narrative purposes. There the poet, while purporting to tell the story of a quarrel in the tenth


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the distant future back to the present and has allowed us, his audience, as well as Odysseus himself, to see how the hero’s adventures will be celebrated in times to come. So the hero’s tears must be, at least in part, tears of surprise, at hearing his own story retold by a stranger to an audience of strangers. But Odysseus’ tears are also, quite naturally, tears of distress. His distress, too, has its roots in memory. Why does Odysseus weep yet again, at Demodocus’ second Odysseus-story? 40 Surprise cannot be an issue this time. Odysseus’ tears must be even more closely related to the events themselves: Demodocus’ account of the final stages of that long war. We hear how the hero and his companions leave their hiding place in the wooden horse and take on the Trojans successfully, and how Odysseus and Menelaus make their way to the house of Deiphobus and, with Athene, are victorious (502 – 520). As he hears this (and relives the action, with images and sound supplied from actual memory – aQmºtatom pºkelom … tokl¶samta, “enduring the grimmest fighting …”, 519) Odysseus responds to the emotions that those memories stirred. Those frightening encounters which brought about the end of Troy had left their mark: his tears are tears of distress, specifically, unresolved, post-combative stress, as he remembers vividly that moment of triumph, the events that preceded it and those that followed – namely, his perilous and at this point still uncertain nostos. 41 His tears are a response to the deaths on the battlefield of so many fine men, his own long, frustrating, and unfinished journey home, the loss of all his companions, and the enormous risks and dangers that he himself, by now alone, has had to face – and those that he has yet to face.42 year of the Trojan War, created a context that reminded his audience of the principal events of the war as a whole: the quarrel over Helen (Iliad 3); the gathering of the fleet (Iliad 2); the fighting (passim); the death of Achilles (Iliad 18); and the fall of Troy (Iliad 24). 40 On the accompanying simile (523 – 530), see de Jong 2001, 216 – 217. 41 Stanford 1947, 345 refers to Odysseus’ tears as his sorrow for lost companions and for the “sad sequels to the victory”. But in the post-Vietnam era we can describe his tears more precisely. On the impact of post-combative stress (PCSD), see Grossman 1993, 75, 236 – 237, 281. Here he attributes the stress symptoms of war veterans to survival guilt, the trauma of killing another person, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that is, the reactions of a victim of a violent event (on PTSD see also Shay 2003). I thank Christopher Matthew for his helpful comments on this section of my paper. 42 Ahl – Roisman 1996, 76 – 77 and 84 – 86 (and see also n. 20 for further bibliography variously suggesting as the reasons for Odysseus’ tears nostalgia, sorrow,

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


What Demodocus celebrates in song is that part of the story that is held now in the memory of many – the triumph at Troy. What is unique to Odysseus, and still unresolved, is his own unfinished tale, which will, in time, encompass both his triumph at Troy and his triumphant return to Ithaca. For Odysseus, as he listens to Demodocus’ song amongst the Phaeacians, the memories of Troy continue to be fragmented and distressing. Not until he is safely at home, in his own bed, can he tell his wife his story (at 23.300 – 343). At that point his memories will have been assembled into a narrative with a beginning, a middle, and, most importantly, an end.43 Then for the first time he will find pleasure in his tale. As Eumaeus says, at 15.400 – 401, “For afterwards a man who has suffered much and wandered much has pleasure out of his sorrows”. Odysseus’ tears in Odyssey 8, therefore, draw our attention quite effectively to a coincidence of memory modes. The pain of Odysseus’ still raw and unresolved personal memories has been re-awakened by the bard, as he celebrates – although rather prematurely – the hero’s role in the Troy-story, destined to be a major theme in Greek cultural memory. If we view the Odyssey through Assmann’s eyes, we find that social memory and cultural memory form the backdrop of the poem, as in the Iliad. But these modes of remembering are employed in each epic to different ends. The framework of the Iliad is a series of stories of heroic achievement that, taken together, reinforce a traditional view of heroism, defining what it means to be a hero. The normative function of cultural memory there serves both a didactic and, as we have observed, a poetic end. The framework of the Odyssey, on the other hand, comprises the stories of Troy: the Wooden Horse, the Sack, the Returns of Agamemnon, of Menelaus, of Nestor, of Diomedes. Nestor’s and Menelaus’ tales in Odyssey 3 and Odyssey 4 are clear examples of commuand grief) propose that Odysseus’ tears are “orchestrated” (86), designed to draw attention to himself and to bring the song to a halt. This explanation seems to me misguided, if not banal: Demodocus’ theme was, after all, a subject selected by the hero himself. 43 Odysseus will recover from this stress disorder when two conditions have been fulfilled: first, his nostos must be complete; and, second, he must subsequently have the opportunity to talk through his memories, constructing a story that begins and ends. As Shay 2003, 55 says, recovery depends on ‘communalization’, the telling of one’s story to socially-connected others (39). See also Minchin 2006, 3 – 5. I thank Sue Lutton for talking with me about the value of narrative therapy for PCSD and PTSD sufferers.


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nicative memory, as the older heroes tell Telemachus their own (and their comrades’) nostos-tales. Odysseus’ own unfolding story interacts with those other narratives: will he return safely? has his wife remained true? will his return be straightforward, like Nestor’s – or disastrous, like Agamemnon’s? 44 The poet employs communicative memory here purely as a literary lure – to engage his audience, drawing his listeners into his tale, and keeping them absorbed. Demodocus’ tales of the Trojan War and its aftermath, on the other hand, are of particular interest to me, since in these we observe the poet of the Odyssey collapsing time. In a bold move, the poet treats memories from the recent past, the events of the Trojan War, as though they belonged in the remote past – the domain of oral song and of cultural memory. Thus he promotes these Odysseus-tales from the status of communicative memory – the news of the day – to that of enduring cultural memory.45 Our poet would certainly not have been able to explain in Assmann’s terms how he achieved this brilliant effect, as he played with time-relationships and modes of remembering to create a moment in his tale that was not only dramatic but also deeply engaging. But I propose that he, like other poets in this tradition, was at least subconsciously aware of the distinctions between personal and social and cultural memory, in the same approximate way as we are. Indeed, we have some evidence that this epic tradition saw a qualitative difference between the transmission of memories far and wide in their own world (communicative memory, as Penelope describes it at Od. 4.722 – 726) and the transmission, through singers and their songs, of stories of momentous deeds, down through time to those in the distant future (as described at Il. 6.357 – 358, in Helen’s words, and at Od. 3.202 – 205, by Telemachus). Thus, although he may not have realized precisely how he achieved the effects he sought, Homer allowed these three modes of mem-

44 Throughout the poem the poet plays on the possibility that Odysseus’ return may parallel that of Agamemnon. Ahl – Roisman 1996, 28 describe this strategy neatly, as “the narrative warp” upon which the return of Odysseus is woven. 45 Since this is an oral culture, we observe no ‘floating gap’. On this concept, see above. The poet’s allusion here to the glorious songs that will, in the future, celebrate Odysseus’ successful return home is not out of place: the glory that awaits Odysseus is the theme of the epic.

Memory and Memories: Personal, Social, and Cultural Memory


ory to play off each other, for he knew, as a storyteller, that this strategy, in storytelling terms, would work.46

46 I thank Antonios Rengakos and Christos Tsagalis very warmly for including me in this Homer conference and for the generous hospitality they extended to all participants during our stay in Thessaloniki.

)qwo»r aw me_m 1q]y : A Programmatic Function of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships Jim Marks The enumeration of Greek contingents that makes up much of the second book of the Iliad (2.494 – 759), commonly known as the ‘Catalogue of Ships,’ has functioned as a kind of mirror for each generation of Homerists, attracting as it does a mixture of fascination and scorn. At the beginning of the last century, many scholars expressed confidence that the Catalogue documented the political geography of the Bronze Age Aegean, even if it was a dreadful piece of poetry. By the century’s end, the combined work of archaeologists and specialists in oral poetics had made it clear that the Catalogue cannot be considered anything like an accurate picture of Mycenaean Greece; and literary critics had come to the more enlightened conclusion that the Catalogue is only dreadful when judged by modern standards.1 The age-old debate about which historical framework best fits the Catalogue of Ships that has dominated its interpretation seems to me unlikely to affect our understanding of the Iliad in any profound way. The Catalogue may very well preserve details specific to the Bronze and Early Iron Ages, but it is not the lack of a sufficiently precise historical context that complicates our understanding of why this section of the Iliad was expanded to such an extent at so prominent a point in the poem. Similarly, from the perspective of literary quality, it is certainly important to read the Catalogue in the context of contemporary catalogue poetry such as that attributed to Hesiod, but the simple fact that the ancient Greeks had an appreciation for versified lists again does little to explain why the Catalogue takes the form it does where it does. What the past century of scholarship has demonstrated is that problems of interpretation, such as the question of why the narrative of the Iliad is brought to a standstill early on in order to survey the Greek and 1

Sammons 2010, 5 – 7 and 137 offers a recent survey of representative opinions on the Catalogue.


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Trojan forces, are often approached most productively from the perspective of performance. Now one of the incompletely understood aspects of early Greek epic is the manner in which oral poets and their audiences kept track of the sprawling action and large casts of characters in poems that would require many hours to perform. Scholars in the past century to be sure have done much to explain how large-scale narratives were assembled, drawing attention to, for example, ring structures and story-patterns such as withdrawal-and-return. Nevertheless, when faced with the monumentality of the epics, we have difficulty accounting for the mnemonic abilities of highly trained but illiterate singers who may have ‘nodded’ on occasion, but who still somehow maintained control over who does what to whom, and when and where. As Jenny Clay recently observed of the Iliad, “the poet is remarkable in his ability to keep his characters on the battlefield straight.”2 During the kinds of oral performances from which our text of the Iliad ultimately derives, maintenance of narrative control by the poet will naturally have depended on an array of mutually reinforcing strategies. Thus, for instance, in the Hesiodic and Homeric poems, techniques such as foreshadowing, flashbacks and ring structure help to maintain the coherence of narratives as they unfold, and to define the relationship of a given narrative to the larger body of Greek myth. In the case of the Iliad, such structural themes as the divine council scenes in Books 1, 4, 8, 15, 22 and 24, under the coordination of an over-arching plan of Zeus, serve to orient the poem with respect to events that have already transpired and those that are to come, within and even beyond the bounds of the poem’s own narrative. My suggestion here is that the structure of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships can be explained in part in terms of the operation of another such organizing strategy, or theme,3 one that helps to establish the relationships among the characters. My interpretation does not claim to offer a comprehensive blueprint for the Iliad, or for the position of every contingent in the Catalogue itself, but rather suggests one way to account for which characters, in particular lesser ones, appear in which settings as the poem progresses. Specifically, I shall be exploring the tendency of Iliadic characters to appear in scenes together with other characters that are listed near them in the Catalogue of Ships. 2 3

Clay 2007, 234. My understanding of “theme” is informed by Lord 1960, 68 – 88.

)qwo»r aw me_m 1q]y : A Programmatic Function of the Iliadic Catalogue of Ships 103

It is to begin with obvious that the Catalogue does have such programmatic force at least at the level of individual contingents. For because the Iliadic fighting units are composed of men who hail from the same homeland, any character in battle is likely to be accompanied by soldiers with whom he sailed to Troy from Greece. The phenomenon is particularly clear in the case of lesser characters, such as the Boeotian warriors who lead the first contingent listed in the Catalogue. Thus when Prothoenor falls in Book 14 (450 – 471), he is in the company of fellow Boeotians Promachus (476 – 485) and Peneleos (487 – 496). Peneleos for his part is accompanied in two of his three other appearances in the Iliad by another of the three Boeotians named in the Catalogue, Leitus (13.91 – 92, 17.597 – 605), while the other two, Arcesilaus and Clonius, die in close succession during the same battle scene in Book 15 (329, 340).4 These and other associations, such as those of the Cretans Idomeneus and Meriones, and of the Argives Diomedes and Sthenelus, further illustrate a point that, perhaps owing to its obviousness, has I think been insufficiently explored, namely that decisions about who appears in which scenes are in part informed by a tendency to group the characters according to homeland. As a consequence, the Catalogue of Ships, being a comprehensive account of the homelands of the Greek warriors, establishes connections among characters that persist throughout the narrative.5 Less often observed is the extent to which these connections transcend the level of homeland. The continued grouping of characters from different but adjacent contingents documented here suggests that the contours of the Catalogue may in some cases have been informed by, and in other cases may have given rise to, associations that helped to keep track of the Iliad’s dramatis personae. Approached this way, the geography of the Catalogue responds as much to the demands of the 4 5

The fact that Peneleos and Leitus track particularly closely together is consistent with the observation of Kullmann (2009, 2 – 3) that the two are together in Apollodorus (1.9.16, as Argonauts; 3.10.8, as suitors of Helen). In this respect the Catalogue can be seen to function prospectively and intratextually in a manner that complements its retrospective and intertextual function as described by Tsagalis (2010a, 330), in which it, as a kind of dynamic hypertext, “aims at anchoring the distant past of the Homeric world into the audience’s cognitive scripts, which will, in their turn, allow for the reactivation of schemas of coherence”. By my interpretation, the Catalogue at the same time anchors relationships among characters in the immediate present of the Homeric narrative, for later reactivation throughout the narrative.


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narrative as it does to any historical conception of ancient Greece. Conversely, the narrative can be said to be informed in part by a conception of ethnography and geography that has at least its roots in the historical Greek world. I first became alerted to the possibility of such a programmatic function for the Catalogue of Ships while exploring the association between Odysseus and a lesser character, Thoas of Aetolia, that occurs in a lying tale told by the disguised hero in Odyssey 14.6 In attempting to account for the seemingly ad hoc appearance of Thoas in Odysseus’ tale, I recalled that Thoas’ entry in the Iliadic Catalogue as leader of the Aetolians occurs immediately after Odysseus’ entry as leader of the Cephallenians (2.636 – 638). When I pursued further the association between the two I noted that, as the Iliad proceeds, Thoas is often in the company of Odysseus: he is the next Greek after Odysseus to slay a foe in the first Iliadic battle (4.494 – 504, 527 – 531); the two are named in a single verse among the heroes who cast lots to face Hector in the second duel sequence (7.168); and Thoas is among those who help Odysseus to gather up Agamemnon’s gifts for Achilles when the two are reconciled (19.239). Consulting the secondary literature, I found that scholars seem to have remarked on groupings among characters that trace back to the Catalogue of Ships only in passing. Thus for instance Jan Gaertner lists among motivations for the inclusion of Homeric catalogues in general the possibility that “the information provided in the form of a catalogue may also foreshadow subsequent events and create suspense,”7 while Mark Edwards has suggested that, in the case of some of the other Homeric catalogues, the form itself may serve as a basis for the narrative.8 More specifically, Karl Reinhardt explained the association of the aforementioned Thoas with Idomeneus in Iliad 13 with reference to the fact that the latter’s Cretan contingent follows the former’s Aetolians in the Catalogue,9 and G. S. Kirk in his commentary on Iliad 2 suggests that the later association of two other heroes with sequential contingents, Menestheus of Athens and Ajax of Salamis, “in books 12 and 13 is apparently organic.”10 And while Elizabeth Minchin sees the Cata6 7 8 9 10

Marks 2003. Gaertner 2001, 303. Edwards 1980, 101 – 102. Reinhardt 1960, 296. Kirk 1985, 206 ad Iliad 2.552.

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logue as a “cognitive map,” her focus is on the ability of oral poets to create and retrieve lists based on these cognitive maps, rather than on the potential significance of the lists for the structure of the narratives in which they are embedded.11 Building on Reinhardt’s observation, I noted that Odysseus and Thoas in turn tend to associate with others named around them in the Catalogue. Thus the Cretans Idomeneus and Meriones, whose Catalogue entry follows immediately after Thoas’ Aetolians’, form part of what I identify as a cluster of characters that begins at verse 631 with Odysseus and extends through Thoas at 638 and the Cretans at 645. The associations that are thus established among the characters within this cluster play out in a variety of ways as the narrative proceeds beyond the Catalogue. Odysseus and Idomeneus are of course linked repeatedly throughout the Iliad owing to their high status in the Greek army, as well as in the Odyssey. 12 However, a special affinity seems to exist between these two among the Greek leadership: Agamemnon lists them one after the other among possible commanders of the mission to return Chryseis to her father (1.145); they receive sequential extended descriptions by Helen in the Teichoskopeia scene (3.224 – 240, interrupted only by a brief reference to Telamonian Ajax at 225 – 229);13 and they are listed close together among one group of chiefs that casts lots to face Hector (7.165, 168), and another that comforts Achilles after the death of Patroclus (19.310 – 311). Idomeneus in turn usually appears in the company of his fellow Cretan and charioteer Meriones, but the latter also interacts with Odysseus on his own when he presents him with an heirloom helmet during the Doloneia sequence (10.262 – 272). Similarly, Thoas also appears on his own apart from Odysseus with Idomeneus and Meriones, who are the first among a group of Greeks exhorted by Poseidon after the god assumes Thoas’ appearance (13.210 – 250), and another group later exhorted by Thoas in propria persona (15.301 – 302). Since there also appear in the scenes I have been discussing other characters that do not form part of the cluster of heroes around Odysseus in the Catalogue of Ships, it could be objected prima facie that the 11 Minchin 1996, 12; see also Sammons 2010, 24. 12 Od. 13.265 – 266; 14.235 – 241; 19.178 – 184; for Idomeneus and Odysseus, see the contribution to this volume by Tsagalis. 13 Note that the Teichoskopeia emphasizes the physical proximity of Idomeneus to Odysseus, as Kirk (1985, 298 ad Iliad 3.230 – 233) observes.


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cluster is based on a selective treatment of the evidence. The phenomenon of clustering can therefore as suggested above better be illustrated through the examples of lesser characters, whose fewer interactions can be mapped more neatly. Thus, returning again for a moment to Thoas, while he is on occasion accompanied by characters other than those whose contingents border his own in the Catalogue of Ships, I draw attention to the fact that he never appears apart from at least some members of this cluster in the Iliad, nor does he interact with any other Iliadic characters as closely. The same can be said of the lesser figure Meges of Elis, whose entry in the Catalogue immediately precedes that of Odysseus’ Cephallenians (2.615 – 630). As the narrative proceeds, Meges first appears as the third in a series of Greeks to make a kill in battle, the first two being Idomeneus and Meriones (5.43 – 69), and he is later among the group of Greeks who are rallied by (the real) Thoas (15.301 – 302), and the aforementioned group, which includes Meriones and Thoas, that helps Odysseus present Agamemnon’s gifts to Achilles in Book 19 (239). Of the four other members of the Elean contingent named together with Meges in the Catalogue, two do not appear again, and the other two die in the next scenes in which they appear, one near Odysseus (4.517), the other in a manner that prompts Poseidon to take the form of Thoas to rally Idomeneus and Meriones in the scene mentioned above (13.202 – 220). Similarly, the fact that Meges is referred to as one of the Epeioi elsewhere in the Iliad (13.691, 15.529), while he is more properly associated with Elis and Doulichion in the Catalogue of Ships, suggests that the context of the Catalogue remains associated with this hero even in situations where no character from a neighboring homeland is present.14 It therefore appears that one of the organizing principles that underlies the Iliad is a cluster of heroes whose homelands are introduced sequentially in the Catalogue of Ships, running from Meges in Elis through Odysseus’ Cephallenians and Thoas’ Aetolians to Idomeneus’ and Meriones’ Cretans, and who tend to track together as the narrative proceeds. I draw attention to the fact that it is not the ‘real’ geography of ancient Greece that informs this cluster, but rather the specific geography of the Catalogue, which skips from the west Greek contingents of 14 Meges’ “dual citizenship” is also explicable in mythological terms; see Kirk 1985, 182 – 183, 219 ad Il. 2.618 – 619.

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Odysseus, Thoas and Meges to the Cretan contingent.15 The cluster, then, though being grounded in the geography of ancient Greece, is specific to the Iliad’s presentation of its heroes in the Catalogue and in the narrative. Again, proximity in the Catalogue is only one among several tendencies that underlie the relationships among Iliadic characters. Thus, as mentioned, the association by status that finds Odysseus together with Agamemnon, Nestor and the other main leaders of the Greek expedition obtains alongside, and when necessary overrides, the geographical tendency, which naturally remains subordinate to the demands of the plot. It is for this reason that the lesser figures present the clearest evidence of the Catalogue’s programmatic force, which is unsurprising, since minor characters are the most difficult to keep track of, while they at the same time represent a store of bit players that can be deployed to flesh out the scenes in which the major players further the story.16 Once seen from this perspective, other clusters of characters become apparent in the Catalogue of Ships. The core of one of these forms around the two characters named Ajax, who are associated by their shared name, the Aiante(s), a formula that occurs over two dozen times in over a dozen separate scenes in the Iliad. 17 This onomastic association is reflected in the proximity of the Ajaxes in the Catalogue, where their Locrian and Salaminian contingents occupy, not consecutive positions, but rather either end of a sequence that runs, in order, from the Locrians, through Elephenor’s Euboeans and Menestheus’ Athenians, to the Salaminians (2.527 – 558), to form a cluster with properties similar to those we have seen in the case of the heroes around Odysseus. To begin with, one or both of the Ajaxes are present or nearby in each of the scenes in which Menestheus appears: all three are among the Greeks exhorted by Agamemnon in the Epipole¯sis scene before the first Iliadic battle (4.273 – 367), and all three together occupy the same part of the battlefield in a series of scenes in which the Greeks face the Trojan onslaught on the ships (12.331 – 399; 13.170 – 195, 685 – 722). As for the commander of the Euboean contingent, Elephe15 For the Catalogue’s geographical leap from west Greece to Crete see Kirk 1985, 184 – 185; Visser 1997, 609; Kullmann 1999, 102; Sammons 2010, 136 – 137. 16 Beye 1964, 363. 17 If the theory, for which see Merkelbach 1960, that the word Aiantes in the Iliad derives from a pre-existing formula describing Salaminian Ajax and his brother Teucer has merit, this derivation would thus seem to have occurred as the narrative of the Iliad was taking shape.


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nor, his death in the first Iliadic battle, the only scene in which he appears, is reciprocated by the death of a Trojan warrior at the hands of Telamonian Ajax (4.463 – 473). The cluster may also potentially be extended to include Schedius of Phocis, whose entry precedes that of the Locrians (2.517 – 526), and who is also killed in the proximity of the Ajaxes (17.306; cf. 15.515).18 I identify further a third cluster of Catalogue entries that proceeds from Diomedes’ Argives to Agamemnon’s Mycenaeans and Menelaus’ Spartans through to Nestor’s Pylians.19 Once again, the very centrality of these figures means that their appearances are dictated by such higher-order factors as social and military ranking and of course the demands of the story. Nevertheless, it may be possible to observe even here a tendency to cluster according to the geography of the Catalogue. Naturally enough, the contiguity of the Mycenaean and Spartan contingents (2.569 – 590) is reflected in the kinship of their commanders, the brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus, who regularly appear together in the Iliad. Diomedes acts as a member of this cluster at such crucial moments as his rescue of Nestor in Book 8 (99 – 169), and his opposition in Book 9 to Agamemnon’s second call to abandon the siege of Troy (9 – 49).20 Thus, while the geographical tendency is largely obscured by other factors in presenting these major characters, the clustering of their Catalogue entries nevertheless reflects the particularly close association of Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor and Diomedes throughout the Iliad. The integrity of the clusters discussed thus far seems to be reflected in the fact that each represents a center of power within the Greek army in the Iliad. Most responsible for the actual conduct of the war is the cluster that includes Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor and Diomedes. Odysseus and the Ajaxes, the major figures in their respective clusters, are to be sure full participants in war councils and battlefield engagements, but they can be seen each to pursue a distinct agenda. Odysseus’ 18 On Schedius, see Janko 1992, 284 – 285 ad Iliad 15.515 – 517. 19 Sammons (2010, 173 – 174) describes this as “the portion of the catalogue that presents many of the narrative’s core figures”, that includes Diomedes, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor, and also, in contrast with the analysis offered here, Telamonian Ajax. 20 Note in this context the notorious crux regarding the overlap of Agamemnon’s and Diomedes’ realms, on which see Kirk 1985, 180 – 181. Following the arguments presented here, it might be said that the associative tendency of the narrative has in effect been reflected back into Iliadic geography, at the cost of some distortion.

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agenda manifests itself in a consistent championing of the commonweal, as for instance in his support of Agamemnon in the face of Thersites’ seditious rantings (2.211 – 277) and his opposition to Achilles’ call to battle when the troops are exhausted (19.154 – 237).21 The Ajaxes, by contrast, are distinguished by their shared characteristic of disagreeableness. Locrian Ajax is perhaps the most savage combatant on the battlefield at Troy, and his unsportsmanlike conduct during Patroclus’ funeral games issues in an Athene-inspired sprawl in manure (23.770 – 92; cf. 448 – 98). Similarly Salaminian Ajax’ obstinacy and pride will lead to his suicide after the Iliad ends, and are reflected in the way in which the Greek ships are drawn up on the Trojan shore, where his contingent occupies one of the two positions furthest from the center (8.224 – 226).22 As for the other major Iliadic character not yet discussed, Achilles of course follows his own counsel in allowing his Myrmidons (2.681 – 694) to take no part in the fighting until Patroclus is sent to drive the Trojans from the Greek ships in Book 16. It is therefore at least symbolically fitting that the Myrmidons are isolated within the Catalogue of Ships, for their entry23 is bordered by contingents—from Syme and Kos (671 – 680), Phylace and Pherae (695 – 715)—whose soldiers play little or no role in the rest of the narrative. This isolation is likewise consistent with the fact that Achilles fights alone in the Iliad, and that his ship like that of Salaminian Ajax occupies one of the positions furthest from the center of the Greek camp. In other words, the lack of major characters in the contingents that border Achilles’ contingent in the Catalogue can be seen as an inverted case of the geographical tendency: the location of the Myrmidons’ entry corresponds to their isolated position on the Iliad’s overall ‘cognitive map’ of the Greek army.24 21 In the Odyssey, Odysseus’ tendencies in this regard can be seen in his desire to save his crew and his attempt to reconcile the quarreling Agamemnon and Menelaus when the Greeks begin their return from Troy (Od. 3.162 – 164). 22 Odysseus’ ships are fittingly in the middle, as Martin (1989, 120) observes. 23 The Myrmidons receive a supplementary catalogue when they muster at 16.168 – 197, though 3 of the 5 leaders named there are hapaxes not mentioned in the Catalogue of Ships (the other 2 being Achilles’ guardian Phoenix and lastly Alcimedon, who saves Achilles’ horses after Patroclus dies, 17.467 – 501); on the relationship between the two passages, see Sammons 2010, 138. 24 The Myrmidons’ position also seems to be informed by a desire to impart a measure of drama to the Catalogue by placing Achilles near the end; discussion and bibliography in Sammons 2010, 136 – 137, 184 – 194, who also observes


Jim Marks

This, then, is my argument that the Catalogue of Ships functions as one among a number of devices for keeping track of the Iliad’s large cast of characters, in particular subsidiary ones. Amid the 29 entries for the Greek forces, four main clusters of characters can be discerned.25 The clustering of the characters in the Catalogue corresponds to their association later in the narrative, a phenomenon I have termed the ‘geographical tendency.’ This tendency is barely perceptible in the case of the major heroes around Agamemnon, whose associations are primarily dictated by the higher-order considerations of status and the demands of the plot. The cluster around the Ajaxes can be discerned more clearly owing to its inclusion of the lesser figures Menestheus and Elephenor, whose fewer appearances are easier to track. The case for the geographical tendency appears strongest for the cluster around Odysseus owing to its inclusion of several lesser figures that can be mapped over multiple scenes. Lastly, the isolation of Achilles and his Myrmidons in the Catalogue corresponds to their overall relationship to the Greek army. I have repeatedly stressed that the geographical tendency I posit is not meant to offer a comprehensive explanation for the deployment of Iliadic characters. It is clear that numerous factors contribute to motivate a given character’s appearance in a given scene, including such obvious organizing principles as those to which I have just referred, status and narrative exigency. It is therefore entirely consistent with my argument that the geographical tendency does not appear operative in the Iliad’s other catalogues and lists, which are informed by more local factors such as recent appearances, euphony and meter.26 Conversely, the geographical tendency cannot itself be accounted for by any single factor. On the one hand, some of the associations within the clusters of characters likely carry over from myths upon which the Iliad drew, or from historical relationships among the peoples identified with the various contingents. Thus, in the case of Odysseus and Thoas the Aetolian, their consecutive entries in the Catalogue of Ships and (184) that “the whole latter portion of the catalogue, and not just Achilles’ entry, seems to be specially marked off and separated from the rest”. 25 These clusters can be mapped onto the scheme proposed by Stanley (1993, 16) by including the Aetolians and Cretans with what he calls the “Western Islands,” and associating northern Greece with Thessaly. 26 Beye 1964; cf. Janko 1992, 108 ad Il. 13.478 – 80. On the other hand, a geographical tendency obtains in other cataloguing traditions, for instance the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, which proceeds in a roughly regional manner; discussion in Osborne 2005, 21 – 22.

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close relationship elsewhere in the Iliad is consistent with their appearances together in the Odyssey (14.469 – 502), in the non-Homeric Ilias parva (7 Bernabé), the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (5 – 10 M.-W.), and in a set of related myths concerning Odysseus’ ‘post-Odyssey’ story, all of which suggests that the Iliad activates pairings of these two heroes already established in west Greek myths.27 Put another way, links among regional traditions involving Odysseus and Thoas may have formed the basis for a mnemonic association that is reflected in the Catalogue of Ships and in the Iliad generally. As a parallel, I note the appearance of Odysseus with another member of this cluster, Polyxeinus the Elean, whose only mention in the Iliad occurs in the Catalogue near Odysseus (2.623 – 624), and who also entertains Odysseus in the Cyclic Telegonia (Proclus p.102.4 – 6 Bernabé). Larger-scale associations may also operate alongside and interact with the geographical tendency; thus for instance the proposal that the overall organization of the Catalogue of Ships traces back to the itineraries of theorodokoi sent out from Delphi suggests another preexisting reservoir of relationships by geographical proximity that could contribute to the deployment of Iliadic characters in an analogous way.28 The frequent grouping of Odysseus and/or Thoas with the Cretans Idomeneus and/or Meriones, on the other hand, seems more a product of the Iliad’s own inner logic, since, as observed earlier, this cluster embraces the Catalogue’s necessary but artificial leap from west Greece to Crete. Likewise in the case of the two Ajaxes, the simple fact of a shared name, rather than any mythical-historical link, seems to underlie their association throughout the Iliad, and to offer a partial explanation for the somewhat strained geography of the ‘Aiantid cluster’, which presents sequentially the somewhat outlying Locris with geographically proximate Euboea, Attica and Salamis. In other words, the convenience of formulae built around ‘Ajaxes’ helps to motivate the pairing of these two major heroes, which pairing is in turn reflected in the inclusion of Locris and Salamis in the same cluster of contingents that is mapped out in the Catalogue of Ships and that maintains its coherence as the narrative proceeds. Similarly, while the relationships among what I have referred to as the cluster of major heroes can be traced to myths associated with the 27 Marks 2008, 93 – 109. 28 Giovannini 1969, 51 – 71; see discussion in Visser 1997, 46 – 47; Kullmann 2009, 12 – 13.


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Argolid and the central and southern Peloponnese, the confusion that attends the depiction of Diomedes’ realm in relation to that of Agamemnon in the Iliad suggests that this cluster could be informed at a fundamental level by a specifically Iliadic conception of the core of the Greek leadership, including as it does the party for whom the war is being waged (Menelaus), the main commander (his brother Agamemnon), the up-and-coming leader (Diomedes), and the aged counselor (Nestor). The resulting geographical separation of these leaders from the Ajaxes and Odysseus I have attempted to explain in terms of personal agendas that distance the latter heroes from the core leadership cluster. A more extreme personal agenda informs the isolated position of Achilles. In any case, in the act of performing a poem like the Iliad, a traditional Greek singer would necessarily distance any associations among characters from any pre-existing contexts in order to place them in the service of the narrative at hand. The geographical tendency may in some instances reflect the arrangement of material on which the Iliad draws, but the salient issue for those who composed ancient Greek epics will not have been such literary-historical concerns, but rather the extent to which this tendency could contribute to the verisimilitude of the story by helping to supply a plausible cast with which to populate the Iliad’s many scenes. Thus the narrator’s request at the beginning of the Catalogue that the Muses inspire the power to “tell the captains of the ships and the ships in order” (2.491 – 493), can perhaps be understood on one level as a metatheatrical moment, in which the ability to sing the Iliad is linked self-consciously to the arrangement of the Catalogue of Ships.29

29 The author would like to thank Christos Tsagalis and Antonios Rengakos for the invitation to present the talk on which this paper is based.

Part II: Iliad

The Despised Migrant (Il. 9.648 = 16.59) Maureen Alden 1 Achilles complains that, in depriving him of Briseis, Agamemnon and the Greeks deprive him of what they gave him (Il. 1.299: 1pe¸ l’ !v´kesh´ ce dºmter. Later Agamemnon offers Achilles !peiqe¸si’ %poima (Il. 9.120: ‘boundless recompense’) if he will lay aside his anger and fight to rescue the Greeks.2 The recipient of %poima is not usually a friend,3 and Odysseus avoids the term, representing Agamemnon’s offer to Achilles as %nia d_qa (Il. 9.261: ‘worthy gifts’). But Ajax represents the offer as requital (poim¶),4 and Achilles’ rejection of it as unreasonable: even in cases of murder,5 which cannot be put right, since the damage is permanent and beyond price, poim¶ is accepted for the loss of a brother or son; the victim’s relatives restrain their anger, and the murderer remains in the community (Il. 9.632 – 636).6 Achilles, while he admits the justice of Ajax’s case (Il. 9.644 – 645), is prevented from acting on it by anger at the public humiliation he suffered when Agamemnon treated him as if he were an !t¸lgtor letam²stgr (Il. 9.646 – 648: ‘despised migrant’). Later, when entreated further by Patroclus, Achilles elaborates: he resents that Agamemnon pulled rank (Il. 16.54: jq²tez pqobeb¶jgi) in depriving him of Briseis, when the army7 had picked 1 2 3 4 5

6 7

I am grateful to Adrian Kelly for sound advice. This does not imply his endorsement of the views expressed. See Wilson 2002, 75 – 83, 138 – 139. Wilson 2002, 84. Wilson 2002, 106. Material compensation is the legal penalty in Hittite law for both murder (Hoffner 1997, 17 – 20, nos. 1 – 6; 165 – 174) and abduction (Hoffner 1997, 29 – 31, nos. 19a, 19b, 20, 21; 37 – 39, no. 28: see also Goetze 1969, 189 – 190 nos. 1 – 5; 19 – 20; 28; Jamison 1996, 301 n. 54). Whether blood price should be accepted is surely the point at issue in Il. 18.497 – 508. Il. 16.56: see also Il. 1.392. But 1c½m 2kºlgm (Il. 19.60: I chose her for myself) ignores the army’s role in allocating spoils. At Il. 9.367 – 368, Achilles complains that Agamemnon gave Briseis to him and took her back again (see also Il. 16.58), insulting him (1vubq¸fym).


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her out for him in a distribution of booty.8 Achilles had won the girl by fighting (Il. 16.57: douq¸ d’ 1l_i jte²tissa, ‘I won her by my spear’) when he sacked her town: it was in taking her away again that Agamemnon treated him as an !t¸lgtom letam²stgm (Il. 16.56 – 59).9 Leaf understood the phrase !t¸lgtor letam²stgr to signify an exile who has changed his home, to whose life no blood money is attached (because he has no kin to exact it), and who may therefore be abused with impunity.10 His view is apparently belied by the honor and status accorded to metanasts like the Cytheran homicide, Lycophron, the heq²pym (companion in arms) of Ajax and Teucer, whom they honored equally with their parents in the palace in Salamis (Il. 15.429 – 441).11 Achilles’ role in the Iliad is comparable to that of ‘Lycophron’: Achilles is not explicitly characterized as wolf-minded, but Apollo complains that his wits are not right, and k´ym d’ ¤r %cqia oWdem (Il. 24.40 – 41: ‘he knows savage things, like a lion’). Phoenix and Patroclus are both honored metanasts under the protection of Achilles’ family, and Phoenix is one of the chief commanders of the Myrmidons (Il. 16.196). Neither wants to be separated from Achilles (Il. 9.437 – 438; 23.83 – 92); Phoenix has made Achilles his surrogate son so that Achilles will protect him (Il. 9.494 – 495), and Achilles is painfully aware of his failure to protect Patroclus (Il. 18.98 – 100) and his duty to avenge him. Phoenix and Patroclus are both older than Achilles, and both are explicitly charged with advising him (Il. 9.438 – 443; 11.785 – 790).12 Each time Achilles complains of being treated like an !t¸lgtor letam²stgr, Phoenix or Patroclus is a witness (Il. 9.648; 16.59), but there is never any hint that he uses the term to detract from their status.13 The funeral games demonstrate what esteem can be shown to a metanast. In what way, then, is Achilles treated like an !t¸lgtor letam²stgr ? 8 “Entehren durch Wegnehmen” is the opposite of “Ehren durch Geben”: LfgrE i.1497, s.v. !til²y, !til²fy 1a. 9 See Lohmann 1970, 274 – 275 for the structural correspondences between Achilles’ responses to Ajax (Il. 9.644 – 655) and Patroclus (Il. 16.49 – 63). 10 Leaf 1900 – 1902, i.418 ad Il. 9.648. Me-ta-ki-ti-ta (PY.610.3) refers to migrants, new settlers, displaced populations: DMic. I: 442 – 3; Bartonek 2003, 184, 376, 384. 11 Lycophron (‘Wolf-minded’) is the name of a role, that of the marginal ephebe who goes into exile and fails to replace his father, like Periander’s son, Lycophron (Hdt. 3.48 and 50 – 53); see Sourvinou-Inwood 1991, 244 – 284: 258. 12 See Martin 1992; Kelly 2008, 197 n. 61 and private communication. 13 LfgrE iii. 167, s.v. letam²stgr.

The Despised Migrant (Il. 9.648 = 16.59)


The Iliad’s use of the folktale motif of the metanast, or fugitive, will resonate with comparable stories familiar to the audience from the tradition.14 Sometimes father-son hostility15 is the cause of metanastasis, as in the case of Meges, son of Phyleus, who moved to Dulichium after a dispute with his father (Il. 2.629: patq· wokyhe¸r); the same phrase is used (Od. 15.254) of the prophet Polypheides, who moved to Hyperesia after quarrelling with his father. Typically, however, a hero flees his own community to escape vengeance for murder16 or sexual disgrace. Tlepolemus, son of Heracles, killed Licymnius, his father’s maternal uncle (Il. 2.653 – 670).17 To avoid the revenge threatened by the other sons and grandsons of Heracles, he fled to Rhodes, where he and his followers became rich. Medon, the bastard son of Oileus, lived in exile in Phylace after killing the brother of his stepmother, Eriopis, wife of Oileus (Il. 13.694 – 697 = Il. 15.333 – 336). The fugitive may seek protection from his victim’s relatives by supplicating a powerful ruler,18 who may treat him as a family member, giving him land, status, and even marriage to one of his daughters in return for allegiance. Diomedes, boasting of his descent in support of his claim to advise Agamemnon,19 does not admit that his father, Tydeus, left his native Aetolia

14 For the motif, see Thompson 1955 – 1958, R331. On resonance, see Foley 1991, 1 – 37, 135 – 189; Kelly 2007, passim, with explanatory summary 5 – 14. For the resonances of epithets and repeated patterns in episodes and story shapes, see Graziosi and Haubold 2005, 48 – 60. 15 For the theme, see Sourvinou-Inwood (1991) 244 – 284. 16 See Strasburger 1954, 29 – 31; Beye 1964, 358; Fenik 1968, 153, 206 – 207; Schlunk 1976; Naiden 2006, 31 n. 6. In the Aethiopis, Achilles himself sails to Lesbos to be purified by Odysseus after killing Thersites: PEG 1. Aethiopis, Argumentum = EGF Procli Aethiopidos Enarratio. 17 See also Pind. Ol. 7.2—38, where Tlepolemus strikes Licymnius (the halfbrother of Alcmene) with his staff as the latter emerges from (the chamber of) Midea. (Midea is more likely to be the town near Tiryns than Licymnius’ mother: see Farnell 1965, 52). A quarrel is involved in Diod. Sic. 4.58.7. In Apollod. 2.8.2, Licymnius intervenes and is struck when Tlepolemus is beating a slave. Eustathius 315.44 – 316.4 explains that Tlepolemus strikes at a slave who is manhandling Licymnius, but accidentally hits the latter. From the viewpoint of the killer, absence of intention to kill maintains innocence: see Naiden 2006, 94. 18 Naiden 2006, 64 n. 194 argues from the use of Rjete¼y (‘supplicate’) of the murderer, Epeigeus (Il. 16.574), that all fugitive homicides in the Iliad supplicate. 19 Hesiod too presents himself (Op. 633 – 642) as the son of a migrant with the capacity to advise: see Martin 1992, 14 – 21. Achilles, who calls the assembly


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because he killed a relative,20 but attributes his father’s wandering and eventual settlement in Argos to the wishes of the gods (Il. 14.119 – 120). In Argos, Tydeus married a daughter of Adrastus, receiving land and cattle from his father-in-law (Il. 14.121 – 124). As a migrant without any network of blood kin to support him, Tydeus became an accessory to his wife’s family: he was obliged to fight in the cause of his father-inlaw, and lost his life in Adrastus’ campaign to restore Polynices to the kingdom of Thebes (Il. 14.114; Hes. Op. 161 – 163).21 Glaucus tells Diomedes the paradigmatic story of his grandfather, Bellerophon, who came from a place called Ephyra,22 and who was exiled on a false accusation of sexual crime. Although Glaucus mentions a mortal father and grandfather of Bellerophon,23 a stray remark (that the hero is recognized as the divine offspring of a god) 24 betrays the poet’s knowledge of another version, where Bellerophon was a son of Poseidon25 and killed a nobleman called Bellerus.26 However, the Iliad is silent on these details, and Bellerophon appears blameless.27 In Argos, at the court of Proetus, Bellerophon rebuffed the advances of the king’s wife, Anteia, who then falsely accused him to her husband of rape (Il. 6.160 – 165). Proetus was unwilling to kill his guest, but sent him to Lycia carrying a letter to the king, Anteia’s father, with instructions


21 22 23 24 25 26 27

(Il. 1.53) and advises (Il. 1.127 – 129) the return of Chryseis as Calchas prescribes (Il. 1.94 – 100), is also the son of a migrant. He killed his uncle, Alcathous, to protect the rights of his father, Oineus, or his usurping cousins, the sons of Melas (Pheneus, Euryalus, Hyperlaus, Antiochus, Eumedes, Sterops, Xanthippus, and Sthenelus: see PEG 1, Alcmaeonis fr. 4 [= West 2003, 60]), or else the sons of Agrius and his own brother or uncle, by mistake: see Pherecydes FGrHist. 3F122. When the victim is a kinsman, the bloodshed cannot be commuted, and flight is the only option: Leaf 1900 – 1902, 2.197, ad Il. 16.573. Before the war, Tydeus comes with Polynices to Mycenae to raise troops (Il. 4.376 – 381). Later he is sent alone into Thebes to negotiate with Eteocles (Il. 4.382 – 400). Aristonicus took Ephyra to be an old name for Corinth: Sch. A ad Il. 6.152 (= Erbse 1969 – 88, 2.156 – 157). Glaucus and Sisyphus (Il. 6.153 – 5). See Il. 6.191. Hes. fr. 43a. 81 – 82 MW; Pind. Ol. 13.69; Hyg. Fab. 157; Sch. T ad Il. 6.191 (= Erbse 1969 – 1988, 2.165). Tzetzes, sch. ad Lycophr. Alex. 17 ( = Scheer 1958, 2.15 – 16); Sch. bT ad Il. 6.155 (= Erbse 1969 – 1988, 2.158). Apollod. 3.1 names the dead man variously as Deliades (Bellerophon’s brother), Piren, or Alcimenes. Gaisser 1969a.

The Despised Migrant (Il. 9.648 = 16.59)


to put the bearer to death (Il. 6.167 – 170). The king of Lycia tried to destroy his visitor by sending him to perform a series of seemingly impossible tasks, but somehow Bellerophon succeeded in every one: he killed the Chimaera, he fought the Solymoi, and then the Amazons, and survived the ambush set by the king on his return (Il. 6.179 – 190). When the king recognized his guest as the offspring of a god (Il. 6.191), he jat´quje Bellerophon (‘kept Bellerophon by him’), giving him his daughter in marriage, along with half his royal honor and an estate besides (Il. 6.155 – 195).28 It will be convenient for the king that Bellerophon has no other ties to the Lycian community save those established by his marriage, because he will owe absolute loyalty to the head of his wife’s family. The B scholiast to Il. 6.164 relates the false accusation against Bellerophon by the wife of Proetus to a comparable incident from the Hesiodic Catalogue: 29 the wife30 of Acastus, king of Iolcus, had been rebuffed by Peleus, and retaliated by accusing him falsely to her husband of attempted rape.31 The fragments of the story surviving from the Catalogue tally with the late account of Apollodorus:32 it seems that Acastus believed his wife’s allegations,33 but stopped short of killing a guest; instead, he took Peleus hunting on Mount Pelion, stole his sword, and 28 aqtoO lim jat´quje, d¸dou d’ f ce hucat´qa Fm (Il. 6.192: ‘he kept him by him and gave him his daughter’). The line is also used at Il. 11.226 of the Trojan ally, Iphidamas, son of Antenor, brought up by his maternal uncle, Kisses, the father of Theano, who kept Iphidamas by him when he grew up, and gave him his daughter in marriage. Odysseus is under no such compulsion to accept the royal marriage with house and possessions offered by Alcinous: !´jomta d´ s’ ou tir 1q¼nei (Od. 7.315: ‘but no one will hold you back against your will’). Agamemnon offers one of his daughters in marriage to Achilles (Il. 9.142, 284). Jat´quje is also used of Phoenix’s kin and cousins detaining him (Il. 9.465). For jateq}jy, ‘to hold someone back’, see also Il. 6.518; 8.412; 16.9; 23.734; 24.218, 771; Od. 1.55, 197, 199, 315; 3.345; 4.377, 498, 552; 15.68, 73; 24.51. The verb is also used of preventing someone from doing what he/she wants to do: Od. 4.284, 16.430; 22.409. 29 Hes. fr. 208 MW = sch. B Il. 6.164 (= Dindorf 1875 – 1888, 3.289.9) = Porphyrius, Quaest. Hom. ad Iliad. pertin. (Schrader 1880, 93.17). 30 Astydameia: Apollod. 3.13.2 – 3; Lyd. Mens. fr. incert. 1. (Wuensch 1898, 178). Alternatively, Hippolyta: Pind. Nem. 4.57; Hor. Car. 3.7.17; Sch. Ap. Rhod. 1.224. Sch. Aristoph. Nubes 1063 gives both Astydameia and Hippolyta. 31 Pind. Nem. 5.25 – 34. 32 Apollod. 3.13.1 – 7: see Gantz 1993, 1.225 – 6; March 1987, 3 – 26. 33 Pind. Nem. 4.57 – 61.


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abandoned him to be an easy prey for the Centaurs.34 Whether the gods gave Peleus a sword made by Hephaestus,35 or whether Chiron found his stolen sword for him,36 Peleus survived his ordeal with the Centaurs, and was rewarded for his rejection of Acastus’ wife by an illustrious marriage with Thetis.37 Hesiod relates that he took his revenge on Acastus by sacking the city of Iolcus, before returning to Phthia.38 The correspondences between the story-shapes of Bellerophon and Peleus are set out in Table 1. Table 1 Elements of story shape



Son of Poseidon

Hes. fr. 43. 81 – 82 MW; Hygin. Fab. 157 Sch. T ad Il. 16.191 (= Erbse (1969 – 88: ii. 165)




Sought purification

from Proetus in Argos

from Eurytion (or Eurytus) in Phthia, who gave him his daughter, Antigone, in marriage and a third part of the country.


Eurytion, accidentally, when hunting.

Sought purification

from Acastus in Iolcos.

Falsely accused of rape by

Anteia, wife of Proetus

Astydameia/Hippolyta, wife of Acastus

34 4. Hes. fr. 209 MW = Sch. Pind. Nem. 4.95 (= Drachmann 1903 – 1927, 3.81.1). Peleus’ encounter with the Centaurs is illustrated in sixth-century black figure, e.g. New York 46.11.7; Villa Giulia 24247: LIMC 7/1, s.v. Peleus II. B, nos. 9 and 10, ill. 7/2, pl. 183. 35 Anacr. PMG fr. 497; Sch. Pind. Nem. 4. 92a (= Drachmann 1903 – 1927, 3.79); Sch. Aristoph. Nubes 1063; Tzetzes, Sch. ad Lycophr. Alex. 178 (= Scheer 1958, 2.88 – 9). 36 Apollod. 3.13.3. 37 Pind. Nem. 5.27 – 34. On why Thetis was given to a mortal husband, see Kullmann 1960, 370. According to Apollod. 3.13.3, the first wife of Peleus hanged herself when Acastus’s wife, Astydameia, told her that Peleus was about to marry the daughter of Acrisius. 38 Hes. fr. 211 MW.

The Despised Migrant (Il. 9.648 = 16.59)


Table 1 (Continued) Elements of story shape



Attempted destruction of the hero without actually killing him

Proetus sends Bellerophon to his fatherin-law, the king of Lycia, with instructions to put him to death. The king of Lycia imposes seemingly impossible tasks.

Acastus takes Peleus hunting on Mount Pelion, steals his sword, and abandons him to be a prey for the centaurs.

Marriage: when the hero survived and succeeded

the king of Lycia kept he was rewarded by him there, gave him his receiving the goddess, daughter in marriage, and an Thetis, as his wife. estate besides.

Before he was falsely accused by the wife of Acastus, it seems that Peleus had already gone twice into exile to escape vengeance for murder: with his brother, Telamon,39 he had killed his half-brother, Phocus, in Aegina,40 and was exiled to Phthia,41 where he was purified by Eurytion, son of Actor,42 who gave him his daughter, Antigone, in marriage,43 as well as a third part of the country.44 There, while hunting, he accidentally killed Eurytion,45 (in Apollodorus’ account at the hunt of the Calydonian boar):46 it was this accident which caused him to go to Acastus

39 Pind. Pyth. 8.100 pairs Peleus and Telamon, probably as brothers: see also Ov. Met. 7.476. For Telamon as a friend of Peleus, see Pherecydes fr. 60 (= Fowler 2000, 1.309). 40 Originally on the Malian Gulf: the Aeginetans of the Saronic Gulf appropriated the genealogy of Peleus and identified Aegina with their own island, attaching Ajax, son of Telamon, from nearby Salamis; see West 1985, 163 – 4; Gantz 1993, 1.222. 41 West 2003b, Alcmaeonis, fr. 1 (= sch. Eur. Andr. 687). See Hes. Th. 1004 – 1005 for the birth of Phocus to Aeacus and a Nereid, Psamathe. 42 Tzetzes ad Lycoph. Alex. 175 (= Scheer 1958, 2.84.27 – 29) = FGrHist 3 F 1b. 43 See Pherecydes fr. 1, 61 (= Fowler 2000, 1.276, 309 – 310) for alternative fathers-in-law of Peleus. 44 Apollod. 3.13.1 – 3. 45 Pind. fr. 48 SM. 46 Apollod. 1.8.2; 3.13.2: see also sch. ad Aristoph. Nub. 1063; sch. ad Lycophr. Alex. 175 (= Scheer 1958, 2.84 – 5). The François vase (c. 570/565 BC) shows Peleus attacking the boar with Meleager: LIMC 7/1 s.v. Peleus IV, no. 34 and 7/2 pl. 185 no. 34.


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in Iolcus for purification.47 The narrative device of exile for murder is frequently used to account for the movements of people at a time of upheaval.48 Peleus’ removal to a turbulent Thessaly and the foundation of his brief dynasty in the ‘city of the Myrmidons’ (probably Trachis) 49 is explained in terms of multiple exiles for murder and sexual crime. A dynasty founded on homicide may well be sympathetic to homicides, as exemplified in Herodotus’ story of Croesus, whose dynasty began with Gyges’ murder of Candaules (Hdt. 1.8 – 12), and who graciously received the fratricide, Adrestus (Hdt. 1.35). Several fugitives seek shelter with Peleus and Thetis, who send them to fight at Troy in the train of Achilles. One such is Epeigeus, who fled to Peleus after killing his cousin (Il. 16.570 – 576). Patroclus,50 son of Menoetius,51 is another: when he was only a boy, he killed the son of Amphidamas in a quarrel over dice, and was taken from Opoeis in Locris52 to the court of Peleus, where he was brought up with Achilles, becoming his heq²pym (‘companion in arms’) (Il. 23.85 – 90).53 Phoenix, another fugitive, relates to Achilles the sordid events which led him to become the metanast of Peleus, with the duty of advising Achilles and the right to his protection (Il. 9.438 – 443; 485 – 495).54 At his mother’s request, 47 Sch. T ad Il. 11.690 (= Erbse 1969 – 1988, 3.261) indicates that in Homer homicides pay compensation or go into exile: purification is unknown. 48 Allen 1921, 102 – 3. 49 [Hes.] Sc. 380, 474: see Allen 1921, 110. Peleus is eventually turned out of his capital by the sons of Acastus (Apollod. Epit. 6.13). 50 The audience is expected to require no explanatory information about Patroclus, and to recognise his first appearance, where he is simply Lemoiti²dgr (Il. 1.307: ‘son of Menoetius’). On the place of Patroclus in the tradition, see Kullmann 1960, 44 – 45. 51 Hesiod makes Menoetius the brother of Peleus: Hes. Cat. 212 (a) = Eustathius 112. 44 – 45 ad Il. 1.337. 52 Achilles promised to bring him back to Opoeis at the end of the war (Il. 18.324 – 327). 53 See Greenhalgh 1982 for the close relationship between a ruler or prospective ruler and his heq²pym. 54 Phoenix is not Achilles’ tutor, although he is often thought to be (Plato, Rep. 390e): his status is higher and his role less clearly defined; see Lohmann 1970, 247 – 248 and S. West 2001. For Chiron as Achilles’ tutor, see Hes. fr. 204.87 – 89 MW; Pind. Nem. 3.43 – 53; Pyth. 6.21 – 23; Paus. 3.18.12. Chiron is Achilles’ great grandfather: his daughter Endeis was the wife of Aeacus and mother of Peleus; see sch. Pind. Nem. 5.12a (= Drachmann 1903 – 1927, 3.90 – 91). He taught Achilles medicine (Il. 11.830 – 833). The relationship of Phoenix to Neoptolemus in the Cypria (PEG 1, fr. 21 [= fr. 19, West

The Despised Migrant (Il. 9.648 = 16.59)


Phoenix had seduced the concubine of his father, Amyntor, and was cursed with sterility (Il. 9.448 – 457); he had even thought of killing his father, but stopped short of the act itself (Il. 9.458 – 461). His kin and cousins were detaining him (Il. 9.465: jateq¶tuom),55 until he broke out of his chamber and leapt over the courtyard fence (Il. 9.475 – 476), making his way from Eleon (presumably in Boeotia: Il. 10.266) through Hellas56 to Peleus, who loved him as a father loves his only son (Il. 9.481 – 483): he made him rich and set him to rule over the Dolopes, a hill tribe at the furthest margins of his kingdom. Phoenix’s story exemplifies the pattern of father-son hostility identified by Sourvinou-Inwood, where (1) the hostility begins with the son and is (2) centered on the father’s wife and/or concubine (surrogate wife): (3) the father reacts with an act of hostility (in the case of Amyntor, the curse); (4) the son goes into exile, and the father is harmed by the loss of his son.57 Phoenix does not replace his father, but manages a successful adulthood on the borders of Phthia, where he is the ap²ym of Peleus (Il. 23. 360). ip\ym58 is one who pays opa, a word found in the Linear B tablets at Knossos and Pylos understood at first in the sense of ‘contributions’: goods and services payable to a wanax, and more recently in the sense of ‘work’.59 Phoenix, when he says that Peleus made him rich, adds pok»m d´ loi ¥pase kaºm (Il. 9.483: ‘he made many soldiers payers of opa to

55 56 57 58 59

2003b]) and the Nostoi (in Proclus’ summary he is buried in Thrace by Neoptolemus on the way home from Troy (see PEG 1, 94 – 95 and West 2003b, 154 – 155) resembles his relationship to Achilles in the Iliad (see Kullmann 1960, 133). See n. 28. Il. 9.447 perversely identifies Amyntor’s kingdom as Hellas (also the kingdom of Peleus): the difficulty is avoided by accepting van Thiel’s conjecture Udom (I saw) for k¸pom (I left): see S. West 2001, 4 n. 12. Sourvinou-Inwood 1991, 252 – 253. Myc. o-qa-wo-ni: PY Fn 324. 16, NM dat.: companion, equerry (jtoqor !mdqovºmoio hm¶sjomter p¸ptysi7 s» d( 5mdohi hul¹m !l¼neir wyºlemor, ft( %qistom )wai_m oqd³m 5tisar.

Really there will be a time, when longing for Achilles will befall the sons of the Achaeans, all of them together. Then you won’t be able to do anything, even if it will grieve you, when many of them will fall dying by man-slaying Hector. But you will sit inside resentfully tearing your heart, because you gave no honour to the best of the Achaeans.

So the power of speech is shown right at the beginning of the Iliad, because the words of Achilles will come true, but with most fatal consequences for himself. After Agamemnon has taken away Briseis, Achilles retreats into loneliness at the shore of the sea. There he complains about his fate to his mother, the Nereid Thetis (1.352 – 354): l/teq, 1pe¸ l( 5tej´r ce limumh²diºm peq 1ºmta, til¶m p´q loi evekkem ik¼lpior 1ccuak¸nai Fe»r rxibqel´tgr7 mOm d( oqd´ le tuth¹m 5tisem.

Mother, because you bore me to a short life, Olympian Zeus, thundering on high, owes me honour; but now he has honoured me not even a little bit.

Because of his imminent early death, Achilles thinks he has a claim to honour. In her reply Thetis indeed confirms that “his life lot will last only a little span of time and not very long”. She adds, that now, being refused honour, he is not only “short-lived” but also “miserable” and thus concludes that she “bore him to a bad fate” (1.414 – 418).8 Later on, with a little rhetorical exaggeration, Thetis begs Zeus to honour her son, who is the most short-lived of all (1.505 – 506).9 Honour here appears as a kind of recompense for the short live span that fate gave to Achilles, the son the immortal goddess Thetis bore of her mortal husband. So is Achilles’ early death fated or has he himself chosen it as the price to pay for everlasting fame? Here he says nothing explicit about a prophecy and a choice between two fates (1.352 – 354).10 He does 8 ¥ loi, t´jmom 1lºm, t¸ m¼ s( 5tqevom aQm± tejoOsa ; / aUh( eveker paq± mgus·m !d²jqutor ja· !p¶lym / Hshai, 1pe¸ m¼ toi aWsa l¸mumh² peq, ou ti l²ka d¶m7 / mOm d( ûla t( ¡j¼loqor ja· azfuq¹r peq· p²mtym / 5pkeo7 t¾ se jaj0 aUs, t´jom 1m lec²qoisi. 9 t¸lgsºm loi uRºm, dr ¡juloq¾tator %kkym / 5pket(, … 10 See Slatkin 1991, 102; 1986/2001, 432.


Martina Hirschberger

not mention his two possible fates until later, when he refuses Agamemnon’s proposal for reconciliation. His refusal to marry a daughter of Agamemnon leads Achilles to imagine the life he will live in Phthia after having returned home (9.393 – 394, 398 – 400): Cm c±q d¶ le sa_si heo· ja· oUjad( Vjylai, Pgke¼r h¶m loi 5peita cuma?ja cal´ssetai aqtºr.

… 5mha d´ loi l²ka pokk¹m 1p´ssuto hul¹r !c¶myq c¶lamta lmgstµm %kowom, eQju?am %joitim, jt¶lasi t´qpeshai t± c´qym 1jt¶sato Pgke¼r.

Because if the gods will save me and I will reach home, Peleus himself will give me a wife in marriage. … Indeed, I long very much to marry a wife, a fitting spouse,11 and to enjoy the goods that old Peleus has acquired.

These wishes will never come true, but neither Achilles nor the ambassadors seem to realize the impossibility at this point of the plot. After reflecting on the theme that you can neither buy nor conquer back the lost life of a man, Achilles tells about the prophecy of his mother Thetis (9.410 – 416): l¶tgq c²q t´ l] vgsi he± H´tir !qcuqºpefa diwhad¸ar j/qar veq´lem ham²toio t´kosde7 eQ l´m j( awhi l´mym Tq¾ym pºkim !lvil²wylai, ¥keto l´m loi mºstor, !t±q jk´or %vhitom 5stai7 eQ d´ jem oUjad( Vjylai v¸kgm 1r patq¸da ca?am, ¥ketº loi jk´or 1shkºm, 1p· dgq¹m d´ loi aQ~m 5ssetai, oqd´ j´ l( §ja t´kor ham²toio jiwe¸g.

My mother, the goddess Thetis with silver feet, said that there are two different fates that will bring me to the end of death: If I will stay here and fight around the city of Troy, my return will be lost, but my fame will be everlasting. If I will go home to the beloved land of my fathers, my fame will be lost, but my life will last for a long time, and the end of death will not reach me quickly.

In his earlier reflections, Achilles’ point was the contrast between the life of a man and goods one can purchase, now it is the choice between a short life leading to everlasting fame and a long life without any fame. Trapped in the fictional world of the epic as he is, Achilles thinks he has a real choice to give up fighting and sail home instead – and the logic of the plot at this point requires that he does think so.12 Otherwise 11 See Brenk 1986, 217 – 218. 12 See Morrison 1992, 18, 32 – 33.

The Fate of Achilles in the Iliad


his speech to the ambassadors would make no sense at all.13 Thus speaking about his two fates, Achilles claims a freedom of choice that the traditional tale actually does not grant him. This self-assertion of the hero against the tale creates a paradoxical tension. Having refused the proposal for reconciliation made by the embassy, Achilles tells the ambassadors about his decision to sail back home to Phthia the next day (9.357 – 363): auqiom Rq± Di· N´nar ja· p÷si heo?sim, mg¶sar ew m/ar, 1pµm ûkade pqoeq¼ssy, exeai, Cm 1h´k,sha ja· aU j´m toi t± lel¶k,, Gqi l²k( :kk¶spomtom 1p( Qwhuºemta pkeo¼sar m/ar 1l²r, 1m d( %mdqar 1qess´lemai lela_tar7 eQ d´ jem eqpkoýgm d¾, jkut¹r 9mmos¸caior, Elat¸ je tqit²t\ Vh¸gm 1q¸bykom Rjo¸lgm.

Tomorrow, having sacrificed to Zeus and all the gods, I will load my ships well and than let them sail into the sea. In case you like and care for it, tomorrow, very early, you will see my ships sailing through the Hellespont full of fishes, and in there men who long to row. If Poseidon will grant a good sailing, I may reach Phthia with good farmland the third day.

Through the expression “You will see” the plans of Achilles seem already very real, but he will never make them come true. At the end of his speech, Achilles asks Phoenix, his old mentor, to stay and spend the night at his tent in order to join him sailing away early the next morning (9.427 – 429). After these words there is silence from the embassy. Then Phoenix replies “with tears fearing for the ships of the Achaeans” (9.433). The old man begins to tell about his own fate, how he found refuge with Peleus and cared for Achilles, when he was a little boy.14 Mentioning the close ties between himself and the little child Achilles, Phoenix intends to soften the heart of the hero.15 Despite Achilles’ clear voiced refusal, he still hopes to change his mind. So after telling childhood memories, he urges Achilles to conquer his hulºr and not to have a “merciless heart” (9.496 – 497). He continues with the allegory of Ate¯ and the Litai and the paradigmatic story of Meleager. The fate of Meleager shows not only similarities to the behaviour of Achilles, who in his wrath withdrew from fighting, but also to the behaviour of Phoenix himself in the autobiographical tale he told before: young 13 See Hebel 1970, 55 – 56. 14 On the speech of Phoenix, see Gaisser 1969, 15 – 19; Rosner 1976; Scodel 1982, 133; Brenk 1986, 83 – 84. 15 See Lohmann 1970, 246 – 247; Scodel 1982, 130; Held 1987, 248 – 249.


Martina Hirschberger

Phoenix has been cursed by his father, Meleager by his mother. In both cases the gods of the netherworld heard the curse and fulfilled it (9.566 – 573). Phoenix remained childless, Meleager had to die. But what Phoenix most fatefully seems to ignore here is the fact that his nursling Achilles, the hope of his old age, is also bound to die, should he follow his advice and rejoin battle at Troy, instead of sailing home to Phthia, as he intended. And Phoenix is really successful in undermining Achilles’ decision to leave for home the very next day. After his speech, Achilles does not want to sail early the next morning any more, but to rethink together with him whether he should leave or stay. He answers his old mentor (9.617 – 619): … s» d( aqtºhi k´neo l¸lmym eqm0 5mi lakaj07 ûla d( Ao? vaimol´mgvim vqassºleh(, E je me¾leh( 1v( Bl´teq’ E je l´mylem. … But you stay here and lay down to sleep on a soft bed. At dawn we will consider, if we should return to our own home or stay.

In fact, Achilles does not leave early the next morning, but keeps on staying in the army camp. And it is only his staying on that makes possible the further development of the plot that will lead to the death of Patroclus. The next day, Achilles, still refusing to partake in battle, sends Patroclus to Nestor, in order to find out who was the battle-injured that he brought to his tent. Despite of Patroclus’ hurry, Nestor holds him back with a long speech (11.648 – 654).16 The counsel he gives at the end of this speech will prove to be most fateful: Patroclus should beg Achilles to lend him his armour and let him go to fight in his place. After a story about the heroic deeds of his own youth (11.670 – 782), Nestor reminds Patroclus of their departure for the Trojan War (11.765 – 790). Nestor was witness to the farewell between Patroclus and his father Menoetius. Together with Odysseus he came to the home of Peleus in order to fetch Achilles to join the war against Troy. In a very lively way, Nestor depicts the scene, when he himself and Odysseus passed the gate of Peleus’ palace (11.771 – 777):17 5mha d( 5peih( Fqya Lemo¸tiom gvqolem 5mdom Ad³ s´, p±q’ d( )wik/a. c´qym d( Rppgk²ta Pgke}r

16 On the speech of Nestor, see Cantieni 1942, 23 – 26; Gaisser 1969, 9 – 12; Lohmann 1970, 71 – 73; Pedrick 1983, 57; Reichel 1994, 138 – 139. 17 See Patzek 1992, 196 – 202.

The Fate of Achilles in the Iliad


p¸oma lgq¸a ja?e bo¹r Di· teqpijeqa¼m\ aqk/r 1m wºqt\7 5we d³ wq¼seiom %keisom sp´mdym aUhopa oWmom 1p( aQhol´moir Reqo?si. sv_z l³m !lv· bo¹r 6petom jq´a, m_z d( 5peita st/lem 1m· pqoh¼qoisi7 …

There we met the hero Menoetius inside and you and Achilles at your side. In the courtyard the old horseman Peleus burned fat thighs of cattle for thunder enjoying Zeus. He held a golden cup and spent dark wine on the burning offering. The two of you were taking care for the meat of the cattle, then the two of us stepped through the front gate. …

Through the eyes of Nestor we receive a glimpse on a sacrificial meal prepared by the two young men and their fathers. In the moment depicted by Nestor, still no one could know that this will be their last meal together, before the sons will leave for war and die there. The very next moment, when Achilles recognizes Nestor and Odysseus standing in the gate, will be decisive for the future fate of both Achilles himself and his friend.18 But Nestor, at this point of the story, could not know that he recounts the last meal the two young men will ever have had together with their fathers. In fact, the counsel he will give at the end of his speech will prove to be the decisive factor, that neither Patroclus nor Achilles will ever return home. Nestor goes on to depict the scene, how Achilles joyfully got up from his seat to receive the unforeseen guests (11.777 – 779): … tav½m d( !mºqousem )wikke¼r, 1r d( %ce weiq¹r 2k¾m, jat± d( 2dqi²ashai %myce, ne¸mi² t( ew paq´hgjem, û te ne¸moir h´lir 1st¸m. aqt±q 1pe· t²qpglem 1dgt¼or Ad³ pot/tor, Gqwom 1c½ l¼hoio, jeke¼ym ull( ûl( 6peshai7 sv½ d³ l²k( Ah´ketom, t½ d( %lvy pºkk( 1p´tekkom. … Amazed, Achilles rose up, took our hands, lead us in and asked us to take seats. Gifts he gave us in the right way, as is fitting for a host. But after having rejoiced in eating and drinking, I began to speak and asked you to follow us to Troy. Both of you wanted very much, and your fathers gave you many counsels.

With only a few words, Nestor depicts vividly the enthusiasm of the two young men for going to war and the anxious concern of their fathers. Nestor closes his speech with the urging request that Patroclus should persuade Achilles to join battle again. If this should prove to be impossible, Patroclus should beg him at least to let himself instead 18 See Latacz 1995, 38.


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lead the Myrmidons into battle (11.790 – 803). The story of Nestor’s heroic deeds of his youth is surely intended as a paradigm for Patroclus.19 Like Phoenix, Nestor too succeeds with his speech and thus directs the plot towards the killing of Patroclus, that will finally lead Achilles to re-enter battle at the cost of his own early death. Shortly before the message of Patroclus’ death actually reaches him, Achilles remembers a prophecy he once received from his mother Thetis, that the best of the Myrmidons will die while he himself will be still alive (18.9 – 11).20 The wording of this prophecy clearly implies that Achilles too will be killed in the Trojan War. After Patroclus has been killed by Hector, the soon impending death of Achilles, as given by epic tradition, seems to be a certainty for all the characters of the Iliad: 21 Even Achilles’ horse Xanthos predicts it (19.409 – 410); the goddess Hera says that she now protects him, but later on he will suffer “what fate spun for him, when his mother gave birth to him” (20.127 – 128).22 So did Achilles ever have a real choice, or was the whole plot of the Iliad fated? Before any other character makes any such prediction, the Iliad shows us Achilles in conversation with his mother Thetis: When Thetis leaves her cave in the company of the other Nereids to comfort her son in his mourning, she complains about her own fate (18.54 – 60): ¥ loi 1c½ deik¶, ¥ loi dusaqistotºjeia, F t( 1pe· #q t´jom uR¹m !l¼lom² te jqateqºm te 5nowom Bq¾ym, d d( !m´dqalem 5qmez Wsor, t¹m l³m 1c½ hq´xasa vut¹m ¤r coum` !ky/r mgus·m 5pi pqo´gja joqym¸sim ]kiom eUsy Tqys· lawgsºlemom7 t¹m d( oqw rpod´nolai awtir oUjade most¶samta dºlom Pgk¶zom eUsy.

Woe to me miserable one, woe to me unhappy mother of the noblest son! I have born a blameless and strong son, excellent among heroes, he grew like a sprout. After I have nourished and kept him like a plant in the bent of the field, I sent him with the curved ships to Ilium to fight against the Trojans. I will not receive him coming back home to the house of Peleus. 19 See Alden 2000, 95 – 101. 20 ¦r pot´ loi l¶tgq diep´vqade ja¸ loi 5eipe / Luqlidºmym t¹m %qistom 5ti f¾omtor 1le?o / weqs·m vpo Tq¾ym ke¸xeim v²or Aek¸oio. 21 See Roussel 1991, 361. 22 vsteqom awte t± pe¸setai ûss² oR aWsa / ceimol´m\ 1p´mgse k¸m\ fte lim t´je l¶tgq.

The Fate of Achilles in the Iliad


Thus in the Iliadic version of the story, Thetis evidentially did not try to prevent her son from going to war, but despite of her foreknowledge, she herself has sent him to fight the Trojans.23 Later on, in her complaint to Hephaestus, that of all the goddesses she has the most unfortunate fate, she uses more or less the same words (18.438–441). In another scene of the epic even the chest is mentioned that Thetis packed for Achilles with clothes and coverings at his departure (16.221 – 224).24 So although Thetis is well aware of the grief that the loss of her only son will bring to her, she always supported his quest for heroic fame. The traditional tale clearly has Thetis and the Nereids come for mourning at the death of Achilles.25 By transposing this scene to the death of Patroclus the poet of the Iliad achieves a kind of foreshadowing of the death of Achilles. This not only gives him the possibility to reflect on the fate of his hero from the sympathetic perspective of his distressed mother,26 but also to make Achilles himself accept his own soon impending death.27 In his reply to her question about the cause of his grieve, Achilles essentially shares and confirms Thetis’ view of the situation (18.86 – 93): aUh( eveker s» l³m awhi let( !ham²t,r "k¸,si ma¸eim, Pgke»r d³ hmgtµm !cac´shai %joitim. mOm d(, Vma ja· so· p´mhor 1m· vqes· luq¸om eUg paid¹r !povhil´moio, t¹m oqw rpod´neai awtir oUjade most¶samt(, 1pe· oqd( 1l³ hul¹r !m¾cei f¾eim oqd( %mdqessi let´llemai, aU je lµ >jtyq pq_tor 1l` rp¹ douq· tupe·r !p¹ hul¹m ak´ss,, Patqºjkoio d( 6kyqa Lemoiti²dey !pote¸s,.

I wished you would live there with the immortal mermaids, and Peleus would have married a mortal woman. Now there will be measureless grieve in your mind for the loss of your child. You will not receive him coming back home. Because my spirit urges me not to live and be among men, if not first of all Hector should lose his life hit by my spear and should thus pay for the killing of Patroclus.

23 This is a conscious reversal of the tradition of Achilles’ un-heroic hiding in Scyros; see Tsagalis 2008, 259. 24 See Latacz 1995, 90 – 91. 25 Od. 24.47 – 56. Aethiopis argumentum 4 p. 112 West; Corinthian Hydria, Louvre E 643; see Robert 1923, 1193; Kullmann 1960, 36 – 37, 331 – 332; Roussel 1991, 377 – 379; Tsagalis 2008, 245 – 249; Burgess 2009, 83 – 85. 26 See Tsagalis 2004a, 26. 27 See Tsagalis 2004, 137.


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There seems to be a kind of deep understanding between mother and son. Honour and fame are the recompense for the short life of a warrior that Achilles has chosen. When Agamemnon dishonoured him by taking away his slave girl, the help of Thetis proved essential to humble Agamemnon and make him regret. Now Achilles’ sense of honour leaves him no choice: He has to take vengeance for Patroclus. Hearing his words Thetis begins to cry and simply states (18.95 – 96): ¡j¼loqor d¶ loi, t´jor, 5sseai, oX( !coqe¼eir7 aqt¸ja c²q toi 5peita leh( >jtoqa pºtlor 2to?lor.

Short-lived indeed you will be, my child, as you speak these words, because immediately after Hector death will be ready for you.

Achilles accepts the consequences of this prophecy (18.98). “May I die immediately …”28, he answers and abandons once and for all his contrafactual plans to sail home (18.101).29 So he appropriates his fate by his own decision, which is in perfect harmony with his character. Later on in his mourning for Patroclus, Achilles regretfully admits that before their departure to war he in vain comforted Patroclus’ father Menoitios by the prospect of bringing back his son together with a share of booty from the sacked city (18.324 – 327). But neither will his own parents receive him back home, because it was fated that the two friends together should be buried at Troy (18.328 – 332). The only comfort he now has to offer to his dead friend is the prospect of vengeance (18.334 – 342). Achilles’ words again show clearly the dynamics of responsibility, honour and shame that now urge him to avenge Patroclus even at the cost of his own life. Before slaying young Lycaon, who is begging to spare him, Achilles tells him that all men have to die; after mentioning the fate of Patroclus, he proceeds to his own impending death (21.108 – 113): oqw bq²ôr, oXor j!c½ jakºr te l´car te ; patq¹r d( eUl( !caho?o, he± d´ le ce¸mato l¶tgq7 !kk( 1p¸ toi ja· 1lo· h²mator ja· lo?qa jqatai¶. 5ssetai C A½r C de¸kg C l´som Glaq, bppºte tir ja· 1le?o -q, 1j hul¹m 6kgtai, C f ce douq· bak½m C !p¹ meuq/vim azst`.

Don’t you see, what man I am, beautiful and tall? I am of a noble father, a goddess-mother bore me; but even on me lies death and strong fate. There 28 aqt¸ja tehma¸gm … 29 mOm d(, 1pe· oq m´ola¸ ce v¸kgm 1r patq¸da ca?am …

The Fate of Achilles in the Iliad


will be a morning or an evening or a midday, when someone in war will take my life, either hitting me with a spear or with an arrow from the bow.

About the details of his death so well known to epic tradition Achilles himself does not seem to know here. The most exact prediction of Achilles’ fate is the one given by dying Hector. As Achilles refuses to promise him to give back his body to his relatives for burial, Hector warns him (22.358 – 360): vq²feo mOm, l¶ toi ti he_m l¶mila c´mylai Elati t`, fte j´m se P²qir ja· Vo?bor )pºkkym 1shk¹m 1ºmt( ak´sysim 1m· Sjai0si p¼k,sim.

Consider thus, that I may not become a cause for divine wrath for you the day when Paris and Phoebus Apollo will kill you in the Scaean Gates, although you are a good warrior.

Tragically, his foe Hector knows better about Achilles than his friends Phoenix and Nestor, who certainly have no interest to see Achilles die, but considering only the needs of the moment give counsels that inevitably will lead to his fated death. Hector’s prediction is later confirmed by the psyche of Patroclus, who also predicts Achilles’ death under the walls of Troy (23.80 – 81).30 One receives a last glimpse on Achilles’ farewell from Phthia, when at the funeral of Patroclus the hero cuts his hair as a sacrifice for the dead. While offering his hair at the pyre of his friend, he utters a prayer to the Thessalian river god Spercheios. At his son’s departure to Troy Peleus made a vow to Spercheios that Achilles at his safe return would cut his hair as a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the river god and Peleus himself would sacrifice a hundred sheep. In his prayer, Achilles at the same time apologizes to Spercheios that he will not fulfil the vow once made to him and reproaches him for not fulfilling what his father Peleus has prayed for (23.144 – 151).31 Thus by cutting his hair for the dead Patroclus and dissolving a vow that his father has made for his safe return, Achilles makes quite clear that he is sure of his impending fated death, which he accepts. As in his speech to the embassy about sailing home and marrying, Achilles in his prayer gives a kind of counter30 ja· d³ so· aqt` lo?qa, heo?r 1pie¸jek( )wikkeO, / te¸wei vpo Tq¾ym eqgcem´ym !pok´shai. 31 Speqwe¸(, %kkyr so¸ ce patµq Aq¶sato Pgke¼r, / je?s´ le most¶samta v¸kgm 1r patq¸da ca?am / so¸ te jºlgm jeq´eim N´neim h( Reqµm 2jatºlbgm, / pemt¶jomta d( 5moqwa paq’ aqtºhi l/k( Reqe¼seim / 1r pgc²r, fhi toi t´lemor bylºr te hu¶eir. / ¤r Aq÷h( b c´qym, s» d´ oR mºom oqj 1t´kessar.


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narrative to the fate epic tradition has in store for him. Now, when it is rather too late, Achilles tells us what would have been, if the story had taken a more fortunate course for its hero.

Grieving Achilles Leonard Muellner My point of departure is the scholarly work of my late friend and colleague, Steven Lowenstam. His book, As Witnessed by Images: The Trojan War Tradition in Greek and Etruscan Art, which was published posthumously by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2008, builds on several articles that preceded his death in 2003.1 It addresses the way in which vase paintings of epic scenes so often seem to veer away from the stories that we know from the Homeric poems. His effort was to make it plausible to consider the depiction of what we see as epic scenes painted on vases from the 7th, 6th, and even into the 5th centuries BCE, as based on a corpus of multiforms – in other words, a set of myths in all their typical variability rather than of a putative fixed, original ‘text’. This means that vase paintings are not illustrations of epic poetry, or ad hoc inventions, or mistakes that intentionally or unintentionally disregard or misrepresent the putatively uniform Homeric versions of epic tales that served as their supposed models. Instead, the vase painter, just like a singer of tales, is engaged in a traditional, creative effort to select among myths that are by nature multiform, to use Albert Lord’s term.2 The multiforms accessible to vase painters are part of an evolving, internally interacting song culture that encompasses all representations, verbal and visual, irrespective of genre, to include lyric and drama as well as epic per se. Another key concept for Lowenstam’s work is that by the end of the 6th and into the 5th century BCE, what we know as the Homeric versions of epic tales had not yet attained the canonical status that they would later achieve. In support of this view, his book includes extended analysis of 4th century South Italian vases depicting epic subjects side-by-side with analyses of earlier vases in order to demonstrate the 1 2

Lowenstam 1992, 1993, and 1997. Lord 20002, 100, “We find it difficult to grasp something that is multiform. It seems to us necessary to construct an ideal text or an original, and we remain dissatisfied with an ever-changing phenomenon…From one point of view each performance is an original. From another point of view it is impossible to retrace the work of generations of singers to that moment when some singer first sang a particular song”.


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difference – not a simple difference, but a tangible one – that the achievement by then, by the 4th century, of canonical status for Homeric multiforms made for the work of vase painters. Specifically, I wish to exhibit and demonstrate the legitimacy, traditionality, and interest for interpretation of an early 5th century multiform representation of Achilles, and I also wish to show how the Homeric Iliad actually acknowledges the existence of that multiform as such, though without adopting it. In other words, I wish to demonstrate the fruitfulness, especially, and somewhat paradoxically, for Homeric research, of Lowenstam’s conception of the way in which vase painters worked with an extended corpus of multiforms by an application of it to a specific, problematic instance. The images in question were, to my knowledge, first gathered and studied as a group by a French scholar, Marcel Laurent, in 1898, though others had previously looked at subsets of them from other points of view. A series that now includes about twenty paintings on a wide range of differently shaped pots represent Achilles (who is explicitly named as such in several of them) as a seated figure who covers his body and, to varying degrees, his face and head, with a copious himation. Achilles is repeatedly so depicted 1) when the embassy of heroes come to effect his return to battle, 2) at the taking of Briseis, and 3) when his mother, Thetis, and the Nereids arrive to present him with the new armor that he requires after the death of Patroclus. Art historians have dated the first images of the embassy, the earlier members of the group, to the 490’s, and the others over the twenty years that followed. There follows a list of a selection of these paintings, in roughly chronological order, images of which appear at the end of this paper: a. Athenian red-figure aryballos, Berlin Antikensammlung F2326/ LIMC 443 (s.v. Achilleus) Embassy to Achilles – Odysseus, Achilles, Ajax, Phoenix, Diomedes (here Plate 1) b. Boeotian black-figure pelike (miniature, 7 cm in height), Berlin Antikensammlung F2121/LIMC 455 (Plate 2) c. Athenian red-figure hydria, Staatliche Antikensammlung, München 8770/LIMC 445 Phoenix, Odysseus, Achilles, youth, attributed to Cleophrades Painter (Plate 3) d. Athenian red-figure cup, British Museum E56/LIMC 444, Achilles and Odysseus, attributed to Douris or the Oedipus Painter (Plate 4)

Grieving Achilles


e. Athenian red-figure cup, British Museum E76/LIMC 1=14 (s.v. Briseis), Achilles in shelter, Briseis being led away, eponymous vase of the Briseis Painter (Plate 5) f. Athenian red-figure volute crater Louvre G482/LIMC 521, Achilles and Thetis with armor, attributed to Geneva Painter (Plate 6) g. Athenian red-figure pelike, British Museum E363/LIMC 515, Achilles, Thetis, Nereids with armor, attributed by Beazley to Early Mannerist (Plate 7). Modern scholarship has not produced a consensus on these representations of Achilles. There are two inextricably related points at issue: 1) what does the seated, more or less covered image of Achilles in these images signify? and 2) what is the origin of this way of representing the hero? Rather than resume the whole history of the responses to these questions, I will discuss a few representative recent views on these points in order to expose the difficulties that answering them entails and to propose a new set of answers to them. In general, the representation of Achilles seated, with his face and body covered by his cloak, is an obvious problem for those who wish to conceive of these images as representations of Homeric epic, for the simple reason that at no point in our Iliad is Achilles described as striking that pose, and especially not in the scenes in which he is depicted as doing so on the vases. When the embassy comes to persuade him to return to the fight, he is singing to the lyre of Eetion, with Patroclus facing him, and he jumps up to greet the friends, the philoi, who appear in order to persuade him to return to battle. Far from sitting still and refusing to meet their eyes, as in these vase paintings, he engages intensely with them about everything that Odysseus, Phoenix, and Ajax say to him. In the earlier scene, when Briseis is led away by Agamemnon’s heralds, the Homeric Achilles’ response is to go to the seashore, to weep and invoke his mother, who appears and consoles him; he is not sitting inside his shelter nor is he covering his head. And, finally, when Thetis comes to bring Achilles his new armor in Book 19, Achilles is lying with his arms around Patroclus’ corpse, weeping, surrounded by grieving Myrmidons. So one strategy to account for the vases has been to discover an alternative literary model, not Homeric epic but Athenian tragedy, as the source for this image, and an apparently good one was found already in the 19th century. The following lines are the key to this approach:


Leonard Muellner

pq~tista l³m c±q 6ma timû #m jah?sem 1cjak}xar, )wikk]a timû C Mi|bgm, t¹ pq|sypom oqw· deijm}r, pq|swgla t/r tqac\d_ar, cq}fomtar oqd³ tout_.

First he’d sit someone down all covered up, an Achilles or a Niobe, not showing their face/mask, a cover-up of a tragedy, without them uttering even so much as ‘this.’ Aristophanes, Frogs 911 – 913

It is Euripides speaking, in the agon of the Frogs, satirizing Aeschylus’ dramatic technique. The Aristophanic scholia tell us that Euripides is alluding, in the case of Achilles, to Aeschylus’ Phrygians, also known as the Ransom of Hector, with one of the scholia recentiora suggesting that it may also refer to the Myrmidons, but since the 19th century, scholars have made the case that it is in fact the Myrmidons that Aristophanes had in mind; Myrmidons is a play mentioned elsewhere in the Frogs. That view was strongly argued by Bernhard Döhle in 1967 and Oliver Taplin in 1972 on the basis of the fragments and the vase paintings in the case of Döhle and on the basis of still more fragments of the play in the case of Taplin, who leaves the evidence of the vases to Döhle.3 Although there is evidence that Achilles, like Niobe, appeared on stage for long periods as a silent, seated figure in both plays, the Phrygians seems to have actually begun with a scene in which the grieving Achilles spoke to Hermes to give his assent to the ransom of Hector, which would contradict the pq¾tista in line 911 of the Aristophanic Euripides’s words. And there are also other details that match Myrmidons better than Phrygians, according to Taplin. If Döhle is correct in supposing that the vase paintings are modeled on the silent, seated Achilles in Aeschylus’ Myrmidons, which would then have been performed in the 490’s, this would be the earliest example of paintings influenced by the visual aspect of an Athenian drama. If that dating of the play is correct, it is interesting or perhaps amusing that in 405 Aristophanes can have Euripides refer to the staging of the Myrmidons so vividly if it had only been performed once 85 years earlier, long before his own birth – a consideration that has made Döhle and


Döhle 1967; Taplin 1972; see also Michelakis 1991, whose views on the images of Achilles are not significantly different from Döhle’s; see also Montiglio (2000, 176 – 180) for a comprehensive, sensitive analysis of veiled and silent figures in Athenian drama as a whole. Her position on the vase paintings of Achilles also agrees with Döhle’s.

Grieving Achilles


others suggest the possibility of a more recent re-performance, under what circumstances it would be difficult to say.4 This approach provides something of an answer to the question of the source of the way that these vases have of visualizing Achilles, but what of its import? Döhle cites the remarks on the veiled Achilles in the comprehensive dissertation of Gerhard Neumann on gestures in Greek art: “ein ungebrochener Ausdruck des trotzigen und unversöhnlichen Grollens, welches die von jedem äußerem Bezug sich abschließende Gestalt verzehrt”— “an unbowed expression of obstinate and intransigent resentment that consumes a figure cut off from any external contact”.5 That highly detailed description suits Achilles in the Myrmidons, where apparently he stubbornly refused in scene after scene to speak a word in response to the pleas for help from his hard-pressed comrades-in-arms, and it also reflects the apparent lack of eye contact between the seated Achilles and the figure of Odysseus in the embassy vase paintings. It does not match the portrayal of Achilles in the same posture when Thetis brings him his new armor, however, since there he is grieving for the death of his beloved companion. So the use of the image in those vases, which are dated later than the embassy vases but not by much, must be considered by Döhle as mistaken, secondary derivatives. But it is all too clear that Neumann’s interpretation of the veiled Achilles’ gesture is not based on the history of these representations within the tradition of gestures in vase paintings, but on explicit ideas about the response of Achilles to the embassy in the Iliad and about the nature of Achilles’ me¯nis, and he even speaks of the influence of tragedy in his discussion of it. He does, however, point to one (and only one) other example of a figure in a similar, albeit standing, pose: in a vase by Douris depicting the hoplo¯n krisis, Ajax has his head partly covered and is turned away from watching the vote, while Odysseus looks on, perhaps with an expression of surprise or pleasure at the pebbles accumulating on his side.6 The date of the first performance of the Myrmidons is otherwise unknown, and it has in fact only been set to the 490’s on the basis of these 4 5 6

For a comprehensive review of the evidence for 5th century reperformance of Aeschylus’ plays with a profoundly skeptical result, see Biles 2006 – 2007. Neumann 1965, 141. Neumann 1965, 98, Abb. 44: a cup from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, inv. #3695.


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vase paintings, as has been pointed out recently by Luca Guiliani.7 So the argument that the scenes of the seated, covered Achilles are based upon the performance of that play is in fact a petitio principii, and also, clearly, dependent on the principle that poetic texts are primary and that vases merely illustrate them. The former flaw is the point of departure for a recent review of the embassy paintings by Giuliani in his 2003 book, Bild und Mythos – one of a host of books published in the last ten years on the relationship between narrative myths and their visual representations. Giuliani believes that the interpretation of this image of Achilles “must be developed from the inherent possibilities of the iconographic system,” not imposed from without. In fact he hypothesizes that the way that Achilles is portrayed in Aeschylus was derived from the vase paintings rather than the reverse (a countervailing position that we may consider as misleading as its opposite). But he traces the image of Achilles seated with his head more or less covered in his cloak and his hand holding a corner of its fabric or his head to 6th century Attic black-figure vases that depict mourning women or the old man in the Leiden hydria who has pulled his cloak over his head.8 I want to explore this question for a moment before returning to Guiliani’s argument, because it is an important one that has also been explored in a recent dissertation by Ingeborg Huber.9 She has found long-term patterns of recurring and also organically evolving gestures that go back to mourning scenes on geometric vases; she believes that the gestures are originally proper to women and are regularly assumed from them by men. Included in her patterns are the representations of Achilles on these vases; I note here that Achilles’ representation resembles the others closely in the gesture of his hand to his head, in holding the edge of the garment covering his head (see especially Plate 2 in this regard, where the satiric aspects of the image have perhaps made this typically feminine gesture even more apparent), but he clearly differs 7 8


Giuliani 2003, 235 – 236. He cites a black-figure pinax of Exekias from the Berlin Antikensammlung, F1813 (as in Mommsen 1997) for veiled mourning women, and the Leiden Hydria for its depiction of a grieving old man with his head partly covered. However, Alan Shapiro has pointed out to me viva voce, that Gloria Ferrari showed (in Ferrari 1990) that the woman with her head bowed and partially covered who stands at the left end of the scene is expressing not grief, but aido¯s; the seated old man with a partially covered head facing her on the right side of the image is not expressing grief either. He is just a seated old man. Huber 2001, in her appendices.

Grieving Achilles


from other women and men who are depicted as mourning in Huber’s pattern by the cloak that covers all or part of his head. That difference may be deceiving, however. The women on the pinax of Exekias and the man with the cloak over his head precede the portrayal of Achilles, and covering the head and body with a cloak is common in Athenian white lekythoi, funerary vases that commonly depict men and women standing (not seated, as Achilles is) with their heads so covered, but these objects are dated to the second half of the 5th century, after the vases we are looking at.10 In short, the place of this relatively unique image in the history of Athenian vase painting is a complex issue that needs to be addressed. To return to Giuliani’s argument, he hypothesizes that Achilles presented a problem for vase painters, namely, to depict someone doing something negative, refusing to respond, and doing so with an anger that is not physically aggressive, that is passive. The vase painters’ solution, he claims, was to portray him as deeply mourning, actually strengthening the grieving motif by having Achilles’ head covered, and therefore projecting him as emotionally inaccessible to others. The contrastive images of Achilles and Odysseus make the point clear: while Odysseus’ stance is open and lightly clothed, Achilles is bent over, closed in upon himself in his grief and anger. So Giuliani ultimately thinks that this depiction of the embassy is in fact a faithful representation of the Homeric scene, not in detail but in its essential features and their significance. There is merit to this approach, but one obvious problem with considering the vases as depicting the essential features of the Homeric embassy is that Achilles is not emotionally disconnected from the philoi who come to see him in Iliad 9, since he does interact with them, both verbally and otherwise. That seems to fly in the face of portraying him as someone disconnected from his society by overwhelming grief and anger. However, unbeknownst to him, strong support for Giuliani’s explanation of the significance of the veiled, seated figure appears to have 10 On the history of the Athenian iconography of mourning, see Shapiro 1991, who views the iconography of the lekythoi as having “its own internal development from the mid- to late fifth century”. It would be a methodological error to assume continuity between the conventions of these vases and red-figure painting, but I note that he connects the veiled mourners on white lekythoi to the scene discussed below of Odysseus at the banquet of the Phaeacians (Shapiro 1991, 652). His focus is on genre scenes and expressly avoids vases that have mythological subjects.


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been provided in 2001 by D.L. Cairns, the author of a well-known book on aido¯s. 11 In an article entitled “Anger and the Veil in Ancient Greek Culture”, Cairns sets out to show that the gesture of veiling is a direct expression of anger in itself. 12 He offers a range of examples from Homer to the 5th century, but in every example but one, there are actually two emotions that accompany the act of veiling, the first being denoted by a word like akhos ‘grief, woe’, penthos ‘grief, suffering, mourning’, or algos ‘pain, suffering’; then and only then do the texts ascribe kholos ‘anger’ or kotos ‘grudge anger, enduring anger’ or me¯nis ‘wrath’ to the veiled person. This sequence is a known one in epic, and Cairns knows it as well. He cites an example from Il. 1.188 – 193, where Achilles feels akhos at Agamemnon’s decision to take Briseis from him, but the akhos is immediately transformed into kholos which he must decide either to exercise or restrain. ¤r v\to· [email protected] dû %wor c]metû, 1m d] oR Gtoq st^hessim kas_oisi di\mdiwa leql^qinem, C f ce v\scamom an» 1quss\lemor paq± lgqoO to»r l³m !mast^seiem, d dû )[email protected] 1maq_foi, Ge w|kom pa}seiem 1qgt}sei] te hul|m.

So he spoke. Anguish [akhos] came over the son Peleus, and his heart within his hairy chest was divided whether he should draw his sharp sword from alongside his thigh, make the rest scatter, and slay the son of Atreus, or whether he should check his fury [kholos] and restrain his heart [thumos]. Il. 1.188 – 193

Here is another example, not cited by Cairns: p¼jma l²ka stem²wym, ¦r te k·r Auc´meior, è N² h( rp¹ sj¼lmour 1kavgbºkor "qp²s, !mµq vkgr 1j pujim/r7 b d´ t( %wmutai vsteqor 1kh¾m, pokk± d´ t( %cjeû 1p/khe let( !m´qor Uwmiû 1qeum_m, eU pohem 1ne¼qoi7 l²ka c±q dqil»r wºkor aRqe?7 ¤r b baq» stem²wym letev¾mee Luqlidºmessim7

groaning really intensely, like a lion with a great mane whose cubs a deer hunter steals out from under his protection, from a dense wood; and the lion grieves when he returns later, and he ranges over many mountain dells, tracking the man’s traces, 11 Cairns 1993. 12 Cairns 2001.

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in the hope that he may find him somewhere, for really bitter anger seizes him; groaning deeply like him, he began speaking among the Myrmidons. Il. 18.318 – 323

The subject of this simile is Achilles himself, and he is grieving for Patroclus. My point for the moment is that akhos and kholos are separate emotions, not overlapping ones, as Cairns would have it. The lion’s grief at the loss of his cubs leads to his determined search for the hunter who seized them, which is motivated by his anger. But the grief does not go away, and the poet uses the comparison as a parallel between those in grief, not anger, though the anger will come later. Although they often constitute a sequence, akhos can remain as is. That is why Paris can explain to Hector what motivated his withdrawal with these words: ou toi 1c½ Tq¾ym tºssom wºk\ oqd³ mel´ssi Flgm 1m hak²l\, 5hekom d( %wez pqotqap´shai.

Not so much with anger at the Trojans or even with indignation was I sitting in the bedroom, but I wanted to give myself up to akhos. Il. 6.335 – 336

He makes clear that his akhos has not become kholos. To say that the regularity of this sequence implies an overlap in meaning between the two, as Cairns does, is to confuse the syntax of these emotions with their semantics. It is appropriate to say that akhos can bring on kholos, but not appropriate to say that akhos actually is kholos. So also with the gesture of veiling. I would suggest that it marks the grief or pain of the person, male or female, who is veiled, and that grief can modulate into anger or remain as grief. So Demeter, who is actually called )wai² in the context of her akhos over the descent into the underworld of Kore, and who takes on a black veil, also has me¯nis in the Homeric Hymn.13 The veil itself does not betoken the anger, but rather the grief at the loss of her daughter to the lord of the underworld, a grief that entails the possibility of consequent anger. We can see this same set of steps in the one example that Cairns has found in which there is no explicit grief before the anger, in the messenger speech from Euripides’ Medea 1144 – 1155:

13 Nagy 1976, 219 – 220 discovered the concurrence of Demeter’s akhos, her veil, and her epithet.


Leonard Muellner

d]spoima dû Dm mOm !mt· soO haul\folem, pq·m l³m t]jmym s_m eQside?m numyq_da, pq|hulom eWwû avhakl¹m eQr Y\soma 5peita l]mtoi pqoujak}xat’ ellata keuj^m tû !p]stqexû 5lpakim paqg_da, pa_dym lusawhe?sû eQs|dour. p|sir d³ s¹r aqc\r tû !v-qei ja· w|kom me\midor, k]cym t\dû· Oq lµ duslemµr 5s, v_koir, pa}sgi d³ huloO ja· p\kim stq]xeir j\qa, v_kour mol_fousû ovspeq #m p|sir s]hem, d]n, d³ d_qa ja· paqait^s, patq¹r vuc±r !ve?mai pais· to?sdû 1lµm w\qim ;

The mistress whom we respect now instead of you, before she looked upon your two children was training an eager eye upon Jason, but then she veiled her eyes and turned back away her white cheek in disgust when the children entered. And your husband tried to pluck out the pique and anger from the young woman with these words: You will not be hostile to those who are dear, and will you cease from anger and turn back your head, thinking dear those whom your husband thinks dear, and will you accept the gifts and request of your father to let up on exile for these children, for my sake?

I note that Glauce actually makes two gestures – she veils her eyes and then turns away her white cheek in disgust at Jason’s children. So when Jason speaks to her in order to remove her kholos, he tells her ‘you will cease from anger and turn back your head’. I conclude that the veiling, albeit inexplicitly, marks her immediate distress and grief, but the sideways movement of her cheek, her anger. There is no justification in this passage either for considering the veiling in itself to be a gesture of anger. We can see from these instances of the relationship between grief and anger that there is a traditional association between the two, but that the grief is primary and the anger is optional. We can say, then, that a representation of Achilles as grieving to an extreme degree is appropriate to all three contexts in which it appears on the vases, namely, after the taking of Briseis, in interaction with the embassy, and at the moment when Thetis brings Achilles his armor after the death of Patroclus. But we must come to terms with the fact that these images are essentially and overtly expressions of grief, and of anger by implication only. A grieving person can be inconsolably cut off from his or her peers as easily as an angry one; the example of Paris makes that completely clear.

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We have just seen Paris disengage his akhos from kholos. There are many other examples of akhos remaining as akhos, but the images of Achilles on these vases surely bring to mind at least one famous Homeric passage, not an Iliadic scene, but in the Odyssey, when Odysseus weeps in Phaeacia as he listens to Demodocus sings his songs. Here is the passage that describes the way he wept to the first song, the one that sang of a quarrel between himself and Achilles, and also the subsequent songs, removing the cloak from his head when the bard stopped singing, but putting it on again and lamenting (goos) whenever he began again: taOtû %qû !oid¹r %eide peqijkut|r· aqt±q idusse»r poqv}qeom l]ca v÷qor 2k½m weqs· stibaq0si j±j jevak/r eUqusse, j\kuxe d³ jak± pq|sypa· aUdeto c±q Va_gjar rpû avq}si d\jqua ke_bym. G toi fte k^neiem !e_dym he?or !oid|r, d\jquû aloqn\lemor jevak/r %po v÷qor 6kesje ja· d]par !lvij}pekkom 2k½m spe_sasje heo?sim· aqt±q ftû #x %qwoito ja· atq}meiam !e_deim Vai^jym oR %qistoi, 1pe· t]qpomtû 1p]essim, #x iduse»r jat± jq÷ta jakux\lemor co\asjem. 5mhû %kkour l³m p\mtar 1k\mhame d\jqua ke_bym, )kj¸moor d] lim oWor 1pevq\satû Adû 1m|gsem Flemor %cwû aqtoO, baq» d³ stem\womtor %jousem.

These things, then, the famous bard was singing; as for Odysseus, he took his great purple cloak in his mighty hands and drew it down over his head, and he covered his fair face: for he was ashamed to be shedding a tear from his eyes before the Phaeaecians. Indeed, whenever the divine bard stopped singing, wiping away the tears he took his cloak off his head and taking a two-handled cup he started pouring a libation to the gods; And whenever he would begin again and they would urge him to sing, the best of the Phaeacians, since they were delighting in his epea, covering over his head again Odysseus kept on singing a goos. Then all the others did not notice him shedding a tear, but Alcinous alone noticed and perceived it sitting near him, and he heard him groaning deeply. Od. 8.83 – 92

Finally, after the last song, which narrated the fall of Troy and Odysseus’ part in it, we get an extended simile about his response to the performance, ending with a reprise of the first description of Odysseus veiling himself:


Leonard Muellner

taOtû %qû !oid¹r %eide peqijkut|r· aqt±q idusse»r t^jeto, d\jqu dû 5deuem rp¹ bkev\qoisi paqei\r. ¢r d³ cumµ jka_,si v_kom p|sim !lvipesoOsa, fr te 2/r pq|shem p|kior ka_m te p]s,sim, %stez ja· tej]essim !l}mym mgke³r Glaq· B l³m t¹m hm-sjomta ja· !spa_qomta QdoOsa !lvû aqt` wul]mg k_ca jyj}ei· oR d] tû epishe j|ptomter do}qessi let\vqemom Ad³ ja· ¥lour eUqeqom eQsam\cousi, p|mom tû 1w]lem ja· azf}m· t/r dû 1keeimot\t\ %wez vhim}housi paqeia_· ¤r iduse»r 1keeim¹m rpû avq}si d\jquom eWbem. 5mhû %kkour l³m p\mtar 1k\mhame d\jqua ke_bym, )kj_moor d] lim oWor 1pevq\satû Adû 1m|gsem Flemor %cwû aqtoO, baq» d³ stem\womtor %jousem.

These things, then the famous singer was singing; as for Odysseus, he was melting away, and a tear was drenching the cheeks below his eyelids. As a woman laments, throwing herself upon her beloved husband who falls before his city and his people, trying to ward off the day without pity for his city and his children; She watches him dying and breathing hard, and embracing him she shrieks and shrieks; but behind her butting her back and shoulders with their spears they lead her off into slavery, to toil and misery; her cheeks are wasting away with the most pitiful akhos. So Odysseus was shedding a pitiful tear. Then all the others did not notice him shedding a tear, but Alcinous alone noticed and perceived it sitting near him, and he heard him groaning deeply. Od. 8.521 – 534

What is being illustrated here, and what Odysseus himself is expressing in his lamenting, is the same akhos as the captive woman whose city has fallen along with her husband, and I believe that concept, akhos, is the key to the representation of Achilles on the vases as well. The passage in Phaeacia is in fact a reprise of an earlier moment in the Odyssey, before Telemachus has been formally identified to his hosts in Sparta and before Helen has put nepenthe¯ in their wine. Menelaus recounts his own grief, the %wor %kastom ‘unforgettable grief’ as he calls it at 4.109, that he feels above all for Odysseus and that Laertes, Penelope, and Telemachus, whom he left behind as a new-born in his home, must share, at which point the narrator continues: ¤r v\to, t` dû %qa patq¹r rvû Vleqom §qse c|oio· d\jqu dû !p¹ bkev\qym wal\dir b\ke patq¹r !jo}sar,

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wka?mam poqvuq]gm %mtû avhaklo?im !masw½m !lvot]q,sim weqs_. m|gse d] lim Lem]kaor…

So he spoke, and he (Menelaus) stirred up in him (Telemachus) a longing for goos of his father; a tear fell to the ground from his eyes when he heard of his father, as he held up his purple cloak before his eyes with both of his hands. But Menelaus noticed him… Od. 4.113 – 116

So we have here almost the same scenario, in which someone speaks of the involvement of a third person who is actually present and cannot keep from weeping – the term is in both cases goos— at words or stories that touch him deeply. This is the veiling of a heroic male that expresses the vain attempt to conceal profound, uncontrollable grief. In fact, as Casey Dué reminds me, this scene is itself a reprise of an even earlier scene at the end of Odyssey 1 in which Penelope appears, veiled and weeping, to speak of her p´mhor %kastom – compare the %wor %kastom of Menelaus in Od. 4.109 – at the song of the bard Phemius about the nostoi of the heroes who went to Troy. She is deeply involved in that subject, but Telemachus, who is as yet disconnected from his father, is dismissive of her grief. So I would suggest that it was not Aeschylus or the vase painters who “invented” the visualization of Achilles as wrapped in his cloak and grieving, but that this is a traditional gesture. In addition, I am in no way the first person to assert a primary association of the word akhos, now to include this visualization of it, with the figure of Achilles. In 1963, in his Interpretation of Mycenaean Greek Texts, Leonard Palmer suggested that this word was in fact the first constituent of the hero’s name, the second being the word kaºr.14 The name *)wi-kaFor would be parallel to a hypothetical *Pemhi-kaFor, a name attested in the shortened form P´mhikor, and for the relation between *PemhikaFor and P´mhikor, Palmer compared the attested names Waq¸kaor and W²qikkor, the latter showing the expressive doubling that is common in shortened names. Nagy later provided another: Shem´kaor (16.586) vs. Sh´mekor (5.111, etc.).15 Both *)wi-kaFor and *PemhikaFor exhibit the Caland’s Law change in compounds of s-stems to an iota suffix that we can see in other names like Judi²meiqa from jOdor, OQdipºdgr from oWdor, etc. Finally, Palmer pointed to shortened 14 Palmer 1963, 79. 15 Nagy 1976, 209 n. 4.


Leonard Muellner

names in Mycenaean and later Greek with an –eur suffix to account for that feature of Achilles’ name. In a festschrift article for Palmer published in 1976, Gregory Nagy tested this etymology in terms of the diction and themes associated with Achilles in epic. Nagy’s work marshaled evidence to show, in his words, “a pervasive nexus between the words [akhos and )wik(k)e¼r] in the Iliad … a nexus … integrated into the inherited formulaic system and hence deeply rooted in the epic tradition” (p. 216). I refer the reader to his extensive and effective arguments, but produce here excerpts from a passage that he cites which essentially sums up the story of Achilles in terms of the word akhos. Thetis, Achilles’ grieving mother, is explaining to Hephaestus why she has come to see him, and what has happened to Achilles: evqa d] loi f~ei ja· bqø v\or Aek_oio %wmutai, oqd] t_ oR d}malai wqaisl/sai QoOsa. jo}qgm Dm %qa oR c]qar 5nekom uXer )wai_m, tµm #x 1j weiq_m 6keto jqe_ym )cal]lmym. Etoi d t/r !w]ym vq]mar 5vhiem· aqt±q )waio»r Tq_er 1p· pq}lm,sim 1e_keom, oqd³ h}qafe eUym 1ni]mai· t¹m d³ k_ssomto c]qomter )qce_ym, ja· pokk± peqijkut± d_qû am|lafom. 5mhû aqt¹r l³m 5peitû Ama_meto koic¹m !lOmai, aqt±q d P\tqojkom peq· l³m t± $ te}wea 6sse, p]lpe d] lim p|kelom d] , pok»m dû ûla ka¹m epasse. p÷m dû Glaq l\qmamto peq· Sjai0si p}k,si· ja_ m} jem aqt/laq p|kim 5pqahom, eQ lµ )p|kkym pokk± jaj± N]namta Lemoit_ou %kjilom uR¹m 5jtamû 1m· pqol\woisi ja· >jtoqi jOdor 5dyje. toumeja mOm t± s± co}mahû Rj\molai, aU jû 1h]k,sha uRe? 1l` ¡jul|q\ d|lem !sp_da ja· tquv\keiam ja· jak±r jmgl?dar 1pisvuq_oir !qaqu_ar ja· h~qgwû· d c±q Gm oR !p~kese pist¹r 2ta?qor Tqys· dale_r· d d³ je?tai 1p· whom· hul¹m !we}ym.

As long as my boy lives and sees the light of the sun he grieves (%wmutai), nor am I able in any way to come and be a defense for him. The young woman whom the sons of the Achaeans actually chose for him as his prize of honor, her great Agamemnon took back for himself from his hands. In fact, he [Achilles] was withering his mind grieving (!w´ym) for her; yet the Achaeans, the Trojans cornered them around the sterns of their ships, and no way out were they allowing them; but they beseeched him [Achilles], did the old men among the Argives, and they counted out many very famous gifts for him.

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Then at that point he himself refused to ward off destruction, but he put his own armor on Patroclus, and he sent him into battle and gave him a great host to go with him. All day long they fought around the Scaean Gates. And on that very day they would even have sacked the city, except Apollo doing many bad things to the stalwart son of Menoetius killed him in the front ranks and gave the kudos to Hector. That’s why I come now to your knees [Hephaestus’ knees], if you are willing to give to my swift-destined son a shield and a helmet and lovely greaves for his knees fitted with anklets and a breastplate; for the one that he had, his trusted companion lost it, overwhelmed he was by the Trojans; and he [Achilles] lies on the ground, grieving [!w´ym] in his heart. Il. 2.684 – 694

I note that Thetis can resume Achilles’ story without even a single mention of anger on his part, as against three mentions of him grieving, all with forms derived from the root noun akhos. What I am suggesting is that there was a multiform of the Iliad that highlighted, not the me¯nis and kholos of Achilles, as ours does, but rather his akhos, though not to the exclusion of his anger. That tradition has survived for us in the name of Achilles, in passages like Thetis’ speech, where her own akhos on behalf of her son has focused her narrative on his akhos, and also in the vase paintings that portray him as a man of constant sorrow at the key points of his story. Nagy shows that the word akhos consistently implies one’s own suffering or personal involvement in someone else’s suffering,16 as we saw it did for Odysseus in Phaeacia and Telemachus in Sparta, and that aspect of its meaning, he argues, may also account for the name )waio¸, a word that designates the kaºr which is personally involved in Achilles’ suffering, and whose formation from a word like akhos has parallels in pairs jq²tor/jqataiºr and %khor/)kha¸g. To conclude my discussion of this putative multiform of the portrayal of the hero of the Iliad, I believe that there is a place in our text of the poem that attests to a fork in the tradition between the grieving Achilles and the one whose grief modulates into supervening anger. The two parallel passages in question both occur in the Catalogue of Ships, the first in the catalog entry that lists the ships from Pelasgic Argos: Luqlid|mer d³ jakeOmto ja· >kkgmer ja· )waio_, t_m aw pemt^jomta me_m Gm !qw¹r )wikke}r. !kkû oV cû oq pok]loio dusgw]or 1lm~omto·

16 Nagy 1976 passim.


Leonard Muellner

oq c±q 5gm fr t_r svim 1p· st_war Bc^saito· je?to c±q 1m m^essi pod\qjgr d?or )wikke»r jo}qgr wy|lemor [email protected] A{j|loio, tµm 1j KuqmgssoO 1ne_keto pokk± loc^sar Kuqmgss¹m diapoqh^sar ja· te_wea H^bgr, j±d d³ L}mgtû 5bakem ja· 9p_stqovom 1cwesil~qour, uR]ar Eqgmo?o Sekgpi\dao %majtor· t/r f ce je?tû !w]ym, t\wa dû !mst^seshai 5lekkem.

They were called Myrmidons and Hellenes and Achaeans, of whose fifty ships Achilles was captain. But they were not mindful of ill-sounding war, since there was no one who would lead them into the ranks, because swift-footed radiant Achilles lay idle among the ships angry because of the girl, fair-haired Briseis, whom he took from Lyrnessos, after much toil, sacking Lyrnessos and the walls of Thebe, and he overthrew Mynes and Epistrophus, mad spearmen both, the sons of King Euenus the son of Selepus; he lay there grieving for her, but soon he was about to rise up. Il. 18.442 – 461

I note that this passage, which cannot keep from speaking of Achilles’ absence at the moment when the whole army is being called up, dwells at length on Briseis as the cause of Achilles anger, and ends up stressing his grief. A little later, at line 762, the end of the Catalogue of the Achaeans’ ships, the narrator asks the Muse who was the best of the men and of the horses who accompanied the sons of Atreus. The answers are provided chiastically: the best horses were Eumelus’ mares, and the best warrior was Ajax; but then the narrative does an about-face: evqû )wike»r l^miem· d c±q pok» v]qtator Gem, Vppoi hû oT voq]esjom !l}loma [email protected]. !kkû d l³m 1m m^essi joqym_si pomtop|qoisi je?tû !polgm_sar )cal]lmomi poil]mi ka_m )[email protected],· kao· d³ paq± Ngcl?mi hak\ssgr d_sjoisim t]qpomto ja· aQcam],sim R]mter t|nois_m hû· Vppoi d³ paqû ûqlasim oXsim 6jastor kyt¹m 1qept|lemoi 1ke|hqept|m te s]kimom 6stasam· ûqlata dû ew pepujasl]ma je?to !m\jtym 1m jkis_,r· oT dû !qw¹m !qg@vikom poh]omter vo_tym 5mha ja· 5mha jat± stqat¹m oqd³ l\womto.

[the best warrior was Ajax/] while Achilles had me¯nis; since he was by far the best, and so were the horses that were carrying the blameless son of Peleus. But he at least beside the curved sea-traversing ships


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lay there, enraged at Agamemon, shepherd of the hosts, the son of Atreus; and his warriors at the sea’s edge were enjoying throwing the discus and spears and bows and arrows, and their horses, each beside his own chariot, munching lotus and marsh-grown celery stood there; the well-joined chariots of the lords lay in their shelters, while they, longing for their leader, dear to Ares, walked here and there amid the army, and they were not fighting. Il. 2.769 – 779

By contrast with the earlier passage, this one does not mention Briseis or the hero’s grief. Instead, it speaks twice of his me¯nis, ascribing it to Agamemnon, and dwelling on the consequences for his idle men and idle horses in the larger camp. So these passages are complementary, but also they reflect precisely the contrast in the presentations of Achilles that I have been speaking of. Small wonder, then, that according to the A scholia, Zenodotus athetized the first passage, not the second. In short, the two passages seem to support the idea with which I began, that the vase paintings of the grieving Achilles derive from a traditional multiform of the representation of the hero. Its import was to portray the akhos of Achilles caused by the seizing of Briseis and then again by the death of Patroclus with the gesture of veiling the head, a gesture that we do not see at all in our Iliad but that does occur in the Odyssey for Penelope, Telemachus, and Odysseus himself in a set of interlocking scenes. The gesture in itself can but does not necessarily imply the kholos and the me¯nis that become central to the Homeric Achilles. Our awareness of this multiform can help us to better understand the choices that were made on various levels to constitute the Homeric text as we have it. But there is no way and no need to prove that the multiform that we see so well-represented on the vase paintings originated with epic or drama or the vase painters themselves. It is consistent with all three genres, to varying degrees and in different ways, and it makes most sense to assume that it existed as part of the song culture independent of any specific medium for its instantiation. Each conventional system chose its multiform and implemented it in the terms proper to itself.17

17 My gratitude to the following people for corrections and encouragement: Casey Dué, Douglas Frame, Claudia Filos, Silvia Montiglio, Gregory Nagy, H. Alan Shapiro, and Dimitrios Yatromanolakis.

Plate 1: Embassy to Achilles — Odysseus (here labeled Olunteus), Achilles, Ajax veiled, Phoenix, Diomedes. Line drawing of Athenian red-figure aryballos, Berlin Antikensammlung F2326.

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Plate 2: Embassy to Achilles – Odysseus on right, in petasos, Achilles veiled. Line drawing of Boeotian black-figure miniature pelike, Berlin Antikensammlung F2121. Line drawing Marcel (1898).

Plate 3: Embassy to Achilles – Phoenix, Odysseus, Achilles veiled, and unnamed youth. Athenian red-figure hydria, Staatliche Antikensammlung, München 8770. Photo Bibi Saint-Pol, Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

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Plate 4: Embassy to Achilles – Achilles veiled and Odysseus. Athenian red-figure cup, British Museum E56. Photo © Trustees of the British Museum

Plate 5: Briseis being led away, Achilles veiled in shelter. Athenian red-figure cup, British Museum E76. Photo © Trustees of the British Museum

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Plate 6: Achilles veiled and Thetis, with new armor. Athenian red-figure volute crate, Louvre G482. Photo Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons (public domain)


Leonard Muellner

Plate 7: Achilles veiled, Thetis, Nereids, with new armor. Athenian red-figure pelike, British Museum E363. Photo © Trustees of the British Museum

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad Adrian Kelly The papers in this volume, and the conference at which they were first delivered, represent a necessary attempt to exploit (further) the common ground between the two major schools of Homeric scholarship at the end of the first decade in the 21st century – Oral Poetry theory1 and Neoanalysis. Of course, most scholars today do not belong exclusively to either camp, and such attempts are not new; the possibility of rapprochement was heralded long ago, notably, by the late Malcolm Willcock:2 [T]here is nothing inherently inconsistent between neoanalysis and oral poetry theory; indeed the two attitudes could be quite easily assimilated.

This conference itself is testament to these sentiments, but before we leap straight into the swift and pleasingly warm currents of conciliation, let us remember that disagreement and criticism between the two positions still have a role to play. Indeed, even the strongest of differences can contribute to the ongoing program of synthesis, partially because essential similarities can make themselves felt. As Bill Allan’s recent analysis of the famous – and famously contentious – expression Di¹r d’ 1teke_eto bouk^ (Il. 1.5 inter al.) has reminded us, Neoanalysts confine the expression’s semantic potential to an allusion to a specific story from a particular ‘text’ (in this case the depopulation of the earth heralded at 1 2

Actually a misnomer, the term is now standard; cf. Janko (1998). I prefer ‘Oralism’. Willcock 1997, 175; cf. also 189: “there can be a close similarity of approach between neoanalysis and oral poetry theory; the two schools can fruitfully cross-pollinate. In alliance with oral theory, neoanalytical preconceptions, by drawing attention to some sources of Homer’s creativity, may be described as restoring the poet to the poetry”. Though Kullmann 1984 is often described in the same terms, it hardly qualifies (Kelly 2006, 2 n. 4); cf. most recently Burgess 2006. A notable precursor to Willcock is Edwards 1990, and the balanced approach to the question he brings to his volume of the Cambridge Iliad commentary 1991.


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the start of the Cypria),3 whilst a new generation of Oralist scholars, describing the ‘resonant’ or ‘referential’ dynamic of the Homeric poems with the tradition as a whole,4 necessarily broaden this type of potential to encompass all the stories on every level to which this kind of expression could occur (the permanent facts of Zeus’ reign, his plan to lighten the earth, the destruction of Troy, and the plot of the Iliad itself). Though there are fundamental differences in both their methods and assumptions, both schools concentrate on the semantic potential of factors external to the text itself. Disagreement between them, however, has yet another vital purpose, for there remain a significant number of cases where – at least to someone working from an Oralist perspective – the rightness of the Neoanalysts’ conclusions should not simply be assumed. If, for example, scholars like Jonathan Burgess are generally justified to take on these conclusions and then reform them along the lines adumbrated for Di¹r d’ 1teke_eto bouk^ above, then we have to be certain that each conclusion warrants that treatment.5 In this spirit, the current article will examine the mourning of Thetis and the Nereids at the start of Iliad Book 18, an episode usually regarded as one of the oldest and most central planks of Neoanalysis. Against the current consensus, and perhaps the mood of many of the contributions in this volume, I will attempt to demonstrate that this episode does not support the Neoanalytical belief that Homer is appropriating material from an Achilleis, Aethiopis or Memnonis in this portion of the Iliad. The scene is neither as unique, poorly motivated or unusual as it has seemed or been deemed by Neoanalysts, nor is its material better situated in another story or text. I will further attempt to show that its primary function is not to allude to the death of Achilles beyond the end of the Iliad, and will also suggest a solution to the famous crux surrounding Thetis’ prediction of her son’s death ‘immediately after’ Hector’s (18.95 – 96). Once we appreciate the fact that Thetis’ mourning is a 3 4 5

Kullmann 1955; id. 1960, 228 – 229; contra Allan 2008. Foley 1999; Graziosi and Haubold 2006; Kelly 2007, 1 – 14, esp. 5 n. 20. As he said in an earlier work (Burgess 2001, 16), “if we can embrace neo-analysis as a ‘working hypothesis’ . . we still need to scrutinize its proposals one by one, rejecting and accepting them as seems appropriate.” Burgess’ recent work seems to have taken on Neoanalytical thinking more closely (cf., e.g., 2006 for his attempt at a working synthesis of Oralism and Neoanalysis), so that in this article he will be cited most often for supporting the Neoanalytical case on our target episode.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


meaningful and contextually motivated example of a sequence typical to Homeric compositional technique, we shall find that there is considerably less reason to invoke any other text / poem / story6 in order to interpret Homer’s narrative.7

I. Mourning Thetis and the Neoanalysts Let us start by reminding ourselves of the crucial portion of text. At the start of Iliad 18, Antilochus finds Achilles watching and wondering about the course of the fighting as it once more nears the ships. After a monologue in which Achilles ponders the fate of Patroclus and remembers his mother’s prophecy that the ‘best of the Myrmidons’ would perish whilst he himself was still alive (18.5 – 15), the news is broken to him and he reacts like a mourner, throwing himself on the ground (16 – 27), and being joined by the chorus of slave women (28 – 31) before being restrained by a fearful Antilochus (32 – 34). Hearing his cries, his mother Thetis under the sea expresses her grief for her child to her sister Nereids (35 – 37 / 51 – 64), after they gather to hear her (37 – 50). Upon finishing this lamentation, the group then comes to the Greek camp (51 – 69) and Thetis and Achilles converse about his decision to return to the fighting, whereupon Thetis dismisses the Nereids (138 – 145) and journeys on to Olympos to speak with Hephaestus about getting hold of a new suit of armour (146 – 148). Though scholars were drawn to this scene well before the first Neoanalysts,8 its centrality to the method was established by the work of Pestalozzi and Kakridis, and it has been picked up and expatiated upon by every author belonging to this school.9 With variations de6 7 8 9

I use this clumsy periphrasis to include all the varieties of belief and terminology one can find in the writings of the Neoanalysts; cf. the discussion below, pp. 217 – 218. In that sense, this is a companion piece to Kelly 2006, with reply in Heitsch 2008. Dihle 1970, 20 calls it “eine alte Beobachtung”; cf., e.g., Mülder 1910, 193, 197; also Kakridis 1949, 73 – 75. Pestalozzi 1945, 26 – 27, 32; Kakridis 1949, 65 – 75; Kullmann 1960, 36 – 37, 331 – 332; Schoeck 1961, 43 – 44; Schadewaldt 1951/1965, 166; Kullmann 1981, 23; Kullmann 1984, 310; Danek 1998, 470 – 471; Edwards 1990, 311 – 312; Kullmann 1991, 440 – 441; Dowden 1996, 56; Kullmann 2005, 10; Burgess 2006, 161; Currie 2006, 25. The conclusion that this scene is de-


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pending on each scholar’s individual predicates and aims, that case has drawn on two types of evidence, internal and external. The former, as its name suggests, concerns those several elements in this part of the narrative which have been judged not to fit the circumstances of the Iliad, and it is with those that we shall begin. These elements are centred around the general theme of lamentation and its extraordinary prominence in this scene. The Neoanalysts have argued that, whilst the mourning for Patroclus by Achilles and the female slaves (18.16 – 31) has at least some point in the form of a dead hero, Thetis’ grief is unusual and troubling, particularly when she has not yet heard what it is that is bothering her son. Moreover, though she is speaking firstly of and then to her son, who is not dead, her speeches and actions (indeed the whole scene) exhibit several features usually associated with actual lamentations for the dead: ‘keening’ (j~jusem 23.37) opens her initial speech to the Nereids;10 the assembled Nereids beat their chests (23.50 – 51)11 and she then ‘leads off the lamentation’ (1n/qwe c|oio 51) as typically happens in contexts of formal lament.12 Then they depart for the Greek camp weeping (dajqu|essai 66), and Thetis keens once more (jyj}sasa 71) as she holds her son’s head, and speaks to him ‘in mourning’ (akovuqol]mg 72).13 Given that Achilles is not dead, and that Patroclus hardly warrants such a prominent group of mourners, all this lamentation seems a little undermotivated. Furthermore, the chorus of Nereids itself appears a trifle otiose, both in their gathering around Thetis under the sea and in their somewhat purposeless presence in the Greek camp. Together, these features seem to suggest that the scene as a whole sits ill with the narrative of the Iliad.

10 11 12 13

rived from an earlier text / poem / story is now widely, in fact almost universally, held; cf., e.g., Burgess 2009, 83 – 84, esp. 83: “Neoanalysts often point to discrepancies as evidence for the reuse of traditional material, and this method works especially well in this scene” (my italics); Tsagalis 2004a, 10 = 2008, 239 – 240: “Thetis’ lament for Achilles is an exceptional j event, especially (but not solely) because of its unsuitability to the Iliadic plot” (my italics); cf. also Tsagalis 2004, 136 – 139; contra those scholars below, n. 23. Cf. Arnould 1990, 150 – 153. Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 59 – 60. Cf. also 18.316 (Achilles for Patroclus), 22.430 (Hecuba for Hector), 23.17 (Achilles for Patroclus), 24.723 (Andromache for Hector), 24.747 (Hecuba for Hector), 24.761 (Helen for Hector); Tsagalis 2004, 55 – 64. Cf. Arnould 1990, 148 – 150.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


It was a natural next step to find a scene in early Greek epic where these elements do fit, and in this case it comes in the form of Achilles’ actual death as narrated in the post-Homeric14 Aethiopis. To reconstruct this episode, Neoanalysts compare its narration at the end of the Odyssey (24.43 – 66), where the Nereids accompany Thetis ‘from the sea’ (55) as she journeys to Troy to mourn her son: aqt±q 1pe_ s’ 1p· m/ar 1me_jalem 1j pok]loio, j\thelem 1m kew]essi, jah^qamter wq|a jak¹m vdat_ te kiaq` ja· !ke_vati· pokk± d] s’ !lv· d\jqua heql± w]om Damao· je_qomt| te wa_tar. l^tgq d’ 1n "k¹r Gkhe s»m !ham\t,s’ "k_,sim !ccek_gr [email protected]· boµ d’ 1p· p|mtom aq~qei hespes_g, rp¹ d³ tq|lor Ekuhe p\mtar )waio}r. ja_ m} j’ [email protected] 5bam jo_kar 1p· m/ar, eQ lµ !mµq jat]quje pakai\ te pokk\ te eQd~r, M]styq, ox ja· pq|shem !q_stg va_meto bouk^· f svim 1K vqom]ym !coq^sato ja· let]eipem· Uswesh’, )qce?oi, lµ ve}cete, joOqoi )wai_m. l^tgq 1n "k¹r Fde s»m !ham\t,s’ "k_,sim 5qwetai, ox paid¹r tehmg|tor !mti|ysa. ¤r 5vah’, oR d’ 5swomto v|bou lec\huloi )waio_. !lv· d] s’ 5stgsam joOqai "k_oio c]qomtor oUjtq’ akovuq|lemai, peq· d’ %lbqota eVlata 6ssam. LoOsai d’ 1mm]a p÷sai !leib|lemai ap· jak0 hq^meom· 5mha jem ou tim’ !d\jqut|m c’ 1m|gsar )qce_ym· to?om c±q rp~qoqe LoOsa k_ceia. 2pt± d³ ja· d]ja l]m se bl_r m}jtar te ja· Glaq jka_olem !h\mato_ te heo· hmgto_ t’ %mhqypoi· ajtyjaidej\t, d’ 5dolem puq_· pokk± d’ 1p’ aqt` l/ka jatejt\molem l\ka p_oma ja· 6kijar boOr.






But when we carried you to the ships from the battle, we placed you on the bier, cleaning your fair skin with warm water and oil; and many warm tears about you did the Danaans pour forth and they cut their hair. And your mother from the sea came with her immortal sea-dwellers hearing the news; and a shout over the sea arose divine, and trembling came upon all the Achaeans. And now leaping up they would have gone for the hollow ships, if a man did not restrain them, knowing ancient and many things,

14 I make no judgement here about the absolute dating, priority or otherwise (visà-vis the Iliad) of any poem narrating these events, simply that the Aethiopis we know of is only attested in the post-Homeric period.


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Nestor, whose counsel even before seemed best; he with kindly intention addressed and spoke among them; ‘hold, Argives, do not flee, youths of the Achaeans. His mother from the sea here with her immortal sea-dwellers comes, to meet her dead child. So he spoke, and the great-souled Achaeans checked their fear. And around you they stood, the daughters of the old man of the sea, grieving pitiably, and they set around you ambrosial clothes. And the Muses, nine in all, replying with fair voice sang the thre¯nos; then you would have seen no man of the Argives without tears; for such was the stirring of the clear voiced Muse. And seventeen nights and days did we weep, immortal gods and mortal men; and on the eighteenth we gave you to the fire; and on it we killed many finely fatted sheep and horned cattle.’

This concords very well15 with the summary of the Aethiopis contained in Proclus’ Chrestomatheia (= Aethiopis arg. 20 – 24 Bernabé): 5peita )mt_kow|m te h\ptousi ja· t¹m mejq¹m toO )wikk]yr pqot_hemtai ja· H]tir !vijol]mg s»m Lo}sair ja· ta?r !dekva?r hqgme? t¹m pa?da· ja· let± taOta 1j t/r puq÷r B H]tir !maqp\sasa t¹m pa?da eQr tµm Keujµm m/som diajol_fei. oR d³ )waio· t¹m t\vom w~samter !c_ma tih]asi, ja· peq· t_m )wikk]yr fpkym idusse? ja· AUamti st\sir 1lp_ptei.

Then they bury Antilochus and they set out the corpse of Achilles and Thetis arriving with the Muses and her sisters mourns her child; and after this Thetis snatching up her child from the pyre conveys him to the White Island. And the Achaeans heaping up a burial mound hold games, and around Achilles’ arms conflict falls upon Odysseus and Ajax.

When taken together, and particularly considering the antiquity of the Odyssey, this external evidence provides a neat explanation for the difficulties (vel sim.) one has found in the Iliad scene: Homer has there recast an episode from another text / poem / story in which the death of Achilles was narrated. On that supposition, the presence of the Nereids both under the sea and in the Greek camp is explained, as is the mourning of Thetis for her son, even before she speaks with him to find out 15 Dihle 1970, 21 argues that the discrepancy between these stories over the question of Achilles’ translation to the White Island disproves a simple textual stemma between the Aethiopis and Homer. He further (22) notes the absence of the Muses from our target scene as an indication that the relationship between the texts is not quite so straightforward, and believes (somewhat like Fenik 1964, 31 – 33) that the commonality of ‘Totenklagen’ in early Greek epic, which accounts for the type of similarities found between the scenes, removes the need or even warrant for us to think in terms of one model for the Iliad scene.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


the source of his current angst. These elements are now accounted for because Homer was drawing on another scene in another text / poem / story. So runs a general summary of the assorted Neoanalytical treatments of this scene, though both the process, vocabulary and predicates of these authors show some variety,16 not only from scholar to scholar in the same generation (compare, for instance, the rigid Quellenforschungen of Pestalozzi and Schoeck with Kakridis’ more sensitive criticism), but also when they are considered diachronically. A newer group of Neoanalysts, for instance, generally argues in terms not of ‘errors’ or ‘alterations’ of an older text / poem but as ‘interactions’ with or ‘allusions’ to that text / poem / story (Edwards, Currie, Burgess). This change in perspective has come about, partly, through confronting the obscurities in our knowledge about textual culture in the early Archaic period, and engaging more openly with the results of Oralist research into the tradition from which the poems have sprung. It can also be correlated with another shift in the Neoanalytical perspective: whilst these scholars once believed in variously named (and usually written) texts on or from which Homer was drawing in much the same way as a fully literate poet would, more recent authors show greater flexibility on this point, with e.g. Currie speaking (in a somewhat indistinct manner) of ‘versions’, ‘songs’ and ‘poems’,17 and Burgess of ‘story traditions’, whilst Willcock argued that Homer refers to his own previous performances, and not to an external entity such as another bard’s text / poem / story, as the source of the signification.18 Yet, despite this progress, the older elements in the Neoanalytical heritage continue to make themselves felt, and not simply in the way that their target episodes in the Homeric texts are identified and deployed. Whilst some methodological predicates may have been altered for some recent authors following this line of research,19 the aim is still to establish the priority of the non-Homeric material, and it is 16 For a reliable introduction and narrative, cf. Willcock 1997 and now Burgess 2006. 17 Currie 2006; Allan 2008, 212 n. 37 correctly identifies the “marked slippage in his discussion between reference to other stories and actual quotation” and pertinently reminds us that “[t]he bard can refer to a story without referring to a text”. 18 Willcock 1997, 188: “[t]here is no need to hypothesize an external source”. 19 Not, however, Dowden 1996, 58 n. 40: “In my opinion, the most thoroughgoing and dependable of these texts is Kullmann’s (viz. 1960)”.


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sometimes very difficult to distinguish between the generations in their application of what seem to be very similar analytical criteria.20 Indeed, as already noted, the most recent treatment of the Thetis scene judges that “traditional Neoanalytical method seems to work very well here”,21 and its discussion of the episode reads precisely like a classic exemplification of the school’s unreconstructed methods. In fact, there exists at the moment no ‘reformed’ Neoanalytical treatment of the Thetis scene,22 and the older method seems to have driven the opposition from the field.23 This article aims to challenge that.

20 Cf., e.g., Currie 2006, 5, for whom allusion is possible through “untraditional, unique, forms of expression” and “the distinctive use by another poem of a traditional formula or motif or theme” (my italics). Herein lie the school’s fundamental (and problematic) continuities, for the targeted element is still to be isolated from normal Homeric usage in order to reveal its ‘interaction’ with another text / poem (rather than the poet’s error, as vetero-Neoanalysts had it). But this seems in practice not much more than a cosmetic change, as in the continued use of narrative inconsistency (one of Currie’s (7) “indices of interaction”) without any redefinition of the concept of (in)consistency itself. The best answer to such arguments remains the one which has been invoked against Neoanalysis since its inception: the inconsistency, properly understood and contextualised in the poet’s traditional technique, is not an inconsistency at all. None of this means that allusion (vel sim.) is not possible, of course; it just means that the methods used to identify it remain vulnerable to the old criticisms. 21 Burgess 2009, 83; cf. also above, n. 9. 22 We await Currie (forthcoming). Edwards 1991 ad loc. might be considered such a treatment, though he too is concerned to think of the signals in the episode that Homer is using the externality of Achilles’ actual funeral to inform his narrative. I hope to show that, if the poet is doing this, it is at best a secondary purpose. 23 For previous responses to the Neoanalytical case on this scene, cf. Hölscher 1955, 394 (within a larger critique of the method), who notes the parallel with Andromache’s lament for Hector in Iliad 6 (see below, § II (a), pp. 231 – 232 n. 29); Fenik (1964, 31 – 33) suggests that the Thetis scene is an “adaptation of a type scene, that is further represented both by her lament over her dead son in the Aithiopis and perhaps by that of Eos over Memnon as well” (32), and thus differentiates between the story of the funeral and the typical representations of the action; Foley (1991, 157 – 159) analyses this scene as a ‘Suspicion of Death’ traditional sequence, but compares only Andromache’s lament for Hector in Book 22; also Dihle 1970, 20 – 22 (cf. above, n. 15).

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


II. Prospective Lamentation in Homer Let us therefore turn our attention to the posited traces of pre-Homeric material in the Iliad, the triggers, as it were, for Neoanalytical method. In order to identify that material, these scholars have scrutinised the text to find what is more or less appropriate, more or less meaningful etc., in the relationship between Homer’s poem and his putative ‘source’ (text / poem / story).24 But none of them seem to have noticed that the type of action on which Thetis is engaged is a typical sequence in Homeric epic, being one of the most impressive and elaborate examples of what I term ‘prospective lamentation’ (hereinafter PL): (too) simply put, this is the prior generation of elements, actions and expressions associated with circumstances of formal lamentation – i.e. before that lamentation is actually required.25 In these circumstances, an individual and a group are combined in lamenting the imminent or even apparently accomplished death of a threatened figure, and there are eight examples in both Homeric poems: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Mourner Agamemnon Andromache Thetis Hecuba

Mourned Menelaus Hector Achilles Priam

Il. 4.148–182 Il. 6.319–502 Il. 18.35–145 Il. 24.191–328

24 I leave aside here a consideration of the difficulties surrounding the reconstruction of these sources, principally because there is an early narrative in the Odyssey to draw upon in the present case, unlike some others; cf. Kelly 2006, 13 – 24 for an example. 25 This is not an entirely new realisation; e.g., Stoevesandt (2008, 155) notes that “die vorzeitige Totenklage ist bei Homer ein wiederkehrendes Motiv”, though she separates Andromache’s lament for Hector and Thetis’ for Achilles from “Situationen, in denen der Rezipient weiß, daß die beklagte Person nicht umkommen wird / umgekommen ist” (her italics). The fundamental study, Arnould (1990, 187 – 189) distinguishes between ‘les déplorations funèbres’ and ‘anticipées’, noting that the latter are more numerous, generally shorter and more structurally varied than the former, though she too (188) suggests (as I shall not) that “la mort de Patrocle est le substitut de la mort du Achille”. The most recent and full exposition of lamentation conventions in the Iliad is Tsagalis (2004), but he does not analyse them as I have, does not discuss Hecuba’s scene in Iliad 24 or Penelope’s three scenes in the Odyssey (except the first, and then only in passing). Tsagalis (2004a) = (2008) focuses on the Thetis scene, though his examination takes “its unsuitability to the Iliadic plot” (Tsagalis (2004a) 10 = (2008) 239 – 240) as axiomatic.

230 [5] [6] [7] [8]

Adrian Kelly

Penelope Penelope Penelope Penelope

Odysseus26 Telemachus Odysseus Odysseus

Od. 1.328–364 Od. 4.679–758 Od. 19.53–604 Od. 21.55–358

The typology informing these scenes comprises a two stage process where the individual mourner is a woman (i.e., all but the first example):27 a PL for an endangered figure in a (more) public place is followed by another (private) PL concerning that same figure, and the connection is made by having the lamenting character(s) in the first scene journey to the location of the second (for details, see below). Of the above eight examples, only [1] does not respond to this pattern, for reasons obviously linked with its particular narrative circumstances.28 This sequence is not typical in the sense of the arming scenes, in which a large amount of vocabulary and phraseology is repeated from one example to the next. It is more akin to the assembly scene, in which a cluster of details may or may not be repeated, but the progress of the framework is demonstrably consistent. Hence we should not expect uniformity between the examples of the sequence; rather we shall find a flexible scaffolding which the poet can adapt precisely to the requirements of his narrative. Reflecting that quality, the following examination proceeds by stages; we begin (a) with the two examples which are closest in form to the Thetis scene [2] and [6], then (b) a scene in which both the gender and location of the sequence has been shifted [1]. Returning to patterns dominated by women (c), we turn our attention to three examples [5], [7] and [8] which are bound together not simply by repeated phraseology, but more importantly by the fact of being performed by the 26 This example is to be grouped very closely with [7] and [8] (cf. below, § II (c), pp. 226 – 231), and not simply because there are considerable phraseological links between them, for instance in their concluding lines (Od. 1.362 – 364 [5] = 19.602 – 604 [7] and 21.356 – 358 [8]). One might baulk at considering them examples of ‘prospective’ lamentation, when the object of the lament is generally considered dead, but there is considerable (if pessimistic) uncertainty in these individual scenes about Odysseus’ fate (Od. 1.340 – 344, 354 – 355, 362 – 363; 19.124 – 136, 141, 208 – 209, 257 – 260; 21.69 – 70) and Penelope in [6] also focuses on the same absent, but feared dead, figure (Od. 4.724 – 726). 27 On the unique properties of [4], where the narrative begins with a male mourner (Priam), moves to a female mourner (Hecabe), and then back to the first figure, cf. below, § II (d), pp. 231 – 235. For a schematic presentation of the examples, cf. below, Appendix, p. 255 f. 28 Cf. below, § II (b), pp. 224 – 226.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


same woman (Penelope) for the same, feared dead, figure (Odysseus). They are thus adaptations of the sequence for the particular circumstance where the lamented figure’s whereabouts is unknown. Finally (d), having observed the fundamental continuities which link these examples despite their superficial variations, we examine the most exceptional example [4], which shows by its very denials and abnegations how ingrained was the sequence for the traditional poet. With this established, we can then turn (e) to Thetis’ lamentation and the particular criticisms made of its placement, structure and motivation.

II.a The Basic Pattern: [2] and [6] To begin our survey, Andromache’s initial exchange with Hector [2] occurs above the Scaean gates and is replete with mourning elements:29 she takes her position next to him ‘pouring tears’ (d\jqu w]ousa, Il. 6.405),30 she bemoans her dependence on him by stressing the absence of support she will have to endure when he is dead (407 – 413, 429 – 439);31 finally, she leaves him to go home still in tears (hakeq¹m jat± d\jqu w]ousa, 496), where she starts lamentation among her servants (497 – 502): aWxa d’ 5peih’ Vjame d|lour ew maiet\omtar >jtoqor !mdqov|moio, jiw^sato d’ 5mdohi pokk±r !lvip|kour, t0sim d³ c|om p\s,sim 1m_qsem. aT l³m 5ti fy¹m c|om >jtoqa è 1m· oUj\ 500 oq c\q lim 5t’ 5vamto rp|tqopom 1j pok]loio Vneshai pqovuc|mta l]mor ja· we?qar )wai_m.

29 On this scene, cf. Lohmann 1988, 38 – 45; Arnould 1990, 81; Foley 1999, 187 – 99; Dué 2002, 68 – 76; Tsagalis 2004, 118 – 129; also Gagliardi 2006, 11 – 46; Hölscher 1955 aptly comments on this scene’s relationship with Thetis’ lamentation: “das ist wie die ‘Totenklage’ der Andromache um den noch lebenden Hektor 6, 498, wohinter noch niemand eine ‘wirkliche’ Totenklage vermutet hat.” Burgess (2009, 84) does note this parallel (“comparable to some degree”), but feels that Andromache’s lament “is integrated into its context”. Aside from the fact that he misses the other six parallel cases, I hope to show that his impression is entirely incorrect, at least as it regards the comparison with the Thetis scene. Even if it were not, a greater success in execution or level of care in one scene should not be held to prove the ‘alien’ provenance of another. 30 Cf. Arnould 1990, 130 – 131. 31 Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 30, 119.


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And straightaway then she came to the well-dwelt house of Hector manslaying, and she found within many servants, and she raised the lament in all of them. They lamented Hector while he was still alive, in his own house; for they did not think he would come back from the war escaping the might and the hands of the Achaeans.

Though the poet does not detail the actual goos (as he does in [3] and [6], for instance),32 he summarises its content as the expectation that Hector would not return from battle again (501 – 502). So a group PL for an endangered (absent) figure follows the individual PL addressed to the endangered (present) figure, with Andromache moving from one place to the other – public to private – in order to connect the two lamentations. A very similar process is envisaged in Penelope’s case in Odyssey Book 4 [6]. Upon being informed by Medon of Telemachus’ dangerous trip and the suitors’ plans to murder him (675 – 702), she suffers an extreme reaction which has obvious resonance with similar reactions to news of death (703 – 705): ¤r v\to, t/r d’ aqtoO k}to co}mata ja· v_kom Gtoq· dµm d] lim !vas_g 1p]ym k\be, t½ d] oR esse dajqu|vim pk/shem, hakeqµ d] oR 5sweto vym^.

So he spoke, and there her knees and dear heart were loosened; for long speechlessness of words held her, and her two eyes were filled with tears, and her voice was checked from its vigour.

Her further questions of the herald elicit no more satisfactory information (706 – 714), and then the poet continues (715 – 726): ¤r %qa vym^sar !p]bg jat± d_l’ idus/or. tµm d’ %wor !lvew}hg hulovh|qom, oqd’ %q’ 5t’ 5tkg d_vq\ 1v]feshai pokk_m jat± oWjom 1|mtym, !kk’ %q’ 1p’ oqdoO Xfe pokujl^tou hak\loio oUjtq’ akovuqol]mg· peq· d³ dl\a· lim}qifom p÷sai, fsai jat± d~lat’ 5sam m]ai Ad³ pakaia_. t0r d’ "dim¹m co|ysa letg}da Pgmek|peia· jkOte, v_kai· peq· c\q loi ik}lpior %kce’ 5dyjem 1j pas]ym, fssai loi bloO tq\vom Ad’ 1c]momto, D pq·m l³m p|sim 1shk¹m !p~kesa hulok]omta, pamto_,s’ !qet0si jejasl]mom 1m Damao?sim, 1shk|m, toO jk]or eqq» jah’ :kk\da ja· l]som -qcor




32 Cf. Il. 16.857 = 22.363, 23.108, 23.153, 24.507, 24.513 and Tsagalis 2004, 171 – 174.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


So speaking he went away through the house of Odysseus. And pain that destroys the soul was poured round her, nor any more did she endure to sit on the chair though there were many in her house, but there on the threshold of the well made chamber she sat grieving pitiably; and about her the maids moaned all, all who were in the house, young and old. Among them spoke Penelope, groaning loudly; ‘hear me, my friends; for to me the Olympian has given pains beyond all women who were raised and born together with me, I who beforehand lost a husband noble and with a lion’s spirit, in all sorts of virtues outstanding among the Danaans, noble, whose fame spread broadly through Hellas and the midst of Argos. … (exchange between Eurycleia and Penelope) ¤r v\to, t/r d’ eumgse c|om, sw]he d’ esse c|oio.


So she spoke, and she made her lament to rest, and held her eyes from lament.

Aside from the obvious (italicized) features of lamentation, note the praise of the husband so common in this context (also 687 – 695),33 though this time (because Medon has come to her) Penelope’s initial reaction to the distressing news occurs within the household (right on the threshold between the two areas), where she is joined by her serving women, who then rouse a goos for the absent Telemachus which is only halted (758) by Eurycleia’s suggestion that Penelope go and pray to Athene. In these first two cases, the individual speech or exchange is variable according to the requirements of the narrative ( journey of Hector / journey of Medon), whilst the group lamentation occurs within the interior of the home (Hector’s house / Odysseus’ house). Moreover, the female mourner is once more left dissatisfied and upset by this public exchange,34 with Penelope baulked from further knowledge about Telemachus’ purpose and Andromache dismissed, however tenderly, from any role in the determinative process of war. We shall encounter this rebuff again, but it is important to flag it here because its purpose is 33 Tsagalis 2004, 28 – 29. 34 The exchange is ‘public’ in the second case in the sense that a male has entered Penelope’s part of the house (Od. 4.679 – 680) and conducts a conversation with her before leaving her alone (715) with her female attendants in a private setting.


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to point out the inappropriateness of lamentation or the feelings with which it is associated. These two sequences are the closest analogues for Thetis’ lamentation at the start of Iliad 18 [3], but there are many other examples to discuss before we can deal with that target case. The variety and flexibility of these cases is only possible, as we shall see, because the sequence is such a common part of the poet’s technique.

II.b The Pattern Compressed (and Regendered): [1] When Agamemnon sees his brother wounded (Il. 4.148 – 152), his reaction and following speech is crammed with themes and words of lamentation.35 He begins baq» stem\wym (153),36 he holds Menelaus by the hand (154) in a manner reminiscent of the typical physical contact found in actual lamentations (e.g., Il. 23.136 – 137, 24.711 – 712, 723 – 724),37 and his companions ‘add their lamentation’ (1pestem\womto 154) in the usual manner.38 Agamemnon’s following speech (155 –182) details his own error in allowing the duel to take place and expresses his certainty about Troy’s destruction (155 – 168), before negating their value (169 – 182): !kk\ loi aQm¹m %wor s]hem 5ssetai, § Lem]kae, aU je h\m,r ja· p|tlom !mapk^s,r bi|toio. ja_ jem 1k]cwistor pokud_xiom -qcor Rjo_lgm· aqt_ja c±q lm^somtai )waio· patq_dor aUgr· j±d d] jem eqwykµm Pqi\l\ ja· Tqys· k_poilem )qce_gm :k]mgm· s]o d’ ast]a p}sei %qouqa jeil]mou 1m Tqo_, !tekeut^t\ 1p· 5qc\. ja_ j] tir ¨d’ 1q]ei Tq~ym rpeqgmoqe|mtym t}lb\ 1pihq]sjym Lemek\ou judak_loio· aUh’ ovtyr 1p· p÷si w|kom tek]sei’ )cal]lmym, ¢r ja· mOm ûkiom stqat¹m Ecacem 1mh\d’ )wai_m, ja· dµ 5bg oWjom d³ v_kgm 1r patq_da ca?am s»m jeim0sim mgus· kip½m !cah¹m Lem]kaom. ¦r pot] tir 1q]ei· t|te loi w\moi eqqe?a wh~m.

But dread pain there will be for me from you, o Menelaus, if you die and fill up the destiny of your life. Even then most wretched would I come to thirsty Argos; 35 36 37 38

Arnould Arnould Arnould Arnould

1990, 1990, 1990, 1990,

55; Tsagalis 2004, 76 – 77, 90 – 91, 112 – 118. 150 – 153. 77 – 78; Tsagalis 2004, 58 – 60. 173 – 175; Tsagalis 2004, 64 – 68.




The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


for immediately will the Achaeans think of their fatherland; and then we would leave as boast to Priam and the Trojans Argive Helen; but the field will cause your bones to rot as you lie in Troyland for a deed that was left undone. And someone of the overweening Trojans thus will speak leaping upon the tomb of lordly Menelaus; May Agamemnon thus complete his anger in all things, as now he led and army of Achaeans here in vain, and he went home to his dear fatherland with those ships, leaving here good Menelaus. So someone will say; then may the broad earth gape open for me.

Aside from the typical expression of pain resulting from death (169 – 170), Agamemnon’s fear for his reputation and the fortune of the expedition after Menelaus’ death is frequent in lamentation speeches, for the speaker is always concerned about the ramifications of the mourned figure’s death, and expresses that eventuality in concrete, practical terms.39 Once more, the lamenter’s fear for the immediate future is rebuffed, though this time Menelaus precludes lamentation on the purely practical grounds that the wound is not as bad as it looked (183 – 187). Of course, this scene is not completely analogous to the first two examples, for the usual two-stage process has been collapsed into one, and PL takes place on the battlefield in an all-male setting. These unusual qualities do not, however, obscure the basic Gestalt informing and structuring the sequence; rather, they show the poet transforming the sequence for a circumstance where it is not usually deployed.40 Hence the male figure, who generally enjoys greater determinative freedom in Homeric epic,41 is surrounded by his hetairoi rather than the females 39 Tsagalis 2004, 30, 76 – 77, 115, 118. 40 Not only, of course, because it is on the battlefield, but because there are no female relations anywhere nearby – even Helen, the closest of his female kin in Troy, is no longer watching the plain – and lamentation is usually the preserve particularly of women; cf. Alexiou 1974 = 2002, 10 – 14, 21 – 22. 41 Women are rarely ‘there’ in these scenes, and usually have to be moved into position in order to observe the matter which causes their lamentation: Andromache’s surprising absence from the home is already commented upon tersely by [2] Hector (Il. 6.377 – 380; cf. Kelly 2007, 136 – 138; Stoevesandt 2008, ad loc., 122 – 123), whilst [3] Thetis has to hear Achilles’ cries (Il. 18.35), [4] Hecuba is approached by Priam inside the house (Il. 24.193), and [6] Penelope by Medon (Od. 4.679 – 680), while [5] she hears the song of Phemius which causes her descent to the suitors (Od. 1.328 – 344). In [7] Penelope does descend into the house without hearing or being informed of something in the immediately preceding narrative, but she had earlier sum-


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of the household as in the other examples, yet they add their lamentation to his in the usual manner.42

II.c The Pattern Specialised: [5], [7] and [8] The same pattern is evident, also with variations, in three examples of the sequence which all concern Penelope, and between which there is obviously a formal relationship, for they share a great deal of repeated phraseology, most notably their concluding three lines ([5] Od. 1.362 – 364 = [7] 19.602 – 604 = [8] 20.356 – 358), which represent the second, private stage of the PL sequence:43 1r d’ rpeq`’ !mab÷sa s»m !lvip|koisi cumain· jka?em 44 5peit’ idus/a, v_kom p|sim, evqa oR vpmom Bd»m 1p· bkev\qoisi b\ke ckauj_pir )h^mg.

And going into the upper chambers with her attendant women she wept then for Odysseus, her dear husband, until sweet sleep was poured on her eyes by grey-eyed Athene.

In the first of these scenes [5], Penelope’s exchange with Telemachus has several features of lamentation, including her tears before she speaks

moned the stranger to her (Od. 17.528 – 551), though he had refused the meeting for reasons of propriety (i.e. the violence of the suitors) and suggested she wait until the ‘setting of the sun’ (17.569 – 570), which is what she does in this example at the start of Book 19. The bow contest around which [8] is constructed provides a much more expanded case, for Penelope is fulfilling the intention which she had voiced to the disguised Odysseus on the previous night (19.570 – 581, eagerly seconded by him 582 – 587) and which was put into her head by Athene on the day itself (21.1 – 4), but which is in accordance with the instructions she received from Odysseus when he departed (18.259 – 271). 42 Compare Priam [4] who is surrounded by his family (male and female) as he grieves for Hector (24.160 – 168); cf. below, § II (d), pp. 231 – 235. 43 [5] and [8] also share a repeated (and somewhat harsh) instruction from Telemachus to his mother preceding her departure (1.356 – 361 = 21.350 – 354), and the opening of the scene is the same as well (1.332 – 335 = 21.63 – 66). Wohl 1993, 42 – 43 traces between these scenes (and Alcinous’ deployment of a very similar claim of authority (11.352 – 353 ~ 1.360 – 361 ~ 21.352 – 353) at his wife’s expense) a program according to which “the differentiation of gender roles in the oikos is set in place”. 44 Cf. Arnould 1990, 145 – 146.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


(dajq}sasa 336), her sorrow for her husband and her praise of him (341 – 344),45 all hanging on her description of the song as kucq/r, F t] loi aQ³m 1m· st^hessi v_kom j/q te_qei, 1pe_ le l\kista jah_jeto p]mhor %kastom. to_gm c±q jevakµm poh]y lelmgl]mg aQe· !mdq|r, toO jk]or eqq» jah’ :kk\da ja· l]som -qcor.

baneful, which always wears out the dear heart in my chest, since unforgettable grief has come on me in particular. For I long for such a man, remembering him always, whose fame spreads broadly throughout Hellas and the midst of Argos.

Moreover, she is (apparently) disappointed in her aim of preventing Phemius from singing about the Trojan War, for Telemachus sends her upstairs after asserting himself in a somewhat abrupt manner (345 – 359), and in terms which are repeated almost verbatim later on, in [8].46 This repeated rebuff seeks to preclude Penelope’s determinative freedom to mix with the men, denying her participation in public speech and then the bow contest (1.358 ~ 21.352). Once more then, a dissatisfied female mourner, rebuffed about her actual fear or unhappiness, moves from the public to the private sphere where she continues or renews PL with the female members of her household.47 This rather contracted journey and private PL is repeated verbatim at the end of [7], a vastly expanded example shaping the famous interview between Odysseus and Penelope. After her husband’s recollection of meeting ‘Odysseus’, Penelope breaks down in a memorable passage supported by lamentation elements (19.204 – 212): t/r d’ %q’ !jouo}sgr N]e d\jqua, t^jeto d³ wq~r. ¢r d³ wi½m jatat^jet’ 1m !jqop|koisim eqessim, Fm t’ ewqor jat]tgnem, 1pµm f]vuqor jatawe},, tgjol]mgr d’ %qa t/r potalo· pk^housi N]omter· ¤r t/r t^jeto jak± paq^za d\jqu weo}sgr, jkaio}sgr 2¹m %mdqa, paq^lemom. aqt±q idusse»r hul` l³m co|ysam 2µm 1k]aiqe cuma?ja, avhaklo· d’ ¢r eQ j]qa 6stasam A³ s_dgqor !tq]lar 1m bkev\qoisi· d|k\ d’ f ce d\jqua jeOhem.



45 Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 28 – 29, 32 – 39, 44 – 45. 46 Cf. below, pp. 229 – 231. 47 There might be a question here over whether the attendants join in the lamentation but, given the typical context, I would very much doubt that we are intended to think they did not, and not only because the comitative s»m !lvip|koisi cumain· (1.362 etc.) could be taken with both preceding participle and following indicative in this repeated triplet.


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B d’ 1pe· owm t\qvhg pokudajq}toio c|oio 1naOt_r lim 5pessim !leibol]mg pqos]eipe (jtk.)

And when she heard this the tears poured, and her skin melted. As when snow is melted down in the high-ranging mountains, when the east wind melts it, when the west wind pours it down, and as it is melted the rivers are filled with it in their flowing; so then were her fair cheeks melted as she poured tears, weeping for her husband, who was by her. But Odysseus in his soul pitied his wife as she made lamentation, yet his eyes stood as if horn or iron still in his eyelids; and with trickery he hid his tears. And when she had her fill of much-teared lamentation (etc.)

But it is not the end of her sadness (249 – 252): t0 d’ 5ti l÷kkom rv’ Vleqom §qse c|oio s^lat’ !macmo}s,, t\ oR 5lpeda p]vqad’ idusse}r. 250 B d’ 1pe· owm t\qvhg pokudajq}toio c|oio, ja· t|te lim l}hoisim !leibol]mg pqos]eipe· (jtk.)

And still more she made rise the desire for lament recognising the symbols, which Odysseus had spoken to her. And when she had her fill of much-teared lamentation even then addressing him with speech she spoke: (etc.)

Similar elements are scattered throughout the rest of this extended scene, as for instance in Penelope’s description of her sorrow and constant lamentation (512 – 517, 595 – 597). Though more gentle than his son, Odysseus no less seeks to rebuff his wife’s feelings and fears (263 – 268): lgj]ti mOm wq|a jak¹m 1ma_qeo lgd] ti hul¹m t/je p|sim co|ysa. meless_la_ ce l³m oqd]m· ja· c\q t_r t’ !kko?om ad}qetai %mdq’ ak]sasa 265 jouq_diom, t` t]jma t]j, vik|tgti lice?sa, C idus/’, fm vasi heo?s’ 1mak_cjiom eWmai. !kk± c|ou l³m paOsai, 1le?o d³ s}mheo lOhom·

No longer now ruin your fair skin nor melt away your soul in lamentation for your husband; I find no fault in this, of course; For even another woman grieves that she has lost her wedded husband, to whom she has borne children laying in love, even if he is much less than Odysseus, whom they say was like to the gods. But come and cease your lamentation, and take thought of my speech:

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


Moreover, he later urges her to set up the test as quickly as possible (582 – 583), obviously working here to hasten the very thing which will prove her fears unfounded. Dissatisfied (to say the least) at the thought that she shall have to remarry as a result of the contest on the morrow (577 – 581), Penelope returns once more to her private quarters (600) for the final (private) group PL. Here the basic pattern is expanded considerably in order to accommodate the details of the interview and the famous recognition scene with Eurycleia. Nonetheless, the mourner’s progression from public (rebuffed) PL to private group PL is recognisably the same. The last of these three developed PL sequences [8] – also the last of Penelope’s four total PLs in the poem – is a little more complex than even the last example, for the poet chooses to preface the sequence with another scene of private lamentation, as she goes into the storeroom to fetch the bow, where she is overcome with emotion (21.55 – 60): 2fol]mg d³ jat’ awhi, v_kois’ 1p· co}masi he?sa, jka?e l\ka kic]yr, 1j d’ Öqee t|nom %majtor. B d’ 1pe· owm t\qvhg pokudajq}toio c|oio, b/ N’ Ulemai l]caq|mde let± lmgst/qar !cauo»r t|nom 5wous’ 1m weiq· pak_mtomom Ad³ vaq]tqgm Qod|jom· pokko· d’ 5mesam stom|emter 48 azsto_.

And sitting right there, placing it upon her own knees, she wept full loudly, and she took out the bow of her lord. And she when she had her fill of much-teared lamentation she went to go to the megaron among the lordly suitors holding in her hands the back-stretching bow and quiver that took the arrows; and there were many grievous arrows in it.

From here she descends (attended 63 – 66) with the bow into the house to set up the contest. In front of the suitors, she regrets her apparently necessary departure from the house (68 – 79):49 j]jkut] leu, lmgst/qer !c^moqer, oT t|de d_la 1wq\et’ 1shi]lem ja· pim]lem 1llem³r aQe· !mdq¹r !poiwol]moio pok»m wq|mom, oqd] tim’ %kkgm l}hou poi^sashai 1piswes_gm 1d}mashe, !kk’ 1l³ R]lemoi c/lai h]shai te cuma?ja.


48 It is tempting to ascribe the epithet to the PL context (cf. also Od. 21.12), but Il. 15.451 (pok}stomor 5lpesem Q|r) makes it clear that this weapon could be so described outside the sequence, though the quality so described is particularly apt for the PL, or indeed lamentation in general. 49 Tsagalis (2004, 39 – 41 (‘common fate’ topos), 44 – 45 (‘past and present’ topos).


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!kk’ %cete, lmgst/qer, 1pe· t|de va_met’ %ehkom· h^sy c±q l]ca t|nom iduss/or he_oio· dr d] je [email protected]’ 1mtam}s, bi¹m 1m pak\l,si ja· diozste}s, pek]jeym duoja_deja p\mtym, t` jem ûl’ 2spo_lgm, mosvissal]mg t|de d_la jouq_diom, l\ka jak|m, 1m_pkeiom bi|toio, toO pote lelm^seshai [email protected] 5m peq ame_q\.


Hear me, lordly suitors, who have attacked this house to eat and drink continuously when my husband has been gone for a long time, nor can you make any other pretext for your words, but desiring to marry me and make me your wife. But come, suitors, since this contest has appeared; for I will set the great bow of godlike Odysseus; whoever most easily strings the bow in his hands and shoots through all twelve axes, this man would I follow, leaving this house of my wedded life, most fine, filled with life’s means, which I think I will remember even in a dream.

Note particularly the ‘remembering’ theme (77 – 79) and the earlier reference to the long absent Odysseus (70),50 though the clearest connotations of lamentation have already been deployed in the first scene, and the relative diminution in this section of the sequence – and its exchanges with the suitors – has everything to do with the fact that the test of the bow is to reveal Odysseus to the suitors, and to bring to its end her extended period of lamentation.51 After a long and varied narrative surrounding the contest, Penelope is dismissed once more by Telemachus in the now infamous terms, this time after she had become involved in supporting the ‘beggar’s’ claim to participate in the contest. Such freedom, such a level of self-determination, is simply not appropriate for the Homeric woman. As her son says, these issues are properly the preserve of men. Having been dismissed in this way, Penelope re50 Cf. Tsagalis (2004, 36 – 39 for the ‘comparison’ topos “used to differentiate the deceased from others who either belong to the same group of people or share a common bond with the lamenter” (38), but this should also be linked with the ‘past and present’ topos as well (44 – 45). 51 Hence she leaves before the contest takes place, which has always struck critics as rather unusual, given that it is she for whom they contend; cf. Fenik 1974, 162 – 163, who relates her departure and sleep to “the function of sleep … : a major character sleeps through a long-awaited and climactic event and awakes to disbelief that the long hoped-for has actually happened.”

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


turns upstairs with her maids to mourn her husband once more in the typical way (356 – 358). So here we have the same basic pattern of public PL followed by private PL, linked by a journey from the female figure after her fears or attitudes have been rebuffed, but preceded by another private scene in the storeroom.52 Like the previous two examples [5] and [7], the PL framework is used here to surround a much larger scene than normal (i.e., [1], [2] and [6]; also [3] below), with this time the various exchanges with the suitors over the bow contest, in which Penelope’s role varies considerably, being generated between the PL’s public and private stages.

II.d The Pattern Transferred, Combined and Negated: [4] These last three examples show us how flexible the poet can be in adapting the sequence to particular narrative requirements, but the most untypical example is the Priam-Hecuba scene in Iliad 24 [4], which repays close attention, for its unique qualities actually serve to show how typical and established is the usual sequence,53 and in several respects it provides a close analogy for Thetis’ scene. The episode begins with Iris’ arrival (as with [2] Hector and [6] Medon), where she finds the Trojans engaged in some fairly extravagant mourning, and Priam in their centre (160 – 168): Xnem d’ 1r Pqi\loio, j_wem d’ 1mop^m te c|om te. pa?der l³m pat]q’ !lv· jah^lemoi 5mdohem aqk/r d\jqusim eVlat’ 5vuqom, d d’ 1m l]ssoisi ceqai¹r 1mtup±r 1m wka_m, jejakull]mor· !lv· d³ pokkµ j|pqor 5gm jevak0 te ja· aqw]mi to?o c]qomtor t^m Na jukimd|lemor jatal^sato weqs·m 20si. 165 hucat]qer d’ !m± d~lat’ Qd³ muo· ¡d}qomto t_m lilmgsj|lemai oT dµ pok]er te ja· 1shko· weqs·m rp’ )qce_ym j]ato xuw±r ak]samter.

And she came to Priam’s house, and found there crying and lamentation. And his children sitting around their father within the court were making wet their clothes with tears, and he in their midst the old man closely wrapped in his cloak; and about much 52 Cf. the role of the bedroom / storeroom (Il. 24.191 – 2, 228) in [4] below, § II (d) pp. 231 – 235. 53 On [1] cf. above, § II (b), pp. 224 – 226.


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dung was on the head and neck of the old man which he piled up, rolling around, in his own hands. And his daughters and daughters in law mourned remembering those many and noble men who lay having lost their lives at the hands of the Argives.

The mourning elements here are too obvious to require elucidation, but in the typology of the PL sequence, this scene corresponds to the usual group lamentation which (as we have seen) normally occurs in a private setting. Of course, this is a private setting, for Priam and his family are located 5mdohem aqk/r (162), just as Penelope’s (relatively) public exchange with Medon [6] occurs on the threshold of the female quarters and not out in the larger space of the megaron. Nonetheless, this example is different from that one, and indeed most of the rest of the examples, in two ways: (1) the usual progression from (individual) public lamentation to (group) private lamentation has been reversed, and we now begin with the second stage. Why the poet does so will prove to be of great interest for our analysis in the next section,54 but for now we can note that the poet wishes to have Priam (the chief mourning figure in this first scene) exit Troy for the famous episode in Achilles’ tent. In every other PL sequence, the poet places the mourner into the private setting and then leaves her there, so the reversal here enables him to grant the mourner further participation in the narrative; (2) the prospective nature of the lamentation has also been altered, for Hector is in fact dead.55 The connection between actual and prospective lamentations will be also considered later in this article, but we observe here that in this case the group (P)L is an actual lamentation for a dead figure which then motivates the individual exchange between Priam and Hecuba, the second stage in this PL sequence. This combination does not simply link the two narrative strands, though it certainly does that. More interestingly, it suggests that the predicate of the PL sequence – its inappropriateness – can also be found in situations where an actual lamentation is similarly unsuitable, but this time because the corpse, around which lamentation should be performed, is absent. Priam’s following exchange with Iris focuses on the reason why he should not fear death (171 – 187), and so provide him with the grounds to rebuff Hecuba when she delivers her personal PL. Her reaction to his intention, naturally, is somewhat reluctant in its import, and is once 54 Cf. below, § II (e), pp. 237 – 238. 55 Cf. below, § III, pp. 246 – 247 n. 91.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


more replete with mourning elements:56 she ‘keens’ (j~jusem 200) and exhorts him to join her in mourning for Hector (208 – 209), before turning to his virtues and death (209 – 216),57 as well as her own famous wish for revenge (212 – 214).58 Hence we see once more the bipartite structure of the sequence, but in reverse, with a private group lamentation (actual rather than prospective) followed by a PL exchange between the characters, though in the even more private setting of the house, and with a change of personnel (Priam – Hecuba) from the first part of the sequence. As with the other cases, Hecuba’s concerns meet with the typical and immediate rebuff from Priam (217 – 227), but the poet is not finished with the PL sequence. What is noticeable is that elements and features connotative of mourning then continue to appear in the rest of the scene, beginning with his reply to his wife. Picking up on Hecuba’s desire for revenge, but referring the ‘death-wish’ theme more typically back onto himself,59 Priam insists on making the journey in terms which explicitly summon both the notion of goos and the frequent holding / touching of the corpse60 (226 – 227): aqt_ja c\q le jatajte_meiem )wikke»r !cj±r 2k|mt’ 1l¹m uR|m, 1pµm c|ou 1n 5qom eVgm.

Straightaway let Achilles kill me holding my son in my arms, when I lay aside the desire for lamentation.

He then descends into his house in order to gather the ransom and keeps ‘all the Trojans’ out with his stick and a stinging rebuke (237 – 238) which once more invokes typical themes of mourning and lamentation (239 – 246): 5qqete kybgt/qer 1kecw]er· ou mu ja· rl?m oUjoi 5mesti c|or, fti l’ Ekhete jgd^somter ; G am|sash’ fti loi Jqom_dgr Fe»r %kce’ 5dyje pa?d’ ak]sai t¹m %qistom ; !t±q cm~seshe ja· uller· [email protected] c±q l÷kkom )waio?sim dµ 5seshe je_mou tehmg_tor 1maiq]lem. aqt±q 5cyce


56 Cf. Martin 1989, 87 – 88. 57 Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 32 – 39. 58 Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 42 – 44 for the ‘death wish’ topos, here transferred from the mourner to the killer. 59 Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 42 – 44. 60 Cf. 18.316 – 317 (23.17 – 18) (Achilles for Patroclus), 23.135 – 137 (Achilles for Patroclus), 24.710 – 712 (Trojan women for Hector), 24.723 – 724 (Andromache for Hector).


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pq·m !kapafol]mgm te p|kim jeqazfol]mgm te avhaklo?sim Qde?m ba_gm d|lom -zdor eUsy.


Begone, wretches, reproaches; is there not for you too lamentation at home, that you have come to me to grieve me? Do you find fault that for me Cronus’ son Zeus has given me grief to lose my best son? Even you will know it. For you will be much easier for the Achaeans to kill now that he is dead. But I before I see with my eyes my city taken and ravaged may I enter into the house of Hades.

Again, though this time in a setting of reproach, Priam invokes the characteristically lamentatory ramifications of Hector’s death for the mass of Trojans (243 – 244) 61 who are seeking to mourn with him (240), telling them in effect to express their own grief in their own homes. This plays cleverly off the usual process of moving between the public and private spheres, for Priam not only prevents the Trojans as a whole from forming a mourning group, but he does so again to his own family, scattering and rebuking his surviving sons, while lamenting the death of his more favoured offspring (253 – 264). The dismissed group is even catalogued by name (compare [3] the list of Nereids in Thetis’ scene), but only for its unworthiness to be present at any mourning process! Homer has here transformed the usual PL, and in several ways: (1) he has reversed the public-private sequence; (2) chosen to begin with an actual group lamentation for Hector; (3) placed Hecuba’s individual PL in an entirely private setting; and (4) generated two further, cancelled, scenes of group PL, one directed at his family, the other at the Trojans as a whole. This cancellation is profoundly metapoetic, for the poet hereby acknowledges his audience’s expectation, after Hecuba’s first speech, of a further group PL in a more private setting; hence he generates several of the typical elements but only and specifically in order to cancel them out – twice. In some ways, of course, he didn’t need the group reaction, for he began the sequence with an actual lamentation (24.160 – 168), and the poet has no intention of stopping Priam’s further participation within the narrative in his usual way. This extraordinary, virtuoso scene is only possible because of the audience’s expectations of the PL sequence. As if finally to confirm the way in which he has played with, indeed inverted and frustrated, those expectations, Homer closes the scene by returning to a sorrowing 61 Cf. Tsagalis 2004, 44 – 45.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


Hecuba (283 tetig|ti hul`) who has now – if cautiously – been won over to his mission, as long as Priam gains the requisite omens from Zeus (286 – 298). Her shift in attitude, however qualified, symbolises the inversion of the PL as usually practised, but the poet makes sure that he doesn’t entirely defeat the sense of danger which Priam faces by having him drive out of the city to the accompaniment of his sorrowing philoi (327 – 328): v_koi d’ ûla p\mter 6pomto p|kk’ akovuq|lemoi ¢r eQ h\matom d³ ji|mta.

And all his friends followed grieving much as though he were going to death.

This is of course a tremendously complex and sophisticated example, but other less radical variations are possible, as for instance we have seen with Agamemnon’s PL for Menelaus [1], in which not only are the (elsewhere separate) public individual PL and the private group PL combined in the one example, but also the chief mourner is a male; and we might remember [7], where a considerable amount of narrative separates the initial public PL from the final private PL, and the whole sequence is actually the frame for the encounter between Odysseus and Penelope; or even [8], where an extra scene of private grief precedes the usual sequence and largely takes over lamentation elements from the following public stage of the sequence, but is also the vehicle for a larger sequence of narrative, the introduction of the bow test. These exceptions are meaningful because of the rule they presuppose – to be crude and deterministic for a moment – that a PL delivered by a female in a public setting is rebuffed and then followed by a PL delivered in a private setting by the same female in company with the members of her household. Though this is not a typical scene in the same sense as the famous arming scenes, there is a consistent sequence across the examples, next to which the variations gain their meaning and significance. Having established the form of that sequence and discussed its instantiations in both Homeric poems, we can now claim a sufficient familiarity with the poet’s technique to address Thetis’ famous lamentation.


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II.e The Pattern Applied: [3] Seen against its typical background, it should have caused neither consternation nor wonder that Achilles is mourned before his death, and on his own terms.62 Such a scene should not be considered less appropriate (vel sim.) than a scene of actual lamentation, and not merely because most of these PLs do not correspond to any such episode in the (admittedly scanty) records of early Greek epic.63 In the broadest of terms, Thetis’ PL for Achilles is an example of a fully typical and amply paralleled sequence within Homer’s compositional technique, and as such requires no external explanation to account for its presence in the Iliad. As with the other examples, we have a two-stage process of female lamentation, with public (65 – 145) and private (35 – 64) stages, along with a rebuff from the bemourned figure (97 – 126). In failing entirely to recognise the existence of this framework, the Neoanalysts and their adherents have failed to take adequate account of the traditional nature of Homeric poetry.64 62 Much has been made of the fact that Patroclus is dead (e.g. by Kullmann 1981, 23; 1991, 441; also below, n. 64), and yet the motifs for lamentation associated with Thetis and the Nereids are directed towards Achilles; cf., e.g., Danek 1998, 470: “Achills symbolisches Sterben im Tod des Patroklos wird noch hervorgekehrt, wenn die Nereiden eine Totenklage um den um sein alter ago trauernden Achilleus anstimmen”. The widespread scholarly conclusion that their lamentation has been transferred to him from the actual corpse is nothing more than a failure to recognise the conventions of this sequence. The poet connects Thetis’ PL for Achilles with the preceding actual lamentation for Patroclus, but they do not cross over: neither Thetis nor the Nereids engage in lamentation for Patroclus anywhere in this scene (though Thetis ‘rouses the goos’ for Patroclus later (23.14), which has also been grist to the Neoanalytical mill; cf. Kakridis 1949, 84; Richardson 1993 ad loc., 167 with Burgess 2009, 90; Dowden 1996, 59), nor should we expect them to do so. 63 Cf. further below, § III, pp. 245 – 248. 64 Cf., e.g., Pestalozzi 1945, 32: “Das Leid der Göttin gilt in der Ilias nicht dem gefallenen, sondern dem todbedrohten Achill; das bedingt wesentliche Änderung. Der Thetis Erscheinen zur Totenfeier ist umgebildet in den Besuch bei dem leidbeschwerten … Die Totenklage ist abgebogen auf den noch lebenden …”; Kakridis 1949, 69 – 70: “One cannot get rid of the feeling that Thetis’ c|or – a word which signifies particularly death-lament – and her sister’s anguish would be more appropriate to a scene representing the Nereids as mournjing a dead man… There can be no doubt: both the motif of lamentation and Thetis’ gesture would be incomparably more natural in a scene of funeral lament over Achilles’ dead body”; Kullmann 1960, 37: “das Gesamtthema einer ‘Klage um das Unglück eines Lebenden’ (ist) als Umformung des einfachen

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


But the devil is, as always, in the details, and the notion of PL as a typical sequence only provides the starting point for our exploration of this episode, and our response to the Neoanalytical case. We begin by observing that Thetis’ scene inverts the usual order: here the private PL with the Nereids is followed by a public individual PL in the form of an exchange with her son (with the Nereids in the background). One might be tempted modo Neoanalytico to seek an external explanation for this (almost) unique variation, yet we have already seen the poet do much more adventurous things with the pattern than simply reverse the order of its two basic constituents, and surely no-one would argue from its individuality that, e.g., the complex Hecuba-Priam scene [4] is derived from (or alluding to etc.) the Iliou Persis or its material.65 Nonetheless, we still have to explain the poet’s decision, and once more the unique situation of the narrative that gives all the explanation and motivation required. Firstly, in the other developed (i.e. two stage) PLs (i.e. [2], [5], [6], [7] and [8] above) the poet leaves the female figure in the private sphere amongst other females, and moves elsewhere. If the narrative stays in this context for any length of time, the prospective mourner is involved in further action inside that private sphere (e.g., [6] Penelope prays to Athene),66 but does not leave it. Themas der ‘Klage um den toten Achill’ auszufassen”; Kullmann 1981, 23: “Wenn im S auf das Schreien des Achill hin sich die Nereiden bei Thetis versammeln und mit der Totenklage beginnen, obwohl sie nicht wissen, warum Achill schreit, und obwohl sie zu Patroclus keine Beziehung haben, so ist klar, daß hier das Motiv der Totenklage ohne Detailüberarbeitung in die Ilias übertragen ist”; Burgess 2009, 83 – 84: “Thetis and the Nereids perform mourning rituals in their cave for no other reason than that Achilles has cried out … the misplacement of funeral elements here is remarkably sustained … the unusual behaviour of Thetis and the Nereids goes beyond grieving and unusually mimics the rituals of a funeral” (my italics). 65 Cf. below, § III, pp. 246 – 247. Indeed, we have reached a very strange pass in Homeric scholarship, when anything which can reasonably be considered special or individual – that is, the kind of thing which used to be read as the poet’s own contribution – becomes instead the traces of his sources or poetic predecessors. 66 One need not argue that the PL pattern itself ‘forced’ the poet to move away from such scenes, rather than acknowledging that he had generally less interest in developing that – particularly female – context. There is, in fact, no case in either Homeric poem in which a female character, having been placed into that context from a public setting, actually leaves it in the same sequence of narrative (the arming scenes of Athene in Iliad 5 and 8 are no exceptions, for they are arming scenes and predicated on the immediate deployment of the equipment).


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In Thetis’ scene, by contrast, the poet had no intention whatsoever of leaving her after the PL, but was preparing to have her journey to Olympos for one of his signature scenes, the making of Achilles’ armour. For Homer to follow his usual order in this case – which would mean Thetis going from her father’s house to Achilles for her public PL, returning to her father’s abode for a private PL, and then setting off again immediately for Hephaestus’ house before returning to the Greek camp with the new armour – would be intolerably clumsy, and unparalleled elsewhere for divine travellers in the Homeric epics.67 By bringing her instead from private lamentation inside her father’s house to the public space of the Greek camp, the poet ameliorates that potential awkwardness, and leaves Thetis free to travel subsequently wherever he requires. It is the most convenient way, given his narrative habits, for Homer to create the possibility of her further involvement in the story.68 Crucially, we have already observed the poet doing exactly the same thing with the Priam-Hecuba scene [4], where the reversal leads similarly into Priam’s involvement in the rest of the book’s narrative.69 In that case, the chief character is of course not as subject as Homeric women to the restrictions of the house, though it is interesting that the scene is set entirely within the confines of his palace. Nevertheless, the poet did not simply want to end with Priam lamenting as part of a larger group, and even went so far as to cancel out two such opportunities to do so. The reversal of the sequence in both of these cases shows that the poet’s eye is on the character’s future participation in the narrative. In doing this, however, Homer also creates the ‘problem’ of having Thetis mourn among her sisters before she hears of what Achilles is about to do, i.e. before she ‘knows’ his intention to kill Hector immediately, 67 The case of Poseidon’s journey from Samos (across from Troy) to Aigai, and then by his chariot back to a cave near Troy (Il. 13.11 – 38), is not of the same order: (i) the chariot journey has a literary, cultic and narrative significance (cf. Janko 1992, 43) which justifies its slight geographical awkwardness; and (ii) none of the places on his itinerary are identical. 68 It has also a structural advantage, in that the poet thereby creates a most pleasing ring in her travels, from (a) her father’s house under the sea to (b) the Greek camp, then to (c) Olympos, and then back to the Greek camp (b) before returning (a) to the sea. Though this last stage is omitted from the poet’s description, where else would she go? When we next see Thetis at the start of Book 24, that is where she is. 69 Cf. above, § II (d), pp. 231 – 235.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


which will necessitate his own death rather soon.70 Usually, of course, the private PL mourns the very thing the individual has learned during the public PL, and so one might simply invoke the pattern’s reversal for leading the poet into this (really rather slight) narrative undermotivation. Yet several factors suggest that it would be wrong to make too much – indeed anything – of this fact, for Homer goes to great lengths to accommodate his choice within his narrative, and makes much semantic play therewith. Firstly, it is typical of Thetis’ character throughout the Iliad that she is constantly in mourning for Achilles’ coming death. When she first appears in Book 1 she is again depicted comforting him and, upon learning of the details of her son’s distress, cries (413) and bemoans the awfulness of her situation as a mother (414 – 418).71 This plaint is repeated several times and in several forms, from her insistence to Zeus that her son ‘is the swiftest to die of others’ (1.505 – 506) to the description of her state to Hephaestus (18.428 – 443). Even Zeus acknowledges her emotional situation, sympathetically praising her for the journey to Olympos in spite of the fact that she is ‘mourning, with terrible grief in your heart’ (24.104 – 105). She is granted a particular and continuous status of anguish in the poem, and its source is the fact of her son’s death. Indeed, this is what she particularly fears in her speech to the Nereids in the cave, which does not depend in any way on the knowledge she gains from Achilles in their subsequent exchange.72 This is her major 70 This has been a particular mainstay of Neoanalytical criticism; cf., e.g., Kakridis 1949, 69: “that his hour of death has come the goddess will conjecture only in the following scene, when she sees her son determined to take vengeance on Hector”; Kullmann 1960, 36 – 37: “die grösste Unebenheit besteht hier … darin, dass die Klage der Thetis und der Nereiden einzig durch das j Jammern Achilles ausgelöst ist, für das man den Grund noch nicht kennen kann, im Unterschied zur Aithiopis, wo Thetis um das ihrem Sohn bevorstehende Geschick weiß”; id. 332: “das überraschende ist, daß Thetis und ihre Schwestern gar nicht wissen können, was dem Achilleus zugestoßen ist and daß etwa durch den Tod des Patroclus nun auch der Tod des Achilleus selbst naherückt”; Burgess 2009, 84: “… the unusual behaviour of Thetis and the Nereids … is not motivated, for it precedes the conclusion of Thetis that Achilles will soon die”. 71 Indeed, Schoeck 1961, 40 – 41 and 43 – 44 tries to link this scene with the mourning scene at the start of Iliad 18 as the split manifestations of the Memnonis scene on which he believed Homer depended. 72 This is entirely missed by Kakridis 1949, 69: “the fact that during his short life he has to suffer again and again fresh sorrows – and what this new grief is his mother does not know yet – can hardly justify this excessive anguish”. Edwards 1991 ad 18.63 – 64, 152 sympathetically remarks that “Thetis’ ignorance here


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characteristic in the poem – her grief comes not from the usual mortal fear that her beloved may be in imminent danger of death, but from her particularly immortal certainty that her son will die in Troy.73 As late as Book 24 she can be depicted under the sea and surrounded by her sisters, just as she is at the start of Book 18, mourning Achilles’ doom (24.83 – 86): exqe d’ 1m· sp/z ckavuq` H]tim, !lv· d’ %q’ %kkai eVah’ blgceq]er ûkiai hea_· D d’ 1m· l]ss,r jka?e l|qom ox paid¹r !l}lomor, fr oR 5lekke vh_sesh’ 1m Tqo_, 1qib~kaji tgk|hi p\tqgr.

And she found Thetis in her hollow cave, and round her there sat gathered the other goddesses of the sea; and she in their midst bewailed the doom of her own son, who was soon to die in Troy of the fertile earth far from his fatherland.

One might try to refer this to the scene in Book 18 as merely an ‘internal allusion’, or even explain it as less problematic because Thetis has now gained more definite knowledge about the imminence of Achilles’ death (18.95 – 96; see below, however).74 Neither argument is convincing, for the mere fact of repetition shows that Thetis could naturally be depicted in a semi-permanent state of mourning for her son well before his actual death, and the pervasive theme of her particular suffering easily and fully motivates scenes of this sort. It is absolutely in keeping with both her character and her situation in the Iliad that she should be constantly preoccupied with Achilles’ doom, so we should not be surprised to see her acting thus before she hears of his decision to return to the battle. In short, there is no reason to believe that her first speech of lamentation is poorly motivated or ill-suited to the situation of the Iliad, or that it would be better suited to another poem or story.75 With Thetis’ behaviour and attitude thus contextualised, we should turn to the Nereids themselves, whose function is also illuminated by (and at 1.362) of Achilles’ troubles, despite her prophetic powers (9 – 11, 17.408 – 409), is of course adopted so that Achilles may voice them to her himself”, though her ignorance of his current misfortune is simply natural, given that her general motivation for grief over Achilles is a constant, and not caused by his current anguish for Patroclus. 73 Cf., e.g., 9.410 – 416, 17.404 – 411, 21.276 – 278; also below, pp. 249 – 252 for the limits of her knowledge. 74 Kakridis 1949, 69 n. 7. 75 That it might be also (or even less) suited to another text, poem or story cannot, of course, be denied; cf. below, pp. 245 – 248, 252 – 254.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


the PL framework.76 As in scenes of actual lamentation, the mourner’s speech or activity is set off next to a larger group – Agamemnon’s male comrades [1], handmaids for both Andromache [2] and Penelope [5], [6], [7] and [8], Priam’s family [4] 77 – so that the presence of the Nereids at the start of Iliad 18 is actually required, or at the very least extremely well paralleled, in similar settings. Given Thetis’ abode with her father,78 her sister Nereids are as natural a choice for her group as are Agamemnon’s comrades or their maids for Andromache and Penelope.79 Their gathering, presence and purpose in the cave is readily accounted for within the PL sequence. Perhaps, however, we still need to explain why they come to the camp as well, where they apparently perform no function, being mentioned only at the start and end of the scene (65 – 69, 137 – 145).80 Once 76 Lohmann 1970, 141 – 145 points out the careful ring structure governing this scene, in which the Nereids form the outermost part, and which centres on Thetis’ prediction (below, pp. 249 – 252; table from Lohmann 1970, 142): I. Thetis kommt mit Nereiden (65ff.) II. Einführende Rede der Thetis (73ff.) III. Achill 79/93 IV. Thetis 95/6 V. Achill 98/126 VI. Abschließende Rede der Thetis (128ff.) VII. Thetis entläßt die Nereiden (140ff.) 77 Though, as we argued above (pp. 233 – 235), the poet actually cancels out, twice, the notion of elaborate group mourning after Hecuba’s initial PL; I refer here mainly to the depiction of Priam surrounded by his family at the start of the scene (Il. 24.160 – 168). 78 That is, after all, where she is every time the poet brings her into his narrative: she has to be summoned from there to her son’s side (1.357 – 358), she journeys from there to Zeus and back again (1.495 – 497, 531 – 532; 24.83 – 86). This is not inconsistent with the several references to her living with Peleus after their marriage (1.396 – 397, 16.573 – 576,) or being in Phthia at the moment of Achilles’ departure (16.220 – 224) or return (18.59 – 60, 330 – 332, (impossibility thereof) 19.421 – 422), for none of them need mean that she was still living with Peleus at the time of the Trojan War. 79 Note that their lamentations are always marked by the term goos, the term deployed for lamentation uttered by the kinswomen; cf. Alexiou 1974 = 2002, 11 – 14; Tsagalis 2004, 2 – 8. 80 Kakridis 1949, 67 “… the Nereids come and go without taking part in anything”; Pestalozzi 1945, 32: “die Nereiden (haben) – im Gegensatz zur Vorlage – in der Ilias keine Aufgabe … nach dem Zwiegespräch, das sie nicht durch ihre Anwesenheit stören, werden sie von Thetis gleich wieder heimgeschickt …”; Schoeck 1961, 44: “ein deutlicher Fingerzeig war vor allem S 65ff. die Anwe-


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more the PL’s reversal can be invoked as the first line of explication: the second stage of this sequence usually demands a group, and we could argue that the poet felt the presence of the pattern so deeply that he brought them along in order to preserve the associations of a scene which he was generating in such an individual manner, simply to make it clear that this was still a scene of PL (as, indeed, we observed earlier with the Hecuba–Priam scene [4], the uniqueness and complexity of which was far greater). It is hardly unthinkable anyway that the larger group should be present, since they are after all a typical feature in scenes of lamentation.81 As we saw above, the poet constructs the public stage of the PL by generating mourning elements within and around the speeches of the participants in a (more) public setting. The presence of the Nereids in the Greek camp could easily be one of these elements, and the uniqueness of a group presence in this stage of the PL (leaving aside the mixture of public and private evinced in [1]) would then be ascribed to the extraordinary nature and importance of Achilles as the poem’s central hero. After all, group participation in actual funerals reflects the importance of the mourned figure, as the Trojans as a whole mourn Hector, while ‘mountain nymphs’ plant the trees around Eetion’s tomb (Il. 6.419 – 420), and as Thetis, the Nereids and the Muses mourn for Achilles himself (see above).82 So the Nereids are another signal of Achilles’ pre-emisenheit der Nereiden beim Mutterbesuch”; Burgess 2009, 83: “… the Nereids oddly accompany her (65 – 9). They do not participate in the private conversation that follows and have to be rather awkwardly dismissed at the end of the scene.” Somewhat differently, Tsagalis (2004a) = (2008) argues that, because the Nereids are first depicted in the cave as beating their breasts (18.50 – 51) and crying as they journey to the camp (66), this scene shows “a movement from excessive lamentation to restrained grief … not observed in any other Iliadic lament” which supports its ‘extratextual’ relationships. But this scene is also the only case where the PL mourning group actually moves out of the private sphere, and so they must show their mourning status by crying (viz. something possible when moving) rather than by the ritual action which takes place only when one is placed around the object or leader of lamentation. 81 Indeed, they are even present in [1] (above, § II (b), pp. 224 – 226); cf. also Edwards 1991 ad loc., 152. 82 Cf. Kirk 1990 ad loc., 215. I am not conceding that the Thetis scene must be a reference to his actual death lamentation. Homer clearly knew that story, for which he gives the Muses as the professional singers of the thre¯nos in Odyssey 24, but the choice of the Nereids in both his prospective and actual lamentation is demanded by the simple fact that Thetis is his mother, and needs a household group next to which her mourning can be generated. Though the scenes are

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


nence in the Iliad, and they literally surround Thetis’ public PL as Priam’s philoi surround him [4].83 But there is a much easier ground on which to ‘explain’ the presence of the Nereids in the Greek camp, and this is that when a female mourner is outside the house or the female quarters of the house in a scene of PL, she is always accompanied in that (more) public sphere by members of her household:84 [2] Andromache is attended by a nurse with her son (Il. 6.399 – 400); [5] and [8] Penelope is attended by two unnamed serving women (Od. 1.332 – 335 = 21.63 – 66),85 and [7] by Eurynome, Eurycleia and two anonymous serving women as she leaves the scene (Od. 19.600 – 602);86 even [4] Hecuba is so attended as she appears in the courtyard of Priam’s house to bestow her qualified blessing (Il. 24.302 – 305). Such an accompaniment is natural for mortal women in Homeric poetry, yet the immortal Thetis neither needs nor does she elsewhere



85 86

integrally related on the level of story and character, there is no reason why their presence in one scene (or the other, for that matter) must or should be explained as derivative from another scene, at least on the level of that story’s realisation. Cf. above, n. 76, for Lohmann’s demonstration. Neoanalysts have been attracted by the fact that the Nereids have no relationship with Patroclus (cf. above, nn. 62 and 64) and yet they seem to be involved in mourning him. However, and this cannot be stressed enough, Homer nowhere states that they became involved in that process: their function is limited to, and explained by, the PL for Achilles. Penelope [6] is approached in the house by Medon with the news of Telemachus’ departure (Od. 4.679 – 680). That Agamemnon [1] also has his hetairoi around him is natural in another way, given their situation on the battlefield, but it is also to be explained by the needs of PL, in that his speech is immediately linked with the mourning reaction of his group (above, pp. 224 – 226). Cf. above, § II (c), pp. 226 – 231, for other structural parallels between these two scenes. No attendants are mentioned at the start of [7] when she emerges from the private quarters to interview Odysseus (19.53 – 59), though some unidentified figures set a couch for her by the fire (j\thesam 55) and the maids do then immediately come ‘from the megaron’ to clean up after the recently departed suitors (60 – 64). However, upon hearing Odysseus’ exchange with Melantho and rebuking the latter (65 – 95), Penelope does give instructions to her tamie¯ Eurynome (96) and, later on, to Eurycleia (357 and ff.), so we should not assume that she was unattended throughout the scene, nor should we forget this scene occurs at night after the departure of the suitors (18.427 – 428), when Penelope is left alone with the serving women – and Odysseus – in her own house.


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travel with attendants.87 Nonetheless, as we have seen, a large part of the point of putting her into the PL sequence is to show, by comparison with the usual mortal participants, the uniqueness of her situation. Homer’s decision to present Thetis at the centre of this PL underlines her divinity at every stage, and the resulting narrative is profoundly shaped by that fact. She does everything that mortal females do, and some things they do not, but always with the greater power and potential appropriate to a goddess: she mourns more constantly (at least in the Iliad); she emerges from the private setting to assume an important role in the subsequent narrative; and she travels into the public setting with more, and more impressive, attendants.88 If the Hecuba-Priam scene [4] 87 At least, not in Homeric epic. In Archaic art, by contrast, Thetis is constantly depicted in the company of the Nereids. Cf. Barringer 1995, 169: “the Nereids … are revealed as benevolent, protective escorts or attendants for individuals undergoing two critical life transitions, marriage and death, which are manifested as either literal and/or metaphorical journeys”; cf. also ead. 1995, 54 – 58 for a discussion of the widespread association between the Nereids and death, in which they frequently served as attendants or escorts, reaching a spectacular form in a (probably) 4th-century BC tomb structure widely known as the ‘Nereid monument’. If such associations or functions were known to the Homeric poet, then they were even more suitable figures to accompany Thetis to the Greek camp. 88 It is interesting that this or a very similar scene of PL seems to be reflected on a Corinthian black-figure oinochoe¯ c. 570 – 50 BC (LIMC ‘Achilleus’ 478), where Achilles is lying on a couch and brings his hand to his head in a typical gesture of mourning. At his feet stands Thetis, at his head someone who may be Phoenix (Barringer 1995, 27 – 28); behind Thetis is Odysseus and a woman, and behind Phoenix two women. These females may be Nereids, though Kossatz-Deissmann (LIMC) plausibly suggests that they are Briseis and slaves. Whatever their identification, it is clear that the scene must represent a PL for Achilles, whether independent from the Iliad or not: though alive, he is in the standard position for a figure being mourned, whilst himself performing a mourning gesture; the standing figures around the couch are typical for such scenes; cf. Barringer 1995, 27, and Lowenstam 2008, 33 – 35, both of whom opt for a synoptic interpretation of the scene. Artistic representations should not simply function as evidence for the history of Greek epic (Lowenstam 1997; cf. also 2008 esp. 1 – 12, 170 – 173), but it is tempting to conclude, despite their differences, that the Iliad’s scene made this impression. In any case, it is striking that there is only one known early representation of the actual lamentation for Achilles, also by the same painter (Barringer 1995, 52 – 53; Lowenstam 2008, 18 – 19, 33 – 35), on a Corinthian black-figure hydria c. 570 BC (LIMC ‘Achilleus’ 897), and this presents several named Nereids, and one female figure holding a lyre. If the Aethiopis (vel sim.) scene was so well-established as to warrant Homer’s deployment of or allusion to it in the Iliad, that prominence is hardly evi-

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


showed us Homer creating narrative by reversing or denying the suggestions and connotations of the PL sequence, Thetis’ scene is his most exceptional realisation of its narrative possibilities. ***

I submit, then, that PL is the typical framework governing the form and function of the mourning of Thetis and the Nereids at the start of Iliad 18. The two stage pattern, and the reversal of its constituent elements, explains the ante mortem lamentation of Achilles, the behaviour and attitude of Thetis, and the presence of the Nereids in both the cave and the Greek camp. The resulting sequence highlights the extraordinary character and circumstance of Thetis, and so the extraordinary nature of the son for whom she prospectively mourns. There is nothing inexplicable or poorly motivated here, and nothing which would be better motivated in another text / poem / story than it is in the Iliad. Once we realise that there is a typical sequence underlying this episode, there can be little reason to follow the Neoanalysts in requiring an external source of any sort to account for, even especially to illumine, this section of the narrative.

III. The Future To the preceding demonstration and conclusion, one could of course respond that a PL naturally looks forward to an actual lamentation (AL), as for instance Andromache’s PL for Hector [2] finding its complement in the ALs of Andromache (22.467 – 515) and then Andromache, Hecuba and Helen (24.719 – 776) for the same figure. Therefore, no amount of pointing out the typicality of the action, and its significance within the Iliad itself, could deny the possibility that the audience is still being reminded of Achilles’ funeral. In fact, this cannot and should not be denied, for the poet goes to some lengths to connect the deaths of his major characters in a causal chain stretching well beyond the Iliad, and it is anyway inconceivable that any early Greek audenced in the artistic tradition. This gives at least some reason to wonder at the cogency of the Neoanalytical case, which relies so heavily elsewhere on the evidence of Archaic art.


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dience had never heard performances of the same or similar material before they encountered this version of the story. But there is still a question of the role which that dynamic plays in the scene, and the level of importance which it is to be accorded, and this is where the consideration of the sequence’s typicality becomes essential. Neoanalysts have traditionally claimed that an external episode is necessary for an understanding of the scene,89 but if such a connection were inevitable or fundamental, one might expect to find a similar dynamic in all the examples of PL we have identified, as for instance in the Hecuba-Priam scene [4]. Priam’s death has indeed been reconstructed by Kullmann on the basis of scattered references throughout the Iliad, 90 but one labours in vain to find any allusion to the form of that event as found in Proclus or elsewhere in early Greek myth (Iliou Persis arg. 13 – 14 Bernabé; Ilias parva F 16), rather than to the immediate situation facing Hecuba and her husband: Hecuba fears his journey to the Greek camp and the savage nature of Achilles (203 – 208), exhorting him to mourn his son (209 – 212), before expressing her desire to eat into her son’s killer (213 – 216). Priam’s response focuses on the need to trust the gods who have informed him (218 – 224) and expresses a willingness to die in the Greek camp holding his dead son in his arms (225 – 227). It would serve no purpose to paraphrase the rest of the scene in this way, since even Kullmann finds no support in this extended and varied PL for his conclusion that Homer knew “eine detaillierte Darstellung von Priamos’ Tod”.91 There seems to be no allusion in this

89 This is a logical extension of the detection of problems or difficulties in Homer’s text (above, § I, pp. 213 – 218), but more recent authors, by refusing to use this kind of terminology (though not universally, and generally without abandoning the conceptual framework; cf. above, nn. 19 – 20), have deprived themselves of that progression. Therefore, it is hard to see what that does except to reduce their argument to the contention that the Homeric episode can also be explained by such a reference. 90 Kullmann 1960, 348 – 349. Of course I feel that this reconstruction is in every way tremendously overconfident (despite the welcome caution expressed id. 348 n. 2). 91 Kullmann 1960, 349. We should also note that, like our target scene, [4] is not only motivated by an actual lamentation, but it incorporates that AL within its sequence, as we saw (above, § II (d), pp. 231 – 235). Thus we can infer that, had the poet wished to blend the AL for Patroclus with the PL for Achilles in Thetis’ scene (as many have concluded; above, nn. 62 and 64), he could have done so. He did not.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


PL to Priam’s eventual death in the destruction of Troy, or to any lamentation which may (or may not) have occurred there. The same is true of those PLs which concern similarly prominent figures in early Greek epic, such as Odysseus [5], [7] & [8] and Menelaus [1]. Both characters have their deaths explicitly mentioned by Homer, the first in Teiresias’ famous prophecy that death will come ‘gentle92 (!bkgwq|r) from the sea’ (Od. 11.134 – 137) and the second in Proteus’ prophecy of his translation to Elysium in terms which apparently pass over entirely the usual processes surrounding a mortal death (Od. 4.561 – 569): h\mator d] toi 1n "k¹r aqt` !bkgwq¹r l\ka to?or 1ke}setai, fr j] se p]vm, c^qô vpo kipaq` !qgl]mom· !lv· d³ kao· ekbioi 5ssomtai. t± d] toi mgleqt]a eUqy.


And death will come to you from the sea very gentle, which will kill you taken by rich old age; and about you the people will be blessed; these things do I speak to you truly. so· d’ oq h]svat|m 1sti, diotqev³r § Lem]kae, -qcei 1m Rppob|t\ ham]eim ja· p|tlom 1pispe?m, !kk\ s’ 1r Ik}siom ped_om ja· pe_qata ca_gr !h\matoi p]lxousim, fhi namh¹r Uad\lamhur, – t0 peq [email protected] biotµ p]kei !mhq~poisim· oq mivet|r, out’ #q weil½m pok»r oute pot’ elbqor, !kk’ aQe· fev}qoio kic» pme_omtor !^tar ©jeam¹r !m_gsim !max}weim !mhq~pour, – ovmej’ 5weir :k]mgm ja_ svim calbq¹r Di|r 1ssi.


But for you it is not ordained, o Zeus-nurtured Menelaus, to die in horse-rearing Argos and meet your death, but to the Elysian plain and the ends of the earth the immortals will send you, where flaming Rhadamanthys – there is life easiest for men; it does not snow, nor is there much winter nor rain, but always the Oceanos sends up blasts of the west wind blowing loudly to refresh mortal men – for you have Helen and you are to them the son in law of Zeus.

There is nothing in the four PLs for these two characters which can reasonably be held to allude to these later events, whether we think of Agamemnon’s fears of Menelaus’ death in Troy and the abuse of his brother’s tomb by the Trojans as a mark of his own dishonour (Il. 4.171 – 92 Cf. LFGE s.v. B.


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182), or [5] Penelope’s emphasis on her grief for her lost husband (Od. 1.342 – 344), or [7] anything in her long and varied exchange with Odysseus in Book 19 about the woes she faces, has overcome hitherto, and which still threaten her, or [8] in her exchanges with a range of characters about the bow contest.93 One can see this again even in those cases which have left less of a mark on the records of early Greek epic, such as that of Telemachus [6], of whom we only learn in the post-Homeric94 Telegonia that he went to live with Circe on Aeaea (arg. 17 – 20 Bernabé). Unless one sees in Penelope’s typical complaint about his unknown whereabouts (727 – 731) an allusion to his later ‘translation’ on Aeaea, there is nothing in this scene which seems to allude to this fact. There is certainly no hint here about the actual form of his death or funeral, or any such scene of lamentation for him. In this sense, the direct relationship between the PL and AL for Hector in the Iliad is actually rather atypical. So, if an allusion to an AL is not automatically associated with scenes of PL, what relationship to the narrative future – if any – does it have? We have already observed the role of the rebuff in the PL sequence, the reaction to the lamentation in which the speaker points out that the mourner’s fears or expectations are misguided. Indeed, the mourner is always wrong, not about the fact that their loved one is going to die (if we leave aside Telemachus and Menelaus), but at least about the immediate danger as the source of their fear: [1] Menelaus is at no risk of dying from this wound, nor of dying in Troy; [2] Andromache and her servant women fear that Hector will not return home again (6.501 – 2), yet the army does return to Troy that night (7.310, 370 – 371, 379 – 380); [4] Hecuba (and Priam’s philoi 24.327 – 328) think that he will not return from the Greek camp (201 – 208); [5] & [7] Penelope is convinced that Odysseus is already dead and will not return, and actually then takes steps to hasten her departure from the house which would confirm the fact [8]; [6] similarly, Penelope believes that Telemachus will not return safely from his journey to Sparta and Pylos. Of course, these errors are only natural, given the fact that the lamenting figures are all human beings, prone to such limitations of knowledge, and the 93 We might also remember that in the post-Homeric Telegonia, Odysseus’ body is translated to Circe on Aeaea for burial, where Telemachus marries Circe and Penelope Telegonus, and both are made immortal (Telegonia arg. 17 – 20 Bernabé). 94 See above, n. 14, for the sense in which I use this term.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


menfolk in question are in danger. So the instincts of the lamenting figures are neither unreasonable nor wildly off track, for it takes some particular divine favour to protect (e.g.) Menelaus, Priam, Telemachus and Odysseus from the envisaged threat, whilst Hector will meet his death only a few days hence. There is no single or simple way in which the error is marked or determined in each episode. In some examples, it comes in the (more) public setting, as in [1], [4], [5], [7] and [8]. But even in those cases where the error seems to come most obviously and prominently from the private PL, as in [2], [6] and [8], there is still a misapprehension on the mourner’s part about the immediate dangers in the first PL: [2] Andromache gives a series of sound tactical pointers to her husband (Il. 6.429 – 439), wrongly believing (as Penelope does in [5] when she thinks she has a role to play in determining the subject of Phemius’ song before the suitors) that she could have a role in advising caution and defensiveness to a husband who has no desire to limit himself to such behaviour. She also feels, quite reasonably in the circumstance, that the city will be vulnerable to an external assault in a previously attacked spot – but the audience knows that the city will not be taken by storm, and certainly not in the immediate circumstances of this poem; [6] Penelope’s conversation with Medon opens with her outraged queries about the further iniquities on which the suitors are engaged in destroying Odysseus’ household (Od. 4.681 – 695), and her initial reaction to the news of her son’s departure shows her conviction that he will die on this trip (706 – 710). How then, is error about the future to be found in Thetis’ scene? There is no single rule to be followed here, as we have seen, so it could be located in either the first stage of the sequence with the Nereids under the sea or during the second in the Greek camp. The first PL, however, contains no specific mention of any immediate danger, rather than focusing on the inevitability of Achilles’ death in Troy (18.54 – 60), though we might consider that Thetis’ error could lie in thinking that ‘whilst he lives and looks on the light of the sun, he grieves / nor am I able to help him’ (Il. 18.61 – 62) – for she will help him to achieve his vengeance upon Hector. But that hardly responds to the common feature of the other examples, that the error should concern the immediate danger facing the beloved. She does express an opinion on that, however, in her famous prediction of the immediacy of Achilles’ doom (18.95 – 96):


Adrian Kelly

¡j}loqor d^ loi t]jor 5sseai, oX’ !coqe}eir· aqt_ja c\q toi 5peita leh’ >jtoqa p|tlor 2to?lor.

Then you will be swift to die, such are your words; for straightaway then after Hector is your doom ready.

This prediction has always seemed rather problematic, for later recorded traditions from the ‘Epic Cycle’ make it clear that there were quite a few episodes intervening between the deaths of Hector and Achilles – Penthesileia and Memnon being the chief ones (Aethiopis arg. 4 – 15 Bernabé). Some scholars think this is an example of Homer attempting to preclude known, and rival, stories;95 others have argued that it shows his ignorance of those stories;96 still others have opined that this is one of Homer’s famous ‘nods’,97 and the Neoanalysts have predictably concluded that her prediction would much better fit the situation facing Achilles before his fight with Memnon, immediately after which Achilles perishes (Aethiopis arg. 12 – 16 Bernabé).98 But the typical framework of the PL, in which the mourner is always mistaken about the immediate danger facing the threatened figure, provides us with a

95 Cf., e.g., Currie 2006, 31, who attempts to have it both ways: “the poet need not always have his eye on how a putative continuation of his song could be reconciled with tradition … Iliad 18.96 ‘quotes’ the *Memnonis (Aithiopis) while simultaneously negating its plot”; contra, e.g., Scodel 2004 passim. 96 Cf. West 2003b, 7 for discussion. 97 It is not a little ironic that Kullmann (1960, 37 – 39) explains Thetis’ prediction by reference to the errors typical of oral poets, but this is an impossible conclusion anyway, for Lohmann 1970, 142 (above, n. 76) has shown the centrality of Thetis’ speech to the structure of the entire scene: Homer wanted not only that prediction, but more precisely he wanted his audience to recognise its importance. Hence Lohmann (144 – 145) tolerates the “kleine sachliche Ungenauigkeit” (145) because of the advantages of the theme’s development and its effect in this scene (cf. 145 and n. 81 for his condemnation of the Neoanalytical case): Achilles’ desire not to live any longer (18.88 – 93) becomes intensified in Thetis’ upping of the ante (‘straightaway then’ 95 – 96), which he takes to the next level in his reply (‘straightaway may I die!’ 98ff.) before returning to the acceptance of his fate at some point in the future (115ff.); the theme thus follows the emotional development of the scene, and Lohmann’s demonstration is strengthened by the realisation that PL demands an error of the sort expressed here. 98 Cf., e.g., Burgess 2009, 87: “the remark by Thetis is a transferred motif that evokes the situation before the battle between Achilles and Memnon”; contra Hölscher 1955, 394 – 395. It should be remembered that the order of events in Proclus’ summary has the conversation between Achilles and Thetis about t± jat\ t|m L]lmoma before the death of Antilochus (arg. 12 – 13 Bernabé).

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


much simpler explanation for this prediction – Thetis is wrong: Achilles is not to die ‘straightaway’ after Hector. This may seem, on first and perhaps second sight, an absolutely outrageous suggestion. Throughout the poem, Thetis’ special knowledge about the future is frequently assumed: Achilles refers to her famous information about his twin fates (9.410 – 416; cf. 17.404 – 411, 21.276 – 278; also 19.416 – 417, 22.359 – 360, 23.80 – 81); Nestor feels that some such information could have motivated Achilles not to fight (11.794 – 795); Achilles again remembers a previous prediction of hers that the best of the Myrmidons would die whilst he lived (18.8 – 11); and so on. Of course, she does have a more privileged access to this kind of information than other lamenting females (all of whom are mortals),99 but nowhere in the poem is it suggested that she is infallible. On a broader level, we should never expect infallibility on the part of any of the (other) gods, for only Zeus has the final say over the course of both narrative and history, and several of her pronouncements are explicitly linked with him (esp. 17.404 – 411, 11.794 – 795). Whatever their individual moments of influence or insight (as for instance Hera with Zeus over the fate of Sarpedon (16.431 – 461) or Poseidon with Hera (20.291 – 319) over that of Aeneas), the other gods are generally kept in the dark about his opinions and intentions throughout the Iliad and Odyssey until the moment, as he says to Hera, when he decides to reveal ‘whatever it is fitting to hear’ (1.547).100 If it is possible for Hera, Poseidon and Athene not to be certain that Zeus will indeed permit the sacking of Troy, then it is surely possible that Thetis can be misinformed about the precise circumstances of her son’s death. But it might be objected that there are other mentions of Achilles’ death in this poem which also make a similar connection, at least in terms of the timing of that event:101 for Xanthos it is ‘near’ (19.409), and for Thetis later in the poem it is ‘close by’ (24.132). Yet, equally, for Hera it is ‘later’ (20.127), whilst Hephaestus is as vague in this regard (18.464 – 467) as is Achilles himself (19.421 – 422, 21.111) and Hector in his dying prediction (22.358 – 360). From an immortal perspective, of course, any event in the lives of wretchedly transient mortals is near, and the famous words of Glaucus to Diomedes or Apollo to Poseidon 99 West 1966 ad Th. 233, 233 (also ad 240 – 264, 235) notes that marine deities are frequently linked with prophetic powers. 100 Cf. Schäfer 1990 passim; also Allan 2008, 208 with n. 18. 101 Cf. Edwards 1991 ad 18.95 – 96, 158, for discussion.


Adrian Kelly

ring particularly true here (Il. 6.146 – 149, 21.464 – 466),102 but there is in any case no great stretch of time – even to a mortal – between the death of Hector and the fall of Troy. Homer is creating above all a causal connection between the events, but Thetis’ mistake – or exaggeration, if you prefer – leaves room for other stories to intervene between the end of his poem and the end of its hero’s life.103 The poet’s decision to use PL here allows us to observe him fitting his own into the existing stories of Achilles’ death, and thereby to resolve the longstanding crux over Homer’s apparent ignorance or dismissal of the arrivals of Penthesileia and Memnon at Troy.104 The relationship between the Homeric Iliad and the future of Achilles is an inclusive, accommodating one, but we would never be able to see this if we were blind to the ways in which the poet constructs his narrative. Just as Andromache, Agamemnon, Hecuba and Penelope are wrong in the immediate circumstances about their menfolk, so the divine Thetis – for all the superiority she possesses specifically as a lamenting figure – is mistaken about the future of her son.

IV. Conclusion An appreciation of Homer’s typical patternings – in this case, prospective lamentation – shows more clearly the structural and semantic purpose of the mourning elements to be found at the start of Iliad 18. They are not inappropriate or unexpected there, nor do they require a reference or allusion to Achilles’ actual death and funeral in order to be understood in their context, as the earlier Neoanalysts contended. None of this means that Homer is not trying also to remind his audience of that event, as some newer Neoanalysts might argue,105 but this is not the 102 Cf. Burgess 2001, 117 – 127, 190 – 191; Kelly 2007, 289 – 290. 103 Cf. also Scodel 2004. Burgess (2009, 15 – 19) makes the point that other stories about the relationship between Thetis and Achilles are presupposed on her continually trying unsuccessfully to prevent his early death, so that her error here would fit entirely with the motives traditionally associated with her character. 104 In fact, Homer does more than fit it in, because he places the erroneous prediction at the very centre of the scene’s structure (cf. above, nn. 76 and 97 for Lohmann’s analysis), highlighting it within the PL itself and commenting powerfully on his character’s limitation. 105 We await Currie (forthcoming). In some sense, traditional Neoanalysis made for a more rigorous and satisfying method: problems in the Homeric text ne-

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad


only nor even the most important source of significance within this episode, so simply substituting the terms ‘allusion’ or ‘interaction’ for the older ‘dependence’ and ‘derivation’ is no real progression, and is subject to the same range of criticisms; the conventional nature of the scene shows that it cannot be assumed to be directed primarily towards the post-Iliadic story of Achilles. The Neoanalytical emphasis on the scene at the start of Iliad 18 will prove to have been beneficial, for it has forced us to examine the structures of Homer’s narrative much more closely than we would otherwise have done. Yet, even as we move forward into a new period of rapprochement, we cannot forget that this emphasis has ignored the typical patterns underlying Homeric narrative and their meaning, and deployed instead an unhelpful and misleading series of criteria in order to demonstrate Homeric dependence on other texts / poems / stories. This has been done usually without considering the very special circumstances of orally derived traditional epic, or even discussing what criteria are appropriate for poetry of this sort. Once we understand the poem’s typicality, our attitude to the very notion of ‘appropriateness’ must change also. However useful in other cases, the Neoanalyst’s drive to see behind the poem in this way cannot be employed in this case: there is no compelling reason to conclude that Homer is drawing on anything other than traditional, typical resources in his construction of the episode, nor that he is particularly alluding to an episode from another text / poem / story instead of trying to create significance within his own narrative. When Jonathan Burgess says that “the mourning of Thetis and the Nereids belongs to one situation only, the famous funeral of Achilles … the book 18 scene therefore seems like a significant evocation of the funeral of Achilles”,106 he is unlikely to be right in those exclusivising cessitated the invocation of sources in order to explain and solve them, so that there was a strong, in some cases inexorable, argumentative drive for every step in the method. There is no such logical necessity to its newer form, which seems often to amount to little more than saying that there might be a connection to another text / poem / story, because there are striking similarities between the Homeric text and its putative source (cf. above, n. 20). But shouldn’t we expect similarities between texts originating at this period in the history of Greek literature, and without seeing those resemblances necessarily as evidence of a genetic relationship? Whilst avoiding some of the pitfalls of its earlier cousin, the newer version seems nonetheless to have fallen straight into the other traps by which Neoanalysis is dogged. 106 Burgess 2009, 83; also Edwards 1990, 312: “the tableau of Achilles’ grief, with his mourning mother holding his head in her arms and the lamenting sea-


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terms, and the artistic evidence adduced earlier certainly gives us no reason to think so.107 Any allusive purpose, when viewed in the light of Homer’s traditional technique, is an ancillary factor to an understanding of Thetis’ prospective lamentation for her son. Once we cease seeking to explain Homer by reference to uncertainly attested texts / poems, and instead concentrate our attention on the techniques actually evidenced within the Iliad, we cease to be distracted from the primary duty of explaining the text we have on its own terms. If we are to draw on that which is useful within the rich and productive heritage of Neoanalysis, we must not be blind to that which should be questioned – and then discarded.108

Appendix – PL sequences in Homeric poetry I. PL 1 – the first (more public) individual stage Case Setting



[1] Battlefield (Il. 4.79 – 80)

Agamemnon (148 – 149) Menelaus (183 – 187)

[2] Scaean gates (Il. 6.392 – 394)

Andromache (406 – 439) Hector (441 – 465)

*[3] Neleus’ cave (Il. 18.35 – 36) Thetis (18.51 – 64)

*[4] Priam’s house (Il. 24.160 – 161)

Iris (171 – 187)

summary (160 – 168)

[5] public area of Od.’s house Penelope (336 – 344) (Od. 1.330 – 335)

Telemachus (345 – 359)

nymphs around them (II. 18.65 – 147), seems to invoke the scene of his funeral”. 107 Cf. above, nn. 87 – 88. 108 I would like to thank Antonios Rengakos and Christos Tsagalis for their invitation to the conference where the material on which this article is based was presented, and the conference participants for their stimulating questions and discussion. I would also like to thank Bill Allan, Jonathan Burgess, Bob Cowan, Bruno Currie, Sarah Harden and Oliver Thomas for reading and commenting on earlier drafts, and Monika Murdoch Asztalos, Øivind Andersen and everyone at the Institutt for filosofi, ide- og kunsthistorie og klassiske språk at the University of Oslo for inviting me to give a seminar on this material in December 2009, and for their perceptive muthoi and generous xenia afterwards.

The Mourning of Thetis: ‘Allusion’ and the Future in the Iliad

Case Setting [6] threshold female quarters (Od. 4.679 – 680)




Penelope (680 – 695, 703 – 710)

Medon (711 – 714)

[7] public area of Od.’s house Penelope (summ.) (204 – Odysseus (Od. 19.51 – 52) 213, 249 – 351) (582 – 587) [8] (a) storeroom of Od.’s house

(a) Penelope (summ.) (55 – 56)

(b) public area Od.’s house (b) Penelope (67 – 79 (Od. 21.63 – 66) etc.)

– Telemachus (344 – 353)

II. PL 2 – the second (more private) group stage Case Setting [1] –



[2] Hector’s house (Il. 6.497 – 498) Andromache and maids (summ.) (498 – 502) – *[3] Myrmidon ships (Il. 18.67 – 69)

Thetis (70 – 77, 95 – 96) Achilles (97 – 126)

*[4] Priam’s bedroom (Il. 24.191 – 192, 237 – 238, 281 – 282)

(a) Hecuba (200 – 216)

Priam (217 – 227)

(b) Trojans (237)

Priam (239 – 246)

(c) sons (249 – 251)

Priam (252 – 264)

[5] female quarters (Od. 1.360 – 362)

Penelope and maids (summ.) (362 – 363)

[6] (threshold) female quarters (Od. 4.716 – 719)

Penelope (721 – 741)

Eurycleia (742 – 758)

[7] female quarters (Od. 19.600 – 602)

Penelope and maids (summ.) (602 – 603)

[8] female quarters (Od. 21.354 – 356)

Penelope and maids (summ.) (356 – 357)

* = reversal of sequence (viz. private group stage followed by public individual stage)

Part III: Odyssey

Belatedness in the Travels of Odysseus Jonathan S. Burgess Odysseus’ account of his wanderings in Books 9 – 12 of the Odyssey is an iconic travel tale. It is also marked by belatedness, for prior travel along Odysseus’ route is a significant and repeated theme. Traces of heroic quest myths, folktales, and ‘sailor’s yarns’ have often been considered as sources of the wanderings. Their continuing presence contributes to a poetics of belatedness on the part of Odysseus. To demonstrate this it will be necessary to pick at the weave of the Apologoi a bit, but my intention is to point out a unified pattern of belatedness. The term ‘neoanalyst’ might be filched to describe loosely my methodology, which will employ diachronic evidence in the interest of synchronic meaning.

The Anxiety of Belatedness Travel theory has described travel of recent periods as ‘belated’ in relation to earlier ages of discovery and exploration.1 Harold Bloom popularized ‘belatedness’ as an aspect of literary filiation, proposing an ‘anxiety of influence’ on the part of Romantic authors.2 The belated author cannot avoid his literary inheritance, and so chooses among different defensive maneuvers, often of an agonistic or Oedipal nature. Authors of later periods in antiquity might be described as belated, as scholars have often seen.3 From this perspective Homer is a founding source, and anything but belated. And for oralists, the Bloomian emphasis on texts and authorial intention does not seem appropriate for the world of early

1 2 3

On travel theory see The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Hulme – Youngs 2002); specific studies cited further below. Bloom 19972. My employment of the concept of belatedness is in no way sympathetic to Bloom’s ranting about the ‘school of resentment’ (e. g., 19972, xv). E.g., Hellenistic literature: Fantuzzi – Hunter 2004, esp. 89 – 139 on Apollonius; Latin literature: Martindale 1993; Hardie 1993; pastoral genre: Hubbard 1998.


Jonathan S. Burgess

Greek epic. Yet there are several ways in which the Homeric poems might be considered belated. Whatever their eventual status as a chronologically primary text, the Homeric poems are in origin secondary. Neoanalysts have demonstrated that the Iliad follows Trojan War narratives also told in the Epic Cycle;4 oralists have demonstrated that the Homeric poems stem from longstanding compositional strategies. My exploration of belatedness in the Odyssey is indebted to both Neoanalysis and oral theory, but I demur at their tendency to efface the presence of other narratives (neoanalysts emphasizing innovative reconfiguration, oralists agonistic performance). Pre-Homeric narratives did not disappear upon the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey, and the Homeric poems remained necessarily belated to them. The Odyssey’s relation to the Iliad itself has sometimes been described as anxiously agonistic, a phenomenon that could as be deemed belated.5 Intra-textually, both the beginning and end of the Odyssey have their belated aspects. For Odysseus upon his return, Ithaca is uncanny. As Bloom suggests (1997, 77), belatedness can be uncanny in the sense of Freud’s use of the term unheimlich, “un-home-like,” to describe perception of the known as foreign.6 Odysseus literally cannot recognize Ithaca upon his arrival (Od. 13.187ff.), and his home will continue to seem at once very familiar and strange.7 As for the Telemachy, it features a son traveling belatedly in comparison to his father. In a quite Oedipal manner, Telemachus travels in search of confirmation that his muchtraveled father is dead.8

4 5 6 7 8

As literary artifacts, the Cycle poems are usually viewed as belated in relation to the Homeric poems (challenged at Burgess 2001). For an excellent discussion of cyclic belatedness, see Holmberg 1998. E.g., Pucci 1987; Ford 1994. On Freud and travel, see D. Porter 1991, 187 – 188; on Freud and the Odyssey, Nobus 2006. See Perry 2010 on Odysseus’ assumption of an exile persona in his lying tale upon his immediate return. Odysseus compares his son’s travels to his own at Od. 13.418 – 419. The argument at Martin 1993 that Telemachus represents a general sense of aeonic inadequacy on the part of the external audience is deemed “belated” at Murnaghan 2002, 140 – 142; cf. Murnaghan 2005, 422.

Belatedness in the Travels of Odysseus


Belated Travel of Odysseus My focus, though, is on Odysseus as a belated traveler. ‘Sea yarns’ have sometimes been entertained as sources for the wanderings, if less frequently and precisely than myth and folktale.9 The Apologoi of Odysseus prefigures modern travel writing, including belated and postmodern examples of the last two centuries.10 Odysseus is an experienced traveler – his epithet pok}tqopor in the first line of the Odyssey could well be translated “much-traveled.” Even before the Trojan War Odysseus traveled, according to Telemachus.11 And as Teiresias predicts in Book 11 and the Telegony narrates, he is destined to travel again after his return. The hero is also a teller of travel tales who regularly transforms his journeys into narrative. As a guest of Aeolus (Od. 10.14 – 15; a whole month of tales) and Circe (Od. 12.35) Odysseus apparently begins to recount aspects of his still unfolding travel saga. The Apologoi represents merely one particularly bravura late-night performance by a habitual travel raconteur; later Penelope will listen to a pillow talk version (Od. 23.310 – 341). The lying or ‘Cretan’ tales, told in disguise after Odysseus’ return to Ithaca (Od. 13.253 – 286, 14.192 – 359, 17.419 – 444, 19.165 – 307, 24.244 – 314), are also travel tales.

Traveling Heroes The return of Odysseus is quite literally late: Odysseus hears repeated predictions that that he will return “late” (ax] /, Od. 9.534; 11.113 – 114; 12.141; cf. 23.7). It is noted from the start of the poem that others have already returned home from the Trojan War (Od. 1.11 – 13). The ‘returns’ become a new heroic song before Odysseus reaches Ithaca (1.325ff., 351 – 352), and so the hero’s return becomes progressively be9 On sources: Heubeck 1988, 5 – 6, 13 – 22; 1989, 5 – 10, 75 – 76; Danek 1998, 1 – 6, 23 – 28, 220 – 221. On ‘sea yarns’ in particular: Heubeck 1989, 6, 43; Danek 1998, 257. See M. West 2005, 59 – 64 for speculation on stages of development for the wanderings of Odysseus. Danek 1998 explores potential alternative narratives from neoanalyst and oralist perspectives. 10 Hulme and Youngs 2002, 2; Metz 2009. For travel and travel literature in antiquity, see esp. Casson 1974; Romm 1992; Alcock – Cherry – Elsner 2001; Hartog 2001; Montiglio 2005; Adams – Roy 2007; Pretzler 2007; Burgess 2010. 11 Od. 1.176 – 177; cf. 19.315 – 316, and 10.38 – 39 with Danek 1998, 195.


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lated within its own cycle. While traveling Odysseus is repeatedly confronted by his belatedness when asked for information about which he remains in the dark. Aeolus asks him to report all that he knew about “Troy and the ships and return of the Achaeans” (10.15). Since Odysseus became separated from his comrades at an early point, his knowledge of the returns of others is necessarily limited. In the underworld he discovers that Agamemnon returned only to be slaughtered, but he remains ignorant of other comrades. When Agamemnon asks about Orestes (11.457ff.) and Achilles asks about Peleus (494ff.), Odysseus is quite abrupt, pointing out impatiently that he can’t possibly know about their current status. Frustrated as he may be to realize that the heroic world has continued on without him, Odysseus is most obviously belated when made aware that he is secondary to some very significant heroic travelers. Most notable is the encounter between Odysseus and the shade of Heracles in Book 11 (601 – 627). Odysseus accomplishes a difficult journey to the underworld only to discover the shade of the hero who famously traveled to the underworld, Heracles. And he later spies the shade of Theseus, another hero associated with catabasis (631). Since Odysseus demonstrates an expert knowledge of myth in his catalogues of underworld shades, one can consider him to be aware of earlier catabases. 12 Heracles’ extensive travels to the western edges of the earth, along Oceanus in the cup of Helios in some accounts, were also probably common knowledge.13 Neither hero was a happy traveler, but Heracles achieved heroic fame through his journeys, and Odysseus might consider his experiences the material of future kleos (the Apologoi being an early draft). The cameo of Heracles, who pops up elsewhere in the Odyssey as a foil to Odysseus,14 puts all that rather in the shade. In Book 11 Odysseus exudes awe and even fear as he describes Heracles with his bow and amazing baldric. Odysseus eventually flees the underworld, in fear of the Gorgon, before he is able to interview 12 On which, see Gantz 1993, 291 – 295 (Theseus), 413 – 416 (Heracles). It is worth mentioning that in non-Homeric traditions Sisyphos (11.593) escaped once from Hades and was the father of Odysseus (Gantz 1993, 173 – 176; Cook 1995, 9 n. 13). Orpheus, a possible model for Odysseus in his Sirens encounter (see below), is also famous for a catabasis (Gantz 1993, 721 – 725) 13 Gantz 1993, 402 – 413. Heubeck 1989, 6 – 7 speculates that the catabasis of Heracles is a key source of the wanderings. 14 Notably at 8.223 – 225, 21.24 – 29; see Galinsky 1972, 9 – 22; Clay 1997, 89 – 96; Danek 1998, 247 – 249.

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Theseus. Odysseus cannot compete with his heroic predecessors; his heroic catabasis turns out to be not only secondary but also inferior. Whereas Heracles successfully completed the task of retrieving Cerberus (and had successfully completed other travel labors, like acquiring the golden apples of the Hesperides and the cattle of Geryon), Odysseus accomplishes nothing. As the Analysts complained, the underworld visit is lacking in function (see below on directions). We needn’t reject the episode as a result (or lines about Heracles and Theseus); what we should notice, in addition to all the other magnificence of Book 11, is the portrayal of Odysseus as belated. Belatedness establishes differences, of course, not simply inferiority. We come away feeling that though Heracles was the more awesome hero, Odysseus is knowledgeable, adaptable, and resourceful in ways that Heracles could never be. The contrast in motivation for their catabases is also instructive. It is one thing to succeed in the mission of retrieving Cerberus; it is quite another to remain much-enduring in the absence of clear motivation. In this sense Book 11 is a typical episode of the wanderings. Odysseus’ goal is to return, but his adventures simply extend as a series of arbitrary deferments (in a quite postmodern manner) without any logical progression towards home. Heracles is not the only heroic traveler who has preceded Odysseus. Upon his return Circe mentions to Odysseus that he has been preceded in his forthcoming journey by the Argo, “known to all” ()qc½ p÷si l]kousa ; Od. 12.70). Odysseus has already referred to himself, most unusually, in similar terms at the beginning of the Apologoi (eUl’ iduse»r Kaeqti\dgr, dr p÷si d|koisim / !mhq~poisi l]ky, Od. 9.19 – 20; “I am Odysseus son of Laertes, who is known to all men for his tricks”).15 The comparable phraseology reveals how Circe’s words about the Argo linger in Odysseus’ mind. But Circe does not state that Odysseus will recreate the journey of the Argo, but rather that he has that choice at one point. Tellingly, she assumes that he will decline to follow the Argo through the wandering rocks. In this case of belatedness Odysseus does not discover after the fact that he has been preceded. With foreknowledge he is able to avoid repetition of travel, at least to some degree.

15 See Segal 1994, 87.


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It has often been thought that the travel of Odysseus largely recreates a pre-Homeric Argonautic tradition.16 The transference of Argonautic material into the wanderings of Odysseus, if true, would apparently support my argument. But my concern is not with the poem’s pre-Homeric sources but rather the character Odysseus’ knowledge of the Argo story. Presumably he is familiar with the general outlines of a travel tale that featured a ship “known to all”. But there is no indication that he is aware of any other correspondence to his own travel tale than the wandering rocks. And exact duplication does not result in the case of the wandering rocks, since Odysseus chooses to swerve away from them. In Bloomian terms, a ‘swerve’ is a marker of belatedness.17 Just as Odysseus shies away from direct competition with Heracles (explicitly at Od. 8.223 – 225), Odysseus here refuses to emulate the Argonauts.

Traveling Nobodies Odysseus has not been preceded only by heroes in his wanderings. Anonymous travelers have also traveled along the same routes as Odysseus. This claim may seem surprising; Homerists tend to imagine that Odysseus travels outside the human realm into supernatural, cosmological dimensions. But a close reading reveals several indications that others have traveled where he does. The relevant details often seem to be ad hoc invention,18 but some could derive from travel lore. For my purposes any indication of preceding travel, whether traditional of invented, would contribute to Odysseus’ sense of belatedness. Some possibilities are ambiguous or illusory. For example, it has been argued that ‘Goat Island’ is actually Hypereia, the former home of the Phaeacians that was near the Cyclopes (Od. 6.2 – 8; Clay 1980). The argument seems counter-intuitive, given Odysseus’ description of ‘Goat Island’ as a pristine natural setting. It is true that misinterpretation of land as ‘untouched,’ and therefore available, is a familiar trope of colonial discourse, and Odysseus’ portrait of ‘Goat Island’ certainly does employ colonial language.19 But even if ‘Goat Island’ had once been 16 Meuli 1921 is usually cited; cf. Kullmann 1991, 449 – 452; Danek 1998, 213 – 214, 252 – 257; M. West 2005 for recent discussion. 17 Bloom 19972, 14, 19 – 45, with reference to the clinamen of Lucretius. 18 Cf. Jones 1992 on details about the past in Ithaca. 19 Dougherty 2001, 129 – 130; Rinon 2007 on Goat Island.

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Hypereia, there is no indication that Odysseus suspects that he has been preceded there. A potentially more revealing indication of preceding travel arises after the blinding of Polyphemus. Upon hearing the name of Odysseus, Polyphemus refers to a past prophecy by the seer Telemus (Od. 9.508ff.). The specification that Telemus, son of Eurymus, grew old among the Cyclopes seems to indicate that he was an outsider. His name, “Far, son of Wide,” suggests a traveler. Polyphemus’ specification that Telemus was l]car (508) does not mean that he was a Cyclops; Polyphemus also expects the foreigner Odysseus would be l]car (513). In later literature Telemus remains shadowy and undeveloped, but Ovid (Met. 13.770 – 771) portrays him as an alien resident among the Cyclopes. The Latin poet is not simply inventing a back-story, I would argue, but rather astutely perceiving the implied status of Telemus among the Cyclopes in the Odyssey. Of course, Telemus is probably invented for the purpose of the motif of a belatedly realized prophecy (cf. Od. 10.330 ff.). But even if Telemus is untraditional, the passage remains significant in its implication (according to my reading) that the Cyclopes have had a prior visitor – a settler, actually. For a brief yet telling moment Odysseus hears he is not the first to visit the Cyclopes. Other details suggest that Odysseus is already aware of this. It is Polyphemus who introduces the question of Odysseus’ ship – indeed he initially wonders whether Odysseus and his men are traders or pirates (252 – 255). The Cyclopes may lack shipbuilding skills with which to travel to other lands (125 – 126), but they are clearly familiar with ships, presumably because various people have traveled to them. When Odysseus warns Polyphemus that travelers will not visit him in the future (351 – 352), he is acknowledging that the Cyclopes exist within the realm of human travel.20 Years later, before he gets a chance to tell his story to the Phaeacians, he hears Alcinous make a casual reference to the Cyclopes (7.206). In fact, as we saw above, the Phaeacians at one time had the Cyclopes as troublesome neighbors. This 20 The Homeric Cyclopes are explicitly designated as humans in the Odyssey at 6.5; cf. 187, 190 – 193 (which simply means Polyphemus seemed more like a mountain peak than a man in size, not that he was a mountain peak instead of a human), 214. On his designation as “monstrous” see below. The claim that Odysseus meets no one “strictly human” between the Lotus-Eaters and Calypso (Vidal-Naquet 1996, 39) is grossly overstated; only Circe, the Sirens, and Scylla are certainly not.


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audience can’t be expected to be particularly impressed by the land of the Cyclopes; they’ve been there, done that.21

No Direction Home The Greeks in their wanderings are not searching for some sort of portal back into the human world, but rather simply for directions.22 The Circe episode well brings out this somewhat obscured theme. When Odysseus first spies the smoke from Circe’s house, he ponders whether or not to approach (Od. 10.148 – 152). Deciding to return to his men, he eventually gets around to suggesting, in a curiously round-about way, that they investigate (189 – 197). The men fall all about the beach, wailing and crying, in the not unreasonable supposition that they will encounter another dangerous situation. Why not just sail forth, then, without inquiring inland? Odysseus has provided them with the food of the slain stag, they have their boat, and nothing is stopping them from proceeding onwards. The answer is to be found in Odysseus’ rather vague speech to his men. They are lost, not knowing where west nor east is, nor where Helios sets and rises (190 – 192).23 But they must consider a me¯tis (192 – 193), for he observed that they are encircled by water and that smoke arose from the middle of the island (194 – 195). Yet he does not think they can devise a me¯tis (193; a rather shocking conclusion, coming as it does from Odysseus polyme¯tis). What is Odysseus trying to say? Translation: we’re on an island with no other land in sight, with no direction home, so we must go ask the inhabitants for help.24 The companions break down in mourning be-

21 More obviously belated are Aeneas and his crew at Aen. 3.588ff., who encounter Achaemenides, a surviving companion of Odysseus. 22 I am indebted to unpublished paper by Yuriy Lozynsky on this topic; cf. de Jong 2001, 255. 23 At 12.4 Odysseus reports that Aeaea is located where the sun rises. His statement to his men is either metaphorical rhetoric, subsequently corrected ignorance, or acknowledgement that human comprehension of direction fails at the edges of the earth. 24 For the Dylan allusion, see Rose 1992, 92.

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cause they get the message.25 Odysseus explains that they are thinking of their disastrous encounters with Polyphemus and the Laestrygonians, adding sardonically that no praxis resulted from their mourning.

Metamorphosis and Stagnation As it happens, the first expedition inland is disastrous. When Odysseus’ companions approach the home of Circe, they are amazed to encounter domesticated lions and wolves that fawn upon them (Od. 10.212 ff.). Once inside Circe’s home they are transformed into pigs, except for Eurylochus, who had elected to stay outside. After Odysseus has Circe transform them back and invites the other companions to Circe’s home, Eurylochus warns that they will all end up transformed into pigs, wolves, and lions (Od. 10.433). Though it is not apparent how he reaches this conclusion, Eurylochus seems to believe that the domesticated lions and wolves are transformed humans. If so, that means that the companions of Odysseus are not the first to be transformed into animals by Circe. One might also ponder the nature of the giant stag slain by Odysseus, which dies with phraseology reminiscent of the Iliadic battlefield (161 – 163) and is described as a wonder (p]kyqor, 168), as are the wolves and lions (p]kyqa, 219).26 The Greeks subsequently feast on this stag – are Odysseus and his companions unwitting cannibals?27 More to the point of my argument, the Greeks would not be the first visitors to Circe’s island. Eurylochus’ suspicions are indeed harmonious with the inherent logic of the episode. Folktale analogues feature the transformation of multiple visitors to a magical witch in the woods. Ancient iconography frequently represents the companions as hybrids with the heads of various creatures. Apollonius (4.667), Virgil (Aen. 7.15 – 20) and Ovid 25 Similarly, Odysseus (496ff.) and the companions (566ff.) upon the news that they must make a far more interior expedition for directions, all the way to Hades. 26 Polyphemus (Od. 9.187, 190, 257) and Scylla (Od. 12.87) are similarly described with words of the same root. Unusual aspects that inspire awe, especially but not exclusively size, are denoted. In reference to Polyphemus, there is no implication that he is not human – just as the stag, wolves, and lions are not thereby indicated to be different species than they appear to be. 27 The issue comes up occasionally in a flurry of publications on the stag in the late 80s and early 90s: Schmoll 1987; Roessel 1989; Birge 1993; Scodel 1994.


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(Met. 14.320 – 396) readily imagine previous victims of Circe’s magic.28 But that does not mean that our Odyssey wants us to agree with Eurylochus, or to think that Eurylochus’ companions agree with him.29 In Odysseus’ telling of the story, there is nothing to back up Eurylochus’ surmise. The wolves and lions apparently maintain their appearance but are changed in disposition; the companions maintain their minds but are transformed in appearance (239 – 240). It certainly would be awkward if Eurylochus’ surmise was correct – besides the potential cannibalism, how could the Greeks have the heart to sail off without asking Circe to transform the wolves and lions back into humans? It is best to concede that Odysseus displays no knowledge of previous travelers here. Yet it is significant that Odysseus chooses to report Eurylochus’ fearful speculation about Circe’s transformative habits. The words of Eurylochus, embedded in the character speech of Odysseus, itself embedded within the Odyssey, is a trace of how the story usually goes. From a neoanalyst perspective we might view this a valuable piece of evidence about the genetic history of the episode, if too dim to challenge the unity of the Homeric narrative. For my purposes, the passage helpfully demonstrates the belated nature of the Greek’s travel.30 Eurylochus supposes that previous human visitation to Circe’s island is entirely plausible, an assumption that is never disputed. Even if he is wrong about the wolves and lions, as Odysseus’ narrative would imply, his statement reveals that the Greeks believe that they are still within the realm of mortal travel. Metamorphosis by Circe has been subjected to many allegorical interpretations, but it most obviously symbolizes a common motif in travel literature, that of ‘going native.’ This issue arises continually in the wanderings: some of Odysseus’ companions wish to live with the Lotus-Eaters, Odysseus imagines ‘Goat Island’ as a new home (cf. Telemus), and he is invited to marry Nausicaa and settle at Scheria (Od. 7.311 – 316).31 Despite Eurylochus’ fears, the Greeks suffer no fur28 See Page 1973, 51 – 69 for analogues; for the iconography, Canciani 1992, nos. 4 – 65. 29 Heubeck 1989, 55 – 56; Danek 1998, 203, 210; de Jong 2001, 257 – 258. 30 Burgess 2009 argues that traces of the Memnon story in the Iliad have intertextual significance for the audience. Cf. Katz 1991 on ‘indeterminancy,’ with reference to neoanalysis; such an analysis would well bring out how Eurylochus’ surmise unavoidably problematizes the Circe episode. 31 I thank Patrick Hadley for discussion on the motif. On the motif of marrying a native princess, see Dougherty 2001, 167 – 169.

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ther metamorphosis at Aeaea – but they do undergo its antonym, stagnation. Odysseus is such a success with Circe that the Greeks become distracted and ‘go native’ for a whole year. Relevant to several issues in Book 10 is the scene in Apocalypse Now where a search for food onshore leads to a frightening encounter with a tiger (surely in creative reception of our Circe episode). Chef breaks down afterwards (much like the companions and Eurylochus at various points), chanting over and over “never get outta the boat”. In response Willard intones solemnly in a voiceover, “Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddam right” (cf. Odysseus advising his crew off Thrinacia not even to get out of the boat; Od. 12.276). Willard then proceeds to muse on how Kurtz ‘went native’ (“he split from the whole fucking program”). At the beginning of Book 10 the Greeks demonstrate that they are well aware of the physical dangers of inland exploration. Later a different danger arises, the temptation of deserting the program of nostos.

Pompe¯ Circumstances Eventually prodded by his companions, Odysseus requests a send-off that he claims Circe promised (t]kes|m loi rp|swesim, Fm peq rp]stgr, / oUjade pelx]lemai, 483 – 485; “accomplish for me the promise which you promised, to send me homeward”). Critics are perplexed; we have not heard about any such promise. But we have been prepared for it: Odysseus had essentially told his men that they needed to seek help for their further travel, and now he is asking for directions. Magic, sex, and feasting may have obscured the motivation for their inland reconnoiter, but it has been there all along. For directions, Circe tells Odysseus that he must seek out Teiresias, who will tell him about the “way, the measures of the path, and the return” (Od. 10.539 – 540). Teiresias will focus, however, on Thrinacia as a pivotal moment in Odysseus’ future, as well as on his post-return journey (Od. 11.100 – 137).32 Informed of Teiresias’ remarks upon the return of Odysseus (Od. 12.33 – 35), Circe can then provide directions to Thrinacia, along with much helpful advice. The tag-team directions, highly conditioned as they are by the parameters of Odysseus’ fate, are

32 See Peradotto 1990, 59 – 93 for how Teiresias’ logic unfolds.


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not exactly what Odysseus and his men had in mind. But they are their only me¯tis and praxis. The directions of Circe and Teiresias, such as they are, continue an earlier established theme of pompe¯. This is a flexible word that means most literally “send-off,” but its connotations include “directions”, “means for travel”, or “conveyance”, depending on the circumstances. Aeolus provides Odysseus with an almost successful pompe¯ (through control of the winds; Od. 10.17 – 26) upon Odysseus’ request, and Polyphemus belatedly and deceptively promises pompe¯ to Odysseus (by acting as an intermediary to Poseidon; Od. 9.517 – 519) in response to Odysseus’ earlier request for such (349 – 350). Acquisition of pompe¯ is a decidedly more plausible motive for visiting the Cyclops than curiosity and guest gifts (Odysseus’ excuses: Od. 9.173 – 176, 228 – 229). The need for pompe¯ also explains why Odysseus sent expeditions inland to the Lotus-Eaters and the Laestrygonians. Eventually the Phaeacians will finally provide Odysseus a pompe¯ (Od. 13.41), a much discussed topic during Odysseus stay (Od. 6.290, 7.151, 191, 317, 8.30, 545, 566, 568). Odysseus has to wait long for this pompe¯, but at least it is a pleasant journey through which Odysseus sleeps soundly, in contrast to his journey by raft to Scheria, which Zeus had proclaimed would be without immortal or mortal pompe¯ (Od. 5.32). Upon hearing of the plan from Calypso, Odysseus agrees, pronouncing in horror that being sent off by raft is no pompe¯ at all (Od. 5.173). But Calypso’s provisions of tools and directions for making a raft are later deemed a pompe¯ (Od. 5.233).33 The range of the term pompe¯ is wide indeed, including material for a raft, the right wind for their ships, and even a magic ship itself. Directions, though rather prosaic and non-material, are a key part of the concept (the wind from Aeolus conveys the Greek fleet in the right direction, for example, and the magic ships of the Phaecians know direction of their own accord [Od. 8.555 – 562]. Some forms of pompe¯, like that provided by Aeolus for going to Ithaca or Circe for going to the underworld, is supernatural. But the Greeks in their wanderings are continuously looking for directions home, not magic. They become wary after a series of hostile receptions, but they still believe that they could sail home if only its direction were pointed out to them. 33 Bakker 2010, employing the method of Propp, provides specific data on the motifs of helpers, agents, and goals in such scenes.

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Vestigial Travel Though the journey onwards from Aeaea becomes increasingly supernatural, tokens of previous human travel abound. A common motif in travel literature is the discovery of bones or footprints, which document the passage of preceding travelers. In Lucian’s True Story bones as well as live humans are encountered in the whale that swallows the protagonist (1.30 – 2.1); earlier in the story a marker on a distant island notes previous visitation by Heracles and Dionysus (1.7).34 Circe reveals to Odysseus that the bones of many lie on the shores of the Sirens (Od. 12.45 – 46), testifying to frequent human visitation (cf. Apollonius Argon. 4.893 – 894, 901). Similarly, as Circe reports, many ships have been wrecked by the Wandering Rocks (bodies float in the surf along with ship planks; Od. 12.62ff.). Odysseus at least hears about such visual evidence, though it is not clear that he himself ever sees it. Travel literature requires survival of the journey for the story to be told. Unlike prior victims of his route, Odysseus lives to tell the tale. But sailors’ yarns, a hypothetical external source for these episodes, are purportedly the tales of survivors. The Odyssey internally countenances the possibility that the dangers which Odysseus faces have been survived before. Circe’s statement that sailors do not return home who listen to the Sirens in ignorance (!zdqe_,: 41) suggests that the prepared have survived. The Sirens’ boast that “No one has passed by here with their ship without listening to our song” (Od. 12.186ff.) sounds like manipulative bluster after previous frustrations.35 Circe emphasizes that the Argo is the only ship to survive the wandering rocks (Od. 12.69 – 70), but one can choose to veer away, as Odysseus does. As for Charybdis, the danger depends on timing. The sea is sucked suddenly down three times a day (Od. 12.105 – 107); at any other time a ship may pass safely onward. Scylla has regularly feasted on previous sailors, along with sea creatures (Od. 12.95 ff.), but Circe’s advice makes it clear that only six

34 Comparable are a sandal of Perseus found in Egypt (Herodotus 2.91) and a footprint of Heracles in Scythia (Herodotus 4.82). On bones and prints as markers of previous heroic travel, see Boardman 2002, 34 – 43; Lane Fox 2008, 193 – 194. 35 The tradition that the Sirens committed suicide after Odysseus passed by is late; the earliest evidence is the fifth-century red-figure vase in the British Museum (E 440); see M. West 2005, 46 – 47.


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sailors can be taken from a ship.36 She claims that perhaps another six will perish if one delays (Od. 12.121 – 126), but there is no suggestion that all on a passing ship will die. It is repeatedly suggested to Odysseus that travelers have survived the route he is about to take. The question again arises of how traditional the wanderings were before the Odyssey got around to telling them. According to the old theory of Kirchhoff, a pre-Homeric third-person narrative has been transformed into a first-person narrative.37 But however interesting that issue of diachronic genetics may be, it should be noted that synchronically there is little indication that Odysseus has previously heard anything about the places he visits. Everyone knows something about Hades, it is true. And the Planctae must be as “known to all” as the Argo.38 The Phaeacians, at least, know all about their erstwhile antagonists, the Cyclopes (Od. 6.4 – 7). Other evidence is suggestive but uncertain. A possible meaning of the name ‘Polyphemus’ is “muchfamed,” and Odysseus seems to feel no need to point out to his audience that Polyphemus had one eye. De Jong occasionally wonders if lexical markers such as the present tense indicate known material.39 Notably, various details in the wanderings are said by Odysseus to be klutos, “famous,” including the palace of Aeolus (Od. 10.60), the harbor of the Laestrygonians (Od. 10.87), and their king Antiphates (Od. 10.114). Yet the adjective does no necessarily indicate tradition – the mundane nature of some objects so described suggests not. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Odysseus’ ‘prose’ story is necessarily presented to us in hexameter, with all the formulaic typology that traditional epic employs. Instead of finding such potential or vestigial evidence of traditionality problematic (to whatever analyst or neoanalyst degree), we might alternatively wonder if the external narrator employs markers of traditionality to speak through Odysseus to the external audience. In other words, perhaps Odysseus has never heard of the people and places in 36 In Apollonius, Hera implies one can steer a middle course between Scylla and Charybdis with no casualties (4.825 – 832); Odysseus’ insistence that he could not help losing six men who remained uninformed of the odds is suspiciously defensive (cf. Od. 12.111ff., 222ff.). 37 See Heubeck 1989, 5 – 6. 38 Circe’s statement implies that Argonautic tradition is common knowledge on the part of the characters, not just the external narrator and audience; see Danek 1998, 255 – 256. 39 De Jong 2001, 225 – 226, 234; but cf. Scodel 2005, 152.

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his wandering, yet his account meta-poetically and proleptically references the fame that the external audience associates with his story. The head spins a bit as we ponder the issue, but it would not at all be unlike the Odyssey to suggest that events are already famous as they are unfolding. At a minimum Odysseus is continually informed of preceding travel in the course of his wanderings. Whether or not the contents of the Apologoi are traditional is technically irrelevant to his belatedness; it is enough if the poem indicates that Odysseus is told that he is not the first in the waters through which he sails. Beyond that there is no need for me to argue that Odysseus had prior knowledge of the places he visits, or that all of the episodes in the wanderings existed in pre-Homeric mytho-epic traditions, though these questions to some degree must remain open. Eventually Odysseus makes it to Scheria, and so let us return to the Phaeacians. The Odyssey makes it very clear that they are well connected with the whole world through their nautical skills, even if it is sometimes claimed that they live in hostile isolation (cf. Od. 6.199ff., 276ff., 7.32 – 33). Their magic ships know the cities of all men (Od. 8.560 – 561); the Phaeacians had even been to Ithaca on them long before conveying Odysseus there (Od. 13.113). In fact, the Phaeacians are habitual ferrymen of strangers who have come to their shores. At the end of Book 8 Alcinous mentions his father’s prophecy that Poseidon will become angered about their habitual ferrying of “all” (Od. 8.564 – 571; cf. 13.172 – 178). Previously in Odyssey 7 the king told Odysseus that Rhadamanthys has been ferried to Euboea (321 – 324). Here again Odysseus is proven to be anticipated in travel, and again by both mythological and anonymous figures. Scholarly emphasis on the supernatural aspects of the Phaeacians, as well as the Phaeacians’ own defensive rhetoric of isolation, has obscured Scheria’s status as a travel hub.

Traveling Kleos That the Phaeacians are in the loop, so to speak, is demonstrated by the ability of Demodocus to perform traditional songs. Indeed, the story of the Trojan War precedes Odysseus in his travels.40 As the audience, we 40 See Purves 2006, 16, and Fantuzzi – Hunter 2004, 90 – 94 for comparative references to the Argonautica and the Aeneid.


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should probably not ask how Demodocus gets his information; as critics we indulge in the question at some risk of rationalization. Demodocus, in bardic convention, would probably claim that the Muses are his source (so Alcinous [8.44 – 45] and Odysseus [8.63, 73, 480 – 481, 488]). The admiring remark by Odysseus that if the bard was not at Troy he must have heard about it from another (8.489 – 491) suggests a more down-to-earth explanation. The Phaeacians have in fact heard many things from others, since they are in the habit of entertaining guests. Heroic klea would be included among the resulting cultural exchange (not necessarily in epic form, though bards are known for their wandering).41 We don’t need to suppose that Demodocus interviewed a Trojan War survivor to recognize that Scheria, like Ithaca, would be credibly up-to-date on the heroic material whose “fame reaches heaven” (Od. 8.74) through circulating travelers. Odysseus contributes to this network of kleos as a narrating traveler. Over the course of a whole month he reports to his host Aeolus about the Trojan War and (what he knows of) the returns (Od. 10.13 – 15). Odysseus provides a similarly detailed exposition of his underworld adventure to Circe (Od. 12.33 – 35). And he orally composes the story of his wanderings, a tale not yet completed, for the Phaeacians; Alcinous compares his performance to that of a bard (Od. 11.367 – 369). In a sense, Odysseus is constructing the kleos of his return while still in the course of his wandering. This is not any odder than listening to heroic tales in which one features as a character. The Odyssey rather enjoys the temporal paradox of a future kleos known to the external audience already precociously actualized within the present of the internal narrative. Phemius can sing the “new” song of the Returns (Od. 1.325 ff., 351 – 2; not evidence of epic inventiveness, but rather a smirking wink to us about the paradox). The Sirens as pseudo-Muses claim to known all that happened at Troy and on earth (Od. 12.189 – 191).42 And in the Odyssey report and rumor serve as initial stages of kleos before it matures into heroic fame. The continuum is nicely summarized in Odyssey 13 when Athena plans 41 At Od. 17.382 – 385 bards are listed with seers, doctors, and carpenters as mobile craftsmen. See more generally Hunter – Rutherford 2009. 42 See Pucci 1987, 209 – 213. Instead of Iliad/Odyssey intertextuality, in my view the Sirens’ song represents (unbounded) cyclic material that threatens Odysseus’ travel tale (and quite literally; no survival, no tale); cf. Danek 1998, 254 – 255. See also Argon. 4.1304 – 1407, with Fantuzzi – Hunter 2004, 93 – 94.

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with Odysseus. She tells Odysseus that his son Telemachus traveled for report of him (let± s¹m jk]or, Od. 13.415).43 Odysseus in reply, besides noting how father and son correspond in travel, wonders why Athena did not provide information to Telemachus through her divine omniscience. Athena claims (422 – 423) that Telemachus will earn his own (heroic) kleos through his journey in search of (gossipy) kleos about Odysseus.44 The diffusion of information is complicated by the fact that travelers cannot always be trusted, as Alcinous (Od. 11.363 – 366), Eumaeus (Od. 14.122 – 132) and Penelope (Od. 23.215 – 217) are aware.45 Indeed Odysseus, after rehearsing apparently true accounts of his wanderings while at sea, will turn to series of lying tales as a pseudo-guest at Ithaca.46 But in Homeric studies the difference between the real world of the lying tales and the supernatural world of the Apologoi has been overemphasized; they share some motifs, and Odysseus does not hesitate to include Thrinacia and Scheria in his lying tale to Penelope (Od. 19.269 – 279). The difficulty of distinguishing between truth and fiction is characteristic of travel literature, as indeed it is of early Greek epic.47 The Muses proclaim to Hesiod that they know how to say many lies alike to true things, and when they wish, how to speak out true things (Udlem xe}dea pokk± k]ceim 1t}loisim blo?a, / Udlem d’ ewt’ 1h]kylem !kgh]a cgq}sashai, Th. 27 – 28). After one of the lying tales, the narrator of the Odyssey comments that Odysseus likened many lies to true things (Od. 19.203).48 At sea and at Ithaca, then, Odysseus participates as both informant and listener in a complex circulation system of multi-leveled kleos. One consequence is that Odysseus becomes belated to his wanderings, 43 Cf. Od. 1.280 – 292, 5.19 – 20. 44 On the complexity of Odyssean nature of kleos, particularly in temporal terms, cf. Segal 1994, 85 – 109; Ford 1992, 101 – 110; Biles 2004; Bakker 2005, 92 – 113. 45 See Rose 1992, 115 – 116. 46 The shifting re-composition of the lying tales is comparable to bardic composition-in-performance (Kelly 2008, missing the earlier formulation of this thesis at King 1999). Eumaeus compares the (lying) Odysseus to a bard at Od. 17.518 – 521. 47 See Pratt 1993, 55 – 114. 48 See Nagy 2009, 276 – 278 on the continuum between wandering beggar and poet, and on another register, local and Panhellenic epic. Marks 2003 argues that the Thesprotian theme in the lying tales polemically references alternative traditions about Odysseus.


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for his story is known ahead of time through divine omniscience and prophecy. In a sense, the wanderings are pre-composed by fate. The seer Halitherses foretells to Odysseus upon his departure that he will return late after much suffering and without his companions (Od. 2.171 – 176; cf. Athena’s claim to have known this at Od. 13.339 – 340). As Odysseus’ travel tale unfolds, it is circulated prematurely in snatches, and often by travelers.49 Polyphemus has been notified by Telemus (apparently a mantic traveler) that Odysseus will arrive to blind him, and Circe has been told by Hermes (a divine frequent flyer) that Odysseus is fated to resist her magic. Hermes also foretells to Odysseus how he can withstand Circe’s spell (Od. 10.289 ff.), Circe’s instructions anticipate the actual unfolding of events (Od. 10.487 ff.; 123 ff.), and in the underworld Teiresias reveals his prophetic knowledge of the general parameters of future episodes (Od. 11.100 ff.). Later (in dramatic time) a chain of messaging from Zeus to Hermes to Calypso informs Odysseus (with progressively fewer details and less certainty) about his journey to Ithaca (Od. 5.28 – 170). Circe also indicates to the Greeks that she somehow knows of their suffering at sea and on land (Od. 10.457 – 459). We could explain this as further information from Hermes, or the result of pillow talk with Odysseus, but the larger point is that once again the story of the wanderings has become publicized ahead of time or almost instantly. It is one thing for Odysseus to discover that his Trojan War experiences have already acquired kleos (as encounters with Aeolus, the Sirens, and Demodocus indicate); it is quite another for the hero to find out his wanderings are already known while he is in the midst of them. Odysseus sometimes hears that others knew about incidents in his travel before they occur, and he himself is informed of many episodes ahead of time. The consequences are uncanny in nature: Odysseus sometimes discovers that events new to him are known to others; at other times he experiences what he already knew would happen. The poem’s presupposition that the wanderings are marked by fame repeatedly intrudes into Odysseus’ tale, often to his discomfort. From our perspective it may seem that external performance and reception of the Odyssey have infiltrated Odysseus’s internally embedded Apologoi. Whether the Odyssey thereby exudes awareness of tradition or confi49 This may be metapoetic: episodes of the Odyssey may have circulated independently, as the singular popularity of the Polyphemus iconography in early Greek art may suggest (see Burgess 2001, 111).

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dence of its own innovation – or both – depends on one’s view of its genetics.

Belated Travel Writing Like travel writing, the Apologoi of Odysseus is a subjective narration of travel. Travel writing is a genre-blending, first-person narrative of travel with a sub-literary status. Odysseus’ account to the Phaeacians of his past travels is a first-person, sub-epic or quasi-epic narration. Travel in the Odyssey is of course is very different in nature from travel in the modern world; Odysseus is a mythological character with adventures that are sometimes supernatural. But there are corresponding themes, notably in ethnography and colonization.50 Not uncommonly scholars, employing the early dating of the Odyssey favored a generation ago, belittled these themes in the Odyssey as mere traces of new phenomena just arising in the 8th c. BC. Here ideological motivations are apparent; there has long been a desire in Homeric studies to separate Homeric poetry from the historical Greek world. Though the dating of the Iliad and Odyssey must remain controversially uncertain, I do not hesitate to see the 7th c. BC as the earliest time that they took shape (a process to which a specific year or decade should not be affixed).51 For my immediate purposes, this means that longstanding Greek expansion in the western Mediterranean would be an unavoidable issue for the Odyssey (despite the Heroic Age setting of the story). Issues pertaining to the western Mediterranean world of the early Archaic Age are therefore not merely present in the Homeric poem, they are entrenched in it. When the Odyssey is placed in the context of travel literature, reference is usually made to the discovery and exploration of the New World (e. g. Dougherty 2001). There is much to be gained from this analogy. But the travels of Odysseus can also be profitably compared to travel of the last two centuries, particularly belated and postmodern forms. By the 19th century travel writers had become acutely self-con50 On colonization in the Odyssey see, besides Dougherty 2001, S. West 1998, 198; Rose 1992, 134 – 139; Rinon 2007; Hall 2008, 75 – 80, 89 – 100. For distinctions between modern colonialism and ancient colonization (the preferred term), see Malkin 2004. Yet antiquity was explicitly regarded as a model for post-Renaissance engagement with the New World (see, e. g., Grafton 1992). 51 On the dating of Homer, see the overview at Burgess 2001, 49 – 53.


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scious about the belatedness of their travels.52 The age of exploration was over, the bureaucracy of imperial infrastructures had been established, and it seemed that all locations on earth had not only been discovered but amply narrated. Recognizing a seventh-century context for the composition of the Odyssey would go some distance in explaining why its hero seems more like a belated traveler than an explorer. If the Homeric epic is read in the context of belated travel, one notices immediately a correspondence in tone. Belated travel writers typically describe their travel in terms of melancholy, nostalgia, and dj vu. Odysseus has his moments of curiosity, and at times he does seem adventurous, as Dante and Tennyson perceived.53 But the hero’s dominant mood is one of sorrow, as is that of his men. When we first meet Odysseus in Odyssey 5 (151 ff.), he is weeping on the shores of Calypso’s island. In the course of their wanderings, Odysseus and his companions often become despondently paralyzed by grief and weariness.54 By the time they reach Circe’s island, they are so dazed that they have lost interest even in eating (Od. 10.142 – 143, 174 – 177). The length of their sojourn at Aeaea is partly excused by the need to recover their spirits, as Circe sees (460 – 465). Frustration and fear account for much of their emotional responses, it is true, not disappointment at not being the first on their route. But belatedness is part of Odysseus’ experience, as we saw above. Heroic predecessors keep popping up insistently, and as do signs of previous travelers in general. For a hero who regularly displays an appetite for new experience, and who in Ur-Odysseys may well have been characterized in a Tennysonian manner, this is all rather deflating. The belated traveler does not simply bemoan his bad luck in being born in an epigonic age, he nurses, relishes and even indulges in his various moods of melancholy, bafflement, and misery. The ambiguous complexity of belated travel is well brought out in the travel memoir of Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques. The author openly regrets that he has missed out on earlier ages of ethnographic discovery (37 – 44), yet 52 Cf. Bongie 1991; D. Porter 1991; Buzard 1993; Behda 1994. 53 For example, Odysseus insists on meeting Polyphemus (Od. 9.173 – 176, 228 – 229), is fascinated by the heroic shades in the underworld (note esp. Od. 11.229, 628 – 631), and has himself bound to the mast so as to listen to the Sirens (12.178 ff.). 54 On the resonance of Odyssean wandering in Greco-Roman philosophy, see Montiglio 2005.

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he begins with the proclamation, “I hate traveling and explorers. Yet here I am proposing to tell the story of my expeditions” (17). This sounds uncannily like Odysseus’ opening remarks before the Phaeacians: “your mind turns to ask me of my grievous troubles, in order that I groan in my mourning even more. What first, then, what last shall I enumerate?” Consider also Odysseus’ claim in Odyssey 15 that “there is nothing worse than wandering for mortals” (pkacjtos}mgr d’ oqj 5sti jaj~teqom %kko bqoto?sim, Od. 15.343).55 Both authors, in their belatedness, are susceptible to mixed feelings about their travel; and despite initial statements of reluctance, both are compulsive narrators of their travel experiences. The postmodern traveler is beset not so much by sadness, but by aimlessness and ennui. Unable to discover unique experience in a touristic, globalized world, he becomes curiously enthralled by vacant states, whether externally in the repetitive topography of airports, or internally within the jet-lagged mind.56 There is something postmodern about the recurring nature of the episodes in the wanderings. Between the formulaic phraseology, multi-form patterning, and shuffled cultural practices, there is an awful lot of repetition. At times Odysseus seems not just geographically lost, as when he tells Polyphemus that he has been traveling on “another way and other paths,” or when he states that they do not know where the sun rises and sets (Od. 10.190 – 192), but lost in an endless replication of similar events. For the Homeric hero the typology of events and landscapes becomes numbingly repetitive; for us, travel is comparable in its debilitating blur of typological infrastructure, airport ‘security theater,’ and infinitely duplicated pseudo-exotica. Modern travel writing does not resemble Odysseus’ wanderings with any exactitude, I readily admit, and it would be anachronistic to stress the potential parallels between Odysseus’ wanderings and travel of recent periods. But contemplation of the correspondences does bring out aspects of the poem that have been under-appreciated. 55 A happier vision of travel from the Iliad has often been contrasted with Odysseus’ view: ¢r d’ ft’ #m [email protected], m|or !m]qor, fr t’ 1p· pokkµm / ca?am 1kgkouh½r vqes· peujak_l,si mo^s, / 5mh’ eUgm C 5mha, lemoim^,s_ te pokk\, “as when the mind darts of a man who having traveled upon much of the earth in his pondering mind thinks, ‘would that I were there;’ and he reflects on many things,” 15.80 – 83). Cf. the conflation of these two passages at Argonautica 2.541 – 548, with Fantuzzi – Hunter 2004, 101 – 102. 56 Cf. Kaplan 1996; Iyer 1998; Holland – Huggan 1998; de Botton 2002; Scott 2004; Zilcolsky 2004, 2008; Pordzik 2005.


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Some titles of studies of belated and postmodern travel immediately suggest the parallels: The Suffering Traveler, Bewildered Travel, “The Art of Getting Lost,” for example. What Homerists have entertained as potential source material for the composition of the wanderings of Odysseus, including heroic quests, heroic catabases, and travel lore, has synchronic significance within the wanderings for the character Odysseus. Odysseus becomes aware that his travel has been anticipated in certain ways by Heracles and the Argonauts. He also is cognizant that he moves about in a world that, however fantastic, is infiltrated by non-heroic travel, as evidenced by preceding visitation to the Cyclopes, the Sirens, the Planctae, Scylla, and Scheria. His fascinating travel tale rather strangely recreates a story already known to many inside of it, as it must have been known in some form to the external audience of the epic. At the same time it rehearses a yet incomplete narrative that will eventually establish his kleos as a traveler; the Odyssey, which embeds his travel tale, will perpetuate this fame. The Apologoi employ the indirect strategies of belatedness, recognizing yet ‘misreading’ sources and models (including the UrOdyssey tradition). The new unity thus created is not an agonistic erasure of pre- and para-narratives, but rather an embrace of its belated status as a necessary and essential constitution of its meaning.57

57 I thank the participants at the conference, and also audiences of earlier versions at the University of Texas at Austin and Carleton University. A Jackman Humanities Institute fellowship and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant provided support, for which I am grateful.

The Telemachy and the Cyclic Nostoi Ioannis Petropoulos The working assumption of this paper was formulated by Finsler in 19181 and empirically extended by Lord in his Singer of Tales in 1960.2 Further expanded more recently by Burgess3 and Danek,4 the hypothesis is this: among other oral compositions, the epic now known as the ‘Songs of the Achaeans’ Homecomings’, or Nostoi, underlay and fertilised the Odyssey as a whole and key sections of the Telemachy in particular. Undoubtedly dissimilar in many points of content to the version preserved by Proclus, the Cyclic Nostoi shaped our Odyssey both positively as source of themes and narrative patterns and negatively, so to speak, as a point of radical departure and differentiation which often resulted in innovation on the part of Homer.5 Like Homer, I shall plunge into my subject in medias res, starting with Nestor’s account of the Achaeans’ nostoi, which conceivably is calqued on the Cyclic composition of that name. The narrative begins in 3.130ff. and is clearly an allusive, heavily elliptical treatment. Needless to say, as many scholars have noted, such allusiveness may point to the original hearers’ awareness of details of plot that we can only guess at. Danek remarks e.g. Nestor’s silence about the Lesser Ajax’s offence and his more general silence about the manner in which the 1 2

3 4 5

Finsler 19182, 276, 282. Lord 1960, 159, 165, 169, 184 (parts of the Odyssey were conceived by ‘analogical’ or ‘associative thinking’, the Agamemnon saga and Menelaus’ travels as told in the Cyclic Nostoi both furnishing material for parts of the Telemachy, the Nekyia in Book 11 and the deutero-Nekyia in Book 24). Burgess 2001. Danek 1998. I am assuming that the Nostoi were already a recognisable poem earlier than or at the very latest contemporary with the composition of the Odyssey. The two poems’ degree of fixity and their chronology relative to one another still exercise scholars. Marks 2008, 122 cautions against assuming the priority of the Nostoi. Even so, one of this scholar’s key conclusions (129, cf. 127) is that ‘Nestor’s Nostoi, then, … mirrors the handling of analogous themes in the main narrative.’ Lord 1960 would argue that the main narrative was composed analogically from self-standing tales in the Nostoi.


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Achaeans sought initially to deal with the offender himself. The entire matter of Ajax’s sin is ‘stylised’, as this scholar well puts it, into a debate between the Atreidae as to when to depart.6 But why should Nestor schematise the most integral element of his tale of the Homecomings? The Pylian king, it should be stressed, is talking to the young Telemachus. A master of apology and paedagogical delicatesse, he studiedly skims over the scandalous details of Ajax’s ‘abuse’ of a woman, and instead treats the eris of the Atreidae as if it were the original cause of the Achaeans’ woes after the fall of Troy. (It is much the same spirit of sexual reticence that prompts Nestor, in his first account of Agamemnon’s murder [193 – 200], to screen out Clytaemestra whilst in his retelling of the saga [262 – 312] he portays her as at first virtuously resisting adultery [266] before at length capitulating due to lack of supervision [269 – 72].) 7 The original audience was aware of the salient details concerning Ajax’s sexually motivated sacrilege – but these are lost on us. Here then is the start of Nestor’s account (Od. 3.130 – 140), which I will supplement where necessary by recourse to the extant fragments of the Nostoi and the Cyclic Iliou Persis, which in Proclus’ summary presents some overlap with the Nostoi: aqt±q 1pe· Pqi\loio p|kim diep]qsalem aQp¶m, b/lem d’ 1m m^essi, he¹r d’ 1sj]dassem )waio¼r, ja· t|te dµ Fe»r kucq¹m 1m· vqes· l^deto m|stom )qce_oir, 1pe· ou ti mo^lomer oqd³ d_jaioi p\mter 5sam. t_ sveym pok]er jaj¹m oWtom 1p]spom l^mior 1n ako/r ckauj~pidor abqilop\tqgr, F t’ 5qim )tqeýd,si let’ !lvot]qoisim 5hgje. t½ d³ jakessal]my !coqµm 1r p\mtar )waio¼r, l²x, !t±q oq jat± j|slom, 1r A]kiom jatad}mta, oR d’ Gkhom oUm\ bebaqg|ter uXer )wai_m, lOhom luhe_shgm, toO eVmeja ka¹m %ceiqam.

But when we had sacked the sheer city of Priam and we went in ships and a god scattered the Argives Zeus then thought up in his heart a bitter return for the Argives, for not all of them were sensible or just, thus many of them met with an evil fate as a result of the dire anger of the grey-eyed one of the mighty father, who set a quarrel (eris) between the pair of Atreidae. The two of them called all the Achaeans to a public meeting, 6 7

Danek 1998, 87 – 88. In general Nestor is tactful. Thus, he plays down the fact that he opposed Odysseus during a further splitting of ranks at Tenedos; see Frame 2009, 181.

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recklessly and not in due order, for sunset; they came, heavy with wine, the sons of the Achaeans. The two of them made their speeches, saying why they had summoned the army.8 Od. 3.130 – 40

Athena’s wrath is aroused by Ajax the Lesser’s physical assault on Cassandra (compare Od. 4.502: ‘… 1wh|lem|r peq )h^m,’). According to Proclus’ resumé of the Iliou Persis (arg. 23 – 24 [Davies]) the hero dragged Cassandra out of Athena’s temple, the princess clinging to the goddess’ n|amom. < Informed by Calchas of this sacrilege shortly before setting sail from Troy> (Ps.-Apollodorus Epitome 5.23), Agamemnon and others halted their departure in order to try the culprit; they sentenced him to death by stoning but he escaped as a suppliant to the very temple he desecrated (Iliou Persis, arg. 24 – 27 [Davies]). < At length Cassandra was given as booty to Agamemnon. > (Neither the Iliou Persis nor the Nostoi mentions this; Cassandra does occur however in a most tragic connection in Od. 11.421ff.)9 In her l/mir (‘anger’) Athena appeals to Zeus to underwrite, as it were, her collective punishment of the Achaeans (see Od. 3.132 – 133].10 With her father’s backing she brings about 5qir (‘strife’) between the Atreidae (Od. 3.135 – 136; also Proclus, Nostoi, arg. 3 [Davies]; cf. ibid. Iliou Persis, arg. 28 – 29): I shall return to the formulation of these lines (135 – 136) shortly. Verses 137ff. tell us that the brothers – in the dual – convened ‘all the Achaeans to a public meeting’. But where and when did their eris (more on which shortly) arise? We are forced to guess but fortunately without too much difficulty: the logic of verses 137ff. suggests that the eris erupted typically enough at a banquet, a da_r, and because of the deadlock created thereby, both leaders agreed to put their case before an assembly (139 – 140).11 As Nestor tell8 Tr. Dawe 1993, 133 – 134 (slightly modified). Throughout this paper I have printed Dawe’s prose translations in verse format. 9 ‘oQjtqot\tgm d’ Ejousa epa Pqi\loio hucatq|r, / Jass\mdqgr, tµm jte?me Jkutailm^stqg dok|lgtir…’ 10 See Marks 2008, 124 – 126 on the coordinated but incommensurate ‘wills’ of the two gods – the personal will of Athene vs. the impersonal one of her father; the same pattern underlies the Odyssey in general. Allan 2008, esp. 214 is fundamental: the ‘Will of Zeus’ is both a theological and structuring principle for hexameter poetry. 11 The eris that erupts at a banquet is a multiform of the strife that explodes in an assembly.


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ingly notes (138 – 139), when the brothers summoned the !coqµ l\x (‘recklessly’) – in effect, ‘impulsively’, ‘on the spur of the moment’ – and !t±q oq jat± j|slom (‘indeed against the established order’) the Achaeans stumbled into the meeting soaked with wine. It was evening (1r A]kiom jatad}mta) and eating and drinking must have preceded the call to assembly; the Atreidae, none the better for drink themselves,12 had therefore started feuding at dinner over the timing of the collective departure.13 Nestor goes on to elucidate the Atreidae’s diametrically opposed proposals which underlay their eris (140ff.). Agamemnon was for postponing the homeward expedition until the Achaeans had first appeased Athena’s deim¹r w|kor with hecatombs (143 – 145). Here he was conforming to an oracle – which Homer omits to mention. The poet’s audience would have reflected that the monarch was responding to a deity’s displeasure as scrupulously as he did ten years earlier at the launching of the expedition at Aulis. (The events at Aulis, which marked the beginning of an anti-nostos, were familiar to the audience from the Cypria.) Menelaus, on the other side, argued that the Achaeans should embark on their nostos without further delay (141 – 142). The two commanders exchanged ‘harsh words’ (148) in the assembly; thus the prandial eris was resumed in the !coq^. The host – the kao_ – were split symmetrically into two halves, Bl_seer (157), if not literally then certainly symbolically,14 and Menelaus and his partisans, whom Odysseus joined at first, sailed forth A_hem (‘at dawn’: 153). What about Ajax, the man ultimately responsible for the feud? Homer is silent on this score; but the hero probably left with Agamemnon. It is highly suggestive that the sad fates of these two heroes are described by Proteus (4.496 – 497) in the same breath, as Danek also notes.15 The joint venture may be further implied by Proclus’ statement in his summary of the 12 Compare Achilles’ accusation at the height of his quarrel with Agamemnon that the latter is (standardly?) oQmobaq^r, Il. 1.225. 13 It may be countered the Achaeans got drunk not at a feast after the sack of Troy, but during the sack while looting households – and helping themselves to domestic wine supplies. But epic precedent (on which in a moment) does not favour such a reconstruction: a great feud is more liable than not to arise against the backdrop of a feast. 14 Frame 2009, 177, 179: the 50 – 50 split between the brothers and their partisans is only schematic but serves to enact the underlying Indoeuropean myth of the Twins in which the immortal twin, being wise, brings others back to life – as Menelaus does – whereas his mortal brother, being unwise, restrains others – viz. Agamemnon. 15 Danek 1998, 116 ad Od. 4.512 – 513.

The Telemachy and the Cyclic Nostoi


Nostoi (arg. 15 – 19 [Davies]) that Agamemnon and his party were warned before sailing off by Achilles’ eido¯lon not to depart and that the description of Ajax’s drowning followed. Also compare Od. 5.108ff., Hermes’ remark that the Achaeans ‘on their homeward voyage sinned against Athene’ and as a result Odysseus’ comrades drowned at sea: the sin committed 1m m|st\ must have been Agamemnon’s inclusion of Ajax among the fleet which Odysseus had joined originally. So far I have followed Nestor’s narrative pretty closely, supplementing its gaps minimally and, I hope, not implausibly. In broad outline it is consistent with much in Proclus’ summaries of the Iliou Persis and the Nostoi. I should like now to correlate Nestor’s récit to other archaic Greek epic poems, with particular reference to the topos – or ‘theme’ – of the eris (and its concomitant neikos) that occur at a dais. As Nagy has shown in his Best of the Achaeans,16 an eris ‘quarrel’ is liable to arise in the setting of a feast, not only disrupting it but also causing untoward consequences for at least some of the ‘partakers of the feast’ and the wider community. Of course there is an arguable exception to this ‘rule’: the eris between Agamemnon and Achilles in Il. 1.6 – 8, which is unrelated – at least ostensibly – to a feast. Yet a feast, namely the dais of the gods that started a day before and was to last twelve days (Il. 1.424 – 425) also overhangs this capital occurrence of strife. I begin with the archetypal neikos that motivated the Trojan War: it is related either near or in the opening scene of the Cypria, which, as Nagy remarks, is crucially also the ouverture to the Trojan Cycle in general. Here is Proclus’ summary (Cypria, 5 – 9): Fe»r bouke}etai let± t/r H]lidor peq· toO TqyzjoO pok]lou. paqacemol]mg d³ =qir eqywoul]mym t_m he_m 1m to?r Pgk]yr c\loir me?jor peq· j\kkour !m_stgsim )hgm÷i, Nqai ja· )vqod_tgi jtk.

Zeus, together with Themis, plans the Trojan War. For Eris, while attending a feast of the gods at the wedding of Peleus, instigates a neikos (‘feud’) among Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite about beauty.17

Homer’s elliptical treatment of the Atreidae’s altercation may just presuppose the Cypria’s paradigm: ‘Zeus instigates strife at a feast, the strife in turn precipitates a tragic plot’. So too Nestor’s recollection of the nos16 Nagy (n. 17 below). 17 Tr. G. Nagy; see also his discussion, Nagy 1979, 130 – 131, 218 – 219, 311.


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toi begins with a reference to the Will of Zeus (132) and quickly moves on to a quarrel that heralds a wide-scale catastrophe (134 – 136); quite possibly the only ingredient which Homer’s original audience was meant to supply was the quarrel’s festive setting. The second instance of eris and neikos at a feast or ‘festival’ is Od. 8.72 – 83, the notoriously opaque paraphrase of Demodocus’ first song. In respect of theme (viz. the collocation of strife at a feast followed by suffering) and, crucially, form, this passage invites comparison with the Pylian ruler’s preamble to his reminiscence of the nostoi: aqt±q 1pe· p|sior ja· 1dgt}or 1n 5qom 6mto, LoOs’ %q’ !oid¹m !m/jem !eid]lemai jk]a !mdq_m, oUlgr t/r t|t’ %qa jk]or oqqam¹m eqq»m Vjame, me?jor iduss/or ja· Pgkeýdey )wik/or, ¦r pote dgq_samto he_m 1m dait· hake_, 1jp\ckoir 1p]essim, %man d’ !mdq_m )cal]lmym wa?qe m|\, f t’ %qistoi )wai_m dgqi|ymto. ¤r c\q oR wqe_ym luh^sato Vo?bor )p|kkym Puho? 1m Acah],, fh’ rp]qbg k\imom oqd¹m wqgs|lemor. t|te c\q Na juk_mdeto p^lator !qw^ Tqys_ te ja· Damao?si Di¹r lec\kou di± bouk\r.

When they had satisfied their desire for drinking and eating, the Muse impelled the singer to sing the glories [klea] of men, starting from a thread [oime¯] [of a song] that had at that time a fame [kleos] reaching all the way to the vast sky. It was the quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles, son of Peleus, how they fought once upon a time at a sumptuous feast [dais] of the gods18 with terrible words, and the king of men, Agamemnon, was happy in his mind [noos] at the fact that the best of the Achaeans were fighting. For this is the way he [= Agamemnon] was told it would happen by Phoebus Apollo, who uttered an oracle, in holy Delphi, when he [= Agamemnon] crossed the stone threshold, to consult the oracle. For then it was that the beginning [arkhe¯] of pain [pe¯ma] started rolling down [kulindesthai] upon Trojans and Danaans—all on account of the plans of great Zeus. 19 Od. 8.72 – 83

The ancient scholia (ad verses 75 and 77) – if they are drawing on independent testimony and not speculating ex post facto – may supply at least some of the background to the passage: after the death of Hector 18 ‘Feast of the gods’= ‘sacrifice in connection with a mortal feast’. 19 Tr. Nagy 2008/09, 321 (my italics); see also his discussion, 322 – 324; id. 2003, 14 – 17.

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Odysseus and Achilles quarreled over how to take Troy, Odysseus proposing the resort to l/tir, to wit the Wooden Horse, and Achilles favouring straightforward violence, or b_g.20 At any event, scholars who resist the possibility that the passage is an Augenblickserfindung explain it in one of two ways: a) either the paraphrase of the Phaeacian bard’s song is an allusion – and a pastiche at that – to the opening of the Iliad, 1.1 – 9 (thus Marg and Rüter);21 or b) Demodocus’ song refers to the beginning of an Iliad, presumably an alternative one (Nagy).22 Here Nagy is building upon the conclusion of Notopoulos in particular that verses 73ff. are strikingly similar in form and content to the (generic) beginning of an epic composition.23 Dawe, although he does not classify the lines as a typical beginning, also argues that the poet is in fact hinting at a distinct epic song, as he puts it, ‘of strong transient popularity’ and ‘once instantly recognisable’ by Homer’s audience.24 Whilst, as noted, Marg and Rüter detect an outright pastiche of the Iliad’s proem in Od. 8.73ff., I will adopt a line of interpretation (see immediately below) closer to that of Notopoulos and Nagy in treating the lines as an echo of a generic epic proem, the basic structure of which has been analysed most recently (and cogently) by Allan.25 Indeed, the proems of the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Theogony, Works and Days, the Little Iliad and nearly all the Homeric hymns evince the following scheme: The main subject of the narrative, in effect the title, is given in the first line, followed by an adjective and a relative clause, which define the repercussions of the title word on the development of the plot. Allan brings out two aspects of a proem that are especially significant: first, a proem, as in Iliad 1, will move from the general to the particular and second, the singer will practically advertise his insight into ‘Zeus’ will’ as the ultimate motivation of the overall plot. In doing this, the aoidos intimates that his ensuing narrative is intrinsically accurate and that it is connected to other heroic songs which similarly adumbrate the same 20 Dawe 1993, 309 – 310 ad Od. 8.75 doubts the trustworthiness of the scholia. Danek 1998,149 postulates that the conflict did not centre on the contrast between cunning and physical strength and that it featured in a Cyclic poem now unknown. 21 Marg 1956, 21; Ruter 1969, 247 – 254. 22 Nagy 1979, esp. 42. 23 Notopoulos 1964, 1 – 77. 24 Dawe 1993, 309 ad Od. 8.75. 25 Allan 2008, 210 – 214, esp. 211; see also Nagy 1979, 73 n. 1; de Jong 2001, 5 ad Od. 1.1 – 10.


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cosmic pattern of Zeus’ preponderance over the other gods. (By the same token, a singer may signal this insight at the end of his narration, as Odysseus the ‘bard’ does at Od. 11.289 – 297.) 26 The paraphrase of Demodocus’ first song in Od. 8.73f. clearly conforms to the scheme of a proem. Beginning with the Muse as instigator of his song, the aoidos, Homer tells us, intones his subject, to wit the ‘glories of men’, a broad enough rubric (73), which he narrows down to the famous neikos between Odysseus and Achilles; the specific theme is then defined further by a relative clause which launches the (episodic?) narrative (76 – 82). In Homer’s rendition of the miniature narrative Agamemnon enjoys inside information, thanks to an oracle, about the impact of ‘will of Zeus’ on events even as they unfold before his very eyes:27 yet it is ultimately the poet, not Agamemnon who is privy, by the grace of the Muse, to Zeus’ will as the cause of the action.28 The foregoing proem, featuring as it does a feud that disrupts a feast and culminates in calamity ordained by Zeus, is closely comparable to the formulation (130 – 136) by which Nestor introduces his narrative proper about the Achaeans’ homecomings, most of which were ‘bitter’ (kucqo_). In fact, Nestor here and in verses 103 – 108 seems veritably to break out in ‘song’ in the manner of a bard’s Muse-inspired proem. The old king’s syncretism with an aoidos is however scarcely unique, for numerous other characters in the Odyssey too deliver recognisable proems before embarking on a long narrative, as de Jong and others have observed.29 Nestor’s proems (the second of which, as noted, is comparable to the paraphrase of Demodocus’ first song) should therefore be considered against the backdrop of some of the more telling instances of a proem in the Odyssey. With the exception of 3.103 – 117, none of these cases have received sufficient, if any, attention.

26 Other examples in Allan 2008, 213 n. 41. 27 Compare the import of the imperfect tense in Il. 1.5 Di¹r d’ 1teke_eto bouk^, elucidated by Allan 2008, 210. 28 Nagy 2008/09, 317 detects echoes of a proem in Od. 8.492 – 493 in particular, with telltale enjambment of the adjective douqat]ou (493) which is comparable to the enjambed epithet oqkol]mgm in Il. 1.2. Cf. also de Jong 2001, 215 ad Od. 8.492 – 495. In the Odyssey passage I note two relative clauses, particularly at 494. 29 De Jong 2001, 75 ad Od. 3.103 – 317 who lists a total of ten ‘proems’ apart from Od. 1.1 – 10. To her inventory I may add 3.130 – 136 and 4.266 – 275, discussed below.


The Telemachy and the Cyclic Nostoi

I. Straightforward ‘proems’: Od. 4.239 – 44, 4.266 – 275, and 9.19 – 20 (resumed at 37 – 38) i) 4.239 – 244 replicates a proem-like pattern. Helen has just slipped her magic drug into the wine and begins her tale about Odysseus’ reconnaissance mission in Troy after the Wooden Horse was constructed, an episode fully developed in the Little Iliad: ja· l}hoir t]qpeshe· 1oij|ta c±q jatak]ny. p\mta l³m oqj #m 1c½ luh^solai oqd’ amol^my, fssoi iduss/or takas_vqom|r eQsim %ehkoi. !kk’ oXom t|d’ 5qene ja· 5tkg jaqteq¹r !mµq d^l\ 5mi Tq~ym, fhi p\swete p^lat’ )waio¸. aqt|m lim pkgc0sim !eijek_,si dal\ssar

and enjoy [imperative] some storytelling, for I will tell you things that suit . I will not be able to tell you, or name, everything— all the exploits that are of long-suffering Odysseus, but for example this one which the valiant man was bold enough to perform among the Trojan people, where you Achaeans were going through hardships. Mortifying himself with disfiguring blows, he, etc.30 Od. 4.239 – 244

The internal narrator sounds a diffuse topic, ‘appropriate things’ (239), which she intends to narrate from start to finish (jatak]ny). Because of her momentary aporia in 240 – 241 she demurs at specifying her topic, which she now reformulates as ‘everything [sc. appropriate]’. This avowedly inexhaustible and hence unperformable storehouse of themes she refines by a relative clause which brings her a step closer to her theme, the ‘feats, exploits’ of Odysseus (241) – still an unmanageably large rubric.31 t|d’ 5qene ja· 5tkg (242) specifies at last the ‘deed and suffering’ undertaken by Odysseus: his disguise as a battered beggar and his encounter with Helen, an episode, that, as noted, occurred in the Little Iliad. 32 30 Tr. Dawe 1993, 175. 31 Earlier Nestor in effect also raised the issue of performability, as Marks puts its, at 3.113 – 116: Marks 2008, 119. 32 De Jong 2001, 102 – 103 identifies verses 240 – 243 as an emotional recusatio in the form of a priamel.


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ii) In the same scene (Od. 4.266 – 275) Menelaus takes up Helen’s self-exculpating version of her recognition of Odysseus and echoing her phraseology (compare especially his verse 271 and her verse 242) he moves on to the event that immediately followed, namely the arrival of the Wooden Horse at Troy:33 ma· dµ taOt² ce p\mta, c}mai, jat± lo?qam 5eiper. Edg l³m pok]ym 1d\gm bouk^m te m|om te !mdq_m Bq~ym, pokkµm d’ 1pek^kuha ca?am· !kk’ ou py toioOtom 1c½m Udom avhaklo?soim oXom iduss/or takas_vqomor 5sje v_kom j/q. oXom ja· t|d’ 5qene ja· 5tkg jaqteq¹r !mµq Vpp\ 5mi nest`, Vm’ 1m^leha p\mter %qistoi )qce_ym Tq~essi v|mom ja· j/qa v]qomter. Gkher 5peita s» je?se. jekeus]lemai d´ s’ 5lekke da_lym, dr Tq~essim 1bo}keto jOdor aq]nai.

Yes, indeed, my wife, everything you have said is quite right. I have by now come to know the counsels and thoughts of many men, heroic men, in my long travels over the earth. But never yet have I seen with my eyes anything to match the heart of long-suffering Odysseus, and the exploit which the valiant man was bold enough to perform in the polished horse, where we, the best of the Argives, were all sitting inside, bringing death and destruction to the Trojans. Then you came there; it must have been some divinity that told you to, one that meant to confer glory on the Trojans.34 Od. 4.266 – 275

Like an aoidos, Menelaus prefaces his narrative proper, which commences at 274f., with an announcement of his general theme, ‘the counsels and thoughts’ of heroes (267 – 268) – compare Helen’s equally general ‘exploits’ (241) – and narrows it down, as Helen, to a specific instance conveyed by both speakers in nearly identical phraseology: oXom ja· t|d’ 5qene ja· 5tkg jaqteq¹r !m^q (271, cf. 242). t|d’ in Menelaus’ preamble looks ahead to the tale of the Wooden Horse which will ensue within seconds. Obviously there is no need to invoke the Muse, and the internal speaker lacks the pretence to omniscience expected of a singer of tales (compare his uncertainty about the god at hand, verses 274 – 275). The brief lapse, moreover, into second-person narration which 33 See e. g. de Jong 2001,101 – 102 ad Od. 4.234 – 289. 34 Tr. Dawe 1993, 177 – 178.

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is rare in Homer35 is understandable given that his audience includes a protagonist in the episode he is relating. Yet despite his limitations as a mortal narrator it is hard to deny that Menelaus’ introduction, like Helen’s, evokes formally the proem of a performable composition. Homer is, it seems, implying that Menelaus is performing an episode from the Little Iliad prefaced plausibly enough with a singer’s proem. iii) A straightforward-sounding ‘proem’ occurs in Od. 9.12 – 20,36 centring on Odysseus’ self-aggrandising revelation of his identity which results in his recitation of his lengthy Apologoi, or Tales of his Homecoming, beginning at 37 – 38: so· d’ 1l± j^dea hul¹r 1petq\peto stom|emta eUqesh’, evq’ 5ti l÷kkom aduq|lemor stemaw_fy. t¸ pq_t|m toi 5peita, t¸ d’ rst\tiom jatak]ny ; j^de’ 1pe_ loi pokk± d|sam heo· oqqam_ymer. mOm d’ emola pq_tom luh^solai, evqa ja· rle?r eUdet’, 1c½ d’ #m 5peita vuc½m vpo mgke³r Glaq rl?m ne?mor 5y ja· !p|pqohi d~lata ma_ym. eUl’ iduse»r Kaeqti\dgr, dr p÷si d|koisim !mhq~poisi l]ky, ja_ leu jk]or oqqam¹m Vjei.

But for you, your heart has turned to asking about the sorrows that make me sigh—for me to weep and groan over even more! What then shall I tell you first, and what last? — for many are the sorrows which the Olympian gods have given me. Now first I shall tell you my name, so that you too may know it, and I hereafter, escaping the pitiless day, may be your friend even when I am living in my palace far away. I am Odysseus, son of Laertes, who on account of my tricks am on the minds of all men, and my reputation reaches the sky… Od. 9.12 – 20 eQ d’ %ce toi ja· m|stom 1l¹m pokujgd]’ 1m_spy, fm loi Fe»r 1v]gjem !p¹ Tqo_ghem Q|mti.

But come, let me tell you also of my nostos of many woes, which Zeus imposed on me as I came away from Troy.37 Od. 9.37 – 38

The passage as a whole (verses 19 – 38) may be read as a proem, although its essence rather lies in the beginning, verses 12 – 20 and its end, verses 35 See de Jong 2001, 102. 36 De Jong 2001, 75 cites 9.3 – 15 as a ‘preamble’. 37 Tr. Dawe 1993, 354 (with miniscule modifications).


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37 – 38, and I turn to these verses in particular. The subject of the narrative – it has germinated out of the vague 1l± j^dea (12) and j^dea (15) and is prefaced by the emotional disclaimer of ‘unperformability’ (14) – is none other than the narrator himself, announced in the verse (19). The relative clause following on the name ‘Odysseus’ (19 – 20) celebrates the consequences of the subject on the entire action: in this case the ‘consequences’ of the hero are his cunning which, because it has proved baneful to men (including, it will emerge, his own), is ‘on everyone’s mind’. This introduction, rendered less schematic – though no less puzzling to a clueless Phaeacian audience – through the mention of Calypso (29f.) and Circe (31 – 32), is at length delimited: the subject is not merely the famous craftiness of Odysseus as exemplified at Troy, but rather the Tale of his Attempted Homecoming (38). Singer-like, the narrator knows that the will of Zeus was at work throughout this nostos. Bearing cumulatively the hallmarks of a proem, verses 19 – 38 fittingly launch the narrator on his (first-person) narrative, which begins immediately (verses 39ff.). iv) A most revealing instance of a proem is 4.492 – 498, Proteus’ introduction to his narrative of the tragic nostos of Ajax and Agamemnon and the open-ended homecoming of Odysseus. It too progresses typically from the general to the particular, ushering in an account that arguably has considerable truth value (see below): )tqeýdg, t¸ le taOta die_qeai ; oqd] s] wqµ Udlemai, oqd³ da/mai 1l¹m m|om. oqd´ s´ vgli dµm %jkautom 5seshai, 1pe¸ j’ ew p\mta p}hgai. pokko· l³m c±q t_m ce d\lem, pokko· d³ k_pomto· !qwo· dû aw d}o loOmoi )wai_m wakjowit~mym 1m m|st\ !p|komto. l\w, d] te ja· s» paq/sha. eXr d 5ti pou fy¹r jateq}jetai eqq]z p|mt\. gSon of Atreus, why do you ask me this? It is not for you

to know, or to learn my mind. I think you will not long be without tears, once you really know everything. Many of those people met their end, and many have been left. Then further, just two leaders of the bronze-shorted Achaeans perished on their return journey; as for the fighting, you were there yourself. One is still detained somewhere on the broad sea.38 Od. 4.492 – 498

38 Tr. Dawe 1993, 190 (with a minor modification).

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II. Nestor’s allusive ‘proems’: Od. 3.103 – 108 and 130 – 136 Marks has most appositely called the wartime narrative Nestor delivers to Telemachus and Peisistratus a ‘pain-narrative’.39 Here is the beginning of the narrative, verses 3.103 – 108: § v_k’, 1pe_ l’ 5lmgsar azf}or, Dm 1m 1je_m\ d^l\ !m]tkglem l]mor %swetoi uXer )wai_m, Al³m fsa n»m mgus·m 1p’ Aeqoeid]a p|mtom pkaf|lemoi jat± kgýd’, fp, %qneiem )wikke¼r, Ad’ fsa ja· peq· %stu l]ca Pqi\loio %majtor laqm\leh’. 5mha d’ 5peita jat]jtahem fssoi %qistoi.

My friend, since you have reminded me of the grief which among that people we sons of the Achaeans, uncheckable in might, endured, both the things as with our ships over the misty sea we travelled in search of plunder, wherever Achilles might lead the way, and all the battles round the great city of king Priam we fought, where all the best men were slain.40 Od. 3.103 – 108

These lines are, as I hope to argue, modeled on a proem to a composition the subject of which, to quote Marks again, is the Pain of War.41 Indeed, as this scholar remarks, the old king’s handling of his narrative recalls the manner of a poet who begins by announcing his main hero, main theme and the time-frame from which the events will be told.42 Telemachus has put the internal narrator in mind (5lmgsar : 103) of a certain pain (azf}or); the act of ‘reminding’ might conceivably evoke the inspiration from a Muse which a singer is apt to record in a conventional proem.43 ‘Pain’, the subject, is tentatively defined in a relative clause (‘which we endured’, 103 – 104) and then reified by means of two phrases that stand in apposition to ‘pain’ and allude to sea raids under Achilles – which were prominent in the Cypria, as Marks notes44 – and battles at Troy that claimed the lives of so many of the

39 Marks 2008, 118. 40 Tr. Dawe 1993, 132 (with minor modifications). 41 Marks 2008, 118 – 19 does not argue for a proem per se either here or in verses 130ff. 42 Marks 2008,118 – 119. 43 But cf. verse 211. 44 Marks 2008, 119.


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best of the Achaeans (105 – 108). The stage is now set for the mini-narrative proper, which from verses 109 to 131 metonymically retails some of the Achaeans’ signal losses and ends with the Wooden Horse and the Fall of Troy. It is indicative of Homer’s compositional technique that Nestor’s Tale of the Pain of War – in effect the Tale of the Trojan War – adheres quite faithfully to the traditional narrative chronology of the Cycle and the Iliad, as Marks has demonstrated:45 the Cypria (106), the Iliad (hence the death of Patroclus, 110), the Aethiopis (hence the deaths of Antilochus, Achilles and Ajax, 109, 112), and finally the Aethiopis (again), the Little Iliad and the Iliou Persis (the death of Ajax [109] straddles the Aethiopis and the Little Iliad; verses 118 – 122, substantiating the theme of ‘pain’, encapsulate the Little Iliad and the Iliou Persis). Homer uses a ‘proem’ (103 – 108) to introduce an omnibus narration comprising the narrative threads of several epic poems familiar to his hearers. In narrational terms, verses 109 – 131 furnish a kind of a retrospective ‘table of contents’ of the Cyclic poems on which Nestor’s account of the nostoi will be predicated.46 Having brought his narrative to the Fall of Troy at verse 130 (after an ingratiating digression, 122 – 125), Nestor takes up the theme of the nostoi, my main subject. That he does so at this particular junction is only appropriate not merely because he is following the traditional chronology of the Cycle but also because in doing this he bears out the very etymology of his name, ‘Mr Nostos’.47 Scholars however have not, as far as I know, correlated Nestor’s language at the beginning of this portion of his narration (verses 130 – 136) to the generic proem. I suggest that he is here ‘quoting’, with variation, the proem of another poem familiar to Homer’s original hearers. This would have been a poem about the Bitter Return of the Achaeans. Consider again verses 130 – 136:

45 Marks 2008, 118 – 122. 46 ‘Table of contents speeches … inform the narratees about what to expect next’, which may amount to a summary of several books: see de Jong 2001, 15 ad Od. 1.81 – 95. The careful sequencing which Marks has stressed recalls the narrational verisimilitude Demodocus upholds in Odyssey 8: see Nagy 2009, esp. 330, 332 on the thematic and chronological continuity between Demodocus’ three songs which is achieved by metabasis. 47 ‘Mr Nostos’: Marks 2008, 114; see now also Frame 2009, 189 – 191 (through clear perception – cf. m|or – Nestor proves a ‘homebringer’).

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aqt±q 1pe· Pqi\loio p|kim diep]qsalem aQp^m, b/lem d’ 1m m^essi, he¹r d’ 1sj]dassem )waio}r, ja· t|te dµ Fe»r kucq¹m 1m· vqes· l^deto m|stom )qce_oir, 1pe· ou ti mo^lomer oqd³ d_jaioi p\mter 5sam· t_ sveym pok]er jaj¹m oWtom 1p]spom l^mior 1n ako/r ckauj~pidor abqilop\tqgr, F t’ 5qim )tqeýd,si let’ !lvot]qoisim 5hgje.

But when we had sacked the sheer city of Priam, and we went in ships and a god scattered the Argives, Zeus then thought up in his heart a bitter return for the Argives, for not all of them were sensible or just; thus many of them met with an evil fate as a result of the dire anger of the grey-eyed one of the mighty father, who set a quarrel (eris) between the pair of Atreidae. Od. 3.130 – 136

Here too the main subject of the implied story is, alternatively, the kucq¹r m|stor (132) or the jaj¹r oWtor (134) of the Achaeans (cf. Od. 8.489: )wai_m oWtom !e_deir)48 or, just as suitably, the l/mir of Athe-

na, which is emphatically placed at the beginning of verse 135 (cf. Il. 1.1: L/mim %eide) and qualified by the epithet ako/r (cf. Il. 1.2: oqkol]mgm) and the relative clause F t’ 5qim … 5hgje (136, cf. Il. 1.2: D … 5hgje). If the poem started with the l/mir of Athena in the manner of a ‘title’, then we may take the relative clause as typically explaining the relationship of the word l/mir to the more particular subject of ensuing 5qir, which in turn led to the calamitous fragmentation of the fleet. Having moved from the general – say, nostos or Athena’s anger – to the particular, that is, the quarrel between the ‘twin’ chieftains (their duality may explain why both of them have convened the meeting), Nestor commences his story with the call to assembly at 137.49 (And the narrator’s cognizance of Zeus’ overarching will at verse 132 is, too, the ‘signature’ of a singer inspired with temporary omniscience.) This may be circular reasoning on my part, based on the model of a proem that has been hypostasised from other presumable cases in Homer. At the same time it is suggestive that first, the introduction to Nestor’s narration proper about the returns, including his own (which begins at verse 130) includes at least two verses (135 – 136) that would be appropriate to the opening of a Nostoi poem and second, as in the opening of the Cypria and the epic proem echoed by the phraseology at Od. 8.73f., 48 Here however the ‘fate of the Achaeans’ refers to their trials at Troy. 49 See again Frame (n. 14 above) on the substratum of a myth about twins here.


Ioannis Petropoulos

an eris that erupts at a feast and is caused ultimately by Zeus motivates the story; compare again Il. 1.5, … Di¹r d’ 1teke_eto bouk^. If indeed these observations are valid, then 3.134 – 136 evoke a formulation from a Nostoi epic – most likely its proem. It may be worthwhile, finally, to compare Nestor the quasi-bard of homecomings with Phemius the bard of nostoi. Here is Homer’s paraphrase of Phemius’ song at Od. 1.326 – 327: … b d’ )wai_m m|stom %eide kucq|m, dm 1j Tqo_gr 1pete_kato Pakk±r )h^mg. … he sang of the homecoming of the Achaeans, the bitter [homecoming], which Pallas Athene had imposed [when they sailed] from Troy. Od. 1.326 – 327

De Jong, has noticed ad loc. that the verses are cast in the form of a proem: “a noun, indicating the subject; a verb of speaking; an adjective and relative clause which further define the subject”.50 Homer or rather the bard Phemius who is his alter ego is quoting a proem that allusively sums up the content of a Nostoi-epos. Homer’s original audience were familiar with its content and they would have assumed that so too were Telemachus, Penelope and the suitors. Whether or not Nestor, as I argued, cited the proem of a Nostoi-epos – possibly the same proem that Phemius performed – it seems at any event likely that his two accounts in Book 3 (130 – 198, 254 – 312) as well as Menelaus’ extended narration in Book 4 (351 – 586) are based on songs and possibly other forms of legend about nostoi. Scholars have devoted much discussion to the question “Which nostoi is Phemius singing of ?” Scodel, for instance, has argued that a) Phemius’ song is not tailored to the expectations of anyone, hence it is unbiased and ‘accurate’; and b) it may be narrating the tragic fate of Agamemnon.51 What is certain is that Telemachus has, even before visiting Pylos and Sparta, already heard of the tragic homecomings of all the Achaeans – save his father. For he tells Nestor matter-of-factly: %kkour l³m c±q p\mtar, fsoi Tqys·m pok]lifom, / peuh|leh’, Hwi 6jastor !p~keto kucq¹m ekehqom, / je_mou d’ aw 50 De Jong 2001, 34. I note the enjambed kucq|m in verse 327; cf. n. 28 above. 51 Scodel 2002, 84 (‘this song’s subject is presumably either the celebrated storm that drowned many and sent Odysseus off course or possibly the death of Agamemnon’).

The Telemachy and the Cyclic Nostoi


ja· ekehqom !peuh]a h/je Jqom_ym’ (3.86 – 88).52 I am almost tempted to

argue that Phemius sang of the return of both Agamemnon and Ajax, for they sailed forth together, as I have urged, and as Proteus revealed to Menelaus, they were the only leaders known to have perished. One died at sea, the other on land, and both were connected to Cassandra.53 Yet the bard would have had sufficient reason to concentrate on Agamemnon alone. For one thing, of all the homecomings mentioned by the internal narrators, gods and mortals alike, in the Odyssey, Agamemnon’s return is the most widely known and the most paradigmatic. Thus Nestor assumes aloud that Telemachus (and Peisistratus) ‘… of the son of Atreus you yourselves have heard [!jo}ete], far off though you are, how he came …’ (3.193vf.). Judging by Telemachus’ response to Nestor’s remark, the prince seems indeed to know the skeleton plot of Agamemnon’s bloody return (3.202ff.); the youth’s further questions (3.248ff.) about the murder are not a sign of ignorance but rather mnemonic prompts with which he hopes to elicit missing information about a nostos that is already legendary. The fact that he knows only so much about Agamemnon’s homecoming may suggest that Phemius’ song – if it concerned this spectacularly tragic event in whole or in part – also had gaps or different emphases in its treatment thereof. Nestor, I noted, may have prefaced his account with a ‘quote’ from the proem of a Nostoi-poem; Phemius undoubtedly launches into his narrative song with a recognisable proem. Nestor and Phemius would have relied, albeit in differing degrees of quantity and quality on ‘report’, or kleos in its radical sense, the singer deriving his information programmatically from the Muse(s) (see below). Indeed, report and hearsay are often the cornerstone of narrative particularly in the Odyssey, whether it is delivered in song or in ordinary speech.54 Nestor’s narrative may thus give us some notion of the content of Phemius’ song for, apart from its autobiographical matter, the Pylian king’s narrative is also based on reports, on the very rumours that he admits have reached him in his 52 ‘All the others who fought the Trojans / we have heard about, where each of them died by a bitter death. / But in his case even his death the son of Cronus has made unknown’ (tr. Dawe 1993, 131). 53 Albeit in a different context, Frame 2009, 178 n. 75 furnishes another reason for the approriateness of a ‘double bill’: the failed return of the two chieftains is the exact reverse of Odysseus’ nostos: he averts shipwreck at Scheria unlike Ajax and unlike Agamemnon, assassination at home. 54 For a re-examination of this well-known position see Petropoulos 2011, esp. ch. 3.


Ioannis Petropoulos

palace concerning e. g. the returns of the Myrmidons and others (187ff.).55 Such too was the report, incidentally, that he had about malevolent suitors at Ithaca (212ff., note especially his verb vas_).56 By the same token, Nestor’s non-autobiographical, second-hand information is of an altogether different order from much of what Menelaus relates to Telemachus in Odyssey 4: it is genuinely lacunose in some points and overall far less compelling. The Spartan king’s information, for example, about Ajax’s drowning and the loss of his contingent cannot have come from mortal eyewitnesses for none survived; indeed, the only eyewitnesses would putatively have been Agamemnon and his crew who were traveling with the Locrian king – but they were struck down, one and all, at Mycenae.57 Proteus, the divine merman whose testimony he cites, on the other hand, knew of Ajax’ shipwreck and moreover had access to details about Agamemnon’ nostos which only a privileged, almost omniscient informant would have had. This is a point worth making. A singer-narrator, as Odysseus notes in his famous accolade of Demodocus (Od. 8.489 – 491) relates events as if he had been an eyewitness himself. Proteus, a sea divinity, was likely to have witnessed Ajax’s drowning; qua deity he also had intelligence about Agamemnon and even Odysseus which was beyond the reach of humans. Danek suggests that unerring Proteus was invented by Homer as a stand-in for the human poet-narrator of the ‘original’ Nostoi that underlay the Telemachy. 58 I would venture to suggest that the preHomeric or contemporary Nostoi portrayed Proteus as an exotic character in his own right whose main role was to prophesy Menelaus’ unique post-mortem future. In the context of the Telemachy, however, Proteus’ (original) mantic function is combined with that of an aoidos who, by virtue of inspiration by the Muse, recounts incidents for which in many cases there are no surviving (human) witnesses. Even more than Phemius’ song, Menelaus’ narrative, based as it is largely on the testimony of this subaquatic divine witness, is an idealisation of the Cyclic Nostoi on which Homer drew.

55 56 57 58

‘ew l³m Luqlid|mar v\s’ 1kh]lem 1cwesil~qour, j.kp.’ vas· lmgst/qar s/r lgt]qor eVmeja pokko»r / … jaj± lgwam\ashai. See Danek 1998, 113. Danek 1998, 113.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus (Od. 14.199 – 359) Christos Tsagalis The aim of this paper is (a) to offer a close reading of Odysseus’ false tale to Eumaeus and discuss how and to what extent it mirrors another epic of return; (b) to present a scenario for such an alternative Odyssey; (c) to determine part of the process of transformation and transition to our Odyssey; and (d) to consider the possibility that oral cyclic epic may have influenced not only Homeric epic but also an alternative version of one of the Homeric poems, i. e. a rival version of our Odyssey.

Preliminary Considerations Before I embark on a detailed analysis of Odysseus’ false tale to Eumaeus, I would like to make some preliminary remarks pertaining to the methodological framework of my research, the more so since it will be crucial to my interpretation of the aforementioned false tale. One of the theoretical premises of this study is that the false tales (that Odysseus himself systematically relates in direct speech in the second half of the Odyssey) constitute an extensive epic Zitat 1 pointing to a group of epic versions of Odysseus’ return, which we may designate by the term alternative Odyssey. There is an almost impossible interpretive conundrum concerning the contents of the false tales: how can we determine among their features those created by the tradition of our Odyssey and those stemming from other epic traditions? This is, of course, extremely slippery ground, the more so since Odysseus the storyteller uses conflicting versions mainly with respect to the Cretan2 element in his tales. This is hardly the place to treat this matter fully, but a general rule that can be applied concerns a distinction between (i) the typical, 1 2

See Danek 1998. On the richness of Crete with respect to oral traditions, see Camerotto 2010, 33; Levaniouk (this volume).


Christos Tsagalis

context-free features on the one hand, and (ii) the surface (ii.a) and deep structure (ii.b) elements of the false tales on the other. In other words, there are features that are typical and as such are not significantly meaningful (i), whereas there are other elements of which some have been conditioned by the immediate Odyssean context (ii.a), some that have been shaped through their interaction with the material found in the other register of Odysseus’ adventures, i. e. the Apologoi (ii.b1), and others that may have been connected to specific poetic manifestations, that is to say may have acquired contextual identity through their characteristic use in oral epic traditions (ii.b2).3 The narrative grammar of the false tales is thus a variegated tapestry, including all these interwoven threads. In tandem with these observations, my aim is to demarcate the different categories to which these features pertain and shed light on the way Odysseus as a gifted storyteller repeats, expands, compresses and alters certain motifs4 that point to alternative traditions narrating his return.5 On a larger scale, essential for my argument is the use of interaction, which I employ with respect to the relationship between the Odyssey and alternative epic versions narrating Odysseus’ return to Ithaca. I will be employing the terms proto-Odyssey and alternative Odyssey designating different song-traditions that can be distinguished, the former on the basis of its interaction, during its first phase, with various non-cyclic epic traditions, the latter solely with cyclic myth and its epic version, i. e. cyclic epic.6 As the work of Danek has shown once and for all, there are numerous passages in our Odyssey that testify to alternative versions of Odysseus’ return. The deep structure features traced in these passages point to two distinct groups of versions, one that I call (for lack of a better term) proto-Odyssey and one that scholars usually designate as alternative Odyssey. The former represents those versions that had been influenced by the epic of Gilgamesˇ,7 an oral epic *Argonautica,8 early oral epic 3 4 5 6 7

See Burgess 2006, 148 – 189; Currie 2006, 1 – 45. Scott 1989, 397. I have organized my paper on the basis of the various places to which Odysseus the storyteller refers. See Burgess 2006, 148 n. 2. On the relation between the Odyssey and the epic of Gilgamesˇ, see West 1997, passim; Burgess 1999, 171 – 210; Bakker 2001, 331 – 353. Differently Kullmann (1995, 148 n. 5 with further bibliography), who believes that Gilgamesˇ’s jour¯ ta-napisˇti must be compared to Odysseus’ journey to the Cimmerians ney to U and not to the Phaeacian episode.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


traditions about Heracles,9 women-catalogue poetry,10 as well as widely diffused folk material.11 This group of versions was, in all probability, marked by features and techniques we can trace in the abovementioned epic traditions: lack of narrative linearity, significant mythopoiesis marked by a predilection for katabasis literature,12 genealogies, and a fondness for the supernatural. The latter group (alternative Odyssey) was characterized by a tendency to identify events of Odysseus’ homecoming with well known geographic locations in the Mediterannean, episodic narrative linearity (telling one tale after the other according to the episodic style of cyclic epic), drawing the character of the main hero in terms of his desire for profit, as well as a strong influence of an oral cyclic tradition of *Nostoi. There were further phases in the development and shaping of our Odyssey, one of which may have been the gradual influence of a cyclic tradition of *Nostoi and of the Oresteia myth on the proto-Odyssey group, which began to acquire certain cyclic features on the level of theme. If this holds true, then the alternative Odyssey group, which may have been shaped only after the proto-Odyssey group was formed, may have been the vehicle for the gradual influence of the versions belonging to the older proto-Odyssey group. The interaction between an older, markedly exotic epic of Odysseus’ return with strong Near-Eastern overtones on the one hand, and a later tradition containing a more ‘realistic’ set of adventures of Odysseus on the other, was so strong that at a certain point led to a fusion of the two groups into our Odyssey. The impetus for this revolutionary event may have been complex but, I think, we are not off the mark if we trace it in the wider cultural phenomenon that took the Greek world by storm and reshaped it once and for all: Panhellenism. To be more specific, the combination of two markedly different groups of versions concerning the post-war fate of Odysseus may have been related to the rise of Panhellenism during the Archaic period: 8 See Meuli 1921; Rutherford 1992, 2; Dräger 1993, 17 – 18; Danek 1998, 23, 252 – 253, 255 – 257; West 2005, 39 – 64. Hölscher (19903, 170 – 185) approaches this matter in a different way. 9 See Kullmann 1992, 131; Schischwani 1994, 197 – 201; Danek 1998, 23 – 24. 10 Hirschberger 2001, 123 – 151. 11 See Page 1955, 1 – 20; 1973; Glenn 1971; Hölscher 1978; Hansen 1990; 1997; Burgess 2001, 94 – 114. On the similar narrative grammar shared by the Lot tale (Genesis 2.16 – 3.19) and the Odyssey, see Louden 1999, 69 – 103. 12 See Kullmann 1995, 147 – 155; Tsagarakis 2000, 26 – 37.


Christos Tsagalis

(a) The aim to reach a wider public may have led to a tendency of inclusion, according to which the supernatural element of the Argonautic tradition and katabasis literature (as reflected in the Apologoi) could be combined with the ‘realistic’ but locally-limited tracing of Odysseus’ adventures to given locations in the Eastern Mediterannean and mainland Greece (false tales). Given that these two groups of versions could not be combined in a single plotline, the Odyssey invented a sophisticated system of inclusion that evolved around its principal hero Odysseus and presented the former group as real and the latter as false. In my view, Odysseus as a master storyteller of true and false stories is a creation of the Odyssey: it was the need to combine these two distinct groups of versions that may have determined the solution we are familiar with from our Odyssey. The advantages of such a solution are, of course, multiple, and are partly responsible for the great success of the Odyssey from as early as the Archaic period. (b) The rise and diffusion of traditions concerning the fates of other Achaean leaders on their way home after the Trojan war is part of the larger Panhellenic phenomenon. In this light, the external expansion13 of the Odyssey described above was also coupled by an internal expansion14 of its hero with respect, this time, to his dramatic output. This process of psychological elaboration and of the refinement of the figure of Odysseus may have been triggered, at least to some extent, by the growing importance of traditions concerning the returns of other Achaean heroes. Otherwise, Odysseus would have been painted in a purely positive way, i.e. deprived of his greed for adventures, in the versions pertaining to the alternative Odyssey group, which – as we know – is not the case. The fact that the tradition of an oral *Nostoi or even an *Atreido-n kathodos has conditioned the nature of the Odyssey’s dramatic output by opposing, and often acknowledging, in poetological terms the fate of Agamemnon and Clytemestra (explicitly) and of Menelaus and Helen (implicitly) to that of Odysseus and Penelope, indicates that the internal expansion may have taken place only after the fusion of the two aforementioned groups of versions (the proto-Odyssey group and the alternative Odyssey group) have started to take place. This is additionally inferred from the fact that while some of the deep structure features of the alternative Odyssey group, like narrative linearity or a given 13 See Kullmann 1992, 125 – 129. 14 See Kullmann 1992, 120 – 122.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


time frame for the various adventures, are also shared by the tradition of an oral *Nostoi, others (like Odysseus’ greed for wealth) are not. (c) The influence of the tradition of the Iliad must also be seen within the larger Panhellenic framework. There are numerous instances that prove beyond doubt that the Iliadic tradition has had an impact on the Odyssean and vice versa.15 Seen from this vantage point, we may argue that the phenomenon of Panhellenism is mainly, if not solely, responsible for the highly developed self-consciousness of the Odyssey: in particular, the poem’s selfawareness16 and referentiality17 may have grown out of (i) the process of combining the two major groups of alternative versions of Odysseus’ return, and (ii) its creative interaction with a number of oral traditions, such as that of the Iliad, the *Nostoi and the *Memnonis. So strong is the self-awareness permeating the Odyssey from beginning to end with respect to questions of storytelling and poetics, that it may be argued that, like its synthesis, it is directly derivative of the early manifestations of the rising Panhellenic ideology: like Archaic Greece, the Odyssey came to know itself by a process of eclectic interaction, creative synthesis, and above all dramatic internalization.

Crete and an Alternative Odyssey Crete is directly linked to a different version of Odysseus’ return,18 since it is closely associated with elements that invite us to speculate about the interaction of our Odyssean version with the plot of an alternative epic of Odysseus’ nostos. 15 See Usener 1990; Maronitis 20052, 246 – 266. On the influence of an Odyssean theme on the Iliad, see Tsagalis 2008a, 135 – 149. 16 On the Odyssey’s self-awareness, see Bowie (1993, 18 – 19), who rightly emphasizes the role of contrast between the various tales told in the poem. By offering a wide range of modes of story-telling, the tradition of the Odyssey reveals both part of the process of its shaping and also of its awareness of this process. 17 See Rengakos 2002, 173 – 191. 18 Crete is the habitat of the storyteller in a number of false tales, the only exception being that addressed to Laertes (Book 24), where Crete is replaced by Sicily, though the motifs of the ‘Storm’ and the ‘Gifts’ play the role of linking mechanisms. According to Hölscher (19903, 212) and Grossardt (1998, 32) the cohesion of the false tales is the work of the poet of the Odyssey. Internal aberrations and differences are conditioned basically by the specific interests of


Christos Tsagalis

Internal evidence supporting the hypothesis of a Cretan Odyssey can be summarized in the following observations:19 (a) the proem’s assertion about Odysseus’ wanderings corresponds to his false tales rather than the Odyssey itself;20 (b) Odysseus as storyteller systematically emphasizes his Cretan identity;21

the various addressees. On this topic, see Woodhouse 1930, 127 – 131; Trahman 1952, 39 – 41 and 43; Burrows 1965, 36; Blümlein 1971, 149; Walcot 1977, 1; Del Corno 1978, 836; Emlyn-Jones 1986, 3; Hölscher 19903, 212; Fuchs 1993, 37; Grossardt 1998, 33. 19 Several theories have been put forward with respect to the constant reference to Crete in the false tales. I hereby offer a brief summary: (a) By saying ‘I am a Cretan’ Odysseus would have evoked in the audience’s mind a whole tradition of lying that was associated with the inhabitants of this island (Eustathius 1741; Meuli, Blümlein, Krehmer, McLennan); (b) Crete was the place of origin of Odysseus that was later absorbed by the widely diffused tradition of the Odyssey (Faure); (c) Crete had featured as the most important station of Odysseus’ homeward journey in an alternative Odyssey (Woodhouse, West, Reece); (d) Odysseus has been associated with Crete in the false tale by means of certain common features he shares in both the Iliad and in hero cult with the Cretan Meriones (Haft); (e) Crete is quite suitable for the false tales, since its great distance from Ithaca brings the possibility of anyone contradicting Odysseus close to zero (Trahman, Walcot, Hoekstra, Emlyn-Jones); (f) Crete is a symbol of the Underworld and therefore stands for a symbolic death of Odysseus (Schmoll); (g) Crete functions as an effective contrast to Ithaca with respect to size and wealth, the former being large and rich, the latter small and poor (Grossardt); (h) Crete stands for a ‘real’ space that bridges East and West and is easily contrasted to the ‘unreal’ space designated in the Apologoi (Krummen); (i) Potentially significant are also the references to Crete in the Homeric Hymns to Apollo (393ff.) and (especially) Demeter (123): the island has become established as an “other”, in like manner as Cape Maleia (on the SE coast of Laconia) has become a symbolic entry point into unknown spaces and/or difficult circumstances (Marks). Of all these theories, (a) (c), (e), (g), (h), and (i) are not incompatible between themselves and seem to function properly. If (c) is right, (a), (e), (g), (h), and (i) work perfectly well for an alternative Odyssey as well. 20 The proem’s assertion (Od. 1.3: pokk_m dû !mhq~pym Udem %stea) is developed in 15.492 (pokk± bqot_m 1p· %ste’ !k~lemor 1mh\dû Rj\my), 19.170 (pokk± bqot_m 1p· %ste’ !k~lemor), and 16.63 – 64 (pokk± bqot_m 1p· %stea dimgh/mai / pkaf|lemor). 21 Od. 13.256 – 258, 260; 14.199 – 210, 252, 300 – 301; 17.523; 19.172 – 202, 338. On the centrality of Crete in early Greek epic, see St. West 1988, 156 – 159; Reece 1994, 166 n. 12.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


(c) there is a “remarkable contrast between our poet’s vague notion of the topography of the Peloponnese to his quite detailed knowledge of Crete”;22 (d) Eumaeus explicitly says in Od. 14.379 – 385 that an Aetolian23 has told him that he had seen Odysseus in Crete at Idomeneus’ palace, repairing the damage his ships had suffered in a gale and that he would return to Ithaca in the summer or by autumn together with a fortune and his friends. 24 External evidence reinforcing the scenario of a Cretan version amounts to two different sources:25 (a) two readings by Zenodotus,26 who suggested that in both Od. 1.93 Athena intended to send Telemachus to Crete and Idomeneus rather than to Sparta and Menelaus and in Od. 1.285 she advised the young Ithacan prince to go after Pylos to Crete to king Idomeneus; (b) a version of Odysseus’ return with a strong Cretan component offered by Dictys Cretensis.27

22 Reece 1994, 165. 23 See Marks 2003, 209 – 226, who convincingly argues that the “Odyssey’s deployment of Aitolians … can be understood as a kind of ainos, and that one way the ainos may have been decoded is as a message that ‘Aitolian’ stories can impress even an experienced audience like Eumaios, but that this audience, again like Eumaios, is to recognize these false stories as ‘false’. [A]lthough traditions about Thoas and Odysseus post Odysseam are incompatible with Odyssean thematics, the Odyssey responds, not by condemning to oblivion these ‘Aitolian’ traditions, but instead by providing a lens through which they could be seen in Odyssean, and therefore Panhellenic, terms”. 24 The italics are mine. 25 Reece (1994, 157 – 173) offers a well-balanced and convincing scenario. Methodologically speaking, there is only one point that I would like to make clear: in contrast to Reece, the role of Theoclymenus does not constitute internal evidence about a Cretan Odyssey, but points to the possibility that in another or other versions, Odysseus was disguised as Theoclymenus. In other words, Theoclymenus is not particularly attached to a Cretan version, though he may have formed part of it. 26 Scholia to Od. 3.313. See West 1981, 173 – 174; Reece 1994, 166 – 168. 27 There is no reason to repeat here the convincing arguments of Allen (1924, 146 – 169) and Reece (1994, 168 – 169) with respect to the sources of the strongly ‘Cretan’ Odyssey narrated by Dictys Cretensis (see the Latin edition by Eisenhut 1958). Both scholars argued for a pre-Homeric version, which was also the source for the Epic Cycle.


Christos Tsagalis

Since the Zenodotean readings are crucial for the hypothesis of a Cretan Odyssey, I think that they should be treated more extensively. Let us first see what they are about: Od. 1.93: p]lxy dû 1r Sp\qtgm te ja· 1r P}kom Alah|emta p]lxy dû 1r Jq^tgm te ja· 1r P}kom Alah|emta

MSS Zenodotus’ reading (schol. 3.313)

Od. 1.285: je?hem d³ Sp\qtgmde paq± namh¹m Lem]kaom je?hem dû 1r Jq^tgm te paq’ Ydolem/a %majta

MSS Zenodotus’ reading (schol. 3.313)

With respect to these Zenodotean readings, Stephanie West has convincingly argued that since they confirm one another, could not have been the result of scribal error, and could not have been conjectures made by Zenodotus as they are so strongly against the plot of the epic, they must have been genuine readings either attested in a number of manuscripts or by one of great importance.28 In other words, the astounding oddity of these readings, together with the scholium on 2.359 (oqdû 1mtaOha lm^lg tir 5sti t/r Jq^tgr), strongly indicate that Zenodotus introduced no conjecture nor did he alter the text.29 Since the necessary implication of the Zenodotean readings concerning Telemachus’ journey to Crete is that, in another version of the Odyssey, Telemachus went there after Pylos in search of his father, we may consider the possibility that it was in Crete where he met with Odysseus on his way home from Troy. In other words, what Odysseus28 West 1981, 173 – 174. 29 By using information from Near-Eastern sources, Burkert (1999, 135) argues that Odysseus’ attack on Egypt as narrated in Book 14 may be reflecting historical events concerning a raid on Egypt between 738 and 664 B.C. He also argues that the replacement of Crete by Sparta was the outcome of the growing importance of Sparta that had become a center of commerce, culture and music as a result of her victory in the first Messenian war and the subsequent subjugation of the entire region of Messenia from the beginning of the 7th century. The disappearance of Messenians from the victor-lists in the Olympic games post 700 B.C., the offer of Messenian cities by Agamemnon to Achilles in Il. 9.10 – 152 = 9.252 – 294, the absence of Messenia in the Catalogue of Ships, as well as its designation as part of Lacedaemon (Od. 21.13 – 38), constitute cumulative indications concerning a possible dating of the Odyssey in the 7th century. Differently Martin [email protected] – 8, who interprets Spartan-Cretan ties as the result of hero-cult, nostoi genealogies, and poetic performance.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


the-beggar tells Penelope in 19.172 – 18030 may have been accommodated from an alternative epic of return where Odysseus was driven to Crete by unfavorable winds after the end of the Trojan War. The rumor reported by Eumaeus in 14.379 – 38531 makes sense only if Odysseus did actually pass from Crete in an earlier version of his nostos. 32 There are also certain narrative inconsistencies33 concerning the matter at hand, which may well be due to their transference from a context where they were primary and organically linked to the whole, into a new context to which they have been adapted. Lines Od. 16.222 – 224 (‘by what ship did sailors bring you here in Ithaca? Who were they?’) 34 constitute a crucial interpretive conundrum, since upon meeting his father after so many years Telemachus does not ask him what happened to him after the end of the Trojan War. Of course, Telemachus seems to be picking up from where Proteus left the story about Odysseus in Od. 4.555 – 560,35 where it was said that he cannot get away from Calypso’s island because of lack of ships and sailors. Still, since Telemachus has never found out about the rest of Odysseus’ adventures, the puzzle remains unsolved. This paradox is further reinforced by the oddity of having Odysseus tell his son only of his last adventure (Phaeacians) and, more evocatively, only of the fact that they brought him to Ithaca by ship. In this light, there may be an alternative scenario explaining both Telemachus’ question and Odysseus’ answer. This scenario is couched in the assumption that this question would have made more sense, if Telemachus had been told by Odysseus himself about the rest of his adventures during their meeting in Crete, which must have featured in an alterna30 Contra van Thiel 1988, 183. 31 1n ox d¶ lû AQtyk¹r !mµq 1n¶pave l¼h\, / fr Nû %mdqa jte¸mar, pokkµm 1p· ca?am !kghe¸r, / Gkhem 1l± pq¹r d¾latû7 1c½ d´ lim !lvac²pafom. / v/ d´ lim 1m Jq¶tessi paq’ Ydolem/z Qd´shai / m/ar !jeiºlemom, t²r oR num´anam %ekkai7 / ja· v²tû 1ke¼seshai C 1r h´qor C 1r ap¾qgm, / pokk± wq¶latû %comta, s»m !mtih´oir 2t²qoisi. 32 West 1981, 171. 33 Differently Hansen 1972, who treats narrative inconsistency as the manifestation of “the influence of similar and therefore potentially confusing material” (59), but not as indicative of other epic versions. 34 po_, c±q mOm deOqo, p\teq v_ke, mg@ se maOtai / Ecacom eQr Yh\jgm ; t_mer 5llemai eqwet|ymto ; 35 This is not a form of letaj]mysir, for the narrator does not bestow on Telemachus information that he could not possibly have obtained on his own. On letaj]mysir, see Kakridis 1982.


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tive tradition relating Odysseus’ return from Troy.36 If father and son had then decided to follow a specific plan, according to which Odysseus would go to Thesprotia to fetch poisonous arrows in order to be able to fight against a whole army of suitors, while Telemachus would have gone immediately to Ithaca and wait for his father in Eumaeus’ hut in an attempt to gather as many supporters as possible among shepherds and other folk leaving outside the city of Ithaca,37 then Telemachus’ lack of interest in his father’s sufferings and wanderings would make perfect sense. How more appropriate this would have been, if Telemachus knew (because of their earlier meeting in Crete) that his father had been to Thesprotia and was only unaware of who brought him by ship to Ithaca, i.e. only of a single feature of his last journey. When our Odyssey was shaped and the meeting between father and son had to be transferred from Crete to Ithaca, some details pertaining to the previous encounter were not completely erased, hence the narrative dissonance discussed above. Thus the typology of recognition was violated by means of recourse to its specific manifestation in a reconstructed oral version of the hero’s return. The correspondence is here derivative, as the re-use of a typical motif in a new context has led to adjustments that are not free of peculiarities.38 Let us briefly trace the various steps of one version of the Cretan Odyssey hypothesis: (a) Odysseus and Telemachus meet in Crete after the former’s second arrival on the island, when his Egyptian and Phoenician adventures are over; (b) after a recognition scene, Odysseus narrates to Telemachus all his previous adventures; (c) they decide to return to Ithaca and kill the suitors but depart separately; (d) Odysseus travels to Ephyra in Thesprotia in order to get poisonous arrows for the killing of the suitors;39 36 See Reece 1994, 169. 37 Implied in Od. 16.238 – 239: E jem m_z dumgsºlehû !mtiv´qeshai / lo¼my %meuhû %kkym, G ja· difgsºlehû %kkour. 38 See Burgess 2006, 157 – 159. 39 See Od. 1.259 – 266; West (1981, 175) rightly suggests that there may have been “a causal connection between a visit to Crete and a visit to Ephyra”. The poet or the tradition of the Odyssey has inherited from an alternative journey of return with its strong Cretan component both Odysseus’ ability to use the bow and arrows (Cretans were famous archers), which are less heroic than the spear, and the fascination with lies. Thus, it may have been in Crete that the idea of a visit to Thesprotia was conceived, for it would be from there that Odysseus would get poisonous arrows in order to inflict lethal

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


(e) he is then brought to Ithaca by a Thesprotian ship; (f) he meets with Telemachus in Eumaeus’ hut, because they had planned to gather a small army against the suitors.40 In this context, Telemachus’ question is natural, for he does not need to ask his father for more information, since he has been already instructed by him in Crete.

Openings Before beginning his longest false story, Odysseus sets the stage for a narrative of epic proportions: he employs a technique typical of an oral performance, namely the singer’s inability to recount events of the past. This epic mannerism is here deprived of its concomitant recourse to the divine help of the Muses so that it can be reduced to an impossible wish (Od. 14.192 – 198):41 wounds to the suitors. See West 1981, 174 – 175. For Ephyra and Dodona, see below. 40 There are a number of passages that suggest such an alternative scenario: in 13.404 – 411, Athena advises Odysseus to stay with Eumaeus and ask him about everything he wants to find out, until she fetches back Telemachus from Sparta; in 15.335 – 336, Eumaeus tells Odysseus to stay with him since nobody among his companions finds him a nuisance; in 16.82 – 84, Telemachus tells Eumaeus that he will will send clothes and food for the stranger, so that he is not a burden to Eumaeus and his men; in 16.454 – 459, Athena turns Odysseus into an old man dressed in rags, lest Eumaeus recognize him and reveal the secret to Penelope; Eumaeus has a number of companions in his hut, who do not play any role in the plot of our Odyssey (see e. g. 15.302, 307). Danek (1998, 327 – 328) convincingly argues that all theses passages would remind the audience of other versions in which Odysseus’ stay at Eumaeus’ hut aimed at his gathering information and help before killing the suitors. See also 16.239, where Odysseus leaves open this possibility. In other versions, Laertes may have also taken part in the mne-ste-rophonia; see 22.184 – 185, 334 – 336 and Danek 1998, 433. 41 Drawing on the opposition between “cognitive human limitations” (in the poet’s recusatio in Il. 2.484) and time constraints, Bakker (2009, 135) argues with respect to Od. 14.196 – 198 that the hero’s tale poses risks to the poet’s tale, although they both complement and need each other. Without disagreeing with this point, I consider all such recusationes as indicative of versioning, i. e. creating and storing a singer’s contribution to a given version. The same observation may applicable to the famous epic hesitation before the performance of a catalogue (‘whom shall I mention first? Whom shall I mention last?’). In Od. 14.192 – 198, Odysseus’ words replay the conditions of a formal performance of epic song: when heard by an ancient audience, they would not doubt have stricken a familiar chord, since individual auditors would have thought of


Christos Tsagalis

toic±q 1c~ toi taOta l\kû !tqej]yr !coqe}sy. eUg l³m mOm m_zm 1p· wq|mom Al³m 1dyd^ Ad³ l]hu ckujeq¹m jkis_gr 5mtoshem 1oOsi, da_mushai !j]omtû, %kkoi dû 1p· 5qcom 6poiem· Ngzd_yr jem 5peita ja· eQr 1miaut¹m ûpamta ou ti diapq^naili k]cym 1l± j^dea huloO, fssa ce dµ n}lpamta he_m Q|tgti l|cgse.

I will give you a true account of all you ask. If only you and I had an endless supply of food and wine, here in the hut, and so could eat in peace while the rest got on with the work! I would find it easy to talk to you for a whole year without coming to the end of my sorrows and all the hardships that the gods have made me endure.(Transl. Rieu) 42

A crucial aspect of this innovative preamble is that poetic inability is translated into chronological impossibility, i. e., instead of emphasizing human impotence with respect to narrating his story, Odysseus-thebeggar highlights the lack of sufficient time for such a grand undertaking. In short, the important lesson to be learned from this introduction is that, by omitting the Muses, the Odyssey invites its audience to consider the possibility that, since Odysseus’ tale does not depend on divine authority, it is non-Odyssean and may well belong to another epic tradition of return. In fact, Odysseus’ insistence that he will give a true account of all Eumaeus asks (toic±q 1c~ toi taOta l\kû !tqej]yr !coqe}sy) is ironical only in the sense that the listeners are expected to interpret the beggar’s narrative as non-Odyssean. This carefully designed and timely executed plan suggests that truth and falsehood have been transformed from moral into performative terms, that the story Odysseus is about to tell reflects an alternative epic of return, the vestigial remains of which can be reassembled by a careful consideration of the entire corpus of Odysseus’ false tales, among which the story told to Eumaeus is the most extended one. This ‘false proem’ is followed by a linear narrative containing six distinct phases or episodes: (a) Crete; (b) Troy; (c) Egypt; (d) Phoenicia; (e) Thesprotia; (f) Doulichion-Ithaca.

the actual performance they were listening to. On versioning, see Tsagalis 2010, 341 – 344. 42 If the name oft the translator is not stated, the translation is my own.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


Crete The Cretan phase (14.199 – 234) of Odysseus’ false story to Eumaeus can be divided into two parts, the first of which (14.199 – 210) is about his life in Crete, while the second (14.211 – 234) refers to his military skills that made him famous among the Cretans. The way the Cretan phase is narrated here by Odysseus is replete with typical motifs that cannot be ‘assigned’ to any specific tradition: Odysseus as an internal storyteller deftly uses them in order to help him structure this first stage of his false tale. These typical motifs, which I shall now explore, contain some surface structural elements43 that are conditioned by the immediate context and that make Odysseus’ narrative more efficient. I will discuss each of these elements within the framework of the typical motif in which they are attested. Odysseus as a teller of false stories systematically assumes a Cretan identity:44 in 14.199 – 206 he begins his tale to Eumaeus by stressing his Cretan persona (14.199 – 210): 1j l³m Jqgt²ym c´mor euwolai eqqei²ym, !m´qor !vmeio?o p²zr7 pokko· d³ ja· %kkoi uR´er 1m lec²q\ Al³m tq²vem Adû 1c´momto cm¶sioi 1n !kºwou7 1l³ dû ¡mgtµ t´je l¶tgq pakkaj¸r, !kk² le Wsom Qhaicem´essim 1t¸la J²styq zkaj¸dgr, toO 1c½ c´mor euwolai eWmai

43 See above (i.a.). 44 In 13.256 – 257 Odysseus-the-beggar tells disguised-Athena that he fled from Crete after killing Orsilochus, the son of Idomeneus, and in 19.172 – 180 he presents himself to Penelope as the brother of Idomeneus, son of Deucalion, grandson of Minos, and adds that it was there that he met Odysseus on his way to Troy. Odysseus’ association with Crete in the false tales may be echoing an oral epic tradition, which narrated his return home in the form of an antithesis to Menelaus’ journey to Crete before the war, during the very period of the abduction of Helen. Whereas Menelaus’ journey to Crete (see Cypria, 98 – 100 Severyns = § 10 Kullmann: ja· let± taOta Lem]kaor eQr Jq^tgm 1jpke?, jeke}sar tµm :k]mgm to?r n]moir t± 1pit^deia paq]weim, 6yr !pakkac_sim) was enough for Helen to allow herself to be seduced by Paris, Odysseus’ stay in Crete on his way home to Ithaca did not make Penelope yield to the offers and pressure of the suitors for marrying one of them. This opposition would be very much in accordance with the studied contrast between the daughters of Tyndareus (Clytaemestra and Helen) and the daughter of Icarius (Penelope). Given that the Odyssey emphasizes time and again the contrast between Clytaemestra and Penelope, it is possible that another oral epic tradition about Odysseus could have accentuated the antithesis between Helen and Penelope.


Christos Tsagalis

dr tºtû 1m· Jq¶tessi he¹r ¤r t¸eto d¶l\ ekb\ te pko¼t\ te ja· uR²si judak¸loisim. !kkû G toi t¹m j/qer 5bam ham²toio v´qousai eQr )ýdao dºlour7 to· d³ fyµm 1d¼samto pa?der rp´qhuloi ja· 1p· jk¶qour 1b²komto, aqt±q 1lo· l²ka paOqa dºsam ja· oQj¸û 5meilam.

I am a native of the broad lands of Crete, and the son of a rich man. He had a number of other sons who were born and brought up in the house; but they were the lawful issue of his wife, whereas my mother was a concubine he had bought. In spite of this difference my father, Castor son of Hylax, put me on an equal footing with his legitimate sons. The Cretans of his day respected and honoured him like a god for his good fortune, his riches, and his splendid children, but his time came and Death bore him off to Hades’ Halls. His high-handed sons then split up the estate and cast lots for the shares, assigning to me a meagre pittance and a house to match. (Transl. Rieu)

There are certain elements in the Cretan part of Odysseus’ false story to Eumaeus that belong to the immediate Odyssean context and are clearly surface elements: the name J\styq zkaj_dgr (‘Kastor, son of the Barking one’), for example, may have been coined on the basis of its acoustical similarity to j}mer rkaj|lyqoi,45 the ‘baying dogs’ attacking Odysseus outside the hut of Eumaeus in 14.29.46 The Cretan phase of this false tale is based on a combination of certain typical manifestations of the general motif ‘Reversal of Fortune’.47 In particular, we encounter the following sub-motifs:48 45 Such surface elements that were triggered by the immediate context could easily be nested in made-up names of fictive characters. Notice that in the only false tale attested in the Iliad (24.396 – 401), Hermes (notice the accidental link to Odysseus through his grandfather Autolycus) pretendes to be one of the Myrmidons, whose father is named Pok}jtyq (‘of many possessions’, pok}+jt]qar), a very rich man indeed (24.398: !vmei¹r l³m f cû 1st_). The point is subtle, for Hermes will lead Priam to the Achaean camp, in order to offer numerous gifts to Achilles as ransom for the body of Hector. The name Pok}jtyq is also used in Od. 17.207, 18.299, 22.243. 46 See Hoekstra 1989, 207 on Od. 14.204, who leaves open the possibility that Odysseus is punning, since the class-noun j\styq (‘beaver’) “could originally denote a certain race of dogs (cf. jast|qiai (j}mer), X. Cyn. iii 1)”; see also Grossardt 1998, 94 n. 357. 47 See Thompson L 10.2, 111.5, 161, 161.1. 48 Grossardt (1998, 92 – 116) offers the most detailed and thorough presentation of this false tale by listing no less that 17 features and motifs, but does not make the important distinction between the various strata these features and motifs belong to. His interpretation thus operates only on a vertical axis.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


(a) ‘Abused son of a younger co-wife becomes hero’ (Thompson, L 10.2): the mother of Cretan Odysseus is a pakkaj_r (and probably younger than Castor’s first wife); her son, the Cretan Odysseus, is deceived by his brothers from a different mother with respect to the division of their father’s property after his death; the abused son excels in warfare and acquires fame (14.216 – 234). (b) ‘Bastard hero’ (Thompson, L 111.5): 14.202 – 203 (see [a] above). (c) ‘Lowly hero marries princess’ (Thompson, L 161): Cretan Odysseus marries a wealthy woman, despite his low origin (14.211 – 212). (d) ‘Marriage of poor boy and rich girl’ (Thompson, 161.1): the Cretan Odysseus is poor, after being deceived by his legitimate brothers in the division of their father’s property (14.210), but marries a rich girl because he was neither a fool nor a coward (14.211 – 213).49 The victorious course that the hero’s life follows, though, is thematically materialized by recourse to the typical theme of ‘ambush’,50 whose narrative pattern is put here into use. As we shall see, this typical theme acquires a specific coloring as it is intricately entwined with certain aspects of Odysseus’ epic persona in Homeric and cyclic epic. In their recent study of the theme of ‘ambush’, Dué and Ebbott determine the typical sub-themes of this narrative pattern as follows: (a) selection of best men; (b) preparation and arming for the ambush; (c) selection of a location where the ambush will take place; (d) concealment of the ambushers and enduring of discomfort; (e) surprise attack; and (f) return home.51 Sub-themes (a), (b) and (e) are indeed attested in Odysseus’ false tale, since he explicitly says that ‘he planned the ambush and picked the 49 It should be noted that all Odysseus’ false personae respond to the internal audience: as Eumaeus (the addressee of this false tale) is a compromised elite, by virtue of his having been born an elite and then enslaved, so also is Odysseus’ Cretan persona, because of his mixed parentage. 50 Idomeneus and Odysseus (on whose relation see below) are associated by means of the theme of k|wor (‘ambush’); see Camerotto 2010, 15, who draws attention to a number of passages, in which the theme of ‘ambush’ is employed with respect either to Idomeneus (Il. 6.436) or Odysseus (Il. 10.228 – 232 [notice the reference to Idomeneus’ fellow Cretan, Meriones]; Od. 13.259 – 266; 14.217). The two heroes are also representative paradigms of the safe and easy (Idomeneus) and the delayed and troublesome (Odysseus) return after the sack of Troy; another polar antithesis between them concerns speed: Idomeneus is slow because of his age (Il. 13.512 – 515; notice that his comrade Meriones is swift [Il. 13.249]), while Odysseus is swift-footed (Il. 23.790 – 792). See Levaniouk 2011, 76 – 77. 51 Dué and Ebbott 2010, 70.


Christos Tsagalis

best men’ (a+b: 217 – 218: bp|te jq_moili k|wom d³ / %mdqar !qist/ar) and that ‘he would leap out before all the rest’ (e: 220: !kk± pok» pq~tistor 1p\klemor).52 Analogous sub-themes occur in Odysseus’ spying mission and ambush par excellence, i.e. in Iliad 10, as well as in the Epic Cycle: in the Little Iliad Odysseus ambushes the priest Helenus, while Diomedes and Odysseus take part in a secret mission to Troy to steal the Palladion.53 In the Iliou Persis, Odysseus organizes through the stratagem of the Wooden Horse the most important surprise attack that makes Troy fall. In order to explicate the function of the theme of ‘ambush’ here, we first need to remind ourselves that it shares some common features with raids (especially cattle-raids) and spying missions:54 as far as the immediate context is concerned, Odysseus the storyteller specifically refers to the raiding of cities and the acquisition of wealth (14.130 – 233), while with respect to the larger context we should not forget that he is seated in disguise in Eumaeus’ hut trying to collect information in accordance with the advice of Athena (13.411). In light of these observations, it can be plausibly argued that we are dealing here with the mutations of a typical theme55 that is often employed in connection with Odysseus, but the use of which in this context serves a specific poetical purpose: it is embedded within the larger framework of ambush that links Telemachus with the Suitors and both of them with Odysseus, since Odysseus and Telemachus will finally make a surprise attack on the Suitors, who tried unsuccessfully to ambush Telemachus earlier on in the poem.56 Interestingly enough, Odysseus as the ambusher par excellence uses the bow to kill his enemies not 52 Seen from this vantage point, the military skills depicted in 14.216 – 218 are generic qualities of the epic hero filtered by the theme of ‘ambush’. Differently King (1999, 82 – 83), who finds resonances in Iliadic Achilles and Ajax, arguing that they “are not isolated instances of intertextual play but suggest that Odysseus’ fictional heroic persona is constructed so as to be in some sense, Odysseus’ antithesis”. 53 See also Odysseus’ second false tale to Eumaeus (Od. 14.462 – 506). See Dué and Ebbott 2010, 82. 54 See Dué and Ebbott 2010, 80 – 84. 55 Usener (1990), who studied 15 episodes of interaction between the Iliad and the Odyssey, did not include in his research the episode at hand, although the theme of ‘ambush’ spills over to the entire second half of the Odyssey. 56 Line 14.224 (!kk\ loi aQe· m/er 1p^qetloi v_kai Gsam) is a telling intratextual resonance of the standard topic, repeated a number of times in the Odyssey (4.559, 5.16, 5.141, 17.145), of Odysseus’ inability to leave the island of Calypso because of lack of a ship.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


only in the climactic ambush of the Suitors in the Odyssey, but also, and tellingly so, in his spying mission and ambush in the Doloneia, where he does so for the only time in the entire Iliad. 57

Troy The section on Troy (14.235 – 242) begins with a mustering of the Cretan troops under the command of Idomeneus (14.237 – 238), continues with a brief reference to the sack of the city of Priam in the tenth year (14.239 – 240), and ends with a ‘new beginning’, the scattering of the Greek fleet on its return home (14.242). Its highly compressed form, which is explained by the audience’s assumed familiarity with the Iliad and the Trojan War at large, makes it a perfect ‘bridge’ for a swift transition to the wanderings of the Cretan Odysseus. In contrast to the previous section, this one is solely formed by three motifs that have been transferred here from cyclic epic, in particular from the oral precursors of the Cypria and the Nostoi. The first of these three motifs, with which I shall now begin my analysis, lurks in the figure of Idomeneus, with whom Odysseus has, as we shall see, a special connection.58 57 It is the Cretan Meriones who gives Odysseus his bow (Iliad 10), since the king of Ithaca had left it at home when he went to Troy. This scene may have ‘crossed over’ to an alternative epic of return, in which Odysseus would have ‘re-discovered’ his interest in using the bow during his stay in Crete. Given that Cretans were famous archers, it is not unthinkable that the Iliadic episode may have been echoed in an encounter between the two heroes in Crete, the result of which would have been Odysseus’ decision to travel to Ephyra and get poisonous arrows for the killing of the suitors. This is of course mere speculation, but for a similar ‘crossing over’ between an Iliadic and Odyssean episode by means of a single object (cloak), see Maronitis 20052, 246 – 266. 58 When Odysseus the storyteller refers to Crete, this is mainly done through his consistent references to Idomeneus. This may, of course, be because Idomeneus comes unavoidably to the singer’s mind since he was a well known Cretan king who participated in the Trojan war, and to this extent he may be seen as a byproduct of the strong Cretan element characterizing an alternative tradition concerning the return of Odysseus. This approach, however, just pushes back the problem without offering any, at least in my view, convincing explanation, since it fails to answer the question why was Odysseus in the alternative song of return so closely linked to Crete (and Idomeneus). This question may be, tellingly I think, rephrased: which of the two is the primary and which the secondary element? Is Idomeneus evoked because of Crete or is Crete anchored in epic memory to Idomeneus? The question may seem, at first glance,


Christos Tsagalis

1. Idomeneus According to the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (CW), Odysseus (fr. 198.1 – 8 MW) and Idomeneus (fr. 204.56 – 65 MW) were the only suitors of Helen who deviated from the standard behavior of all the other competitors. Whereas all the suitors sent their gifts to Tyndareos by proxy, Odysseus was the only one who did not send any gifts, and Idomeneus was the only one who did not sent his gifts by proxy, since he traveled himself to Sparta to see beautiful Helen with his own eyes. If the CW echoes an older pre-Homeric lay, we have here an indication of a deroutinization process within a typical structure. Two items of the Catalogue of Suitors, Odysseus and Idomeneus, unanswerable and, perhaps, trivial, but lies at the heart of the process of motif transference and is of particular weight to this investigation. Certain scholars (Shewan 1911, 169; Lowenstam 1975, 140ff., Clay 1983, 84 – 88) have argued that Odysseus creates in his false tales a fictive self bearing striking similarities to Meriones, the closest comrade of the Cretan king Idomeneus: both Meriones and Odysseus are excellent archers, have a special talent in organizing an ambush and are close to Idomeneus. The similarities with Meriones have thus been interpreted within the wider matrix of the Odyssey, which aims at promoting its own version against not only alternative Odysseys but also against the Iliad. As it is the case with the song of Demodocus (Clay 1983, 106), so in the false stories the Odyssey looks at other epic traditions and recasts them through its own themes and viewpoint. By inference, the same applies to the case of Odysseus, the main hero of the Odyssey. The fictive Odysseus whom he constructs is molded in such a way so as to remind the audience of the preeminence of the Odyssean tradition. In this light, Odysseus usurps the identity of Meriones, an Iliadic hero par excellence, and applies it to the persona he had in alternative poems of return as presented through the focus of the Odyssey. The ruse does justice to both the hero of the Odyssey and the Odyssean tradition that constantly vie with other heroes emblematizing rival traditions (Clay 1983). This is all certainly true, but the Meriones-connection almost degrades Crete and Idomeneus with respect to their importance for the plot of this other version of Odysseus’ return. In my view, the similarities with Meriones are undoubtedly there but cannot explain the strong Cretan element and link with Idomeneus that permeated other oral traditions narrating the return of Odysseus. The typical theme of ‘ambush’ and the related sub-theme of ‘archery’ may have been the bridge for such later developments. See Clay (1983) 88 on a tradition related by Plutarch (Life of Marcellus 20.3) that Odysseus and Meriones had consecrated spears and helmets in a temple built by Cretans at the Sicilian city of Engygium. This late data may well be reflecting a much older connection between Meriones and Odysseus, going back to the latter’s latent Cretan identity. On Meriones, Odysseus, ambush, and archery, see also Dué and Ebbott 2010, 45 – 46, 52 – 53, 57 – 58.

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break loose from its typology and may be considered as sharing a new link, that of their aberration from the catalogic norm.59 What confirms this line of thought is that this deviation is also reflected in the small Catalogue of Heroes in the Iliadic Teichoskopia. Let us first compare the two lists: Homer


Iliad 3 Agamemnon

Catalogue of Women Agamemnon sons of Amphiaraus Odysseus Thoas Podarkes and Protesilaus Menestheus Ajax Elephenor Idomeneus others (missing in the papyrus)


Ajax Idomeneus unnamed heroes

What is clearly visible here is that the four Achaean leaders whom Helen describes to Priam are also present in the Hesiodic Catalogue of Helen’s suitors, and what is even more intriguing, in the very same order. In my view, the tradition of the Iliad is here using material from an older preHomeric Catalogue of Helen’s suitors that could very well have been part of cyclic epic (oral *Cypria) and is mirrored in the Hesiodic CW. But there is more to it. In the Teichoskopia Idomeneus is the only Achaean leader whom Helen describes without responding to Priam’s question as if there were a reason for doing so. In particular, Helen mentions Idomeneus standing next to Ajax and adds that “[m]any a time warlike Menelaos would entertain him / in our own house when he came over from Krete”.60

59 For a similar phenomenon in the case of Odysseus and Thoas, see Marks 2003, 209 – 226, who argues that epic geography offers a partial explanation for their association and that their rivalry in the Odyssey evokes tensions between different versions of Odysseus’ return. 60 Il. 3.232 – 233: Pokk²ji lim ne¸missem !qgývikor Lem´kaor / oUj\ 1m Blet´q\ bpºte Jq¶tghem Vjoito. In this light, the Iliad knows of Idomeneus constantly visiting Sparta and Menelaus, our Odyssey knows of Telemachus visiting Sparta in search of Odysseus (Book 4), and Menelaus arriving because of a storm at Crete before going to Egypt (Od. 3.281 – 300), while an alternative Odyssey is aware of both Odysseus and Telemachus visiting Crete.


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What we see here at work is that Menelaus, Odysseus, and Idomeneus, sharing a special connection with respect to an episode standing at the very foundations of the Trojan War myth, were connected through their initial link as suitors of Helen: in fact Odysseus and Idomeneus gradually came to symbolize two directly opposite attitudes towards marrying Helen (one accepted his defeat by not sending gifts, the other tried to marry her even if he had to travel all the way from Crete). In the course of time, a tradition narrating the nostos of Odysseus used the link pertaining to the cyclic epic tradition of the Contest of Helen and was strengthened by a significant mythical analogy: as Odysseus and Idomeneus epitomized two symmetrically aberrant behaviors with respect to the Contest of Helen, so they symbolized two symmetrically opposite traditions of nostos, Odysseus being the trademark of the troublesome and long journey home,61 Idomeneus the paragon of the easy and safe return.62

2. ‘Unwillingness to participate in the Trojan War’ Another relic of cyclic epic63 creeping up in Odysseus’ Cretan narrative is the motif of ‘unwillingness to participate in the Trojan War’, which is once alluded in Odysseus’ false tale to Eumaeus in 14.238 – 239:

61 This is also the case with Menelaus, see below. 62 Od. 3.191 – 192: p²mtar dû Ydoleme»r Jq¶tgm eQs¶cacû 2ta¸qour, / oT v¼com 1j pok´lou, pºmtor d´ oR ou timû !pg¼qa (\6Again, Idomeneus brought all his men to Crete, all, that is, who had survived the war. The sea got none from him’). By ‘safe return’ I am only referring to the return journey, not to the situation Idomeneus faced when he arrived home. In any case, [Apollodorus’] version (Epitome 6.10.1 – 5), according to which Idomeneus was exiled by Leucus who had killed his wife Meda and his daughter Cleisithyra and had taken under his control ten Cretan cities, is not reflecting the stock in which the alternative Odyssey is couched, for Odysseus’ stay in Crete presupposes a peaceful situation next to Idomeneus. 63 See Griffin 1977, 45 – 46, who rightly points to the cases of Amphiaraus, whose wife was bribed so as to convince him to participate in the expedition against Thebes, and to the case of Achilles who was hiding in Scyros. In my view, the episode of Achilles did not feature in the Cypria, as reconstructed on the basis of the summary of Proclus, but this is hardly the place to discuss this extremely complicated matter.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


dµ tºtû 5lû Emycom ja· !cajkut¹m Ydolem/a m¶essû Bc¶sashai 1r ]kiom7 oqd´ ti l/wor Gem !m¶mashai, wakepµ dû 5we d¶lou v/lir.

And they pressed me and the famous Idomeneus to lead our ships to Ilium. There was no way of avoiding it: public opinion was too much for us. (Transl. Rieu)

This piece of information is consonant with a cyclic motif, which is attested in the Cypria (119 – 121 Severyns = § 22 Kullmann), in Apollodorus (Epitome 3.7), in Philostratus (Heroicus 33.4), and is also implicitly alluded to a number of times in the Odyssey, i.e. a motif concerning Odysseus’ effort to avoid taking part in the expedition to Troy. Cypria (119 – 121 Severyns = § 22 Kullmann) Ja· la_meshai pqospoigs\lemom iduss]a 1p· t` lµ h]keim sustqate}eshai 1v~qasam, Pakal^dour rpohel]mou t¹m uR¹m Tgk]lawom 1p· j|kasim 1naqp\samter.

And they caught Odysseus pretending to be insane because he did not want to join up, after Palamedes advised them to seize his son Telemachus threateningly. (Transl. Burgess) Apollodorus, Epitome 3.7: b d³ (sc. idusse}r) oq bouk|lemor stqate}eshai pqospoie?tai lam_am. Pakal^dgr d³ b Maupk_ou Ekecne tµm lam_am xeud/, ja· pqospoigsal]m\ lelgm]mai paqgjoko}hei· "qp\sar d³ Tgk]lawom 1j toO j|kpou t/r Pgmek|pgr ¢r jtem_m 1nivo}kjei. j d³ idusse»r peq· toO paid¹r eqkabghe·r ¢lok|cgse tµm pqospo_gtom lam_am ja· stqate}etai. Odysseus who did not wish to take part in the expedition (to Troy) pretends to be mad. Palamedes, son of Nauplius, showed that his madness was fictitious, and watched carefully Odysseus who pretended to rave; and after snatching Telemachus from Penelope’s lap he drew his sword as if he would kill him. And Odysseus, fearing that his son would be killed, acknowledged his pretended madness and took part in the expedition. Philostratus, Heroicus 33.4: t¹m d³ k|com, dr pokko?r t_m poigt_m eUqgtai, ¢r stqate}oi l³m 1p· Tqo_am B :kk\r, idusse»r 1m Yh\j, lam_am pk\ttoito ja· pq¹r !q|tq\ eUg boOm Vpp\ sulbak~m, Pakal^dgr te aqt¹m 1k]cneie t` Tgkel\w\, ou vgsim rci÷ eWmai. The story, which has been reported by many poets, that, when Greece was leading an expedition against Troy and Odysseus feigned madness in Ithaca and put an ox and a horse under the yoke of a plough, Palamedes checked him by means of Telemachus, Protesilaus denies that this story is sound. Od. 24.115 – 119: G oq l´lm, fte je?se jat¶kuhom rl´teqom d_, atqum´ym idus/a s»m !mtih´\ Lemek²\


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]kiom eQr ûlû 6peshai 1{ss´klym 1p· mg_m ; lgm· dû %q’ ouk\ p²mta peq¶salem eqq´a pºmtom, spoud0 paqpepihºmter iduss/a ptok¸poqhom.

Don’t you remember the time when I came over to your house in Ithaca with godlike Menelaus to persuade Odysseus to join forces with me and sail against Ilium? It was a full month before we completed our voyage over the wide sea, so hard was it to win over Odysseus, Sacker of Cities. (Transl. Rieu) Od. 11.447 – 451: G l´m lim m¼lvg ce m´gm jateke¸polem Ble?r 1qwºlemoi pºkelºmde7 p²zr d´ oR Gm 1p· laf` m¶pior, fr pou mOm ce letû !mdq_m Vfei !qihl`, ekbior7 G c±q tºm ce patµq v¸kor exetai 1kh¾m, ja· je?mor pat´qa pqospt¼netai, D h´lir 1st¸m.

[The wise Penelope!] She was a young woman when we said goodbye to her on our way to the war. She had a baby son at her breast. And now, I suppose, he has begun to take his seat among the men. Fortunate young man! His loving father will come home and see him, and he will kiss his father. That is how things should be. (Transl. Rieu)

The presence of a cyclic motif that is shared by the Cypria, the Odyssey, and the false tale to Eumaeus is at odds with the emphasis placed on the military prowess of the anonymous Cretan. This strongly contrasting view can only be the result of a fusion, within the framework of the false tale to Eumaeus, of two divergent views of Odysseus: whereas cyclic epic (as mirrored in the tradition of the Cypria) and metacyclic epic (the Odyssey) 64 accentuate Odysseus’ love for his family and lack of interest in the war (this last feature applies to the former), an alternative Odyssey may have highlighted his warlike abilities, as well as his greed for adventures and wealth. In this light, Odysseus’ narrative to Eumaeus becomes the most complete of all the narratives offered in the false tales, for it not only combines a pre-Trojan War phase, an Iliadic phase and a ‘nostos’ phase, i. e. it spans the entire cyclic tradition concerning Trojan War myth, but it also contains features pertaining to another version of his return, where Odysseus was presented in a different light. 64 On metacyclic epic, see Burgess 2006, 149, who draws the line between three levels of narrative (Level A: cyclic myth, Level B: cyclic epic, Level C: Homeric epic) and argues that Homeric epic is metacyclic in the sense that it employs Level A (mythological traditions) and Level B (cyclic epic) in order to implement its full meaning. On the meta-epic aspect of Homeric poetry, see also Finkelberg 1998, 154 – 155; 2002, 160; 2003, 79.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


3. ‘Besieging Troy for nine years and sacking the city on the tenth’ Given that the Iliad is well known to the audience, Odysseus the storyteller does not feel the need to give details about his Trojan War exploits.65 His brief mention of the Trojan War takes the form of the motif of ‘besieging Troy for nine years and sacking the city on the tenth’, which lies at the heart of cyclic myth and is typical of the entire Trojan War tradition. In fact the Odyssey, where the nostos of Odysseus happens on the tenth year after the end of the war, is clearly following the model of a widely circulating cyclic motif endorsed by the Iliad, where it is stated that Troy will fall on the tenth year after the arrival of the Achaeans: ¤r Ble?r tossaOtû 5tea ptokel¸nolem awhi, t` dej²t\ d³ pºkim aRq¶solem eqqu²cuiam.

So for years as many as this shall we fight in this place and in the tenth year we shall take the city of the wide ways. (Transl. R. Lattimore) (Il. 2.328 – 329)

This motif is of course typical of oral narratives (‘X + 1’ years or times),66 but within the context of Trojan War epic traditions the ‘9+1 years’ and the ’20 years’ numerical patterns had become associated specifically with the Iliad and the Odyssey respectively, since the former designated the duration of the Trojan War, while the latter epitomized the length of Odysseus’ return.

Egypt The Egyptian adventure of Odysseus displays a remarkable stratification, since it is virtually a mixture of elements pertaining to the three distinct levels discussed above. In particular, there are (a) independent typical elements, (b) typical features that interact with analogous features attested in the Apologoi, and (c) features representing cyclic motifs. 65 See the laconic !p¹ Tqo_ghem (‘from Troy’) and Yki|hem (‘from Ilium’) used by Odysseus in the very beginning of the Apologoi (Od. 9.38 – 39). These brief expressions suffice for keying his audience to a post-Trojan War note. 66 This is a variation of the ‘Law of Final Stress’ that is employed in oral narratives; see Olrik 1992, 52 – 54 §75. See Bannert 1988, 40 – 57, who examined the use of the expression ‘three times’ (tq·r l]m – tq·r d]) and ‘three times – the fourth time’ (tq·r l]m – tq·r d] – t¹ t]taqtom) as a scene marker.


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With respect to independent typical elements (a), Odysseus the storyteller’s Egyptian adventure shows clear traces of the use of the motif of ‘Adaptability to Overpowering Force’.67 When the fictive Odysseus realizes that he cannot possibly defeat the Egyptians, he takes off his helmet and shield, throws away his spear and supplicates the Egyptian king by kissing his knees. His cleverness in dealing with an overpowering force saves his life, since the king spares him despite the insistence of other Egyptians that the stranger be put to death (14.282 – 283). By supplicating the king, the fictive Odysseus comes under the protection of Zeus Xenios, whom even the king of Egypt respects (14.279, 283 – 284).68 On a deeper level we can trace typical elements that interact with analogous typical features attested in the Apologoi and that acquire through this interaction their specific role in the false tale. In other words, these elements are indeed typical but have been so strongly contextualized after their use in the Apologoi that they unavoidably resonate in a particular Odyssean tone. These features include: (a) the ‘6 + 1 days pattern’, (b) the motif ‘Advice of Leader is not Followed by Comrades’, and (c) the motif ‘Enemy Arrives with Huge Force’. Although the ‘6 + 1 days’ pattern is a manifestation of the Law of ‘Final Stress’ (sub-type: ‘X + 1’ years or days),69 its specific use in this false tale includes a clear and meaningful resonance from the Thrinacia episode in the Apologoi. The same is the case with the two other typical motifs, i.e. that of ‘Advice of Leader is not Followed by Comrades’ and ‘Enemy Arrives with Huge Force’, which are both employed in the Cicones70 episode of the Apologoi. Although interaction con67 See Thompson, J 830. 68 On the fictionality of the presentation of Egypt in the Odyssey, see von Lieven 2006, 61 – 75. 69 See above. The ‘6 + 1 days pattern’ is employed 4 times in the Odyssey: 10.80 – 1 (Laestrygonians), 12.397 – 399 (Thrinacia), 14.249 – 252 (false tale to Eumaeus), 15.476 (Eumaeus’ tale to Odysseus). Only in the last case Odysseus is not the speaker. In the episode of the Laestrygonians the pattern is simply general. 70 See Od. 9.44 – 46. Blümlein (1971, 29 – 30) draws a parallel between the Cicones episode in the Apologoi and the Egyptian adventure of Odysseus in his first false tale to Eumaeus, but does not consider arguments like the ones I have discussed above. Fuchs (1993, 29 – 31) follows Blümlein in highlighting the analogy between the Cicones episode and the Egyptian tale. Although he also refers to possible links with the Thrinacia episode, like the motif of the warning to the comrades (12.320 – 323) and the ‘7+1 years’ pattern, he fails

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


cerns all three episodes, I will opt for a closer association between the Thrinacia and Egyptian adventures, for (i) the motif ‘Advice of Leader is not Followed by Comrades’ is employed in the Cicones episode only after Odysseus has sacked the city of Ismaros and has divided the spoils with his comrades (Od. 9.40 – 2), i.e. after having committed his wrongdoing, while in the Thrinacia and Egyptian episode the same motif is used right at the beginning, i.e. before committing any wrongdoings, and (ii) in the Cicones episode Odysseus loses six comrades from each ship and escapes with the rest of his fleet (Od. 9.60 – 61), whereas in the Thrinacia and Egyptian adventures he is the only one who is saved (Od. 12.420ff. and 14.273ff. respectively). This last point is by far the most important one within the process of interaction that I have described above, for the key-element is that the extermination of all the comrades and the salvation of Odysseus must be used only in the last adventure (Thrinacia-Egypt) before the arrival at the safe heaven of the Phaeacians and Thesprotians respectively.71 Let us compare the three episodes by presenting the interaction between some of their constituent elements: Cicones (Book 9)

Thrinacia (Book 12)

Egypt (Book 14)

Preparation: many sufferings (43)

Preparation: Many sufferings (243)

‘Advice of Leader is not ‘Advice of Leader is not Followed by Comrades’ Followed by Comrades’ (43 – 45) (299 – 302, 321 – 323, 330 – 332 ‘6 + 1 days pattern’ (397 – 399)

‘Advice of Leader is not Followed by Comrades’ (259 – 262)

Sea Journey-Fair Wind (39)

Sea-Journey ends, arrival at Egypt (257 – 258)

Sack of the city of the Cicones, take captive women and possessions, and divide them (40 – 42)

Sea Journey-Fair Wind (400 – 402)

‘6 + 1 days pattern’ (249 – 252)

Plunder fields, take women and children, kill the men (263 – 265)

to see the larger picture. Having said this, I am discussing the interaction of all three episodes, though I consider the link between Thrinacia and Egypt the stronger one. 71 There are other episodes (the Lotus-Eaters and Aeolus), in which the comrades are the source of trouble, but in neither of them does Odysseus advise his comrades.


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Cicones (Book 9)

Thrinacia (Book 12)

Drink and slaughter sheep at the sea-shore (45 – 46)

Slaughter cattle at the sea-shore (333 ff.)

Cicones ask for help (47) Lampetie asks for help (374 – 375)

Egypt (Book 14)

Noise of murder is heard (266 – 267)

Enemy comes with huge Zeus strikes with force in Enemy comes with huge force early in the the seventh day (399 ff.) force early in the morning (48 – 52) morning (267 – 268) Zeus brings disaster (52 – Zeus brings disaster by 53) striking the ship (405 – 406, 408 – 414)

Zeus, who rejoices in thunder, strikes panic into Odysseus’ comrades (268 – 270)

Achaeans are defeated and six comrades die from each ship, while the rest escape (54 – 59)

Many die, others are enslaved, but Odysseus is the only one saved (270ff.)

The rest of the comrades die but Odysseus is the only one who is saved (415 – 425)

The range of resonances is so extended that it is clear that Odysseus the storyteller is aiming at drawing an analogy between the Thrinacia and Egyptian episodes, while he is also using features of the Cicones episode. In contrast to Eumaeus, who as the internal addressee of the false tale cannot possibly associate the three episodes because the first two are completely unknown to him, the external audience is invited to trace the link and to admire the hero’s ability in mixing “fact and fiction”.72 Having said this, I would like to draw attention to the fact that, by giving this ability to Odysseus, who is the very trademark of its authority, the Odyssey allows us to glance at the process of its own formation. In particular the analogy between the Thrinacia and Egyptian episodes is so intense that it shows how events stemming from two different mythical cycles (an Argonautic and a cyclic),73 and associated with Odysseus’ return, were creatively combined by our Odyssey, which invented their split into the two separate registers of the Apologoi and the false tales that are both narrated by its emblematic hero-storyteller, Odysseus.

72 See Walcot 1977, 12ff. 73 See Od. 4.83 – 85 and notice how strongly the list of places Menelaus visited on his way home from Troy evokes the list of places mentioned in Odysseus’ maritime itinerary in his longest false tale to Eumaeus (Egypt, Phoenicia, Libya).

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


With respect to cyclic material (c), the Egyptian adventure contains three cyclic motifs: ‘7 + 1 years’, ‘second departure’, and ‘being defeated in a foreign land’. As in the previous case, the core of these motifs is typical but their specific epic manifestation is shaped by cyclic myth and here used in Homeric epic.

1. The ‘7+1 years’ motif Both cyclic (Nostoi) and metacyclic epic (Odyssey) know of Menelaus’ long stay in Egypt, which had been fixed to a period of 8 years.74 Schischwani75 has persuasively argued that the brevity and vagueness of the Egyptian reference in the summary of Proclus may well be indicative of an oral tradition closely linked to the Nostoi. So, in the light of the fact that Menelaus’ Egyptian adventure formed part of the Nostoi (285 – 287 Severyns = § 104 Kullmann), it is likely that the placement of Proclus’ reference to the completion of Menelaus’ return from Egypt to Sparta at the very end of his summary (303 Severyns = § 113 Kullmann), i. e. at the end of the Nostoi and long after the description of the returns of all the other Achaeans, strongly suggests a long stay in Egypt: lehû otr [sc. Diomedes and Nestor] 1jpke}sar b Lem]kaor let± p]mte me_m eQr AUcuptom paqac_metai, t_m koip_m diavhaqeis_m me_m 1m t` pek\cei.

(285 – 287 Severyns = §104 Kullmann)

Menelaus sails off after these [sc. Diomedes and Nestor] and arrives at Egypt with five ships, the rest destroyed at sea. (Transl. J. Burgess) ja· Lemek\ou eQr tµm oQje_am !majolid^. (303 Severyns = § 113 Kullmann)

and the arrival home of Menelaus. (Transl. J. Burgess)

In the false tale to Eumaeus, Odysseus explicitly says to the swineherd that he stayed in Egypt for 7 years (14.285), and that, on the completion of the eighth year, after being deceived by a Phoenician who promised to take him to Phoenicia, he was sold to a group of men who were sailing in the direction of Libya (14.287 – 297). This time period matches 74 See Od. 4.82 (acdo\t\ 5tei Gkhom); Apoll. Epit. 6.30: ajt½ d³ pkamghe·r 5tg [sc. Lem]kaor] jat]pkeusem eQr Luj^mar, j!je? jat]kabem iq]stgm letekgkuh|ta t¹m toO patq¹r v|mom. 1kh½m d³ eQr Sp\qtgm tµm Qd_am jt^sato basike_am. 75 1994, 127. For the view that the adventures of Menelaus have been modeled upon those of Odysseus, see Hölscher 19903, 94 – 102; Danek 1998, 93ff.


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the 8 years of Menelaus’ journey of return, but is also strikingly similar to the period Odysseus stayed with Calypso and Circe (7+1 years). In fact, Odysseus’ words to Eumaeus76 (14.290 – 292) 77 indicate that Odysseus is clearly building his tale on a fixed pattern, which I would like to reconstruct as follows: Odysseus’ stay at Calypso’s island for 7 years and his departure on the 8th year have been modeled both on the tradition of an alternative Odyssey in which Odysseus stayed in Egypt as captive of the Pharaoh for the same time period and on Menelaus’ stay in Egypt for 7 years and his departure on the 8th. The opposite alternative simply does not work, for the Calypso episode cannot be primary, since the motif of the hero being held captive by a love-stricken goddess is based on the epic of Gilgamesˇ and the function of the goddesses Sˇiduri and Isthar, and, as the Circe episode shows, it is not particularly connected to Calypso.78

2. The motif of ‘second departure’ Another cyclic motif detectable in the false story to Eumaeus is that of the second departure. The fictive Cretan stays only for one month in Crete after his safe return from Troy (Od. 14.244 – 245) 79 and departs again, this time for Egypt (Od. 14.246 – 247).80 The motif of a second departure, which is known from both the Odyssey and the Telegony,81 76 The Phoenician story contains typical features that would be especially meaningful to Eumaeus, who would recognize elements familiar to him from his own life story (cf. 15.403 – 484). See Trahman 1952, 37; Walcot 1977, 12ff.). 77 5mha paq’ aqt` le?ma tekesv|qom eQr 1miaut|m / !kkû fte dµ l/m]r te ja· Bl]qai 1netekeOmto / #x peqitekkol]mou 5teor ja· 1p^kuhom ¨qai (‘and there I stayed with him for a whole year. But when the days and months had mounted up, and a second year began its round of seasons’). 78 On the various analogies between the doublets Calypso-Circe and the divine alewife Sˇiduri in the epic of Gilgamesˇ, see West 1997, 404 – 412. See also Crane 1988 passim; Nagler 1996, 141 – 161. 79 l/ma c±q oWom 5leima tetaqpºlemor tej´essim / jouqid¸, tû !kºw\ ja· jt¶lasim (‘I had spent only a month in the delights of home life with my children, my wife and my possessions’). 80 AUcuptom d] le hul¹r !m~cei maut_kkeshai / m/ar ]` ste_kamta, s»m !mtih]oir 2t\qoisim (‘the spirit moved me to fit out some ships and sail to Egypt with heroic companions’). 81 The double departure for Troy (in their first sail to Troy the Achaeans arrive by mistake to Teuthrania) in the Cypria is of a different kind, for it is not partic-

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


is cyclic,82 but its aim must have been profoundly different: whereas in cyclic myth it was linked to the hero’s inner journey until he reached a state of final happiness, in an alternative epic of return it was triggered by lust for adventures and wealth. This marked difference is accompanied by another one, albeit less important: in cyclic myth, the hero’s second departure was a lonely adventure, while in the false tale and, may be in an alternative Odyssey, it amounts to an entire expedition (Od. 14.248).83

3. The motif of ‘being defeated in a foreign land’ ‘Being defeated in a foreign land’ constitutes another cyclic motif known mainly from the story of the Cicones in Od. 9.39 – 61, and secondarily and only partly by the expedition to Teuthrania and the fighting against the Mysoi and Telephus in the Cypria,84 as well as the unsuccessful participation of Odysseus at the side of the Thesprotians against the Brygoi in the Telegony. 85 This motif also contains two sub-motifs: (a) the return of the enemy with enormous forces (Od. 9.51 – 52 ~ Od. 14.266 – 268)86 and (b) fighting with the locals that takes place by the ships (Od. 9.54 ~ Pind. O. 9.72 – 3).87

82 83 84 85 86


ularly associated with a single hero, whereas that of the Odyssey (11.121ff. and 23.266ff.) and the Telegony (309 and 315 Severyns = § 115 and 119 Kullmann) are specifically linked to Odysseus. The fact that Odysseus and his comrades depart twice from the island of Aeolus does not undermine this claim, for it is clear that the second departure is triggered by the motif ‘Advice of Leader is not Followed by Comrades’. 1mm´a m/ar ste?ka, ho_r dû 1sace¸qato kaºr (‘I got nine vessels ready and the crews were soon mustered’). 125 – 128 Severyns = § 24 – 25 Kullmann: 5peita !mawh]mter Teuhqam_ô pqos_swousi ja· ta}tgm ¢r ]kiom 1p|qhoum (‘Then setting out they reach Teuthrania and plunder it as if Ilion’). 318 – 319 Severyns = § 122 Kullmann: 1mtaOha -qgr to»r l³m peq· iduss]a tq]petai (‘Then Ares routes the followers of Odysseus’). Od. 9.51 – 52: Gkhom 5peihû fsa v¼kka ja· %mhea c¸cmetai ¦q,, / A´qioi (‘At dawn they were on us, thick as the leaves and flowers in spring’); Od. 14.266 – 68: oR d³ bo/r !ýomter ûlû Ao? vaimol´mgvim / Gkhom7 pk/to d³ p÷m ped¸om pef_m te ja· Vppym / wakjoO te steqop/r (‘The townsfolk, roused by the alarm, poured out at dawn. The whole place was filled with infantry and chariots and the glint of arms’). Od. 9.54: stgs²lemoi dû 1l²womto l²wgm paq± mgus· ho0si (‘They fought a pitched battle by the swift ships’); Pind. O. 9.72 – 73: ftû !kj\emtar Damao»r


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Phoenicia and Thesprotia The Phoenician and Thesprotian episodes are marked by a complex stratification that is analogous to that of the Egyptian adventure. In particular, we can draw the line between four different levels that contain: (a) typical features dispersed in both adventures that, when put together, comprise a thematic typology; (b) elements interacting with material found in the Odyssey with a special reference to the Apologoi;88 (c) cyclic features; (d) a local epichoric lay over which the cyclic features have been superimposed. (a) According to the analysis of Scott,89 the Phoenician phase (14.287 – 313) of Odysseus’ false tale to Eumaeus and some parts of the Thesprotian phase (14.314 – 359) are structured on the basis of an almost independent narrative vignette, which could be epitomized as ‘double salvation at sea and on shore of a man returning home’ and is typical of oral narratives. This vignette contains the following segments: (a) A man is taken on board a ship to be sold into slavery; (b) there is a storm and the ship is destroyed; (c) the protagonist is saved through divine help; (d) after being washed ashore, he is given a friendly welcome by the locals; (e) the king offers hospitality to the castaway, gives him gifts and sends him on a ship home; (f) the crew takes him as prisoner; (g) he is saved when they go ashore. Considerable variation and rearrangement of features belonging to a traditional narrative pattern90 is a standard form of mutation of a typical structure, but their splitting within two phases of the same false tale is, I think, indicative of the fact that, although typical features operate on the horizontal axis and permeate the entire structure, they cannot tq]xair "k_aisim / pq}lmair T^kevor 5lbakem (‘when Telephus put in flight the mighty Danaans and attacked the sterns of their ships’). 88 The names Ve_dym and -jastor seem to have been conditioned by the immediate context, as it is the case with J\styq zkaj_dgr at the beginning of this false tale. See Blümlein 1971, 25 nn. 1 – 2, who points to the role of !pqi\tgm (14.317) with respect to the former, while he opts for the etymology ! privativum + ja_mulai with respect to the latter. 89 1989, 391. 90 These elements are also used in Odysseus’ false tale to Athena (Od. 13.272 – 286).

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


be responsible for phenomena taking place on the vertical axis, where a generative process is at work. By dispersing and distributing the elements of this narrative typology into two subsequent phases of the same false tale, the tradition of our Odyssey shows that it has been conditioned not only by larger thematic patterns but also by specific choices stemming from various other levels belonging to a different stratum. (b) Apart from the narrative pattern discussed above, the Thesprotian episode contains the following features that have been conditioned by their interaction with elements found in the Odyssey with special reference to the Apologoi: (i) ‘Clothing’ motif:91 Odysseus is clothed twice in this false tale, i. e. both by the Thesprotian king Pheidon who offers him a cloak and tunic (14.320) and by the Thesprotian thieves, who take his cloak and tunic and give him the rags he is wearing now that he is speaking to Eumaeus. It is clear that the ‘clothing motif’ has been conditioned both by the immediate context, since Odysseus the stranger asks Eumaeus for clothes as a reward in case he has real news about Odysseus (14.152 – 157, 395 – 396),92 as well as by the larger context of the Apologoi, since it is a key feature of Odysseus’ meeting with Nausicaa: Odysseus asks for clothing (6.178 – 179), Nausicaa reassures him that he will not be in need of clothes as long as he is among the Phaeacians (6.192), and her servants give him a tunic and a cloak (6.214). The interplay between proper (tunic and cloak) and improper clothing (rags) with all its social connotations is thus reflected in the two clothing scenes of the long false tale to Eumaeus. (ii) The ‘son/daughter takes the stranger/castaway to the palace and presents him to his father’ motif: in the Thesprotian episode, the motif is clearly secondary and plays no significant role, while in the Nausicaa episode it is primary, since it is crucial for the character-drawing of Odysseus and the continuation of the narrative (marriage of Nausicaa, athletic contests etc.). This motif may 91 The ‘clothing’ motif is associated through the Apologoi, the false tales, and the second part of the Odyssey at large with both Odysseus’ return and his constant use of lies in his encounters with various characters of the plot (Telemachus, Penelope, Eurymachus), who promise, for different reasons, to give Odysseus clothes. In this light, it is only used with respect to Odysseus and is, therefore, particular to him. See Grossardt 1998, 74 – 82. 92 See de Jong 2001, 350.


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well have been inserted in the false tale as a reflection of a partly analogous scene in the Apologoi, with certain necessary changes (Nausicaa as a parthenos cannot escort Odysseus to the palace but she can provide the means for his going there as a noble man). (iii) ‘Gift/Riches and Stealing’ motif: Odysseus, who has acquired wealth on his own while being in Egypt, is robbed on board in the Phoenician episode; the same is the case in the Thesprotian episode, when Thesprotian sailors try to reduce him to slavery. Both of these complementary events stand in stark contrast to the gifts offered to Odysseus by king Alcinous and the good Phaeacians who take him to Ithaca and place his gifts on shore. The motif is typical but its use in the false tale clearly interacts with the Phaeacian episode in the Apologoi. (iv) ‘Hiding’ motif: after being robbed by the Thesprotian pirates, Odysseus the storyteller unties himself while they take their supper ashore, and hides behind a thicket of flowering shrubs (14.353 – 354). In the Nausicaa episode, Odysseus hides behind some bushes and covers his naked manhood with a leafy bough from a thicket. This is another case of interaction and variation of the same motif: questions of priority in this case are hard to pinpoint, even if in the Nausicaa episode hiding soon turns into concealment.93 (c) + (d) With respect to the Phoenician episode, I will only repeat what I have said before, namely that it is based on the ‘7+1 year’ cyclic motif, since Odysseus the storyteller says that he stayed in Phoenicia for one year before leaving for new adventures (Od. 14.292 – 294).94 As far as the Thesprotian episode is concerned, the search for cyclic motifs should be paired with the search for local lays on which they have been superimposed, for the Thesprotian adventure of Odysseus constitutes one of the most deeply rooted elements that have been embedded in our Odyssey. The prophecy of Teiresias, the last phase of Odysseus’ first false tale to Eumaeus, the cyclic Telegony, and even a mention of a lost Thesprotis

93 See also Homeric Hymn to Demeter 125ff. 94 5mha paq’ aqt` le?ma tekesvºqom eQr 1miautºm. !kkû fte dµ l/m´r te ja· Bl´qai 1netekeOmto / %x peqitekkol´mou 5teor ja· 1p¶kuhom ¨qai (‘and there I stayed with him for a whole year. But when the days and months had mounted up, and a second year began its round of the seasons’).

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


by Pausanias,95 are some of the most important traces of a trans-epic view of Odysseus’ nostos. In Od. 14.327, Odysseus the storyteller tells Eumaeus that, when he was in the palace of king Pheidon in Thesprotia, he was told that Odysseus had gone to the oracle of Dodona ‘to learn the will of Zeus from the great oak-tree’ (1j dqu¹r rxij|loio Di¹r boukµm 1pajo}s,). The Di¹r bouk^ (Od. 14.327 = 19.297) is particularly associated to a specific choice Odysseus needs to make concerning how he should return to Ithaca, i.e. openly or in secret (C !lvad¹m Ge jquvgd|m).96 Since the Di¹r bouk^ motif in the Odyssey, as expressed in the divine councils in Books 1 and 5, concerns the completion of Odysseus’ return, we are able to see that it becomes progressively attenuated. Such a process is the reverse of what happens in the notorious Cypria-Iliad junction, where the general ‘relief-of-earth’ motif with its strong Near-Eastern overtones97 is compressed into the theme of giving satisfaction to Achilles by making the Trojans victorious. The motif of Di¹r bouk^, which has a long pre-Homeric history,98 is here employed in its cyclic aspect, i.e. in its proto-Panhellenic and still relatively epichoric coloring that marked an alternative tradition of Odysseus’ return.99 This is also the case with the mysterious references to Odysseus’ visit to Ephyra to get poisonous arrows.100 What we see here at work is the reflection 95 8.12.5. I side with Marks (2008, 104 n. 44), who postulates the existence of a “relatively more epichoric Thesprotis” and of a “relatively more Panhellenic Telegony”, though it is not clear if he is referring to the epic written by Eugammon of Cyrene. According to my view, a “relatively more epichoric Thesprotis” belonged to a group of oral epic traditions about Odysseus that were prominent in Western Greece. Another tradition, which we may call Thesprotian-Telegonian and was rather more extended in scope and included basically Odysseus’ post-Ithacan adventures in Western Greece, lies behind Eugammon’s post-Homeric Telegony. The Panhellenic Odyssey shows traces of both the more limited in scope Thesprotis and of a wider Thesprotian-Telegonian oral epic tradition. See Tsagalis 2008a, 63 – 90. Differently, Davies 1988, 156; Malkin 1998, 126 – 127. 96 This hint to his won condition remains completely unnoticed by Eumaeus. See Fuchs 1993, 31. 97 See Kullmann 1955, 185 – 186; Jouan 1966, 45; Burkert 1992, 100 – 106; Mayer 1996, 1 – 15; West 1997, 480 – 482; Marks 2002, 19. 98 See Kullmann 1955, 185 – 186. Differently Allan 2008, 204 – 216. 99 A predilection for oracles and prophecies is typical of cyclic epic. See Kullmann (1960, 221), who lists 17 such cases attested in the scant remains of the Epic Cycle; see also Griffin 1977, 48. 100 Od. 1.257 – 264. Ephyra is also mentioned by some anonymous suitor (2.325 – 330) together with Pylos and Sparta as a possible destination of Telemachus’


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of two different versions of Odysseus’ return with respect to the Thesprotian adventure, the one featuring Ephyra and the incident of the poisonous arrows, the other Dodona and the consultation of the oracle itinerary. This passage is important, for it may be reflecting not only alternative versions concerning Telemachus’ journey, but also alternative ways of killing the suitors (2.235 – 237). A careful look at the passage shows that Pylos and Sparta are associated with gathering allies in order to be able to launch an attack on the numerous suitors in Ithaca, while Ephyra is linked with the d|kor of poisoning the suitors after getting a deadly poison and dropping it in the winebowl from where the suitors are drinking (2.238 – 240). The question why the suitors thought of Ephyra, if it is in Thesprotia, has led Levaniouk (oral presentation) to argue that this is Elean Ephyra, a much more ‘reasonable’ Peloponnesian itinerary for Telemachus. This credible impossibility, which is only aimed at the audience, is not about geography but about alternative versions of the conflict between Telemachus (with Odysseus) and the suitors. To begin with, the suitors ‘see’ Odysseus behind Telemachus and express their fears in disguise. Both the ‘gathering of an army’ and the ‘poisoned wine’ motifs must have formed part of alternative, less heroic versions, which our Odyssey knows and systematically downgrades. In contrast to the widely held view that Ephyra in the Odyssey is always the Thesprotian one (West 1988, Malkin 1998, Nicolai 2002), Levaniouk thinks Elean Ephyra is here referred to, mainly because of a tradition connecting this location with poison, and that what is said here for Telemachus was true for both Odysseus and Telemachus in other versions. In my view, Od. 1.257 – 264 and 2.325 – 330 are referring to two different Ephyrai, the former in Thesprotia, the latter in Elis. What is important is that both Ephyrai are situated in a Western Greek axis and seem to belong to some sort of Western Greek koine¯ that represented Western Greek epichoric traditions with a distinct regional character with respect to stories concerning Odysseus (Marks 2008, 108 – 9; notice that Odysseus’ journeys to Elis and Thesprotia in the post-Homeric Telegony by Eugammon of Cyrene may be going back to pre-Homeric Western Greek epichoric traditions). In this light, we may be dealing with two different versions of the alternative/Cretan Odyssey sub-group I have discussed in the beginning of this paper: according to that mirrored in Book 1, Odysseus went to Thesprotian Ephyra and got poisonous arrows with which he killed the suitors, while according to another that lurks behind the anonymous suitor’s words in Book 2, he went together with Telemachus to Elean Ephyra and received hulovh|qa v\qlaja. The common denominator in all these versions is the way the suitors will be killed. Places thematize manners of killing and –by extension– heroic valor or lack of it. By opting for a version featuring few comrades (Eumaeus and Philoetius) and only his son as allies and avoiding super-weapons (poisonous arrows from Thesprotian Ephyra) or treacherous poisoning (from Elean Ephyra) or a small army of supporters (either from the Peloponnese or from Ithaca itself), the tradition of our Odyssey has elevated Odysseus’ exploit into an !qiste_a, shaping the valor of its hero once and for all.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


of Zeus. We may even speculate that the latter developed at a point when the oracle of Zeus started acquiring Panhellenic authority and thus ‘replaced’ the super-natural or magical element inherent in the poisonous arrows theme that began to shrink as Panhellenism was taking over. This must have happened at an early stage of the Panhellenic phenomenon, when local traditions, especially in Western Greece, were still prominent. The confusion between Thesprotian and Elean Ephyra mirrors exactly this persistence of epichoric traditions about Odysseus during a ‘proto-Panhellenic’ stage.101 In tandem with this, the three separate registers comprising (a) a local lay characterized by strong links between Ithaca and the mainland, (b) typical oral features such as the hospitality of king Pheidon and his son, and (c) the cyclic motif of the Di¹r bouk^, were fused into a Thesprotian adventure featuring in an alternative Odyssey. According to this version, the Cretan Odysseus is well received by the local king and his son, who, Nausicaa-like, leads him to the palace and gives him clothing before he travels to Dodona to find out from Zeus whether he should return to Ithaca openly or secretly. During the shaping and emergence of the Panhellenic tradition of our Odyssey a further development took place: just as the Egyptian and Phoenician episodes were ‘mapped on to’ the Calypso-Circe doublet102 by means of the cyclic ‘7+1 years’ motif, so the visit to Dodona (or even the confusion between an Elean Ephyra and a Thesprotian Ephyra close to the nekyomanteion) and the ‘hospitality of Pheidon and his son’ were split into the Nekyia-Phaeacian episodes respectively,103 since the cyclic motif of the Di¹r bouk^ (superimposed on the 101 See Marks 2003, 224 n. 35, who argues that “the Elean tradition, associated as it was with the Panhellenic Olympic festival, may have included an alternative, ‘proto-Panhellenic’ account of Odysseus’ return with which the Odyssey competed for Panhellenic authority over Odysseus’ story”. See also by the same author (2008, 100 – 104, 109 – 111, and esp. 104): “Rites and aitia relating to the oracles of Zeus, the dead, and Odysseus in Thesprotia, then offer plausible contexts for the development of epichoric and proto-Panhellenic narrative traditions. This is not to say that Thesprotia was an unrecognized cultural dynamo of the Archaic period, but rather that certain Thesprotian religious centers may have sponsored a vigorous Odysseus-tradition. […] Pausanias speaks of a Thesprotis that could represent one of the better-known of the west Greek traditions with which the Odyssey engages”. 102 See Reinhardt 1960, 77 – 87; Crane 1988, 15 – 29; Steinthal 1991, 502 – 504; West 1997, 404; de Jong 2001, 130. 103 See Danek 1998, 286; Malkin 1998, 129; Marks 2008, 102 – 103.


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proto-Panhellenic tradition of divine consultation in Dodona) was replaced by a katabasis to the Underworld and a consultation of Tiresias, while the hospitable king Pheidon and his son were substituted with king Alcinous and Nausicaa.

The False Tales, ‘Proto-Panhellenism’, and the Rise of the Odyssey Odysseus’ longest false tale to Eumaeus displays a complex stratification including (a) typical, context-free elements, (b) typical features used so as to interact with the narrative of the Apologoi, (c) elements conditioned by the immediate context, and (d) traditional motifs that acquire their specific identity by means of being intricately entwined with Odysseus’ persona in Homeric and cyclic epic. In light of this crucial distinction, it is possible to draw the larger picture with respect to the false tales in general. The false tales constitute one of the most extensive epic quotations (Zitat) 104 embedded in the Odyssey, an intertextual window to alternative oral traditions of Odysseus’ return. By following a process of de-geographization, de-linearization, and de-authorization of what in the false tales is and in an alternative Odyssey was real geography,105 narrative linearity, and local versions106 concerning Odysseus’ return, the Odyssey was able 104 See Danek 1998. The same observation applies to the ‘true’ tales (e. g. Nestor’s in Od. 3). 105 The false tales transfer the narrative of wanderings (in contrast to the Apologoi) to the realm of what is real and familiar. See Hölcher 19903, 213; Rutherford 1992, 71; Grossardt 1998, 31. 106 See Martin [email protected], who has argued that “regionalism is a well-known concomitant to oral traditions worldwide”.

Deauthorizing the Epic Cycle: Odysseus’ False Tale to Eumaeus


to create two separate registers through which its relationship with the oral antecedents of the Epic Cycle could be covertly communicated to the audience: while Odysseus’ adventures represent a fusion of motifs pertaining both to a pre-Homeric Argonautica and mainly (but not sole¯ ta-napisˇti episode in the epic of Gilgamesˇ, the false tales conly) to the U stitute a carefully designed allusion, mainly to cyclic myth featuring linear, episodic, local, and geographically traceable trajectories from Troy to Ithaca. The turning point may have been the decision made by the poet or tradition of our Odyssey to use motifs from the epic of Gilgamesˇ and of the alternative Odyssey that the pre-Homeric oral Argonautica did not supply.107 Part of the motivation behind this choice was perhaps to create a Panhellenic master myth for Odysseus’ return that would somehow span these three traditions. As the Panhellenic viewpoint of this new song aimed at reaching a Panhellenic audience, it consistently, but also gradually, as far as the false tales are concerned, deauthorized other versions referring to Odysseus’ return.108 Thus, we are able to postulate an intermediate ‘Proto-Panhellenic’ phase, during which certain epichoric elements, especially those pertaining to Western Greek local traditions about Odysseus stretching from the Peloponnese to Thesprotia, were so strongly embedded in some versions narrating Odysseus’ return that they still survived in the alternative Odyssey. When the Panhellenic phenomenon had finally erased or downplayed local epic traditions about Odysseus, the fusion of the exotic and fantastic world of the ‘Argonautic’ Apologoi and the real and locally colored realm of the false tales reflecting a ‘Proto-Panhellenic’ alternative Odyssey was complete. The Apologoi with their preeminently unreal topography and characters transgressed borders and time constraints and allowed the Panhellenic tradition of the Odyssey to rise and replace the real world with an imaginary one, and – what is even more striking – to label the former as false and the latter as real. By appropriating the dichotomy between false and true myths and translating it into terms of epic rivalry, the Odyssean tradition was thus able to play masterfully with pseudea and ale¯thea, i.e. with intratextual lies and intertextual truth.

107 See West 2005, 39 – 64. 108 Contra Hölscher 19903, 169: “Der Prozeß der Episierung und Panhellenisierung der Sage ist ein und derselbe”.

Animal Similes in Odyssey 22 Suzanne Sad Since Fränkel’s book Die Homerischen Gleichnisse published in 1921 a good deal of sophisticated work has been devoted to the Homeric similes. In this paper I propose to focus on the animal similes in the Odyssey, summarizing first the results of recent scholarship. Then, starting from the animal similes in Odyssey 22, which is thematically close to the battle Books of the Iliad, I will compare them to the similes, metamorphoses, omens and ominous dreams of the same or similar content in the Odyssey and in the Iliad, in order to define the special way the Odyssey presents animal similes.

I. General Remarks It is well known that the Odyssey contains far fewer similes than the Iliad – the proportion is nearly 1/3 or 1/4. Moreover, whereas the developed similes (with a verb) are significantly more numerous than the short ones (without a verb expressed) in the Iliad (197 against 153), in the Odyssey the proportion is reversed (45 against 87).1 Given that the similes – especially the developed ones – are concentrated in battle narratives,2 this difference may first be explained by the limited place of fighting passages in the Odyssey. 3 With the exception of the Cicones and Laestrygonians episodes in Odysseus’ travels in Books 9 and 10 respectively, and its reflection in the narrative of the Cretan Odysseus in Book 14, battle scenes occur only in Books 22 and 24. Given that one of the main purposes of similes is, according to the scholia,4 to introduce ‘variety’ (poikilia), this change may also be a consequence of the diversity 1 2 3 4

Lee 1964, 3 – 4. Iliad: 197 long similes versus 153 short similes, and Odyssey: 45 versus 87; Scott 1974, 191 – 205. Appendix A gives a list of all the similes classified by location and subject matter in the two poems. Bowra 1963, 70; Lee 1964, 5. E.g. Poivre 2006, 109. See Snippes 1988, 209, and Eustathius Commentarii in Odysseam 1.386.9.


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and complexity of the Odyssey. 5 More precisely as Fränkel6 already said, “perhaps the decrease of the similes in the Odyssey may be traced back to the fact that this epic, as opposed to the Iliad, admitted the powers of nature and animals in a less affected way”, an explanation recently endorsed by Redfield.7 Buxton also contrasted the tight concentration of the narrative in the Iliad and its restriction to a one-sided view of the world, which offer many opportunities for a wide array of similes, to the world of the Odyssey which is “already complex and richly diversified”,8 and needs them much less than the Iliad. The similes of the two poems differ also with respect to their aim and disposition. While similes in the Iliad tend to cluster, in the Odyssey, they are often used to recall the major theme of the poem that is the reunion of the hero with his family and his society and the punishment of the suitors and ensure continuity through long term echoes. In both poems, animal similes play a major role. Well over half the similes in the Iliad and one third in the Odyssey have an animal subject. But the animals populating the similes, as opposed to those found in the narrative, are not the same. In the Iliad, apart from the horse, boar, cattle and dogs, all the living animals are restricted to similes.9 In the Odyssey, the lion is the only one among the beasts of prey which appears in the similes: boars, leopards as well as wolves and bees have disappeared from the similes, but they are still present in the narrative in descriptions of hunts, sacrifices or metamorphosis.10 The absence of wolves and jackals, as well as bees and wasps from the Odyssey similes is easy to explain: these animals which hunt in packs or appear in swarms always prompt similes for large groups of warriors,11 which is not the case for the Odyssey. As for the boar, with the exception of four short similes,12 it usually 5 6 7 8 9

Buxton 2004, 147. Fränkel 1921; 1997, 110. Redfield 1975, 186. Buxton 2004, 147. In the Iliad, their hides may be part of the clothing of a warrior: (leopard) 3.17, 10.29 – 30; (lion) 10.23, 177 – 178; (wolf) 10.334. 10 Boar (sOr, j\pqor): (hunt) Od. 6.104, 19.393 (= 21.219, 23.74, 24.332), 439, 449, 465; (sacrifice) 11.131 = 23.278; (metamorphosis) 4.457, 10.338, 433; leopard (metamorphosis) 4.457; wolf (metamorphosis) 10.212, 218, 433; bees: Od. 13.106. 11 Wolves: (similes) Il. 11.72, 13.103, 16.156, 352; jackals: (similes) 11.474 – 481, 13.103; bees: (similes) 2.87 – 90, 12.167 – 170; wasps: (similes) 12.167 – 170, 16.259 – 265. 12 Il. 4.253; 5.782 – 783; 7.257; 11. 293.

Animal Similes in Odyssey 22


appears in the context of hunting and is opposed to men and dogs13 or in the description of a duel between two adversaries comparable in strength such as Hector and Patroclus.14 Their victims, horned stag or doe, fawns, which in the Iliad are mentioned only in a context of similes15 and omens,16 appear in the Odyssey not only in similes,17 as in the Iliad, but also in real hunts,18 in the ecphrasis of a brooch19 or as a piece of clothing symbolizing the supposed cowardice of the beggar Odysseus.20 The hare which appears in the Iliad in two similes21 is mentioned only once in a context of real hunting in the Odyssey (17.295). Domestic animals like goats,22 billy-goats,23 rams,24 kids,25 oxen,26 bulls,27 sheep and ewes,28 lambs,29 flocks,30 and pigs31 which are far more visible in the narrative of the Odyssey have nearly disappeared from the similes. Dogs were already conspicuous in the Iliad (55 occurrences). But hounds appeared only twice in narrative action.32 There were also many allusions to scavenging dogs (35 occurrences) feeding on corpses, as well as 23 occurrences of hunting or shepherd dogs in the similes. In this context, let us not forget that part of the explanation is that the term ‘dog’ was a frequent term of abuse (19 occurrences). In the Odyssey real dogs are far more conspicuous (25 occurrences). Scavenging dogs appear less often (5 occurrences), but they become a factual 13 Il. 11.324 – 325, 414 – 418; 12.41 – 48; 17.21 – 22, 281 – 283; 17.725 – 729. 14 Il. 16.823 – 826. 15 5kavor : Il. 3.24, 8.248, 11.113, 47; 13.102; 15.271; 16.158, 757; 21.486; 22.189; mebq|r : 4.243; 15.579; 21.29, 22.1, 189; j]lar : Il. 10.361. 16 mebq|r : Il. 8.248 – 249. 17 5kavor and mebq|r : Od. 4.335 – 339 = 17.126 – 130; 5kavor : Od. 6.133. 18 5kavor : Od .6.104; 10.158, 180. 19 mebq|r : Od. 19.230. 20 5kavor : Od.13.436. 21 kacy|r : Il. 10.361; 22.310. 22 aUn (34x), no simile. 23 tq\cor (1x), no simile. 24 jqi|r (1x), no simile. 25 5qivor (5x), no simile. 26 ox: 5 similes (as secondary element): Od. 4.535 = 11.411; 6.132; 10.410; 13.32; 22.403, and only once as central element: 22.299 – 301. 27 taOqor (9x), only once in a simile (21.48). 28 eir (16x), only one simile (Od. 6.132). 29 !qmei|r, %qmer (11x), no simile. 30 l/ka (45x), 2 similes (4.413; 6.134). 31 sOr, xr (47x); s_akor (3x); wo?qor (2x), only in similes (11.412 – 415; 18.29). 32 Lonsdale (1990, 74) quotes Il. 1.50, 23.173.


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reality for Aegisthus33 and above all for the goatherd Melanthius whose genitals are thrown to the dogs.34 Given the place granted to the dogs in the narrative, it comes as no surprise to discover that there are only two dog similes in the Odyssey 35 but there are still many occurrences of dog as a term of abuse.36 On the other hand the disproportion between the number of occurrences of horses in similes and in narrative is not as glaring in the Odyssey as it is in the Iliad where horses are largely restricted to narrative.37 Mules are also largely restricted to narrative in the Iliad as well as in the Odyssey. 38 Birds of prey, that is eagles and vultures, (aQetºr and aQcupi|r) as well as hawks (Uqgn and j¸qjor), are usually confined in similes39 and omens40 in the Iliad and the Odyssey with one exception in the Odyssey,41 whereas vultures (cOper) always portrayed as scavengers appear only in threats or in the description of the punishment of Tityus in the Underworld.42 Crows (joq~mg), shearwater (aQhu_g), sea bird of prey (ûqpg), seagull (k\qor), sea-eagle (v^mg) are used only in similes43 or in the description of a divine metamorphosis.44 The same applies to all the other birds which appear only in similes45 and/or omens46 with 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

40 41 42 43 44 45

Od. 3.259. Od. 22.476. Od. 10. 216 – 217; 20.14 – 15. Od. 4.145; 8.319; 11.424, 427; 17.248; 18.338; 19.91, 154; 22.35. Iliad: 398 occurrences, but only 4 similes: 6.506 – 511 = 15.263 – 268; 15.679; 22.22 – 23, 162 – 164; Odyssey: 36 occurrences including 2 similes: 5.371; 13.81 – 83 and 1 metaphor: 4.708. 24 occurrences of Bl_omor in the Iliad, but only 2 similes: 10.351 – 353 and 17.742 – 745; in the Odyssey 16 occurrences including 1 simile (8.124). aQetºr : Il. 15.690 – 692; 17.674 – 678; 21.252 – 253; 22.308 – 310; Od. 24.538; aQcupi|r Il. 7.59 – 60; 13.531; 16.428 – 429; 17.460; Od. 16.216 – 218; 22.302 – 306; Uqgn : Il. 13.62 – 64, 819; 15.237 – 238 = 16.582 – 583; 21.494; Od. 13.86 – 87; j¸qjor Il. 17.757, 22.139. aQetºr : Il. 8.247 – 250, 12.200 – 207, 218 – 222; 13.821 – 822; 24.315 – 320; Od. 2.146 – 154; 15.160 – 162; 19. 538 – 539, 543, 548 – 549 (Penelope’s ominous dream); 20.242 – 243. j¸qjor : Od. 15.525 – 528. Od. 5.66: sj_p]r t’ Uqgj]r te tam}ckysso_ te joq_mai. Il. 4.237, 11.162, 16.836, 18.271, 22.42; threats: Od. 11.578 (punishment of Tityos); 22.30. (threat) Similes: (joq~mg) Od. 12.418 = 14.308; (aQhu_g) Od. 5.337, 353; (ûqpg) Il. 19.350; (k\qor) Od. 5.51; (v^mg) Od. 16.217. v^mg : Od. 3.372. p´keia : Il. 5.778; 21.493; 22.140; Od. 22.468; !gd~m : Od. 19.518; !m|paia : Od. 1.320; j^n : Od. 15.479; j_wkai : Od. 22.468 – 471; joq~mg : Od. 12.418;

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the exception of the doves and geese47 and the few birds that inhabit the island of Calypso.48 Bats also appear only in similes,49 whereas serpents (dq\jym, evir, vdqor) which appear six times in the Iliad 50 occur only once in the description of Proteus’ metamorphoses.51 In contrast to the Iliad where fish similes are as numerous as the allusions to real fish (4x),52 in the Odyssey fish–similes53 are rarer than allusions to real fish54 and seals,55 since a large part of Odysseus’ journey takes place at sea. Octopus occurs once56 in an exceptional simile. Insects appear only once in the Odyssey in a simile,57 but three times in the narrative.58 These statistics demonstrate that the frequency of animal similes in Homeric epics is in inverse proportion to the occurrences of the same animals in the narrative. They support an interpretation of similes as means of transporting the audience into a world that is different from the world of the narrative.

II. Method Indeed one has first to look for the tertium comparationis and define for each simile “its primary function”,59 that is “its appropriateness to the specific narrative moment”60 – an appropriateness often ‘advertised’

46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

wekid~m : Od. 21.411; 22.240; c]qamoi : Il. 2.460 = 15.692; 3.3; j}jmoi : Il. 2.460 = 15.692; w/mer : Il. 2.460 = 15.692; 17.460. p´keia : Od. 15.527 and 20.243 (omens); Od. 12.62 (real doves); w/mer : Od. 15.61 (omen); 19.536, 543, 548 (Penelope’s ominous dream). p´keiai : Il. 23.853, 855, 874; w/mer : Od. 19.552 (real birds). Od. 5.66: sj_p]r t( Uqgj]r te tamuckysso_ te joq_mai. mujteq¸r : Od. 12.433; 24.6. Il. 2.173: real serpents, 2.308, 12.108: omen, 6.181: description of the Chimaera, 11.39 ecphrasis of Agamemnon’s shield, 22.193: simile Od. 4.457. real fish: Il. 19.268; 21.122, 203, 353; similes: 16.407; 21.22 – 24; 23.692 – 693; 24.82. Od. 10.124; 12.252; 22.384 – 388. Od. 5.421; 12.96 – 97, 331; 14.135; 15.480; 24.291. Od. 4.404, 411, 442, 443, 448, 450; 15. 480. Od. 5.432 – 435. Gadfly: Od. 22.300. Bees: Od. 13.106; dog fleas: Od. 17. 300; wood worms: 21.395. De Jong 2001, xviii. Martin 1997, 139.


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by a repetition of the same words in the two parts of the simile, vehicle and tenor. It is also necessary to comment about its functions in its immediate context, as did the ancient scholiasts and Eustathius61. According to them, similes introduce some diversity (poijik_a) and confer relief (5lvasir), aggrandizement (aungsir) or ornament (j|slor) to the style. They also bring in clarity (sav^meia), vividness (1m\qceia), and visualization (vamtas_a). In a sense, every simile is individual and has to be understood in relation to its own context. Literal repetitions of long similes are exceptional (only five instances in the Iliad, all applied to different warriors and gods to illuminate the same situation62 and two in the Odyssey).63 But the first one is only a quote: it appears in the speech of Menelaus and is quoted by Telemachus in the narrative of his visit to Sparta. The second one, which describes the beautification of Odysseus after a bath belongs, as Friedrich has demonstrated,64 to a coherent sequence consisting of lion simile/ bath/ artist simile and describing the return of Odysseus from wilderness to civilization and establishing a significant crossreference between two important stages of the epic action. To echo Martin,65 the simile obviously has “a rhythmic value” and “punctuates the narrative”. With the exception of some unusual similes used to describe situations which have no parallel in the epic, such as the octopus simile in Odyssey 5.432 – 435, most of the similes are an integral part of the oral tradition inherited by the bard and share family resemblances with others portraying the same animals,66 or conveying the same basic idea.67 So one may choose to study the whole series. Conversely one may choose to start from some puzzling similes such as the barking heart of Odysseus in Odyssey 20, the simile of the Cranes and the Pygmies in Iliad 3 and the grieving vultures of Odyssey 16, as did Rose, Muellner, and -more recently- Rood,68 in order to restore their con61 See Snippes 1988 passim and Richardson 1988, 279 – 282. 62 Il. 5.782 – 783 = 7.256 – 257; 5.860 – 861 = 14.148 – 149; 6.506 – 511 = 15.263 – 268; 11.548 – 555 = 17.657 – 664; 13.389 – 391 = 16.482 – 484. 63 Od. 4.335 – 339 = 17.126 – 130; 6.233 – 235 = 23.159 – 162. 64 Friedrich 1981, 125 – 127. 65 Martin 1997, 144. 66 E.g. Magrath 1982 on the lion-simile in the Odyssey or Wilson 2002 on lion kings. 67 E.g. Mills 2000 on parental care in some Homeric similes. 68 See Rose 1979; Muellner 1990; Rood 2006.

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ventionality by investigating their traditional background (that is the half conscious patterns of associations and symbolic consistency on which the choice of the poet depends).

III. Animal Similes in Odyssey 22 In Book 22 the six animal similes, which regularly oscillate between Odysseus and the suitors, portray: 239 – 240: Athena perched as a swallow 299 – 301: the suitors as a herd of cattle driven mad by a gadfly 302 – 309: Odysseus and his allies likened to vultures pouncing on birds 383 – 389: the suitors’ corpses piled on each other like dead fishes 401 – 406: Odysseus like a lion who has been feeding on an ox 463 – 473: the unfaithful serving women hanged like thrushes or doves caught in a net. In 239 – 240 Athena herself “leapt and perched like a swallow on the beam of the smoky roof in front of them”: aqtµ d’ aQhakºemtor !m± lec²qoio l´kahqom 6fet’ !maýnasa, wekidºmi eQj´kg %mtgm.

“Scholars have disagreed as to whether what is at issue in these passages is the metamorphosis of a deity into a bird, or the comparison of the deity to a bird”.69 In Od. 3.372 when Athena leaves Pylos in the likeness of a sea-eagle (¦¶m, eQdol´mg), it is obviously a metamorphosis as demonstrated by the amazement that seizes all the Achaeans (372: h²lbor d’ 6ke p²mtar ’Awaio¼r) and the reaction of Nestor: “and the old man was amazed at what his eyes saw” (373: ha¼lafem d’ b ceqaiºr, fpyr Udem a¦haklo?si). Indeed here the poet uses eQdol´mg and not eQj´kg. But the review of all the other occurrences of eUjekor and Ujekor70 is inconclusive: in most cases, these words are used for comparisons;71 there is at least one case of obvious metamorphosis72. As a consequence, it is impossible to decide with some degree of certainty between comparison 69 Buxton 2004, 142 – 143; see Dirlmeier 1967; Bannert 1978; Erbse 1980; Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1981, 185 – 190; Lonsdale 1990, 115 – 117. 70 eUjekor Il. 10x, Od. 7x; Ujekor : Il. 8x, Od. 6x. 71 eUjekor : Il. 10x, Od. 6x; Ujekor : Il. 8x, Od. 6x. 72 Ujekor : Il. 4.86 D [Athena] d’ !mdq· Qj´kg Tq¾ym jated¼seh’ flikom.


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and metamorphosis when (as in Odyssey 5.51 – 54) Hermes is assimilated to a shearwater (k²q\ eqmihi 1oij¾r … t` Ujekor) and Ino/Leucothea slipping into the heaving sea to a gannet (5.352 – 353: d’ #x 1r pºmtom 1d¼seto jula¸momta / aQhu¸, eQju?a aqt^), or when Athena and Apollo are likened to vultures settled atop the broad towering oak (Il. 7.59 – 60: 2f´shgm eqmisim 1oijºter aQcupio?si/ ¦gc` 1¦’ rxgk0), or when Sleep is compared to a singing bird sitting covered up and hidden by the pine branches (Il. 14.289 – 290: 5mh’ Hst’ efoisim pepujasl´mor eQkat¸moisim / eqmihi kicuq0 1mak¸cjior), or when Apollo coming down from Mt Ida is likened to a hawk (Il. 15.237: b/ d³ jat’ ’Ida¸ym aq´ym Uqgji 1oij~r). I would rather, with Dirlmeier and Erbse,73 interpret them as similes, given that there is no allusion to any amazed audience. It is obvious that the Odyssean simile is an adaptation of the Iliadic simile likening gods sitting on an oak to vultures. The change from the oak-tree to a beam is a necessary adaptation since the fight in the Odyssey takes place inside Odysseus’ palace. But why is a swallow substituted to the vulture of the Iliad? De Jong74 cryptically says that “this choice may be significant” without elaborating on its meaning. It seems to me that it is here used to throw into relief the surprising passivity of the goddess, who in the guise of Mentor had just promised Odysseus her help at 22.233 – 235, in contrast to the aristeia of the hero whose “bowstring sang beautifully like the voice of a swallow” (21.411: B d’ [meuq^] rp¹ jak¹m %eise, wekidºmi eQj´kg aqd¶m), given that these are the only occurrences of the swallow simile in Homer. The second and third similes which follow immediately at 22.299 – 309 – such a cluster is unique in the Odyssey – coincide with the decisive intervention of Athena. The first one compares the suitors to stampeding herd driven wild by a gadfly (22.297 – 301): dµ tºt’ ’Ahgma¸g ¦his¸lbqotom aQc¸d’ !m´swem rxºhem 1n aqo¦/r7 t_m d³ ¦q´mer 1pto¸ghem. oR d’ 1¦´bomto jat± l´caqom bºer ¤r !ceka?ai7 t±r l´m t’ aQºkor oWstqor 1¦oqlghe·r 1dºmgsem ¦q, 1m eQaqim0, fte t’ Elata lajq± p´komtai.

And now Athena waved the aegis, that blights humanity, from high aloft on the roof, and their wits were bewildered, and they stampeded about the hall, like a herd of cattle set up and driven wild by the darting gadfly in the spring season at the time when the days grow longer. 73 Dirlmeier 1967; Erbse 1980. 74 De Jong 2001, 534.

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This simile, which is unique in the Odyssey, has a close parallel in Iliad 15.318 – 327: aqt±q 1pe· jat’ 1m_pa Qd½m Dama_m tawup¾kym se?s’, 1p· d’ aqt¹r %{se l²ka l´ca, to?si d³ hul¹m 1m st¶hessim 5hekne, k²homto d³ ho¼qidor !kj/r. oT d’ ¦r t’ A³ bo_m !c´kgm C p_{ l´c’ oQ_m h/qe d¼y jkom´ysi leka¸mgr mujt¹r !lokc` 1khºmt’ 1nap¸mgr sgl²mtoqor oq paqeºmtor, ¤r 1¦ºbghem ’Awaio· !m²kjider7 1m c±q ’Apºkkym Hje ¦ºbom, Tqys·m d³ ja· GEjtoqi jOdor epafem.

When he [Apollo] waved the aegis and himself gave a great baying cry, the spirit inside them was amazed to hear it, they forgot their furious valor. And they, as when in the dim of the black night two wild beasts stampede a herd of cattle or big flock of sheep, falling suddenly upon them, when no herdsman is by, the Achaeans fled so in their weakness and terror, since Apollo drove terror upon them, and gave glory to the Trojans.

But the Odyssean simile is more precise: instead of “a herd of cattle and big flock” there is only a “herd of cattle”. The two beasts (Apollo is helping Hector) have been replaced with a gadfly (a change perhaps symbolizing the disproportion of size between the numerous suitors and the small number of those who fight together with Odysseus). And “in the dim of the black night” has been replaced by an evocation of the spring season at the time when days grow longer” –a formula which reappears only once in Od. 18.367–, an expression which increases by contrast the horror of the killing. It may also be explained by a change of viewpoint: a narrator who is usually “favorable to the Greeks”, as the Iliadic scholia point out,75 presents there their defeat in an unfavorable light, whereas the defeat of the suitors is a positive phenomenon according to the narrator of the Odyssey. This simile focusing on the suitors is immediately followed by another simile focusing on Odysseus’ party (22.303 – 308): oR d’ ¦r t’ aQcupio· calx¾muwer !cjukow/kai 1n aq´ym 1khºmter 1p’ aqm¸hessi hºqysi. ta· l´m t’ 1m ped¸\ m´¦ea pt¾ssousai Vemtai, oR d´ te t±r ak´jousim 1p²klemoi, oqd´ tir !kjµ c¸metai oqd³ ¦uc¶7 wa¸qousi d´ t’ !m´qer %cq,7 ¤r %qa to· lmgst/qar 1pess¼lemoi jat± d_la t¼ptom 1pistqo¦²dgm7 …

75 E.g. scholia ad Il. 8. 274 – 276; 8.350 etc.


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But the other men who were like hook-clawed, beak-bent vultures, descending from the mountains to pounce upon lesser birds; and these on the plain, shrinking away from the clouds, speed off, but they plunge on them and destroy them, nor is there any defense, nor any escape, and men are glad from the hunting; so these men, sweeping about the palace, struck down the suitors one man after another.

The content of the simile is typical: in the Homeric poems, all the long similes portray birds of prey rushing on their prey or are given an epithet that stresses their predatory nature.76 It is also placed, as expected, at the end of the aristeia, with an emphasis on the unevenness of the fight: the vultures with weapons, claws and beaks, are swooping upon and killing cowering birds deprived of !kj^. This Odyssean simile, which is part of a series, looks both backwards and forwards. It looks backwards since it recalls the puzzling simile following the recognition scene between Odysseus and Telemachus (16.216 – 219): jka?om d³ kic´yr, "dim¾teqom E t’ oQymo¸, ¦/mai C aQcupio· calx¾muwer, oXs¸ te t´jma !cqºtai 1ne¸komto p²qor petegm± cem´shai7 ¤r %qa to¸ c’ 1keeim¹m rp’ a¦q¼si d²jquom eWbom.

They wept loudly, more copiously than birds, sea-eagles or eagles with hooked claws, whose young were taken by country men before they became able to fly; thus pitiably they shed tears beneath their brows.

Of course, “the primary function of the simile is to illustrate the intensity of their weeping”77 (tears also appear in other reunion scenes).78 But as Rood pointed out,79 “this simile becomes transparent when understood in the context of revenge. In its depiction of powerful creatures acknowledging the terrible injury done to them, we can sense the seeds of revenge taking root”. Rood aptly draws a parallel between this passage and the famous simile comparing Achilles to a lion whose cubs have been stolen.80 But the Odyssey only tells the first part of the story –the loss– and leaves to the imagination of the audience the sequel –the description of the anger of the wronged predator “quartering after 76 Il. 15.237 – 238: Uqgji 1oij½r / ¡j´z ¦asso¦ºm\; 21.252: aQetoO oUlat’ 5wym l´kamor toO hgqgt/qor. 77 De Jong 2001, 396 – 397. 78 Od. 10.414 – 415: Odyssseus and his companions; 23.207, 231 – 232: Odysseus and Penelope. 79 Rood 2006, 9 and n. 33. 80 Il. 18.318 – 322.

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the man’s trail on the chances of finding him”(Il. 18.321). This simile also resonates with omens and ominous dreams announcing the revenge. This comes as no surprise, since “omens and similes have a similar verbal structure and function, as well as affinities in theme and content”.81 First, in Od. 2.146 – 154, in which two eagles (aQet~) appear to the assembly “glaring death” (essomto d’ ekehqom) –an announcement of the revenge– and “tearing cheeks and necks with their claws” (dquxal´my d’ am¼wessi paqei±r !l¦¸ te deiq\r)– perhaps a gesture of mourning announcing the tears of the reunion scene; second, in Odyssey 15, an eagle carrying in his claws a huge white goose (161: aQet¹r !qcµm w/ma ¦´qym am¼wessi p´kyqom) and a hawk carrying in his claws a dove and tearing out her feathers (526 – 527: j¸qjor… 1m d³ pºdessi t¸kke p´keiam 5wym); third, in Odyssey 19, in the dream of Penelope “the great eagle with crooked beak coming from the mountain who broke the neck of her geese and killed them” (538 – 539: 1kh½m d’ 1n eqeor l´car aQet¹r !cjukow¶kgr p÷si jat’ aqw´mar Gne ja· 5jtamem); last, in Odyssey 20, the high-flown eagle who appears on the left of the suitors carrying a dove (242 – 243: aqt±q b to?sim !qisteq¹r Ekuhem eqmir, / aQet¹r rxip´tgr, 5we d³ tq¶qyma p´keiam). The continuity between these omens and the simile of Book 22 is ensured by the similarity of their setting (the predator is often coming from the mountain82) and their association to the revenge. The simile of book 22 also looks forward, for it is echoed in 24.538 in the battle against the suitors’ relatives, with the description of Odysseus who “jumps to attack like a high-flown eagle” (oUlgsem d³ !ke·r ¦r t’ aQet¹r rxipet¶eir), a formulaic line applied to Hector at Il. 22.308. But if its content is typical, its use is not. In the Iliad, the leap of the warrior is usually the prelude to an attack.83 But in Odyssey 24, it is followed by the thunder of Zeus and an order of Athena to end the war, an order with which Odysseus complies. The same kind of misdirection is to be found Iliad 24, when Achilles, after uttering a threat to Priam, jumps like a lion (527: Pgkeýdgr d’ oUjoio k´ym ¤r ükto h¼qafe). But this jump, which alarms Priam according to the scholiast,84 is but the prelude to his exit.

81 82 83 84

Lonsdale 1990, 113. Od. 2.147; 19.538; 22.303. Il. 13.531 (Meriones); 22.308 (Hector). Schol. Il. 24.572bT.


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The specificity of the Odyssean birds of prey-similes and omens –their concentration on Odysseus and his vengeance– better appears through a comparison with the Iliad. If the structure of the omens is the same in both poems (with the exception of 13.820 – 821, all the omens of the Iliad portray a predatory bird pursuing or holding a prey), the gods in the Iliad send auspicious omens not only to the Achaeans85 but also to Priam.86 And many warriors, major heroes as well as episodic characters are compared to birds of prey for their movements, their screams or the sharpness of their sight87. The suitors who were assimilated first to oxen deprived of their wits by a gadfly, then to small birds killed by eagles are finally lying and their corpses are compared to dead fishes (22.383 – 389): to»r d³ Udem l²ka p²mtar 1m aVlati ja· jom¸,si pepte_tar pokko¼r, ¦r t’ Qwh¼ar, ovr h’ "ki/er jo?kom 1r aQciak¹m poki/r 5jtoshe hak²ssgr dijt¼\ 1n´qusam pokuyp`7 oR d´ te p²mter j¼lah’ "k¹r poh´omter 1p· xal²hoisi j´wumtai7 t_m l´m t’ A´kior ¦a´hym 1ne¸keto hulºm7 ¤r tºt’ %qa lmgst/qer 1p’ !kk¶koisi j´wumto.

He [Odysseus] saw them one and all in their numbers, lying fallen in their blood and in the dust, like fish whom the fishermen have taken in their nets with many holes, and dragged out onto the hollow beach from the grey sea, and all of them lie piled on the sand, needing the restless water; but Helios, the shining Sun, bakes the life out of them. Like these, the suitors now were lying piled on each other.

In the Homeric poems the fish-similes are few (Iliad: 4x; Odyssey: 3x) and rather homogeneous. With the exception of Il. 23.692 – 694, where an extraordinary situation is effectively visualized through an unusual simile (in a boxing match, Euryalus, lifted off the ground by a blow of Epeius and arching his back, is assimilated to a fish leaping out of the water and then disappearing again into the sea), fish-similes consist of fishing scenes associated with death. Even in Iliad 24 in the simile portraying Iris plunging into the sea like a lead weight attached to a fishing-line, the audience is reminded that the fishing-line to which the 85 Il. 8.246 – 248; 13.821 – 822. 86 Il. 24.315 – 316. 87 Iliad: aQetºr (simile): Hector 15.690; 22.308; Menelaus 17.674 – 680; Achilles 21.251 – 253; aQcupi|r : Meriones 13.531; Sarpedon and Hector 16.428 – 430; Automedon 17.459 – 460; Uqgn : Patroclus 16.582 – 585; j_qjor : Aeneas and Hector 17.755 – 759; Achilles 22.138 – 143.

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weight is attached “brings death to the raw ravening fish”.88 In Iliad 16 Patroclus spearing Thestor in the mouth and hauling him out of his chariot is likened to a fisherman dragging a fish out of the water,89 and in Iliad 21 Achilles is compared to a huge gaping dolphin avidly eating any small fish he can catch.90 The two fish-similes in the Apologoi are even more grisly, since men are not only killed but also eaten: in Odyssey 10, the Laestrygonians harpooned the companions with their spear like fish carried for their joyless feasting (QwhOr d’ ¤r pe¸qomter !teqp´a da?ta ¦´qomto, 124), and in Odyssey 12 Scylla also devours the companions she has snatched from the ship (251 – 257): ¢r d’ ft’ 1p· pqobºk\ "kie»r peqil¶jez N²bd\ Qwh¼si to?r ak¸coisi dºkom jat± eUdata b²kkym 1r pºmtom pqoýgsi bo¹r j´qar !cqa¼koio, !spa¸qomta d’ 5peita kab½m 5qqixe h¼qafe, ¤r oV c’ !spa¸qomter !e¸qomto pqot· p´tqar. aqtoO d’ eQm· h¼q,si jat¶shie jejk¶comtar, we?qar 1lo· aq´comtar 1m aQm0 dgzot/ti.’

As a fisherman, with a very long rod, on a jutting rock casts his treacherous bait for the little fishes, and sinks the horn of a filed-ranging ox into the water, then hauls them up and throws them on the dry land, gasping and struggling, so they gasped and struggled as they were hoisted up the cliff. Right in her doorway she ate them up. They were screaming and reaching out their hands to me in this horrid encounter.

Read against this background the fish-simile of Odyssey 22 is remarkable both because of its non-formulaic diction (many occurrences of isolated Homeric expressions) and the exceptional character of the scene: not any more one man fishing with a rod but a group of men fishing with a net, a change of focus from the agent to the victims, and a pathetic and emotional addition of j¼lah’ "k¹r poh´omter “longing for the waves of the sea”. Before looking at Odyssey 22.401 – 406, let us summarize the use of lion-similes in the Homeric poems. In the Iliad these similes are numerous (50 occurrences with k]ym, k_r or h^q) and usually clustered in battle-scenes.91 They are applied to most of the great heroes,92 but also to

88 Il. 24.80 – 82 D [Iris] d³ lokubda¸m, Qj´kg 1r buss¹m eqousem / F te jat’ !cqa¼koio bo¹r j´qar 1lbebau?a / 5qwetai ¡lgst0sim 1p’ Qwh¼si j/qa ¦´qousa. 89 Il. 16.404 – 410. 90 Il. 21.22 – 24. 91 With the exception of Il. 18.318; 21.483; 24.41, 572. See Clarke 1995.


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some episodic characters93 and collective entities.94 Most of these95 are glorifying, since the lion is said to be “the most valorous being”.96 However in the Odyssey, where lion-similes are rarer (6x),97 there is an emblematic association between Odysseus (4x) and the lion. Penelope and the Cyclops are also both likened to a lion. Moreover whereas most of the lion-similes of the Iliad portray a marauding lion attacking domesticated animals and confronting herdsmen and their dogs,98 there is only one instance of such a comparison in the Odyssey. 99 Let us begin by looking at the lion simile of the Odyssey that is closest to the Iliad. It is also the first fully developed simile of the Odyssey. It appears in the speech in which Menelaus foretells the revenge of Odysseus (4.333 – 340) and is repeated word for word (a fact exceptional in the Odyssey) in the account of his visit given by Telemachus to his mother (17.124 – 131): £ pºpoi, G l²ka dµ jqateqº¦qomor !mdq¹r 1m eqm0 Ehekom eqmgh/mai, !m²kjider aqto· 1ºmter. ¢r d’ bpºt’ 1m nukºw\ 5ka¦or jqateqo?o k´omtor mebqo»r joil¶sasa megcem´ar cakahgmo»r

92 Agamemnon: Il. 3.449; 11.113 – 119, 129, 172 – 176, 239; Hector: Il. 7.256 (with Ajax) 12.41 – 49; 15.271 – 276, 324 – 325 (together with Apollo), 630 – 636; 16.756 – 758 (together with Patroclus), 823 – 826; Ajax: 7.256 (with Hector); 11.480 – 486, 546, 548 – 555; 13.198 – 202 (together with Ajax Oileus) 17.133 – 136; Achilles: 18.317 – 322; 20.164 – 173; 24.41 – 43, 572; Patroclus: 16.487 – 489, 752 – 753, 756 – 758 (together with Hector); Menelaus: 3.23 – 26; 17.61 – 67, 109 – 112, 657 – 664; Diomedes: 5.136 – 142, 161 – 162, 476; 10.297 – 298 (together with Odysseus), 485 – 486; 11.383; Aeneas: 5.299 – 302; Sarpedon: 12.293, 299 – 306; Odysseus: 10.297 (together with Diomedes). 93 Il. 5.554 – 558: Orsilochus and Crethon; 15.585 – 590: Antilochus; 15.586; Automedon: 17.542; Euphorbus: 17.20 – 23. 94 Achaeans: 15.592; Trojans: 11.293, 95 With the exception of Il. 21.483 – 484; 24.41. 96 Schol. Il. 4.253bT; 5.136 – 140bT; 17.109 A: !kjil~tatom. 97 Odysseus: Od. 4.335 – 340 = 17.126 – 131; Penelope: 4.791 – 793; Odysseus: 6.130 – 136; Cyclops: 9.292 – 293; Odysseus: 22.401 – 406 and 23.48 (= 22.402). Od. 22.402 which is omitted in some manuscripts is considered as an interpolation by von der Mühll 1962 but kept by Heubeck, West and Hainsworth 1988 – 1992 vol. 6 and di Benedetto 2010 ad loc. On the lion-similes in the Odyssey, see Podlecki 1971, 83 – 84; Moulton 1977, 139 – 141; SchnappGourbeillon 1981, 59 – 63; Friedrich 1981; Magrath 1982; Poivre 2006. 98 According to Lonsdale (1990, 41), 26 out of a total of 47 lion-similes in the Iliad. 99 Od. 6.130 – 136.

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jmglo»r 1neq´,si ja· %cjea poi¶emta bosjol´mg, b d’ 5peita 2µm eQs¶kuhem eqm¶m, !l¦ot´qoisi d³ to?sim !eij´a pºtlom 1¦/jem, ¤r ’Oduse»r je¸moisim !eij´a pºtlom 1¦¶sei.

Oh, for shame, it was in the bed of a bold and strong man they wished to lie, they themselves being all unwarlike. As when a doe has brought her fawns to the lair of a lion and put them there to sleep, they are newborn and still suckling, then wanders out into the foothills and the grassy corners, grazing there, but now the lion comes back to his own lair and sends an outrageous death upon all of them; so Odysseus will send an outrageous death upon these men.

S. West100 aptly suggested a comparison of these lines with Il. 11.113 – 121 and Magrath acknowledged that the two passages are indeed very close in general shape:101 ¢r d³ k´ym 1k²¦oio tawe¸gr m¶pia t´jma Ngzd¸yr sum´ane kab½m jqateqo?sim adoOsim 1kh½m eQr eqm¶m, "pakºm t´ s¦’ Gtoq !pg¼qa7 D d’ eU p´q te t¼w,si l²ka swedºm, oq d¼mata¸ s¦i wqaisle?m7 aqtµm c²q lim rp¹ tqºlor aQm¹r Rj²mei7 jaqpak¸lyr d’ Ezne di± dqul± pujm± ja· vkgm spe¼dous’ Rdq¾ousa jqataioO hgq¹r r¦’ bql/r7 ¤r %qa to?r ou tir d¼mato wqaisl/sai ekehqom Tq¾ym, !kk± ja· aqto· rp’ ’Aqce¸oisi ¦´bomto.

And as a lion seizes the innocent young of the running dear and, and easily crunches and breaks them caught in the strong teeth when he has invaded their lair, and rips out the soft heart from them, and even if the doe is very near, still she has no strength to help , for the ghastly shivers of fear are upon her also and suddenly she dashes away through the glades and the timber, sweating in her speed away from the pounce of the strong beast; so there was no one of the Trojans who could save these two from death but they themselves were running in fear from the Argives.

It is worth comparing closely these two similes. Whereas the actors and the action remain the same, the temporal framework, the setting, and the point of the comparison have changed. In the Iliad, the simile, which is part of the aristeia of Agamemnon, begins with the lion/Agamemnon who invades the ‘bed’ (115: 1kh½m eQr eqm¶m) of the hind (the Trojans) and brutally kills her children (113: t´jma), that is the two victims of Agamemnon, Isus and Antiphus. The emphasis is put first on the 100 Heubeck, West and Hainsworth 1988 – 1992; vol. 1 ad loc. 101 Heubeck, West and Hainsworth 1988 – 1992 vol. 1 ad Od. 4.335 – 340 and Magrath 1982, 206.


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strength of the beast (114: jqateqo?sim adoOsim, 119: jqataioO hgq|r), the vulnerability of the fawns (they are “infant” m¶pia and their heart is “delicate” [115: "pakºm]), but the focus shifts from the lion and the fawns to the running hind who cannot help them and dashes away in fear. In the Odyssey, the focus is definitely on the lion/Odysseus (both are characterized by their strength as demonstrated by the echo between jqateqº¦qomor !mdqºr and jqateqo?o k´omtor ; moreover the lion is anthropomorphized by the transformation of his lair into a bed at 17.129) as opposed to the hind and her fawns who are identified with the suitors deprived of !kj^.102 But the action is initiated by the hind that is considered the guilty one because of her putting her fawns to bed (joil¶sasa) in the thicket of the lion (a clear allusion to the attempt of the suitors to marry Penelope and enter the bed of Odysseus). The lion retaliates by sending upon her and her fawns “an outrageous death”, a moral expression that justifies the revenge as an appropriate response to former outrages, and is, in the following line, used in relation with the death of the suitors.103 It completely obliterates the brutality of their death, which was sometimes emphasized in the Iliadic similes.104 This brutality becomes obvious in the lion-simile of Odyssey 22, when Eurycleia sees the horrible picture of Odysseus standing among the slaughtered suitors (401 – 406): exqem 5peit’ ’Odus/a let± jtal´moisi m´jussim aVlati ja· k¼hq\ pepakacl´mom ¦r te k´omta, fr N² te bebqyj½r bo¹r 5qwetai !cqa¼koio7 p÷m d’ %qa oR st/hºr te paq¶z² t’ !l¦ot´qyhem aRlatºemta p´kei, deim¹r d’ eQr §pa Qd´shai7 ¤r ’Oduse»r pep²kajto pºdar ja· we?qar vpeqhem.

She found Odysseus among the dead men he had killed, spattered over with gore and battle filth, like a lion who had been feeding on an ox of the fields and goes off covered with blood, all his chest and his flanks on either side bloody, a terrible thing to look at the face; so now Odysseus’ feet and the hands above them were spattered. (401 – 406) 102 Il. 17.129 !m\kjider aqto· 1|mter cf. Il. 4.245: oqd’ %qa t¸r s¦i [mebqo?r] let± ¦qes· c¸cmetai !kj¶. 103 The expression !eij´a pºtlom is always used in the Odyssey (8x) in relation to the death of the suitors. The only exception is ironical and confirms the rule: in the assembly of Book 2, it is used by one suitor for the “shameful death” Odysseus would meet (250: !kk² jem aqtoO !eij´a pºtlom 1p¸spoi), if he were to come back and fight against too many. 104 See above Il. 5.161; 11.114, 11.175 = 17.63.

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A simile repeated in an abbreviated form by Eurycleia in her narrative of the mne¯ste¯rophonia to Penelope in Odyssey 23, which creates a kind of symmetry between the pair of repeated lion-similes in Books 4 and 17 and the repetition of Books 22 – 23. The only real parallel to these lines, as noted by Edwards,105 is found in the description of Automedon in Il. 17.541 – 542 “the blood running from hands and feet, as on some lion who has eaten a bullock” (pºdar ja· we?qar vpeqhem / aRlatºeir ¦r t¸r te k´ym jat± taOqom 1dgd¾r). It is worth echoing here the excellent commentary of Friedrich,106 who underlines the traditional context of the simile, the battle-scene, but also signals two significant changes. First its displacement: “instead of describing and glorifying Odysseus’ heroic deeds during his aristeia, or his warlike spirit prior to it –the traditional placement of the beast-of-prey simile in the Iliad– this lion-simile is placed right after the fight with the suitors” and, second, its “exclusive concentration on the abhorrent view of a blood spattered lion”. To support this view one should also note that the expression aVlati ja· k¼hq\ pepakacl´mom occurs only once in the Iliad in order to stress the impurity of a warrior107 and is applied, in the abbreviated form k¼hq\ d³ pak²sseto we?qar !²ptour, twice to the authors of the bloodiest aristeiai of the Iliad, i. e. those by Agamemnon (11.169) and Achilles (20.253). Moreover this lion feeding on an ox is evocative of the descriptions of lion’s feasts that occur in two similes of the Iliad and in the ekphrasis of Achilles’ shield.108 It also comes close to the description of the Cyclops who “like a lion reared in the hills, without leaving anything ate them [the companions of Odysseus], entrails, flesh, and the marrowy bones alike” (Eshie d’ ¦r te k´ym aqes¸tqo¦or, oqd’ !p´keipem / 5cjat² te s²qjar te ja· ast´a luekºemta Od. 9.292 – 293). Then we are left with the two most puzzling lion-similes in Books 4 and 6. Let us look first at the comparison of Odysseus to a lion in Book 6.130 – 139: b/ d’ Ulem ¦r te k´ym aqes¸tqo¦or, !kj· pepoih¾r, fr t’ eWs’ rºlemor ja· !¶lemor, 1m d´ oR esse da¸etai7 aqt±q b bous· let´qwetai C aýessim A³ let’ !cqot´qar 1k²¦our7 j´ketai d´ 2 castµq l¶kym peiq¶somta ja· 1r pujim¹m dºlom 1khe?m7

105 106 107 108

Edwards 1991, 114. Friedrich 1981, 124 – 125. Il. 6.268. Il. 11.176; 17.64 (5peita d´ h’ aXla ja· 5cjata p²mta ka¦¼ssei); 18.583 (5cjata ja· l´kam aXla ka¦¼ssetom).


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¤r ’Oduse»r jo¼q,sim 1{pkoj²loisim 5lekke le¸neshai, culmºr peq 1¾m7 wqei½ c±q Vjame. sleqdak´or d’ aqt0si ¦²mg jejajyl´mor ûkl,, tq´ssam d’ %kkudir %kkg 1p’ Azºmar pqoqwo¼sar. oUg d’ ’Akjimºou huc²tgq l´me7…

He went like a mountain-bred lion confident in his strength, which goes rain-drenched and wind-blown, and his eyes kindle. Yet he goes out after cattle or sheep or wild deer in the wilderness, and his belly is urgent upon him to get inside the solid farmstead and go for the sheepflocks. So Odysseus was ready to face young girls with well ordered hair, naked though he was, for the need was on him; and yet he appeared terrifying to them, all crusted with dry spray, and they scattered one way and another down the jutting beaches. Only the daughter of Alcinoos stood fast.

How are we supposed to read a comparaison which has been condemned as a sad decline from the grandeur of the Iliad,109 excused as an instance of unintentional humour110 or praised as “a masterful parody with erotic overtones of two honorific lion similes in the Iliad (5.136ff. and 12.299ff.).111 I would agree first with de Jong’s interpretation of this simile as an example of embedded focalization: we are supposed to look at Odysseus through the eyes of the frightened girls. I also agree with Friedrich and Pucci112 that it is illuminated by a comparison with two heroic lions of the Iliad, Sarpedon in Book 12 and Achilles in Book 24. But the differences are here as important as the similarities. I would propose to read it as a parody of the typical aristeia: the arming scene is replaced by Odysseus’ plucking of a leafy branch to cover his naked body. It is followed by formulas such as b/ d’ Ulem which is used in the Iliad for heroes entering the fray113 and the simile ¦r te k´ym aqes¸tqo¦or, !kj· pepoih¾r which is applied to Menelaus at 17.61. The shining eyes 1m d´ oR esse da¸etai also belong to the heroic code114 and le¸neshai is not only used in an erotic context, but quite often in a military one in the Iliad. 115 The contrast between Nausicaa who stands fast and her companions who flee in panic also recalls the contrast between the masses and the heroic resistance of the hero. But 109 110 111 112 113 114 115

Fränkel 1921, 70. Marzullo 21970, 299 – 303. See Lonsdale 1990, 17 who quotes Il. 5.136ff. and 12.299ff. Friedrich 1981, 121; Pucci 1998, 157 – 161. Il. 5.167; 13.242. Il. 1.104; 200; 12.466; 15.606 – 607; 19.16 – 17, 19.365 – 366. Il. 3.209; 4.354 – 355; 5.134, 143; 8.99; 10.180, 365; 13.286, 642; 15.409, 457; 21.469.

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the realistic description of a lion “rain-drenched and wind-blown” and the substitution of the urge of the belly (j´ketai d´ 2 cast¶q) to the heroic urge of the thumos (Il. 12.300: j´ketai d´ 2 hul¹r !c¶myq) “signals more clearly the lion’s descent from the Bqyij|m to the biytij|m”.116 The meaning of the remarkable lion-simile comparing Penelope to a pondering lion in Od. 4.787 – 793 is also controversial: B d’ rpeqyý\ awhi peq¸¦qym Pgmekºpeia je?t’ %q’ %sitor, %pastor 1dgt¼or Ad³ pot/tor, bqla¸mous’, E oR h²matom ¦¼coi uR¹r !l¼lym, G f c’ rp¹ lmgst/qsim rpeq¦i²koisi dale¸g. fssa d³ leql¶qine k´ym !mdq_m 1m bl¸k\ de¸sar, bppºte lim dºkiom peq· j¼jkom %cysi, tºssa lim bqla¸mousam 1p¶kuhe m¶dulor vpmor7

“But in the upper chamber circumspect Penelope lay there fasting, she had tasted no food or drink, only pondering if her stately son would escape from dying or have to go down under the hands of the insolent suitors; and as much as a lion caught in a crowd of men turns about in fear when they have made a treacherous circle around him, so she was pondering, when the painless sleep came upon her”.

It is striking that Penelope should receive a lion-simile usually reserved for men in martial context. Indeed, it is accurate to link it to the use of lion-similes for Odysseus and point out, as many scholars did,117 that it creates a symmetry between husband and wife. However such an explanation fails to take into account the oddity of this pondering lion, since Penelope’s deliberation, as emphasized by the repetition of bqla¸mousa at the beginning and at the end of the comparison, does not lead to any decision, in contrast to Odysseus’ deliberation scenes where the hero considers two or more options open to him.118 The closest parallel is the deliberation of Telemachus in Odyssey 15 pondering whether he would escape death, or be captured (300: bqla¸mym E jem h²matom ¦¼coi G jem "ko¸g), since Telemachus, like his mother, has no power to influence the course of events. As a result, a new parallel between mother and son is created. It comes as no surprise to discover that there is no fitting doublet for this simile.119 For the lion usually epitomizes cour116 Friedrich 1981, 123. 117 Podlecki 1971, 84; Moulton 1977, 123; Magrath 1982, 207. 118 Od. 5.466 – 475; 6.141 – 147; 17.235 – 238; 18.90 – 94; 20.10 – 22; 24.235 – 240. See Russo 1968, 289 – 294 who refers to Voigt 1933. 119 The only lion-metaphor applied to a female is ironic and disparaging. When in Il. 21.483 – 4 Hera says to Artemis “Zeus has made you a lion for women and


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age120 and inspires fear to others.121 Indeed, there are in the Iliad four similes portraying a lion cornered or frightened, but a comparison, far from demonstrating some analogy between Penelope and an Iliadic warrior, illuminates their difference. In Il. 12.41 – 48 it is Hector who is likened to a wild boar or a lion cornered by men and dogs, who cast at him a volley of spears: “and in spite of this the proud heart feels not terror, nor turns to run, and it is his own courage that kills him” (toO d’ ou pote jud²kilom j/q / taqbe? oqd³ ¦obe?tai, !cgmoq¸g d´ lim 5jta). So, the lion/Hector is the antithesis of the lion/Penelope: he feels no fear and charges the masses of men who break away in front of him. In Books 11 and 17 Ajax and Menelaus are successively compared to a lion: “frightened despite his eagerness by the many javelins and flaming torches, with the day light, he goes away from the oxen disappointed at heart” (11. 552 – 554 = 17.161 – 163: hal´er c±q %jomter / … / jaiºlema¸ te deta¸, t²r te tqe? 1ss¼lemºr peq7/ A_hem d’ !pomºs¦im 5bg tetigºti hul`). But this Iliadic lion has tried before, all night long, to tear out the fat of the oxen and it is only after striving with no result (11.552 = 17.661: b d³ … / Qh¼ei, !kk’ ou ti pq¶ssei) that he retreats. In Book 15 the frightened122 Antilochus is also likened to a wild beast who “escapes before a gang of men has assembled against him”. But here also this frightened lion flees away only after having done something bad, like the killing of a hound or an ox-herd tending his cattle.123 Far from assimilating the female to a male warrior, this use of the lionsimile for Penelope accurately reflects the opposition between a passive female heroism and a male active heroism:124 Penelope is completely passive from Books 1 to 16, whereas Odysseus right from Book 4 is associated to action and revenge. The last simile in Odyssey 22 likens the unfaithful servants hanged by Telemachus to thrushes or doves (465 – 473): pe?sla mg¹r juamopq]qoio j¸omor 1n²xar lec²kgr peq¸bakke hºkoio,

120 121 122 123 124

gave you to kill any at your pleasure” (1pe· s³ k´omta cumain· / Fe»r h/jem, ja· 5dyje jatajt²lem Fm j’ 1h´k,sha), it is an insult: she is able to behave bravely only against adversaries deprived of any !kj^. Il. 20.169: 1m d´ t´ oR jqad¸, st´mei %kjilom Gtoq. Il . 11.172 – 173: bºer ¦r, / ûr te k´ym 1¦ºbgse. See also Il. 17.65 – 67. Il. 15.586 (5tqese), 589 (tq´se). Il. 15.586 – 588: hgq· jaj¹m N´namti 1oij¾r, / fr te j¼ma jte¸mar C boujºkom !l¦· bºessi / ¦e¼cei pq¸m peq flikom !okkish¶lemai !mdq_m. On the opposition between active and passive heroism, see Cook 1999 – 2000.

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rxºs’ 1pemtam¼sar, l¶ tir pos·m owdar Vjoito. ¢r d’ ft’ #m C j¸wkai tamus¸pteqoi A³ p´keiai 6qjei 1mipk¶nysi, tº h’ 2st¶j, 1m· h²lm\, awkim 1si´lemai, stuceq¹r d’ rped´nato jo?tor, ¤r aV c’ 2ne¸gr je¦ak±r 5wom, !l¦· d³ p²sair deiq0si bqºwoi Gsam, fpyr oUjtista h²moiem. Espaiqom d³ pºdessi l¸mumh² peq, ou ti l²ka d¶m.

[Telemachus] taking the cable of a dark-prowed ship, fastened it to the tall pillar, and fetched it about the round-house; and like thrushes, who spread their wings or doves, who have flown into a snare set up for them in a thicket, trying to find a resting place, but the sleep given them was hateful; so their heads were all in a line, and each had her neck caught fast in a noose, so that their death would be more pitiful. They struggled with their feet for a little, not for very long.

In many ways this is an exceptional simile used to describe an unusually odious death, for the unfaithful maids are not put to the sword, as ordered by Odysseus at Od. 22.441 – 445, but hanged by Telemachus (Od. 22.462 – 464): “I would not take away the lives of these creatures by any clean death (jahaq` ham²t\), for they have showered abuse (jat’ ame¸dea weOam) on the head of my mother and on my own head too, and they have slept with the suitors”. The thrushes only appear here in the Homeric poems and it is the only instance where birds are pictured caught in a net. However, it is fruitful to read it among the other passages (narrative, similes or omens) in which doves and other small birds are mentioned. Curiously it is in the funeral games in honor of Patroclus and the description of the archery contest (Il. 23.850 – 883) that situations and expressions echoed in Od. 22.463 – 473 are found: in the Iliad, the dove was fastened to “the mast pole of a dark-prowed ship” and Telemachus uses to fasten the servant women to a tall pillar “the cable of a dark-prowed ship”.125 Like the servants, the dove dies, but its death is different: it is pierced by the arrow of Teucer at Il. 23.875 – 880. Elsewhere, in similes and omens, the doves and other small birds are always portrayed as victims: they are pursued by birds of prey,126 flee from them,127 or are 125 Il. 23.852: Rst¹m d’ 5stgsem mg¹r juamopq]qoio ; 23.877 – 888: aqt±q B eqmir / Rst` 1¦efol´mg mg¹r juamopq]qoio ; Od. 22.463: pe?sla me¹r juamopq]qoio. 126 Similes: Il. 15.690 – 692 (eagle plunging upon swarms of geese, cranes or swans); 17.460 – 461 (vulture dashing among geese); 22.138 – 140 (hawk swooping down on a trembling dove); Od. 22.302 – 306 (hawks pouncing upon lesser birds).


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caught by them.128 But the emphasis put here on their hateful sleep (stuceq¹r d’ rped´nato jo?tor) and odious death (fpyr oUjtista h²moiem) that may appear as a just retaliation for their sleeping together with the suitors129 seems mitigated with pity through their identification with helpless birds and the description of their short struggle against death. To conclude, in the Odyssey like in the Iliad, the similes can be properly understood only if one becomes aware of the context in which they are usually used. This context usually creates expectations, which may be fulfilled or disappointed. In the Odyssey, it seems that more often than not, the poet plays on the expectations created by the typicality of the similes to deceive his audience, as demonstrated by his use of the lion-simile. He also creates some untypical similes such as those of the fishes or the doves. It is also necessary to look at their sequel in a given Book. In Odyssey 22 there is obviously an evolution from the two typical similes (299 – 301 and 302 – 308), which pertain to heroic warriors (Odysseus and his followers) likened to aggressive birds or insects (vultures or gadfly), to those assimilating the suitors to birds or to cattle driven mad. These three last similes rather than exalting Odysseus’ victory seem to emphasize its cruelty. This is perhaps to be explained by the fact that the war portrayed in Book 22 is not any more a war against enemies, like the Trojan War, but a stasis, an internal struggle between the members of the elite.

127 Similes: Il. 17.755 – 757 (clouds of daws or of starlings fleeing from the hawk); 21.493 – 495 (dove in flight from a hawk). 128 Omens: Od. 15.16= 20.243 (eagle holding a goose); 15.525 – 528 (hawk carrying a dove and tearing it); 19. 536 – 540 (eagle killing geese in the ominous dream of Penelope). 129 Od. 18.325; 20.6 – 8.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim : Questions about Evolution and Fluidity of the Odyssey Olga Levaniouk In Plato’s Laws, the anonymous Athenian quotes from the Odyssey and elicits from Cleinias the Cretan a response that cannot but surprise a modern admirer of Homer (680c): JK. =oij]m ce b poigtµr rl?m owtor cecom]mai waq_eir. ja· c±q dµ ja· %kka aqtoO diekgk}halem l\k( !ste?a, oq lµm pokk\ ce7 oq c±q sv|dqa wq~leha oR Jq/ter to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim.

CL. This poet of yours seems to have been full of grace. We have also “gone through”1 other verses of his, and they are very urbane; though in truth we have not “gone through” that many of them. We Cretans do not indulge much in foreign poetry. (Transl. R.G. Bury)

The third interlocutor, Megillus the Spartan, is quick to set himself apart from the skeptical Cretan and asserts that Spartans, on the contrary, readily turn to Homer and regard him as the best of epic poets: LE. Jle?r d( aw wq~leha l]m, ja· 5oijem ce jqate?m t_m toio}tym poigt_m, oq l]mtoi Kajymij|m ce !kk\ tima l÷kkom Yymij¹m b_om dien]qwetai 2j\stote.

ME. But we Spartans do, and we regard Homer as the best of them; all the same, the mode of life he describes is always Ionian rather than Laconian.

In this paper I take Cleinias’ words as a starting point for some thoughts regarding the relationship between Homer and Crete in the Archaic period. Although Cleinias is, of course, a literary character rather than a historical Cretan and Plato’s Laws do not reflect the realities of Archaic Greece, the mixture of familiarity and foreignness in Cleinias’ attitude is good for thinking about Homer vis-a-vis Crete. Cleinias’ remarks have been discussed by Richard Martin and Gregory Nagy, and some of their insights apply not only to Plato’s time but to the overall development of Homeric epic. 1

See Nagy 1990a, 53 – 54 on the translation of diekgk}halem.


Olga Levaniouk

Nagy has noted the role of local traditions in the gradual evolution of Homer, in particular the dialectic relationship between regional and (notionally) Panhellenic performances.2 Following Nagy’s model, if the formation of Homeric epic is seen as “a single process of ongoing recomposition and diffusion”,3 then it is to be expected that various local traditions will affect this process as diffusion reaches them. In talking about the gradual fixation or crystallization of Homeric poetry Nagy stresses the “interconnected development of traditions alongside each other”, which is reflected in diachronic cross-reference from one tradition to another.4 Interaction of this sort is visible between the relatively more Panhellenic epics that survive, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Theogony and Works and Days, between Homeric and Hesiodic traditions and the Cyclic epics. There is no reason to suppose that Homeric poetry interacted only with Hesiodic and Cyclic poems and excluded other traditions. It is just that for the most part those other traditions are lost to us even more completely than the Cycle. The absence of texts precludes any conclusive demonstration of co-evolution, but traces of it may nevertheless be detected. Martin remarks that “regionalism is a well-known concomitant to oral traditions worldwide”,5 and that Crete, an island society, naturally bounded and separated from the mainland, would plausibly constitute an “interpretive community” prone to self-conscious alterity. Regionalism entails competition and various degrees of alienation from nonlocal traditions, and Cleinias seems to be an example of this. As Martin and Nagy remark, both the description of Homer as ‘‘foreign poetry” and the very words Cleinias uses expose the Athenocentric stance of his anonymous Athenian interlocutor and also the “Athenocentrism of Homer himself, whose poetry is owned by the Athenians on the occasion of their premier festival, the Panathenaia”.6 The term waq_eir, Nagy argues,7 is used by Athenian intellectuals of the 4th century and later of what is genuinely Homeric, while dii´mai is used by Plato to describe the Panathenaic rhapsodic practice ([Plato] Hipparchus 228b-c).

2 3 4 5 6 7

Nagy 1990a, 52 – 115. Nagy 1990a, 53. Nagy 1990a, 53 – 54. Martin Classics@ 3.4. Nagy 2008/9, 397; Martin Classics @ 3.4. Nagy 2008/9, 397.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim


The Cretan in the Laws, then, uses the Athenian vocabulary ironically, teases his Athenian friend by taking these terms lightly, and by demonstrating his familiarity with the Athenian way of talking about Homeric epic while rejecting the epic itself. One reason for his attitude can be surmised from an earlier exchange, at the beginning of the Laws. Here, the Athenian quotes from the Odyssey two verses that have to do with Crete and asks Cleinias whether he, as a Cretan, believes Homer to be correct. Cleinias confirms the veracity of the verses, but he does so without any praise for Homer and relies on the authority of local sources rather than epic. AH. L_m owm jah’ nlgqom k´ceir ¢r toO L¸my voit_mtor pq¹r tµm toO patq¹r 2j²stote sumous¸am di’ 1m²tou 5tour ja· jat± t±r paq’ 1je¸mou v¶lar ta?r pºkesim rl?m h´mtor to»r mºlour. JK. K´cetai c±q ovty paq’ Bl?m7 ja· dµ ja· t¹m !dekvºm ce aqtoO Uad²lamhum – !jo¼ete c±q t¹ emola – dijaiºtatom cecom´mai. (624a3 –


ATH. Do you then, like Homer, say that Minos used to go every ninth year to hold converse with his father Zeus, and that he was guided by his divine oracles in laying down the laws for your cities? CL. So our people say. And they say also that his brother Rhadamanthys,— no doubt you have heard the name,—was exceedingly just.

The Cretan privileges the truth-value of his local Cretan traditions over that of Homeric poetry, which happens to be right in this case only because it is confirmed by another authority: k´cetai paq’ Bl?m. In taking this stance he implicitly objects to Panhellenic poetry’s conceit (which was doubtless familiar to Plato) of expressing ale¯theia (‘truth’) in contrast to the muthoi (‘myths’) of the various contradictory local traditions. Nagy argues that in this opposition “muthoi ‘myths’ stand for an undifferentiated outer core consisting of local myths, where various versions from various locales may potentially contradict each other, while ale¯theia ‘truth’ stands for a differentiated inner core of exclusive Panhellenic myths that tend to avoid the conflicts of local versions”.8 Of course, as Nagy also points out, Panhellenic is a relative notion and “each new performance can claim to be the definitive Panhellenic version”. Such claims can also be disputed by other performances or rejected by audiences. Plato makes his Cleinias intimately familiar not only with Homer, but also with Athenian ideology of Homer, and the implication is that this Homer is indeed Panhellenic, since even a conser8

Nagy 1990a, 66.


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vative Cretan is attuned to its subtleties. Plato’s Cleinias, however, seems both to resist the notion of Homeric Panhellenism in asserting that the Cretans do not fully embrace Homer on their island (they have heard some of it, but not much) and to put the truth claims of his local tradition above those of Homer. For Cleinias, Homeric poetry is pleasing, but it is an outsider poetry with expansionist ambitions and therefore unreliable, something to be resisted. Cleinias’ provocative words draw attention to a question that emerges from the Homeric epic itself, the question of how Homeric poetry relates to Crete and its traditions. Does Cleinias resist Homer, or only the Athenian Homer, or only the Athenian control of Homer? And why, in any case, should he resist? Martin hypothesizes that Crete was known for its kitharo¯idoi and that, like Pindar, they might have viewed Homer as an “upstart genre”.9 If the conceit of Panhellenic epic is that it supersedes local traditions by offering Panhellenic truth, then Cretan kitharo¯idoi could be expected to react against it. In other words, Cleinias might be unwilling to grant the superiority of the Athenian Homer because Crete has its own long-standing poetic traditions that Homeric poetry claims or aims to supersede. I say “the Athenian Homer” because these traditions, apart from kitharo¯idia, may have included epic poetry and probably even Homeric poetry, just not the Athenian variety of it. We know, at any rate, that there was a “city” edition of Homer stemming from Crete.10 The Panhellenic epic, for its part, can hardly supersede local traditions without being shaped by them in the process. If the Odyssey mentioned subjects that were also typical of Cretan traditions (as one would expect with tales about Idomeneus and Meriones, Minos and Rhadamanthys), there could have been suspicion or resentment on Crete regarding the Panhellenic takes on these themes. Did the Athenian Odyssey perhaps absorb some of Cretan poetry on its own terms? At the very minimum, the exchange in Laws suggests a much more complicated relationship between local traditions and Homer than simply an increase in the popularity of epic at the expense of local traditions. Diffusion is a complicated process, and although over time it is indeed the case that Homeric poetry becomes more and more widely diffused, at any 9 Martin Classics @ 3.10. 10 See Nagy 2004, 20 on so-called city editions (pokitija_). Allen (1924, 297) argued that these editions reflected an earlier state of the language than the vulgate.

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given moment the directional arrow of diffusion can point in a different direction. Cretans may find the Athenian Homer foreign, but they are not isolated from Homeric poetry, and Cretan traditions, in turn, could have had their influence on Homer, as I suggest in this paper. Crete certainly looms large in Homer, but the forces that shape the Homeric view of Crete remain mostly mysterious. There has been as yet no sufficient account of the island’s prominence in epic, and there is even less clarity when it comes to the particular details of its depiction. What I would like to do in this paper, is not, of course, to give a comprehensive answer to these questions, but to raise some questions and consider some possibilities regarding the relationship between Crete and the Homeric epic in the Archaic period, and first and foremost the possibility that there was indeed such a relationship at that time. This is not the usual assumption, since Crete’s mythological appeal was great and would have attracted poets with no direct connection to, or knowledge of, the island. It is often presumed, therefore, that the Homeric view of Crete is completely external, an opinion nicely expressed by Càssola: “Creta ha grande parte in tutti i falsi racconti, perché in età homerica era una terra nello stesso tempo famosa e poco frequentata”.11

There is no doubt that such an external view of Crete is indeed present, and perhaps even prevalent, in the Odyssey, and it is not my goal to dismiss it. Rather, I suggest, it is not the only view present, that Ionic and Athenian mythology about Crete was only one of several ingredients that went into the formation of the Homeric Crete, and that Cretan poetry was another such ingredient. At the very least, the possibility of Cretan input into Homer should not be dismissed a priori, especially since the consideration of Cretan evidence can shed light on Homeric poetry even in cases where a direct connection is impossible to establish. A relationship between Crete and the Odyssey could take various forms, and to start thinking about its possibilities in the Archaic period may be useful to dip into scholarship on a different epic tradition and quote Ramanujan’s conceptualization of the Ramayana. Discussing the diversity of written and oral Ramayanas and the depth of their influence in South and Southeast Asia, he concludes as follows: “One may go further and say that the cultural area in which Ramayanas are endemic has a pool of signifiers (like a gene pool), signifiers that include 11 Càssola 1975 on Hymn to Demeter 74.


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plots, characters, names, geography, incidents, and relationships. […] These various texts not only relate to prior texts directly, to borrow or refute, but they relate to each other through this common code or common pool. Every author, if one may hazard a metaphor, dips into it and brings out a unique crystallization, a new text with a unique texture and a fresh context”.12

It is important to note that in the case of Ramayana traditions Ramanujan observes both a direct textual interaction (borrowing, refuting, refashioning) and a completely different kind of fluidity, where crystallization coexists with dissolution. Both kinds of interactions Ramanujan observes among the Ramayana traditions could be relevant (with modifications) to the question of Homer’s relationship to Crete. The first, textual type of interaction is what is envisaged by the model of Neoanalysis, which explains prominence of Crete in Homer by the theory that the Cretan lies in the Odyssey and possibly even the fabrications of Dictys of Crete reflect an earlier, alternative Odyssey, in which Odysseus, instead of (or in addition to) traveling to the magical lands of the Cyclopes, Circe, Calypso, and the Phaeacians, spends time with Idomeneus in Crete. Reece, for example, imagines an Odyssey in which both Odysseus and Telemachus go to Crete, meet there and return together, and argues that traces of refashioning of that Odyssey into our own are visible in our text. According to this view, the stories of Odysseus’ travels on Crete, which were presented as truth in the putative Cretan Odyssey, are refashioned into the Cretan lies of our poem.13 There is a good case to be made for a Cretan Odyssey, but the neoanalytical model is reductive to the extent that it postulates essentially a single (even if variable) poem which predated our Odyssey and was refashioned into it. Such a scenario underestimates the complexity and multiplicity of poetic traditions in Archaic Greece, where one would expect to find fluid traditions interacting over time rather than one poem remodeled into another, although the traditions still could, in a diachronic sense, cross-reference one another to “borrow and refute”. More pertinent for the Archaic period is the second, fluid type of poetic interaction envisaged by Ramanujan. I suggest that the Odyssey too, in the Archaic period, continues to float in the same pool with poetry from different regions, dissolving and re-crystallizing, and that a 12 Ramanujan 1991, 46. 13 Reece 1994.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim


stream of Cretan poetry, so to say, flows into the pool. To go back to Nagy’s model of recomposition and diffusion, diffusion enlarges the poetic pool available to epic. There is evidence to suggest that there was flourishing poetry on Crete in the 8th and 7th centuries, and that the Dorian aristocracy of the island inherited and integrated into their culture pre-existing (Mycenaean) traditions.14 The resulting song culture is the one I suggest had its impact on Homer, whether or not there were Cretan Odyssey poems that in fact preceded and influenced the nonCretan ones. Given the fluidity of interacting poetic traditions in Archaic Greece, not only Cretan plots but also Cretan poetics may be present in the Odyssey. As Martin points out, in all Cretan lies “fragments of what we recognize as truth gleam through”. These fragments are not, or not only, elements of plot, but themes: for example, a connection between Odysseus and Idomeneus, present in the Iliad and sustained in every lie.15 More importantly, Martin argues that the Cretan lies are marked as Cretan not only overtly, by the actual mentions of Crete, but also by displaying what one might call a Cretan tinge, namely features that are especially characteristic of Crete, in Martin’s analysis variability, alterity, and fictionalization. The lies always cast Odysseus as a Cretan, but with numerous variations (a merchant, a warrior, a bastard son, a younger brother of Idomeneus). In their variability these “lies” become a testimony not only to the hero’s story-telling abilities but also to his Cretan-ness, since Cretans are famous for self-serving fiction, “an ethnic characterization that is as much an expression of admiration as it is a slur”, as Martin observes.16 I agree with this supposition and suggest that the presence of Cretan poetics is, in part, the result of evolving contacts between the Odyssey and Cretan poetry, whatever form it might have taken. I will also suggest in what follows that variability, alterity, and fictionalization are not the only Cretan touches present in the Odyssey. Moreover, Cretan poetics are present in the poem not only in those places where Crete is mentioned overtly, but also on a deeper level. I suggest further that some influence of Cretan poetry on Homer is in fact to be expected, since we have evidence that cultural centers outside of Crete showed 14 For more on this, see further below. 15 Martin, Classics@ 3.11. 16 Martin, Classics@ 3.11 – 12.


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interest in this poetry. In addition to Athens and Delphi,17 Sparta was actively interested in Cretan traditions, probably in the early Archaic period, and I think that Sparta could have served as a meeting place for Cretan traditions and Homer. An obvious place to start looking for Cretan poetics in the Odyssey is the description of the island given by Odysseus to Penelope, which I quote in full (Od. 19.172 – 189): Jq¶tg tir ca?’ 5sti l´s\ 1m· oUmopi pºmt\, jakµ ja· p¸eiqa, peq¸qqutor7 1m d’ %mhqypoi pokko· !peiq´sioi, ja· 1mm¶jomta pºkger7 %kkg d’ %kkym ck_ssa lelicl´mg7 1m l³m )waio¸, 1m d’ 9teºjqgter lecak¶toqer, 1m d³ J¼dymer Dyqi´er te tqiw²zjer d?o¸ te Pekasco¸7 t0si d’ 1m· Jmysºr, lec²kg pºkir, 5mha te L¸myr 1mm´yqor bas¸keue Di¹r lec²kou aaqist¶r patq¹r 1lo?o pat¶q, lecah¼lou Deujak¸ymor. Deujak¸ym d’ 1l³ t¸jte ja· Ydolem/a %majta7 !kk’ b l³m 1m m¶essi joqym¸sim ]kiom eUsy åweh’ ûl’ )tqeýd,sim7 1lo· d’ emola jkut¹m AUhym, bpkºteqor ceme07 b d’ ûla pqºteqor ja· !qe¸ym. 5mh’ idus/a 1c½m Qdºlgm ja· ne¸mia d_ja. ja· c±q t¹m Jq¶tgmde jat¶cacem Sr !m´loio R´lemom Tqo¸gmde, paqapk²cnasa Lakei_m7 st/se d’ 1m )lmis`, fhi te sp´or EQkeihu¸gr, 1m kil´sim wakepo?si, lºcir d’ rp²kunem !´kkar. aqt¸ja d’ Ydolem/a let²kka %stud’ !mekh¾m7

Out in the wine-dark sea lies a land called Crete, a rich and lovely sea-girt island, densely populated, with ninety cities and several different languages. First there are Achaeans; then the genuine Cretans, proud of their native stock; next the Cydonians; the Dorians, with their three clans; and finally the noble Pelasgians. One of the ninety towns is a great city called Cnossus, and there king Minos ruled and every nine years conversed with mighty Zeus. He was the father of my father, the great Deucalion, who had two sons, myself and Prince Idomeneus. Now Idomeneus had gone in his beaked ships to Ilium with the sons of Atreus; so it fell to me, the younger son, Aethon by name, and not so good a man as my elder brother, to meet Odysseus and exchange gifts of friendship. He had been driven to Crete by a gale which had blown him off his course at Cape Malea when bound for Troy. He put in at Amnisus, where the cave of Eileithyie is – a difficult harbour to make – only just escaping from the storm. (transl. D.C.H. Rieu)

Attempts to date Homeric realia are a notoriously treacherous undertaking. Some argue that this description, with its linguistic diversity and re17 Calame 1996, 233 – 242; Martin, Classics@ 3.10.

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gionalism, reflects the realities of the 8th or 7th centuries, while others see the prominence given here to non-Dorian populations as indicative of the time at the end of Mycenaean period when the Dorians first gained a foothold on the island.18 What is important for my purposes is to note that the passage exhibits diachronic depth, that it does contain relatively late and unusual dictional features, and that it breaks with the usual Homeric practice in mentioning the Dorians. The indigenous Eteocretans and possibly indigenous Cydones along with ever-mysterious but always ancient Pelasgians coexist here with the first wave of invaders (the Achaeans) and also with the second wave (the Dorians).19 This is one of only two places in Homer where Dorians are mentioned, and only here are they explicitly named. The second reference, in the Catalogue of Ships, concerns Rhodes, another Dorian island (Il. 2.657 – 670). There, the inhabitants are arranged in a three-fold division (668) and led by Tlepolemus, a “son of Heracles” (658), two features that strongly identify them as Dorian. A reference to Dorians is not in itself an indication of lateness, of course, but rather a break with the usual archaizing habit of ignoring their presence. In the case of Rhodes, the transparent allusion to the Dorian population of the island is accompanied by the telling of their myth, the story of Tlepolemus’ birth, his inadvertent murder of his grandfather Licymnius, his migration to Rhodes along with his followers, and the settlement of the island “in tribes”. If a cui bono question is asked about this description, the Dorian populations of Rhodes present themselves as the simplest answer, and it is tempting to see the apparent success of the Rhodian Dorians in gaining representation in the Catalogue of Ships in connection with the island’s active self-promotion through epic poetry. Huxley observed: “In view of the settlement of Heracleidae in the southeastern Aegean islands we expect to find that epics on the subject of Heracles were popular there; and indeed the earliest identifiable Heracleia, that of Peisander, comes from Cameiros in Rhodes.20 Lindos also had an epic poet, Peisinous,21 and the names of these two poets, both derived from pe_heim (‘to persuade’), seem to express the aspirations of local hexametric poetry rather than identify any two historical individ18 Chaniotis 1992, 80 – 81; Russo 1992, 83 – 84 ad loc. 19 Strabo says that both Eteocretans and Cydonians are autochthonous. See Hutchinson 1962, 317 – 320; Russo 1992, 84 ad loc.; Martin Classics@ 3.6. 20 Huxley 1969, 100. 21 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6.2.25.


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uals. In any case, Rhodian poetry seems to have been influential: according to Suda, Peisander gave Heracles his club, while Eratosthenes credits the Rhodian poet with dressing Heracles in the skin of Nemean lion.22 In short, there are indications of active and competitive epic traditions flourishing on Rhodes in the 7th century. Less recognized is the possibility that this poetry was in contact with, and mutually influenced, Homeric epic, that it was re-dissolved and re-crystallized in the same pool with Homer, to return to Ramanujan’s metaphor. Yet as long as the oral nature and fluidity of the Homeric poetry is accepted, it is only to be expected that Homer should be affected by such interactions. The Rhodian entry in the Catalogue of Ships might be a visible sign of such interactions. The same, I think, goes for Crete, though with additional complications. I have dwelled on the Rhodian example because it is considerably simpler that the Cretan evidence. For one thing, references to Rhodes cannot be explained, as the Cretan ones sometimes are, by the allure of an ancient, remote and mythologized land. Still, if local poetic traditions of Rhodes color Homeric description of the island, the same is probably true for Crete. The mention of the Dorians could be a marker of these Dorian traditions. The description of Crete in the Odyssey has a number of other unusual and obscure features, most notably the expression 1mm´yqor bas¸keue (Od. 19.179), where the word 1mm´yqor seems (and is certainly taken by Plato)23 to mean ‘in nine-year intervals’ instead of the expected ‘nine-year-old’, and the expression Di¹r aaqist¶r (Od. 19.180), an unparalleled description of Minos. The term used to characterize the Dorians, tqiw²zjer, is equally problematic: in Hesiod (fr. 233 M.-W.) it means ‘dwelling in a three-part division’ and the same meaning fits the Odyssey, but this meaning presents difficulties on linguistic grounds. A linguistically transparent derivation from hq_n (‘hair’) and !_ssy (‘to shake’) on the model of joquh\zn (‘with shaking (plume of the) helmet’)24 would give the word the meaning ‘with flying hair’, which, however, is nowhere to be found in the ancient sources. These lexical features (along with synize¯sis required to scan 1mm´yqor and irresolvable

22 Suda s.v. Pe_samdqor, Eratosthenes Katasterismoi 12. 23 Laws 624a and pseudo-Platonic Minos 319b-c. 24 The latter derivation is favored by Chantraine 20092 s.v.; Leumann 1950, 65; Risch 1974, 194; Frisk 1954 – 1973 s.v.

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contraction of Lakei_m) compelled Hoekstra to categorize Odysseus’ Cretan tale as a “typical piece of late storytelling”.25 There is, however, one element of the same description that Hoekstra takes to be, on the contrary, quite early: a mention of an ancient cult site, the cave of Eileithyia. This is a site of continuous cultic activity from the Neolithic period onwards, and an offering of honey for Eileithyia (E-re-u-ti-ja) at Amnisos is recorded in a Cnossos tablet: ]a-mi-ni-so / e-re-u-ti-ja ME+RI AMPHORA I (KN Gg 705=Doc. no.206) 26 “at Amnisos for Eleuthuia honey, 1 amphora”

In 1962, Willetts wrote that the Odyssean reference to Eileithyia “indicates that the Homeric tradition derives from the Minoan Age”. Twenty years later Hoekstra saw the second hemistich of verse 188, fhi te sp]or EQkeihu_gr, as a Mycenaean and “inadequately represented” formula.27 The question is, however, whether we do indeed have any grounds for separating the mention of Eileithyia from the verses that surround it. Considering the long evolution of Homeric diction it is to be expected that early features will abut later ones, and fhi te sp]or EQkeihu_gr could well be a Mycenaean formula, but the degree of separation between this half-line and its environment depends on the process by which these elements coalesce into Homeric poetry. Chaniotis argues, persuasively in my opinion, that the Homeric description of Amnisos corresponds most accurately to the end of the 8th century, when Amnisos lacks any harbor equipment or settlement (in contrast to the Minoan period, when it was a port of Cnossos), making it indeed a difficult harbor, as mentioned in the Odyssey. 28 The harbor is difficult in particular because of the prevailing north wind: Odysseus barely escapes it as he lands at Amnisos and then has to wait ten days for it to die down. As Chaniotis observes, the cult in the cave continued during the Geometric period. Moreover, the continuity of cult at Amnisos is not uniform: there are hills and valleys, and in fact only very few pottery shards found in the cave belong to the New Palace Period (the height of the Minoan civilization), while the 8th and 7th centuries are a period of revival and increased activity, 25 26 27 28

Hoekstra 1981, 91. Gérard-Rousseau 1968, 10. Willetts 1962, 169; Hoekstra 1981, 90. Chaniotis 1992, 80 – 81.


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both in the cave itself and at the nearby shrine of Zeus Thenatas, where the deposits indicate both local and foreign patrons.29 Given the continuity of cult at Amnisos, the mention of it could have entered the Odyssean tradition at many times, but a later point of entry is more likely, and in this regard we have no grounds for separating the mention of Eileithyia’s cave from the rest of the description. It is entirely possible that the apparently early cave of Eileithyia and the apparently late Dorians belong together to the same chronological horizon, the Archaic period. There is, in other words, more than one way of accounting for the fact that an undoubtedly very ancient cult site is mentioned in verses full of relatively late diction. One scenario would have it that a Mycenaean formula, fhi te sp]or EQkeihu_gr, derives from the epic poetry presumably performed on Crete in the Mycenaean period and was preserved in the amber of Homeric epic, to be featured later in post-Mycenaean and decidedly non-Cretan storytelling by Ionian poets. In this case, Cretan poetry makes its impact on Homer only during the Mycenaean period and has no role to play after that. An alternative scenario, and the one I am advocating here, would not preclude the survival of Cretan Mycenaean formulas in Homer, but would envisage their survival in local poetic traditions as well, and would assume contacts between Ionic epic and Cretan poetry, not only during the Mycenaean, but also during the Geometric and Archaic periods. Some of the unique, late, and difficult diction in Homer maybe represent the stylistic influence of such traditions. In this case, Cretan poetry plays a role in the formation of Homer not only during the Mycenaean, but in the subsequent periods as well, especially during the 8th and 7th centuries, a formative period for Homer. Archaeological finds point both to cultural continuity on Crete itself and to ongoing contacts between Crete and the mainland and suggest that between the 9th and 7th centuries some Dorian populations in Crete participated (at least selectively) in the emerging Panhellenism.30 The Cretan poetry of the Geometric or Archaic periods is, of course, lost to us, and any suggestions about what it might have been must remain highly hypothetical. There is, however, evidence that poetry flourished on Crete at that time, and even some indication of its main themes. 29 Marinatos 1996, 135 – 139; Coldstream, Huxley, Webb 1999. 30 Jones 2000, 177 – 183; Prent 2001, 650 – 651.

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First of all, there is rather striking archaeological evidence in the form of several Geometric bronze sculptures depicting musicians. Padgett notes that musicians are uncommon in sculpture of this period: there is only one example datable to the 8th century (lyre-player in Brussels) and three examples that belong to the early 7th century. The remarkable though possibly fortuitous fact is that all three of these 7th-century examples come from Crete. They include the seated bronze lyre-player in Heracleion (fig. 1), a very similar small bronze lyre-player in a private collection in New York, and a standing lyre-player with a boy from the Getty Museum in Malibu (fig. 2).31 In discussing the sculpture and arguing that it came from early 7th-century Crete, Padgett points out that, while the bard is naked, the boy is wearing a belt and a loincloth, a distinctively Cretan element and a continuation of Minoan fashion.32 The lyre-player in the Malibu group is most likely an aoidos (as opposed to a god), Padgett argues, but the boy is enigmatic. The boy’s left hand is extended and touches the musician’s hip, and Padgett speculates that he might be an apprentice, or perhaps the bard is blind, like Demodocus and Homer, and the boy is leading him. The boy also brings to mind “the pederasty so notoriously practiced in Dorian Crete”, and Padgett points out that in such relationships the ero¯menos was also know as ‘the one positioned beside’, the parastatheis. 33 The closest parallel in composition to the pair from Malibu is a pair of bronze males from Kato Syme in Heracleion. They are holding hands and one is much taller than the other, and Koehl suggests that they represent a parastatheis and his older lover.34 From what follows it will become clear that our sources for Cretan poetry of the Archaic period leave much to be desired, but they do indicate that Cretan poets of that time were very much concerned with instruction of youth, and not only in Crete. A Cretan poet, Thales, was supposedly the founder of the Gymnopaedia festival in Sparta.35 Perhaps the Cretan lyre-player in Malibu is indeed an older lover educating the boy. On the other hand, the musician seem to be, as Padgett puts it, “not only knock31 Bronze lyre-player, Herakleion Museum inv. 2064; bronze lyre-player and boy, J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California inv. 90.AB.6. 32 Padgett 1995, 396 – 397. Padgett also points out that variations of the bowl haircut similar to those of Malibu figures are found on a number of Protogeometric and Geometric bronzes from Crete (396 – 397). 33 Strabo 10.4.21. 34 Koehl 1986, 107, cited by Padgett 1995, 405 n. 51. 35 Ps.-Plutarch, On Music 10.


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Fig. 1. Bronze lyre-player. Herakleion Museum inv.2064. Drawing by A. Hollmann after Padgett 1995, 397.

kneed but pigeon-toed as well”, so the theory that the boy supports him might not be completely off the mark. It is impossible to tell what kind of singer the maker of the Malibu bronze had in mind, but Padgett thinks that an epic aoidos is a possibility, perhaps even an aoidos performing Homeric poems.36 What is most important, however, is the very existence of these bronze lyre-players, which testifies to an active song culture on Crete and correlates very well with the literary tradition, to which I now turn, which depicts Cretans as masters of kitharo¯idia and especially famed as paean-singers. The literary evidence is, needless to say, mythological, but the composite picture it presents is telling nevertheless, and, unlike visual evidence, it can tell us more about the subjects of Cretan poetry. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the god chooses Cretans to be his first priests 36 Padgett 1995, 399.

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Fig. 2. Bronze lyre-player and boy. Getty Museum, Malibu, California inv. 90.AB.6. Drawing by A. Hollmann after Padgett 1995, 390.

and one of their first tasks is to sing a paean for the god.37 They duly do so while walking in a procession from Crissa to Delphi, and Apollo himself leads them, playing his kithara. On this occasion the fame of Cretan paean-singers is, in fact, explicitly mentioned (Homeric Hymn to Apollo 514 – 519): b²m N’ Ulem7 Gqwe d’ %qa svim %man Di¹r uR¹r )pºkkym vºqlicc’ 1m we¸qessim 5wym 1qat¹m jihaq¸fym jak± ja· vxi bib²r7 oR d³ N¶ssomter 6pomto Jq/ter pq¹r Puh½ ja· Qgpai¶om’ %eidom, oXo¸ te Jqgt_m pai¶omer oXs¸ te LoOsa 1m st¶hessim 5hgje he± lek¸cgqum !oid¶m.

They started out with the lord Apollo, the son of Zeus, to lead them, holding a lyre in his hands, and playing sweetly as he stepped high and featly. So the Cretans followed him to Pytho, marching in time as they chanted the Ie 37 Homeric Hymn to Apollo 514 – 519.


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Paean after the manner of the Cretan paean-singers and of those in whose hearts the heavenly Muse has put sweet-voiced song. (Transl. H.G. EvelynWhite)

Pausanias provides more evidence for the reputation of Cretan paeansingers when he credits a Cretan, Chrysotemis, with victory in the first musical contest at Pythian games, with a hymn to Apollo. Pausanias adds that Chrysotemis’ father, Carmanor, purified Apollo himself of blood-guilt, presumably with the aid of song.38 It is, of course, impossible and perhaps unnecessary to assign any date to these stories. Pausanias imagines these events as taking place in the age of Homer and Hesiod, but the myths about Pythian games can hardly predate the games themselves and the first dedications at Delphi appear ca. 800 BC. If the stories about Chrysotemis and Carmanor are early, they are likely to stem from the Archaic period. To the same period belong two famous and much mythologized Cretan poetic figures, Thaletas and Epimenides. Thaletas, about whose connection to Sparta more will be said later, composed, like his predecessors, paeans along with other types of song (hyporche¯mata are mentioned) and was credited with several metrical innovations.39 According to Plutarch, Thaletas accomplished through his songs the work of a lawgiver, exhorting the citizens of his native Gortyn to obedience and social harmony (pq¹r eqpe_heiam ja· bl|moiam) and resolving the conflict that was endemic to his community.40 These myths, as also the myths about Thaletas’ activity in Sparta, have been interpreted as reflecting a conflict-prone transition in the Archaic period from more family-centered social life to that of the polis.41 It has been argued that the activity of Thaletas was associated with the foundation of the festival of Apollo Pythios at Gortyn, and that he relied on divine authority to establish the laws.42 In many respects, Epimenides (of Phaestos or Cnossos) 43 is a figure reminiscent of Thaletas, although the poetry ascribed to him is primarily epic rather than melic. Epimenides was credited with establishing the first temple at Phaestos and, though he is less explicitly a lawgiver 38 39 40 41 42 43

Pausanias 10.7.2. Ephorus FGrH 70 F 149; Ps.-Plutarch On Music 10.42. Plutarch, Lycurgus 4. Conner 1987. Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou 2004, 347; Ricciardi 1986/1987. Phaestos according to Strabo (10.4.14), Cnossos according to Diogenes Laertius (1.109).

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than Thaletas, he was supposed to have composed a poem On Sacrifices and the Cretan Constitution. 44 Like Thaletas, he seems to have been a master of curing social ills, and myth credits him with the purification of Athens, purification that was necessary because of a politically induced plague and that paved the way for Solon’s reforms.45 Epimenides was said to have composed a Theogony, a poem on purifications, The Birth of Couretes and Corybantes, the Building of Argo and the Journey of Jason to the Colchians, and a poem about Minos and Rhadamanthys.46 But Epimenides’ greatest claim to fame is his long sleep in a Cretan cave (forty years according to Pausanias 1.14.4, fifty-seven according to Diogenes Laertius 1.109) and his related claim to have prophetic knowledge not of the future, but of the past.47 Diogenes Laertius says that he described to Solon in a letter the constitution that Minos had once established for the Cretans (presumably the one that he received from Zeus during his own sojourn in a Cretan cave and the one that Cleinias and the Athenian discuss in Plato’s Laws).48 We may surmise that his poems on the Couretes and Corybantes and on Minos and Rhadamanthys advanced and relied on his claim of prophetic knowledge of these matters. We thus have evidence, however precarious, not only of flourishing Cretan poetry and its international reputation, but specifically of Cretan poetry with a sharp interest in the island’s past and with a special claim to knowledge of it. The myths of Minos and Rhadamanthys were perhaps a contested subject, and likely one of particular social and cultural relevance in the Archaic period. If so, Epimenides’ claim to direct and prophetic knowledge of the past would have been especially useful in the present. The mythological stories of Cretan poets, difficult as they are to interpret as evidence for the historical song culture of the island, do nevertheless correlate surprisingly well with what we know of cultural developments on Crete during the Archaic period. The patterns to continuity, transformation and external contacts on Crete are particularly interesting, both because of the island’s close contacts with Egypt and Near East (Epimenides seems to have had knowledge of Near-Eastern tradi44 45 46 47 48

Diogenes Laertius 1.110 – 111. Plutarch, Solon 12.8; Diogenes Laertius 1.110. Diogenes Laertius 1.111. Aristotle, Rhetoric 1418a21. Diogenes Laertius 1.111.


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tions of prophecy and purification) 49 and because on Crete even the cataclysmic changes such as the destruction of Minoan palaces around 1300 BC do not bring about a complete break in demographic and cultural continuity. In discussing the massive transformation of social institutions at Phaestos and Gortyn in the 7th century, Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou suggest that these new institutions simultaneously responded to the economic and social realities of the 7th-century Dorian communities and were grounded in the Minoan past. There was the continuity of cult at Amnisos, Camares and the Idaean Cave, but there and everywhere something new was made out of something old. They provide evidence that Cretans of the Early Iron Age knew about the Bronze Age past and actively related themselves to it. The newly-arrived Dorians “knew to place their shrines precisely on top of the administrative centers at Kommon and Agia Triada. At Phaestos, Geometric houses were literally constructed upon Bronze Age walls”.50 And of course Aristotle mentions that descendants of the Minoans survived on Crete and continued to follow their ancient laws even in his day.51 The Cretan stories about Minos, Zeus, and the cave of Eileithyia would have been of particular interest to those populations who built their houses, shrines and perhaps social institutions on Minoan foundations, and the possibility should not be excluded that the same Cretan Dorians who are mentioned in the Odyssey were in fact the ones who patronized and practiced poetry about Crete and who channeled some of their poetry into Homer. The mention of Eileithyia’s cave in the Odyssey is not merely a geographical marker, but a poetic marker, an index of important themes on which Crete has put, as it were, its sphragis. The cave of Eileithyia is reminiscent of the Ithacan cave of the Naiads, which is also located in a bay and has a source of fresh water (Od. 13.102 – 109): aqt±q 1p· jqat¹r kil]mor tam}vukkor 1ka_g, !cwºhi d’ aqt/r %mtqom 1p¶qatom Aeqoeid´r, Rq¹m Mulv²ym, aT Mgz²der jak´omtai. 1m d³ jqgt/q´r te ja· !lvivoq/er 5asi k²zmoi7 5mha d’ 5peita tihaib¾ssousi l´kissai.

At the head of the cove grows a long-leaved olive-tree and nearby is a pleasant, hazy cavern sacred to the Nymphs whom we call Naiads. This 49 Burkert 1992, 41 – 87; Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou 2004, 347. 50 Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou 2004, 349. 51 Aristotle, Politics 1271b.

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cave contains a number of stone basins and two-handled jars, which are used by bees as their hives.

Amnisos derives its name from a local river that has its nymphs, Amnesiades or Amnesides. I will refrain from dwelling on the obvious relevance to the Odyssey of kourotrophic deities, rivers, and caves, all associations that would have been evoked by Amnisos. I will point out, however, that a link between Odysseus and these elements reappears elsewhere, and, again, in connection with Crete. Plutarch reports that in Sicily, there was a city called Engyon (Enguium), founded by the Cretans, in which there was a temple of goddesses known as the Mothers (Life of Marcellus 20): pºkir c²q 1sti t/r Sijek¸ar 9cc¼zom oq lec²kg, !qwa¸a d³ p²mu ja· di± he_m 1piv²meiam 5mdonor $r jakoOsi Lat´qar. Vdqula k´cetai Jqgt_m cem´shai t¹ Reqºm, ja· kºcwar tim±r 1de¸jmusam ja· jq²mg wakj÷, t± l³m 5womta Lgqiºmou, t± d’ Oqk¸nou, tout´stim iduss´yr, 1picqav²r, !mateheijºtym ta?r hea?r.

In Sicily there is a town called Engyum, not indeed great, but very ancient and ennobled by the presence of the goddesses, called the Mothers. The temple, they say, was built by the Cretans; and they show some spears and brazen helmets, inscribed with the names of Meriones, and of Ulixes, i. e. Odysseus, who consecrated them to the goddesses. (Transl. J. Dryden)

Dedications at the temple included bronze helmets with the names of Meriones and Odysseus. Diodorus Siculus mentions that the goddesses were worshipped in a Cretan manner and concerned with protection of baby Zeus (4.79.5): !e· d³ l÷kkom aqnºlemoi [sc. Cretans in Engyon] ja· jatasjeu²samter Req¹m t_m Lgt´qym, diavºqyr 1t¸lym t±r he²r, !mah¶lasi pokko?r josloOmter t¹ Req¹m aqt_m. ta¼tar d’ !vidquh/ma¸ vasim 1j t/r Jq¶tgr di± t¹ ja· paq± to?r Jqgs· til÷shai t±r he±r ta¼tar diaveqºmtyr. luhokocoOsi d’ aqt±r t¹ pakai¹m hq´xai t¹m D¸a k²hqô toO patq¹r Jqºmou.

And growing steadily stronger all the while they built a temple to the Mothers and accorded these goddesses unusual honours, adorning their temple with many votive offerings. The cult of these goddesses, so men say, they moved from their home in Crete, since the Cretans also hold these goddesses in special honour. The account which the myths preserve of the Mothers runs like this: They nurtured Zeus of old without the knowledge of his father Cronus. (Transl. C.H. Oldfather)

The legend thus brought Odysseus and Meriones together to the temple of The Mothers, goddesses reminiscent of the Cretan Eileithyia. It seems, then, that the mythical Cretans arrived in Sicily along with their themes,


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and that Odysseus shares these themes, just as he does in the Odyssey. It is impossibly to date such stories, although the colonization of Sicily in the 8th century suggests itself as their possible context, in part because Cretan pottery found in Italy and Sicily testifies to Minoan contacts with these regions.52 The important point, however, is that these legends are certainly not dependent on Homer, at least not on the Homeric epics as we have them. The western travels of Odysseus and Meriones testify to the fact that stories about Odysseus and Crete were told outside of Homer, and Cretans are the population with the most obvious stake in them. The same stories also show that there were certain themes associated with Crete in general and Amnisos in particular, and these themes were not frozen relics of Mycenaean poetry, but relevant during the Geometric period and kept alive by poetry and story-telling on and about Crete. Did Cretan storytelling involve Odysseus? Was there, indeed, a Cretan Odyssean tradition? It is certainly possible, though not provable, and it is both possible and probable that Cretan poetic traditions of the Early Iron Age interacted with the Ionian Homeric tradition. We can reconstruct possible scenarios regarding how and where Crete and the Ionian Odyssey, or perhaps even a Cretan Odyssey and an Ionian Odyssey could meet in that period, and I suggest that, apart from Crete itself, one such place is Sparta. Sparta and Crete seem to have a special relationship within and beyond Homer, and this relationship is even reflected by famous Homeric textual variants. The scholia to Od. 3.13 preserve two readings from Zenodotus’ text, according to which Crete rather then Sparta is the final destination of Telemachus’ voyage. At Od. 1.93 instead of p´lxy d( 1r Sp²qtgm ja· 1r P¼kom Alahºemta “I will send him to Sparta and sandy Pylos” Zenodotus read p´lxy d( 1r Jq¶tgm ja· 1r P¼kom Alahºemta “I will send him to Crete and sandy Pylos”, and at Od. 1.285 instead of je?hem d³ Sp²qtgmde paq± namh¹m Lem´kaom “and from their to Sparta to fair-haired Menelaos” he read je?hem d( 1r Jq¶tgm te [d³ Jq¶tgmde Buttmann] paq’ Ydolem/a %majta “and from there to Crete to lord Idomeneus”. As West observes, these variants deserve attention as lectiones difficiliores and are highly unlikely to be conjectures: they would be too eccentric and apparently unmotivated. She speculates that the variants may survive from an earlier design for a Telemachy, but notes that in this case their survival is puzzling. If a poet contemplated sending Tele52 Jones 2000, 166 – 167, 181.

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machus to visit Idomeneus but changed his mind, it would be surprising that his discarded first thoughts should became part of the textual transmission.53 Burkert similarly envisages a poet who was planning to compose a poem in which Telemachus goes to Crete but altered his plans at the last minute.54 This notion, that the variants represent Homer’s first thoughts that remained uncorrected in a manuscript, is based on a purely textual model of Homer and its strangeness highlights, in my opinion, the inadequacy of such textual models for analyzing the development of the Homeric epic prior to Classical period. Similarly textual is another suggestion made by West, namely that perhaps Zenodotus “was deceived by an alteration designed to gratify a Cretan audience”. In this case, as that of the rejected plan, there were never actual poems where Telemachus traveled to Crete, but only a half-hearted attempt on someone’s part to doctor the text of Homer in order to please a Cretan audience. It is, however, hard to see how such an alteration could suffice if there was in fact never a Cretan episode in the Telemachia. I think that Zenodotus’ variants constitute evidence for the existence of poems in which Telemachus does indeed travel to Crete, and follow Nagy in thinking that they likely reflected oral traditions localized in Crete.55 Rather than envisaging an alteration from Crete into Sparta or vice versa, it is more productive to think of alternation between the two. Apart from the wording of Zenodotus’ lines, it is not hard to see how an alternation between Crete and Sparta could exist in epic. In the Odyssey there is a certain functional equivalence between Sparta and Menelaus and Crete and Idomeneus. Menelaus’ kingdom is huge and fertile, while Ithaca is small and rocky. Crete is also everything Ithaca is not: large, fertile, and populous. Both kings, Idomeneus and Menelaus, are fabulously wealthy, have a special relationship to Zeus, and are grandsons of Minos. It is not hard to see Idomeneus playing the role played in our Odyssey by Menelaus. Indeed, on Crete Telemachus could speak some of the same words he speaks at Sparta, admiring the palace and comparing Idomeneus to Zeus, as he does with Menelaus in our Odyssey. In his discussion of Zenodotus’ variants Burkert speculates about the reasons for the hypothetical poet’s change of mind, and, mutatis mutandis, I agree with his insight. Homer, Burkert argues, could have decided 53 West 1988, 43 54 Burkert 2001, 93 – 94. 55 Nagy 2004, 39.


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to please Spartan audiences, Sparta being a poetic and cultural center at the time and more important for poets than Crete.56 While the theory of textual change in a single poem seems unlikely, these are factors that may indeed have lead to the promotion of the Spartan Telemachy and the decline of the Cretan one. In our Odyssey, the choice between Sparta and Crete is made, of course, in favor of Sparta, and I follow Burkert in seeing Sparta’s political and cultural ascendance in the 7th century as the reason for this choice.57 At this time, Sparta actively cultivates poetic performances and, according to Plutarch, even claims to be the first mainland city to own Homer, having acquired the poems from the descendants of Creophylus.58 What Plutarch ascribes to Lycurgus, moreover, is not only the conveyance of the Homeric poetry to Sparta but also its arrangement. The reputation of this poetry, he says, has become !lauq\ (‘dim’) and the poetry itself was dispersed (spoq²dgm t/r poi¶seyr, ¢r 5tuwe, diaveqol´mgr). Lycurgus then assembles the poetry, writes it down and makes it known (cmyq¸lgm). As Nagy argued following Davidson, this story is “a myth about the synthesis of oral traditions that is articulated in terms of written traditions”.59 Davidson discusses an Iranian parallel, a myth about a wise vizier who reassembles the longlost Book of Kings, which then becomes the model for the Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnama. 60 Considering Lycurgus’ status as Sparta’s mythical lawgiver, it seems that Plutarch credits him with an appropriation of Homeric epic comparable to that of the Peisistratids in Athens,61 and, as in the Iranian parallel discussed by Davidson, social unity and the unity of the epic and social order and the ordering of the poem seem to go together. Plutarch’s report is not an isolated one: according to Ephorus, Lycurgus traveled to different lands learning their laws and customs, and in the course of these travels he met with Homer himself on the island of Chios.62 The first land Lycurgus travels to is Crete, where he meets Thaletas, a poet and a law-giver. Considering the context, it seems that Homer, like Thaletas, taught Lycurgus the ways of 56 57 58 59 60 61

Burkert 2001 (= 1999), 94 – 95. Burkert 2001 (= 1999), 95. Lycurgus 4.4. Nagy 1990a, 74. Davidson 1985, 111 – 127; Nagy 1990a, 74 n. 110. The parallel is discussed by Nagy 1990a, 23, 74, 174; 1996b, 71 – 75, esp. 74 – 75. On Homeric performance in Athens under the Peisistratids, see also Nagy 2004, 27 – 31; 1996b,73 – 112. 62 Ephorus FGrHist 70 F 103 (Strabo 10.4.19).

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social life by means of epic poetry. Upon returning from his travels Lycurgus puts the knowledge he acquired to use in establishing, after consultation with Delphi, Spartan laws, which, according to Strabo (summarizing Ephorus), are similar to the Cretan ones. It is reasonable to surmise that Lycurgus also establishes the performances of Homer at Sparta as part of his state building. It is noteworthy that in Strabo’s account the story of Lycurgus’ travel to Crete is ascribed to the Cretans themselves, who presumably took some pride in it: k]ceshai d’ rp¹ t_m Jqgt_m, ¢r ja· paq’ aqto»r !v_joito KujoOqcor “the Cretans say that Lykourgos visited them as well”.63 No doubt these are myths, but they are meaningful when put alongside such historical facts as the foundation of the Menelaion in Laconia around 700 BC.64 The mythology of Lycurgus as the bringer of Homer to Sparta correlates with Sparta’s role as one of the main centers for the performance and diffusion of Homeric poetry. More generally, Sparta was a center of vibrant poetic culture, attracting poets from abroad, including Crete. According to Plutarch, Lycurgus sent Thaletas of Gortyn to Sparta, where this Cretan poet and lawgiver allayed civic discord with his songs.65 Pausanias (1.14.4) credits the Cretan poet with saving Lacedaemonians from the plague, while Ps.-Plutarch reports that he (among others) established the Gymnopaedia (On Music 9). Sparta, of course, was also the center of kitharodic activity associated with the name of Terpander, who is credited with founding the kitharodic contests at the Carneia and being the first victor.66 Like his contemporary Thaletas, Terpander is also said to have prevented a civil war in Sparta by his songs.67 There is evidence that the kitharodic performances at Sparta involved Homer: Terpander’s prooimia might have been preludes to Homeric performances,68 and Heraclides Ponticus reports that he set both

63 Strabo 10.4.19, Ephorus FGrHist 70 F 149. 64 Cartledge (2002, 89) observes that “the establishment of the Menelaion sanctuary ca. 700 suggests that the Homeric poems had by then reached Sparta”. For more on the Menelaion, see Cartledge 2002, 104 – 105 with references. 65 Plutarch, Lycurgus 4. 66 Athenaeus 635e; Ps.-Plutarch On Music 9 (1134b). According to Sosibius (FGrHist 4 F 85, Athenaeus 635e) the foundation of Carneia dates to the 26th Olympiad (676/3). 67 Ps.-Plutarch, On Music 28 (1146b). 68 Ps.-Plutarch, On Music 6 (1133c). See Frame 2009, 701 for a detailed discussion of the evidence.


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his own epic verses and Homer to music.69 Thus we have evidence of Cretan poets present in Sparta during the time of Homeric flourishing, and we also have evidence of Homeric performances in Sparta taking what to us is an un-canonical form. Thaletas is no doubt a figure of myth (whatever the historical facts, unknowable to us), but his presence in Sparta points to contacts between Cretan and Spartan song culture. Another figure involved in the same contacts is the Cretan seer Epimenides, who (it was said) composed epics, including a Theogony and an Argonautica, a tradition with which the Odyssey has obvious contacts.70 His poetry, like that of Thaletas and Terpander, had a curative power and he was called upon to purify Athens (polluted, as it happens, as a result of social unrest).71 He was also fought over by Sparta and Argos, as is evident from what Pausanias reports. Pausanias saw the grave of Epimenides in the Argive sanctuary of Athena Trumpet, and he tells the Argive story relating to it: the Lacedaemonians waged war on Cnossos and captured Epimenides alive, but when he did not prophesy favorably for them they killed the seer; the Argives then took his body and buried it. Needless to say, the Lacedaemonians themselves told an entirely different story and claimed that they, in fact, had the grave of Epimenides and that they had never fought against Cnossos. Pausanias locates this grave in the very agora of Sparta, and remarks that he finds the Spartan story regarding Epimenides more credible.72 He also mentions that Epimenides set up a circular shrine of Zeus and Aphrodite at Sparta (3.12.11). Moreover, there is a strange and apparently Spartan myth concerning the skin of Epimenides: after his death, it was found to be tattooed with writings.73 One remarkable feature of these stories is the intense rivalry between Sparta and Argos in connection with the Cretan seer, and the prominent place that both cities allotted to his respective graves. This rivalry is echoed by the competing Argive and Lacedaemonian accounts of the Dorian colonization of Crete, about which more will be said below. 69 Ps.-Plutarch On Music 3 (1132c). Cf. also On Music 4 (1132d): pepo¸gtai d³ t` Teqp²mdq\ ja· pqoo¸lia jihaq\dij± 1m 5pesim. 70 Diogenes Laertius 1.111. 71 Aristotle (?), The Constitution of the Athenians 1. 72 Pausanias 3.11.11. 73 The expression 9pilem¸deiom d´qla was proverbial and referred to something secret and mysterious (FGrHist 457 T 2, Suda s.v. 9pilem¸dgr); see Diogenianus Grammaticus 8.28, Strabo 10.4.14, Diogenes Laertius 8.3, Plutarch, Solon 12.8.

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Did this flourishing of poetry in Sparta, and the active role Crete seems to have played in it, have any impact on Homer? I think the answer is yes: if one were to look for a potential Spartan hand in the Odyssey, there is abundant evidence for this. For example, it is clear that the house of Atreus is a disputed territory in Peloponnesian myth. For Pindar, Agamemnon is a Laconian who dies at Amyclae.74 Some have seen traces of Agamemnon’s Laconian localization in our Homer, where Agamemnon has to round Cape Malea on the way home, and can offer to Achilles seven cities on the border between Laconia and Messenia.75 A striking if difficult example is the story of Odysseus’ bow, which is full of unusual features, one of which is directly connected to archaic Sparta: the bow is given to Odysseus as a gift by Iphitus, son of Eurytus, in Messene, which is located in Lacedaemon, apparently acknowledging the conquest of Messenia.76 Moreover, Odysseus inherits the very bow from Eurytus, the hero of Oechalia, the bow that plays a prominent part in the mythology of Eurytus and his family. It is tempting to connect this with the stories about Sparta’s acquisition of the poetry of Creophylus, whose primary claim to fame was a poem about Heracles and Eurytus known as the Sack of Oechalia 77. If, as Nagy suggests, the poetry perpetuated by the Creophyloi was authoritative in Sparta (in contrast to that of the Homeridai, which was authoritative in Athens) 78 and if that poetry included both Homeric epic and 74 Pindar, Pyth. 11.32 – 33, Nem. 11.44. Orestes is also described as a Laconian in Pyth. 11.16 and Nem. 11.34. 75 Hall 1997, 91 – 92; Podlecki 1971a, 315. 76 Od. 21.13 – 16. 77 The Sack of Oechalia was perpetuated by the rhapsodic school of the Creophyloi on Samos. For sources and discussion on the Creophyloi, see Burkert 1972, 77 n. 13, 15 and Frame 2009, 579 – 580. The Creophyloi must have also claimed possession of the Homeric poems, since they were credited with the introduction of them to Sparta (see above). Some believed the Sack of Oechalia to be Homer’s, as is evident from Callimachus Epigram 6 (where Callimachus instead takes it to be Creophylus’ on account of its inferior quality). See Graziosi 2002, 190 and Frame 2009, 579 – 580 for discussion. Strabo relates a story that Creophylus received the poem from Homer as a gift, in return for his hospitality on Samos (Strabo 638). A different way of affiliating the two poets is preserved by the scholia to Plato’s Republic 9(660b), where Creophylus is said to be Homer’s son-in-law. The myths may reflect progressive differentiation of Homeric poetry from that ascribed to Creophylus. 78 Nagy 1990, 74. For a different view, see Graziosi 2002, 205 – 206, who suggests that the “descendant of Creophylus” may be “an Athenian invention aimed at discrediting the Spartan claim that Lycurgus brought the Homeric poets to


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the Sack of Oechalia, then it is tempting to see the transfer of the bow from Eurytus to Odysseus as a sign of dialogue, a cross-referencing, between the two branches of the performative repertoire of the Creophyloi. And given the fact that Odysseus receives his bow in Messene, this particular dialogue between traditions may be a Spartan feature that found its way into our Odyssey. Finally, I refer to the work of Frame for more evidence of a Spartan hand in the Odyssey. He has argued that the Elean location of the Homeric Pylos presupposed by some Homeric verses is a result of Spartan interference. In particular, the vulgate reading of Od. 15.297 implies an Elean location of Pylos, as does the Homeric Hymn to Apollo 423 – 424, while Aristarchus and Strabo preserve another variant of Od. 15.297 which implies the Messenian location. According to Frame, after the conquest of Messenia the Spartans “did not wish to remind themselves and others that Nestor’s Homeric kingdom now lay desolate, and, more to the point, under Spartan control”,79 and to avoid the opprobrium associated with this conquest they re-interpreted the Homeric poems in such a way as to shift the location of Nestor’s Pylos into Elean territory. They could do so, he argues, based on the authority of Creophylus and the Creophyloi.80 In sum, it appears that Sparta was active in the shaping of Homer and the impact is visible in our text. If Crete, in its turn, sent its poets to Sparta, then perhaps, to come back to Ramanujan’s watery metaphor, there was a time when a stream of Cretan poetry mixed with that of Ionic Homer in a Spartan pool. Some of the Spartan references in Homer involve Crete. In the teichoskopia Helen says that Menelaus often hosted Idomeneus at his palace (Il. 3.230 – 233): Ydoleme»r d’ 2t´qyhem 1m· Jq¶tessi he¹r ¤r 6stgj’, !lv· d´ lim Jqgt_m !co· Aceq´homtai. pokk²ji lim ne¸missem !qgývikor Lem´kaor oUj\ 1m Blet´q\ bpºte Jq¶tghem Vjoito.

and beyond him there is Idomeneus like a god standing among the Kretans, and the lords of Krete are gathered around him. Many a time warlike Menelaos would entertain him in our own house when he came over from Krete. (Transl. R. Lattimore) Greece”. I agree with Graziosi that the Creophyloi had a bad reputation in Athens, as would be only natural, but I do not see any grounds for supposing that they are an Athenian invention. 79 Frame 2009, 685. 80 Frame 2009, 673 – 717, esp. 673 – 688.

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In the Odyssey, Nestor tells Telemachus that some of Menelaus’ scattered fleet landed on Crete, occasioning a very detailed description of a site near Phaestos (Od. 3.291 – 296): 5mha diatl¶nar t±r l³m Jq¶t, 1p´kassem, Hwi J¼dymer 5maiom Yaqd²mou !lv· N´ehqa. 5sti d´ tir kissµ aQpe?² te eQr ûka p´tqg 1swati0 Cºqtumor 1m Aeqoeid´z pºmt\7 5mha mºtor l´ca jOla pot· sjai¹m N¸om ¡he?, 1r Vaistºm, lijq¹r d³ k¸hor l´ca jOl’ !po´qcei. aR l³m %q’ 5mh’ Gkhom, spoud0 d’ Ekunam ekehqom %mdqer, !t±q m/²r ce pot· spik²dessim 5anam j¼lat’7

He drove on group towards Crete and the Cydonian settlements on the river Iardanus. Now where the lands of Gortyn end, out in the misty sea, there is a precipitous cliff that falls abruptly to the water, and the south-westerly gales drives the great rollers against a headland to the west, in towards Phaestus, with nothing but this puny reef to keep their violence in check. When one party reached this spot, the crews by a hair’s breadth escaped destruction, though their ships were splintered on the rocks by the fury of the seas. (Transl. E.V. Rieu).

Commentators have felt that the extent and apparent precision of this passage are curiously unmotivated. S. West remarks: “It may surprise us that so much attention is devoted to the ships which lost touch with Menelaus; admittedly they form the greater part of his contingent … but their vicissitudes are quite irrelevant to Nestor’s narrative” and adds that “the poet was clearly interested in Crete for its own sake”.81 These details, however, may be more than curious vignettes of Nestor’s conversation. The Cretans and Peloponnesians of the Archaic period may be the ones to whom this story would be relevant. Dorians were present in the plain of Phaestos beginning at about 1100 BC, and Dorian myths exist about the foundations of both Phaestos and Gortyn. Moreover, there was some mythological conflict over precisely who colonized Gortyn. In Plato’s Laws, Cleinias says that Gortyn was founded by the Argives (Laws 708a). Photius, however, preserves another story, that Gortyn was taken without battle by the Achaeans from Amyclae along with some of the Spartans (173b), and Strabo (10.4.17) also mentions the Spartan colonization of Gortyn and Lyctos. Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou observe that the account of Menelaus’ men landing at the border between Phaestos and Gortyn could be understood in 81 West 1988, 178 ad loc.


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terms of local territorial tensions between Phaestos and Gortyn: “Since the only reef along the Mesara coastline is located at Kommos (Gifford 1995, 60 – 61) and the founders of Gortyn were said to be Laconian, the Odyssey account sounds like a foundation myth justifying Gortynian control of the Kommos sanctuary. The incident is described as taking place ‘at the border of Gortynian land’ (Od. 3.294), making clear the territorial claim of Gortyn”.82 The Peloponnesian interest in the area and differences between Argos and Sparta about the origins of its Dorian inhabitants may form the background to Nestor’s tale about Spartans landing on Crete, and in this case the Odyssey voices a pro-Spartan position. It is noteworthy that there is no further mention of Menelaus’ lost men in the Odyssey and no indication of any attempt on their part to make their way back to the Peloponnese. Like the description of Crete in Odyssey 19 and the story of the bow, the verses about landing at Phaestos abound in difficult diction and textual variants, signaling, perhaps, that this a contested subject and a relatively recent layer of Homeric diction. It may also be, correspondingly, a relatively more local layer of Homeric diction. The scholia record textual variants that go back to Zenodotus and Crates in verses 293 and 294 and these variants seem to reflect local perspective. On Od. 3.293 scholia MV read as follows: ke¸a p´tqa. C jat± letapkasl¹m eWpe t¹ mOm jako¼lemom paq± to?r Jqgs· s»m t` b Bk¸ssg. 5sti d³ !jqyt¶qiom t/r Coqtum¸ar. b d³ Jq²tgr s»m t` m cq²vei Kiss¶m.

“[kiss^… p]tqg lisse … petre] smooth rock; or else he [the poet] named in an altered way the rock the Cretans now call Blisse, with a ’b’. It is a promontory of the Gortynian territory. Crates, on the other hand, writes Lissen with an ’n’.”

As West observes, it is impossible on stylistic grounds to simply insert Kiss¶m, or for that matter, Bk¸ssg, into verse 293 as we have it.83 Perhaps apart from reading Kiss¶m Zenodotus manuscript was different from our text in other ways not noted by the scholia. In any case, we have a typical adjective, kiss|r (only used to describe coastal rocks in Homer, Od. 5.412 and 10.4) which is phonically similar to a Cretan toponym and which alternates with this toponym in a description of a Cretan site. The same applies to the second variant reading in verse 296: 82 Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou 2004, 345. 83 West 1992, 179 ad loc.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim


cq²vei d³ Fgmºdotor “Lak´ou d³ k¸hor7” L²keiom c±q amol²fetai t¹ pq¹ toO Vaist¸ym kil´mor !jqyt¶qiom (Scholia on the Odyssey 3.296 EMQV).

“but Zenodotus writes “the boulder of Maleos.” For the promontory in front of the harbor of Phaistos is called Maleion“

In this case the variant reading fits smoothly into the verse as we have it, and the landmark in question is well-known enough to have found its way into Suda with an aetiology attached (Suda s.v. L²keor): nlgqor7 1r Vaistºm7 lijq¹r d³ k¸hor l´ca jOl’ !po´qcei. L²keor c²q tir tek´sar t¹m k¸hom toOtom !mi´qyse t` Poseid_mi, pq¹r t¹ lµ t± j¼lata pqospek²feim t0 Vaist`.

Homer: “to Phaistos. And the small rock keeps away a big wave.” For one Maleos, having consecrated this rock dedicated it to Poseidon so that the waves might not come close to Phaistos.

It seems that we are dealing with respectively more Panhellenic (vulgate) and more local (Zenodotus and Crates) variants of the same verse, and that these more local variants would have been especially significant for those inhabitants of Gortyn who traced their origins to colonists from Laconia. Coming back to the lines I started with, it could be argued that the description of Crete in Book 19 is also composed with an awareness of Peloponnesian agenda. Crete here has ninety cities (ja· 1mm¶jomta pºkger, Od. 19.174) in contrast to the Iliad, where it has a hundred (Jq¶tgm 2jatºlpokim, Il. 2.649). Ancient commentators and historians evidently sought to reconcile the two poems. According to Strabo 10.14.15, Ephorus reports that there were only ninety cities in Crete at the time of the Trojan War, and ten more were founded later by Althaemenes the Argive: =voqor l³m vsteqom 1pijtish/mai t±r d´ja vgs· let± t± Tqyij± rp¹ t_m )khail´mei t` )qce¸\ sumajokouhgs²mtym Dyqi´ym7 t¹m l³m owm iduss´a k´cei 1memgjomt²pokim amol²sai7 oxtor l³m owm pihamºr 1stim b kºcor, %kkoi d’ rp¹ t_m Ydolem´yr 1whq_m jatasjav/ma¸ vasi t±r d´ja.

Ephorus says that the ten cities were founded later, after the Trojan war, by the Dorians who followed Althaimenes the Argive. And he says that therefore Odysseus calls Crete “of ninety cities”. This is the trustworthy account, but others say that the ten cities were destroyed by the enemies of Idomeneus.

Ephorus implies, therefore, that the Iliad reflects a later situation in comparison to the Odyssey. Others offer a different version of the events: the scholia report that there were a hundred cities before the Trojan War,


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and then ten cities perished during a rebellion against Idomeneus centered at Lyctos (scholia on the Odyssey, 19.174 HQ): C 1pe· let± t¹m !pºpkoum oR let± Ydolem´yr 1pºqhgsam K¼jtom ja· t±r p´qin $r 5wym KeOjor b T²ky pºkelom Eqato pq¹r aqto¼r. oxtor het¹r £m Ydolem´yr pa?r, !vehe·r rp’ aqtoO v¼kan t/r Jq¶tgr, 1stas¸ase pq¹r aqto»r 1pamekhºmtar. let± d³ taOta pqosejt¸shgsam aR d´ja.

or because after the voyage (sc. of Idomeneus to Troy) those on Idomeneus’ side sacked Lyctos and the cities around it, which were held by Leukos son of Talos when he started the hostilities. He was Idomeneus’ adopted son and left as a guardian of Crete, but he revolted against them (sc. Idomeneus and his people) when they returned. But after these events ten more cities were founded.

In this case, the Iliad reflects an earlier situation and Althaemenes is restoring Crete to its former glory. We have no means of guessing the sources of the scholia’s information, but it is noteworthy that conflicts between Cnossos and Lyctos did in fact take place, especially during the 7th century BC, with Sparta helping Lyctos while Argos apparently supported Cnossos.84 In the scholia’s story, the pro-Spartan Lyctos was blamed for the diminution of Cretan cities, while the Argive Althaemenes rebuilds them. Perhaps, then, keeping the number of Cretan cities at ninety, as we have in the Odyssey, is a Spartan feature: Sparta was probably not keen on attributing pre-Trojan War antiquity to the ten cities founded by Althaemenes, especially if their temporary destruction was pinned to Lyctos. The archaic culture wars between Sparta and Argos certainly extended to Crete and were waged in myth as much as on the ground, as is evident from mythology surrounding Epimenides. Perhaps these same tensions are reflected in Homeric uncertainty about the number of cities on Crete. I do not want to overstate such details, though they are important. The broader and deeper poetic currents, though impossible to prove, are in the end more significant. My opinion is that some of the geography-laden passages, the mentions of cave at Amnisos or Messene in Lacedaemon, are not surface features but the tips of icebergs, signaling more submerged involvement of the relevant local traditions. Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou conclude their discussion of the formation of Greek city-states on Crete with the following observation: “One cannot help suspecting that Epimenides and Thaletas may have modeled some of their reforms on known Minoan practices and justified them 84 Coldstream, Huxley, Webb 1999.

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to their Dorian peers—who regarded themselves as ‘returned Heraklidai’—as a renewal of ancestral custom”.85 Such poets and their Dorian peers could have perpetuated poetry about Idomeneus and Meriones, and the presence in Homer of Amnisos, with all its Minoan echoes, may well be their work. The Odyssey as we know it may well stem from a tradition that was influenced and altered by Cretan and Spartan poetry, the result of different Odysseys crystallized and dissolved. If so, not only Cretan references but also Cretan poetics may be detectable in Homer, and there must be areas of overlap between Homeric poetics and Cretan local traditions. It is with these possibilities in mind that I come to my last point: that paying attention to evidence from Archaic Crete can sometimes shed light on Homeric poetry in general, not only on the Homeric mentions of the island. To illustrate this point I would like to conclude this paper by an example of a very different nature than the ones considered so far. Instead of searching for Cretan features and attempting to reconstruct the historical circumstances of Homeric performances, I will now turn to the interpretation of an episode in the Odyssey as we have it, an episode that has no specific ties with Crete, but which, I submit, is made clearer by consideration of Cretan evidence. The Cretan evidence in question comes from the sanctuary of Aphrodite and Hermes at Kato Syme, a cult site that shows continuity from ca. 2000 BC to the Common Era.86 Located in a remote and thinly populated area, Syme during the Archaic period seems to be one of the few extra-urban sanctuaries of Crete where groups from different populations could come together. The activity at the sanctuary has been reconstructed as mostly open-air: lighting of fires, dining, drinking and deposition of drinking vessels and figurines. During the Early Iron Age bronze warrior figurines begin to appear, and also flat bronze plaques, which are more or less unique in their iconography.87 The excavator, Lebessi, concludes that in the Archaic period the votaries were mostly aristocratic males who celebrated the transition from adolescence to adulthood at the sanctuary, with Hermes Cedrites as their patron

85 Watrous and Hadzi-Vallianou 2004, 350. 86 The following summary description of the sanctuary of Kato Syme is based on Lebessi 1972, 1985, and 2009 and Marinatos 2003. 87 Lebessi 1985.


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god.88 She provides abundant evidence for this (for example, the males fall into two groups, beardless and bearded; they hunt and feast and play music; there are depictions of male couples, the older taking the younger by the arm).89 Particularly striking is the importance of hunting at Kato Syme. In fact, there is little evidence for sacrifice of domestic animals, even though there is abundant evidence for feasting and meat consumption.90 The focus of activity at the sanctuary is on banqueting, but the animals consumed are hunted rather than reared, and many of the plaques depict scenes of hunting and even wrestling the Cretan agrimia, wild goats. The emphasis is not always on killing: on a number of plaques young men are shown carrying bound animals on their shoulders (fig. 3a). As Lebessi and Marinatos observe, this is a feat of strength reminiscent of the Athenian ephebes lifting bulls before sacrifice during the festival of Proerosia.91 According to Pausanias, young Theseus once lifted an ox and threw it up in the air thus proving to the bystanders that he was now a man (1.19.1). Not coincidentally, this happens upon his arrival from Crete, a place that Athenian myth firmly associates precisely with Theseus’ becoming a man and a king. It seems that the youths at Kato Syme are also proving that they are grown up, and to do so they have to kill the animal and carry it back to provide the meat for feasting. To judge from the iconography, carrying is every bit as important as killing, and presumably the heavier the animal the greater the honor. Some hunters are clearly lifting a heavy weight, such as the young man who is depicted in the process of standing up, leaning on a staff, with a huge goat on his shoulders (fig. 4).92 Considering the prevalence of young males among the sanctuary’s clientele, it is not surprising that Hermes is the deity worshipped there. He appears on the plaques as a bow-carrying hunter, sometimes 88 Lebessi 2009, 524 with reference to Lebessi 1985, 18 n. 5, 112 – 116, 146 – 162, 188 – 198; 2002, 255 – 264, 269 – 282. Lebessi (1991) emphasizes that although the evidence for sacrifice and banqueting (carbonized deposits and ash) remains the same from the second millennium to the first, the votives and vessels show that the nature of ritual activity and the significance of the banquets changes in the first millennium. 89 Lebessi 1985, 188 – 198. 90 Lebessi 1972, 194 – 196 and 1981; Marinatos 2003, 131. 91 Pélékidis 1962, 224; Marinatos 2003, 133. Lifting of the bulls during the Proerosia is mentioned in IG II2 1028.28, ephebic participation is also described in IG II2 1029.16, IG II2 1006.9 – 10, 79 and IG II2 1039.55. 92 Lebessi 1985, 122 – 126; Marinatos 2003, 132 – 134.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim


Fig. 3. Syme (B. 66), bronze votive plaque of male couple. Drawing by A. Hollmann after Lebessi 1981, pl. 5 (G5)

bearded, sometimes not, correlating to both groups of male participants at the sanctuary.93 As Marinatos argues, “the double appearance of Hermes reveals his mediating function between adolescence and mature adulthood”.94 The cult of Hermes at the sanctuary is epigraphically attested beginning in the 6th century, but can be traced back to the 10th

93 Lebessi 1985, 163 – 187; Marinatos 2003, 138. 94 Marinatos 2003, 138. Marinatos argues (134 – 142) that this role of Hermes is one aspect of the main idea expressed by Hermes in the Archaic period, that of boundary crossing.


Olga Levaniouk

Fig. 4. Young man lifting a bound animal. Drawing by A. Hollmann after Lebessi 1985 pl. 40, n. C7.

century on the basis of votives.95 Lebessi shows that many aspects of rites at Syme accord with practices elsewhere in Greece and the depictions of Hermes both correlate with his prevalent functions in Greece and correspond to the representation of the male deity in the Minoan iconography.96 In other words, the Hermes of Syme could well continue a 95 Lebessi 2009, 524. 96 Lebessi 1985, 163 – 187 and 2000, 176. Lebessi concludes that Hermes is a vegetation deity perhaps connected to a pre-Greek vegetation god. Marinatos argues convincingly for a different interpretation of Hermes (2003, 132 – 142) and elsewhere, more generally, against the notion that a vegetation god is depicted in Minoan art. The figure that is usually so interpreted is, she suggests, better understood as an equivalent of the Near-Eastern storm-god, a kinggod and a divine prototype of the sacred king. Marinatos argues further that the two figures are deliberately conflated in Near Eastern and Minoan depictions and that Crete had a “Near Eastern type of theocracy” (Marinatos 2010, 184, fuller discussion 12 – 31 and 167 – 185). If Hermes at Kato Syme

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Minoan heritage even as he fits in with the conceptions of Hermes worshipped by the Dorian aristocracy of Crete during the Archaic period. The epigraphic attestations of Aphrodite are Hellenistic, but some erotic goddess is worshipped at Kato Syme throughout the Archaic period, and her cult, like that of Hermes, can be also traced back to the 10th century. Lebessi argues that she is in fact Aphrodite already in Protogeometric period and dates the earliest terracota figurine of the goddess (HM 20020 in Syme excavation archive, fig. 5) to 970 – 920 at the latest, suggesting that it may have been modeled on an earlier cult xoanon in the sanctuary.97 The icongraphy of the figurine is unique: it draws some of its features from LM III and sub-minoan figurines but, unlike such figurines, has a clearly marked pubic triangle and its hands are positioned around the triangle in such a way as to draw attention to the genitalia (fig. 5).98 Also found were several clay plaques of anasyrma type, depicting a woman who revealingly pulls open her skirts. On one such plaque a female figure wearing a large wreath stands alone and pulls her skirt aside with both hands, revealing emphatically depicted genitalia (HM 20037 in Syme Excavation Archive, fig. 6).99 On the basis of her detailed examination of the evidence, Lebessi concludes that women also came to the sanctuary at Kato Syme for a rite of passage, transitioning from childhood life in their paternal home to the state of being marriageable under the protection of both Hermes and Aphrodite. “Protection of this transition from one state to the next was assumed by Hermes, the preeminent god of passages, after the Erotic Goddess had endowed the girl … with the gift of arousing erotic desire”.100 The sanctuary at Kato Syme emerges in Lebessi’s discussion as “a suitable venue for meeting and premarital flirtation of maidens and youths in expectation of their impending marriage”.101 Marinatos envi-

97 98 99 100 101

echoes not a vegetation deity but the dominant male god and divine prototype of the king, then the parallel between Kato Syme and the Odyssey becomes even stronger. Lebessi 2009; Marinatos 2003, 143 – 144. Lebessi 2009, 524 – 528. Lebessi argues that the horizontal bands on the figurine represent bonds and that binding and unbinding of the goddess was part of her ritual at Kato Syme (526 – 528). Lebessi 2009, 529 – 532. Lebessi argues that another anasyrma plaque with two female figures and an altar in the foreground probably depicts the ritual of anasyrma (529, 532). Lebessi 2009, 533. Lebessi 2009, 534.


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Fig. 5. Erotic Goddess from Syme (HM 20020, Syme Excavation Archive). Drawing by A. Hollmann after Lebessi 2009, 526.

sages a relationship between Hermes and Aphrodite that would parallel what Lebessi reconstructs for the sanctuary’s human visitors. Based on comparative evidence of votive tablets from the sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite at Locri she argues that the relationship between the two gods both at Locri and at Syme is that of premarital flirtation, sexual union independent of marriage, or elopement. The emphasis in both sanctuaries is not on marriage but on sexuality, and although Lebessi and Marinatos agree that marriage is presupposed in the future, it is beyond the scope of concerns present at Syme or Locri.

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Fig. 6. Syme, clay plaque depicting a goddess (?) opening her robe. (HM 20037, Syme Excavation Archive). Drawing by A. Hollmann after Lebessi, 2009, 530.

Although it is undeniably sexual, the role of the erotic goddess at Syme is open to some discussion. Lebessi believes that she perhaps had a priestess and was worshipped by women transitioning to sexuality. Marinatos, by contrast, sees the power of Aphrodite at Syme as directed at young males, the same youths that hunted and feasted in the sanctuary. Her role, on this view, has to do with initiating men, rather then women, into sexual life. She writes: “The naked woman on the plaque may not be showing Aphrodite herself. Rather, the invitation to the


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sexual act may be construed as a statement of the completion of sexual initiation”.102 There is, of course, no contradiction between these two roles, and Marinatos’ suggestion seems persuasive if only because it is hard to imagine that the presence of an erotic goddess at a sanctuary where young males celebrate their passage to adulthood had nothing to do with that celebration. With this in mind, I would like to turn to an episode in the Odyssey that has nothing to do with Crete, but which, I submit, exhibits a nexus of ideas and actions that is reminiscent of Kato Syme: on Circe’s island, Odysseus kills a deer, feeds his men, and has sex with an erotic divine figure. This episode has attracted much scholarly attention, and the deer, inhabiting as it does a magical island and being unusually large, has been understood as a transformed human, or a magical animal.103 Scodel has focused, illuminatingly, on the deer as food, arguing that Odysseus’ ability to provide meat for his men is essential to his position as their leader.104 The parallels with Syme confirm this and allow us to go a little further. On Circe’s island, as at Kato Syme, there is no sacrifice of domesticated animals, but hunting and feasting are at the center of attention: once Odysseus brings the deer, he and his men feast until sunset (Od. 10.181 – 184): aqt±q 1pe· t²qpgsam bq¾lemoi avhaklo?si, we?qar mix²lemoi te¼womt’ 1qijud´a da?ta. ¤r tºte l³m pqºpam Glaq 1r A´kiom jatad¼mta Fleha daim¼lemoi jq´a t’ %speta ja· l´hu Bd¼.

When they had feasted their eyes on the sight they washed their hands and prepared a glorious meal. So the whole day long till sundown we sat down to a feast of unlimited meat and mellow wine. (Transl. C.H. Rieu)

The youths at Kato Syme carry bound animals. This carrying is important because it is a feat of strength that signals full attainment of their adult powers. In the Odyssey, there is a lavish description of how exactly Odysseus makes a rope and ties the deer up, and how he carries it on his neck, leaning on a spear, just like the youth on the Syme plaque (Od. 10.164 – 171): 102 Marinatos 2003, 147. 103 Roessel 1989, 31 – 36, Birge 1993, 17 – 28, Alexander 1991, 520 – 524, Schmoll 1987, 22 – 28. 104 Scodel 1994, 530 – 534.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim


t` d’ 1c½ 1lba¸mym dºqu w²kjeom 1n ¡teik/r eQqus²lgm7 t¹ l³m awhi jatajk¸mar 1p· ca¸, eUas’7 aqt±q 1c½ spas²lgm N_p²r te k¼cour te, pe?sla d’ fsom t’ eqcuiam 1{stqev³r !lvot´qyhem pken²lemor sum´dgsa pºdar deimo?o pek¾qou, b/m d³ jatakkov²dia v´qym 1p· m/a l´kaimam, 5cwei 1qeidºlemor, 1pe· ou pyr Gem 1p’ ¥lou weiq· v´qeim 2t´q,7 l²ka c±q l´ca hgq¸om Gem.

With one foot on his carcass I dragged the bronze spear out of the wound, laid it on the ground, and left it there while I broke off creepers and shoots from undergrowth and willows, which I twisted into a fathom’s length of rope carefully plaited from end to end. With this I tied the monster’s feet together, and slinging him round my neck, I made for the ship, using my spear as staff. I could not possible have balanced him on one shoulder with my free hand – he was a massive brute. (Transl. C.H. Rieu)

Odysseus (who, of course, narrates this episode to the Phaeacians) specifically mentions that the stag has to be carried in this way because it is too large to be transported “on the shoulder holding with one hand”. Spear instead of bow, and the Panhellenic deer instead of Cretan agrimia is all that separates Odysseus from the youths at Kato Syme. Why is so much attention paid to the conveyance of this deer? I suggest it is because Odysseus, just like the youths at Kato Syme, is undergoing a rite of passage, and carrying this deer is his feat of strength, a demonstration of his virility. It may be objected that Odysseus has long since grown his beard and that he is not a young man transitioning to adulthood, but the father of such a youth. This, however, is true only in part. It is not a new idea that Odysseus is indeed undergoing a rite of passage, reliving on a grand scale the sequence of events that culminated in his becoming the king of Ithaca in the first place: departure from home, life in the wilderness, hunting and war, and competition for his wife.105 Like Hermes, Odysseus is both an older male and a youth, bearded and beardless. By hunting on Circe’s island Odysseus sets himself up not only as a leader of his men but as the only one of them who will indeed make the transition back to civilization, adulthood and marriage. On Circe’s island Odysseus is the only one to succeed at hunting, and also the only one to succeed in extra-marital sex, and that brings to mind the provocative female on the Syme plaques. Like her, Circe is

105 For a more detailed discussion of this subject, see Levaniouk 2011, 56 – 81.


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a figure of “initiation to sex”, and as soon as she surmises who Odysseus is she invites him to bed (Od. 10.333 – 335): !kk’ %ce dµ joke` l³m %oq h´o, m_z d’ 5peita eqm/r Blet´qgr 1pib¶olem, evqa lic´mte eqm0 ja· vikºtgti pepo¸holem !kk¶koisim.

But now put up your sword and come with me to my bed, so that in making love we may learn to trust one another (Transl. C.H. Rieu)

It is, of course, in this episode that Hermes appears to Odysseus in person, meeting him in the woods. In this scene the god looks like a youth growing his first beard (Od. 10.277 – 279): 5mha loi :qle¸ar wqusºqqapir !mtebºkgsem 1qwol´m\ pq¹r d_la, megm¸, !mdq· 1oij¾r, pq_tom rpgm¶t,, toO peq waqiest²tg Fbg.

When I met Hermes, god of the golden wand, looking like a young man at that most charming age when the beard first starts to grow. (Transl. C.H. Rieu)

Incidentally, deep woods are mentioned repeatedly in the description of Circe’s island (e. g. Od. 10.150: di± dqul± pujm± ja· vkgm) just as they seem to have been important at Kato Syme, where Hermes was worshipped as Cedrites.106 It seems that at Kato Syme young men gathered, under the guidance of older males, in a wooded and remote location, hunted, carried back their prey to prove their strength, and feasted, sustaining themselves by their hunt. It is also in this setting that they were introduced to dangerous and seductive female sexuality. Hermes is the god who has the power over these young men and to whom the sanctuary is dedicated. In the Odyssey, a very similar nexus of themes is enacted in the Circe episode. Here too young men find themselves in a wooded and remote place, a place of dangerous female sexuality, where they have to sustain themselves by hunting. Unlike his companions, who are destined to perish, Odysseus performs a sequence of actions highly reminiscent of Kato Syme and eventually goes on to compete and win against the youths (not the kings) of Phaeacia and the youths (not the kings) of Ithaca. It is, needless to say, impossible to argue that the Odyssey is directly connected to Kato Syme. Rather, there is a current of Odyssean poetics that would resonate well with those who frequented Syme, just as a different current would resonate with the visitors to Amnisos. The pres106 Lebessi 1985, 73 n. 83.

Oq wq~leha to?r nemijo?r poi^lasim


ence of Cretan poetics in the Odyssey may be impossible to demonstrate with certainty, but it should not be a priori dismissed. Indeed, it would be surprising if the Odyssean tradition were insulated from the influence of Cretan poetry. During the Archaic period, at a time when both the Odyssey and Cretan poetry seem to have flourished particularly, contacts are to be expected. It may be hard for us to reconstruct and perhaps to believe the richness and fluidity of epic and near-epic poetry that must have been performed in Greece in this period. Burgess has suggested that already by the 5th century this fluidity has hardened and narrowed to “a few epics and a few poets” so that “Greeks of the Classical age had little sense of the multifarious nature of epic in the past”.107 We, in turn, being left with suggestive traces, hypothetical reconstructions and uncertain probabilities, have much less than the Classical Greeks could have known. Nevertheless, I fully agree with Burgess’ assertion that “when we think of the early Greek epic tradition, we need to move beyond the limited number of epics that we now possess”.108 For several centuries Homeric poems existed in an environment rich with other epic poetry, and Cretan poetry was part of it. Archaic Cretan poetry is, for all practical purposes, lost, and the few fragments dubiously ascribed to Epimenides and Thaletas cannot do much to alter this fact, but its existence, concerns, influence, and even something of its poetics may still be detectable in the Odyssey.

107 Burgess 2009, 4. 108 Burgess 2009, 4.

Part IV: Language and Formulas

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad A. C. Cassio 1. At the very beginning of Euripides’ Hippolytos the goddess Aphrodite appears on stage and presents herself as he± J}pqir.1 This is hardly surprising: in Greek tragedy J}pqir is just a convenient metrical variant of )vqod_tg – as a matter of fact, far more convenient, and as a consequence far more frequent. But early epic poetry is a different story. In contrast to what happens in 5th-century tragedy, and in spite of enormous metrical convenience, J}pqir is extremely rare in early hexameter poetry, whereas )vqod_tg is ubiquitous. In Homer J}pqir is attested only five times in Iliad 5 (330: d d³ J}pqim 1p~iweto mgk]z wakj_i, 422: G l\ka d^ tima J}pqir )waiz\dym !mie?sa jtk., 458 = 883: J}pqida l³m pq_ta swed¹m outase we?q’ 1p· jaqp_i/, 760: t]qpomtai J}pq_r te ja· !qcuq|tonor )p|kkym): just five instances in one book out of 48. In what we possess of early hexameter poetry only two more attestations of J}pqir can be found: Hymn. Hom. 5.1ff.: LoOs\ loi 5mmepe 5qca pokuwq}sou )vqod_tgr / J}pqidor and [Hes.] fr. 124 (M.–W.) = 44 (Hirschberger): mosvid_ym 5qcym p]qi J}pqidor. Note that J}pqir has no formulas and in Homer the name is invariably placed in the first hemistich of the hexameter, in contrast to )vqod_tg and Juh]qeia, who are almost invariably placed at the very end (vikolleidµr )vqod_tg, 1ust]vamor Juh]qeia). In this paper I shall deal with the early history of J}pqir and Juh]qeia. They are no epithets of )vqod_tg, but independent names of the Goddess of Love, and their success in Greek poetry is certainly linked to the so-called Orientalizing period, from about 730 to 650 BC, when Greece was overrun by artifacts of Cypriot and Syro-Palaestinian origin, as well as by oriental cults and myths, again mediated by Cyprus and Phoenicia.2 In this context I shall also discuss some usually neglected features of Iliad 5. 1 2

Eur. Hipp. 2 he± j]jkglai J}pqir. The bibliography on this subject is enormous; see e. g. Burkert 1992; Murray 19932.


A. C. Cassio

2. The number of books and articles devoted to Aphrodite, her name and the introduction of her cult into Greece is impressive;3 I shall emphasize only a couple of points that are relevant to my issue. The name of Aphrodite is absent from Linear B texts – something that is probably not due to chance, in the sense that many scholars suspect that the name was created in post-Mycenaean times and opt for a Semitic etymology.4 On Cyprus a Goddess of Love was worshipped in numerous places, especially at Paphos, from time immemorial, but the name )vqod_tg does not appear in Cypriot inscriptions before the 4th century BC; she was traditionally called F\massa, “the Lady” at Paphos,5 Pav_a at Chytroi and Golgoi, Cokc_a at Idalion and Arsos, Jupq_a at Amathous.6 After the 9th century BC the Cypriot cults were deeply influnced by the Phoenician cult of Astarte; Herodotus tells us that the cults in Cyprus and Kythera derived from that of Askalon, immediately north of Gaza.7 There has always been close contact between south-eastern Asia Minor, Palaestine and Cyprus, an island enormously prosperous thanks to the mining, smelting and trading of copper. Exchange of raw materials and artefacts between Cyprus and continental Greece is certainly very old (suffice it to mention the 12th century Cypriot bronze amphora found in the grave of the so-called ‘hero of Lefkandi’ in Euboea) 8 but Homer is a different story: one has the impression that in the Homeric text the presence of the Cypriot world is both evanescent and late. Again a full discussion is impossible, but mention should be made at least of a passage in Iliad 11, in which the king of Paphos, Cinyras, sends a richly decorated breastplate as a gift to Agamemnon on hearing of the preparations for the Trojan expedition.9 There is much

3 4 5 6 7

8 9

The modern standard work on Aphrodite is Pirenne-Delforge 1994. West 2000. Masson 21983, 103, no. 6 (Paphos) o-i-e-re-u-se ta-se wa-na-sa-se = b Reqe»r t÷r Fam\ssar. Hermary – Masson 1982. Hdt. 1.105: =sti d³ toOto t¹ Rqºm (scil. Oqqam_gr )vqod_tgr 1m )sj\kymi), ¢r 1c½ pumhamºlemor erq¸sjy, p²mtym !qwaiºtatom Rq_m fsa ta¼tgr t/r heoO7 ja· c±q t¹ 1m J¼pq\ Rq¹m 1mheOtem 1c´meto, ¢r aqto· J¼pqioi k´cousi, ja· t¹ 1m Juh¶qoisi Vo¸mij´r eQs· oR Rdqus²lemoi 1j ta¼tgr t/r Suq¸gr 1ºmter. “Sekundäre Umformung unter phönikischem Einfluss” (Burkert 1977, 240). See also Bonnet 1996. Popham 1994. Hom. Il. 11.19ff. (Agamemnon): de}teqom aw h~qgja peq· st^hessim 5dume / t|m pot] oR Jim}qgr d_je neim^zom eWmai… / toO dû Etoi d]ja oWloi 5sam l]kamor

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad


to be said in favour of Martin West’s interpetation of the lines. The king of Paphos, says West, “is not a man of arms and does not belong to the world of Agamemnon. The poet has introduced him gratuitously, presumably to humour Cypriot friends with the suggestion that although poetic traditon allowed their ancient king no part in the Trojan war, he did at least take a benevolent interest in it from afar”. Personal friends of the poet may, or may not, have been involved, but in any case the story of Cinyras’ gift was invented at a very late stage in order to give at least a minor role in the Trojan war to an important island that had nothing to do with it and could no longer be ignored in the Orientalizing Period, also because at that time epic poetry was becoming more and more popular in Cyprus, which prepared the ground for the composition of the J}pqia 5pg (which certainly means “the poem from Cyprus”10) and the Cypriot edition of Homer – B Jupq_a 5jdosir. In recent times an Italian specialist in ancient metallurgy has shown that Cinyras’ breastplate bears clear resembrance to Cypriot artefacts of the 8th and 7th centuries BC (D’Acunto 2009, 157ff.). 3. Let us now turn our attention to Juh]qeia, first attested twice in the Odyssey (8.288, 18.193), then in Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Theognis, and almost invariably accompanied by the epithet 1ust]vamor11. There are numerous indications that Juh]qeia is “a late additon to the resources of the Kunstsprache”;12 the epithet 1ust]vamor for a goddess is found only once in the Iliad (21.511) but becomes more and more frequent in the Odyssey, Hesiod and the Hymns. The second member of ju\moio / d~deja d³ wquso?o ja· eUjosi jassit]qoio, / ju\meoi d³ dq\jomter aqyq]wato pqot· deiqµm jtk. 10 According to Graziosi 2002, 188f. the J}pqia 5pg “should be linked to the

main goddess of the poem [sc. Aphrodite] who, as everybody knows, did come from Cyprus”; yet J}pqia 5pg can only mean “the Cypriot poem” or “the poem from Cyprus”, not the “poem of Cypris”, pace Graziosi 189 n. 68 (cf. Leumann 1950, 273; Burkert 1992, 207 n. 10; Richardson 1991, 124). Moreover, many ancient sources name the Cypriot Stasinus (often explicitly called Stas?mor b J}pqior) as the author of this poem, and the name has actually been found in a Cypriot syllabic inscription (Masson 21983, no. 371): “Stas?mor est rare … mais déja connu pour le poète cyclique Stasinos, sans doute un chypriote vivant au VII siècle” (Masson 1983, 355). 11 A variant Qost]vamor K. is found in the ms. tradition of two Homeric hymns (5.175 and 6.18) “apparently… a minor variation of the formula 1ust]vamor Juh]qeia” (Dickmann – Boedeker 1974, 22). 12 Hainsworth 1988, 365 (ad Od. 8.288).


A. C. Cassio

the compound, -st]vamor, probably refers to a polos or crown, which implies increasing familiarity with cult statues (the use of wqusost]vamor in Hesiod and the Hymns is unequivocal); again this seems to point to a chronological level of the 8th/7th century BC.13 The traditional view (first attested in Hes. Th. 198) that Juh]qeia is etymologically linked to the island of J}hgqa has been challenged from many quarters, especially because in the name of the island the second syllable is long, while in Juh]qeia it is short. Wilamowitz was not especially upset and the link between Juh]qeia and J}hgqa was accepted by the authors of the two standard etymological dictionaries of the ancient Greek language;14 however, others have found the shortening improbable, and Semitic etymologies have been put forward: for instance, Burkert15 interprets Juh]qeia as “Goddess of Incense”16, while West17 prefers to interpret the name as that of the feminine partner of Kothar, the Ugaritic smith-god. If a Semitic etymology is accepted, the etymological connection with J}hgqa must be secondary. In any case, an important point deserves to be emphasized since it is often neglected: whatever the etymology, it has long been understood that the underlying model of Juh]qeia is eqpat]qeia,18 an epic adjective meaning ‘daughter of a noble father’. Eqpat]qeia has two notable features: it is invariably placed at the end of a hexameter (e. g. Od. 22.227 !lvû :k]mgi keujyk]myi eqpateqe_gi), precisely like Juh]qeia in Homer, and is universally regarded as an artificial formation; the authentic form was eqp\teiqa19 from *-pater-ja found in the personal name Jakkip\teiqa (Pausan 5.6, 7ff. etc.) and in the couplet that concluded many Menandrean comedies.20 Eqpat]qeia was created by means of a ready-made -eia21 of completely different origin, also found in the artificial endings of e. g. )stu|weia, 13 Cassio 1994, 60 – 63. 14 “Die Form Juh]qeia erzwang der Vers” (Wilamowitz 1931, 93 n. 2); accepted by Chantraine 1968, 596 f. and Frisk 1973, 2.43. 15 1992, 190. 16 By comparing Hebrew mequtteret “filled with fragrance”. 17 1997, 57. 18 Frisk 1973, 2.43. 19 “On attend eqp\teiqa” ( Bader 1969, 28 n. 80). 20 E.g. Dysc. 968f. B dû eqp\teiqa vik|cek~r te paqh]mor M_jg lehû Bl_m eqlemµr 6poitû !e_. 21 Originally the outcome of *–esja (Risch 1974, 137).

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad


dusaqistot|jeia, Eqq~peia.22 In short, whatever the origins of the root, Juh]qeia is an artificial bardic creation meant to supersede such old formulas as vikolleidµr )vqod_tg ; it is inseparable from epithets containing -st]vamor and allows an irreproachable inflection of the formula: 1ust]vamor Juh]qeia (Hes. Th. 1008), 1ustev\mou Juheqe_gr (Hom h. 5.175), 1ustev\myi Juheqe_gi (Hom. h. 5.287), 1ust]vamom Juh]qeiam

(Hes. Th. 196). It gives the impression of something devised by epic bards so to speak in cold blood, and at a late stage; it was a success story in post-homeric hexameters and elegiacs. An indication that Juh]qeia was perceived as an artificial form expressely created for hexameter poetry comes from the rarity of this name in tragedy and lyric poetry23. 4. If Juh]qeia strikes one as artificial, J}pqir looks like exactly the opposite. Let us quickly review some basic points. (a) J}pqir is nothing but one of the numerous Greek feminine nouns or adjectives in –ir based on names of regions or islands, like e. g. :kkgm_r, AQtyk_r, Kesb_r, Kojq_r ; as a consequence, the meaning is extremely banal: ‘the one from Cyprus’ in the feminine. Yet in this kind of nouns derived from place names the accent invariably falls on the last syllable, which seems to be an old and Panhellenic phenomenon;24 as a consequence we expect *Jupq_r, not J}pqir. This is by no means a trifling problem and must be explained. Three explanations have been offered: Aeolic barytonesis,25 “Eigennamenakzent”,26 cultic invocation with recessive accent.27 (b) J}pqir reminds one of the various goddesses called after their place of worship – Yda_a, Dimdul^mg, Sipukgm^, Pessimoumt_r etc., and is unique also because in Homer the gods are almost never called after their place of abode (e. g. Poseidon is called :kij~mior %man only once, Il. 20.404). That Homer almost never used divine names derived from place names had already been observed by Apollodorus of Athens (FGrHist 244 F 353). 22 Risch 1974, 137. 23 E. g. it is found only once in Sophocles (fr. 847 Radt) and Aeschylus (Suppl. 1032). 24 Schwyzer 1939, 464 ff. 25 Wackernagel 1914, 109 = 1953, 1166. 26 Schwyzer 1939, 385. 27 Risch 1974, 142 n. 127.


A. C. Cassio

(c) As we have seen, J}pqir is extremely rare not only in Homer but in early hexameter poetry at large: in the Homeric Hymns )vqod_tg is attested nineteen times, J}pqir only once. This rarity is striking in view of the enormous metrical convenience of the name – two syllables easily adaptable to any hexameter. (d) In contrast to Aphrodite and Kythereia J}pqir has no epithets, and in archaic hexameters it is never placed in the two last feet of the line. It would have been very easy for an oral poet to fit Kypris into the so-called epic adonius, and so to create formulaic expressions like e. g. *p|tmia J}pqir, *J}pqidi d_gi, *J}pqida d?am, but it was never done. In the Cambridge commentary to the Iliad Kirk has a long discussion of this oddity; he thinks that “Aphrodite’s connection with Paphos and Cyprus was probably available to any singer in the formative stage of the Trojan epic”, and in his opinion Kypris appears exclusively in the first hemistich “for reasons of emphasis and sentence- structure”. Fortunately enough, he is the first to realize the weakness of this explanation, since it is far from clear why reasons of emphasis should be invoked exclusively for one Book out of forty-eight (Kirk 1990, 94f.) (e) And lastly, since the name is so banal – “the one from Cyprus” – it is surprising that J}pqir is almost exclusively found in poetry; it never managed to oust )vqod_tg from prose texts. If we want to understand something more about J}pqir we ought to look more closely at Iliad 5, which is the core of the Diol^dour !qiste_a and shows a number of unique features; Lorimer28 rightly called it “a book of many singularities”. I append a (far from complete) list of characters or features that are not found elsewhere in Homer: 1) A mortal, Diomedes, wounds a goddess, Aphrodite; 2) Qw~q, the special blood of the gods,29 is mentioned twice (340 and 416); 3) Aphrodite is called J}pqir ; 4) Dione appears as Aphrodite’s mother; 5) 9mu~, the goddess of war, is mentioned twice (333, 592: the name is probably a feminine Kurzname of the war-god Enyalios, who is already attested in Linear B);30 28 1950, 441. 29 Jouanna – Demont 1981. 30 Dunkel 1988 – 1990, 14.

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad


6) Stentor, the man provided with a portentous voice (whence ‘stentorian voice’, ‘voix de stentor’, ‘voce stentorea’) makes an appearance at 785 and only there; 7) there is mention of the adyton of a temple (448, 512); the whole episode of Aeneas healed by Leto and Artemis 1m lec\kyi !d}tyi (448) is “unique and striking”.31 8) at line 898 Oqqam_ymer does not mean ‘gods’ as elsewhere in Homer, but ‘Titans’ (which is after all the correct meaning of Oqqam_ymer as patronymic, ‘sons of Ouranos’). Moreover, it has long been noticed that the Iliad 5 is also characterised by some “fairy tale features” (“märchenhafte Züge”) that are otherwise unknown to Homer: 449ff. Apollo constructs an eido¯lon of Aeneias, 845 Athena puts Hades’ cap on her head to become invisible, 355 Ares leans a spear on a cloud (on which, absurdly enough, his horses are leaning, too, A]qi dû 5cwor 1j]jkito ja· taw]û Vppy). The Book is also full of linguistically late or artificial features, e. g. the crasis yqt|r (396), Tqyi\r … st_war (461), bss\tiom (758), f¾r for fy|r (887), and especially tqe?m lû oqj 1÷i [probably 5ñ] Pakk±r )h^mg (256), masterfully discussed by Nussbaum.32 5. One of the most striking features of Iliad 5 is the wounding of Aphrodite by Diomedes allied with Athena. The strong link between Diomedes and Athena can easily be traced to the city of Argos in the Peloponnese, but Cypriot connections have long been suspected, especially because of a passage in Porphyry where mention is made of a human sacrifice performed in the month Aphrodisios in honour of Diomedes at Salamis in Cyprus, in the common peribolos of Athena, Agraulos and Diomedes.33 31 Kirk 1990, 107. 32 1998, 60ff. On the striking linguistic peculiarities of this book, see especially Shipp 1972, 245 – 254; Kirk 1990 passim; West 2001, 190 – 195. 33 Porphyr. de abstinentia 2. 54: 1m d³ t/i mOm Sakal?mi, pq|teqom d³ Joqym_di amolafol]mgi, lgm· jat± Jupq_our )vqodis_yi 1h}eto %mhqypor t/i )cqa}kyi t/i J]jqopor ja· m}lvgr )cqauk_dor. ja· di]leme t¹ 5hor %wqi t_m Diol^dour wq|mym· eWta let]bakem, ¦ste t_i Diol^dei t¹m %mhqypom h}eshai· rvû 6ma d³ peq_bokom f te t/r )hgm÷r me½r ja· b t/r )cqa}kou ja· Diol^dour. b d³ svaciaf|lemor rp¹ t_m 1v^bym !c|lemor tq·r peqi]hei t¹m byl|m· 5peita b Reqe»r aqt¹m k|cwgi 5paiem jat± toO stol\wou, ja· ovtyr aqt¹m 1p· tµm mgshe?sam puq±m ¢koja}tifem.


A. C. Cassio

Andersen34 speaks of “a sacrificial ritual … linking Diomedes, Athena and Aphrodite”; and according to Burkert35 “we find Diomedes, Athena and Aphrodite in strange company combined with spear-killing”. Yet it is unlikely that Aphrodite was in any possible way involved in this cruel ritual at an early stage, since the month Aphrodisios was introduced into Cyprus by the emperor Augustus ca. 15 BC.36 In any case, it is clear that the link between Athena and Diomedes was as strong in Cypriot Salamis as it was in Peloponnesian Argos. Among the many unique features of Iliad 5 one of the most striking is certainly Dione, the lady who has the role of Aphrodite’s mother and, so to speak, ‘temporary’ wife of Zeus. After being wounded by Diomedes, Aphrodite goes up to Heaven and complains to Zeus and Dione about being maltreated by a mortal; then she is consoled by Dione in a long speech full of mythical examples, and her wound is tended. More than a century ago the German scholar Fries (1903) realized that this scene bore an impressive similarity to a scene in the Gilgamesh poem where Gilgamesh, a mortal, enrages Ishtar, the Goddess of Love, by rejecting her offer of marriage; Ishtar goes up to heaven and weeps before Anu, her father, and Antu, her mother. The importance of this parallel has rightly been emphasized in recent times by Burkert and West; the latter says “Aphrodite is equivalent of Ishtar, the love goddess. Her father Zeus corresponds to Ishtar’s father Anu, the sky god. The name of her mother, Dione, mentioned only here in Homer, is etymologically the feminine counterpart of Zeus, precisely as Antu is the feminine counterpart of Anu, ‘Mrs. Sky’”.37 Burkert38 remarks that “Homer proves to be dependent on Gilgamesh even at the linguistic level, forming the name Dione as a calque on Antu”. Note that we find Dione in Philo of Byblus’ account of Sanchuniathon’s Phoenician History, where she is the Greek interpretation of Ba‘alat, the wife of Ba‘al.39 34 35 36 37

1997, 28. 1992, 98. Hughes 1991, 238 n. 157. West 1997, 361ff. Di~mg is the Ionic outcome of an earlier *DiF-~ma– , where DiF- is the zero grade of the root of Fe}r and –ymò is a suffix made up of IndoEuropean ingredients, discussed at length by Dunkel 1988 – 90, 21 – 26. 38 1992, 97f. 39 Philo of Byblos FGrHist 790 F 2 (35) b Jq|mor B}bkom l³m tµm p|kim he÷i Ba\ktidi, t/i ja· Di~mgi, d_dysi.

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad


As a matter of fact it is important to note that Kypris and Dione are not just unique as personal names; the typology of their names is also unique, one goddess being named after her husband and the other after an island, something impossible to find elsewhere in Homer. 6. One of the main differences between Homer’s narrative and that of Gilgamesh is that in the latter poem the goddess Antu remains silent, while in Homer Dione plays an important role, as she delivers a long consolatory speech by listing three instances in which gods were maltreated by mortals. They are, again, unique stories, clearly based on either tales or oral poems that must have circulated when the lines in question were composed. Only the second and third example are really appropriate, since there Hera and Hades are wounded; the first one is very different, since it tells a story about the god Ares bound fast (d]deto) and imprisoned for thirteen months in a bronze jug (wakj´\ dû 1m jeq²l\) by two giants, Otos and Ephialtes; Ares would have risked to die in the jug (ja¸ m¼ jem 5mhû !pºkoito) if Hermes had not saved his life in the nick of time. I append the text (Il. 5.381 – 391). Tµm dû Ale¸betû 5peita Di¾mg, d?a he²ym7 t´tkahi t´jmom 1lºm, ja· !m²sweo jgdol´mg peq7 pokko· c±q dµ tk/lem ik¼lpia d¾latû 5womter 1n !mdq_m wak´pû %kce’ 1pû !kk¶koisi tih´mter. tk/ l³m -qgr fte lim ¯tor jqateqºr tû 9vi²ktgr pa?der )ky/or, d/sam jqateq` 1m· desl`7 wakj´\ dû 1m jeq²l\ d´deto tqisja¸deja l/mar7 ja¸ m¼ jem 5mhû !pºkoito -qgr ütor pok´loio, eQ lµ lgtquiµ peqijakkµr Ieq¸boia :ql´ô 1n¶cceikem7 d dû 1n´jkexem -qga Edg teiqºlemom, wakep¹r d´ 2 desl¹r 1d²lma.

Then Dione the shining among divinities answered her: ‘Have patience, my child, and endure it, though you be saddened. For many of us who have our homes on Olympos endure things from men, when ourselves we inflict hard pain on each other. Ares had to endure it when strong Ephialtes and Otos, sons of Aloeus, chained him in bonds that were too strong for him, and three months and ten he lay chained in the brazen cauldron; and now mighty Ares, insatiable in fighting, would have perished, had not Eëriboia, their stepmother, the surpassingly lovely, brought word to Hermes, who stole Ares away out of it as he was growing faint and the hard bondage was breaking him’.

In the lines pronounced by Dione a number of interesting points deserve some attention. To begin with, various ancient sources inform


A. C. Cassio

us that j]qalor was a Cypriot word for ‘jail’.40 It was pointed out by Harmatta and further discussed by Fauth41 and West42 that a jug is a punishment for rebellious slaves in the Hittite world, and in Hittite rituals we encounter bronze cauldrons of the underworld into which everything disappears forever. The connections with Cyprus and Anatolia are evident, and an important point seems to have escaped notice: not only does Ares belong to the well-known category of the ‘gods in fetters’ (‘gefesselte Götter’) studied by Meuli43 and Merkelbach,44 but shows close affinity with a class of gods in fetters of Mesopotamian mythology who risk to die (‘die vom Tode bedrohten gefesselten Götter’) and are saved by men.45 This point deserves some attention, since in two passages of the Iliad (5.886, 15.115) Ares hints at the possibility of his own death. 46 And there is more. In the Homeric text the reason why Ares was imprisoned by the two giants is not explained. In compensation we are told how Ares managed to save his bacon: Eeriboia, the stepmother of the two giants, apparently out of the inevitable hatred of a stepmother for her stepsons, informed Hermes of Ares’ predicament, and at last Ares was set free. It is the exegetical scholia on these lines that tell us at the same time why Ares was imprisoned and why Dione says nothing on this point. )vqod_tg has fallen in love with Adonis, son of Cinyras, the mythical king of Paphos; Aphrodite is afraid that Ares might do harm to her beloved Adonis out of jealousy, and entrusts the protection of Adonis to Otos and Ephialtes. Ares manages to kill Adonis while the latter is hunting in Lebanon. In revenge, Otos and Ephialtes imprison Ares.47 40 Sch. Genav. ad Hom. Il. 5.387: oR J}pqioi j]qalom jakoOsi t¹ deslyt^qiom, Sch. D ad eund. loc. oR c±q J}pqioi t¹ deslyt^qiom j]qalom jakoOsi, Eustath. ad loc. 41 1974. 42 1997, 362ff. 43 1975. 44 1996. 45 Haas 1994, 177. 46 Il. 5.886 is ambiguous, but 15.117f. very clear: eU p]q loi ja· lo?qa Di¹r pkgc]mti jeqaum_i / je?shai bloO mej}essi lehû aVlati ja· jom_gisim. 47 Sch. in Hom. Il. 5. 385 (exeg.): )d~midor toO Jim}qou 1qashe?sa )vqod_tg ja· t¹m vh|mom rvoqyl]mg paq]heto to?r peq· ¯tom ja· 9vi\ktgm, oT h]sei l³m Gsam )ky]yr, v}sei d³ Poseid_mor ja· Yvilede_ar. toOtom hgqoketoOmta 1m t_i Kib\myi t/r )qab_ar !maiqe? -qgr. oR d³ aqcish]mter 1p· tqisja_deja l/mar !pojke_samter t¹m -qea eWwom 1m eRqjt/i. B d³ to}tym lgtqui± Ieq_boia, B Eqqul\wou toO :qloO, !p]cceikem :ql/i. b d³ ja· ta}tgi waqif|lemor ja· t/i

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad


The story told in the exegetical scholia has sometimes been regarded as a Hellenistic fabrication, but was rightly defended by Kullmann,48 since it perfectly explains the reason for Dione’ silence on the motive of Ares’ imprisonment: Dione knows perfectly well that Ares’ troubles were caused by Aphrodite herself. In other words: Dione is trying to console the goddess Aphrodite, mistreated by a mortal, with the story of the god Ares mistreated by two mortals, Otos and Ephialtes. But these mortals acted on the orders of that very Aphrodite who is now being consoled of being mistreated by a mortal. Dione is obviously silent about the motive for Ares’ mistreatment, because she knows all too well that it was caused by the very Aphrodite she is trying to console! The whole story evidently presupposes contacts with the Near East: Ares kills Adonis, the son of the king of Paphos, in Lebanon, and risks to die, precisely like the ‘gods in fetters’, in a bronze jug strangely reminiscent of the bronze jugs of the Hittite Underworld. Harmatta49 is probably right in saying that j]qalor meant prison in the Cypriot dialect because this type of punishment was imported into Cyprus from Anatolia; the Greeks found it when they arrived in Cyprus and went on using j]qalor even for later prisons of a conventional type. It is interesting to note that the Cypriots must have been familiar with at least one of the giants who imprisoned Ares: in Cyprus there was a district whose inhabitants were called ©tie?r, a name that can be traced back to an ancestor ¯tor precisely as the Dyqie?r claimed to descend from an ancestor D_qor.50 Aphrodite called J}pqir, her complaint in heaven and the story of Ares and the Aloadae presuppose a poet with remarkable knowledge of stories or poetic compositions strongly influenced by near Eastern myths, probably mediated by Cyprus in the Orientalizing period. 7. In sum, both Juh]qeia and J}pqir have important lessons to teach. Their presence in Homer is very limited, but for completely different Nqai jk]ptei t¹m -qea. b d³ vuc½m Gjem eQr M\nom ja· jat]jquxem 2aut¹m eQr tµm sidgqobq_tim jakoul]mgm p]tqam [the Naxos emery quarries!]. See Hirsch-

berger 2004, 198f. 48 1956, 13. 49 1968, 61. 50 Steph. Byz. 713, 8ff. Meineke ©tie?r, lo?qa Jupq_ym. =voqor ih )laho}sioi d³ ja· S|kioi ja· ©tie?r !mt]womter 5ti t_i pok]lyi (Ephor. FGrHist 70 F 76). “Die Verknüpfung der Aloaden mit der Adonissage weist nach Kypros, wo Steph. Byz. ©tie?r, lo?qa Jupq_ym erwähnt” (Toepffer 1894, 1591f.).


A. C. Cassio

reasons. 9ust]vamor Juh]qeia is an artificial construct expressely created for hexameter poetry, presumably in the Orientalizing period, as a ‘modern’ variation of the traditional vikolleidµr )vqod_tg, a variation that mentioned the st]vamor of the goddess and was easily adaptable to all grammatical cases. So Juh]qeia was indissolubly linked from the start to hexameter poetry and elegiacs, and this is why it is very rare in tragedy and lyric poetry, as I said above. J}pqir is a completely different story. J}pqir began her career as the specific name of the Great Goddess of Cyprus. There is nothing linguistically recent in the name; the commercial contacts of Cyprus with continental Greece and Asia Minor are extremely ancient (remember that Cyprus was the main source of copper in the Mediterranean), and a goddess of Love and fertility was worshipped in Cyprus from time immemorial. However, the Cypriot cult is likely to have become popular in Greece in a shape already deeply influenced by the Phoenician Astarte, probably from the 9th century BC onwards. As we have seen, for whatever reason the epic poets seem to have kept clear of Cyprus, until in the Orientalizing period it became impossible to ignore the island, its artefacts and its cultural traditions; the story of the breastplate presented by Cinyras king of Paphos to Agamemnon is highly significant. At some point the link between Aphrodite and Cyprus became indissoluble: in Odyssey 8, as well as in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite (5), the goddess has a temenos in Paphos and makes her toilet there. When the Homeric episode with Aphrodite and Dione was being composed, the name J}pqir may have been in circulation for some time, but apparently only a poet with special links to Cyprus and the East was bold enough to introduce the name J}pqir into an epic composition – one, as it happens, full of singularities and linguistically late features. To my mind Iliad 5 is likely to be based on an independent composition by a poet chronologically very close to the so-called monumental poet. That J}pqir belongs to a ‘special narrative’ of the Iliad, and a late one at that, is confirmed by the fact that it is found only in a very small section of the poems: otherwise J}pqir would have been pervasive in Homer due to the enormous metrical convenience of this name. 8. Since Kypris has a very simple and banal meaning, ‘the Cypriot Goddess’, theoretically one would expect to find the name in poetry as well as in prose. However, it is never used in prose texts, unless they explain

Kypris, Kythereia and the Fifth Book of the Iliad


poetry; at the same time it is very rare in early hexameter poetry, where it has no epithets and no formulas. No certainties on this point are attainable, but I should like to put forward a suggestion, for what it may be worth: namely, that the first literary – and musical – genre into which J}pqir penetrated was lyric poetry. We often think of epic as chronologically earlier than lyric compositions, but Homer is notoriously rich in allusions to various lyric genres, like the Paian, the Dirge, the Hymenaios, the Linos etc.; numerous pre-literary forms must have existed. If J}pqir originally made her way into some kind of now lost lyric poetry based on the dialect of Lesbos (an island that certainly played a remarkable role at the early stages of many types of lyric poetry), we would simultaneously explain the fact that J}pqir is exclusively poetic, is very rare in early hexameters where it has no epithets, and has an acute accent on the first syllable, J}pqir, not *Jupq_r. If this were the case, Wackernagel,51 who regarded the accentual shift as due to Aeolic barytonesis, would have been right – I should be tempted to add, as usual. 9. Lastly, a short remark on the use of formulas. J}pqir, 9mu~ and Di~mg are unique to Iliad 5, and it is interesting that from a formal point of view they are treated in a completely different way. Kypris has no epithets and is found only in the first hemistich of the hexameter, whereas the other two goddesses are given resounding and traditional epithets in the second one: ptok_poqhor 9mu~ (333), p|tmiû 9mu~ (592), Di~mg d?a he\ym (381). This is due to the fact that Enyo and Dione do not appear elsewhere in Homer, while Kypris is just a different name of Aphrodite. If a poet wants to introduce a brand-new goddess with no epithets of her own he is completely free to adorn her with any metrically convenient traditional epithet: since ptok_poqhor idusse}r, p|tmia Nqg, Jakux½ d?a he\ym are well attested in the second hemistich, it is all too easy to create ptok_poqhor 9mu~, p|tmiû 9mu~, Di~mg d?a he\ym in the same metrical position. But if one decides to introduce into the Homeric diction a new name of an old goddess, as in the case of J}pqir, one has to reckon with the old )vqod_tg and her powerful array of epithets after the medial caesura, which makes a p|tmia J}pqir in final position unacceptable: to my mind, pace Kirk,52 this is the only possible explan51 1914, 109 = 1953, 1166. 52 1990, 95.


A. C. Cassio

ation of J}pqir being ‘relegated’ to the first hemistich. Interestingly enough, only absolute newcomers seem to have been entitled to enjoy traditional epithets.

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad Pietro Pucci The iterative unit: Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m·/ FeO p\teq (‘looking toward the wide heaven: / ‘O father Zeus’) has never been studied. It is found only 5 times and only in the Iliad (3.364; 7.178, 201; 19.257; 21.272), never in the Odyssey or in Hesiod, and yet it has singularly religious and rhetorical significance. My analysis of this iterative unit first illuminates the occasions in which this ritual gesture occurs, and the specific religious experience it describes and communicates to the audience, in contrast with other ritual gestures, as for instance raising the arms to heaven. Turning the eyes to heaven will appear to signal an extraordinary private attempt to reach, mentally, a mute, sometimes indifferent divinity in the vastness of heaven. Furthermore, this line and its religious motif might illuminate the question whether oqqam|r and mkulpor are the same place in Homer or are distinguished. Schironi1 has masterfullly discussed and illustrated this problem in the ancient scholarship, beginning from the commentator of the Derveni Papyrus 2.1 – 16 (4th century BC), who denies the identity of heaven and Olympus, on the evidence, among others, that the epithets, lajq|r for mkulpor and eqq}r for oqqam|r imply a distinction. Aristarchus too denied the identity of the two realms using the same evidence, but added many arguments and especially that in Il. 15.193 Olympus is defined explicitly as part of the earth and distinguished from heaven. This powerful challenge, however, did not stop the major commentators from continuing to assert the identity of Olympus with oqqam|r (Arist. de Mundo, 400a 3, Parmenides, Empedocles, Philolaus, and the me~teqoi among the scholiasts). My next purpose is to illustrate how the text negotiates between the preservation of the iterated units and the pressure of the context. As it will appear, my procedure is somewhat analogous to that of Bakker, 1

Schironi 2001.


Pietro Pucci

Fabricotti, and Visser in their study and illustration of what they call the core and peripheral parts of the formula. I prefer to describe the peripheral part as the contextual pressure because this pressure impinges also on the core, i.e. on the iterated units, and it extends much beyond the immediate periphery of the core of the iterated unit. This leads me to the last purpose of my reading, to show that though the signified (i.e. the ideality of sense) of the formula is always the same, ‘looking toward the large heaven: O father Zeus…’, the contextual pressure inflects different syntactical, imaginary and emotional connotations on the ideal meaning of the utterance. In both these strategies I recognize the brilliant way in which Christos Tsagalis enriches the analysis of the large and immediate contexts to explain iterated or difficult expressions. With this analysis I continue to exemplify my reading of the specific intertextuality of the Homeric texts: in this case, also the synchronic intertextuality in the same poem. I am trying to evince the difference in what appears to be identity, to enhance the otherness in the same, the vibrations of meanings and connotations in the imaginary that is produced by intertextual repetitions. Each syntactical part of the unit I am analyzing, Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m·/FeO p\teq, taken independently, could be defined a “formula.” Oqqam¹m eqq}m is called “flektierbare Formel VE” in Krieter-Spiro 2009, 129 ad 3.364; Qd~m is endlessly found in this same position in the Iliad (beside in our 5 examples)2, and in the Odyssey; the same verb or an analogous one (with the same metrical quantity) as ålynem preceding Qd¾m is most frequent;3 and finally FeO p\teq is often found at the beginning of the line; in short, all the individual syntactical parts of the line could be called a formula. This is the reason why in recent years we are limiting the use of this expression: when the repeated unit is reduced to a word and participates in various ways in larger iterative units, it no longer makes any sense to speak of its economy, essential meaning etc.4

2 3 4

E.g. Il. 3.191, 225; 4.81, 283; 6.404, etc.; Od. 15.44, etc. E.g. Il. 4.81, 283; 6.404, etc. I learned the expression “iterative syntactical unit” from the innovative thesis of one of Cornell’s students, Aaron Tate. See the insights of Kahane 1994, 51 on l/mim in Iliad 1.1, as he analyzes the consequence of the deictic me¯nis, by itself, to function as a formula.

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


Before analyzing the five passages, it is necessary to recognize that the unit oqqam¹m eqq}m has a special, unique force in the Iliad. For in this poem, the “wide heaven” is the appointed realm that Zeus received when the whole world was divided between him, Poseidon and Hades (Il. 15.187 – 193): Fe»r dû 5kawû oqqam¹m eqq»m 1m aQh]qi ja· mev]k,si·

Zeus drew the wide heaven in the aether and the clouds.


The specificity of this appointed space is emphasized by the next line which tells that ‘on the other hand, Gaia and high Olympus are common to all three’: ca?a dû 5ti numµ p\mtym ja· lajq¹r mkulpor. (193) Accordingly, turning the eyes to “wide heaven” means explicitly both to seek a mental contact with Zeus, as the next invocation to him confirms,5 and to scan the heaven imagining Zeus’ unfathomable figure. The parallel ritual gesture of raising the arms on high (we?qar !masw~m / see for instance Il. 3.275) represents the same attempt at a symbolic contact, but it misses the graphic and emotional power that the scanning of heaven with the eyes felicitously carries. This contact with Zeus implies a contact with a god who, as Lanza has shown,6 has no house on earth, since he is placed on mkulpor / oqqam|r, always out of the anthropologically defined world. In archaic Greek poetry, no sanctuary of Zeus comparable to those of Hera, Aphrodite, Artemis etc. exists. His Dodona collocation in Il. 16.233 – 235 is exceptional. Accordingly, Zeus remains essentially intangible to men: there is no epiphany of Zeus in any place, and he has no special ties with any region of Greece.7 Only occasionally, in Homer, he descends to earth, invisible, as when he descends on the mountain of Ida or when he pushes Hector on with his hands and gives him kudos. These conditions make him the Panhellenic god par excellence.8 5

6 7 8

The nature of this contact is only mental and occasionally symbolic: when praying to the underworld gods, the Greeks did turn the eyes down (Aubriot-Sévin 1992, 26), obviously not expecting to have any real contact with them, unless mentally, figuratively or symbolically, if they happened to be before an altar, or some sign evoking the word below. 2005. Lanza 2005, 21 – 22. Whether there is a sanctuary of Zeus on Helicon (Hesiod, Th. 1ff.) is debated by scholars. See below p. 429 for Zeus’ cult in Ida. See also Nagy, “Mythological Exemplum in Homer” 1992, now in Nagy 1996a, 36. Lanza points out the traces that in Homer allow us to reconstruct the conflict between the Panhellenic Zeus and the other gods who, contrary


Pietro Pucci

With respect to the question of the identification of the “wide heaven” with Olympus,9 the following passage (Il. 15.191 – 192) Fe»r d’ 5kawû oqqam¹m eqq»m 1m aQh]qi ja· mev]k,si· ca?a dû 5ti numµ p\mtym ja· lajq¹r mkulpor.

Zeus drew the wide heaven in the aether and the clouds; while earth and high Olympus are common to all three.

was adduced by Aristarchus to prove that the text distinguishes oqqam|r and mkulpor into two different realms. In fact the text attributes oqqam|r to Zeus as his center of power, and accords the enjoyment of mkulpor to all three gods. The epic texts clearly present traces supporting an emerging or a concomitant distinction between oqqam|r and mkulpor.10 The complex history of the relationship between oqqam|r and mkulpor as the dwellings of the gods remains to be written, and requires an unraveling of the folds of the Homeric language. With these premises in mind, let us examine the following passage (Il. 3.364 – 368): )[email protected] dû ålynem Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m· FeO p\teq ou tir se?o he_m ako~teqor %kkor· G tû 1v\lgm t_sashai )k]namdqom jaj|tgtor·

to him, have a home, i.e, sanctuary, altar and sacrifices, epiphanies and ties in specific regions and cities of Greece. “All the representations of the divine world in the Iliad … agree to an essential feature: gods and goddesses are dragged away from their specific territories, of which they are masters and protectors and where they have cults and devotees. As they are transferred to Olympus, they find themselves associated with Zeus, but also permanently submitted to his authority” (22). 9 See Lanza 2005, 15 – 17. 10 It would be wrong to say that in the Odyssey the identification of the gods’ dwelling with Olympus declines: for instance the phrase oT mkulpom 5wousi occurs 6x in the Odyssey and 4x in the Iliad, and the other unit ik}lpia d~latû 5womter occurs 3x in the Odyssey and 10x in the Iliad. Yet there are traces that complicate the picture: the representation of oqqam|r as the dwelling place of the gods through the unit to· oqqam¹m eqq»m 5wousi is more frequent in the Odyssey (16x) than in the Iliad (2x). Furthermore, the description of the Olympian mansions, of the peaks of Olympus, of their snowy nature, of the divine life in those dwellings, occurs much less in the Odyssey than in the Iliad. In the Odyssey Olympus tends to become a more abstract spiritual horizon. In Hesiod the expression oqqam¹m eqq}m occurs in the acc. or nom. in various parts of the line seven times, but only in the Theogony.

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


mOm d] loi 1m we_qessim %cg n_vor, 1j d] loi 5cwor [email protected] pak\lgvim 1t~siom, oqdû 5bak|m lim.

Then Atrides groaned looking toward the wide heaven: Father Zeus no other god is more destructive than you! I certainly believed to make Alexandros pay for his crime; But here my sword is shattered in my hands, then my spear rushed from my grip for nothing: I did not hit him.

Menelaus’ resentment against Zeus is textually justified: indeed, before beginning the duel with Alexandros, he had prayed to Zeus lifting the arms (275): to?sim dû )[email protected] lec\kû euweto we?qar !masw~m. With this gesture, he sought for a contact with the god. Later, before throwing his spear, Menelaus had again prayed to Zeus (351ff.) begging him to be able to punish Alexandros, but as he threw the shaft he failed to wound his enemy; then Menelaus rushed and hit his enemy’s helmet with his sword, but it broke in three and four pieces and fell to the ground. One realizes at this point the disheartening pathos of looking at the wide sky, the poignancy of that vastness that hides Zeus and his absolute absence. Fagel’s translation has reproduced something of the echo of that pathos: ‘Scanning the blank skies’. But another effect arises as Menelaus defines Zeus as the most destructive god: the destructive vastness of the sky above men, which hides the majesty of Zeus, becomes also the vastness of the destructive nature of Zeus. Our first examples teaches us that the gesture of raising the eyes to heaven is used by the singers to signal a strong emotional reaction, the seeking of a personal, intimate contact, for expressing deep resentment as the character realizes that all his normal ritual gestures (raising the arms) and begging have proved vain and fruitless. It should be clear at this point that the unit oqqam¹m eqq}m owes its felicity and significance not especially to its emphatic assonance, which of course exists, but to the emotional force that eqq}m creates when it responds to the personal desire for contact with the divine lord of that expanse. The second example I will analyze shares with the one examined above certain formal and contextual features (Il. 21.272 – 276 + 281 – 283): [email protected] dû ålynem Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m· FeO p\teq ¢r ou t_r le he_m 1keeim¹m rp]stg 1j potalo?o sa_sai· 5peita d³ ja_ ti p\hoili. %kkor dû ou tir loi t|som aUtior Oqqami~mym,


Pietro Pucci

!kk± v_kg l^tgq, F le xe}dessim 5hekcem·

… mOm d] le keucak]\ ham\t\ eVlaqto "k_mai 1qwh]mtû 1m lec\k\ potal` ¢r pa?da suvoqb|m, fm N\ tû 5maukor !po]qs, weil_mi peq_mta.

Then Pelides groaned looking toward the wide heaven: Father Zeus, to think that no one of the gods took the trouble to save me, miserable, from the river! After this may I suffer any fate. Yet, none other of the Heavens’ gods is so much responsible as my mother who beguiled me with her lies… … But now I am doomed to be caught by a dismal death, trapped by a large river, as a farmer child, a swineherd, swept away by a torrent as he tries to cross it in a storm.

Both formally and contextually this text resembles the previous one: line 272 is exactly the same – apart from the different initial patronymic – as 3.364, and the contest is similar: both Menelaus and Achilles protest and expose their deep disappointment for the accidents they are suffering. Yet here the personal, emotional glance thrown to the skies and attempting to pierce the mute and indifferent vastness of the heaven sounds with a stronger intensity than in the previous passage, for Achilles shouts to the gods his despair or rage as he is drowning under the mass of the river’s water. As the contextual pressure impinges on the repeated units, differences emerge: the most remarkable is that the segment FeO p\teq does not function any longer as the direct target of Achilles’ remonstrance, as in the case of Menelaus. Indeed Achilles here invokes Zeus essentially as a witness of the scandalous behavior of the gods. The reason for this semantic change lies in the text of a few lines before: trapped by the utmost violence of the river, Achilles had tried to resist and ‘to see whether all the gods, who hold the wide heaven, are putting me to rout’ (ja· cm~lemai eU lim ûpamter / !h\matoi vob]ousi, to· oqqam¹m eqq»m 5wousi, Il. 21.266 – 267). He has this feeling ‘that all the gods are against him’:11 note the force of ûpamter at the end of the line and in enjambement with !h\matoi, as well as the rare relative to· oqqam¹m eqq»m 5wousi.12 11 Richardson 1993, 75. 12 This is one of the two occurrences of the iterative unit to· oqqam¹m eqq»m 5wousi that we find in the Iliad, and it is singularly alien to the regular thematic contexts that accommodate this unit in the second Iliadic example (20.299) and in the 16 Odyssean occurrences. The regular thematic contexts in which this unit appears

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


Because of this emotional state, when, five lines later, he turns his eyes and mind to (the gods’ dwelling in) the wide heaven, he cannot single out Zeus as the only or even the principal target of his remonstrance. The singer, accordingly, accommodates skillfully the iterative units, so as to make Zeus a witness of the indifference of the entire divine court. Moreover, when Achilles again mentions the gods, the singer has him calling them Oqqam_ymer, through an allusion to line 267. There are other reasons for the singer not to single out Zeus. To begin with, the bard had defined the river Xanthos – so called by the gods – as ‘son of Zeus’ (Il. 21.1 – 2), a genealogy that will not intimate Zeus’ favor for Xanthos, but that might be recalled later by the audience when the river’s dangerous wave is called ‘swollen by Zeus’ (jOla diipet]or potalo?o Il. 21.268). Later, after the fight against Asteropaeus, Achilles had compared his own genealogy with that of his enemy and declared: ‘I claim that I am of the generation of the great Zeus (Il. 21.187: aqt±q 1c½ cemeµm lec\kou Di¹r euwolai eWmai), and as Zeus is stronger than rivers … so the generation of Zeus is made stronger than that of a river’ (Il. 21.190 – 191). The singer, at the point at which Achilles is almost overcome by Xanthos, does not want to contradict any of these contrasting implications and does not single out Zeus as responsible. Furthermore, Achilles, after having indicted the gods’ indifference, corrects his aim and accuses only his mother Thetis, who, as the audience knows, dwells on the sea. The text, indirectly but unmistakably, underlines this dislocation by calling the other gods Oqqam_ymer :13 %kkor dû ou tir loi t|som aUtior Oqqami~mym, !kk± v_kg l^tgq, F le xe}dessim 5hekcem·

are two: ‘offering sacrifices to the gods’ (Il. 20.299; Od. 1.67; 4.479; 9.133; 12.344; 23.280); and ‘the similarity of men with gods’ (Od. 6.150; 16.183; 19.140; 6.243; 16.200; 7.209); only a few examples do not occur in these two thematic contexts. 13 Oqqam_ymer is used 4x in the Iliad and 3x in the Odyssey; the genitive forms occur 3x in the Iliad and never in the Odyssey. A most interesting passage is Il. 1.570 where the gods are called Oqqam_ymer, while they are described gathered ‘in the mansion of Zeus’ (!m± d_la Di¹r heo· Oqqam_ymer) and Zeus mentions them as gods in Olympus (566: fsoi heo_ eQs’ 1m ik}lp\; see 580). This is one of the passages in which oqqam|r and mkulpor refer to the same dwelling of the gods and this is the mountain of Olympus with the houses Hephaestus made for each god.


Pietro Pucci

Yet, none other of the Heavens’ gods is so much responsible as my mother who beguiled me with her lies …

Finally only his mother is responsible for his terrible defeat14. In not selecting Zeus as the responsible god, Achilles aims at the correct target: Zeus does not answer, but the gods are provoked by Achilles’ remonstrance and, immediately after his words, two of them, Poseidon and Athene, come to his help.15 We have seen that the contextual pressure changes the syntactical and semantic force of FeO p\teq but it remains for us to see how it affects the imaginative and emotional grasping of the connotations of the iterated expressions (Il. 21.272 – 273). (a) Given the uncertain role that the narrator ascribes to Zeus in relation to Xanthos and to Achilles, and in view of lines 266 – 268, the line [email protected] d’ ålynem Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m hits an audience that in its imagination is deprived of clues for anticipating what oqqam¹m eqq}m will contain, whether Zeus alone, as in the Menelaus’ example, or the whole divine court. (b) The scenario is emotionally different than in Menelaus’ situation. Achilles’ eyes seek contact with the enormous expanse of heaven as he battles in dreadful despair against the divine vastness and violence of the river-god who is destroying him (248 – 249: oqd] t’ 5kgce he¹r l]car, §qto d’ 1p’ aqt` / !jqojekaimi|ym – ‘but the great god would not let up, but he rose on him growing black over him’). The audience’s imagination is solicited to realize that, in the Iliadic stylistic code, Achilles’ gesture of moving the eyes from the expanse of the divine assailing water to that of the mute and indifferent heaven spiritually transports Achilles into a transcendent world to which he has already abandoned his fate (274: 5peita d³ ja_ ti p\hoili – ‘after this may I suffer any fate’). This scenario, and Achilles’ words recall an analogous situation and speech in Od. 5.299 – 312 when Odysseus facing the immediate explosion of a sea storm, fears for his life (5.305). But instead of turning the eyes toward heaven, Odysseus addresses his lecak^toqa hul|m and laments the incoming danger, wrongly accusing Zeus of being responsible for the mortal risk he faces. As the waves throw him into the sea and the 14 His mention of the mother creates an even deeper effect: he suddenly sees himself, in the odd simile that follows, as a boy. 15 The contact succeeds and allows the audience to expect the divine and cosmic conflict to become an open event (328ff.)

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


danger of death becomes imminent, the goddess Leucothea emerges from the depth of the sea and helps him. In the Odyssey, the gods foresee Odysseus’ needs and take care of him before he asks for their help. This comparison and contrast between Achilles’ gesture toward a divine transcendence and Odysseus’ reflective and calculating behavior as the gods take care of him underline the religious and dramatic difference between the two poems. There are even linguistic and thematic echoes between the two passages that seem to worm the readers’ way to recognize a specific adaptation of the Iliadic passage by the Odyssean text. For instance, in Od. 5.303 – 304, Odysseus describes the incoming storm in the following way: oVoisim mev´essi peqist´vei oqqam¹m eqq»m Fe¼r, 1t²qane d³ pºmtom, 1pisp´qwousi d’ %ekkai

with such clouds does Zeus crown the wide heaven and has stirred up the sea and the winds rush…

The connection oqqam¹m eqq»m / Fe¼r, in this slot of the line, repeats the connection in the Iliadic unit: while, syntactically, it is completely different, its literal and prosodic identity is striking. It could be the result of sheer chance, of course, but it represents the only occurrence in the Odyssey of oqqam¹m eqq}m placed at the end of the line.16 Furthermore, there is in both texts the exact sequence of the same motifs: (1) the mention of a woman’s knowledge that is important for the situation, (2) an unreal wish, and (3) the same closing line sealing their deplorable death. (1) While Achilles holds his mother’s lies responsible for his actual situation (Il. 21.276 – 278), Odysseus fears Circe might have told him the truth about his actual disaster (Od. 5.300 – 302). The contrast is so neat as to appear intentional. 16 The interpretation of lines 303 – 304 is complicated by the fact that with these two lines Odysseus is made to express a false induction: he attributes the storm to Zeus, while the narrative has made clear to the audience that it is Poseidon who has produced it (282 – 296). This attribution is strange and unexpected because Odysseus should know, after the Cyclops experience (see Od. 9.526 – 535 where the Cyclops prays to Poseidon), that his enemy god is Poseidon. Critics try to explain this oddity by evoking Zeus as the god of the storms (D’Ippolito 1977, ad 304). Yet I suspect that the singer evoked the Iliadic scene by intentionally giving to Odysseus an unexpected induction that textually recalled the Iliadic passage, and by the few textual allusive touches that I present here.


Pietro Pucci

(2) Odysseus too, just like Achilles in the Iliadic passage, utters an unreal wish, introduced in the same way … ¢r dµ 1c¾ c’ evekom (Od. 5.308) and ¦r l’ evek’ (Il. 21.279). Both heroes wish they had died in the accomplishment of a heroic deed instead of meeting a deplorable end. Achilles wishes that Hector had killed him, while Odysseus wishes he had died the day he saved the body and the arms of Achilles in Troy. Notice that the name of Achilles emerges at this point. Finally (3), the closing line lamenting a deplorable death is the same in both texts (Od. 5.312 = Il. 21.281: mOm d] le keucak]\ ham\t\ eVlaqto "k_mai – ‘but now my doom is to be caught by a miserable death).17 All this may suggest that the singer of the Odyssean passage meant to exhibit his different treatment of the analogous Iliadic scenario and consciously contrasted some common features, among which he counterpointed Achilles’ gesture of turning the eyes toward heaven against Odysseus’ addressing his heart. It is also possible that such a precise sequence of the same themes is a feature of a traditional or ‘typical’ lament heroes may utter as they think they are close to unexpected and deplorable death (see note 14). In this incertitude, we may be on surer ground if we simply underline the objective (and not the intentional) contrast of the religious behavior in the two poems. The Odyssey has its hero, crushed by an analogous situation to Achilles, not looking toward the divine either to remonstrate or to seek help. For, in the Odyssey, Odysseus is comfortably ensconced at the center of divine attention and care and contrasts with an Achilles who scans the vastness of heaven seeking a sort of transcendent god. Accordingly, the Odyssean text rejects or simply ignores the tragic pathos in favor of an adventurous tension in which the risk is palliated by the ever-present divine care. In the middle of the terrible storm the goddess’ presence unfolds with a prudish concern that communicates to the audience a whiff of sexual enticement.18 Religion in the Odyssey is fable-like. Of course, also in the Iliad, after Achilles’ pathetic lament, the gods come to help and to reassure him. In Homer it is the normal practice

17 A similar line occurs also in Od. 24.34, when Agamemnon complains of his deplorable death. See Pucci 1987, 63 – 64 for a discussion on the allusions produced by the Odyssean text. 18 See Pucci 1987, 64 – 65.

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


that the gods answer immediately to the prayers or urging of the mortals, and often they answer positively. In the next three examples, mortals carry out religious gestures when they feel no resentment against the divine, but hope for some collaboration. In Iliad 19.257, our line/motif appears during the sacrifice officiated by Agamemnon before the soldiers and Achilles. The ritual is public, solemn, and pleasant; it seals the reconciliation between Agamemnon and Achilles as Agamemnon takes the gods as witnesses that he has respected Briseis. Agamemnon at the beginning of the sacrifice (19.254 – 256) prays to Zeus raising his hands while the army is listening to his words (19.257 – 261): eqn\lemor d’ %qa eWpem Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m· Usty mOm Fe»r pq_ta he_m vpator ja· %qistor C/ te ja· I]kior ja· 9qim}er, aV h’ rp¹ ca?am !mhq~pour t_mumtai, ftir j’ 1p_oqjom al|ss,, lµ l³m 1c½ jo}q, [email protected] we?q’ 1p]meija …

He spoke in prayer,19 looking toward the wide heaven: Let now Zeus know first, the highest, the best of the gods, and Ge and Helios and the Erinyes, who in the world below punish the men who swear falsehood, that I never laid a hand on the girl Briseis …

Our line is integrated within a conventional, standardized theme: Agamemnon in the recent past had already prayed to an analogous selection of gods in the context of a swearing scene (Il. 3.276ff.). But on that occasion he did not turn his eyes toward wide heaven. The reason for this difference is that in our passage the singer wishes to underline that the oath is personal and wants to connote Agamemnon’s prayer with a gesture that suggests an emotional and subjective touch. In Il. 3.276, on the contrary, Agamemnon was speaking as the supreme leader of the Achaean army.20 19 This is the only example in the Iliad that shows eqn\lemor at the beginning of the line: all the other few examples are in the Odyssey. This is an exception to the features that Coray 2009, 111 ad 19.254b-265 ascribes to the “typical scene”. But this is not the only one exception: also 5.258 in its entirety is unique in the Iliad, though present in the Odyssey (19.303), and the connection of 257 – 258 with 259 – 260 creates tension as I illustrate in the text. 20 The difference between the ritual of raising the hands and that of raising the eyes to heaven marks a context in which the personal commitment is explicitly prevalent: see lµ l³m 1c½ jo}q, [email protected] we?q’ 1p]meija (261) in contrast to


Pietro Pucci

The integration of this personal, emotional touch is successful: with a slight change, Usty mOm Fe¼r instead of FeO p\teq, Zeus is called up as a witness. This change is made through another iterated syntactical unit: Usty or Usty mOm or Usty mOm Fe¼r occur elsewhere, e.g. Il. 7.411; 15.36; 10.329, Od. 17.155; with a new added unit the whole line turns out to be a hapax in the Iliad, though it is repeated in Od. 19.303 in an analogous scene of swearing. Though syntactically and compositionally successful, this integration raises a problem in the described staging of the action. For, while Helios is certainly in heaven, Gaia is not, and the Erinyes even less. The text, in the process of its composition, proceeds from the first two lines connecting Zeus’ eyes to wide heaven and moves to the other two gods, whose presence is required by the theme, but who have residence in other parts of the kosmos. By doing so, the contact Agamemnon seeks with wide heaven through his eyes includes Zeus but not Gaia and the Erinyes. In fact it excludes them. This very minor infelicity occurs also in the rite of raising the arms to heaven in the passage Il. 3.275 – 80 (see note 20): the singer and his audience must have thought that heaven is the dwelling of all the gods to· oqqam¹m eqq»m 5wousi, even if literally it is the place belonging to Zeus, and the address is coherent to Zeus. Let us analyze now the last two passages. They are found in Iliad 7 during the procedure of choosing an Achaean warrior to confront Hector: the context is different than the first three examples, since the person who prays asks Zeus for a favor. The large heaven now looks as an immense expanse inhabited by a benign all-powerful deity. In the first passage the army prays that the lot may fall to Ajax, Diomedes, or Agamemnon (178ff.): kao· d’ Aq^samto, heo?si d³ we?qar !m]swom· ¨de d] tir eUpesjem Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m· FeO p\teq C AUamta kawe?m, C Tud]or uR|m, C aqt¹m basik/a pokuwq}soio Luj^mgr.

And the soldiers raising their arms to the gods prayed to them: and so any man would say looking toward the wide heaven:

Il. 3.275 – 280: to?sim d’ )[email protected] lec\k’ euweto we?qar !masw~m· / FeO p\teq ]dghem led]ym j}diste l]ciste, / I]ki|r h’, dr p\mt’ 1voqør ja· p\mt’ 1pajo}eir, / ja· potalo· ja· ca?a, ja· oT rp]meqhe jal|mtar / !mhq~pour t_mushom, ftir j’ 1p_oqjom al|ss,, / rle?r l\qtuqoi 5ste, vuk\ssete d’ fqjia pist\.

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


“Father Zeus let Ajax win the lot or the son of Tydeus or the king himself of rich in gold Mycenae”.

The mass of the soldiers, through their raised arms, seek a mental contact with the gods who, as we know, inhabit virtually the heaven (Il. 21.267, 20.299; 16x in the Odyssey; Hes. Th. 373); but when the text exemplifies their prayers using the standard unit ¨de d] tir eUpesjem, it produces a singular subject, and creates both the possibility of using Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m, and of marking the prayer with a personal touch and intensity. The switch from the mass using the ritual gesture of raising the arms to the individual ritual of looking toward heaven is here explicit and significant. Each of the soldiers both raises his arms and looks up to the sky, and with the latter gesture imprints on his search for a mental contact with the divine a more graphic and intimate connotation. Here too the singer has sought this effect at the price of a small infelicity, for, as he mentions oqqam¹m eqq}m, the text forgets the gods and makes only Zeus the target of each soldier’s prayer and eventually the addressee of his personal selection. Of course Zeus stands for all the gods, but still the switch from “praying to them” to “father Zeus” is jarring. In the last passage we find all of the above and an additional surprise (Il. 7.201 – 203): ¬r 5vah’, oT d’ euwomto Di· Jqom_ymi %majti· ¨de d] tir eUpesjem Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m· FeO p\teq ]dghem led]ym j}diste l]ciste, d¹r m_jgm AUamti ja· !cka¹m ewwor !q]shai·

So [Ajax] spoke and they prayed to lord Zeus son of Kronos: And then any man would say looking toward the wide heaven: Father Zeus watching us from Ida, in your greatest majesty give Ajax victory and shining vaunt.

The surprise is the mention of Mount Ida. The contextual pressure forces the text to integrate our line within the requirements of a prayer for a favor. One requirement is that the god be praised and that his sanctuary be mentioned. Accordingly, on the one hand, the individual man looks toward the wide heaven, and, in agreement with the conventional force of the line, this seeking in the skies intimates the marking of his words with a personal emotional touch; but, on the other hand, he evokes Zeus with a unit that places Zeus on Mount Ida, in a spot on earth in which Zeus has a cult (Il. 8.48). The mention of a cult on


Pietro Pucci

the earth is both a way to bring the image or presence of the god closer, dispelling his remoteness, and to satisfy the need of a specific invocation. Ida is not Olympus but a mountain close to Troy from which Zeus often observes human troubles and stops unwanted divine interventions (e. g. Il. 8.397, 438). Line 202 occurs in contexts in which, as in our passage, an immediate favor is asked of Zeus – with the isolated exception of Il. 3.276 where Zeus is called up as a witness.21 Did perhaps the singers feel that a god led]ym also l^detai ‘pays attention, takes care’? Some of the features I have described and some of the conclusions I have drawn from the last two examples are fully confirmed both by Achilles’ gesture and his prayer in Il. 16.231 – 236: euwet’ 5peita st±r l]s\ 6qjez, ke?be d³ oWmom oqqam¹m eQsamid~m· D_a d’ oq k\he teqpij]qaumom· FeO %ma Dydyma?e Pekascij³ tgk|hi ma_ym Dyd~mgr led]ym dusweil]qou, !lv· d³ sû :kko· so· ma_ousû rpov/tai !mipt|poder walaieOmai.

He then prayed standing in the middle of the court and poured wine in libation looking up toward heaven. He did not escape Zeus who enjoys the thunder: O lord Zeus, Pelasgian, of Dodona, living far away, lord of Dodona, close to you the prophets Helloi dwell, who sleep on the ground with unwashed feet.

Robert defines this prayer as the “religious summit of the Iliad”. 22 In fact the prayer is the longest and most elaborate in Homer; it is preceded by an odd and unusual ritual that involves the use of a particular cup and an exceptional purification with sulfur; it piles up odd forms of address to Zeus, never used elsewhere in Homer; and it stages a dramatic scene.23 21 Line 202: FeO p\teq ]dghem led]ym j}diste l]ciste is used for the laoi in 3.320 as they raise their arms to heaven and pray to Zeus that those responsible for the war may perish; the same line with d|r as the first syllable of the next verse (FeO p\teq ]dghem led]ym j}diste l]ciste, / dºr) is also attested in Il. 24.308, in which Priam carries out a libation and prays to Zeus asking him to allow him to reach Achilles’ hut. The Iliad has 7 examples of lines with ]dghem but only 6 of these pertain to Zeus. The Odyssey does not know either the line FeO p\teq ]dghem led]ym j}diste l]ciste nor does it ever mention ]dghem. 22 1977, 425. 23 Whitman 1958, 250.

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


The dramatic staging supports the impression that Achilles addresses a private prayer to Zeus, even if he stands before his lodge, and that he prays only or essentially for the sake of his companion Patroclus.24 Accordingly, this text confirms the significance that I have given to the gesture of turning the eyes toward heaven as an intense, emotional, and private thrust toward the divine. Here the expression oqqam¹m eQsamid~m misses the epithet eqq}m, but relies on the increased verbal force of the rare eQsamid~m ‘looking up toward’ and on its being placed in the first part of the line.25 The text grants the oddest attributes to Pelasgian Zeus, his Dodona sanctuary –the only mention in Homer– around which the Helloi interpret Zeus oracles;26 possibly the rarity and the archaic nature of these attributes are intended to add solemnity and persuasive force to Achilles’ prayer. Just like in my previous example of Qd½m eQr oqqam¹m eqq}m· / FeO p\teq, here too the intimate and emotional touch that marks the looking up toward heaven does not prevent the singer from making his character place the god in an earthly sanctuary. In both cases, however, the earthly place is not Olympus, so that the theme we are analyzing seems to confirm the perception and the instantiation of a distinction between oqqam|r and mkulpor. The earthly placement of the god occurs, among the prayers I have analyzed, only in those in which a favor is asked of Zeus, as though on this occasion the praise and the earthly attributes of the gods were standard and impossible to avoid. In other words, our theme is subjected to that specific contextual pressure. The exception of Iliad 7.178ff., where as we have seen, no mention of a particular cult place for Zeus is made, is perhaps explained by the fact that the favor is asked of Zeus and of the gods simultaneously, making it impossible to mention their sanctuaries. The one who prays turning the eyes to heaven and simultaneously places the god in an earthly spot, is probably viewed by the singer as feeling no contradiction: the earthly cult is a permanent attribute of the god and, besides, it allows the praying character to give the mute 24 See Aubriot-Sévin 1992, 53 n. 69. 25 This expression is attested one more time in Priam’s prayer (Il. 24.307 – 310): euwet’ 5peita st±r l]s\ 6qjez, ke?be d³ oWmom / oqqam¹m eQsamid~m, ja· vym^sar 5por guda· / FeO p\teq ]dghem led]ym j}diste l]ciste, / d|r l’ 1r )wikk/or v_kom 1khe?m Ad’ 1keeim|m. 26 On all these aspects, see Janko 1992, 348 – 350.


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remoteness of the wide heaven a closer optional location, if the god is there. This double location appears also in the Christian prayer to god: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. I will end this analysis by summarizing some of my results. The motif of ‘raising the eyes toward the wide heaven’ occurs in two parallel situations: (1) when the singers present characters who are driven by an intensely private and emotional thrust to pierce through the wide expanse of heaven seeking for a contact with the mute and hostile divine, or (2) when the singers need to make explicit that a personal touch and intensity are imprinted in the character’s words asking for a favor of the divine. I want to be clear: the favor does not need to be personal, but the intense tone of the prayer is represented as such. The motif of ‘raising the eyes toward heaven’ illustrates a specific religious attitude and experience that is unknown in this form in the Odyssey and in Hesiod. It is perhaps consciously and explicitly refused by the Odyssey. This gesture in the first case conveys the character’s need to establish an intimate contact, a private resentment, with a mute and remote, we would say transcendent, divine. In the second case, the motif is used by the singer to invite the audience to feel the personal and intense touch that the characters imprint in their words addressed to the divine. The optional spot on the earth attributed to the god reduces the transcendental feature of the prayer. Concerning the distinction between oqqam|r and mkulpor as the seat of Zeus and the gods, our passages seem to subtend that oqqam|r is not identifiable with mkulpor. The adaptation of our line to the pressures of the context is most skillfully performed. In one context the syntactical function of the invocation FeO p\teq is changed, in another a minimal substitution adapts the motif to a different theme. In each attestation of the motif, the line, notwithstanding its fixed form, allows the audience to imagine different scenarios and perceive different emotional connotations while proposing different imaginary expectations. Iteration is of course a necessary condition in all languages; but the epic iteration of units to form one or more fixed lines and motifs creates indeed a heavier passivity and conventionality, i.e. it produces an increased weight of the dead moments with respect to the repetition of a single unit. Yet we have just uncovered the diverse vibrations that semantically and poetically vivify each repeated line. Our iterative unit delivers the same synecdochal force as the single epithetic iteration: it selects one part or fraction of the whole procedure

Iterative and Syntactical Units: A Religious Gesture in the Iliad


of gestures meant to connect mortals to the gods. In this function it cooperates with the endless epithetic repetitions that organize the ordered, fixed, and encyclopedic representation of the whole kosmos in epic poetry. Finally, our line produces the specific poetic effect that the epic iterations entail: in Iliad 7 one occurrence mirrors the other with slightly different connotations and effects, so that at each occurrence, the line gains force and diverse significance from the other occurrences, and a sort of agglutination of expressive effects masterfully emerges.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction Naoko Yamagata Very few students of Homeric poetry today will disagree with the core observation of Parry-Lord theory, that it had its origin in oral composition,1 even though there is disagreement as to the degree of ‘orality’ and ‘literacy’ involved in the process which produced Homeric poems as we know them.2 On the other hand, very few today will be willing to apply the ‘purest’ form of the theory to the interpretation of Homeric poetry, which takes the elaborate system of stock-expressions to fill particular positions in hexameter verse as evidence for quasi-mechanical versification. It has been claimed that epithets frequently used in formulaic expressions (‘fixed’ or ‘ornamental’ epithets) such as pok}lgtir (crafty) for Odysseus and pteq|emta (winged) for ‘words’, are not chosen for their meaning, but purely for the convenience of versification.3 Whilst many will readily agree that fixed epithets such as ‘swift-footed’ for Achilles appear even when the meaning of the epithet does not suit the immediate context, there have been a number of challenges to the implication of the claim that the poet is indifferent to the meaning of fixed epithets. Some have argued that the meaning of fixed epithets does matter in some way even when not relevant in their immediate contexts,4 and others have argued that the system had suffi1 2 3 4

The principal texts for the Parry-Lord theory are M. Parry 1971 and Lord 1960/2000. See A. Parry 1966 for earlier debate. For more recent thinking on orality, see e.g. Bakker 1999 and Friedrich 2007, esp. 137 – 146. Cf. M. Parry 1971, 118 – 172 [The Traditional Epithet in Homer, Chapter IV] and 414 – 418 [‘About Winged Words’]. E.g. Vivante 1982, esp. 13 – 14, 130, who sees the function of epithets as highlighting the quality intrinsic to the objects or characters so described, and giving them ‘existential weight’ which momentarily arrests the audience/readers’ attention. Foley 1991 formulates a similar theory in terms of ‘traditional referentiality’ through which the audience interprets noun-epithet formulae “as a traditionally sanctioned method of invoking a mythic figure more complex than his participation in any one situation”. (142).


Naoko Yamagata

cient flexibility to allow the poet to substitute particular formulaic expressions if he wished, and therefore his choices must have been consciously made.5 I agree with those who see the need to modify the strictest form of the Parry-Lord theory and wish to contribute to the debate by arguing that the poet is indeed conscious of the meaning of even the most fixed of the fixed epithets, even though he did not often use them to suit immediate contexts. I base my argument not on the use of epithets themselves, but on the way in which specific meaning of some noun-epithet formulae appears to be developed and expanded in another context. This phenomenon has been noted previously, especially by Whallon,6 but I hope my contribution is to demonstrate that this phenomenon is particularly prevalent in the fixed epithets used in speech introduction formulae and to consider the implications of such evidence. This, too, has been noted in relation to one particular category of noun-epithet formulae in Yamagata 1989, but only in passing as the article’s focus was elsewhere. Since I believe that this phenomenon is not limited to one group of epithets, but occurs with at least one other principal type of epithets7 used in speech introductions, I present below a new set of data incorporating the observations made by Whallon and Yamagata.

The Noun-Epithet Formulae with ‘Echoes’ There are two prominent groups of noun-epithet formulae used in speech introductions the meaning of which seems to be reflected elsewhere in the poem: Type A) noun-epithet formulae used between the hepthemimeral caesura and the end of the line (g–c–f), often found in speech intro-

5 6


E.g. M.W. Edwards 1970, Kahane 1994, Beck 1999. Whallon 1961 and Whallon 1969, esp. Chapters 1 (1 – 32) and 2 (33 – 70) whose titles “The Homeric epithets are significantly true to individual character” and “The epithets for the heroes of the Iliad influenced their characterisation” sum up his conclusions. Or possibly two. See n. 24 below.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


ductions following pqos]vg (in the nominative) or pqos]vgr (in the vocative; 18 and 19):8 e. g. t¹m d’ !paleib|lemor pqos]vg p|dar ¡j»r )wikke}r t¹m d’ !paleib|lemor pqos]vgr, Eulaie sub_ta 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

p|dar ¡j»r )wikke}r pok}lgtir idusse}r joquha_okor >jtyq jqateq¹r Diol^dgr jqateq¹r Pok}vglor jqe_ym )cal]lmym namh¹r Lem]kaor Tekal~mior AUar Pq_alor heoeid¶r mevekgceq]ta Fe}r keuj~kemor Nqg ckauj_pir )h^mg 2j\eqcor )p|kkym Di¹r uR¹r )p|kkym p|dar ¡j]a _qir jqe_ym 1mos_whym jkut¹r 1mmos_caior Patq|jkeer RppeO Eulaie sub_ta

Type B) noun-epithet formulae used between the feminine caesura and the end of the line ([–g–c–f), often found in speech introductions following pqos]eipe(m), let]eipe(m) or t¹m/tµm d’ Ale_bet’ 5peita : e. g. t¹m d’ awte pqos]eipe peq_vqym Pgmek|peia tµm d’ awte pqos]eipem %man Di¹r uR¹r )p|kkym ax³ d³ dµ let]eipe boµm !cah¹r Diol^dgr to?si d³ ja· let]eipem %man !mdq_m )cal]lmym t¹m d’ Ale_bet’ 5peita pod\qjgr d?or )wikke}r 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 8

pod\qjgr d?or )wikke}r pok}tkar d?or idusse}r l]car joquha_okor >jtyq boµm !cah¹r Diol^dgr boµm !cah¹r Lem]kaor l]car Tekal~mior AUar c]qym Pq_alor heoeid^r Ceq^mior Rpp|ta M]styq

This category of epithets has been examined in some detail in Yamagata 1989, 98 – 103. I am drawing on the observations made there in the following discussion.


Naoko Yamagata

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37.

:k]mg Di¹r 1jcecau?a peq_vqym Pgmek|peia peq_vqym Eqq}jkeia v_kg tqov¹r Eqq}jkeia Heojk}lemor heoeid^r Lek\mhior, aQp|kor aQc_m he± keuj~kemor Nqg bo_pir p|tmia Nqg he± ckauj_pir )h^mg pod^melor ¡j]a _qir Poseid\ym 1mos_whym vikolleidµr )vqod_tg Di¹r huc\tgq )vqod_tg Di~mg d?a he\ym di\jtoqor !qceiv|mtgr peqijkut¹r !lvicu^eir he± H]tir !qcuq|pefa H]tir jat± d\jqu w]ousa L]dym, pepmul]ma eQd~r Lemoit_ou %kjilor uR|r Kuj\omor !cka¹r uR|r D|kym, Eql^deor uR|r sub~tgr, eqwalor !mdq_m bo_m 1pibouj|kor !m^q c]qym ûkior mgleqt^r %man !mdq_m )cal]lmym )k]namdqor heoeid^r %man 2j\eqcor )p|kkym %man Di¹r uR¹r )p|kkym

Virtually all epithets on the lists above function as strong markers of individuals, by being unique or almost unique to the persons so described. For the great majority of them the characteristics implied in the epithets are ‘expanded’ elsewhere in the text. The following is a character-bycharacter survey: Achilles A.1 p|dar ¡j»r )wikke}r B.1 pod\qjgr d?or )wikke}r Achilles’ swift-footedness is an exceptionally well-represented quality not only in these but also in other epithets (pod~jgr, p|dar taw}r, ¡j}r). Furthermore, this quality has been repeatedly described by epi-

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


thets applied to his feet. His superior speed is explicitly mentioned in comparison with Ajax who would not be inferior to Achilles in close combat, though no one can compete with Achilles in speed of feet (Il. 13.325).9 Hector himself fears that Achilles might dash at him and catch him with his ‘quick feet’ (taw]essi p|dessim : Il. 21.564). Even Apollo taunts Achilles, saying why he is chasing him with his ‘quick feet’ (pos·m taw]essi di~jeir : Il. 22.8). Athena disguised as Deiphobus describes how ‘swift’ (¡j}r : Il. 22.229) Achilles was chasing Hector with his ‘quick feet’ (pos·m taw]essi). The scene in which Achilles chases Hector around the walls of Troy (Il. 22.138ff.) provides the most vivid description of his speed. It begins with the striking line, ‘And Peleus’ son rushed upon him, confident in his quick feet’ (pos· jqaipmo?si pepoih~r : 22.138)10 followed by similes which compare him to a hawk (139 – 143) and to a hound (189 – 193). He is also compared to a racehorse at Il. 22.23 – 24 and his pursuit of Hector compared to a foot race (Il. 22.159 – 164).11 All of these enhance the image of the swift and persistent pursuer. Odysseus A.2 pok}lgtir idusse}r B.2 pok}tkar d?or idusse}r The image of the ‘crafty’ and ‘much-enduring’ Odysseus is also well illustrated. He has not only pok}lgtir, but also poijik|lgtir, Di· l/tim !t\kamtor, pokul^wamor, pok}tqopor and pok}vqym as his epithets to describe his craftiness and resourcefulness, and not only pok}tkar, but also takas_vqym and tk^lym to describe his endurance.12 Almost the entire poem of the Odyssey can be said to describe how he uses his wits to return home and how he endures hardships to take revenge 9 Cf. Whallon 1961, 108. 10 In discussing this line, Friedrich 2002, 11, notes that “[t]his is clearly a case where the available systematic formula would have been germane to the context; yet Homer offers something more germane, by going beyond what systematic diction provides: he chooses a phrase which is much more nuanced than the systematic formula and so contributes semantically to the context by bringing out a significant feature of it – a signal example of the phrase juste in Homer”. 11 Cf. Dunkle 1997, 228. 12 Cf. Whallon 1961, 122 – 125, for Odysseus’ epithets and his characterisation.


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on the suitors of Penelope. In the Iliad, too, his cleverness is vividly described by Helen and Antenor (Il. 3.200 – 224). His endurance is most clearly brought out when he is surrounded by the enemy on his own, and, after a moment’s pondering, decides to remain to fight on (Il. 11.401 – 410).13 Hector A.3 joquha_okor >jtyq B.3 l]car joquha_okor >jtyq Hector’s helmet as his distinguishing emblem is most memorably underlined in the family portrait of Hector, Andromache and their infant son Astyanax. The baby is frightened of his father’s helmet and Hector removes it, thereby symbolically changing his role momentarily from that of warrior to father (Il. 6.467 – 473). This image of Hector as warrior is also enhanced by another epithet ‘armed in bronze’ (wakjojoqust^r). If joquha_okor means ‘with the gleaming helmet’, it may also be echoed by his other epithet ‘shining’ (va_dilor).14

Diomedes A.4 jqateq¹r Diol^dgr B.4 boµm !cah¹r Diol^dgr Although jqateq|r belongs to the category of ‘generic’ epithets, it is not repeatedly used for anyone other than Diomedes in the Iliad. This characteristic is most extensively demonstrated in the hero’s aristeia in Iliad 5. His physical strength is also visually illustrated at Il. 5.302 – 304 where he throws at Aeneas a huge stone, which ‘no two men as they are nowadays can carry’. 13 Although I concede to Willcock’s observation that those epithets do not match the image of Odysseus in the Iliad as well as they do in the Odyssey. Cf. Willcock 2004, 52. 14 Cf. Whallon 1961, 111 – 114. The meaning of joquha_okor is uncertain, but probably ‘shaking the helmet’ rather than ‘with the gleaming helmet’. Cf. J.T. Hooker 1979, 118 – 119.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


The use of the other epithet, boµm !cah|r (‘good at the cry’), is almost entirely limited to Diomedes and Menelaus.15 This quality of Diomedes is again illustrated in Iliad 5, when, after wounding Aphrodite, he calls out from a distance, commanding the goddess to withdraw from the battle (347). Thus the quality inherent in the epithet is highlighted in the moment of his greatest glory.

Polyphemus A.5 jqateq¹r Pok}vglor The whole Polyphemus episode in Odyssey 9 illustrates the size and strength of the giant, particularly the huge rock he uses as the door to his cave which could not be carried even with twenty-two wagons (Od. 9.240 – 243). Zeus also says that his strength is the greatest among the Cyclopes (Od. 1.70 – 71).

Agamemnon A.6 jqe_ym )cal]lmym B.34 %man !mdq_m )cal]lmym Being the ‘ruler’ and ‘lord of men’ is unquestionably the most distinctive characteristic of Agamemnon. Even Achilles, the greatest warrior among the Achaeans, has to submit to his command, because he is the ‘sceptred king (basike}r) to whom Zeus gives magnificence’ (Il. 1.279, tr. Lattimore) and he rules over more men than any other (Il. 1.281). This is borne out by the greatest number of men and ships he has led to Troy (Il. 2.576 – 580).16 His kingly appearance is also memorably visualised in Priam’s description (Il. 3.169 – 170).

15 The only exception is Polites, a son of Priam, who is described with the epithet in the accusative on a list in Il. 24.250. 16 Cf. Whallon 1961, 102 – 106 for a detailed discussion of Agamenon’s epithets.


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Menelaus A.7 namh¹r Lem]kaor B.5 boµm !cah¹r Lem]kaor With a few exceptions,17 the use of namh|r as personal epithet is limited to Menelaus in both the Iliad (17 times) and Odyssey (15 times). No specific scene is devoted to Menelaus’ blond hair in either poem, but it may be a reference to his physical beauty,18 as the other characters who are specifically described to have blond hair, namely Achilles (Il. 1.197) and Odysseus (Od. 13.399, 431), are both shown to be remarkable in their physical beauty (e. g. Il. 2.673 – 674, Od. 6.230 – 235). Helen certainly has no complaint about Menelaus’ looks (Od. 4.264), though she was temporarily more attracted to Paris when she ran off with him. Willcock has pointed out that Menelaus’ character as we have him in the Iliad is not particularly ‘warlike’ as implied in his frequently applied epithets !q^ior and !qg_vikor.19 The same may apply to Menelaus ‘good at the cry’, but the poet has created a scene in which his cry plays an important role. When Menelaus and Telamonian Ajax need help to protect Patroclus’ body, Ajax urges Menelaus to call out to the other Achaeans, and Menelaus’ stirring speech, which appeals to his comrades’ sense of shame and is delivered in his ‘piercing’ cry, will duly attract the assistance needed (Il. 17.247). This is the highest point of his aristeia and the image inherent in his epithet is used to give a fitting portrayal of his character.20

17 Applied also to Meleager (Il. 2.642) and Radamanthys (Od. 4.564, 7.323) who belong to the ‘past’ and do not feature in the action. 18 Cf. Whallon 1961, 139. Nagy 1979, 210, also notes that heroes who have been immortalised attract the epithet namh|r, as Menelaus himself is destined to be (Od. 4.559 – 569). 19 Willcock 2002, 221 – 225, 2004, 53. 20 Cf. Menelaus’ character as described by Willcock 2002, 224: “not a great fighter, not a strong character, but a thoughtful and responsible man who is considerate of other people, and others are considerate to him”.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


Telamonian Ajax A.8 Tekal~mior AUar B.6 l]car Tekal~mior AUar It has been argued that Tekal~mior had originally been a descriptive epithet which was later mistaken for a patronymic.21 If so, the epithet represents Ajax as warrior with a body-shield suspended with a strap (tekal~m). Although there is no description of Ajax’s tekal~m itself in the poems, since his body shield is impressively represented (Il. 7.219 – 223, 11.485, 17.128) and since we know that the tekal~m of a hero can be as elaborate and conspicuous as the shield itself (cf. Il. 11.38 – 40), this may be another possible example of the visualisation of the quality implicit in the epithet. The addition of l]car in the second epithet above is also visually emphasised especially at Il. 3.225 – 229, where Helen describes him as pek~qior.22

Helen B.9 :k]mg Di¹r 1jcecau?a Helen’s divine beauty is most effectively described by the Trojan elders gathered on the city wall at Il. 3.154 – 160. She is specifically mentioned as Zeus’ daughter in Proteus’ prophecy that Menelaus will have his afterlife in the Elysian Field because he has Helen as his wife and is therefore Zeus’ son-in-law (Od. 4.569).

Penelope B.10 peq_vqym Pgmek|peia peq_vqym and its synonym 1w]vqym, both meaning ‘thoughtful, prudent, astute’, are as eminently fitting for Penelope as pok}lgtir is for Odys-

seus. We see the clever Penelope in action throughout the Odyssey, out21 Cf. Aitchison 1964. See also Whallon 1969, 9 – 14, for other possible interpretations of the epithet. 22 Cf. Whallon 1961, 110.


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witting her suitors with the trick of the web (Od. 19.138 – 156), keeping them hopeful and gathering gifts from them (Od. 18.275 – 283). She even outwits her husband, when she provokes him to produce the ultimate proof of his identity, i. e. the secret of their marriage bed (Od. 23.173 – 204). Eurycleia B.11 peq_vqym Eqq}jkeia B.12 v_kg tqov¹r Eqq}jkeia Eurycleia shares the epithet peq_vqym with Penelope (and Arete, another wise queen Od. 11.345). She is also described with many other epithets which indicate her shrewdness and thoughtfulness, such as pujilgd^r, pujim± vqes· l^de’ 5wousa, m|ou pokuzdqe_gsim, pok}zdqir and jedm± Qdu?a.23 However, her wisdom is made manifest most effectively by means of the action of other characters. Penelope herself (Od. 19.357) and Eumaeus (Od. 21.381) address Eurycleia with the epithet peq_vqym when they entrust her with responsible tasks, namely to wash the feet of the stranger (Odysseus in disguise) and to confine female servants in their rooms during the bow contest respectively. Telemachus also entrusts her with the secret preparation of provision for his journey abroad (Od. 2.349 – 360). As Odysseus and Penelope, Eurycleia has extensive echo of the quality inherent in this epithet throughout the poem. Eurycleia as dear nurse to Odysseus and his family is also clearly illustrated. She nursed and brought up Odysseus (Od. 19.354) and Telemachus (Od. 1.434 – 435), and she still carries out the duty of putting Telemachus to bed (e. g. Od. 1.434 – 442).

Medon B.27 L]dym, pepmul]ma eQd~r Medon is indeed portrayed as a sensible and shrewd person. He overhears and reports to Penelope the suitors’ plan to assassinate Telemachus (Od. 4.677, 696), hides himself under an ox-hide during the battle in the 23 Cf. Karydas 1998, 60 – 61.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


hall to save himself (22.361 – 363) and reports at the assembly that Odysseus took revenge on the suitors not without divine sanction, as he saw a god standing beside him in the form of Mentor (24.443 – 449). Interestingly the epithet pepmul]mor is applied to Telemachus and Laertes in another type of speech-introducing formula: t¹m/tµm d’ aw Tgk]lawor pepmul]mor !mt_om guda (43 times) t¹m d’ aw Ka]qtgr pepmul]mor !mt_om guda (once at Od. 24.375)

The portrayal of Telemachus as a sensible young man is again prevalent throughout the Odyssey. 24 Laertes also displays his astuteness when he quickly recovers from the excitement of his reunion with Odysseus and thinks ahead of the resulting danger of his killing of the suitors (Od. 24.353 – 355). Indeed, as Whallon has noted, “Laertes, Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus are united into a group by the epithets denoting their sagacity”. To this list we must also add Eurycleia and Medon. These extraordinary echoes of epithets and characteristics within the family group can only mean that it was an effect intended by the poet. Priam A.9 Pq_alor heoeid^r B.7 c]qym Pq_alor heoeid^r heoeid^r (godlike) is a ‘generic epithet’, but is chiefly used for Priam (10

times) and his sons, namely Paris (as Alexandros; 12 times), Deiphobus (once) and Aretus (once). The others are Chromius the Mysian (who curiously shares the name with a son of Priam), Ascanius the Phrygian, Polyxenus the Epeian (Il. 2.623) and Neoptolemus (Il. 19.327), all of whom are merely named and do not play any part in the poem. It is a particularly apt epithet for Priam who is from a family of handsome men, among whom are Ganymede (Il. 20.232 – 235) and Tithonus 24 Cf. Heath 2001 for the echoes of the meaning implied in the epithet expanded elsewhere, not only for Telemachus, but also some other characters to whom pepmul]mor is applied, such as Antilochus. The space available does not allow me to discuss the whole set of the epithets used in this type of speech introduction formulae, but the same sort of ‘echoes’ as we have seen above in the ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ can be found with this group of epithets, too, of which the case of Telemachus is the most prominent example.


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(Il. 11.1), beloved of the gods. Priam’s own beauty is emphasised in Achilles’ admiration when they observe each other face to face (Il. 24.631 – 632). Paris B.35 )k]namdqor heoeid^r heoeid^r is also a very apt epithet for Paris as for his father. His beauty is

also mentioned explicitly in the poem (e. g. Il. 3.44 – 45, 392).

Theoclymenus B.13 Heojk}lemor heoeid^r This name-epithet formula is used five times for Theoclymenus. As a ‘generic’ epithet, heoeid^r is applied to a number of other characters in the Odyssey (Telemachus 5x; Eurymachus 3x; Eurylochus 1x; Nausithous 1x; Alcinous 1x; Antinous 1x), but its use in speech introduction is limited only to Theoclymenus. This may be a result of the poet’s intention to create a definitive image for the otherwise unknown character. He is introduced with an extensive genealogy, going back three generations to the famed prophet Melampous (Od. 15.225 – 258). His family curiously includes, like that of Priam, a man loved and carried off by Eos for his beauty (Cleitus, Theoclymenus’ uncle Od. 15.250 – 251), suggesting that this is also another family of handsome men, possibly created from the model of the Trojan royal family. His name, too, with the theo-prefix, makes this epithet a natural choice.

Nestor B.8 Ceq^mior Rpp|ta M]styq As observed by Whallon,25 ‘horseman’ is an appropriate epithet for Nestor because of his knowledge of horsemanship. He is seen giving advice 25 Whallon 1961, 118; 1969, 22.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


to younger comrades (Il. 4.303 – 309, 322 – 323) and his son Antilochus (Il. 23.305 – 348). He is also the first to hear the thunder of the approaching chariot, when Odysseus and Diomedes return from their night raid (Il. 10.533 – 535).26 Patroclus A.18 Patq|jkeer RppeO B.28 Lemoit_ou %kjilor uR|r Patroclus is given two equestrian epithets, RppeO and Rppoj]keuhe, both in the vocative and unique to him. There are other ‘horsemen’ in the Iliad, including Nestor, Peleus and Phoenix, but they are called Rpp|ta and/or Rppgk\ta, never sharing Patroclus’ horse-epithets, no doubt for metrical reasons. All examples of the formula Patq|jkeer RppeO (Il. 16.20, 744, 812, 843) and one example of Patq|jkeer Rppoj]keuhe (Il. 16.584) occur in the poet’s apostrophe and the other examples of Patq|jkeer Rppoj]keuhe occur in Achilles’ address to Patroclus (Il. 16.126, 839). The meaning of the epithet ‘horseman’ is highly significant, as the immortality of Achilles’ horses which he used to drive not only guarantees him success as charioteer, but also, in contrast with the mortality of Patroclus (and of Achilles), plays an important role in the characterisation of the heroes. The mortality of the heroes and the immortality of the horses are repeatedly contrasted, in their lamentation for Patroclus (Il. 17.432 – 440, 23.280 – 284) and Achilles’ exchange of words with one of them, Xanthus (Il. 19.400 – 424).27 Willcock interprets Patroclus’ unique concentration of epithets in the vocative as evidence that “he was not a hero who took initiative in pre-Homeric poetry, but someone who was regularly spoken to, no doubt by his friend and commander Achilleus”,28 implying in effect some influence of characterisation on formulaic expressions. Exactly how the effect of the poet’s apostrophe to the characters such as Patro26 The etymology of Ceq^mior is obscure, no doubt as a result of the very ancient origin of the epithet and in keeping with his image as warrior of an earlier generation. Cf. Kirk 1985, 151. 27 Cf. Yamagata 1989, 102 and Schein 2002. 28 Cf. Willcock 2004, 60.


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clus and Eumaeus should be interpreted is still a matter of debate,29 but it seems clear that the inclusion of the notion of ‘horseman’ in this formula for Patroclus as part of a one-line speech introduction (e.g. Il. 16.843 t¹m akicodqam]ym pqos]vgr, Patq|jkeer RppeO), was intentional and significant.30 Patroclus’ relationship to his father Menoetius, which parallels Achilles’ relationship to his father Peleus, is also frequently mentioned in the poem, adding particular pathos to the hero’s death (Il. 11.771 – 789, 16.14 – 16, 18.325 – 327, 23.85).

Eumaeus A.19 Eulaie sub_ta B.31 sub~tgr, eqwalor !mdq_m ‘Swineherd’ is the most obvious epithet for Eumaeus, so obvious that he can be simply referred to as ‘the swineherd’ without his own name. Eulaie sub_ta is used 16 times in the Odyssey, 15 times in the speech introduction as the poet’s apostrophe and once in dialogue. The same questions as we asked about Patroclus’ formula can be asked about the poet’s choice to apostrophise this character, but the significance of the epithet for Eumaeus’ characterisation is obvious. He is depicted hard at work tending his master’s pigs (Od. 14.5 – 22, 526 – 533 – duly noted by Odysseus in disguise, 526), enhancing the image of Eumaeus as his loyal servant. The epithet ‘leader of men’ is also justified, as he is shown to be a leader of his own team of swineherds (e. g. Od. 14.413ff.).

29 Cf. Kahane 1994, 153 – 155. 30 In other words, even if the poet was somehow ‘insensitive’ to the second person syntax of the speech introduction formula for Patroclus, he was likely to have been fully conscious of the meaning ‘horseman’ of the epithet as an integral part of the hero’s characterisation. This was in a nutshell the conclusion of Yamagata 1989, 103.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


Philoetius B.32 bo_m 1pibouj|kor !m^q Philoetius’ own name is not used in speech introductions, but he is first introduced into the story as Viko_tior, eqwalor !mdq_m (Od. 20.185), making him very much a ‘double’ to Eumaeus (cf. his formula B.31). He brings a cow and goats for the feast, greets kindly to the stranger (disguised Odysseus) and speaks of his success in breeding Odysseus’ cattle, his distress at having to serve the suitors and his hope for Odysseus’ return (Od. 20.185 – 225). As in the case of Eumaeus, Philoetius’ loyalty is bound up in the image of him as cowherd, making it his distinctive formula. Melanthius B.14 Lek\mhior, aQp|kor aQc_m As in the case of ‘swineherd’ Eumaeus and ‘cowherd’ Philoetius, this noun-epithet combination is a most obvious and perhaps uninteresting one at first sight. However, as in the cases of Eumaeus and Philoetius, Melanthius as character is also defined very much through his action as the goatherd in Odysseus’ household. He is depicted taking goats for the suitors no less than three times (Od. 17.213 – 214 = 20.174 – 175, 21.266), without any sign of reluctance. When Eumaeus has tied and hauled Melanthius up, he taunts him saying that he could stay up all night till the time when he used to bring the goats for the suitors (Od. 22.198 – 199). The image of Melanthius driving goats is effectively the symbol of his betrayal of his master Odysseus.

Pandarus B.29 Kuj\omor !cka¹r uR|r As in the case of Patroclus, the poet gives us a glimpse of Pandarus’ relationship with his father at Il. 5.192 – 205, where he recalls how the old spearman Lycaon urged him again and again to take a chariot with him to the war, and yet Pandarus did not listen to his father’s good advice,


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which he now regrets. With this scene just before Pandarus’ fatal encounter with Diomedes and the mention of his father as an old man, the patronymic resonates with pathos in the final episode of the hero.

Dolon B.30 D|kym, Eql^deor uR|r Dolon’s patronymic, like those of Patroclus and Pandarus, has echoes in the surrounding text. Dolon is first introduced into the story with the information that he is the only son (among five sisters) of Eumedes, a sacred herald who owned much gold and bronze (Il. 10.314 – 317). Later, when he runs into Diomedes and Odysseus, he begs them to take him alive, saying that his rich father will give them abundant ransom (378 – 381), but to no avail, as his captors do not keep their promise, but kill him after extracting information from him (455 – 457).

Zeus A.10 mevekgceq]ta Fe}r There are a number of passages in which Zeus is depicted as the cloudgatherer and storm-god (Il. 16.364 – 365, 17.593 – 595, Od. 5.303 – 305, 9.67 – 69; cf. Il. 15.152 – 153, 17.649 – 650). He also has other epithets expressing his function as weather-god, namely !steqopgt^r (of the lightning), 1q_cdoupor (loud-thundering) and teqpij]qaumor (delighting in thunder). However, Zeus the ‘cloud-gatherer’ is most memorably portrayed when he gathers a golden cloud to wrap himself and his wife Hera to enjoy an intimate moment in the middle of the day (Il. 14.341 – 351).31

31 Cf. Whallon 1961, 131.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


Hera A.11 keuj~kemor Nqg B.15 he± keuj~kemor Nqg B.16. bo_pir p|tmia Nqg In the Odyssey, the epithet keuj~kemor is applied to Nausicaa (4 times), Arete (3 times) and Helen (once), but not to Hera. In the Iliad it is applied to Hera (24 times), Andromache (3 times) and Helen (once). Keuj~kemor may be called ‘generic’, but its dominant application to Hera makes it almost her own, especially if we regard it as a shorter version of he± keuj~kemor, which is exclusive to Hera (used 19 times in the Iliad). Her beauty, including the beauty of her skin implied in the epithet, is elaborately described in her toilet-scene (Il. 14.170 – 186), especially at 170 (wqo¹r Rleq|emtor) and 186 (poss· kipaqo?sim). The epithet bo_pir is only used in the Iliad for three minor figures (Clymene, Phylomedusa, Halie), but bo_pir p|tmia is applied exclusively to Hera (14 times). There is no particular scene which visualises the goddess as ‘cow-eyed’ or ‘cow-faced’, but combined with the title ‘lady’, it is an instantly recognisable title for the queen of heaven.32

Athena A.12 ckauj_pir )h^mg B.17 he± ckauj_pir )h^mg Whether ckauj_pir means ‘owl-eyed/faced’ or ‘blue-gray-eyed’, the brightness of her eyes that Achilles observes at Il. 1.200 appears to illustrate that quality. Athena is never compared to an owl, but her association with birds seems to be present in her metamorphosis into a seaeagle at Od. 3.371 – 372 and into a swallow at Od. 22.239 – 240 and her departure like a bird (Od. 1.319 – 320).33 32 Cf. Friedrich 2007, 78 – 80, for possible context-led alternations between metrically equivalent he± keuj~kemor Nqg and bo_pir p|tmia Nqg. 33 As with Nestor’s Ceq^mior, obscure epithets such as bo_pir and ckauj_pir do seem to testify to the antiquity of the tradition from which Homer’s poetry developed. It has been speculated that ckauj_pir and bo_pir originate from the time when the goddesses were envisaged as ‘theriomorphic’ (cf. Kirk 1985, 110). Although Kirk is sceptical of this view, such legacy appears to be still


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Apollo A.13 2j\eqcor )p|kkym A.14 Di¹r uR¹r )p|kkym B.36 %man 2j\eqcor )p|kkym B.37 %man Di¹r uR¹r )p|kkym The Iliad begins with the episode of the plague sent by Apollo, in which we see the far-worker/shooter at work (Il. 1.43 – 52, esp. 48). The god also has a number of other epithets enhancing his image of the archer god: 2jatgbek]tgr, 2jatgb|kor, 6jator, 2jgb|kor and !qcuq|tonor.34 The most visually clear reminder that Apollo is Zeus’s son will be the episodes in which he is authorised by Zeus to use the aegis (Il. 15.229 – 230 and 24.20 – 21).35 Iris A.15 p|dar ¡j]a _qir B.18 pod^melor ¡j]a _qir These epithets look like the female equivalent of Achilles’. Just as Achilles, Iris also has a number of epithets denoting her speed, i.e. pod^melor on its own, ¡j]a on its own, !ekk|por, wqus|pteqor and tawe?a. Her speed, like Achilles’, is also illustrated in similes, one of snow blown by the north wind (Il. 15.170 – 171) and the other of a lead weight sinking into the depth of the sea (Il. 24.80 – 82).

alive certainly in Athena’s portrayal. For Athena’s association with birds, see also Il. 5.778, where Hera and Athena’s steps are compared to those of doves. 34 Whallon 1961, 132 – 133. 35 Friedrich 2007, 80 – 81, offers possible explanations as to how the choices were made between each metrically equivalent pair of formulae.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


Poseidon A.16 jqe_ym 1mos_whym A.17 jkut¹r 1mmos_caior B.19 Poseid\ym 1mos_whym 1mos_whym and 1mmos_caior are only used for Poseidon both in the Iliad

and Odyssey, and indeed also as his byname. The god is more often characterised as the sea-god than the ‘earth-shaker’, but he does shake the earth at Il. 20.57 – 65 and at Il. 13.17 – 19. He is also prophesied to (and threatens to) surround the Phaeacians’ town with a great mountain one day (Od. 8.569, 13.152, 158, 177, 183), which seems to suggest his seismic activity. Aphrodite B.20 vikolleidµr )vqod_tg B.21 Di¹r huc\tgq )vqod_tg vikolleid^r can be interpreted either as lover of smiles (leid\y) or lover of genitals (l^dea) both of which seem to match the goddess’ character-

isation. Having borrowed Aphrodite’s kit of love charms, Hera smiles at her as she leaves (Il. 14.222 – 223), as if to signal that she is now literally equipped with Aphrodite’s charm. Aphrodite is certainly shown to be the lover of sex whether encouraging others’ love-making (Il. 3.390 – 397) or having an affair herself (Od. 8.267 – 270, 295 – 296).36 Aphrodite is also explicitly portrayed as Zeus’ daughter. When she returns to Olympus wounded by Diomedes, Zeus ‘smiles’ (at Athena’s joke at Aphrodite’s expense), then addresses Aphrodite as ‘my child’, and tells her not to meddle with warfare, but to mind her own business, i. e. the matter of love and marriage (Il. 5.426 – 430). Aphrodite is called ‘daughter of Zeus’ in Hephaestus’ complaint after her affair with Ares (Od. 8.308), and he demands compensation from her father (8.318 – 319).

36 For the etymology of vikolleid^r and its alternation with the metrically equivalent Di¹r huc\tgq, cf. Kirk 1985, 326 – 327 and Friedrich 2007, 111 – 112.


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Dione B.22 Di~mg d?a he\ym Dione only appears at Il. 5.370 – 417 as the mother of Aphrodite and this epithet is applied to her only once as part of the one-line speech formula (tµm d’ Ale_bet’ 5peita Di~mg d?a he\ym Il. 5.381). Clearly a temporary addition to Olympus37, she lacks her own distinct epithet and has to share a ‘generic’ one with many others. Elsewhere in the Iliad d?a he\ym is applied to Athena, Thetis, Charis and Iris once each, and in the Odyssey to Calypso (15 times), Circe (8 times), Athena (6 times) and Eidothea (twice). We may note, however, that d?a is etymologically connected with Dione (and Zeus)38, and in that sense the poet has chosen the most distinctive epithet for the goddess, which recalls her role as Zeus’ consort. Hermes B.23 di\jtoqor !qceiv|mtgr di\jtoqor (messenger) and !qceiv|mtgr (slayer of Argos)39 are both ex-

clusively Hermes’ epithets (and bynames).40 The latter image is not enacted anywhere in Homer, but he acts as messenger-god in Il. 24.339ff. and Od. 5.43ff., on his missions to Priam and to Calypso respectively. Hephaestus B.24 peqijkut¹r !lvicu^eir As of some other divine epithets, the meaning of !lvicu^eir is much debated. It may refer to his legs (‘curved on both sides’ i.e. ‘bow-legged’ or ‘lame’) or his arms (‘strong on both arms’ i.e. ‘ambidextrous’).41 Both 37 38 39 40 41

Cf. Kirk 1990, 99. Rather like in the case of heoeid^r for Theoclymenus, as we have seen above. The meaning of !qceiv|mtgr is much debated. Cf. Watkins 1995, 383 – 385. Cf. Kirk 1985, 127, for the etymology of di\jtoqor and !qceiv|mtgr. Cf. Heubeck, West, and Haisworth 1988, 366 – 367.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


characteristics of the god are amply illustrated. He is lame (Od. 8.332), hobbles around (Il. 1.600) and limps (Il. 18.417). On the other hand, he displays his skills in making Achilles’ armour in Iliad 18 and the trap for Aphrodite and Ares (Od. 8.273 – 275) using his strong arms.

Thetis B.25 he± H]tir !qcuq|pefa B.26 H]tir jat± d\jqu w]ousa As the mother of ‘swift-footed’ Achilles, it seems appropriate that Thetis should have an epithet that focuses on her feet.42 Exactly how we should interpret ‘silver-footed’ is uncertain, but given that white skin (as implied in keuj~kemor) is a feature of beautiful women and goddesses and that human or divine feet are likely to glisten like silver only when wet, it seems possible that it refers to the whiteness of the goddess’ feet and water reflecting light around them as she moves from sea to land or to sky.43 As Hinckley has pointed out, Thetis’ silver feet will then “signal an aspect of her identity which is supremely relevant to the story, for her crossings occur at the beginning (Book I), at the turning point (XVIII) and at the closure (XXIV) of Achilles’ ‘angers’”.44 To this we may also add Od. 24.92, where, having come from the sea with her sisters, ‘silver-footed’ Thetis presides over the funeral games in her son’s honour. jat± d\jqu w]ousa looks very much like an ad-hoc alternative invented to fit the context, used to introduce Thetis’ speeches lamenting Achilles’ impending death (Il. 1.413, 18.94, 428).45 Milman Parry speculates that “H]tir jat± d\jqu w]ousa may well be a formula, made to be used whenever the poet had to describe the traditional role of Thetis, the mother lamenting the destiny of her son”.46 Thetis as the mourning

42 There has even been a suggestion that !qcuq|pefa is a metrical substitute for *!qc_-pefa, meaning either ‘swift-footed’ or ‘white-footed’. Cf. Watkins 1995, 172 n. 6. 43 Cf. Hinckley 2001 and Pulleyn 2000, 258, ad Il. 1.538. 44 Hinckley 2001, 147. 45 Cf. Friedrich 2007, 103. 46 M. Parry 1971, 15 [= ‘The Traditional Epithet in Homer’ 17 – 18]. It is clear from this statement that Parry himself thinks that the poet could consciously,


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mother is indeed a prevailing theme in the Iliad,47 perhaps most memorably visualised in her dark veil which she wears when she visits Olympus (Il. 24.93 – 94). Proteus B.33 c]qym ûkior mgleqt^r Proteus is a minor sea god who makes only a brief appearance at Od. 4.365 – 570, but his prophecy plays an important role in conveying the news of Agamemnon’s household to Menelaus, and through him to Telemachus, to inspire the young man to stand up to the suitors of his mother. The audience/readers who know the story of the Trojan Cycle will recognise his prophecy as ‘unerring’, and his appearance from and disappearance into the sea (4.450, 570) bear out the epithet ‘of the sea’. There is nothing to suggest that Proteus physically appears like an ‘old man’, as immortals are usually unaging, but the fact that he has a ‘grown-up’ daughter Eidothea and that he is more knowledgeable than some other gods such as his daughter, suggest an old-man figure.

Summary of observations The first thing to note from the survey above is that the noun-epithet formulae (in most cases name-epithet combinations) deployed in the metrical slots concerned in speech introductions appear to be designed to invoke distinctive, individual images of the persons described. It is not only the case with such prominent heroes as ‘swift-footed’ Achilles and ‘crafty’ Odysseus whose characterisation is prevalent throughout the poem(s), but even with minor characters such as Theoclymenus, Dione and Odysseus’ herdsmen, there seems to be conscious effort on the poet’s part to make their epithets distinctive, by making them as exclusive as possible, and, wherever possible, by echoing and developing the images inherent in them through other means.48 rather than mechanically, select even ‘traditional’ epithets according to their meaning. 47 Cf. Tsagalis 2004a. See also Slatkin 1991, esp. 85 – 105, who sees Thetis’ anger and potential for revenge as another theme behind her grief. 48 Cf. note 10 above on Friedrich 2002, 11 and note 24 above on Heath 2001.

Epithets with Echoes: A Study on Formula-Narrative Interaction


The need to make the image of the speaker stand out in speech introductions will be most acutely felt in oral performance, as the audience can easily lose the thread of the story if they miss or mishear the name of the speaker and then be plunged into a long stretch of speech.49 The function of focusing the audience’s attention on the essence of the character, which Vivante and Foley attribute to epithets in general,50 would be of most use here, and it does seem to manifest particularly strongly with these groups of epithets that we have examined. But is it the ‘traditional’ epithet that influenced the ‘echoing’ characterisation,51 or is it the characterisation as intended by the poet that demanded the invention of the appropriate epithet? As Hainsworth notes in his review of Whallon 1969,52 this is in most cases a chicken-and-egg question. The obscure epithets such as bo_pir, !qceiv|mtgr and Ceq^mior seem to indicate that some epithets do come first, probably inherited from the age-old oral tradition, but do not create any visible extension of such images, except in the case of ckauj_pir for Athena, who has curious association with bird images, which may be an echo of the ancient owl-image of the goddess evoked by the epithet. In the cases of Odysseus’ herdsmen, Eumaeus, Philoetius and Melanthius, their characters are more likely to have been invented by the poet, who built up their characters both with their job titles as epithets and their activities. In such cases it is quite likely that epithets and incidents came together as a ‘package’, both enhancing and echoing each other. The case of Theoclymenus may be similar in that his character was probably invented for the Odyssey, who is only given a ‘generic’ epithet heoeid^r for his all-important speech introduction formula. The poet then adds his genealogy to shore up his profile that justifies the ‘divine’ association both in his name and the epithet by inserting the episode of his uncle loved by the goddess Eos. The whole sequence seems to be a package in which we cannot readily talk about the priority of either the epithet or the ‘extension’. 49 I realised the importance of highlighting the speaker for the benefit of the audience when I first read a translation of the Iliad containing an error that substituted ‘Nestor’ for ‘Hector’ at one point, which caused me considerable confusion! We can imagine mishearing of that sort easily happening in performance situations. 50 Cf. Vivante 1982, Foley 1991 and n. 4 above. 51 As suggested by Whallon 1969, 33 – 70. 52 Hainsworth 1971, 70.


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But if so, we may also ask, why is Achilles ‘swift-footed’ or why is Odysseus ‘crafty’ and ‘much-enduring’? Did the poet inherit the epithet (s) (and some others of the same meaning) and created a character to match it, or did he invent the epithet to match the character and action he intended to sing about? Or did he inherit both, or neither? What about the echoes of the quality ‘clever, wise’ throughout Odysseus’ household, applied also to Penelope, Telemachus, Euryclea and Medon? The most likely explanation of such extensive echoes as these seems to me to be that the technique of characterisation in Homer is indeed an ‘immanent art’, which governs both the choice of epithets and action for individual characters, ensuring the consistency of characterisation.53 Some characters and epithets may be traditional, some may be the poet’s invention, but either way, the evidence seems to indicate that the poet is conscious of the meaning of the epithets considered above, which he uses as integral part of characterisation of his heroes and heroines.

53 For the consistency of Homeric characterisation, cf. Willcock 1983, 480, and Minchin (forthcoming). I am grateful to Elizabeth Minchin for her kind permission to read her article before its publication.

Part V: Homer and Beyond

Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis Andrea Debiasi 1. The Name of Homer Just as with every other aspect concerning Homer and his work, the name of the poet has been the subject of much interest and study both in antiquity and in modern times. While the ancients were interested in demonstrating the intrinsic truth (5tulom) expressed by a name, which was considered indicative of a specific condition of the poet’s life,1 the effort current among scholars today is to find in the term flgqor / nlgqor an objective and extrinsic connection with the rhapsodic practices of the Greek world during the Archaic Age.2 From this perspective, a re-examination of the name ‘Homer’ and its connotations may suggest novel points of view and implications that can illuminate historical and traditional aspects that remain obscure. The explanations proposed in ancient times about the name ‘Homer’ are many and diverse.3 Rejecting the more speculative and ungrounded,4 it is possible to extract two main interpretations. According to these interpretations, nlgqor was an epithet given to the poet suggesting either his being taken hostage or the loss of his sight during his travels. Anecdotal aspects aside, such explanations do not bear up under scrutiny. ‘Hostage’ with its ominous undertone is an absolutely improb-


2 3 4

In antiquity the proper name had a strong semantic value and it was connected to the person itself; see Salvadore 1987. For the care in the use of the language and of the ultimate meaning of the words by ‘poets, scholars and biographers’, see Arrighetti 1987. See, e. g., Nagy 1979=19992, 296 – 300; West 1999, 366 – 376. Graziosi 2002, 52 – 54 is sceptical. De Martino 1984, 181 – 182; cf. Allen 1924 comparative table opposite to p. 32; Graziosi 2002, 79 – 82. Cf., e. g., Heliod. Aethiop. 3.14: Homer should be related to lgqºr = ‘thigh’, since ‘on both his thighs from birth there grew a great deal of hair’.


Andrea Debiasi

able name:5 it would also imply an undocumented linguistic development according to which nlgqor should relate to the neutral plural flgqa.6 Equally suspect is the passage from flgqor (‘blind’) to nlgqor, as there exists no proof of flgqor conveying such a meaning.7 Rather, it is far more likely that the actual role of blind people in rhapsodic contexts8 and the association of blindness with inspiration and wisdom9 produced the association of nlgqor to flgqor (‘blind’).10 Having highlighted the unlikeness of the old etymologies, most scholars have suggested that in flgqor / nlgqor we recognize the clear derivation of the roots bl- (cf. bloO)11 + !q- (cf. !qaq¸sjy),12 a combination present in many words both in Greek and in Sanskrit 5 See West 1999, 367, 375, where the theory of Seleuc. fr. 76 Müller (= Harpocr. s.v. jlgq¸dai), according to which the name of the Homerids directly derives from flgqa ‘hostages’, is also refuted. Among modern scholars some have adopted the ancient etymon: see, e. g., Schwartz 1940; cf. also the conservative approach of Hiller 1887. 6 As regards the lexeme flgqo- ‘pledge’, ‘surety’, ‘hostage’, flgqa (collective) is surely the ‘basic form’, whereas flgqoi and flgqor (three occurrences in Euripides) are the result of successive evolutions. For details see Durante 1957 = 1976, 185 – 204, esp. 190 – 191. 7 The only case where flgqor ‘blind’ occurs without any reference to Homer is in Lycophr. Alex. 422, where the (par)etymologic connection is anyway implicit, in tune with the erudite and obscure use of the poet of the Alexandra. 8 See Bowra 1952, 420 – 422. 9 Cf. the survey of Graziosi 2002, 125 – 163. 10 The seer Tiresias (Od. 10.492 – 493; 12.267) and the bards Demodocus (Od. 8.64) and Thamyris (Il. 2.599) are represented as blind in the Homeric poems. Similarly, according to the tradition Stesichorus is blind, although temporarily. It is possible that the Homeric passages contributed to the diffusion of the equivalence nlgqor = ‘Blind’: Deroy 1972, 431. The link poetry-blindness, such that the blind is the poet par excellence, and its application to Homer constitute the basis of the proud statement of the author of the Hymn to Apollo, who declares himself ‘the blind man’ (v. 172) ‘who dwells in rocky Chios’, where tuvk¹r !m¶q = Homer / Homerid: see Birt 1932; cf. also De Martino 1982, 94 – 99; Graziosi 2002, 138 – 150. 11 Or "l- (cf. ûla), with vocalic alternation. It is properly a prefix. 12 Such analysis, particularly developed by Welcker 18652, 120 and Curtius 1855 is the most linear and consistent, and it has been periodically revisited and polished: see Birt 1932; Durante 1976, 194 – 203. The variant bl- + 1q- (cf. 5qwolai) by Szemerényi 1954, esp. 263 – 266 is satisfying for the meaning but less for the form. The theory of Deroy 1972, 438 – 439, who considers flgqor composed by b- (phonetic variant of "- copulative) + lgqºr based on a doubtful parallelism with the Mycenaean u-me-ta (Pylos Tablet Ea 259) is not different nor more persuasive than that by Heliodorus (see above, n. 4).

Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis


(Vedic). Semantically, these roots share the meanings of ‘meeting’ (in a peaceful sense but sometimes also hostile: ‘fight’) and of ‘(re)union’.13 Marcello Durante has explained how such meanings are consistent with the figure and the role of Homer.14 Durante takes into account the place-name of the venue of the meetings of the Achaean Federation jl²qiom / *l²qiom and the corresponding epiclesis jl²qior / *l²qior given to the gods protecting the area (Zeus with the paredroi Athena and Aphrodite).15 Noticing the formal and substantial affinity between the epithets jl²qior and jlac¼qior (‘god of the bl¶cuqir / pam¶cuqir’ or ‘god of the assembly’),16 he justifiably draws attention to the ancient term *flòqor or *flòqir for ‘reunion, panegyris’ and defines the name ‘Homer’ as ‘the one attending the panegyris’, i. e. ‘the agonistic poet’.17 A similar meaning seems also to be denoted by the name of the mythical poet H²luqir, from which we may derive the ancient Aeolic terms h²luqir meaning ‘reunion’ and haluq¸feim meaning ‘to re-unite’.18 Such an interpretation, which takes into account common and well documented practices in the Archaic Age, ultimately recognizes ‘Homer’ as a ‘telling name’ and as connected to the technical and professional sphere of epic poetry19 – a tradition whose essence cannot be

13 See the Greek series blgq´y, bl¶qgr, flgqa (from which flgqoi : see above, n. 6), blaqt´y, and the corresponding Vedic terms in Durante 1976, 195, especially samar- ‘meeting’, ‘reunion’, ‘contest’ and samary- ‘poetic contest’. 14 Durante 1976, 185 – 204. 15 Strabo 8.7.3 C 385 and 8.7.5 C 387; Polyb. 5.93.10. Another jl²qiom, explicitly modelled on that of the metropolis, was founded by the Achaean colonies of Crotone, Sybaris and Caulonia in the 5th century BC: Polyb. 2.39.6. For a detailed discussion of these and other sources, both literary and epigraphic, see Aymard 1935; 1938, 277 – 302, who connects jl²qiom, jl²qior to blgq´y (bl- + !q-). 16 The sacred area was dedicated to Zeus jlac¼qior. This was destroyed and rebuilt after the earthquake of 373 BC, and the Achaeans still used it to meet in Roman Age: see Paus. 7.24.2 who explains the epicle¯sis by remembering that Agamennon summoned here the Achaean chiefs before sailing to Troy. 17 This is basically the same conclusion drawn, independently, by Pocock 1967, esp. 103. 18 Hesych. s.v. h²luqir7 pam¶cuqir, s¼modor, C pujmºtgr tim_m, s.v. haluq¸fei7 !hqo¸fei, sum²cei. 19 In Od. 22.330 – 331 the bard of Ithaca is Phemius, ‘the Speaker’, son of Terpius, ‘the Rejoicer’, relative to which the historical names of the citharode Terpander and of the rhapsode Terpsicles have a similar function. Similarly, Stesichorus means ‘organizer of choruses’: see Càssola 1975, xxxiv. The interpreta-


Andrea Debiasi

separated from the rhapsodic contests and the celebrations inherent in it.20

2. IG XII 9.56.135: Homer in Euboea In view of such an interpretation, considered by scholars to be the most convincing,21 the epigraphic evidence of a lead tablet mostly neglected by Homeric studies acquires exceptional relevance. This tablet, datable to the 5th century BC, comes from Styra in Euboea (IG XII 9.56.135) and contains the complete person’s name Goleqior (= jl¶qior).22 If it is true, as noted by Durante, that such a name is homonymous with Fe»r jl²qior, and therefore has a theophoric meaning,23 it is also true that such a name cannot be separated from its association with nlaqor / Ion. nlgqor24 because, as noted above, the two terms are mutually connected. bl²qior / bl¶qior is nothing more than the adjectival derivation of flaqor / flgqor.25 From this perspective, the inscription from Styra represents the oldest documented case of ‘Homeric’ anthroponymy. Furthermore, it is close to the time when the name ‘Homer’ begins to be widely associated

20 21

22 23 24


tion of the name of Hesiod as ‘he who emits the voice’ is very likely and attractive: Nagy 1979=19992, 296 – 297; 2009, 287 – 288. For the rhapsodic contests as pivot of the birth and development of the Homeric epic, see Pagliaro 1953, 3 – 62, esp. 52 – 62; Broccia 1967; Càssola 1975, xivxvi. Càssola 1975, xxxiii; West 1999, 376. See also the theory of Nagy 1979=19992, 296 – 300; 2009, 288 who interprets flgqor as ‘he who fits [the song] together’. The two explanations, moving from the same roots bl- + !q-, do not necessarily contradict each other. This inscription belongs to a sizeable and consistent group of tablets, found in Styra close to a square structure, likely an altar, that name only anthroponyms: for a very similar case, see Cordano 1992. Durante 1976, 189. See Syll. 3 498, 2, where an Aetolian hieromne¯mon in Delphi (3rd century BC) is called nlaqor, a name that according to Durante 1976, 189 “può ben essere una Rckbildung del nome precedente [jl²qior / jl¶qior], qual è ad esempio Pama¸tykor rispetto a Pamait¾kior”. See Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 1884, 378: no anthroponym nlgqor can be independent from the name of the poet.

Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis


with the Iliad and the Odyssey,26 and it dates before other sporadic epigraphic mentions of individuals called Homer.27 This inscription is remarkable both for its chronology and for its peculiar geographic origin, which has a special relation to the name marked on it. As just explained, the deepest meaning of the name Homer (jl²qior / Ion. jl¶qior or nlaqor / Ion. nlgqor) is ‘agonistic poet’. It is rather telling that the tradition recognizes an ‘agonistic’ Homer in Euboea, the locale of a famous poetic contest between Homer and Hesiod.28 Thus etymological investigation, epigraphic evidence, and traditional data coincide and represent an extremely consistent triad whereby Euboea plays a very significant role. Scholars have traditionally identified a remarkable linguistic and cultural Euboean influence on the Greek epic, and in particular on the Homeric epic tradition.29 It is an influence manifest both ‘within’30 and ‘outside’ the Iliad and the Odyssey. 31 26 The Iliad and the Odyssey are explicitly credited to Homer starting from the 6th century BC. The only previous reference to the poet is, in the 7th century BC, in Callin. fr. 6 West (= Paus. 9.9.5), where Homer is mentioned as the author of the Thebaid: see Burkert 1987; West 1999, 376 – 382. 27 Such evidence, of Hellenistic and Imperial Age, is gathered in Allen 1907, 142 (no mention of IG XII 9.56.135); see also West 1999, 366. For evidence before the Christian Era, see below, n. 36. 28 In this respect, the tradition is unambiguous and well established. A collection of some of the sources referring to the Euboean contest between Homer and Hesiod is Allen 1912, 218 – 223. An isolated citation about a Homer-Hesiod contest in Delos is found in Philoch. fr. 212 Müller (= sch. Pind. Nem. 2.1) = Hes. fr. 257 M.-W. The ‘Hesiodic’ fragment, definitely spurious, offers an alternative version to the Homeric contest par excellence, the one in Euboea, which is explicitly assumed in the expression (v. 1) tºte pq_tom. Such an invention is closely related to the Hymn, Delian and Pythian at the same time, To Apollo (3), edited in its final draft by the Homerid Cynaethus of Chios in the 6th century BC (see again sch. Pind. Nem. 2.1), probably for the Delian-Pythian games proclaimed in 523 or 522 by Polycrates, the ruler of Samos: see Burkert 1979a; Janko 1982, 112 – 114, 258 – 261; De Martino 1982, 28 n. 29, 52 – 55; Aloni 1989. 29 Among the most significant contributions are: Wathelet 1981; West 1988, esp. 166 – 172 (fundamental); Powell 1991, esp. 231 – 233; Ruijgh 1995, 47 – 48. A well balanced survey has been recently offered by Cassio 1998, according to which the Euboean contribution should be mostly dated to the 9th and 8th centuries BC, a crucial time in the final codification of the poems. 30 Cf., e. g., the speech of Alcinous to Odysseus in Od. 7.317 – 324, where Euboea is explicitly named, a very rare case of citation of an Aegean island in


Andrea Debiasi

The inscription at Styra, one of the sites of the Abantes quoted in Il. 2.539,32 provokes the question of whether or not what has been called the ‘making’ of Homer33 or the ‘invention’ of Homer34 should be traced back mainly to Euboea.35 Further elements supporting this hypothesis may also be obtained from other, more recent inscriptions bearing the name Homer. In fact, the name appears in Larisa (in three distinct inscriptions) and in Tanagra with the significant form nlgqor (emphasis on the Ionic vocalism, instead of the expected nlaqor).36 These localities are in Thessaly and in Boeotia respectively, regions which were, in the Protogeometric and in the Geometric Ages, representative of a material37 and cultural38


32 33 34 35



the Odyssey, and the only case of such a citation in a maritime context: West 1988, 172; cf. Dougherty 2001,143 – 157. Examples of Euboean ‘passages’ (in respect of content and / or language) in the Iliad might be Il. 1.396 – 406: Cerri, forthcoming; Il. 11.638 – 640: West 1998a, 190 – 191. The western locations of the Odyssean episodes are significant: Ciaceri 1901, esp. 227 – 228; Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 1916, 497 – 505, esp. 503 – 505. For further developments, see Phillips 1953, 61; and the recent monographs of Malkin 1998; Lane Fox 2008; Braccesi 2010. About the Abantes and the Abantic traditions, mythical representation of the most ancient Euboean social structures, cf. Mele 1975; Fourgous 1987; Walker 2004, 43 – 46. Burkert 1987. West 1999. This should not be confused with the ‘making’ / ‘invention’ of the Homeric poems, since at most it affects the last phase of their development. Both Burkert 1987 and West 1999, as most of those believing that nlgqor and jlgq¸dai are professional names (whereas nlgqor presupposes jlgq¸dai, and not the opposite), rule out that a poet named Homer had ever existed. Nevertheless, as noted by Càssola 1975, xxxiii-xxxiv, “se anche il nome di persona Omero non esisteva prima dell’appellativo Omeridi (il che è discusso), esso è certamente esistito dopo, cioè da quando Omeridi fu interpretato come un vero patronimico … A questo punto nulla vietava che un Omeride si chiamasse Omero …”; similarly Graziosi 2002, 53; cf. Tzetz. Vita Hesiodi p. 49 ll. 22 – 23 Wilamowitz = p. 223 ll. 38 – 39 Allen. Accordingly, the tradition of the Euboean contest would be treated as historically sound, if the competition is assumed to be between a Homer (= Homerid) and Hesiod: see below, § 3. Larisa: SGDI 2138 (2nd century BC); Syll. 3 1059 I 3, II 29 (1st century BC); Tanagra: IG VII 1558. Besides such nlgqoi, the jl¶qior in IG XII 9.56.135, and the nlaqor in Syll. 3 498.2 (see above, n. 24), only another nlaqor from Crete (3rd century BC) is documented in the pre-Christian era: IC I 108.1.3. Desborough 1972, 185 – 220; Coldstream 1968, 337, 345 – 346, 354 – 355; 1977, 191 – 220. This koine, to which Phocis, Opuntian Locris, Macedonia (especially Pieria), and Chalcidice do not appear unrelated, can be recognized not

Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis


continuum with archaic Euboea (the traditional ‘Abantis’) as well as with the Cyclades. This cultural continuum may also be seen, during the Archaic Age, in the development of the Greek epic.39 In view of this, the rather obscure Thessalian location of the placename jl²qiom can be relevant.40 Similarly, the unfolding in Thessaly and in Pieria of the poetic activity of Thamyris,41 a poet whose linguistic development parallels that of Homer, is remarkable.42 The established tradition which places the birth of Homer in Chios is consistent with this perspective.43 According to ancient sources, the island was a culturally mixed colony44 in which the “Abantes coming from Euboea” played a prominent role.45 There are numerous in situ

38 39 40 41

42 43

44 45

only from the pottery, but also from the jewelry, from the funeral practices, and from the architecture: see Lemos 1998 and 2002, esp. 202 – 217. Mele 1979, 22 – 39. For a possible ancient Euboean domination on Thessaly and Boeotia (particularly in the district of Tanagra), see Geyer 1924, 375 and 377; Mele 1975, 16 – 17; Walker 2004, 46 – 57. See Cassio 1998, who points out the important Euboean contribution to the archaic Greek epic within a larger cultural pressure of central Greece, consistent with the material koine. Only evidence Theop. FGrHist 115 F 137 = Steph. Byz. s.v. jl²qiom. The cultural link Zeus / Athena recalls the almost identical one documented within the Achaean jl²qiom : cf. Aymard 1935, 468 n. 1. This area is the same with that of the Hesiodic Muses, at the same time Heliconian (Th. 1 – 2; 7; WD 658), Olympian (Th. 25; 36 – 37; 51 – 52; 75; 114), and Pierian (Th. 53; WD 1): Vox 1980. About Thamyris, see Ford 1992, 93 – 101; Wilson 2009. Durante 1976. See above, § 1. Among the numerous traditions that present Homer as born in a Greek town of Asia Minor, only those relative to Smyrna and Chios appear to be really old. However Chios, home of the most important Homeric guild, progressively obscured Smyrna: see Lasserre 1976, esp. 130; cf. also Càssola 1975, xxxv-xxxvi. Cf. Strabo 14.1.3 C 633; cf. Allen 1924, 104 – 106, who, noting that also the language in Chios was in fact mixed (Ionic and Aeolic), thinks that Homer spoke a Chian dialect rather than a Kunstsprache. Paus. 7.4.9. Pausanias, who for this information explicitly depends on Ion of Chios (FGrHist 392 F 1 = Paus. 7.4.8 – 9), recalls also the rule on the island of Amphiclus, from Histiaea in Euboea, and of his descendants. For the historical values of such traditions, see Sakellariou 1958, 186 – 189, 283 – 288; for recent archaeological evidence, see Hood 1986 who, after pointing out the strong correspondence between the artefacts found in Emporio (Chios) and the Euboean ones (especially in Lefkandi), states: “The Abantes … have a good claim to have been the founders and inhabitants of the Late Helladic IIIC settlement at Emporio”. In general Herod. 1.146 considers the Euboean Abantes


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signs of joint Thessalian-Boeotian contributions.46 That groups of Pelasgians, which in the Iliad are introduced as the “residents of the fertile Larisa”,47 came from Thessaly to found Chios48 is remarkable in view of the origins of the rare inscriptions with the name nlgqor. Similarly, the mythical and cultural relations between Chios, Euboea, and Tanagra are significant.49 Based on this data, one might reasonably deduce that the name nlgqor has ‘Abantic’ origins that are immersed in a complex historical-cultural context50 – a context which, embracing geographic areas contiguous to Euboea (specifically Thessaly and Boeotia),51 affected the historical development and identity of Euboea itself. Of particular significance to us here is the fact that Euboea is the indisputable site of the epochal poetic contest between Hesiod, the Boeotian, and Homer, the ‘agonistic poet’.

3. Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi – Certamen Eretriae et Chalcidis The tradition of the poetic contest between Homer and Hesiod finds its strongest expression in the so-called Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi,52 a work which in its current form is traced to a compiler about the time of Hadrian.53 As was first surmised by F. Nietzsche and later confirmed by the publication of a papyrus fragment (PMich 2754), the compiler of the

46 47 48 49 50

51 52 53

an important component within the composite group of populations that in antiquity settled in Ionic Asia. Sakellariou 1958, 186 – 209 and 283 – 290. Il. 2.840 – 841; cf. Strabo 9.5.13 C 435. Strabo 13.3.3 C 621. Sakellariou 1958, 189 – 192, especially in relation to Orion. Cf. Breglia Pulci Doria 1984, 73, who traces back to the ‘Abantic’ phase the epiclesis jlaq¸a (identical to that of the Zeus of the Achaean Federation) and Kglm¸a, which in the Euboean inscription IG XII 9.1172 refer (by supplement) to Demeter. The initial aspiration (spiritus asper) seems to originate in continental Greece, a non-psilotic area: Bonfante 1968; Durante 1976, 190 n. 9. The numbering of Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 19292, 34 – 45 and West 2003, 318 – 353 is used here in quoting the paragraphs of the Certamen; the numbering of Allen (1912, 225 – 238) is used for quoting the lines. In Certamen 3.32 – 33 the recent death of the Emperor Hadrian is implied. An attempt to give a name to the anonymous compiler has been made by Gallavotti 1929, 57 – 59, who prudentially credits the work to Castricious of Nicaea.

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Certamen drew mainly from an encyclopedic work entitled Mouseion (Louse?om), written by Alcidamas, a sophist and rhetorician who was a pupil of Gorgias. A section of this work was entitled On Homer (Peq· jl¶qou).54 It has been also shown that Alcidamas, far from having invented the contest between the two poets, must have used significantly older material,55 previously codified and circulated,56 and rather organized known elements of the contest using his own stylistic and philosophic theories.57

54 Nietzsche 1870 / 1873 bases his brilliant hypothesis on Certamen 14.240, where ¦r vgsim )kjid²lar 1m Louse¸\, ‘as Alcidamas says in his Mouseion’, is explicitly stated, and on Stob. 4.52.22, where the two verses in Certamen 7.78 – 79 appear with the annotation 1j toO )kjid²lamtor Louse¸ou, ‘from Alcidamas’ Mouseion’. These verses are also legible in the 3rd century BC papyrus PPetr I 25 (editio princeps: Mahaffy 1891, 70; now catalogued as PLitLond 191), almost exactly coinciding with Certamen 6.68 – 8.101. The theory of Nietsche was later confirmed by the publication of another papyrus of the 2nd or early 3rd century AD, PMich 2754 (editio princeps: Winter 1925): it contains the conclusion of the Contest (ll. 1 – 14 ~ Certamen 18.327 – 338), followed by some final remarks (ll. 15 – 23) and by the subscriptio )kji]d²lamtor peq· jl¶qou, ‘Alcidamas, On Homer’ (ll. 24 – 25): see below, § 4. For the dependence of the Certamen on the work of Alcidamas, a point rarely disputed nowadays (cf. Heldmann 1982, 14), see the detailed discussion in Avezzù 1982, esp. 84 – 90, and O’Sullivan 1992, 63 – 105. 55 See among others Vogt 1959, 219 – 221; Hess 1960; Kivilo 2000; Nagy 2009, 299. In some cases the Certamen seems rooted in the hearth of the Archaic Age, presenting traits consistent with the environment and the ideals of the Hesiodic poetry; remarkable are the similarities with the Hesiodic Melampodia (contest between the seers Chalcas and Mopsos: fr. 278 M.-W.). For some Vedic correspondences see Dunkel 1979: it is noteworthy that the Vedic term to indicate the poetic contest, samary-, is composed by the same roots of the Greek nlgqor (see above, n. 13). 56 Cf. Theogn. 425 and 427 with the verses in Certamen 7.78 – 79. The parody of the contest in Aristoph. Pax 1282 – 1283, which reproduces the two verses of the Certamen 9.107 – 108 is also significant: see Di Benedetto 1969. 57 Richardson 1981. In general, it makes sense to speak of an Ur-certamen as opposed to the Certamen written in the time of Hadrian. Nevertheless, it is hard to discriminate the exact contribution of Alcidamas (an attempt in Heldmann 1982). In any case, crediting of the Ur-certamen to the author of the Little Iliad Lesches of Lesbos (8th century BC), as affirmed by Allen 1924, 20 – 27, and more recently by O’Sullivan 1992, 81, 96 n. 188, and Kivilo 2000, 5, is extremely doubtful; cf. West 1967, 438 – 439; Erbse 1996, 313 – 314; Debiasi 2004, 130 n. 46.


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The theme of the contest stems from the poetry of Hesiod who, in a famous passage of his Works and Days (vv. 650 – 659),58 recalls his only sea crossing. Having boarded in Aulis, the site where the Achaeans gathered to travel to Troy, he sailed to Euboea. While at Chalcis he successfully competed in the funeral games instituted by the sons of Amphidamas59 and won a handled tripod which was later consecrated to the Heliconian Muses. Subsequent authors utilised this autobiographical passage, whose authenticity is well established,60 to legitimize Homer’s role as Hesiod’s rival in the contest at Chalcis. Such correlation, although certainly borne of an over-interpretation of the poetic text,61 nonetheless exhibits a higher degree of plausibility than is usually acknowledged. The coexistence of Homer and Hesiod, could be admissible from the viewpoint of epic diction which, in the Hesiodic poems, presents a rather limited amount of innovation in comparison with the Homeric poems.62

58 For a detailed discussion of WD 650 – 659 and its Euboean implications, see Debiasi 2008, 25 – 34. 59 About funeral contests, typical of archaic Greece, see Malten 1925; Roller 1981. 60 Plut. fr. 84 Sandbach (= sch. Hes. WD 654 – 656) condemns such verses as interpolated, since “they do not contain anything good”. Such opinion, as well as the subjective criterion of the wqgstºm, is rejected by most modern scholars. Likely, in expressing his judgement, Plutarch was not able to dissociate the Hesiodic verses from the tradition of the contest with Homer, thus extending, with a dangerous process, the accusation of falsity from the tradition, believed mendacious (cf. Plut. Quaest. Conv. 5.2.6 p. 674f.), to the verses on which this was based: see Arrighetti 1998, 441. Thus, the passage of the WD must have produced the tripod with the ‘Hesiodic’ epigram at the Helicon Mouseion (where it was later seen by Paus. 9.31.3), rather than the opposite: Mazon 1912, 352 n. 1. 61 Arrighetti 1987, 167 – 170; cf. Lefkowitz 1981 who emphasizes that biographical stories about poets are often derived from their work; Graziosi 2002 claims that they often testify to interesting ancient readings of the poems. 62 See the statistical studies of Edwards 1971 and Janko 1982, esp. 188 – 200, 221 – 225, from which the sequence Iliad-Odyssey-Theogony-Works and Days is inferred for Homer and Hesiod (fundamentally traced back to the same linguistic and dialectal tradition); the largest gap, the one between the Odyssey and the Theogony, appears to be fifty years at most. The debate on the chronology of Homer and Hesiod that stirred ancient authors (Hes. T 3 – 16 Most; cf. Graziosi 2002, 101 – 110), who aimed to demonstrate the priority of either poet (although many maintained their contemporaneity), has not ceased to afflict contemporary scholars: see the status quaestionis in the survey by Rosen 1997, ac-

Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis


Furthermore, beginning in the early Archaic Age, Euboea was one of the most prosperous Greek regions. With its thriving maritime trade whose influence spread in all directions, even to the most remote places, it was particularly amenable to the importation of distinctive cultural elements from abroad.63 Thus, it is quite likely that the illustrious poets of the time,64 among whom we find Homer,65 journeyed from different locations to convene in Euboea for the funeral games honouring a great person.66 The soundness of the tradition itself is evident even after adopting a less restrictive approach, as I am going to suggest: that the contest with Hesiod, rather than with Homer, is meant to have been with a Homer, i.e. a Homerid, or an agonistic poet who was the recipient of a heroic epic legacy, and more specifically, an Iliadic one. The corresponding Hesiodic passage is also amenable to such an interpretation. Here we find the poetically focused and effective juxtaposition of the long and perilous sea voyage of the Achaeans toward Troy (representing the Iliadic type of heroic poetry) and the short but rewarding crossing to Chalcis of Hesiod.67 Both Hesiod and the heroes cele-

63 64 65



cording to whom the statistical criteria actually appear to be more balanced and less subjective. Debiasi 2008, 25 – 37 and passim. See also the contributions in Bats – d’Agostino 1998. Cf. Plut. Sept. Sap. Conv. 10 p. 153 f = Hes. T 38 Most. Without addressing the issue of the Certamen, both Powell 1993 and Ruijgh 1995, 47 – 48, 91 – 92 admit the presence of Homer in Euboea, drawing especially on linguistic data and on considerations about the development and diffusion of the Greek alphabet. The closeness between the funeral rites described in the Homeric poems and the characteristics of the Euboean aristocratic burials is remarkable: cf. in particular the so called Hero¯on of Lefkandi (10th century BC), about which, among others, see Blome 1984 and Antonaccio 1995, as well as the Hero¯on of Eretria (8th century BC), about which see Bérard 1970. For a solid discussion: Crielaard 2002, 243 – 263. The juxtaposition WD 651 – 653 (‘where once the Achaeans’) / WD 654 – 657 (‘there I myself’), with their strong poetological tone, has been remarked by Nagy 1982 = 1990, 36 – 82, esp. 77 – 78: “There is a built-in antithesis here with the long sea voyage undertaken by the Achaeans when they sailed to Troy … Moreover, the strong Homeric emphasis on navigation as a key to the Achaeans’ survival [for example, Il. 16.80 – 82] is in sharp contrast to the strong Hesiodic emphasis on the poet’s personal inexperience in navigation – especially in view of Hesiod’s additional emphasis on Aulis as the starting point for not only his short sea voyage but also for the long one undertaken by the Achaeans. Perhaps, then, this passage reveals an intended differentiation


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brated by Homer sailed from the strategic station of Aulis,68 opposite Euboea.69 From this perspective, a variant reading in sch. WD 657 can acquire a certain value. Where in place of the traditional vlm\ mij¶samta v´qeim tq¸pod’ ¡t¾emta

‘winning in song (I declare that I) carried off a handled tripod’

one reads vlm\ mij¶samt’ 1m Wakj?di he?om nlgqom,

‘defeating god-like Homer in song at Chalcis’,

we observe the proud and explicit assertion by Hesiod of a victory over Homer in the Chalcis contest. It is the expression of a rivalry between two different poetic types, rather than between two different bards.70 In the Certamen, even in the late version handed down to us, we recognize a broadly Euboean perspective. The tight competition between the two poets and the corresponding verdict in favour of Hesiod is the key episode which comes to occupy the central section of the nar-

of Hesiodic from Homeric poetry”. See especially Rosen 1990; cf. Graziosi 2002, 169 – 170; Debiasi 2008, 32 – 33. 68 Il. 2.303 – 304 ~ WD 651 – 653. The epic tradition places the sacrifice of Iphigenia (or Iphimede) by Agamennon in Aulis (as in the Cypria: cf. the summary of Procl. Chrest. pp. 82 – 83 ll. 135 – 143 Severyns). According to Paus. 1.43.1 in the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (fr. 23b M.-W.) Artemis made Iphigenia immortal and transformed her into Hecate, a figure that in Th. 435 – 438 assists those competing in contests. The link established by Paus. 7.24.2 between jlac¼qiom = jl²qiom and the Iliadic (and therefore Homeric) events of the gathering (cf. Il. 2.304; WD 652) of the Achaean army against Troy is also revealing: see above, n. 16. 69 Cf. West 1988, 168, according to whom the same role of Aulis within the Trojan saga should fundamentally be traced back to a Euboean matrix. 70 Cf. the engaging notes of Nagy 1990, 78: “There is no proof for the conventional explanation that this variant verse is a mere interpolation (with the supposedly interpolated verse matching a verse found in an epigram ascribed to Hesiod in the Contest of Homer and Hesiod p. 233 213 – 214 Allen). Also, to argue that this verse may be part of a genuine variant passage is not to say that the surviving version about the tripod is therefore not genuine. In archaic Greek poetry, reported variants may at any time reflect not some false textual alteration but, rather, a genuine traditional alternative that has been gradually ousted in the course of the poem’s crystallization into a fixed text”; recently, see Nagy 2009, 304.

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rative (§§ 5 – 13). Here, after briefly mentioning Aulis and Boeotia,71 Euboea prevails as the dominant setting: Amphidamas, in whose memory his son Ganyctor institutes the games, is named basike»r Eqbo¸ar,72 ‘king of Euboea’73. Chalcis is the site of the contest74 and Chalcidians, as well as Panedes, brother of the deceased king, who decides Hesiod’s triumph, are the dignitaries serving as judges.75 This Euboean perspective is not restricted to the ‘agonistic’ episode alone but extends to the final section of the Certamen as well, where the peculiar events leading to the death of the two poets are described.76 These events are not independent or isolated from the poetic contest but rather they represent its outcome and natural completion. In particular, the death of Hesiod occurs after, and as a consequence of, his sensational success.77 Having gone to Delphi to consult the oracle and to dedicate the first fruits of his victory to the god,78 the poet receives the misleading prophecy predicting his death close to the grove of Nemean Zeus.79 Thus, the poet, although cautious to avoid Nemea in the Peloponnese, was caught by his fate in Oinoe in Locris, another location known as the Temple of the Nemean Zeus. There, 71 Certamen 5.54 – 55: the transmitted text, maintained by Allen (and defended by Erbse 1996 and Graziosi 2002, 171 with n. 162), is !cym¸sashai blºse 1m Aqk¸di t/r Boiyt¸ar, ‘to compete with each other at Aulis in Boeotia’, which implies a previous, unlikely contest of the two poets in Aulis. The reference to Aulis can hardly be separated from the Hesiodic 1n Aqk¸dor, ‘from Aulis’ in WD 651, thus the simplest correction in my opinion is blºse 1n Aqk¸dor t/r Boiyt¸ar, ‘… with each other coming from Aulis in Boeotia’ of Gallavotti (1929) 40 n. 2, rather than blºse 1m Aqk¸di t/r Boiyt¸ar, ‘… with each other after meeting up at Aulis in Boeotia’, proposed by Busse (and preferred by West), or blºse 1m Wakj¸di t/r Eqbo¸ar, ‘… with each other at Chalcis in Euboea’, proposed by Nietzsche. 72 For such meaning of basike¼r, see below, n. 92. 73 Certamen 6.63 – 66. 74 Certamen 6.66 – 68. 75 Certamen 6.68 – 70; cf. PPetr I 25 2 – 4, with the restoration by Avezzù 1982, 38. 76 Vogt 1959, 194 – 205. 77 In the Certamen the death of Hesiod is first reported according to the version of Alcidamas (13.215 – 14.240), who is explicitly quoted (14.240: see above, n. 54), and then according to the ‘kinder’ version of Eratosthenes (14.240 – 247), whose name is also quoted (14.240). About the complex tradition on the death of Hesiod, see Friedel 1878 – 1879; on Hesiod’s burial at Orchomenos, Debiasi 2010. 78 The consequentiality link is apparent in Certamen 13.215 – 217. di´pkeusem (‘sailed across’), in the text implies the passage of the Euripos. 79 Certamen 13.217 – 223.


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while a guest of Amphiphanes and Ganyctor,80 he is accused of having had relations with their sister and is subsequently killed, his body thrown ‘in the sea between Euboea and Locris’.81 Although Thucydides identifies Ozolian Locris as the site of Hesiod’s death,82 the Certamen, as well as the Life of Hesiod attributed to Tzetzes,83 locates Hesiod’s demise in Opuntian Locris,84 a region not only facing Euboea, but also deeply connected to it by material and cultural ties reaching back into the Archaic Age.85 The reference to t¹ letan» t/r Eqbo¸ar ja· t/r Kojq¸dor p´kacor, ‘the sea between Euboea and Locris’, does not leave room for misinterpretation. Nor does it appear susceptible to amendments (like )waýar, ‘Achaea’, in place of Eqbo¸ar, ‘Euboea’) which would subvert its meaning86 and imply further misleading textual alterations: for instance the transmitted OQmºgm, ‘Oinoe’ (l. 226) in OQme_ma, ‘Oineon’.87 Moreover, the surprising onomastics of Hesiod’s killers, Amphiphanes and Ganyctor, point to Euboea, the site of the controversial contest. Ganyctor in particular is a homonym of Amphidamas’ son who instituted the games to honour his father.88 Having affirmed the Euboean spirit pervading the Certamen at the textual level, we may now attempt to place the contest in a precise his80 81 82 83

84 85 86



Certamen 14.224 – 229. Certamen 14.229 – 232. Thuc. 3.95 – 96. Tzetz. Vita Hesiodi p. 50 ll. 22 – 29 Wilamowitz = Hes. T 2 p. 160 Most. More properly we are facing a humanistic-age summary of the Prolegomena ad Hesiodum by Tzetzes: Colonna 1953. Cf. also the details of the murder of Hesiod in the new papyrus fragment PGreekPapyrol. Soc. inv. M2 (2nd century BC) edited by Mandilaras 1992; the text has striking affinities with the Vita of Tzetzes. Busse 1909. Lemos 1998 and 2002, 204 – 205. The correction )waýar is due to Westermann, but numerous other attempts have been undertaken to make the text ‘work’ (cf., e. g., Boiyt¸ar, Bok¸mar, Eqpak¸ar, Lokujq¸ar). PGreek Papyrol. Soc. inv. M2 is decisive: Mandilaras 1992, 61. Westermann based on Thuc. 3.95.3, where Oineon in Ozolian Locris is cited. Based on stylistic arguments, Busse (1909, 109) hypothesizes an original eQr d³ OQmºgm t/r Kojq¸dor , ‘to Oinoe in Locris, opposite Euboea’, by Alcidamas in place of the single eQr d³ OQmºgm t/r Kojq¸dor, ‘to Oinoe in Locris’, in Certamen 14.226. In the version of Eratosthenes (Certamen 14.240 – 242) Ganyctor does not appear as a slayer, but rather as the father of Ctimenus and Antiphus, the killers of Hesiod: see Friedel 1878 – 1879.

Homer !cymist¶r in Chalcis


torical background, specifically that of the epochal war between Chalcis and Eretria, the two main cities of Euboea, for control of the fertile plain traversed by the Lelantos river. Evidence provided by the Boeotian Plutarch, who is particularly knowledgeable about the events of the so-called Lelantine War,89 permits us to make such a correlation. Plutarch recalls in two different passages that Amphidamas, in whose funeral games Homer and Hesiod are competing, was a man used to war (!mµq pokelijºr), who died in a naval clash between the Chalcidians and the Eretrians during their lengthy war.90 This image is also consistent with the one we find in Hesiod’s Works and Days where the heroic epithets daývqym, ‘valorous’ (v. 654) and lecak¶tyq, ‘great-hearted’ (v. 656), used in reference to the deceased, indicate his warlike nature.91 Such epithets suit an individual regarded as an eminent member of a society of warriors which exhibits the characteristics of the archaic aristocracy of Chalcis – a society which for a long time was engaged in the conflict with the Eretrians.92

89 Plutarch (Amat. 17 p. 760c-761b) provides information on the decisive help given to the Chalcidians in the climax of the war by the Thessalian cavalry led by Cleomachus. 90 Plut. Sept. Sap. Conv. 10 p. 153 f; fr. 84 Sandbach (= sch. Hes. WD 654 – 656). The naval clash of the two cities with strong maritime traditions is likely; thus it is not necessary to correct the transmitted maulawoOmta (‘fighting by sea’) with lomolawoOmta (‘fighting in single combat’) as proposed by Hermann 1832, 91 – 92; cf. the numerous representations of naval battles on geometric vases: Kirk 1949; Ahlberg 1971, esp. 25 – 38. 91 West 1978, 320 – 321: “Amphidamas’ epithet [daývqomor in 654] taken as ‘warlike’ rather than ‘clever’, implies that he has proved himself in battle, as does lecak¶toqor in 656”. lecak¶toqor referring to Amphidamas is a preferable variant to the facilior lecak¶toqer referring to his sons. 92 In Certamen 6.64 Amphidamas is designated basike»r Eqbo¸ar (‘king of Euboea’) and basike¼r is later used to designate his brother Panedes (Certamen 12.177 and 13.207). Such designation, which could be influenced by the late date of the Certamen, is actually fitting to the Euboean aristocracy of the Archaic Age: see Drews 1983, 9, 94 – 95; Carlier 1984, 429; 2003. In this regard, Plutarch’s information is extremely interesting: in Narrat. Amat. 3 p. 774c Chalcodon, a figure that can be traced back to the Abantic Euboea and particularly to Chalcis, is defined as basike»r t_m Eqbo´ym : Mele 1981, 25 – 33; similarly, in Parall. Gr. et Rom. 7 p. 307c basike»r t_m Eqbo´ym is used for Pyrechmes, a figure linked to the horse-keeping (hippotrophia) characterizing the archaic Euboean aristocracy: Talamo 1981, 38 – 39.


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Despite its significant size and its deep impression on various components of the Greek world, the sources give little and not always clear information about the Lelantine War. Although the evidence related to the chronology of the war has always been a point of contention, there is nowadays a tendency to broadly locate the vast and undoubtedly long conflict between the last quarter of the 8th and the first half of the 7th century BC.93 Consequently, the possibility of a synchronicity between Hesiod and the Lelantine War, as implied by Plutarch in his comments about Amphidamas, is reasonable.94 Given the circumstances in which Amphidamas lost his life, it is very likely that the games held in his honour at Chalcis assumed a political and ideological significance. This political / ideological value was further substantiated by the poetic contest, since Hesiod’s triumph must be interpreted as the triumph of Chalcis itself.95

93 See Parker 1997, 59 – 93, esp. 91 – 93, with re-examination of previous bibliography; cf. Walker 2004, 156 – 171 94 See Tedeschi 1975, who also refutes the hypothesis that the Hesiodic Amphid