Hour 2. Achilles as epic hero and the idea of total recall in song

The meaning of memnēmai

2§1. The key word for this hour is memnēmai, which means ‘I have total recall’ in special contexts and ‘I remember’ in ordinary contexts. The special contexts involve memory by way of song. I will get to the specifics later.

Hour 2 Text A

|527 I totally recall [me-mnē-mai] how this was done - it happened a long time ago, it is not something new - |528 recalling exactly how it was. I will tell it in your company - since you are all near and dear [philoi].
Iliad IX 527-528 [1]
2§2. In the paragraphs that follow, I offer an exegesis of this passage (in the previous hour, I defined this word exegesis as an ancient Greek term referring to a close reading of a given text).
2§3. So, now I proceed to analyze the verb memnēmai, containing the root mnē-, which means ‘I remember’. When this verb takes an object in the genitive case, it means ‘I remember’ in a general sense: ‘I have memories of …’. But when this verb takes an object in the accusative case, as here, it means ‘I remember’ in a special sense: ‘I remember totally …’.

Phoenix and his total recall

2§4. The hero Phoenix, an old man, is about to tell a tale that he says he remembers totally. This tale is a micro-narrative embedded in the macro-Narrative that is the Iliad. Before Phoenix tells his tale, he speaks to those who are listening to him, telling them that they are philoi, ‘near and dear’ to him. Who are these ‘near and dear’ listeners?
2§5. From the standpoint of Phoenix, there are six listeners. These are (1) the hero Achilles; (2) the hero Patroklos, who is the best friend of Achilles; (3 and 4) the heroes Ajax and Odysseus; and (5 and 6) two professional announcers or ‘heralds’. From the standpoint of those who are listening to a performance of the Homeric Iliad, however, they too are listeners. So, the question is, are they too ‘near and dear’? My answer, as we will see in what follows, is that the audience of Homeric poetry is presumed to be near and dear.
2§6. The word philoi, which I translate here as ‘near and dear’, can also be translated simply as ‘friends’ in this same context. This word philos (this is the singular form; the plural is philoi) means ‘friend’ as a noun and ‘near and dear’ as an adjective. It is a term of endearment, an emotional term. As we will see later, this emotional term is most important for understanding the story of Phoenix.
2§7. Phoenix says that he has a total recall of the tale he is about to tell his ‘near and dear’ listeners. In the original Greek, as I noted a minute ago, the word for such total recall is memnēmai. But the term I use here, total recall, is borrowed from popular culture. I have in mind a film entitled Total Recall (1990), directed by Paul Verhoeven, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, which was based on a science fiction “novelette” by Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (April 1966).
2§8. I find it relevant here to recall something we have just read in the previous hour. It was a quotation from J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, where Holden Caulfield is being given a lesson by his teacher: “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” The teacher goes on to say: “Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them … if you want to. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”
2§9. The word “history” here refers simply to keeping a record. For the moment, I highlight the idea of keeping a record. We have an interesting way of using the word “record” these days - in an era when new technologies have replaced the old vinyl “records.” Some of us still speak of “records” even though vinyl imprints hardly exist anymore. I suspect we speak this way because the idea of memory is embedded in the word “records.”
2§10. Let us pursue further the concept of keeping a record, recording, putting on record. In the earliest phases of ancient Greek song culture, the process of keeping a record of things that must be remembered, of putting things on the record, was not ordinarily done by way of writing. Writing did not become a widespread technology in the ancient Greek world until around the fifth century BCE, and even then it was confined to the uppermost strata of society. In the archaic period of Greek history (that is, the era extending from the eighth century to the middle of the fifth, as I noted in the Introduction), the idea of recording was mostly a matter of memory and of techniques of memory, mnemonics. It is in this connection that we confront the mentality of total recall.
2§11. The wording total recall is meant to convey a special mentality of remembering, of putting things on record, common in traditional societies. In terms of this mentality, to remember is to re-live an experience, including someone else’s experience, including even the experiences of heroes in the remote past of the heroic age.

The idea of kleos as a medium of total recall

2§12. The process of remembering in ancient Greek song culture requires a special medium, song. When I say song here, I include poetry, even though the word poetry in modern usage is understood to be different from song. In the ancient Greek song culture, however, both poetry and song are understood to be a medium of singing. And such singing is an oral tradition. The epic poetry of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey derives from such an oral tradition of singing, which is a process of composition-in-performance. That is, composition is an aspect of performance and vice versa. [2] In this kind of oral tradition, there is no script, since the technology of writing is not required for composition-in-performance. In Homeric poetry, the basic medium of remembering is heroic song or kleos.
2§13. This word kleos, ‘glory’, which we considered in Hour 1, will figure prominently here in Hour 2 as well. I started the present hour by referring to a tale told by the old hero Phoenix. When he introduces his tale, Phoenix uses this word kleos in the context of referring to his total recall:

Hour 2 Text B (which includes Text A)

|524 This is how [houtōs] we [= I, Phoenix] learned it, the glories [klea] of men [andrōn] of an earlier time [prosthen], |525 who were heroes [hērōes], whenever one of them was overcome by tempestuous anger. |526 They could be persuaded by way of gifts and could be swayed by words. |527 I totally recall [me-mnē-mai] how this was done - it happened a long time ago, it is not something new - |528 recalling exactly how it was. I will tell it in your company - since you are all near and dear [philoi].
Iliad IX 524-528 [3]
2§14. The word klea, ‘glories’, the abbreviated plural form of kleos, ‘glory’, is combined here in verses 524 and 525 with tōn prosthenandrōn, ‘of men of an earlier time’, and hērōōn, ‘of heroes [hērōes]’. This expression tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, or a shorter form of the expression, klea andrōn, ‘the glories of men’, is used in Homeric poetry to refer to epic narrative. When Phoenix uses this expression here, he is referring to an epic tale that he is about to tell about the hero Meleagros. As we will see, this same expression klea andrōn (hērōōn), ‘the glories of men (who were heroes)’, applies not only to the epic narrative about Meleagros. It applies also to the epic narrative about Achilles, which is the Iliad.

The idea of kleos as epic narrative

2§15. In general, the word kleos applies to epic narrative as performed by the master Narrator of Homeric poetry. Etymologically, kleos is a noun derived from the verb kluein, ‘hear’, and it means ‘that which is heard’. In the Iliad, the master Narrator declares that the epic he narrates is something he ‘hears’ from goddesses of poetic memory called the Muses, who know everything because they were present when everything was done and when everything was said. Here is the passage where the master Narrator makes his declaration:

Hour 2 Text C

|484 And now, tell me, O Muses, you who live in your Olympian abodes, |485 since you are goddesses and you were there and you know everything, |486 but we [= the Narrator] only hear the kleos and we know nothing |487 - who were the chiefs and princes of the Danaans [= the Achaeans]?
Iliad II 484-487 [4]
2§16. When we read this passage for the first time, our first impression may be that the Narrator of epic is making a modest statement about the limitations of his own knowledge. In fact, however, what we are seeing here is just the opposite. The Narrator is making a most proud and boastful statement. He is boasting that his mind is directly connected to what the Muses as goddesses of memory actually saw and heard. The Muses ‘tell’ him what they saw and heard. What he narrates about heroes and even about gods is exactly what the Muses saw. What he quotes from the spoken words of heroes and even of gods is exactly what the Muses heard. The Narrator’s mind is supposed to see and hear what the Muses saw and heard. His mind has the power of total recall.
2§17. The Narrator here is calling on the Muses as goddesses of memory to tell him a part of the epic narrative about the Trojan War. This part of the tale of Troy is generally known as the Catalogue of Ships and it tells about which warriors came to Troy and in how many ships and so on. The Muses are expected to tell the tale exactly to the Narrator, and the Narrator will tell the tale exactly to his listeners. Modern readers can easily get distracted and even bored when they read through the Catalogue, but it was of the greatest cultural interest and importance to the listeners of the Iliad in ancient times. So important was the Catalogue that the Narrator needed special powers of memory to get it right. That is why the Narrator here prays to the Muses, as if he had just started his overall narration. In fact, however, he has already prayed to ‘the Muse’ at the start of the Iliad.
2§18. The Muses, as we have just seen, are supposed to know absolutely everything. They are all-knowing, that is, omniscient. So, the omniscient Muses are goddesses of total recall, and their absolute power of recall is expressed by an active form of the verb mnē- in the sense of ‘remind’ at Iliad II 492. [5] The master Narrator of the Iliad receives from these goddesses their absolute power of total recall when he prays to them to tell him everything about the Achaean forces that sailed to Troy (II 484, 491-492). Inspired by the omniscient Muses, the master Narrator becomes an omniscient Narrator. Although he says he will not exercise the option of telling everything in full, deciding instead to tell only the salient details by concentrating on the names of the leaders of the warriors who sailed to Troy and on the precise number of each leader’s ships (II 493), the master Narrator insists on his power of total recall. [6] The very idea of such mental power is basic to Homeric poetry.
2§19. The Narrator is saying here that he does not have to know anything: all he has to do is to ‘hear the kleos’. Since the goddesses of memory were there when the heroic actions happened, and since they saw and heard everything, they know everything. The Narrator needs to know nothing; he needs to experience nothing. To repeat, all he has to do is to ‘hear the kleos’ from the goddesses of memory and then to narrate what he is hearing to those who are listening to him.
2§20. What the omniscient Muses see and what they hear is a total recall: they recall everything that has ever happened, whereas the Narrator only hears ‘that which is heard’, which is the kleos from the Muses. [7] The Narrator of epic depends on these goddesses to tell him exactly what they saw and to quote for him exactly what they heard.
2§21. But what about a story-within-a-story, that is, where a narrator narrates a micro-narrative within the macro-Narrative of the Iliad? In such a situation, the narrator of that micro-narrative has to reassure his listeners that he has total recall matching the total recall of the Narrator of the macro-Narrative, which is the Iliad. This is what happens when the old hero Phoenix, in Iliad IX, begins to narrate to the hero Achilles and to the other listeners the story of the earlier hero Meleagros. Phoenix is telling this story about Meleagros because he wants to persuade Achilles to accept the offer of Agamemnon. That is the purpose of this narrator. As we will see, however, the purpose of the master Narrator of the Iliad is different: it goes far beyond the purpose of Phoenix.
2§22. When Phoenix says that he has total recall, totally recalling the epic action he narrates, his power of memory depends on the power of the omniscient Narrator who tells the framing story of the Iliad, and that power in turn depends on the power of the omniscient Muses themselves, who are given credit for controlling the master Narrative. Phoenix has total recall because he uses the medium of epic poetry and because his mind is connected to the power source of that poetry.

An epic tale told by Phoenix

2§23. In Text B, as we have seen, Phoenix refers to his tale as tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’ (IX 524-525). It is an epic tale about the hero Meleagros and his anger against his people, parallel to the framing epic tale about the hero Achilles and his anger against his own people, the Achaeans (as I noted in the Introduction to this book, these people are also known as the Argives or the Danaans). The telling of the tale by Phoenix is an activation of epic within epic.
2§24. Phoenix is a hero in the epic of the Homeric Iliad, and this epic is a narrative about the distant heroic past - from the standpoint of listeners who live in a present tense devoid of contemporary heroes. But Phoenix here is narrating to listeners who live in that distant heroic past tense. And his narrative-within-a-narrative is about heroes who lived in an even more distant heroic past tense.
2§25. There are close parallels between the framing epic about the anger of Achilles and the framed epic about the anger of Meleagros. Just as the framed epic about Meleagros is a poetic recollection of the klea, ‘glories’, of heroes of the past, so too is the framing epic about Achilles. That framing epic, which is the Iliad, is a poetic recollection by the Muse whom the master Narrator invokes to sing the story of the anger of Achilles (I 1). As the narrator of a framed epic, Phoenix does not have to invoke the Muses as goddesses of memory, since the Narrator of the framing epic has already invoked them for him.
2§26. In performing tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, at Iliad IX 524-525, as quoted in Text B, Phoenix expresses himself in the medium of poetry because he is speaking inside a medium that is poetry. He is speaking in the language of epic poetry just as the master Narrator, who is quoting him, also speaks in that same language. When Phoenix says memnēmai, he is in effect saying: I have total recall by way of speaking in the medium of epic poetry.

The form of epic poetry

2§27. The form of this medium of epic poetry, which calls itself kleos or klea andrōn, is called the dactylic hexameter. Over 15,000 of these dactylic hexameter lines make up the Iliad. Here is the basic rhythm of this form:
— u u — u u — u u — u u — u u — —
(“— ” = long syllable, “u” = short syllable)
{At chs.harvard.edu, I illustrate how the rhythm sounds by reciting Iliad I 1-13.}
2§28. When the master Narrator speaks the kleos or klea andrōn, he is speaking in dactylic hexameters. When the master Narrator quotes characters speaking, whether these characters are heroes or gods, they too are speaking the kleos or klea andrōn, and so they too are imagined as speaking in dactylic hexameters. That is how the Muses, who saw everything and heard everything, speak the kleos or klea andrōn. Notionally, the Muses heard the heroes and gods speaking in dactylic hexameters, and then the Muses spoke these dactylic hexameters for the master Narrator to hear, so that he may speak them to his listeners. [8]

To sing the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men’

2§29. In Text B, Iliad IX 524-525, we have seen the expression tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, at the beginning of the epic tale told by Phoenix. I will now contrast this context of klea andrōn with the context of another example of this same expression, klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’. This other example occurs at a slightly earlier point in the master Narrative, in Iliad IX 189, where Achilles himself is pictured as literally ‘singing’ (aeidein) the klea andrōn in his shelter. [9] The master Narrator does not say what the subject of this song sung by Achilles may have been. All we are told is that Achilles was ‘singing’ (aeidein) the klea andrōn, and that he was accompanying himself on a lyre. Here is the passage that shows the key wording:

Hour 2 Text D

|185 The two of them [10] reached the shelters and the ships of the Myrmidons, |186 and they found Achilles diverting his heart [phrēn] as he was playing on a clear-sounding lyre [phorminx], |187 a beautiful one, of exquisite workmanship, and its cross-bar was of silver. |188 It was part of the spoils that he had taken when he destroyed the city of Eëtion, |189 and he was now diverting his heart [thūmos] with it as he was singing [aeidein] the glories of men [klea andrōn]. |190 Patroklos was the only other person there. He [= Patroklos] sat in silence, facing him [= Achilles], |191 and waiting for the Aeacid [= Achilles] to leave off singing [aeidein]. |192 Meanwhile the two of them [11] came in - radiant Odysseus [12] leading the way - |193 and stood before him. Achilles sprang up from his seat |194 with the lyre [phorminx] still in his hand, |195 and Patroklos, when he saw the guests, rose also. [13]
Iliad IX 185-195 [14]
2§30. The medium of klea andrōn, ‘glories of heroes’, is represented here as an act of singing, even though the medium of epic as performed by rhapsodes in the Classical period was recited rather than sung. [15] By recited I mean (1) performed without singing and (2) performed without instrumental accompaniment. [16] Still, the medium of epic refers to itself as an act of singing, as we see even in the first verse of the Iliad (I 1), where the Narrator prays to the Muse to ‘sing’ (aeidein) to him the anger of Achilles. Similarly in the Odyssey (viii 83), the epic performer Demodokos is described as ‘singing’ (aeidein) the klea andrōn, ‘glories of heroes’, and he sings while accompanying himself on the lyre (viii 67).
2§31. What we see in Text D, the passage I just quoted from Iliad IX 185-195, is a clue about Achilles himself as a virtuoso performer of song. He is not only the subject of songs sung by the master Narrator of epic - songs that would qualify as klea andrōn ‘glories of men (heroes)’. Achilles is also the performer of such songs. And the same goes for Patroklos or Patrokleēs, the meaning of whose name encapsulates, as we will see, the very idea of klea andrōn. And, as we will also see, Patroklos in this passage is waiting for his turn to sing the klea andrōn.

The klea andrōn, ‘glories of men’, as heroic song

2§32. In a lecture delivered at Skidmore College in 1990, Albert B. Lord spoke about a medium that he described as heroic song. According to Lord, the Homeric expression klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’, refers to such a medium.
[[In “live” meetings, I show at this point a clip entitled “Albert Lord talks about heroic song.”]]
2§33. Lord was comparing here the ancient Homeric medium of epic with media of “heroic song” that survived into the twentieth century. Among these survivals is a tradition of epic singing in the South Slavic areas of the Balkans, specifically in the former Yugoslavia. Lord (who died in 1991) and his teacher Milman Parry (who died in 1935) pioneered the systematic study of oral traditions of such heroic song in the former Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia and in parts of Serbia. Both Parry and Lord were professors at Harvard University (Parry died a violent death at age thirty-three, when he was still only an assistant professor; as for Lord, he eventually became one of the most accomplished and respected senior professors in the history of the university). Both Parry and Lord were classicists as well as ethnographers, and their knowledge of Homeric poetry turned out to be a valuable source of comparative insights in their study of the living oral traditions of the South Slavic peoples. For an introduction to the pathfinding research of Parry and Lord, I recommend the well-known book of Albert Lord, The Singer of Tales. [17]
2§34. In the clip from Lord’s 1990 lecture mentioning the klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (heroes)’, he refers to one of the greatest singers whose songs were studied by Parry and Lord, Avdo Međedović. One of Avdo’s songs, recorded by Milman Parry of Harvard, contained as many as 12,000 lines.
2§35. What is a “line” in the case of South Slavic heroic songs? The basic rhythmical unit is the heroic decasyllable, and the basic rhythm of this unit is
- u - u - u - u - u.This was the rhythmical framework for the wording used by singers like Avdo in composing their heroic songs.
[[In “live” meetings, I show at this point a clip entitled “Avdo sings a song of heroes.”]]
2§36. In this light, let us consider again the tale told by Phoenix. As we saw in Text A, Iliad IX 527-528, the key word that introduces this old hero’s narrative is memnēmai (527), which I translate as ‘I have total recall, I totally recall’.
2§37. Phoenix has total recall because he uses the medium of epic song and because his mind is connected to the power source of such singing; in fact, he has to use song, because he is inside the medium of song. To repeat, he is speaking in dactylic hexameters, just like the Narrator who quotes him. When Phoenix says memnēmai, he is in effect saying: ‘I have total recall by means of using the medium of epic song’.
2§38. Similarly, as we have already seen in Hour 1, kleos means not just glory but glory achieved by way of using the medium of song. This medium is a way of speaking in a special way, of using special speech. On this subject, I cite an essential work by Richard Martin: he shows that narratives within the master Narrative of the Iliad contain markers for and about the listeners of the master Narrative. [18]
2§39. So, a special way of speaking, a special speech, marks what is being performed, not just said. Here I repeat the essential wording in Text B, Iliad IX 524-525, where Phoenix says:
|524 This is how [houtōs] we [= I, Phoenix] learned it, the glories [klea] of men [andrōn] of an earlier time [prosthen], |525 who were heroes [hērōes], whenever one of them was overcome by tempestuous anger.
The epic poetry of kleos is a performance. And, as we have seen, this performance is figured as a kind of singing.
2§40. We moderns need to keep in mind that some of the things we tend to do in everyday ways, like remembering something, can be done differently in premodern societies. We have already seen an example in ancient Greek song culture, where the total recall of something can be accomplished by singing it. More generally, singing something can be the same thing as doing something in the world of some song cultures.

The concept of a speech act

2§41. Relevant here is the concept of a speech act, as originally formulated by J. L. Austin in his influential book How to Do Things with Words (edited by J. O. Urmson, Oxford 1962), based on the William James Lectures that Austin delivered at Harvard University in 1955. In terms of Austin’s theory, there are situations where you actually do things by way of saying things. But you have to say these things in the right context. For example, “You’re fired!” is a speech act, but only in certain contexts, as when an employer says these words to an employee. Another example is “I do,” which is a speech act only in the context of answering the question: “Do you take this woman/man to be your lawfully-wedded wife/husband?” Still another example is “All hands on deck,” which is a speech act only in the context of sailing a ship, when the commanding officer says these words.
2§42. Something that Austin did not consider in the book I just cited is the idea that poetry or song can also be a speech act when poetry or song is performed in oral traditions. [19] This idea is very much at work in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. As I have shown in my research, Homeric poetry can be considered a speech act in its own right because it is a medium that is performed. This kind of poetry comes to life only in performance, in live performance. And such performance could take place within the framework of an oral tradition, which as I already said is a specialized language of composition-in-performance. [20] And a culture that uses poetry or song as a speech act is what I have been calling a song culture.
2§43. All through this hour, starting with Iliad IX 527 in Text A, I have been concentrating on a most striking example of such a speech act: it is the total recall, by the old hero Phoenix, of the epic tale of Meleagros and Kleopatra.

Back to the epic tale told by Phoenix

2§44. This tale that Phoenix tells is a beautiful example of compression. (I have already explained the principle of compression in Hour 1). As we are about to see, the climax of the compressed narrative told by Phoenix will be signaled at a moment in the tale where the wording describes a woman who is crying. The name of this woman, as we will also see, is Kleopatra. I now turn to this climactic moment, as narrated by Phoenix:

Hour 2 Text E

|550 So long as Meleagros, dear [philos] to Arēs, was fighting in the war, |551 things went badly for the Kouretes [of the city of Pleuron], and they could not |552 put up a resistance [against the Aetolians] outside the city walls [of Pleuron, the city of the Kouretes], even though they [= the Kouretes] had a multitude of fighters. |553 But as soon as anger [kholos] entered Meleagros - the kind of anger that affects also others, |554 making their thinking [noos] swell to the point of bursting inside their chest even if at other times they have sound thoughts [phroneîn], |555 [then things changed:] he [= Meleagros] was angry [khōomenos] in his heart at his dear mother Althaea, |556 and he was lying around, next to his wife, whom he had courted and married in the proper way. She was the beautiful Kleopatra, |557 whose mother was Marpessa, the one with the beautiful ankles, daughter of Euenos, |558 and whose father was Idēs, a man most powerful among those earthbound men |559 who lived in those times. It was he [= Idēs] who had grabbed his bow and had stood up against the lord |560 Phoebus Apollo, and he [= Idēs] had done it for the sake of his bride [numphē], the one with the beautiful ankles [= Marpessa]. |561 She [= Kleopatra] had been given a special name by the father and by the queen mother back then [when she was growing up] in the palace. |562 They called her Alcyone, making that a second name for her, because her |563 mother [= Marpessa] was feeling the same pain [oitos] felt by the halcyon bird, known for her many sorrows [penthos]. |564 She [= Marpessa] was crying because she had been seized and carried away by the one who has far-reaching power, Phoebus Apollo. |565 So, right next to her [= Kleopatra], he [= Meleagros] lay down, nursing his anger [kholos] - an anger that brings pains [algea] to the heart [thūmos]. |566 He was angry [kholoûsthai] about the curses [ārai] that had been made by his own mother. She [= Althaea, the mother of Meleagros] had been praying to the gods, |567 making many curses [ārâsthai] in her sorrow [akhos] over the killing of her brother [by her son Meleagros]. |568 Many times did she beat the earth, nourisher of many, with her hands, |569 calling upon Hādēs and on terrifying Persephone. |570 She had gone down on her knees and was sitting there; her chest and her lap were wet with tears |571 as she prayed that they [= the gods] should consign her son to death. And she was heard by a Fury [Erinys] that roams in the mist, |572 a Fury heard her, from down below in Erebos - with a heart that cannot be assuaged. |573 And then it was that the din of battle rose up all around the gates [of the people of Calydon], and also the dull thump |574 of the battering against their walls. Now he [= Meleagros] was sought out by the elders |575 of the Aetolians [= the people of Calydon]; they were supplicating [lissesthai] him, and they came along with the best priests of the gods. |576 They were supplicating him [= Meleagros] to come out [from where he was lying down with his wife] and rescue them from harm, promising him a big gift. |577 They told him that, wherever the most fertile plain in the whole region of lovely Calydon may be, |578 at that place he could choose a most beautiful precinct [temenos] of land,|579 fifty acres, half of which would be a vineyard |580 while the other half would be a field open for plowing. |581 He was also supplicated many times by the old charioteer Oineus, |582 who was standing at the threshold of the chamber with the high ceiling |583 and beating at the locked double door, hoping to supplicate him by touching his knees. |584 Many times did his sisters and his mother the queen |585 supplicate [lissesthai] him. But all the more did he say “no!” Many times did his comrades [hetairoi] supplicate him, |586 those who were most cherished by him and were the most near and dear [philoi] of them all, |587 but, try as they might, they could not persuade the heart [thūmos] in his chest |588 - not until the moment when his chamber got a direct hit, and the walls of the high fortifications |589 were getting scaled by the Kouretes, who were starting to set fire to the great city [of Calydon]. |590 Then at long last Meleagros was addressed by his wife, who wears her waistband so beautifully around her waist. |591 She was crying as she supplicated [lissesthai] him, telling everything in detail |592 - all the sorrowful things [kēdea] that happen to those mortals whose city is captured. |593 They kill the men. Fire turns the city to ashes. |594 They take away the children and the wives, who wear their waistbands so beautifully around their waists. |595 His heart was stirred when he heard what bad things will happen. |596 He got up and went off. Then he covered his body with shining armor. |597 And this is how [houtōs] he rescued the Aetolians from the evil day [of destruction].|598 He yielded to his heart [thūmos]. But they [= the Aetolians] no longer carried out the fulfillment [teleîn] of their offers of gifts |599 - those many pleasing [kharienta] things that they had offered. But, in any case, he protected them from the evil event. |600 As for you [= Achilles], don’t go on thinking [noeîn] in your mind [phrenes] the way you are thinking now. Don’t let a superhuman force [daimōn] do something to you |601 right here, turning you away, my near and dear one [philos]. It would be a worse prospect |602 to try to rescue the ships [of the Achaeans] if they are set on fire. So, since the gifts are waiting for you, |603 get going! For if you do that, the Achaeans will honor [tīnein] you - same as a god. |604 But if you have no gifts when you do go into the war, that destroyer of men, |605 you will no longer have honor [tīmē] the same way, even if you have succeeded in blocking the [enemy’s] forces of war.
Iliad IX 550-605 [21]
2§45. I draw special attention to verse 556 here, where we see the name of Kleopatra, who is the wife of Meleagros. (This figure is not to be confused with the historical figure Kleopatra, also spelled in the Romanized form Cleopatra.) I also draw attention to verse 562, where we see the second name of the wife of Meleagros, which is Alcyone. In ancient Greek lore, the alcyon / halcyon is a bird that sings songs of lament over the destruction of cities. In Hour 3, I will follow up on the lament of Kleopatra and the general idea of lament in ancient Greek song culture.
2§46. The story of Meleagros and his lamenting wife Kleopatra is a micro-narrative meant for Achilles and for the Iliad, which is the macro-narrative about Achilles; in its compressed form, the Meleagros narrative “replays” or “repeats” some of the major themes of the expanded form that is the Iliad.
2§47. An essential word in the micro-narrative is the adjective philos, ‘near and dear’, at verse 601. The superlative form of this adjective is philtatos, ‘most near and dear’, or philtatoi in the plural. The plural form philtatoi, ‘most near and dear [philoi]’, is applied to the comrades of Meleagros at verse 586. As we are about to see, this adjective philos measures the hero’s ascending scale of affection: elders, priests, father, sisters, mother, comrades [hetairoi], and, finally, wife. [22]
2§48. I will now explain why I highlight the word wife at the very end of this list of words. The sequence in which these words are presented in the narration corresponds to a principle that I have just described as the hero’s ascending scale of affection. As we are about to see, the placement of the wife in the final position of this sequence is dictated by the logic of the micro-narrative itself, not by the logic of its narrator Phoenix. And the logic of this micro-narrative is shaped by the emotions of Meleagros.
2§49. The emotions of Achilles, which shape the macro-Narrative of the Iliad, can be understood by thinking through these emotions of Meleagros, which shape the micro-narrative told by Phoenix in Iliad IX. A key to these emotions is the principle of an ascending scale of affection. As we are about to see, this principle is on full display in the Meleagros narrative, which calls itself klea andrōn, ‘glories of men’ (IX 524), told in the midst of philoi, ‘friends, near and dear ones’ (IX 528), as we saw in Text B.
2§50. As we analyze the emotions that are activated in this micro-narrative, it is important to consider again the meaning of philoi, ‘friends, near and dear ones’, and this word’s links with the emotion of love. The lament of Kleopatra highlights the emotion of love as well as the emotion of sadness or sorrow or grief as well as the emotion of anger as well as the emotion of fear. The story of Meleagros and Kleopatra explores the combinations and permutations of all these emotions.
2§51. The song culture of “Classical” opera likewise explores such combinations and permutations of emotions. In the Renaissance, opera was thought to be a “reinvention” of ancient drama and, by extension, of epic themes transmitted by drama, especially by tragedy.
2§52. In opera, confusion of emotions is an emotion in its own right, since it is meant to be a mixture of more than one emotion. That is, confusion results from a fusion of grief and anger, anger and hate, hate and love, and so on. Such fusion, as we will see later, is evident in Greek epic and tragedy as well.
2§53. In the story of Meleagros and Kleopatra, two emotions that we see foregrounded are fear and pity.

The emotions of fear and pity

2§54. Aristotle thought that the emotions of phobos, ‘fear’, and eleos, ‘pity’, are essential for understanding tragedy (Poetics 1449b24-28). The same can be said for understanding the epic of the Iliad, which Aristotle understood to be a prototype of tragedy. [23] Here I offer some background on these and other emotions as expressed in ancient Greek song culture.
2§55. The English translations ‘fear’ and ‘pity’ do not quite capture the range of meanings embedded in the original Greek words. It is easier if we start thinking of the contrast of fear and pity in different terms:
fear: a feeling of repulsion when you see or hear someone else suffering (that is, you feel like getting as far away as possible from that person)
pity: a feeling of attraction when you see or hear someone else suffering (that is, you feel like getting closer to that person).
When you yourself are suffering, you feel grief. When you feel fear or pity, you are repelled by or attracted to the grief.
2§56. Of course, the emotion of fear goes beyond what you feel about the grief of others: you can more basically fear for yourself. But the same basic feeling is at work when you experience fear in reaction to someone else’s suffering: you are afraid that something might happen to you that will make you suffer the same way. Another word that I will use, from here on, to express the idea of fear is terror.
2§57. This background will help us analyze the micro-narrative about Meleagros and his wife Kleopatra.
2§58. In the case of the emotions that we know as sadness and love, I can offer some analogies in contemporary popular media:
[[In “live” meetings, I show at this point two clips, both from Bladerunner. The first is entitled “Implants, just implants,” and the second is “You play beautifully,” from Bladerunner. chs.harvard.edu]]
In the film Bladerunner, which I cited already in Hour 1§33, there are two scenes that illustrate the idea that the musical recalling of a memory is the “same thing” as the reliving of an experience, with all its emotions. If you “recall” someone else’s experience by way of song or music, then that experience and all its emotions become your own, even if they had not been originally yours.

The story of Meleagros and Kleopatra

2§59. The total recall of Phoenix in telling the story of Meleagros focuses on the wife of Meleagros, named Kleopatra, and on the meaning of her name Kleopatra. This name Kleopatra in the micro-narrative will be relevant to the name of Patroklos, the best friend of Achilles, in the macro-Narrative. [24]
2§60. As Achilles contemplates the decisions he has to make in the course of a narrative that centers on his own epic actions, he is invited by Phoenix to contemplate the decisions made by an earlier hero in the course of an earlier epic. As we saw earlier, that hero is Meleagros, who figures in an earlier epic called the klea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories of men who were heroes’, in Iliad IX 524-525, Text B. The framed epic about Meleagros, quoted as a direct speech by the framing epic, is introduced by way of a special word houtōs, ‘this is how’, at IX 524, Text B, signaling the activation of a special form of speech known as the ainos. [25] Here is my working definition of this word: an ainos is a performance of ambivalent wording that becomes clarified once it is correctly understood and then applied in moments of making moral decisions affecting those who are near and dear. [26]
2§61. The ainos that Phoenix tells in the Iliad, drawing on narratives concerning the hero Meleagros, is intended to persuade Achilles to accept an offer made by Agamemnon. That is the short-range intention of Phoenix as a narrator narrating within the master Narration that is the Iliad. But the long-range intention of the master Narrator is quite different from the short-range intention of Phoenix. The master Narrative shows that the embedded narrative of Phoenix was misguided - that is, misguided by hindsight. If Achilles had accepted the offer of Agamemnon, as Phoenix had intended, this acceptance would have undermined the epic reputation of Achilles. [27]
2§62. So, the reaction of Achilles to the ainos performed by Phoenix needs to be viewed within the framework of the master Narrative performed by the master Narrator. From the standpoint of Achilles as a character who takes shape within the plot of the overall epic that is the Iliad, the consequences of his decisions in reacting to the subplot of the epic about Meleagros are still unclear at the moment when he makes these decisions. From the standpoint of the master Narrator who narrates the plot of the Iliad, on the other hand, the consequences are quite clear, since the master Narration takes shape by way of an interaction between the framed micro-narrative about the anger of Meleagros and the framing macro-Narrative about the anger of Achilles. The short-range agenda of Phoenix and Achilles will be transformed into the long-range agenda of the master Narrative, which will ultimately correspond to what actually happens to Achilles in his own heroic life. In the world of epic, heroes live out their lives by living the narratives that are their lives.
2§63. The point of the story as told by Phoenix is that Achilles must identify with those who are philoi, ‘near and dear’ - and must therefore rejoin his comrades in war. Phoenix himself, along with Odysseus and Ajax, is a representative of these comrades by virtue of being sent as a delegate to Achilles.
2§64. More must be said here about the word philos (in the singular) or philoi (in the plural), which as we have seen means ‘friend’ as a noun and ‘near and dear’ as an adjective. The translation ‘dear’ conveys the fact that this word has an important emotional component. As we will see, the meaning of the framed micro-narrative of Phoenix emerges from the framing macro-Narrative of the Iliad. As we will also see, the central theme has to do with the power of emotions, and the central character turns out to be someone who is not mentioned a single time in the framed micro-narrative: that someone is Achilles’ best friend, the hero Patroklos.
2§65. From the standpoint of Phoenix as narrator, the word philoi applies primarily to Achilles at the moment when he begins to tell his story (IX 528). But this word applies also to the whole group of epic characters who are listening to the telling of this story. This group, as we have seen, is composed of (1) Odysseus and Ajax, who are the other two delegates besides Phoenix; (2) the two heralds who accompany the three delegates; (3) Achilles himself; and (4) Patroklos. Inside the story told by Phoenix, the comrades who approach Meleagros as delegates are the philtatoi, that is, those persons who are ‘nearest and dearest’ to the hero (IX 585-587). So, from the short-range perspective of Phoenix as the narrator of the ainos about Meleagros, the three comrades who approach Achilles as delegates must be the persons who are nearest and dearest to him. From the long-range perspective of the master Narrator, however, it is not Phoenix and the two other delegates but Patroklos who must be nearest and dearest to Achilles. Later on in the Iliad, after Patroklos is killed in battle, Achilles recognizes this hero as the one who was all along the philtatos, the ‘nearest and dearest’ of them all (XVII 411, 655). [28]
2§66. The story about Meleagros as narrated by Phoenix is already anticipating such a long-range recognition. The micro-narrative indicates, by way of the sequence of delegates who are sent to Meleagros, that hero’s ascending scale of affection. The order in which the delegates are mentioned corresponds to the order in which they are placed in the hero’s emotional world of affections. Delegates who are mentioned earlier are placed relatively lower in the hero’s ascending scale of affection, while delegates that are mentioned later are placed relatively higher. The scale of lower to higher goes from the elders [verse 574] to the priests [verse 575] to the father [verse 581] to the sisters [verse 584] to the mother [verse 584] to the comrades [verse 585]. At first it seems as if the comrades are at the top of this hero’s ascending scale of affection, since they seem to be the last and the latest delegates to be mentioned, and, on top of that, they are actually described by Phoenix as philtatoi, the ‘nearest and dearest’ (IX 585-587). But there is someone who is even nearer and dearer to Meleagros than the comrades. In the logic of the story, that someone turns out to be the wife of Meleagros (IX 588-596). In this hero’s ascending scale of affection, his wife ultimately outranks even his comrades approaching him as delegates. Likewise in Achilles’ ascending scale of affection, there is someone who ultimately outranks the comrades approaching him as delegates. For Achilles that someone is Patroklos, who was all along the philtatos, the ‘nearest and dearest’ of them all (XVII 411, 655). The name of this hero in its full form, Patrokleēs, matches in meaning the name given to the wife of Meleagros in the ainos narrated by Phoenix: she is Kleopatra (IX 556). These two names, Patrokleēs / Kleopatra, both mean ‘the one who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’. [29] Both these names amount to a periphrasis of the expression tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’ (IX 524-525), which refers to the ainos narrated by Phoenix to a group of listeners including not only the delegates approaching Achilles but also Achilles and Patroklos themselves (IX 527-528). Phoenix is presuming that all his listeners are philoi, ‘near and dear’, to him (IX 528). I already quoted all this wording in Text B.
2§67. Even before the arrival of the delegates, Achilles himself is pictured as singing the glories of heroes, the klea andrōn (IX 189). At this moment, he is alone except for one person. With him is Patroklos, who is intently listening to him and waiting for his own turn to sing, ready to start at whatever point Achilles leaves off singing (IX 190-191). As Patroklos gets ready to continue the song sung by Achilles, the song of Achilles is getting ready to become the song of Patroklos. So, the hero whose name conveys the very idea of klea andrōn, ‘glories of men (who are heroes)’, is figured here as the personal embodiment of the klea andrōn. [30] I already quoted all this wording in Text D.
2§68. As we will see in hours to come, Achilles himself is a virtuoso in expressing emotions by way of song, that is, by way of klea andrōn. Especially the emotions of sorrow, anger, hatred, and even love.
2§69. The ainos told by Phoenix, to which he refers as klea andrōn at Iliad IX 524 as quoted in Text B, connects with the song of Achilles, to which the master Narrator refers likewise as klea andrōn, at IX 189, as quoted in Text D. The ainos also connects with Patroklos as the one person who is nearest and dearest to Achilles. Patroklos is at the very top of that hero’s ascending scale of affection.
2§70. What must mean more than anything else to Achilles is not only Patroklos himself but also the actual meaning of the name Patrokleēs , which conveys the idea of the klea andrōn. For Achilles, the words klea andrōn represent the master Narrative in the actual process of being narrated in the epic of the Iliad. For Achilles, it is a narrative of his own making. And it is the speech act of narration in the making.
2§71. Just as the song of Achilles is identified with the master Narrative of the Iliad, so also the style of this hero’s language is identified with the overall style of the master Narrator. In other words, the language of Achilles mirrors the language of the master Narrator. Empirical studies of the language of Homeric diction have shown that the language of Achilles is made distinct from the language of other heroes quoted in the Iliad, and this distinctness carries over into the language of the master Narrator, which is thus made distinct from the language of other narrators of epic. [31] It is as if the klea andrōn as sung by Achilles - and as heard by Patroklos - were the model for the overall klea andrōn as sung by Homer.
2§72. The ainos as told by Phoenix, to which he refers as klea andrōn at Iliad IX 524 as quoted in Text B, connects with the overall klea andrōn as told by the master Narrator. The connection is made by way of poetic conventions distinguishing the ainos from epic. One of these conventions is a set of three features characterizing the rhetoric of the ainos. Unlike epic, the ainos requires three qualifications of its listeners in order to be understood:
1. The listeners must be sophoi, ‘skilled’, in understanding the message encoded in the poetry. That is, they must be mentally qualified.
2. They must be agathoi, ‘noble’. That is, they must be morally qualified.
3. They must be philoi, ‘near and dear’, to each other and to the one who is telling them the ainos. That is, they must be emotionally qualified. Communication is achieved through a special sense of community, that is, through recognizing “the ties that bind.” [32]
2§73. Each of these three features of the ainos is made explicit in the songmaking medium of Pindar, whose songs date back to the first half of the fifth century BCE. The medium of Pindar actually refers to itself as ainos. [33]
2§74. One of these three features of the ainos is also made explicit in the ainos narrated by Phoenix, that is, in tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’, at Iliad IX 524-525 as quoted in Text B. When it comes to the emotional qualifications required for understanding the ainos spoken by Phoenix, we have already seen that the speaker refers to his listeners as philoi, ‘near and dear’ to him (IX 528). So, the emotional requirements of the ainos are made quite explicit. By contrast, when it comes to the moral requirements for understanding the ainos, they are merely implicit in the word philoi. The moral message as encoded in his ainos becomes explicit only at a later point, once the outcome of the master Narrative is clarified. That point is reached when Patroklos is killed while fighting for his comrades. It is only then that Achilles, for whom the story about the anger of Meleagros was intended, ultimately recognizes the moral message of that story.
2§75. This kind of recognition, to borrow from the wording used in the lyric poetry of Pindar, shows that the listener has become sophos, ‘skilled’, in understanding the message encoded in the ainos. In the story told by Phoenix, that message is conveyed by the figure of Kleopatra, who is nearest and dearest to Meleagros in that hero’s ascending scale of affection. In the logic of the embedded narrative, that figure promotes the moral principle of fighting for one’s comrades, just as the figure of Patroklos, who is nearest and dearest to Achilles, promotes the same principle in the logic of the master Narrative.
2§76. Patroklos not only promotes that principle: he exemplifies it through his own epic actions, thereby forfeiting his life. Then, responding to the lesson learned from the death of Patroklos, Achilles will express his willingness to forfeit his own life in order to avenge the death of Patroklos (Iliad XVIII 90-126). Thus Achilles will be justifying the principle for which Patroklos had died, this principle of klea andrōn.

Plato’s reading of the Iliad

2§77. Plato, who lived in the fourth century BCE, shows his understanding of this moral principle as developed in the master Narrative of the Iliad: in Plato’s Apology of Socrates (28c-d), we see a paraphrase of the relevant verses of the Iliad (XVIII 90-104), along with some quotations of the original wording. Likewise in Plato’s Symposium (179e-180a), we see a second paraphrase of the same verses. In the case of that second paraphrase, however, the choice made by Achilles to forfeit his life in order to avenge the death of Patroklos appears to be conflated with another choice that faces the hero. At an earlier point in the Iliad, in the context of the so-called Embassy Scene where Achilles is speaking to Phoenix and the other delegates (IX 410-416), he says that he must decide between two kēres or ‘fated ways’ (IX 411): either he dies at a ripe old age after a safe nostos, ‘homecoming’, to his homeland Phthia or he dies young on the battlefield in Troy - and thereby wins for himself a kleos, ‘glory’, that will last forever (IX 413). This is the passage I first quoted in Hour 0 Text F and in Hour 1 Text A.
2§78. Plato’s apparent conflation of two choices facing Achilles turns out to be justified: the two choices are in fact one choice. In the Embassy Scene of the Iliad, when Achilles says he must choose between two kēres or ‘fated ways’ (IX 411), either a nostos, ‘homecoming’, or a kleos, ‘glory’, that will last forever (IX 413), he is actually not yet ready to make his choice: the two alternative fates have simply been foretold for him by his mother, the goddess Thetis (IX 410-411). Later on, after Patroklos has been killed, Achilles is facing the same choice, but by now he has made his decision. He says that there cannot be a homecoming for him (nosteîn XVIII 90) because he must kill Hector in order to avenge the death of Patroklos, and, once he kills Hector, his own death in battle will become a certainty (XVIII 90-93), just as his mother had foretold - and as she now foretells again (XVIII 96-97). By choosing to kill Hector, Achilles chooses to die young on the battlefield, and he refers to this death as his inevitable kēr or ‘fated way’ (XVIII 115). As his compensation, however, he will now win kleos, ‘glory’, for himself (XVIII 121).

The epic choice of Achilles

2§79. So, ultimately, Achilles decides to choose kleos over life itself. Earlier on, however, when the choice is first formulated in the Embassy Scene, it is not yet clear which of the two kēres or ‘fated ways’ (IX 411) will be chosen by the hero - whether it will be a nostos, ‘homecoming’, or the kleos, ‘glory’, that will last forever (IX 413). The hero is saying that he loves life more than any property he can win for himself by fighting in Troy, and such property is defined in terms of raiding cattle in particular and acquiring wealth in general (IX 401-408). Still earlier on, in the so-called Quarrel Scene at the very start of the epic, in Iliad I, such property is defined in terms of the women as well as the cattle and the general wealth that the hero has already acquired in the course of raiding the territories of Aeolic-speaking Greeks in the vicinity of Troy.
2§80. I add here that the word Aeolic refers to the Greek dialect spoken on the island of Lesbos and the facing mainland of Asia Minor, as well as the dialect spoken in Thessaly, the homeland of Achilles. Thessaly is on the European side of the Aegean Sea. As we will see later, the European provenance of Aeolic Achilles is politicized in the poetic traditions about this hero.
2§81. At the start of the Iliad, the hero’s sense of tīmē ‘honor’ is simply a function of all the property he has acquired. The prime example is Briseis, a woman whom Achilles captured in one of his raiding expeditions in the territories of the Aeolic-speaking Greeks of Asia Minor. (In using this geographical term, I include the offshore island of Lesbos.) In the Quarrel Scene at the beginning of the Iliad, when Briseis is forcibly taken from Achilles by Agamemnon, she is treated merely as a war-prize, a trophy, and the hero’s loss is seen as a loss of property. And yet, though the hero’s honor is expressed exclusively in terms of property in the Quarrel Scene of Iliad I, things have changed by the time Achilles speaks to Phoenix in the Embassy Scene of Iliad IX. By then, Achilles has rethought the loss of Briseis. By now this loss has become the loss of a personal relationship, and Achilles even says he loves Briseis as he would love a wife (IX 340-343). I will have more to say about this in Hour 8.
2§82. Here I must return to the story told by the old man Phoenix to the young man Achilles about the hero Meleagros and his wife Kleopatra (Iliad IX 527-599). I highlight again the fact that the old man refers to his story as tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, the ‘glories of men of an earlier time, who were heroes’ (IX 524-525). This story about Meleagros, a hero who seems at first to love his wife more than he loves his own comrades, will now take on a special meaning for the hero of the master Narrative that is the Iliad.
2§83. But there are vital questions that remain: does Achilles love his would-be wife more than he loves his comrades - or even more than life itself? Here is where the name of the wife of Meleagros, Kleopatra, becomes essential. As we have seen, the meaning of Kleopatra is parallel to the meaning of Patrokleēs, the name of the one person who means more to Achilles than anyone else in the whole world. After Patroklos is killed, this hero is recognized as the one single person who was nearest and dearest to Achilles. After the death of Patroklos, Achilles can now say that he has all along valued Patroklos as much as he has valued his own life (XVIII 80-82).
2§84. So, the hero Ajax misses the point when he accuses Achilles of loving Briseis more than he loves his comrades (IX 622-638). Achilles loves his would-be wife the same way that Meleagros loves Kleopatra, but there is a deeper meaning to be found in that hero’s love for Kleopatra, and that deeper meaning has to do with the relevance of the name of Kleopatra to Achilles. What Achilles loves more than anything else in the whole world is what the name of Kleopatra means to Meleagros - and what the name of his own nearest and dearest comrade Patroklos means to him. That is because these two names Patrokleēs / Kleopatra both mean ‘the one who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’, and, as I have argued, both these names amount to a periphrasis of the expression tōn prosthenklea andrōn | hērōōn, ‘the glories [kleos plural] of men of an earlier time who were heroes’ (IX 524-525).
2§85. Just as Patroklos made the epic choice of loving his comrades more than life itself, actually giving up his life for them, so also Achilles will now make the epic choice of giving up his own life for his comrade Patroklos - and for the meaning of Patroklos. The meaning of the name of Patroklos, ‘the one who has the glory [kleos] of the ancestors [pateres]’, recapitulates the epic choice of Achilles, who ultimately opts for kleos over life itself. That is why, as we will see in Hour 4, the epic kleos chosen by Achilles must be aphthiton, ‘imperishable’, forever (IX 413): the kleos of Achilles must not ever lose its divine vitality.


[ back ] 1. |527 μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον ἐγὼ πάλαι οὔ τι νέον γε |528 ὡς ἦν· ἐν δ’ ὑμῖν ἐρέω πάντεσσι φίλοισι.
[ back ] 2. HQ 17.
[ back ] 3. |524 οὕτω καὶ τῶν πρόσθεν ἐπευθόμεθα κλέα ἀνδρῶν |525 ἡρώων, ὅτε κέν τιν’ ἐπιζάφελος χόλος ἵκοι. |526 δωρητοί τε πέλοντο παράρρητοί τ’ ἐπέεσσι. |527 μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον ἐγὼ πάλαι οὔ τι νέον γε |528 ὡς ἦν· ἐν δ’ ὑμῖν ἐρέω πάντεσσι φίλοισι.
[ back ] 4. |484 Ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχουσαι· |485 ὑμεῖς γὰρ θεαί ἐστε πάρεστέ τε ἴστέ τε πάντα, |486 ἡμεῖς δὲ κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν· |487 οἵ τινες ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν.
[ back ] 5. BA 17 = 1§3n2; see also West 2007:34. The noun Mousa ‘Muse’ derives from the Indo-European root *men, the basic meaning of which is ‘put in mind’ in verb formations with transitive function and ‘have in mind’ in those with intransitive function. This etymology is reflected in the mythological relationship of the divine Muses with mnēmosunē in the sense of ‘poetic recall’, personified as their divine mother, Mnemosyne.
[ back ] 6. HTL 175n78; also 80n75.
[ back ] 7. BA 15-18 = 1§§2-4.
[ back ] 8. As I said at the beginning, I use the word notionally to indicate that the statement I am making reflects not my own thinking but rather the thought patterns of others.
[ back ] 9. Here and elsewhere, I refer to the klisiē of Achilles as a ‘shelter’, not a ‘tent’. I explain why in HPC 152-153 = II§§56-59.
[ back ] 10. In the original Greek, it is not clear whether the wording for ‘the two of them’ refers to Ajax and Phoenix or to Ajax and Odysseus or to a combination of all three, who are being accompanied by the two heralds Odios and Eurybates (on whom see Iliad IX 170). For a survey of different interpretations, see HQ 138-145.
[ back ] 11. See the previous note.
[ back ] 12. In the original Greek, it is not clear whether Odysseus is named here in addition to the two others or as one of the two others. In my view, the unclearness in this context is intentional: see HQ 141-144.
[ back ] 13. As the context makes clear (Iliad IX 200-204 and thereafter), the scene is taking place inside the shelter of Achilles, not outside it.
[ back ] 14. |185 Μυρμιδόνων δ’ ἐπί τε κλισίας καὶ νῆας ἱκέσθην, |186 τὸν δ’ εὗρον φρένα τερπόμενον φόρμιγγι λιγείῃ |187 καλῇ δαιδαλέῃ, ἐπὶ δ’ ἀργύρεον ζυγὸν ἦεν, |188 τὴν ἄρετ’ ἐξ ἐνάρων πόλιν Ἠετίωνος ὀλέσσας· |189 τῇ ὅ γε θυμὸν ἔτερπεν, ἄειδε δ’ ἄρα κλέα ἀνδρῶν. |190 Πάτροκλος δέ οἱ οἶος ἐναντίος ἧστο σιωπῇ, |191 δέγμενος Αἰακίδην ὁπότε λήξειεν ἀείδων, |192 τὼ δὲ βάτην προτέρω, ἡγεῖτο δὲ δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς, |193 στὰν δὲ πρόσθ’ αὐτοῖο· ταφὼν δ’ ἀνόρουσεν Ἀχιλλεὺς |194 αὐτῇ σὺν φόρμιγγι λιπὼν ἕδος ἔνθα θάασσεν. |195 ὣς δ’ αὔτως Πάτροκλος, ἐπεὶ ἴδε φῶτας, ἀνέστη.
[ back ] 15. HC 362-363, 370-371 = 3§§29, 41.
[ back ] 16. PR 36, 41-42.
[ back ] 17. Lord 1960; in 2000, there was a second edition published by Stephen Mitchell and myself, and the two of us wrote a new introduction that dealt with the impact of Lord’s work since 1960.
[ back ] 18. Martin The Language of Heroes (1989).
[ back ] 19. HQ 132-133.
[ back ] 20. Again, HQ 132-133.
[ back ] 21. |550 ὄφρα μὲν οὖν Μελέαγρος ἄρηι φίλος πολέμιζε, |551 τόφρα δὲ Κουρήτεσσι κακῶς ἦν, οὐδὲ δύναντο |552 τείχεος ἔκτοσθεν μίμνειν πολέες περ ἐόντες· |553 ἀλλ' ὅτε δὴ Μελέαγρον ἔδυ χόλος, ὅς τε καὶ ἄλλων |554 οἰδάνει ἐν στήθεσσι νόον πύκα περ φρονεόντων, |555 ἤτοι ὃ μητρὶ φίλῃ Ἀλθαίῃ χωόμενος κῆρ |556 κεῖτο παρὰ μνηστῇ ἀλόχῳ καλῇ Κλεοπάτρῃ |557 κούρῃ Μαρπήσσης καλλισφύρου Εὐηνίνης |558 Ἴδεώ θ’, ὃς κάρτιστος ἐπιχθονίων γένετ’ ἀνδρῶν |559 τῶν τότε· καί ῥα ἄνακτος ἐναντίον εἵλετο τόξον |560 Φοίβου Ἀπόλλωνος καλλισφύρου εἵνεκα νύμφης, |561 τὴν δὲ τότ’ ἐν μεγάροισι πατὴρ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ |562 Ἀλκυόνην καλέεσκον ἐπώνυμον, οὕνεκ’ ἄρ’ αὐτῆς |563 μήτηρ ἀλκυόνος πολυπενθέος οἶτον ἔχουσα |564 κλαῖεν ὅ μιν ἑκάεργος ἀνήρπασε Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων· |565 τῇ ὅ γε παρκατέλεκτο χόλον θυμαλγέα πέσσων |566 ἐξ ἀρέων μητρὸς κεχολωμένος, ἥ ῥα θεοῖσι |567 πόλλ’ ἀχέουσ’ ἠρᾶτο κασιγνήτοιο φόνοιο, |568 πολλὰ δὲ καὶ γαῖαν πολυφόρβην χερσὶν ἀλοία |569 κικλήσκουσ’ Ἀΐδην καὶ ἐπαινὴν Περσεφόνειαν |570 πρόχνυ καθεζομένη, δεύοντο δὲ δάκρυσι κόλποι, |571 παιδὶ δόμεν θάνατον· τῆς δ’ ἠεροφοῖτις Ἐρινὺς |572 ἔκλυεν ἐξ Ἐρέβεσφιν ἀμείλιχον ἦτορ ἔχουσα. |573 τῶν δὲ τάχ’ ἀμφὶ πύλας ὅμαδος καὶ δοῦπος ὀρώρει |574 πύργων βαλλομένων· τὸν δὲ λίσσοντο γέροντες |575 Αἰτωλῶν, πέμπον δὲ θεῶν ἱερῆας ἀρίστους, |576 ἐξελθεῖν καὶ ἀμῦναι ὑποσχόμενοι μέγα δῶρον· |577 ὁππόθι πιότατον πεδίον Καλυδῶνος ἐραννῆς, |578 ἔνθά μιν ἤνωγον τέμενος περικαλλὲς ἑλέσθαι |579 πεντηκοντόγυον, τὸ μὲν ἥμισυ οἰνοπέδοιο, |580 ἥμισυ δὲ ψιλὴν ἄροσιν πεδίοιο ταμέσθαι. |581 πολλὰ δέ μιν λιτάνευε γέρων ἱππηλάτα Οἰνεὺς |582 οὐδοῦ ἐπεμβεβαὼς ὑψηρεφέος θαλάμοιο |583 σείων κολλητὰς σανίδας γουνούμενος υἱόν· |584 πολλὰ δὲ τόν γε κασίγνηται καὶ πότνια μήτηρ |585 ἐλλίσσονθ’· ὃ δὲ μᾶλλον ἀναίνετο· πολλὰ δ’ ἑταῖροι, |586 οἵ οἱ κεδνότατοι καὶ φίλτατοι ἦσαν ἁπάντων· |587 ἀλλ’ οὐδ’ ὧς τοῦ θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσιν ἔπειθον, |588 πρίν γ’ ὅτε δὴ θάλαμος πύκ’ ἐβάλλετο, τοὶ δ’ ἐπὶ πύργων |589 βαῖνον Κουρῆτες καὶ ἐνέπρηθον μέγα ἄστυ. |590 καὶ τότε δὴ Μελέαγρον ἐΰζωνος παράκοιτις |591 λίσσετ’ ὀδυρομένη, καί οἱ κατέλεξεν ἅπαντα |592 κήδε’, ὅσ’ ἀνθρώποισι πέλει τῶν ἄστυ ἁλώῃ· |593 ἄνδρας μὲν κτείνουσι, πόλιν δέ τε πῦρ ἀμαθύνει, |594 τέκνα δέ τ’ ἄλλοι ἄγουσι βαθυζώνους τε γυναῖκας. |595 τοῦ δ’ ὠρίνετο θυμὸς ἀκούοντος κακὰ ἔργα, |596 βῆ δ’ ἰέναι, χροῒ δ’ ἔντε’ ἐδύσετο παμφανόωντα. |597 ὣς ὃ μὲν Αἰτωλοῖσιν ἀπήμυνεν κακὸν ἦμαρ |598 εἴξας ᾧ θυμῷ· τῷ δ’ οὐκέτι δῶρα τέλεσσαν |599 πολλά τε καὶ χαρίεντα, κακὸν δ’ ἤμυνε καὶ αὔτως. |600 ἀλλὰ σὺ μή μοι ταῦτα νόει φρεσί, μὴ δέ σε δαίμων |601 ἐνταῦθα τρέψειε φίλος· κάκιον δέ κεν εἴη |602 νηυσὶν καιομένῃσιν ἀμυνέμεν· ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ δώρων |603 ἔρχεο· ἶσον γάρ σε θεῷ τίσουσιν Ἀχαιοί. |604 εἰ δέ κ’ ἄτερ δώρων πόλεμον φθισήνορα δύῃς |605 οὐκέθ’ ὁμῶς τιμῆς ἔσεαι πόλεμόν περ ἀλαλκών.
[ back ] 22. The term ascending scale of affections is explained in BA 104-105 = 6§15, including references to the history of the term.
[ back ] 23. HC 78 = 1§10.
[ back ] 24. In what follows, I give an epitomized version of an argument I presented in Nagy 2007b (“Homer and Greek Myth”).
[ back ] 25. PH 200 = 7§1n4.
[ back ] 26. PH 199-202 = 7§§1-4.
[ back ] 27. HQ 142-143.
[ back ] 28. BA 104-105 = 6§15.
[ back ] 29. BA 104-105, 106-109 = 6§§15, 17-19.
[ back ] 30. PP 72-73, PR 17.
[ back ] 31. Martin 1989:225, 227, 233, 237.
[ back ] 32. PH 148 = 6§5. See also Nagy 2011c§131, citing Schwartz 2003:383, who has shown that the three requirements for understanding the ancient Greek ainos, as I have just summarized them here, are related to a cognate set of three requirements for understanding the phraseology that he analyzes in the Zoroastrian texts of the ancient Iranian Gāthās, especially with reference to the Yasnas 30, 31, and 46 (pp. 383-384). Schwartz has thus found comparative evidence indicating that the poetics of the ainos stem from Indo-European prototypes.
[ back ] 33. PH 148-150 = 6§§5-8.