Hour 15. What the hero ‘means’

The meaning of sēmainein

15§1. The key word for this hour is sēmainein, which means ‘mean [something], indicate [something] by way of a sēma’. In Hour 7, the key word was sēma (plural sēmata), meaning ‘sign, signal, symbol; tomb, tomb of a hero’. The verb sēmainein is a derivative of the noun sēma. As we will see in this hour, the very idea of ‘meaning’ in the ancient Greek language is tied to the idea of the hero - in particular, to the idea of the cult hero’s death and tomb. It is as if ‘meaning’ could not be ‘meaning’ without the hero’s death and tomb. And such heroic ‘meaning’ is tied to the further concept of the hero’s consciousness after death - a consciousness that communicates with the living. So, the question is, how - or when - is the hero conscious after death? And how - or when - does the hero communicate with the consciousness of the living?

What Protesilaos ‘means’

15§2. We start with a passage about a teras, ‘portent, miracle’, communicated by the cult hero Protesilaos, whose death and whose tomb were the main topic of the previous hour. As we saw in Philostratus Hērōikos 9.3, quoted in Hour 14 Text G, the noun sēma actually refers to the tomb of Protesilaos. Here in Hour 15, our main source of information about Protesilaos is Herodotus, an author who predates by over 600 years the author of the Hērōikos, Philostratus. In the passage I am about to quote from the Histories of Herodotus, a source dating from the second half of the fifth century BCE, the word sēmainein refers to a communication made by Protesilaos from his tomb. As we will see, this reference fills out the picture we already have of this cult hero.
15§3. Here is the historical context of the passage I am about to quote. The year is 479 BCE, and Athenian forces have just captured Sestos, a strategically vital garrison of the Persian Empire. After the united Hellenic forces had defeated the forces of the Persian Empire in the sea battle of Salamis in 480 BCE and in the land battle of Plataea in 479 BCE, the state of Athens unilaterally began taking control of Greek-speaking populations previously controlled by the Persian Empire, and a major prize was the territory of the Chersonesus, the garrison for which was Sestos. We join the action at a moment when the Athenians have already captured Sestos, and they have taken prisoner the Persian governor, named Artayktes, whom they condemn to death on charges of having violated the hero cult of Protesilaos at Elaious in the Chersonesus. As the Persian man is about to be executed, a teras, ‘portent, miracle’, is seen:

Hour 15 Text A

|9.120.1 The people of the Chersonesus say that a portent [teras] happened to one of the guards while he was roasting salted fish [tarīkhoi]: the salted fish [tarīkhoi] on the fire began to jump and writhe just like newly-caught fish. |9.120.2 A crowd gathered in amazement, but when Artayktes saw the portent [teras] he called out to the man roasting the salted fish [tarīkhoi] and said, “Athenian stranger [xenos], have no fear of this portent [teras]; it has not been sent to you. Instead Protesilaos of Elaious indicates [sēmainein] to me that even when salted and dead [tarīkhos] he holds power from the gods to punish one who treats him without justice [a-dikeîn].
Herodotus 9.120.1-2 [1]
15§4. Here the dead Protesilaos sends a ‘meaning’, as indicated by the verb sēmainein. The question is, for whom is the ‘meaning’ intended? The condemned Persian, Artayktes, says that the ‘meaning’ is intended only for him. It can be argued, however, that Herodotus intended the ‘meaning’ not only for Persians but for Greeks as well. [2] Moreover, since Herodotus attributes the story to a native of the Chersonesus and since the person addressed by the Persian is an Athenian, the ‘meaning’ could even be intended especially for Athenians.
15§5. Through a dunamis, ‘power’, given to Protesilaos by the gods, this cult hero can uphold justice by punishing the unjust - just as surely as he can give the mystical sign that is narrated by Herodotus: an Athenian is roasting tarīkhoi - which I will hereafter translate simply as ‘preserved fish’ - and the dead fish mysteriously come back to life (9.120.1). So also Protesilaos is now being called a tarīkhos: he is as dead as a dead fish, and so he can be seen as a tarīkhos by way of metaphor, but he still has the power to intervene in the world of the living (9.120.2). By implication, Protesilaos has mystically come back to life, just like the preserved fish.
15§6. But the metaphor of the preserved fish that come back to life is more complex. The Greek word tarīkhos, evidently a borrowing from one of the Indo-European languages of Anatolia, can refer not only to ‘preserved’ fish but also to human bodies that are artificially ‘preserved’ in the context of funerary rituals. [3] The meaning ‘preserved’ in an everyday sense would apply to the salting or drying of fish in order to keep them from putrefaction (Herodotus 2.77.4; another relevant passage is 4.53.3). In a transcendent sense, however, it could apply to the artificial preservation of a corpse, again in order to keep it from putrefaction. A case in point is the ritual procedure of mummification as practiced in Egypt: we find detailed descriptions in Herodotus (2.85-89), where we see the verb tarīkheuein, derivative of the noun tarīkhos, in the sense of ‘mummify’ (2.85.2, 2.86.3, 2.86.5, 2.87.2, 2.88, 2.89.1, 2.90.1). In considering the most expensive and sacred form of mummification, Herodotus says ostentatiously that he does not wish to reveal the name connected to this form (2.86.2). His opaque language here corresponds to other contexts where he expresses a reluctance to reveal the secrets of mysteries (as at 2.61, 2.86, 2.132, 2.170, 2.171). [4] In this context, the mystery evidently centers on the Egyptian mythological figure of Osiris, whose resurrection from the dead depends on secret rites of mummification. [5] In the sacred context of the Egyptian mysteries of Osiris, ‘preservation’ is seen as resurrection after death, and the key to the mystery of resurrection is the ritual of mummification. [6]
15§7. For Herodotus, I argue, the sacred sense of tarīkhos in such contexts was comparable to the mysteries of resurrection in hero cult. In terms of this argument, as we now return to the story told by Herodotus (9.120.1-2) about the cult hero Protesilaos as quoted in Text A, the ‘meaning’ of the hero is to be found in the teras, ‘portent, miracle’, of the resurrection of the dead fish and in the riddling use of the word tarīkhos. [7]

The mystery of a cult hero

15§8. The mystification surrounding the Egyptian prototype of resurrection, Osiris, is extended to the Greek hero Protesilaos by the narrative of Herodotus. The mystery inherent in the hero’s own cult is signaled by the double meaning of the word tarīkhos - either the everyday sense of ‘preserved fish’ or the hieratic sense of ‘preserved corpse’ - as in the Egyptian sense of ‘mummy’: [8]
What the two meanings seem to have in common is the idea of ‘preservation’. In an everyday sense, rotting is negated by ‘preservation’ through the drying or salting of fish; in a hieratic sense, rotting and death itself are negated by ‘preservation’ through mummification, which is from the standpoint of Egyptian religion the ritual phase of the mystical process of immortalization. [9]
We see further evidence in a text dated roughly to the third century CE, the Alexander Romance (2.39.12): here too a tarīkhos or ‘preserved fish’ comes back to life - after it is washed in the Water of Life in the Land of the Blessed (Makares), and it ἐψυχώθη (e-psūkh-ō-thē), that is, it ‘recovered its breath of life [psūkhē]’. As I argue in another project, this story is connected to propaganda disseminated by the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt about the mummy of Alexander the Great. [10]
15§9. When the dead Protesilaos ‘gives a sign’, sēmainei, to the living, as we saw in Herodotus 9.120.2 as quoted in Text A, the Greek hero’s ‘meaning’ seems at first sight to depend on whether the word tarīkhos is to be understood in the everyday Greek sense of ‘preserved fish’ or in the hieratic non-Greek sense of ‘mummy’. But there is a third sense, both hieratic and Greek, and it depends on the meaning of the word sēmainei: [11]
In the image of a dead fish that mystically comes back to life, we see a convergence of the everyday and the hieratic senses of ‘preservation’. This image [in the story of Herodotus], where Protesilaos sēmainei, ‘indicates’ (9.120.2), the power that he has from the gods to exact retribution from the wrongdoer, amounts to a sēma or sign of the revenant, the spirit that returns from the dead. The hero Protesilaos himself is represented as giving the sēma, the ‘sign’ of his power as a revenant [from the heroic past]. [12]
15§10. The mystical sense of sēma, ‘sign, signal, symbol; tomb, tomb of a hero’, is a tradition in its own right, well attested already in Homeric poetry. [13] We have already seen some indications of such mysticism in Hour 7§4, where we considered the mystical power of cult heroes whose restless spirits reside inside the turning points of chariot races. And, as I noted in Hour 7g§4, a sēma can be any visual marker for the meaning of the hero: it is a point of concentration that directs the viewer into the world of heroes. As we saw in the words of the instructions given by Nestor to his son Antilokhos in Iliad XXIII 326-343, quoted in Hour 7 Text A, the sēma or ‘sign’ of the hero, as signaled in verse 326, can be the same thing as the ‘tomb’ of the hero, as signaled in verse 331. That is the ultimate message conveyed by the words of Nestor: concentrate on the sēma. In this Homeric example, the medium of the tomb or sēma of the hero is the message of the sign or sēma of the hero. And, as I already started to argue in Hour 8§10, this word sēma in Homeric diction signals not only the tomb of a cult hero (as in XXIII 331) but also a sign (as in XXIII 326) that indicates the transcendent meaning of that tomb to those who are qualified to understand the mystical language of hero cult. And the essence of that transcendent meaning, as I started arguing in Hour 11§31, is that the sēma or ‘tomb’ of a hero is a ‘sign’ not only of death as marked by the tomb but also of life after death, as marked by the same ‘tomb’.

What Herodotus ‘means’

15§11. This transcendent mystical meaning of sēma as an indication of life after death extends from the noun sēma to the verb sēmainein, ‘give a sign, signal; indicate’, as used by Herodotus to indicate the ‘meaning’ of the cult hero Protesilaos in Herodotus 9.120.2, a passage I quoted in Text A, which comes at the end of the Histories. In this passage, we saw that Protesilaos comes back to life as a guardian of dikē, ‘justice’, by virtue of punishing those who are guilty of a-dikeîn, that is, of committing unjust deeds against him. But this same ‘meaning’ is implied already at the beginning of the Histories, where it is Herodotus himself who engages in the act of sēmainein, ‘meaning’:

Hour 15 Text Β

|1.5.3 Concerning these things, I am not going to say that they were so or otherwise, but I will indicate [sēmainein] the one who I myself know [oida] first began unjust [a-dika] deeds against the Hellenes. I will go on further in my account, treating equally of great and small cities of humankind, |1.5.4 for many of those that were great in the past have become small, and those that were great in my day were formerly small. Knowing that human good fortune [eudaimoniā] never remains in the same state, I will mention both equally.
Herodotus 1.5.3-4 [14]
15§12. When Herodotus says ‘these things’ here, he is referring to charges and counter-charges about wrongs committed by the mythological prototypes of his narration about the world struggle between East and West that culminated in the war of the Persian Empire against the Hellenes of Europe. Such acts of wrongdoing lead to further acts meant to right wrongs, which of course result in still further acts of wrongdoing. This chain of wrongs committed and of rights claimed is expressed by way of the following words: a-dikēmata, ‘acts of injustice’ (1.2.1); a-dikiē, ‘injustice’ (1.2.1); dikai, ‘acts of compensation for wrongs committed’ (1.2.3, two times; 1.3.1; 1.3.2, three times); a-dikoi, ‘unjust men’ (1.4.2). So, when Herodotus goes on to say in the passage I just quoted in Text B that he will signal, sēmainein, the person he knows was the first to commit deeds that are a-dika, ‘unjust’, against the Hellenes (1.5.3), he is referring to the function of his medium, which is history, in the same way as he refers to the function of the cult hero Protesilaos: in the words of the Persian man accused of wronging Protesilaos, as we saw in Text A, the cult hero is signaling, sēmainein, that the gods have given him the dunamis, ‘power’, to punish the one who ‘treats him without justice’, as expressed by the verb a-dikeîn (9.120.2). [15]
15§13. So, the medium of history is signaling, sēmainein, just as the cult hero himself is signaling, sēmainein, within the medium of history. Within the overall narrative framework of the ‘inquiry’ or historiē of Herodotus, the historian says what he ‘means’ at the very beginning of his Histories when he speaks authoritatively about divine retribution, using the word sēmainein to signal his meaning in Text B (1.5.3), and this ‘meaning’ is finally authorized at the very end of his Histories when the hero Protesilaos expresses his own meaning, signaled again by the word sēmainein in Text A (9.120.2). [16] Now it is the resurrected hero, not just the historian, who speaks authoritatively about divine retribution, and the semantics of sēmainein connect the heroic world of Protesilaos, the first warrior to die in the Trojan War (Iliad II 695–710), with the historical world of Herodotus and beyond. [17]
15§14. But the hero’s meaning is opaque. The condemned Persian man can claim that the meaning of Protesilaos is intended for him, not for the Athenian, let alone the native Greeks of the Chersonesus who worship Protesilaos as their local hero. Who, then, is the intended receiver, the destinataire, of the meaning of Protesilaos? The historian does not say, and in this regard his meaning, too, is opaque: [18]
When Herodotus ‘indicates’, sēmainei, he is indirectly narrating the actions of the gods by directly narrating the actions of men. And the most powerful ‘indication’ is the sēma of the hero, whose message is also his medium, the tomb. The double meaning of sēma as both ‘tomb’ and ‘indication, sign’ is itself a monument to the ideology inherent in the ancient Greek institution of hero cults - an ideology that appropriated the very concept of meaning to the tomb of the hero. [19]

More on the mystery of a cult hero

15§15. The opaqueness of a cult hero like Protesilaos is a tradition in its own right, grounded in the mystery his hero cult. [20] I have been using this term mystery in the sense of the ancient Greek noun mustērion (attested normally in the plural: mustēria. This noun derives ultimately from the verb muein (first person muō), which means ‘have the mouth closed’ or ‘have the eyes closed’ in non-sacred situations - but which implies ‘say in a sacred kind of way’ or ‘see in a sacred kind of way’ in sacred situations. [21] The idea of saying or seeing in a sacred kind of way is made explicit in the related verb mueîn (first person mueō), which means ‘initiate into the mysteries’. The idea of mystery is embedded in the word muein in the sense of ‘have the mouth closed’ or ‘have the eyes closed’, as we can see from an observation made by the worshipper of the cult hero Protesilaos: in the Hērōikos of Philostratus (11.9), the Ampelourgos observes that you cannot even see the cult hero Protesilaos while he is engaged in the act of actually consuming the offerings left for him, since it all happens thatton ē katamusai, ‘quicker than blinking’, where kata-muein, ‘blink’, is derived from muein in the sense of ‘close / open the eyes’. [22] When something sacred happens this quickly, how can you open your mouth and say something about it - let alone see anything?
15§16. So, what exactly is the ‘mystery’ of the cult hero Protesilaos? Evidently it has to do with the hero’s capacity to come back to life after death - either formally and definitively, as in a resurrection, or personally and episodically, as in an epiphany. In what follows, we will consider first the formal event of a resurrection, and then the more personalized event of an epiphany.
15§17. Near the very beginning of the Hērōikos of Philostratus, the reader learns that the cult hero Protesilaos experienced a resurrection - in fact, he experienced not one but two resurrections (2.9-11). These two resurrections are presented as mysteries that can be understood only if one is initiated into these mysteries. In the Hērōikos, the person who is being initiated - let us call him the initiand - is the Phoenician. And the person who is initiating him is the Ampelourgos, who has already been initiated. But the Phoenician is not the only initiand of the Hērōikos: ultimately, as we will see, the initiands include also the readers of the Hērōikos.
15§18. In the Hērōikos, the first time the hero Protesilaos came back to life (anabiōiē 2.9) was in Phthia in Thessaly after his death at Troy, all because of his love for his bride Laodameia. Then he died a second time - and again it was because he loved his bride - only to come back to life a second time thereafter (anabiōnai 2.10). Just exactly how the hero came back for the second time, however, is not revealed even to the initiated Ampelourgos, who says to the Phoenician initiand that Protesilaos chooses not to tell that particular sacred secret or aporrhēton, which means literally an ‘unsayable thing’ (2.11). [23] So, the Ampelourgos is really only half-initiated, since he knows the mystery of only one of the two resurrections of Protesilaos.
15§19. In this context, I highlight the suggestive use of the word pathos, ‘experience’, with regard to the resurrections of Protesilaos: as the Ampelourgos says about the cult hero, ‘he himself [Protesilaos] does not speak about his own experiences [pathē]’ (Hērōikos 2.9). The Ampelourgos goes on to say that the aporrhēton, ‘sacred secret’, belongs to the Moirai ‘Fates’ (2.11). This association of the cult hero Protesilaos with the Moirai, ‘Fates’, is relevant to the etymology of the hero’s name Prōtesi-lāos, the first part of which is derived from the root of the verb pe-prō-tai, ‘it is fated’ (the form is attested Iliad XVIII 329). [24] In the master narrative of the Homeric Iliad, the name Prōtesi-lāos is explicitly associated with the fate of the Achaean lāos or ‘people’: a turning point in the plot of the Iliad is the moment when the fire of Hector reaches the ships of the Achaeans, and here the narrative focuses on the ship of Protesilaos himself (Iliad XV 704–705; 716–718; see also XVI 286); [25] this same precise moment is figured as a turning point for the very destiny of all Hellenes as descendants of the epic Achaeans, in that the Iliad equates the threat of destruction for the Achaeans’ ships with the threat of extinction for the Hellenes who are yet to be. [26]
15§20. So much for the resurrections of Protesilaos in the heroic past. As for the everyday present, by contrast, this cult hero continues to come back again and again as an apparition, in sacred epiphanies, and so too do other heroes of the heroic past keep coming back. As the Ampelourgos says, Protesilaos and the other heroes of the Trojan War have a habit of appearing in epiphanies: they literally ‘show up’, phainontai (Hērōikos 2.11).
15§21. The Ampelourgos follows up by proceeding to tell the Phoenician initiand all about the epiphanies of Protesilaos, describing the cult hero’s interventions into the world of the everyday. Where is Protesilaos most likely to be sighted? The Ampelourgos reveals an array of places where the hero may ‘show up’, as it were: sometimes he is in the Chersonesus, sometimes in Phthia, sometimes in Troy - a most notable of locations for frequent sightings of heroes who died in the Trojan War - and sometimes he is back in Hādēs (Hērōikos 11.7). It is in Hādēs that he continues to have sex with his beloved bride Laodameia (11.8). [27]
15§22. Sometimes the living can even fall in love with the apparitions of such heroes. The Ampelourgos tells this story, for example, about an epiphany that was manifested by the hero Antilokhos, son of Nestor:

Hour 15 Text C

My guest [xenos], I will lose my voice if I try to recall all such stories [about heroes who make epiphanies at the Plain of Scamander in the region of Troy]. For example, there is a song about Antilokhos, how a girl from the city of [New] Ilion who was wandering along the banks of the river Scamander had an encounter [en-tunkhanein] with the phantom [eidōlon] of Antilokhos and embraced his tomb [sēma] in a fit of passionate erotic desire [erôsa] for the phantom [eidōlon].
Philostratus Hērōikos 22.3 [28]

Back to the ‘meaning’ of Protesilaos

15§23. The epiphany of a cult hero can be both metonymic and metaphoric. That is, a sign connected with the hero can be substituted for the hero. Here again I am using these two words metonymy and metaphor in terms of my working definitions of Hour 4§32: whereas metaphor has meaning by substituting for something else, metonymy has meaning by connecting something to something else that is next to that something or at least near to it, thereby establishing contact. We saw in Hour 11 that the word sēma in the sense of ‘tomb’ indicates that the hero is connected simultaneously to (1) a setting for the hero’s body at a given time and place and (2) a setting for the hero’s continued existence beyond everyday time and place. And we have seen here in Hour 15 that the same word sēma in the sense of ‘sign’ indicates an epiphany of the hero or of something connected to the hero in the context of his tomb. Further, the meaning of such an epiphany is indicated by the word sēmainein, which means literally ‘mean’ or ‘mean in a special way’. An example is the use of this word in the story related by Herodotus (9.120.1-2), as quoted in Text A, concerning the teras ‘portent’ of the tarīkhoi ‘preserved fish’ that come back to life while they are being roasted for an everyday meal. As we have seen in this text, the cult hero sēmainei, ‘indicates’, his ‘meaning’.
15§24. The ‘meaning’ in this story as retold by Herodotus is indicated by the corpse of the cult hero Protesilaos, even if the tomb that houses the corpse is not directly mentioned. Still, Herodotus mentions directly the place where the tomb is located: it is the Chersonesus, and the traditional story that is being told about Protesilaos originates from the native Greeks of that region: kai teōi … legetai hupo Khersonēsiteōn … tarīkhous optōnti teras genesthai toionde, ‘and it is said by the people of the Chersonesus that the following portent [teras] happened to a person who was roasting tarīkhoi’ (9.120.1). Further, in the Hērōikos of Philostratus, the portent that is sent as a signal from the hero’s corpse is directly linked to the sacred space of Protesilaos at Elaious: to de ge hieron en hōi, kata tous pateras, ‘the sacred space [hieron] in which, in the time of the ancestors …’ (9.5).
15§25. In other ways, however, the wording of Philostratus is not explicit. For example, in the description of the sacred space where the tomb of Protesilaos is located, we find no direct application of the word tarīkhos to the cult hero himself. Here is the relevant wording: to de ge hieron en hōi, kata tous pateras ho Mēdos hubrizen, eph’ hōi kai to tarīkhos anabiōnai phāsi, ‘the sacred space [hieron] in which, in the time of the ancestors, the Persian man committed acts of outrage [hubrizein], and in which they say that even the tarīkhos came back to life [anabiōnai]’ (Hērōikos 9.5). In this wording, I take it that the word tarīkhos applies to the preserved fish directly: even [kai] it came back to life from the dead. So, the word tarīkhos applies to Protesilaos indirectly: the idea that the hero too came back to life from the dead is merely implied. In the narrative of Herodotus, by contrast, the initial mention of the roasting of tarīkhoi (9.120.1) is followed up at a later moment with a direct application of the word to Protesilaos himself, when the Persian captive is quoted as interpreting the portent:

Hour 15 Text D (part of Text A)

But when Artayktes saw the portent [teras] he called out to the man roasting the salted fish [tarīkhoi] and said, “Athenian stranger [xenos], have no fear of this portent [teras]; it has not been sent to you. Instead Protesilaos of Elaious indicates [sēmainein] to me that even when salted and dead [tarīkhos] he holds power from the gods to punish one who treats him without justice [a-dikeîn].
Herodotus 9.120.2 [29]
15§26. These kinds of indirect references to the corpse and to the tomb of Protesilaos in the narratives of both Herodotus and Philostratus are typical of the mystical language that was traditionally used in referring to cult heroes. Among these indirect references are special words that have a general meaning in non-sacral contexts but a specific meaning in the sacred contexts of hero cult. One of these words is oikos, which means ‘house’ in everyday contexts but refers to the sacred space or ‘dwelling’ that houses the corpse of the hero in the sacred contexts of hero cult. [30] A striking example of this sacral meaning of oikos, as we will see in Hour 18, is a passage in Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus (627). [31] In the narrative of Herodotus about the cult hero Protesilaos, both meanings of oikos are activated:

Hour 15 Text E

|9.116.1 The tyrant [turannos] of this province [= the Chersonesus] was Artayktes, a representative of [the king] Xerxes. He was a Persian, a formidable and impious man. He had deceived the king at the time of the expedition against Athens by robbing from Elaious the possessions [khrēmata] of Protesilaos son of Iphiklos. |9.116.2 The tomb [taphos] of Protesilaos is at Elaious in the Chersonesus, and there is a sacred precinct [temenos] around it. There was a vast amount of possessions [khrēmata] there: gold and silver bowls, bronze, fabrics, and other dedicated offerings, all of which Artayktes seized and carried off because the king had given them to him. He deceived Xerxes by saying, |9.116.3 “Master, there is here the house [oikos] of a Hellene who waged war against your land, but he met with justice [dikē] and was killed. Give me his house [oikos] so that all may know not to wage war against your land.” This was going to be easy, to persuade Xerxes to give him [= Artayktes] a man’s house [oikos] by saying this, since Xerxes had no suspicion of what he [= Artayktes] really thought. When he [= Artayktes] said that Protesilaos waged war against the king’s land, he had in mind [noeîn] that the Persians consider all Asia to belong to them and to their successive kings. So, the king made him the gift, and he [= Artayktes] carried off the possessions [khrēmata] from Elaious to Sestos. As for the sacred precinct [temenos], he [= Artayktes] used it for planting and farming. And whenever he would come [from Sestos] to Elaious for visits, he would even have sex inside the inner sanctum [aduton] with women.
Herodotus 9.116.1-3 [32]
15§27. On the surface of this narrative, a Persian man appropriated the ‘house’ of a Greek man and farmed the land that surrounded that ‘house’. And the pretext for this appropriation was the claim that the Greek man had committed an injustice against the Persians. Earlier in §12, we saw the rationalizations about injustices supposedly committed by Greeks against Persians, starting with the Trojan War: from the standpoint of the Persians, the Greeks started the conflict that led to the Persian Wars by way of invading Asia Minor in the Trojan War. And, as we saw even earlier in Hour 14§8, Protesilaos was the first of the Achaeans to leap from his ship after it was beached on the shores of the Hellespont - and the first hero to die fighting the Trojans.
15§28. Beneath the surface, however, this same narrative shows that the Persian man robbed the sacred dwelling place of a cult hero and violated the sacred precinct that surrounded that dwelling place by turning the precinct into a plantation used for private profit and pleasure. The permanent consequences of this impiety are noted in the Hērōikos of Philostratus (9.5-6): what had once been an enormous sacred precinct, with magnificent buildings and wide stretches of cultivated land enveloping it, became a small patch of a garden clustered around the tumulus of the hero. From what we see in the Hērōikos, the only thing that really survived the depredations of the Persian occupation was the natural beauty of this place that framed the tumulus of the hero. But this one thing, the natural beauty of the garden of Protesilaos, was really everything from the standpoint of hero cult. As we saw in Hour 14, the beauty of this garden signals the presence of the cult hero and the true justice of the cosmos. The dikē, ‘justice’, signaled by this flourishing garden is what is meant by Protesilaos, this cult hero who died and then came back to life again and again. Whenever he returns from the dead, Protesilaos can either punish the unjust with his grim anger or bless the just with his loving fertility. That is what Protesilaos sēmainei, ‘means’.

Initiation into the mysteries of a cult hero

15§29. We find a most valuable description of an actual initiation into the mysteries of a cult hero in the writings of Pausanias, an antiquarian who was active in the middle of the second century CE, about a half a century before Philostratus. In previous hours, I relied many times on the testimony of Pausanias, who proves to be a most reliable source about ancient Greek antiquities in general. In the case that we are about to consider, however, he is not only a reliable source: more than that, for all practical purposes, he is our unique source for a detailed description of initiation into the mysteries of a cult hero. The hero in question is Trophōnios, whose hero cult is located in Lebadeia in Boeotia. Pausanias (9.39.5–14) describes an initiation into the mysteries of Trophōnios, and, in the section following this one, I will quote the text of his description in its entirety. Before I can quote this text, however, I need to provide some background, which I will now present in this section.
15§30. At one point in the description given by Pausanias (9.39.12), he will refer to the hero Trophōnios as a theos, ‘god’. There is a comparable reference to Protesilaos in Herodotus (9.120.3): there the quoted words of Artayktes the Persian express the idea that this non-Greek man has finally recognized the power of the cult hero, and, in this context, Artayktes now refers to Protesilaos as a theos, ‘god’, to whom he hopes to make amends, offering ‘to make a deposit of one hundred talents to the god’ (hekaton talanta katatheînai tōi theōi).
15§31. Such references cannot be interpreted to mean that the hero is some kind of “faded god”: what they mean, rather, is that the cult hero becomes a theos when he is immortalized after death. And I must stress that such an identification of the cult hero with a theos, ‘god’, can only be understood in the context of initiation into the hero’s cult. In terms of the cult, as I have argued, the given cult hero is envisioned as a mortal in the preliminary phase of the ritual program of worship and then as a god in the central phase, at a climactic moment marking the hero’s epiphany to his worshippers. [33]
15§32. I must add that the same kind of mentality is at work in practices of honoring the dead in general, as we can see from inscriptions marking the occasions of organizing funerals for those who have just died. I quote here a verse from one such inscription, written on a gold lamella from Thourioi in Magna Graecia. This inscribed lamella, dated to the fourth century BCE, was found in a tomb, where it had been buried together with a dead man who is addressed with the following words: olbie kai makariste, theos d’ e|sēi anti brotoio, ‘O blessed one, you who are called blessed, you will be a god [theos] instead of a mortal [brotos]’ (IG XIV 641 line 9). [34] I have already quoted a part of this verse in Hour 11§19. As I noted there, we can find many other attestations of such wording in inscriptions that were buried with the dead, and these inscriptions can be seen as initiatory texts that were meant to guide the dead toward some kind of an immortalized existence. [35]
15§33. So, in the description that I will be quoting from Pausanias concerning an initiation into the hero cult of Trophōnios, the reference to this cult hero as a theos, ‘god’, turns out to be a genuine aspect of initiatory language. Pausanias himself, near the very beginning of his massive work on ancient Greek antiquities, says something that corroborates the formulation I have just offered. In analyzing the myths and rituals connected with the hero cult of Amphiaraos at Oropos in Boeotia, Pausanias (1.34.2) says that the worshippers of this cult hero at Oropos considered him to be a theos, ‘god’, and that all Hellenes eventually accepted such a status for this cult hero; in the same context, Pausanias (1.34.2) goes on to say that the same status of theos, ‘god’, was eventually accepted by all Hellenes in the cases of the cult hero Trophōnios as worshipped at Lebadeia in Boeotia and the cult hero Protesilaos as worshipped in the Chersonesus. Such a formulation is typical of the era of Pausanias, the second century CE, by which time the distinctly localized aura of hero cults was receding and giving way to the far brighter Panhellenic publicity that was being generated by the most famous cult heroes of the time, such as the triad of Amphiaraos, Trophōnios, and Protesilaos. That said, I should emphasize that this triad of cult heroes was already famous in the era of Herodotus, who lived over 600 years earlier than Pausanias. In the case of Protesilaos, we have already read the narrative of Herodotus about this cult hero; in the case of Amphiaraos and Trophōnios, Herodotus (1.46.2) mentions both of them together in the context of narrating oracular consultations made by Croesus, king of the Lydians, at the sites where these two cult heroes were worshipped. Still, my point remains that the mysteries concerning the death and the resurrection of all three of these cult heroes were becoming ever less mysterious in the era of Pausanias. Correspondingly, the eventual status of such heroes as theoi, ‘gods’, became ever more obvious to all.
15§34. The death of Amphiaraos is a most telling example. In the version of the relevant myth as retold by Pausanias (1.34.2), Amphiaraos is riding back home on his war chariot after the defeat of the Seven against Thebes, when suddenly the earth opens up underneath and swallows him - speeding chariot and horses and all; and, at the spot where this engulfment happened, there is a hieron, ‘sacred space’, where worshippers of the hero come to consult him, though Pausanias reports that there is some disagreement about matching the place of the ritual consultations with the actual place of the engulfment. In any case, the engulfment of Amphiaraos by the earth is a sign of his death and of his subsequent return from death as a cult hero. In the Odyssey (xv 247 and 253), the death of Amphiaraos after the expedition against Thebes is made explicit, though it is only implicit in the references to the engulfment of this same hero as narrated in the songs of Pindar (Olympian 6.14; Nemean 9.24-27, 10.8-9). The poetic reticence we see in Pindar’s songs about mentioning the actual death of Amphiaraos at the moment of his engulfment by the earth is a sign, I argue, of a keen awareness about the subsequent resurrection of the hero. [36]
15§35. Like the cult hero Amphiaraos, the cult hero Trophōnios is also engulfed by the earth. As we see in the narrative of Pausanias (9.37.7), the earth opened up and engulfed him, and it happened in an alsos, ‘grove’, marked by the bothros, ‘pit’, of Agamedes, the brother of Trophōnios. So, when Pausanias describes an initiation into the mysteries of the cult hero Trophōnios, he is in effect describing a ritual descent that corresponds to the mythological descent of Trophōnios himself into the nether world. And the goal of the initiand is to ascend from this nether world after the descent, just as a cult hero returns to life after death.

The descent of an initiand into the nether world of a cult hero

15§36. With this background in place, I am finally ready to quote the narrative of Pausanias about an initiation into the mysteries of the cult hero Trophōnios. In my translation, I attempt to approximate the ritual language as closely as possible, including the numerous repetitions and periphrases:

Hour 15 Text F

|9.39.5 At the oracle [manteîon], here are the kinds of things that happen. When a man decides to descend [kat-ienai] to the place of Trophōnios, first of all he undergoes a regimen for a set number of days in a dwelling [oikēma], and the dwelling [oikēma] is sacred to Good Superhuman Force [Agathos Daimōn] and to Good Fortune [Agathē Tukhē]. In undergoing the regimen there, he goes through various procedures of purification, avoiding hot baths; the water for bathing is the river Hercyna. He has unlimited access to meat from the sacrifices, for he who descends [kat-ienai] makes sacrifices to Trophōnios himself and to the children of Trophōnios; also to Apollo and to Kronos, to Zeus with the epithet King [Basileus], to Hera Charioteer [Hēniokhos = the one who holds the reins of the chariot], and to Demeter whom they name with the epithet Europa, saying that she was the wetnurse of Trophōnios. |9.39.6 At each of the sacrifices a seer [mantis] is present, who inspects the entrails of the sacrificial victim, and after an inspection makes prophecies to him who descends [kat-ienai], saying whether Trophōnios will be of good intentions [eu-menēs] and will be welcoming when he receives [verb dekhesthai] him. The entrails of the other victims do not make clear all that much the thinking [gnōmē] of Trophōnios. But the night when each person descends [kat-ienai], on that night they sacrifice a ram over a pit [bothros], invoking Agamedes. Even if the previous sacrifices have appeared propitious, no account is taken of them unless the entrails of this ram mean the same thing. If all the sacrifices are in agreement with each other, then each person descends [kat-ienai], having good hopes [eu-elpis]. And each person descends [kat-ienai] in this way: |9.39.7 First of all, in the night, they take him to the river Hercyna. Having taken him, they anoint him with olive oil and wash him. They [who do the anointing and the washing] are two boys chosen from among the citizens, about thirteen years old, and they are named Hermae. These are the ones who are washing the one who descends [kata-bainein] and who are attending to whatever is needed, in their function as attendant boys. Afterwards he is led by the priests, not immediately to the oracle [manteîon], but to fountains of water. These fountains are very near each other. |9.39.8 Here it is necessary for him to drink water, called the water of Forgetting [Lēthē], so that there may be for him a forgetting [lēthē] of all thoughts that he was thinking [phrontizein] up to this point. Right after this, it is necessary for him to drink the other water, the water of Memory [Mnēmosunē]. From this he remembers [mnēmoneuei] the things seen by him as the one who descended [kata-bainein]. Having viewed the statue [agalma] which they say was made by Daedalus - about this there is no revelation made by the priests except to those who are about to go to Trophōnios - having seen this statue [agalma] and having worshipped it and having prayed, he proceeds to the oracle [manteîon], wearing a linen khiton and cinching the khiton with ribbons and wearing the boots of the native locale [epikhōriai krēpīdes]. |9.39.9 The oracle [manteîon] is beyond the grove [alsos], on the mountain. There is a foundation, of white stone, in a circle. The perimeter of the foundation is in the proportion of a very small threshing floor. Its height is just short of two cubits. On the foundation, there are rods standing there. They are of bronze, like the cross-bars holding them together. And through them has been made a double door. Inside the perimeter is a chasm [khasma] in the earth, not naturally formed, but artificially constructed as a work of masonry, according to the most exact specifications. |9.39.10 The form [skhēma] of this constructed dwelling [oikodomēma] is like that of a bread-oven [kribanos]. One might estimate its breadth across the middle to be about four cubits. And the depth of the constructed dwelling [oikodomēma] could be estimated to extend to not more than eight cubits. There has been made by them no constructed descent [kata-basis] to the bottom level. But when a man comes to Trophōnios, they bring him a ladder - a narrow and light one. There is, for the one who has descended [kata-bainein], a hole between the bottom level and the constructed dwelling [oikodomēma]. Its breadth appeared to be two spans, and its height one span. |9.39.11 So, the one who descends [kat-ienai] is now lying down in the direction of the bottom level, holding barley-cakes kneaded in honey [māzai memagmenai meliti], and he pushes forward with his feet, forward into the hole; he himself pushes forward, eager for his knees to get into the hole. Then, after the knees, the rest of his body is suddenly drawn in, rushing forward, just as the biggest and most rapid river will catch a man in its torrents and carry him under. After this, for those who are now inside the inner sanctum [aduton], there is no single or same way [tropos] for them to learn the things of the future. One person will see them, another person will hear them. To return and go back for those who descended [kata-bainein] is through the same mouth, with feet first, pushing forward. |9.39.12 They say that no one of those who descended [kata-bainein] has ever been killed, except for one of the bodyguards of Demetrius. They say that this person did not perform any of the customary rituals in the sacred space [hieron], and that he descended [kata-bainein] not in order to consult [khrēsomenos] the god but in hopes of stealing gold and silver from the inner sanctum [aduton]. It is said that the corpse of this person appeared [ana-phainesthai] in another place, and was not expelled at the sacred mouth. With reference to this man many other things are said. What has been said by me is what is most worthy of being taken into account. |9.39.13 The one who has ascended [ana-bainein] from Trophōnios is received once again by the priests, who seat him upon what is called the Throne [thronos] of Memory [Mnēmosunē], which is situated not far from the inner sanctum [aduton]. Having seated him, they ask him all he has seen and found out. After learning the answers, they then turn him over to his relatives or friends. These take him to the dwelling [oikēma] where he had earlier passed through his regimen in the presence of Fortune [Tukhē] and Superhuman Force [Daimōn], the Good [agathoi] ones. They [= relatives or friends] take him back [verb komizein] to this place by lifting him and carrying him off, while he is still possessed [katokhos] by terror and still unconscious both of himself and of those who are near him. Afterwards, his mind [phronēsis] will again be working not at all less well than before, in all respects, and even laughter will come back [ep-an-ienai] to him. |9.39.14 What I write is not hearsay; I myself have consulted [khrēsamenos] Trophōnios and have seen others doing so. And it is a necessity for those who have descended [kat-ienai] into the sacred space of Trophōnios to dedicate writings on a tablet that record all the things that each person has heard or seen.
Pausanias 9.39.5–14 [37]
As we see from the concluding words of Pausanias here, he himself experienced an initiation into the mysteries of the cult hero Trophōnios. This fact makes his testimony all the more important and interesting.

A brief commentary on the text about the descent

15§37. In the text as I have quoted it, I have highlighted with underlines my translations of those Greek words that evidently convey a special sacred meaning for the initiated. These words, when translated, seem simplistic when we consider their everyday meaning, but they are intended to be mystical for those who are initiated. Here I list two sets of such words, showing the original Greek forms:
- kat-ienai and variant kata-bainein, meaning ‘descend’, and ana-bainein, meaning ‘ascend’: These words correspond to the explicit descent of the hero Trophōnios when he is engulfed by the earth - and to the implicit ascent of the same hero whenever he comes back to life and makes mental contact with those who worship him; a related form that we see in play here is ep-an-ienai, ‘come back’.
- oikos and oikēma and oikodomēma, meaning ‘house’ and ‘dwelling’ and ‘constructed dwelling’: These words refer to any built structures within the natural setting of the sacred space of the cult hero; we have seen such wording already in the narrative of Herodotus (9.116.1-3), quoted in Text E, about the dwelling place of the cult hero Protesilaos.
15§38. Besides such everyday words that are re-activated as sacred words in sacral contexts, we find here in the text of Pausanias a number of specialized words that refer directly to sacred contexts. Here I list a set of such specialized words, again showing the original Greek forms:
- Agathos Daimōn, which I have translated as ‘Good Superhuman Force’, in Pausanias 9.39.5 and again in 9.39.13: The word daimōn, as we have seen ever since Hour 5, means ‘superhuman force’, and it is used in situations where the speaker will not or cannot speak the name of a given superhuman force - whether that force be a god or a hero. So, the term daimōn is already mystical, and here the mysticism inherent in the word is augmented by way of the epithet agathos, meaning ‘good’. We see here a perfect example of a euphemism, where you speak about something that can be either good or bad for you in such a way as to highlight the positive and to shade over the negative (literally, the original Greek word eu-phēmeîn means ‘say good things’). When the initiand ‘descends’, he gets a prophecy concerning whether the cult hero will be eu-menēs, ‘of good intentions’, toward him, as we saw in 9.39.6. Whether or not the intentions of the cult hero turn out to be ‘good’, the descender will descend in the state of being eu-elpis, ‘having good hopes’, as we also saw in 9.39.6.
- theos, ‘god’, in Pausanias 9.39.12: The hero becomes a theos when he is immortalized after death, and Pausanias has already been initiated into that mystery. As we have already seen, Pausanias considers the cult hero Trophōnios to be a theos, ‘god’, in the afterlife. And, as we have also seen, there is a comparable reference in Herodotus (9.120.3) to the cult hero Protesilaos as a theos, ‘god’, in the afterlife.
- the bothros, ‘pit’, of Agamedes in Pausanias 9.39.6: The sacrifice of the ram at this bothros is typical of hero cult. At Olympia, for example, as we see elsewhere in Pausanias (5.13.1-2), there is a bothros, ‘pit’, of the cult hero Pelops, and over that pit a black ram is sacrificed every year to Pelops, following a prototypical sacrifice made by Hēraklēs himself. [38] With regard to the bothros, ‘pit’, of Agamedes in Pausanias 9.39.6, we see in an earlier passage of Pausanias (9.37.5-7) that Agamedes is the brother of Trophōnios. When the two brothers are entombed together in a building that they themselves had built, Trophōnios escapes with his life after beheading Agamedes in order to hide their identity; it is only after this escape that Trophōnios experiences a mystical engulfment by the earth (9.37.7).
- epikhōriai krēpīdes, ‘the boots of the native locale’, in Pausanias 9.39.8: By implication, it would be an offense to the local earth if the initiand were to tread upon it while wearing alien footwear, and so the wearing of ‘epichoric’ boots is a ritual attempt to mask the alien identity of any initiand. Such a taboo shows that the rituals of initiation into the hero cult of Trophōnios were ultimately a local affair, and that the Panhellenization of this cult (as analyzed in §33) needed ritual safeguards to counteract the possibility of alien pollution.
- Hermaî, ‘Hermae’, the plural of ‘Hermes’ in Pausanias 9.39.7: The god Hermes, as divine patron of all forms of intermediacy, is embodied here in the ritual function of the boy attendants who make it possible for outsiders to be initiated into local mysteries that are controlled by those who are insiders to the locale.
- manteîon, ‘oracle’, in Pausanias 9.39.5, 9.39.7, 9.39.8, and 9.39.9: The place where the initiand is actually initiated into the mysteries of the cult hero Trophōnios is technically an ‘oracle’. As we see from the formation of the word manteîon, it is a place where one consults a mantis, ‘seer’, who is in charge of communications from the superhuman force that presides over the sacred space writ large. In the description given by Pausanias about the manteîon of Trophōnios, we see that there is in fact a mantis, ‘seer’, present ‘at each of the sacrifices’ (9.39.6). As for the actual place known as the manteîon of Trophōnios, it is a structure or oikodomēma, ‘constructed dwelling’ (9.39.10), that is located not in the alsos, ‘grove’, of the hero but ‘on the mountain’ (9.39.9).
- aduton, ‘inner sanctum’, in Pausanias 9.39.11, 9.39.12, 9.39.13: Evidently, this location is the holy of holies within the manteîon. It is here that the treasures accumulated from offerings to Trophōnios are located, as I infer from the story about the would-be robber of these treasures (9.39.12). In the corresponding story of Herodotus (9.116.1-3) about the robbing of the treasures of the cult hero Protesilaos, as quoted in Text E, we see a reference to the aduton, ‘inner sanctum’, of the hero, where the robber had sex with women (9.116.3). I further infer that the treasures of Protesilaos were likewise stored in this inner sanctum.
- māzai memagmenai meliti, ‘barley-cakes kneaded in honey’, in Pausanias 9.39.11: Elsewhere in Pausanias (6.20.2), we are told of a hieron, ‘sacred space’, of the goddess Eileithuia at Olympia in Elis: within that space, a daimōn or ‘superhuman force’ who is described as ‘epichoric’ or ‘local’ (epikhōrios) is tended by the priestess of the goddess Eileithuia, who prepares for the daimōn an offering of barley-cakes kneaded in honey (māzai memagmenai meliti). The ritual practice of offering honey to Eileithuia, who is goddess of childbirth, dates back to the Bronze Age, as we see from the evidence of a Linear B tablet found at Knossos (Gg 705): the inventory of this tablet tells of an offering of honey to a goddess named Eleuthia, which is a variant form of Eileithuia. [39] In the context of initiation into the mysteries of the cult hero Trophōnios, we have seen that the initiand experiences a feet-first entry through a hole into the aduton, ‘inner sanctum’, and then a feet-first exit from it through the same hole; and, at the moment of entry, the initiand is holding in both hands māzai memagmenai meliti, ‘barley-cakes kneaded in honey’ (Pausanias 9.39.11). Going through the motions of this double experience, I infer, evokes the idea of birth and rebirth, which is most appropriate to Eileithuia as goddess of childbirth. After the description of his initiation, Pausanias (9.40.2) tells a story about the discovery of the site where the oracle is located: a man called Sāōn, meaning ‘Savior’, followed a swarm of bees to this mystical place, and there he was taught how to ‘do’ (drân) all the rituals by the cult hero Trophōnios himself.

The oracular consultation of heroes

15§39. In his narrative about his own initiation into the mysteries of the cult hero Trophōnios, Pausanias (9.39.14) sums up his experience by saying that he ‘consulted’ the cult hero: the form that he uses to express this idea is the aorist participle khrēsamenos. Likewise, Pausanias (9.39.12) uses the future participle khrēsomenos with reference to the would-be robber who only pretended to ‘consult’ the same cult hero - and who was mysteriously killed while making an attempt at a false initiation. These forms khrēsamenos / khrēsomenos come from a verb-root khrē-, which conventionally expresses the idea of consulting oracles: in the middle voice the verb means ‘consult an oracle’, while in the active and passive voices it means ‘speak as an oracle’ and ‘is spoken by an oracle’ respectively. The use of this verb khrē- by Pausanias in this context is perfectly in line with the fact that he uses the word manteîon, ‘oracle’, four times with reference to the place where he gets initiated (9.39.5, 9.39.7, 9.39.8, and 9.39.9). And here I highlight a most striking parallel: Herodotus uses the same verb khrē- and the same noun manteîon in referring to consultations of the oracle of the god Apollo at Delphi. A notable example is his narrative about the consultation of the oracle at Delphi by Croesus, king of the Lydians (χρησόμενοι 1.47.7 and ἐχρήσθη 1.49.1; μαντήιον 1.48.1).
15§40. In this light, I find it most significant that there exists an overt connection between the hero Trophōnios and the god Apollo as oracular figures. According to Pausanias (9.37.5) one version of the myth of Trophōnios says that this hero was the son of a mortal named Ergīnos, but there is another version saying that only Agamedes the brother of Trophōnios was fathered by Ergīnos while Trophōnios himself was fathered by the god Apollo. And Pausanias adds that he believes the second version of the myth precisely because he, Pausanias himself, had been initiated into the mysteries of the cult hero, and he refers to this initiation as an act of consultation. Here is the way Pausanias says it (9.37.5): καὶ ἐγώ τε πείθομαι καὶ ὅστις παρὰ Τροφώνιον ἦλθε δὴ μαντευσόμενος, ‘I believe it, and so does anyone else who has gone to Trophōnios in order to consult him [manteuesthai]’.
15§41. Pausanias believes because he is initiated. By contrast, the non-initiated have a hard time believing. A case in point is the exchange between the Phoenician as initiand and the Ampelourgos as initiator in a lengthy passage that I quoted earlier from the Hērōikos of Philostratus (2.6-3.6), Hour 14 Text E. In the course of that exchange, when the Phoenician hears from the Ampelourgos about the epiphanies of the hero Protesilaos and of other Achaean heroes of the Trojan War, he admits that he has a hard time believing it all: ‘I do not believe’, he says right from the start (a-pistô 3.1). In other words, the initiand is not yet initiated. Still, he wants to be a ‘believer’ (pisteuōn 2.12). So, here too, as also in the case of Trophōnios, the mystery of the hero is for the initiator to know and for the initiand to find out. [40] But the more the initiand hears, the more he believes. After hearing an account of a series of heroic epiphanies as retold by the Ampelourgos, the Phoenician even exclaims: ‘no one can any longer disbelieve [a-pisteîn] such stories!’ (18.1).

An initiation for the reader

15§42. In reading the Hērōikos of Philostratus, even the reader of the text can assume the role of an initiand. The natural beauty of the place sacred to the cult hero Protesilaos casts a spell not only on the Phoenician as initiand but also, vicariously, on the reader. The spell begins as the Phoenician, accompanied by the Ampelourgos, enters the sacred garden:

Hour 15 Text G (part of Hour 14 Text E)

|3.3 {Ampelourgos:} “Let us enter the vineyard, Phoenician. For you may even discover in it something to give cheer [euphrosunē] to you.” {Phoenician:} “Yes, let us enter. I think a sweet scent is being breathed out [ana-pneîn] from the plants.” |3.4 {Ampelourgos:} “What are you saying, ‘sweet’? It is something godlike [theion]! The blossoms of the uncultivated trees are fragrant, as are the fruits of those that are cultivated. If you ever come upon a cultivated plant with fragrant blossoms, pluck rather the leaves, since the sweet scent comes from them.” |3.5 {Phoenician:} “How diverse [poikilē] is the beauty [hōrā] of this place you have here, and how lush have the clusters of grapes grown! How well-arranged are all the trees, and how ambrosial [ambrosiā] is the fragrance of the place!”
Philostratus Hērōikos 3.3-5
15§43. Now a gentle breeze carries the sweet aroma of flowers in bloom, and the initiand is feeling refreshed. He remarks that the plantlife literally ‘breathes out’, ana-pneî, a sweetness of its own (3.3). It is the right season, the exact time, the perfect moment: it is the hōrā (3.5; also at 3.2). The initiand can begin to sense the hero’s sacred presence. Through a kind of sacred metonymy, as I described it in Hour 14§16, the breath of the hero himself now begins to animate the atmosphere: Protesilaos is now revealing, apo-phainōn, the scent of the blossoms at their sweetest (11.3). [41] The hero’s presence smells sweeter than myrtles in autumn (10.2), as we saw in the wording quoted in Hour 14 Text J. The perfect moment or hōrā, in all its natural beauty, becomes the ultimate epiphany of the cult hero.
15§44. The concept of hōrā as the ‘right season’ (Philostratus Hērōikos 3.2, 3.5) conveys the context of ritual perfection and correctness; in that sense, hōrā is conceived as the perfect moment of beauty. [42] It is relevant to recall here the Modern Greek adjective oréos, which means ‘beautiful’ and which corresponds to ancient Greek hōraîos, ‘seasonal’: as we saw starting at Hour 14§18, the meaning of this word is ultimately derived from hōrā. And it is also relevant to recall here once again the formal and semantic connections of hōrā and Hērā with hērōs, ‘hero’, which I have been tracing ever since Hour 1§28. By now we can see even more clearly that heroes become ‘seasonal’ after they die and achieve mystical immortalization. That is why, as we saw starting at Hour 5§108, the death of a hero is a beautiful death, une belle mort, and that is also why the hero in death can be seen as a beautiful corpse, un beau mort. And even the unseasonality of the hero in life can be seen as beautiful, because it will lead to the seasonality of life after death. That is the beauty and the sorrow of an epithet we find toward the end of the Iliad (XXIV 540), where Achilles while he is still alive in his own epic narrative is described as pan-a-hōrios, ‘the most unseasonal of them all’. [43]

The personal intimacy of experiencing a heroic epiphany

15§45. A sense of personal intimacy is conveyed by the worshipper when he says about the hero (Hērōikos 9.7): ‘I am with him (autōi gar xuneimi), and no cult statue (agalma) can be sweeter (hēdion) than he, that one (ekeinos)’. The worshipper’s experience of the hero as a real person, not as a cult statue (agalma), is here conveyed by the deictic pronoun ekeinos, ‘that one’, which is conventionally used to refer to a hero who appears in an epiphany. [44] We have already seen an example of such a use of ekeinos, ‘that one’, in Sappho 31.1, as analyzed in Hour 5§39 (where the dialectal form is kēnos). [45] The deixis of ekeinos, ‘that one’, conveys the remoteness (‘that’ not ‘this’) of the hero, even in the immediacy of his epiphany. The gap between the superhuman and the human is so great that it sets the superhuman apart from the human even in the process of attempting to bridge that gap in an epiphany. [46]
15§46. As we have already seen, the human response to the personal experience of such a heroic epiphany can be eroticized. The person who experiences the epiphany can feel the sensual urge to embrace and kiss the cult hero:

Hour 15 Text H (part of Hour 14 Text I)

|11.2 {Phoenician:} “And do you embrace him when he comes to you [in the garden] - or does he elude you by going up in a puff of smoke, the same way he eludes the poets?” {Ampelourgos:} “Actually, he takes pleasure [khairein] when I embrace him and lets me kiss [phileîn] him and put my arm around his neck.”
Philostratus Hērōikos 11.2
15§47. And, as we have also seen, the living can even fall passionately in love with the apparition of a hero who appears in an epiphany. I recall here the song about a girl’s experience with the phantom of Antilokhos:

Hour 15 Text I (= Text C):

My guest [xenos], I will lose my voice if I try to recall all such stories [about heroes who make epiphanies at the Plain of Scamander in the region of Troy]. For example, there is a song about Antilokhos, how a girl from the city of [New] Ilion who was wandering along the banks of the river Scamander had an encounter [en-tunkhanein] with the phantom [eidōlon] of Antilokhos and embraced his tomb [sēma] in a fit of passionate erotic desire [erôsa] for the phantom [eidōlon].
Philostratus Hērōikos 22.3
15§48. The convention of eroticizing the epiphany of a cult hero is implicit, as I started arguing in Hour 14§14, in the epic usage of potheîn, ‘long for, yearn for’, with reference to Protesilaos in Iliad II 703, 709, verses that I quoted in Hour 14 Text D. On one level of meaning, the warriors native to the land of Phthia are longing for the epic hero Protesilaos as their leader, who is also a native of Phthia. On a deeper level, however, the reference implies the emotional response of native worshippers who are longing for their native son, for their local cult hero, in all his immanent beauty. [47]

Ritual correctness in making mental contact with the cult hero

15§49. In Hour 14 Text E as quoted from the Hērōikos of Philostratus (2.6-3.6), we have seen the use of the word hōrā in the sense of a ‘perfect time’ or the ‘right time’ for making mental contact with the cult hero Protesilaos. And we have seen in general that this ‘right time’ as expressed by hōrā is good and beautiful and pleasurable in situations where the rituals of worshipping the cult hero are conducted correctly. A most striking example in the Hērōikos is a detailed description of the local cult heroes who preside over the Plain of Scamander in the region of Troy: in their various epiphanies, they reveal themselves as megaloi, ‘great’ - that is, ‘larger than life’ - and theioi, ‘godlike’ (18.1-2), and they reward the local herdsmen by keeping their herds healthy and fertile when the hōrai, ‘times’, are right (18.2). At such times, the herdsmen make sacrifices to the heroes by slaughtering sacrificial animals selected from their herds (again, 18.2).
15§50. Other times, however, may not be so right, and then the heroes of the Trojan Plain appear in epiphanies that show the ill effects of their changes in mood. If they are dusty in their appearance, then there will be drought; if they are covered with sweat, they portend heavy rains and flooding; if they are stained with blood, then there will be contagious diseases visited upon the herds (again, Hērōikos 18.2). Moreover, when a herd animal on the Trojan Plain dies unexpectedly, the herdsmen believe that the cause is surely the angry hero Ajax (18.3), whose anger is linked to the myth about his ritually incorrect slaughtering of herd animals (again, 18.3); this myth, in its classical form, is brought to life in the tragedy Ajax by Sophocles. [48] By implication, the disastrous incorrectness of the hero’s slaughtering of the sacred herds in myth must be compensated for all time to come in ritual, and that compensation takes the form of ritually correct sacrificial procedures in the slaughtering of herd animals by herdsmen who tend their herds on the Trojan Plain.

How the cult hero communicates

15§51. The malevolent as well as the benevolent functions of the cult hero are communicated by way of revelations to those who are initiated into the hero cult. In the case of the cult hero Protesilaos, for example, things that are theia, ‘godlike’, and megala, ‘great’ - that is, ‘larger than life’ - will not escape the notice of those who are ‘cultivated’, kharientes (Hērōikos 3.2). For the uninitiated, however, these same secrets are veiled in language that expresses what seems quite ordinary and everyday on the surface. About the cult hero Protesilaos, the initiated Ampelourgos starts the process of initiating the uninitiated Phoenician by saying to him, as we saw in Hour 14 Text E: ‘he [= Protesilaos] lives [zēi] here, and we work the land [geōrgoumen] together’ (Hērōikos 2.8). What image in life could be more straightforward, more everyday, than life itself? When the Phoenician initiand follows up by asking whether Protesilaos ‘lives’ in the sense that he is ‘resurrected’ (anabebiōkōs), the initiated Ampelourgos replies: ‘He himself does not speak about his own experiences [pathos plural]’ (2.9). This absolutizing declaration is then followed by a series of qualifications: modifying what he has just said, the initiated Ampelourgos now goes on to say that the hero Protesilaos does in fact speak about his own death at Troy, about his first resurrection, and about his second death - though he does not speak about his second resurrection (2.9–11). [49]
15§52. A vital question remains: how can a cult hero like Protesilaos actually communicate with those who are initiated into his mysteries? According to the traditional mentality of hero cults, the answer is simple: whenever they come back to life, cult heroes are endowed with a superhuman consciousness. And this consciousness of the hero, activated by hero cult, not only informs those who are initiated: it also performs the basic function of ensuring the seasonality of nature, and it manifests itself in such positive functions as the maintaining of health and fertility for humans - or for animals and plants. For example, Protesilaos is described as the iatros, ‘healer’, of sheep, beehives, and trees (Hērōikos 4.10). [50] Cult heroes, when they feel benevolent, will cure illnesses afflicting humans, animals, and plants - just as they will inflict these same illnesses when they feel malevolent. And the presence of the hero in such situations is signaled by feelings of a certain kind of sacred “frisson,” conveyed by the evocative word phrikē, ‘shudder’ - as when the angry phantom of Ajax makes an epiphany by shouting at shepherds who have been foolishly taunting his restless spirit (18.4).

More on the oracular consultation of heroes

15§53. When the superhuman consciousness of cult heroes is activated, they can be consulted, as we saw in Text F, where Pausanias describes his own consulting of Trophōnios at the oracle of that hero. Similarly in Hērōikos of Philostratus, we see that a cult hero like Protesilaos has to be actively consulted by his worshippers: from the start, in fact, the Ampelourgos says that Protesilaos is his own personal ‘advisor’, xumboulos (Ionic for sumboulos; 4.7). And if the ritual of consultation were ever to fail, the Ampelourgos says that he would know for sure, since Protesilaos would then be silent, esiōpā (4.8). By contrast, the success of any consultation is manifested whenever the cult hero speaks. Of special interest are some special kinds of consultants. For example, among those who consult Protesilaos are athletes: as the Ampelourgos says, Protesilaos is generally a sumboulos, ‘advisor’, to athletes who cultivate him (14.4); in one specific case, Protesilaos is said to ‘give oracular consultations’, khrēsai, to an athlete who consults him on how to win in a given athletic event (15.5). [51]
15§54. Such consulting of oracular cult heroes concerns not only the fundamentals of nature as defined metonymically by these heroes. It concerns also the fundamental nature of the heroes themselves. Their heroic essence has two aspects, one of which is defined by epic narrative traditions, while the other is defined by hero cult. In the Hērōikos of Philostratus, these two aspects of the hero are treated holistically as integral parts of a single concept. Thus the process of consulting oracular heroes leads to the initiand’s knowledge about their epic aspects, not only about their ritual aspects as oracles. As the Ampelourgos declares, cult heroes have their own knowledge of epic narrative because they are endowed with mantikē sophiā, ‘the skill of a seer [mantis]’, and there is an ‘oracular’ principle, khrēsmōdes, operating within them (7.3–4). That is why, as we saw in Hour 14 Text B, a hero like Protesilaos ‘sees all the way through’, di-horâi, the poems of Homer (7.5), knowing things that go beyond his own experiences when he, Protesilaos, had lived in the past of heroes (7.5–6); the hero even knows things about which Homer himself did not sing (7.5). [52]
15§55. So, the Hērōikos of Philostratus provides a model of poetic inspiration that centers on the superhuman consciousness of the oracular hero, which has a totalizing control of epic narrative. As we shall now see, this model is not an innovation but an archaism, stemming from oral poetic traditions that predate even the Homeric traditions of the Iliad and Odyssey. [53]
15§56. When we are confronted with the idea that an oracular cult hero possesses total mastery of epic narrative, our first impression is that this idea cannot be reconciled with what we find in Homeric poetry. According to the poetics of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as we saw in Hour 2, it is of course the Muses who ‘inspire’ epic narrative. At first glance, then, these goddesses of memory seem to be the sole source for the superhuman consciousness that informs the content of Homeric poetry and gives it the authority to tell about the gods and heroes of heroic times. This authority, however, is actually shared with the heroes who are quoted by Homeric performance, as a closer look at the Iliad and Odyssey reveals clearly.
15§57. In his book about the “quotations” of heroes in Homeric poetry, Richard Martin has demonstrated that the “voice” of the poet becomes traditionally identified with the “voices” of the heroes quoted by the poetic performance:
My central conclusion is that the Iliad takes shape as a poetic composition in precisely the same “speaking culture” that we see foregrounded in the stylized words of the poem’s heroic speakers, especially those speeches designated as mūthos, a word I redefine as “authoritative speech act.” The poet and the hero are both “performers” in a traditional medium. The genre of mūthos composing requires that its practitioners improve on previous performances and surpass them, by artfully manipulating traditional material in new combinations. In other words, within the speeches of the poem, we see that it is traditional to be spontaneous: no hero ever merely repeats; each recomposes the traditional text he performs, be it a boast, threat, command, or story, in order to project his individual personality in the most convincing manner. I suggest that the “voice” of the poet is the product of the same traditional performance technique. [54]
15§58. Recent ethnographic work on oral poetic performance traditions has provided typological parallels in support of Martin’s demonstration. In the Sīrat Banī Hilāl epic singing tradition of the poets of al-Bakātūsh in contemporary Egypt, for example, Dwight Reynolds has sought - and found - an analogy for Martin’s model of the interchangeable “voice” of poet and hero in epic performance:
[T]he social reality of the al-Bakātūsh poets involves a distinctly negative position for the epic singer within the greater social hierarchy; in marked contrast to the poet’s marginalized status in village society, however, are the moments of centrality, power, and “voice” he achieves in epic performance. This disjunctive persona has produced not only a fascinating process of deep self-identification with the epic tradition on the part of the poets, but has clearly, over generations, shaped and indeed constituted many aspects of the content of the epic itself - an epic tradition, as I have termed it, of heroic poets and poetic heroes. [55]
15§59. There is also a plethora of ethnographic work that documents the widespread mentality of heroic “possession,” where the consciousness of the poet is “possessed” by the consciousness of the hero as soon as the poet, in performance, starts “quoting” the hero. [56] As one ethnographer puts it, there can be “a transition from a story about a spirit, to one told to a spirit, to one told by a spirit.” [57] In this comparative context, it is relevant to reconsider Philostratus Hērōikos 12.3, where Protesilaos epaineî, ‘confirms’, the words spoken by Homer ‘to’ (es) himself, not ‘about’ himself. The implication of epaineî is that Protesilaos ‘confirms’ the epic verses in the Iliad about his epic deeds at Troy, and he performs this ‘confirmation’ by way of re-performing these Homeric verses. [58] We have already seen these verses, Iliad II 695-709, which I quoted in Hour 14 Text D.
15§60. All this is not to say that the Hērōikos of Philostratus has preserved for us a direct continuation of living oral epic traditions where heroes are being “quoted” through the supernatural consciousness of the heroes themselves. I have little doubt that the oral traditions of composition-in-performance, as still reflected in the hexameter poetry of the Iliad and Odyssey and of the epic Cycle in general, had been dead for well over half a millennium by the time Philostratus composed his Hērōikos. Still, it is essential to stress that the traditions of hero cults were evidently still alive in the era of Philostratus. Moreover, the archaic mentality of seeking communion with the consciousness of cult heroes was likewise still alive. Even though the Homeric poems and the epic Cycle were now literary rather than oral traditions, they still preserved, as traditions per se, a vital link with the rituals of hero cult. The Hērōikos bridges the chasm between the mythical world of epic heroes and the ritual world of cult heroes. In this masterpiece of the era known nowadays as the Second Sophistic, a continuum is still felt to exist between these two diverging worlds. The spirit of this age is captured by this formulation of the Phoenician initiand in the Hērōikos (6.3): ‘I dreamed I was reading aloud [ana-ginōskein] the epic verses [epos plural] of Homer’. [59]
15§61. As in the Hērōikos of Philostratus, we can see in other literatures as well the stylized efforts of literati to maintain a continuum between myths and rituals associated with heroes. A notable example comes from an anecdote, dated to the ninth century CE, [60] concerning the rediscovery of a supposedly lost book, the Táin Bó Cuailnge (“The Cattle Raid of Cooley”), which is a collection of “epic” narratives about Ireland’s greatest heroes. [61] This anecdote is in effect a “charter myth,” [62] explaining the raison d’être of the Táin. [63] In terms of the myth, this book of narratives, the Táin, is equivalent to an integral epic performance. The myth narrates how this book was once lost and how the assembled poets of Ireland ‘could not recall it in its entirety,’ since they knew only bloga, ‘fragments’. [64] In a quest to find the lost integral book, the poet Muirgen happens to travel past the tomb of Fergus mac Roich, one of the chief heroes featured in the narrative of the Táin. It is nighttime. Muirgen sits down at the gravestone of the tomb, and he sings an incantation to this gravestone ‘as though it were Fergus himself.’ [65] Responding to the incantation, Fergus himself appears in all his heroic glory, and he ‘recited him [= to Muirgen] the whole Táin, how everything had happened, from start to finish.’ [66] As in the Hērōikos of Philostratus, we see that the superhuman consciousness of the hero can take over or even possess the narration of epic. [67]
15§62. In sum, the Hērōikos of Philostratus makes it clear that heroes cannot be defined exclusively in terms of their epic dimensions, though this aspect becomes vitally important in the history of ideas about heroism, especially in view of the ultimate cultural prestige surrounding the prime medium that conveys these ideas, Homeric poetry. For Philostratus, the prestige of Homer and the Homeric hero is a given. In his Hērōikos, however, he goes further, much further, by reconnecting that epic prestige with the sacred charisma possessed by the cult hero. [68]

Coming back once again to what the hero ‘means’

15§63. I round out my analysis of the word sēmainein by coming back to the message of the cult hero Protesilaos, as indicated by this word sēmainein in Herodotus 9.120.2, quoted in Text A. By now we have seen that Protesilaos ‘means’ something that goes far deeper than any everyday meaning could ever go, and that this deeper meaning taps into the cosmic order of dikē as ‘justice’, which is seen as an absolute value that is safeguarded not only by the gods but also by cult heroes as natural forces that express the power of the gods.
15§64. And this deepest of meanings is also the highest of meanings. We can see it from the fact that the word sēmainein can be used to indicate an act of communication by someone whose perspective originates from the highest of all imaginable points of view. That someone who commands the highest vantage point of them all is Apollo, god of intelligence: as a sun-god, he has an intellect that soars above the whole universe. That is why Heraclitus of Ephesus, that towering intellectual of the Ionian world whose life spanned the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE, can say of Apollo:

Hour 15 Text J

The Lord [= Apollo], whose oracle [manteîon] is in Delphi, neither says [legei] nor conceals [kruptei]: he indicates [sēmainei].
Heraclitus 22 B 93 DK, as quoted by Plutarch On the oracular pronouncements of the Pythia 404d [69]
15§65. So, Apollo sēmainei, ‘indicates’, what he means by way of communicating from the vantage point of the sun: he is all-seeing. [70] That is why, when Herodotus first quotes the oracle of Apollo, the god is quoted as saying in his divine poetic language: [71]

Hour 15 Text K

I know [oida] the number of the grains of sand and the measure of the sea. | I understand the mute and I hear the one who does not speak. | The smell has come to my senses of a hard-shelled tortoise, | boiling with meat of lamb, [72] | where bronze is spread below, bronze set above.
Herodotus 1.47.3 [73]
15§66. The verb oida, ‘I know’, here, which is the first word of the first quotation of poetry in the Histories of Herodotus, is the perfect form of the verb-root id-, which in its non-perfect forms means ‘to see’: so oida means, more literally, ‘I have just seen, therefore I know’. [74] What is known, however, can be expressed in a mystical way, and only those who are mentally and morally and emotionally qualified can understand it.
15§67. When Herodotus himself chooses a moment to speak from the highest possible vantage point of authority, he too says oida, ‘I know’:

Hour 15 Text L = Text Β

|1.5.3 Concerning these things, I am not going to say that they were so or otherwise, but I will indicate [sēmainein] the one who I myself know [oida] first began unjust [a-dika] deeds against the Hellenes. I will go on further in my account, treating equally of great and small cities of humankind, |1.5.4 for many of those that were great in the past have become small, and those that were great in my day were formerly small. Knowing that human good fortune [eudaimoniā] never remains in the same state, I will mention both equally.
Herodotus 1.5.3-4
15§68. It is essential to note here that the use of the word oida, ‘I know’, by Herodotus in this context is both formally and functionally related to his use of the word historiē, which refers to his activity as a historian - and which also refers at the very start of his Histories (in the first sentence of the prooemium) to his Histories as a whole: this word historiē, which for Herodotus indicates the ‘inquiry’ that he undertook in making all the observations that add up to his Histories, is derived from the verb oida, ‘I know’, by way of the intermediate derivative forms histōr, ‘witness, inquirer, arbitrator’, and historeîn, ‘bear witness, arbitrate, make inquiries’. [75] And the model for the superior vantage point claimed by Herodotus when he says oida, ‘I know’, is the supreme vantage point of the god Apollo at his oracle in Delphi when he says oida, ‘I know’, in declaring absolute knowledge of everything - even the exact number of grains of sand.
15§69. Similarly, the model for Herodotus when he uses the word sēmainein, ‘indicate’, in this same context (1.5.3) is the authority of Apollo himself, who has a special way of communicating from his manteîon, ‘oracle’, at Delphi: to repeat the wording of Heraclitus (22 B 93 DK), as quoted in Text J, the god sēmainei, ‘indicates’. And the modeling extends even further: this same word sēmainein is conventionally used to designate communication by someone whose perspective originates from a vantage point that is superior to someone else’s. For example, in situations where scouts ascend to elevated places in missions of reconnaissance and then descend in order to report what they have seen to those who have stayed at ground level, so to speak, this word sēmainein is used to indicate what these scouts ‘indicate’ from their superior vantage point (Herodotus 7.192.1, 7.219.1). [76] But sometimes there is no way to get above ground level, and then the only way to achieve the superior perspective of a scout is to make the effort of traveling the distance that is covered by the superior view from above. Such an effort will take a far longer time, and it may be hard, very hard, to make the effort. That is the essence of the metaphor brought to life by Herodotus (1.5.3) when he speaks of the many astea, ‘cities’, through which he will figuratively travel in his ongoing quest for a superior perspective; by way of this metaphor the historian evokes the heroic experiences of Odysseus, who saw so many astea, ‘cities’, of men in the course of so many laborious travels in the Odyssey (i 3, xxiii 267). [77] So, the historian is emulating not only the solar vantage point of the god Apollo but also the ground-level vantage point of the hero who travels the distance.
15§70. In the case of heroes, their vantage point can in some cases re-enact the supreme vantage point of the god Apollo. That is the mentality we have seen in the report of Pausanias (9.39.5-14), as quoted in Text F, where we have read that the worshipper of the cult hero Trophōnios ‘consults’ him, as expressed by the verb-root khrē- (9.39.14), and that this consultation happens in the cult hero’s ‘oracle’, the word for which is manteîon (9.39.5, 9.39.7, 9.39.8, and 9.39.9). Similarly in the case of Apollo himself, as we saw in §39, Herodotus uses the same verb-root khrē- and the same noun manteîon in his narrative about the consultation by Croesus of the god’s oracle at Delphi (χρησόμενοι 1.47.7 and ἐχρήσθη 1.49.1; μαντήιον 1.48.1). It is this particular consultation, I should add, that leads to the oracular pronouncement of Apollo that starts with the words: ‘I know [oida] the number of the grains of sand’ (1.47.3, quoted in Text K).
15§71. In the case of the cult hero Trophōnios, the parallelism between him and the god Apollo as authoritative sources of oracular revelations is indicated in other ways as well. As we saw earlier in this hour, at §40, Pausanias reveals that Trophōnios, unlike the hero’s brother Agamedes, was actually fathered by Apollo. And Pausanias adds that this revelation originates from the fact that he had actually been initiated into the mysteries of Trophōnios (9.37.5).
15§72. As for the cult hero Protesilaos, the parallelism between him and the god Apollo as authoritative sources of oracular revelations is indicated primarily by the use of the word sēmainein, ‘indicate’, in the narrative of Herodotus (9.120.1-2) about the cult hero’s revenge against wrongdoers, as quoted in Text A. As we saw there, the narrative of Herodotus is concerned with human events, at least on the surface. Underneath the surface, however, it is concerned with the workings of the cosmic order as encoded in the world of nature. On the surface, the historical events are conveyed by the main framing narrative. Underneath the surface, however, the workings of the cosmic order are conveyed by the framed narrative of ‘meanings’ emanating from Apollo and from cult heroes. The agents of this cosmic order are cult heroes, who in death are completely in synchronization with the cosmos. That is why Protesilaos in death can be an agent of the cosmic order, which comes from the gods. He rewards the just and punishes the unjust. He is thus the agent of dikē. In Hour 14, we saw how this cult hero rewards those who worship him and who are thereby models of just behavior. Here in Hour 15, we saw how this same cult hero punishes the unjust.

The cult hero as a medium

15§73. In making physical contact with a cult hero by way of worshipping that hero, the worshipper hopes to get in touch with a mind that knows everything. That is what we have seen in this hour, as we looked at narratives concerning cult heroes like Protesilaos and Trophōnios. These heroes are “psychic” about the heroic past: in other words, when worshippers in the present make contact with the consciousness of the heroes of the past, those heroes will know everything about the world of heroes, not only about their own world in the past. They thus surpass the power of poets in knowing about the world of heroes:

Hour 15 Text M = Hour 14 Text B

|7.4 At any rate, among those who critically examine Homer’s poems, who will you say has read [ana-gignōskein] them in such a way as Protesilaos has read them and sees all the way through [di-horân] them? |7.5 Besides, my guest [xenos], before Priam and Troy there wasn’t even any epic recitation [rhapsōidiā], nor was there any singing about events that had not yet taken place. I say this because the art of composing poetry back then about oracular utterances [manteîa] and about, say, Hēraklēs, son of Alkmēnē, was only starting to take shape and had not yet reached a stage of maturity, and there was no Homer yet, so there was no Homer to do any singing. Some say that it was only when Troy was captured, while others say it was eight generations later, that he [= Homer] applied himself to practicing the art of poetry. |7.6 But, in spite of all that, Protesilaos knows all the things of Homer and he sings of many Trojan events that took place after the hero’s own lifetime, as also of many events that have to do with Greeks and Persians.
Philostratus Hērōikos 7.4-6


[ back ] 1. |9.120.1 Καί τεῳ τῶν φυλασσόντων λέγεται ὑπὸ Χερσονησιτέων ταρίχους ὀπτῶντι τέρας γενέσθαι τοιόνδε· οἱ τάριχοι ἐπὶ τῷ πυρὶ κείμενοι ἐπάλλοντό τε καὶ ἤσπαιρον ὅκως περ ἰχθύες νεοάλωτοι. |9.120.2 Καὶ οἱ μὲν περιχυθέντες ἐθώμαζον, ὁ δὲ Ἀρταΰκτης, ὡς εἶδε τὸ τέρας, καλέσας τὸν ὀπτῶντα τοὺς ταρίχους ἔφη· «Ξεῖνε Ἀθηναῖε, μηδὲν φοβέο τὸ τέρας τοῦτο· οὐ γὰρ σοὶ πέφηνε, ἀλλ’ ἐμοὶ σημαίνει ὁ ἐν Ἐλαιοῦντι Πρωτεσίλεως ὅτι καὶ τεθνεὼς καὶ τάριχος ἐὼν δύναμιν πρὸς θεῶν ἔχει τὸν ἀδικέοντα τίνεσθαι.
[ back ] 2. PH 268-271 = 9§§26-31.
[ back ] 3. Analysis in PH 270 = 9§29n102. In that analysis, I consider the possible relationship of tarīkhos with other Greek words that are evidently borrowed from one or another of the Indo-European languages of Anatolia. A case in point is tarkhuein as attested in the Iliad (ταρχύσουσι at VII 85, XVI 456, 674). This form and its Homeric contexts are analyzed in Nagy 2012b:61-69.
[ back ] 4. See Nagy 1987; also PH 270-271 = 9§30, with further references.
[ back ] 5. Lloyd 1976:18.
[ back ] 6. Nagy 2001a:17-18.
[ back ] 7. Nagy 2001a:16-17. My formulation here is relevant to two articles about the overall Protesilaos story in Herodotus 9.116-120: Nagy 1987 and Boedeker 1988. Both these articles concern the hero cult of Protesilaos, but they differ in emphasis and in lines of interpretation. Whereas the article of Boedeker (1988) touches on Herodotus’ use of the story about Protesilaos as it relates to the narrative ending of the Histories, my article (1987) analyzes Herodotus’ use of the traditional language inherent in this story (as signaled by such words as sēmainein); this language, I argue in that article, conveys not only the mystical agenda of hero cult but also the “subtext” of the entire narration of the Histories, ending and all. This argument of mine is elaborated in PH 268–273 = 9§§26-35. The commentary of Flower and Marincola 2002:302-311 on the relevant passage of Herodotus (9.116-120) does not cite my analysis of this passage.
[ back ] 8. Nagy 2001a:18.
[ back ] 9. Nagy 1987:210 and PH 270 = 9§29.
[ back ] 10. PH 271–272 = 9§32.
[ back ] 11. Nagy 2001a:18.
[ back ] 12. Nagy 1987:210 and PH 271 = 9§31. See also Nagy 2001a:18. For more on the concept of the cult hero as revenant, see Nagy 1985, especially pp. 76–81 = §§71-79 (a subsection entitled “The Starving Revenant”).
[ back ] 13. Nagy 2001a:19, with reference to Nagy 1983a, rewritten as ch. 8 of GM (pp. 202–222, “Sēma and Noēsis: The Hero’s Tomb and the ‘Reading’ of Symbols in Homer and Hesiod”). I note here also the mysticism surrounding the funerals of heroes, as discussed in Nagy 1983b, rewritten as part of ch. 5 of GM (pp. 122–142, “The Death of Sarpedon and the Question of Homeric Uniqueness”). For a most valuable survey of ancient testimony concerning the tombs of cult heroes, see Brelich 1958:80-90. See also Rusten 1983, who studies a reference to hero cult in the poetry of Pindar. For more on Pindaric references to hero cults, I cite the book of Currie 2005, which I think complements my own work on such references: I have in mind especially PH = 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.
[ back ] 14. |1.5.3 Ἐγὼ δὲ περὶ μὲν τούτων οὐκ ἔρχομαι ἐρέων ὡς οὕτως ἢ ἄλλως κως ταῦτα ἐγένετο, τὸν δὲ οἶδα αὐτὸς πρῶτον ὑπάρξαντα ἀδίκων ἔργων ἐς τοὺς Ἕλληνας, τοῦτον σημήνας προβήσομαι ἐς τὸ πρόσω τοῦ λόγου, ὁμοίως μικρὰ καὶ μεγάλα ἄστεα ἀνθρώπων ἐπεξιών. |1.5.4 Τὰ γὰρ τὸ πάλαι μεγάλα ἦν, τὰ πολλὰ αὐτῶν σμικρὰ γέγονε· τὰ δὲ ἐπ' ἐμέο ἦν μεγάλα, πρότερον ἦν σμικρά. Τὴν ἀνθρωπηίην ὦν ἐπιστάμενος εὐδαιμονίην οὐδαμὰ ἐν τὠυτῷ μένουσαν, ἐπιμνήσομαι ἀμφοτέρων ὁμοίως.
[ back ] 15. PH 233–236 = 8§§27-29.
[ back ] 16. PH 240-241, 260-261, 329–330 = 8§§37-40, 9§15, 11§27. For a different interpretation of the ending of Herodotus’ Histories, see Dewald 1997:67 (where she refers to Boedeker 1988).
[ back ] 17. Nagy 2001a:19.
[ back ] 18. Nagy 2001a:20.
[ back ] 19. Nagy 1987:213 and PH 272-273 = 9§§33-35.
[ back ] 20. Nagy 2001a:20-21. On Protesilaos as a mystical cult hero, see Brelich 1958:198; for other heroes, see his pp. 118–123.
[ back ] 21. PH 31-32 = 1§29.
[ back ] 22. Nagy 2001a:20n13.
[ back ] 23. Signals of initiation, such as ritual silence and ritual whispering, can be formalized as mystical names of cult heroes, as in the case of Sigēlos [‘The Silent One’] and Psithuros [‘The Whisperer’] respectively; for documentation, see Brelich 1958:157.
[ back ] 24. On the morphology of the name Prōtesi-lāos, see BA 70 = 5§2n1.
[ back ] 25. There is also a “folk etymology” at work in the narrative of the Iliad: the name Prōtesi-lāos is also associated with the word prōtos, ‘first’, in the sense that this hero was the first Achaean to die at Troy (prōtistos, ‘the very first’, at Iliad II 702).
[ back ] 26. BA 335-337 = 20§§16-17.
[ back ] 27. Nagy 2001a:26-27.
[ back ] 28. ἐπιλείψει με ἡ φωνή, ξένε, τῶν τοιούτων μνημονεύοντα· καὶ γάρ τι καὶ περὶ Ἀντιλόχου ᾄδουσιν, ὡς κόρη Ἰλιὰς φοιτῶσα ἐπὶ τὸν Σκάμανδρον εἰδώλῳ τοῦ Ἀντιλόχου ἐνέτυχε καὶ προσέκειτο τῷ σήματι ἐρῶσα τοῦ εἰδώλου.
[ back ] 29. ὁ δὲ Ἀρταΰκτης, ὡς εἶδε τὸ τέρας, καλέσας τὸν ὀπτῶντα τοὺς ταρίχους ἔφη· “Ξεῖνε Ἀθηναῖε, μηδὲν φοβέο τὸ τέρας τοῦτο· οὐ γὰρ σοὶ πέφηνε, ἀλλ’ ἐμοὶ σημαίνει ὁ ἐν Ἐλαιοῦντι Πρωτεσίλεως ὅτι καὶ τεθνεὼς καὶ τάριχος ἐὼν δύναμιν πρὸς θεῶν ἔχει τὸν ἀδικέοντα τίνεσθαι.”
[ back ] 30. PH 268-269 = 9§29.
[ back ] 31. PH 269 = 9§29n99, following Edmunds 1981:223n8.
[ back ] 32. |9.116.1 Ἐτυράννευε δὲ τούτου τοῦ νομοῦ Ξέρξεω ὕπαρχος Ἀρταΰκτης, ἀνὴρ μὲν Πέρσης, δεινὸς δὲ καὶ ἀτάσθαλος, ὃς καὶ βασιλέα ἐλαύνοντα ἐπ’ Ἀθήνας ἐξηπάτησε, τὰ Πρωτεσίλεω τοῦ Ἰφίκλου χρήματα ἐξ Ἐλαιοῦντος ὑπελόμενος. |9.116.2 Ἐν γὰρ Ἐλαιοῦντι τῆς Χερσονήσου ἐστὶ Πρωτεσίλεω τάφος τε καὶ τέμενος περὶ αὐτόν, ἔνθα ἦν χρήματα πολλὰ καὶ φιάλαι χρύσεαι καὶ ἀργύρεαι καὶ χαλκὸς καὶ ἐσθὴς καὶ ἄλλα ἀναθήματα, τὰ Ἀρταΰκτης ἐσύλησε βασιλέος δόντος. Λέγων δὲ τοιάδε Ξέρξην διεβάλετο· |9.116.3 “Δέσποτα, ἔστι οἶκος ἀνδρὸς Ἕλληνος ἐνθαῦτα, ὃς ἐπὶ γῆν τὴν σὴν στρατευσάμενος δίκης κυρήσας ἀπέθανε. Τούτου μοι δὸς, τὸν οἶκον, ἵνα καί τις μάθῃ ἐπὶ γῆν τὴν σὴν μὴ στρατεύεσθαι.” Ταῦτα λέγων εὐπετέως ἔμελλε ἀναπείσειν Ξέρξην δοῦναι ἀνδρὸς οἶκον, οὐδὲν ὑποτοπηθέντα τῶν ἐκεῖνος ἐφρόνεε. Ἐπὶ γῆν δὲ τὴν βασιλέος στρατεύεσθαι Πρωτεσίλεων ἔλεγε νοέων τοιάδε· τὴν Ἀσίην πᾶσαν νομίζουσι ἑωυτῶν εἶναι Πέρσαι καὶ τοῦ αἰεὶ βασιλεύοντος. Ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐδόθη, τὰ χρήματα ἐξ Ἐλαιοῦντος ἐς Σηστὸν ἐξεφόρησε καὶ τὸ τέμενος ἔσπειρε καὶ ἔνεμε, αὐτός τε ὅκως ἀπίκοιτο ἐς Ἐλαιοῦντα, ἐν τῷ ἀδύτῳ γυναιξὶ ἐμίσγετο.
[ back ] 33. Nagy 2008b:259, with reference to Nagy 2001a:25n17.
[ back ] 34. ὄλβιε καὶ μακαριστέ, θεὸς δ’ ἔ|σηι ἀντὶ βροτοῖο. The numbering of lines in this fragment from Thourioi follows the edition of Bernabé 2005 (Orphicorum Fragmenta 488).
[ back ] 35. For a useful collection of such inscriptions, I cite again the work of Tzifopoulos 2010.
[ back ] 36. BA 154, 204 = 9§5, 10§41n3. I disagree with the formulation of Currie 2005:42 when he says that Amphiaraos “evades death” when he is engulfed by the earth in the three passages of Pindar (Olympian 6.14; Nemean 9.24-27, 10.8-9).
[ back ] 37. |9.39.5 κατὰ δὲ τὸ μαντεῖον τοιάδε γίνεται. ἐπειδὰν ἀνδρὶ ἐς τοῦ Τροφωνίου κατιέναι δόξῃ, πρῶτα μὲν τεταγμένων ἡμερῶν δίαιταν ἐν οἰκήματι ἔχει, τὸ δὲ οἴκημα Δαίμονός τε ἀγαθοῦ καὶ Τύχης ἱερόν ἐστιν ἀγαθῆς· διαιτώμενος δὲ ἐνταῦθα τά τε ἄλλα καθαρεύει καὶ λουτρῶν εἴργεται θερμῶν, τὸ δὲ λουτρὸν ὁ ποταμός ἐστιν ἡ Ἕρκυνα· καί οἱ καὶ κρέα ἄφθονά ἐστιν ἀπὸ τῶν θυσιῶν, θύει γὰρ δὴ ὁ κατιὼν αὐτῷ τε τῷ Τροφωνίῳ καὶ τοῦ Τροφωνίου τοῖς παισί, πρὸς δὲ Ἀπόλλωνί τε καὶ Κρόνῳ καὶ Διὶ ἐπίκλησιν Βασιλεῖ καὶ Ἥρᾳ τε Ἡνιόχῃ καὶ Δήμητρι ἣν ἐπονομάζοντες Εὐρώπην τοῦ Τροφωνίου φασὶν εἶναι τροφόν. |9.39.6 καθ’ ἑκάστην δὲ τῶν θυσιῶν ἀνὴρ μάντις παρὼν ἐς τοῦ ἱερείου τὰ σπλάγχνα ἐνορᾷ, ἐνιδὼν δὲ προθεσπίζει τῷ κατιόντι εἰ δὴ αὐτὸν εὐμενὴς ὁ Τροφώνιος καὶ ἵλεως δέξεται. τῶν μὲν δὴ ἄλλων ἱερείων τὰ σπλάγχνα οὐχ ὁμοίως δηλοῖ τοῦ Τροφωνίου τὴν γνώμην· ἐν δὲ νυκτὶ ᾗ κάτεισιν ἕκαστος, ἐν ταύτῃ κριὸν θύουσιν ἐς βόθρον, ἐπικαλούμενοι τὸν Ἀγαμήδην. θυμάτων δὲ τῶν πρότερον πεφηνότων αἰσίων λόγος ἐστὶν οὐδείς, εἰ μὴ καὶ τοῦδε τοῦ κριοῦ τὰ σπλάγχνα τὸ αὐτὸ θέλοι λέγειν· ὁμολογούντων δὲ καὶ τούτων, τότε ἕκαστος ἤδη κάτεισιν εὔελπις, κάτεισι δὲ οὕτω. |9.39.7 πρῶτα μὲν ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ αὐτὸν ἄγουσιν ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὴν Ἕρκυναν, ἀγαγόντες δὲ ἐλαίῳ χρίουσι καὶ λούουσι δύο παῖδες τῶν ἀστῶν ἔτη τρία που καὶ δέκα γεγονότες, οὓς Ἑρμᾶς ἐπονομάζουσιν· οὗτοι τὸν καταβαίνοντά εἰσιν οἱ λούοντες καὶ ὁπόσα χρὴ διακονούμενοι ἅτε παῖδες. τὸ ἐντεῦθεν ὑπὸ τῶν ἱερέων οὐκ αὐτίκα ἐπὶ τὸ μαντεῖον, ἐπὶ δὲ ὕδατος πηγὰς ἄγεται· αἱ δὲ ἐγγύτατά εἰσιν ἀλλήλων. |9.39.8 ἐνταῦθα δὴ χρὴ πιεῖν αὐτὸν Λήθης τε ὕδωρ καλούμενον, ἵνα λήθη γένηταί οἱ πάντων ἃ τέως ἐφρόντιζε, καὶ ἐπὶ τῷδε ἄλλο αὖθις ὕδωρ πίνειν Μνημοσύνης· ἀπὸ τούτου τε μνημονεύει τὰ ὀφθέντα οἱ καταβάντι. θεασάμενος δὲ ἄγαλμα ὃ ποιῆσαι <Δαίδαλόν> φασιν – ὑπὸ δὲ τῶν ἱερέων οὐκ ἐπιδείκνυται πλὴν ὅσοι παρὰ τὸν Τροφώνιον μέλλουσιν ἔρχεσθαι – τοῦτο τὸ ἄγαλμα ἰδὼν καὶ θεραπεύσας τε καὶ εὐξάμενος ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ μαντεῖον, χιτῶνα ἐνδεδυκὼς λινοῦν καὶ ταινίαις τὸν χιτῶνα ἐπιζωσθεὶς καὶ ὑποδησάμενος ἐπιχωρίας κρηπῖδας. |9.39.9 ἔστι δὲ τὸ μαντεῖον ὑπὲρ τὸ ἄλσος ἐπὶ τοῦ ὄρους. κρηπὶς μὲν ἐν κύκλῳ περιβέβληται λίθου λευκοῦ, περίοδος δὲ τῆς κρηπῖδος κατὰ ἅλων τὴν ἐλαχίστην ἐστίν, ὕψος δὲ ἀποδέουσα δύο εἶναι πήχεις· ἐφεστήκασι δὲ ἐπὶ τῇ κρηπῖδι ὀβελοὶ καὶ αὐτοὶ χαλκοῖ καὶ αἱ συνέχουσαι σφᾶς ζῶναι, διὰ δὲ αὐτῶν θύραι πεποίηνται. τοῦ περιβόλου δὲ ἐντὸς χάσμα γῆς ἐστιν οὐκ αὐτόματον ἀλλὰ σὺν τέχνῃ καὶ ἁρμονίᾳ πρὸς τὸ ἀκριβέστατον ᾠκοδομημένον. |9.39.10 τοῦ δὲ οἰκοδομήματος τούτου τὸ σχῆμα εἴκασται κριβάνῳ· τὸ δὲ εὖρος ἡ διάμετρος αὐτοῦ τέσσαρας παρέχοιτο ἂν ὡς εἰκάσαι πήχεις· βάθος δὲ τοῦ οἰκοδομήματος, οὐκ ἂν οὐδὲ τοῦτο εἰκάζοι τις ἐς πλέον ὀκτὼ καθήκειν πηχῶν. κατάβασις δὲ οὐκ ἔστι πεποιημένη σφίσιν ἐς τὸ ἔδαφος· ἐπειδὰν δὲ ἀνὴρ ἔρχηται παρὰ τὸν Τροφώνιον, κλίμακα αὐτῷ κομίζουσι στενὴν καὶ ἐλαφράν. καταβάντι δέ ἐστιν ὀπὴ μεταξὺ τοῦ τε ἐδάφους καὶ τοῦ οἰκοδομήματος· σπιθαμῶν τὸ εὖρος δύο, τὸ δὲ ὕψος ἐφαίνετο εἶναι σπιθαμῆς. |9.39.11 ὁ οὖν κατιὼν κατακλίνας ἑαυτὸν ἐς τὸ ἔδαφος ἔχων μάζας μεμαγμένας μέλιτι προεμβάλλει τε ἐς τὴν ὀπὴν τοὺς πόδας καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπιχωρεῖ, τὰ γόνατά οἱ τῆς ὀπῆς ἐντὸς γενέσθαι προθυμούμενος· τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν σῶμα αὐτίκα ἐφειλκύσθη τε καὶ τοῖς γόνασιν ἐπέδραμεν, ὥσπερ ποταμῶν ὁ μέγιστος καὶ ὠκύτατος συνδεθέντα ὑπὸ δίνης ἀποκρύψειεν <ἂν> ἄνθρωπον. τὸ δὲ ἐντεῦθεν τοῖς ἐντὸς τοῦ ἀδύτου γενομένοις οὐχ εἷς οὐδὲ ὁ αὐτὸς τρόπος ἐστὶν ὅτῳ διδάσκονται τὰ μέλλοντα, ἀλλά πού τις καὶ εἶδε καὶ ἄλλος ἤκουσεν. ἀναστρέψαι δὲ ὀπίσω τοῖς καταβᾶσι διὰ στομίου τε ἔστι τοῦ αὐτοῦ καὶ προεκθεόντων σφίσι τῶν ποδῶν. |9.39.12 ἀποθανεῖν δὲ οὐδένα τῶν καταβάντων λέγουσιν ὅτι μὴ μόνον τῶν Δημητρίου τινὰ δορυφόρων· τοῦτον δὲ οὔτε ποιῆσαι περὶ τὸ ἱερόν φασιν οὐδὲν τῶν νενομισμένων οὔτε χρησόμενον τῷ θεῷ καταβῆναι, χρυσὸν δὲ καὶ ἄργυρον ἐκκομιεῖν ἐλπίσαντα ἐκ τοῦ ἀδύτου. λέγεται δὲ καὶ τούτου τὸν νεκρὸν ἑτέρωθι ἀναφανῆναι καὶ οὐ κατὰ στόμα ἐκβληθῆναι τὸ ἱερόν. ἐς μὲν δὴ τὸν ἄνθρωπον λεγομένων καὶ ἄλλων εἴρηταί μοι τὰ ἀξιολογώτατα· |9.39.13 τὸν δὲ ἀναβάντα παρὰ τοῦ Τροφωνίου παραλαβόντες αὖθις οἱ ἱερεῖς καθίζουσιν ἐπὶ θρόνον Μνημοσύνης μὲν καλούμενον, κεῖται δὲ οὐ πόρρω τοῦ ἀδύτου, καθεσθέντα δὲ ἐνταῦθα ἀνερωτῶσιν ὁπόσα εἶδέ τε καὶ ἐπύθετο· μαθόντες δὲ ἐπιτρέπουσιν αὐτὸν ἤδη τοῖς προσήκουσιν. οἱ δὲ ἐς τὸ οἴκημα, ἔνθα καὶ πρότερον διῃτᾶτο παρά τε Τύχῃ καὶ Δαίμονι ἀγαθοῖς, ἐς τοῦτο ἀράμενοι κομίζουσι κάτοχόν τε ἔτι τῷ δείματι καὶ ἀγνῶτα ὁμοίως αὑτοῦ τε καὶ τῶν πέλας. ὕστερον μέντοι τά τε ἄλλα οὐδέν τι φρονήσει μεῖον ἢ πρότερον καὶ γέλως ἐπάνεισίν οἱ. |9.39.14 γράφω δὲ οὐκ ἀκοὴν ἀλλὰ ἑτέρους τε ἰδὼν καὶ αὐτὸς τῷ Τροφωνίῳ χρησάμενος. τοὺς δὲ ἐς τοῦ Τροφωνίου κατελθόντας, ἀνάγκη σφᾶς, ὁπόσα ἤκουσεν ἕκαστος ἢ εἶδεν, ἀναθεῖναι γεγραμμένα ἐν πίνακι.
[ back ] 38. PH 123 = 4§10, with further references and commentary.
[ back ] 39. Nagy 2008a:19; Levaniouk 2011:96n14.
[ back ] 40. Nagy 2008a:25-26.
[ back ] 41. Such a traditional metonymy depends on a pre-existing traditional metaphor that pictures an interchangeability between breath and wind, on which see Nagy 1999b.
[ back ] 42. On the religious mentality of equating ritual perfection with beauty itself, see in general the work of Pache 2004.
[ back ] 43. HQ 48n79
[ back ] 44. PH 200-201 = 7§2, with reference to Mimnermus 14.1.
[ back ] 45. See also PH 201 = 7§2n10, with reference to Sappho 31.1.
[ back ] 46. Nagy 2001a:27n20.
[ back ] 47. In some Homeric references to heroes as “native sons” of their homelands, a key word is dēmos in the sense of ‘local district’, indicating localized cult practices: see GM 132–134, especially with reference to the hero Sarpedon.
[ back ] 48. Nagy 2001a:28n21. On the tomb of Ajax, see HPC 179 = II§118.
[ back ] 49. Nagy 2001a:28-29.
[ back ] 50. On the “iatric” function of cult heroes, see in general Brelich 1958:113–118.
[ back ] 51. Nagy 2001a:29n23.
[ back ] 52. Nagy 2001a:29-30.
[ back ] 53. The argumentation that follows is based on Nagy 2001a:30-35.
[ back ] 54. Martin 1989:xiv.
[ back ] 55. Reynolds 1995:208; at p. 207, Reynolds quotes the formulation of Martin 1989:xiv as a heuristic paradigm for his own ethnographic fieldwork.
[ back ] 56. For a particularly valuable collection of examples, see Blackburn, P. J. Claus, Flueckiger, and Wadley 1989; see especially P. J. Claus 1989, especially p. 60, where he notes: “In his performance the possessed priest must not only recite Kordabbu’s story, but also assume his character and dramatically portray his exploits for several hours on end.”
[ back ] 57. P. J. Claus 1989:74, who adds: “Accompanying these transitions are shifts in verbal style: from the third person pronominal referent, to the second, to the first. There are also changes in the behavior of the performers and the audience.”
[ back ] 58. On the poetics of authentication-by-reperformance, as implied by the verb epaineîn, which I have translated here as ‘confirm’, see the comments on the use of this word by Lycurgus Against Leocrates 102, in PR 11n7, 27-28, 33, 44. For a wealth of information about and insights into the poetics of the verb epaineîn as used in Homeric poetry, see Elmer 2013.
[ back ] 59. Nagy 2001a:32-33.
[ back ] 60. For a brief summary of the manuscript sources, see J. F. Nagy 1986:292.
[ back ] 61. There are two main surviving recensions of the Táin, as attested in (1) the Book of the Dun Cow (Lebor na hUidre, eleventh century CE) and (2) the Book of Leinster (twelfth century). For editions of these respective recensions, see (1) O’Rahilly 1976 and (2) O’Rahilly 1967. For background, see J. F. Nagy 1986:278. For a synthetic translation, see Kinsella 1969.
[ back ] 62. On the concept of “charter myth,” see Leach 1982:5.
[ back ] 63. There is a translation provided by Kinsella 1969:1–2.
[ back ] 64. Kinsella 1969:1. The concept of a blog, ‘fragment’, of a corpus that has disintegrated is a traditional theme found in the charter myths of many cultures; for a brief survey, see HQ 70-74.
[ back ] 65. Kinsella 1969:1.
[ back ] 66. Kinsella 1969:1–2. The point of this charter myth, then, is that the corpus of the Táin is reintegrated in performance, and thus the “lost book” is finally recovered, even resurrected. See HQ 70, following especially J. F. Nagy 1986:284, 289, 292-294. On traditional metaphors about a book (or a library of books) as a corpus destined for resurrection, see Nagy 1998:196–198.
[ back ] 67. Nagy 2001a:33-34.
[ back ] 68. Nagy 2001a:34-35.
[ back ] 69. ὁ ἄναξ, οὗ τὸ μαντεῖόν ἐστι τὸ ἐν Δελφοῖς, οὔτε λέγει οὔτε κρύπτει ἀλλὰ σημαίνει.
[ back ] 70. PH 164-165 = 6§37.
[ back ] 71. PH 165 = 6§38.
[ back ] 72. Boiled lamb is a typical offering to cult heroes; boiled tortoise is meant to be a strange additional ingredient.
[ back ] 73. Οἶδα δ’ ἐγὼ ψάμμου τ’ ἀριθμὸν καὶ μέτρα θαλάσσης, | καὶ κωφοῦ συνίημι καὶ οὐ φωνεῦντος ἀκούω. | Ὀδμή μ’ ἐς φρένας ἦλθε κραταιρίνοιο χελώνης | ἑψομένης ἐν χαλκῷ ἅμ’ ἀρνείοισι κρέεσσιν, ᾗ χαλκὸς μὲν ὑπέστρωται, χαλκὸν δ’ ἐπίεσται.
[ back ] 74. PH 231-233 = 8§25.
[ back ] 75. PH 250-251 = 9§1.
[ back ] 76. PH 165 = 6§38.
[ back ] 77. PH 232 = 8§25.