Hour 24. The Hero as savior

The meaning of sōzein and sōtēr

24§1. The key word for this hour is the verb sōzein, meaning ‘save (someone)’. Derived from this verb is the noun sōtēr, which means ‘savior’ in the sense of ‘one who brings (someone) back to safety’ or, mystically, ‘one who brings (someone) back to life’. We have already seen in Pausanias 8.44.4 (Hour 11 Text L) the feminine form of sōtēr, sōteira, with reference to the goddess Athena as the ‘savior’ of the hero Odysseus. Derived from this noun sōtēr is the adjective sōtērios and the noun sōtēriā, which mean ‘saving’ and ‘salvation’. We have already seen these words in Aeschylus Eumenides 701 and 909 respectively (Hour 17 Text F and Text H), with reference to the goddess Athena as the promoter of eternal well-being for the Athenians. But this word applies not only to salvation promoted by gods. Heroes, too, can promote salvation. For example, in Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 487, we saw Oedipus described as a ‘bringer of salvation’, a sōtērios, for the whole community or Athens, once he achieves the status of cult hero (Hour 18§§24, 31); he is also described as a sōtēr or ‘savior’ of the Athenians at lines 460 and 463 (18§32). In Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus 48, Oedipus is invoked as a sōtēr or ‘savior’ because he saved the people of Thebes from the monstrous Sphinx (Hour 19 Text D; commentary in 19§19).
24§2. As we think through the list of examples I just offered, we need to keep reminding ourselves that such concepts of savior and salvation are not borrowings from Christian discourse. The fact is, Christian discourse inherited the words sōzein ‘save’ and sōtēr ‘savior’ from pre-Christian phases of the Greek language. And we also need to keep in mind that some uses of these words are metaphorical. In the course of this last hour, Hour 24, we will see salient examples of metaphorical uses in the works of Plato and Aristotle. I will begin, however, with an example that highlights the non-metaphorical uses of these words.

Theseus as a savior for the Athenians

24§3. For my first example of the hero as savior, I return to Hour 23 Text A, focusing on the part of that passage where Theseus the hero is featured as savior of the Athenians:

Hour 24 Text A (part of Hour 23 Text A)

{Phaedo:} This is the ship in which, as the Athenians say, Theseus went to Crete when he took with him those famous two-times-seven young people. |58b He saved [sōzein] them and he too was saved [sōzein]. And they were said to have vowed to Apollo at that time, that if they were saved [sōzein] they would make an annual sacred journey [theōriā] to Delos. And even now, ever since that time, year after year, they send the ship to the god. So, every time they begin the sacred journey [theōriā], they have a custom [nomos] at this time of the year to purify [kathareuein] the city and to refrain from publicly executing anybody before the ship goes to Delos and then comes back from there. And sometimes this takes a long time, whenever the winds |58c happen to detain them. And the beginning of the sacred journey [theōriā] is when the priest of Apollo garlands [stephein] the stern of the ship. This happened, as I say, on the day before the trial [dikē]. And this was the reason why Socrates spent a long time in prison between the time of his trial [dikē] and the time of his death.
Plato Phaedo 58a-58c [1]
24§4. As we saw in Hour 23, the Athenian myth of Theseus tells how this hero saved the Athenians by killing the Minotaur inside the Labyrinth - and then by escaping from this monster’s pernicious maze. And we saw how Theseus in myth became the founder of a famous Athenian ritual when he celebrated his own salvation and the salvation of the other young Athenians whom he saved: according to Athenian myth, this celebration took the form of a sea voyage to the sacred island of Delos, where the hero re-enacted his experience in the Labyrinth by way of a prototypical song and dance performed by a chorus consisting of the young Athenians who were saved and by Theseus himself as their choral leader. Still further, we saw how this re-enactment in myth was continued - notionally forever - by way of the famous Athenian ritual of sending the Ship of State to sail to and from Delos on a seasonally recurring sacred voyage or theōriā, which was seen as a seasonally recurring achievement of a mystical inner vision of salvation from death.
24§5. In Hour 23§14, I launched a related argument that I will now continue here. As I said already then, the ritualized idea of theōriā as a re-enactment of salvation for the Athenian State was transformed by Plato’s Socrates into a philosophical idea of theōriā - to be understood not only as the sacred voyage of the Athenian Ship of State to and from Delos but also as the philosophical theorizing that will be going on within the confines of the prison where Socrates is awaiting the moment of his execution by the State. The time frame of the ritual theōriā as a sacred journey to Delos and back coincides with the time frame of the philosophical theōriā as a set of dialogues centering on the immortality of the living word that is forever being brought back to life in the very act of having a dialogue. And just as the theōriā of a sacred voyage to and from Delos could be seen as the achievement of a mystical inner vision of salvation from death - an inner vision that was meant to recur year after year forever - so also the synchronized theōriā of the dialogue that is dramatized in Plato’s Phaedo could be seen as a parallel achievement of a different kind of vision that was meant to recur every time the original dialogue of the Phaedo is continued by way of further dialogue.

A metaphorical use of the word sōzein by Plato’s Socrates

24§6. By now we have seen that the word theōriā, meaning ‘sacred voyage’, was used metaphorically to express the idea of philosophical contemplation. And we have also seen that the ritual of theōriā as a ‘sacred voyage’ was linked with the myth that told about the salvation of the hero Theseus - how he saved both himself and the other young Athenians who were traveling with him. So the idea of philosophical contemplation is linked not only with the ritual of the sacred voyage but also with this myth of salvation. Moreover, as we are about to see, Plato’s Socrates can even bring himself to say that myth itself is worthy of salvation. And, in saying such a thing, Socrates is making a metaphorical use of the word sōzein, meaning ‘save’.
24§7. Before we consider this metaphorical use, however, I must first reconsider the meaning of ‘myth’, expressed by the Greek word mūthos. As I noted already in Hour 1§36, the most ancient meaning of mūthos is ‘something said for the record’: so, in terms of such a meaning, any story that is called a mūthos is considered to be genuine and true, precisely because it is said for the record. [2] By contrast, the modern word myth, derived from mūthos, has obviously veered from this meaning: in popular usage, myth is a story that is not genuine, not true. Already in the works of Plato, as we can see most glaringly from an overall reading of Scroll 10 of his Republic, mūthos is destabilized as a truth value. And we can see why it is that Plato’s Socrates has a problem with mūthos if we take another look at a passage in the Phaedo (60e-61b) that I quoted in Hour 23 Text F: there Socrates is making a distinction between poetry and prose, saying that poetry is the natural medium of mūthos while the prose of logos is the logical medium of philosophy.
24§8. Nevertheless, despite his preference for the logos of philosophy over the poetry of mūthos, Plato’s Socrates declares that mūthos can ultimately be saved. And his declaration, as we will now see, features a most striking example of the word sōzein, ‘save’, used in a metaphorical sense.
24§9. Although mūthos or ‘myth’ is not only discredited but even banned from the ideal state of Plato’s Republic, we find in the end that it gets re-admitted. What happens in the end is that Plato’s Socrates allows myth to stage a stealthy re-entry - through the back door, as it were. But this re-entry is subject to a condition: myth must prove itself useful in serving what is truly ideal. Such proof comes with the telling of the Myth of Er, which is Plato’s own creation of a myth at the conclusion of the Republic. And this myth, which is about a philosophical kind of salvation, is in the end linked with the salvation of myth itself. Plato has Socrates himself saying at the end of the Republic, with reference to this Myth of Er: [3]

Hour 24 Text B

And so, Glaukon, myth [mūthos] was saved [e-sō-thē, from sōzein], and it could save [sōzein] us in turn, if we trust it.
Plato Republic 10.621b-c [4]

A metaphorical use of the word sōphrōn in an archaic hymn

24§10. To make a metaphor out of the idea of salvation is not only a philosophical project, as we have seen it take shape in the case of the word theōriā in Plato’s Phaedo. We can see such metaphors at work already in the earliest forms of Greek poetry, as for example in the Homeric Hymn (7) to Dionysus. In this archaic hymn, the metaphor of salvation applies to a kubernētēs or ‘pilot’ of a ship who is saved by the god Dionysus himself from being transformed into a dolphin. The key to salvation here is to be found in a metaphor built into the word describing this pilot, sōphrōn, which means ‘moderate’ or ‘balanced’. Literally, this word is a compound adjective consisting of the elements sō- and -phrōn, meaning ‘the one whose thinking [phrēn] is safe’, and the element sō- actually derives from the verb sōzein. [5] As we saw in Hour 21§33, this adjective sōphrōn in the sense of ‘moderate’ or ‘balanced’ applies to worshippers of the god Dionysus who find themselves in a mental state of equilibrium or balance when they participate in the rituals of Dionysus.
24§11. As we are about to see, the application of this adjective sōphrōn to the pilot in the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus is the signal of this man’s salvation, since he behaves in a morally moderate way - unlike the captain of the ship and the sailors commanded by the captain. Another signal of the pilot’s salvation is his actual role as pilot. As we saw in Hour 9§6, the word that I have been translating as ‘pilot’ is kubernētēs: so the pilot is literally the ‘steersman’ who directs not only the ship but also, metaphorically, the community that is the ship. This Greek word kubernētēs, as we also saw, was eventually borrowed into Latin as gubernātor, which in turn has been borrowed into English as governor. Thus the governor, the one who governs a government, is metaphorically the ‘steersman’ who directs the ‘ship of state’.
24§12. As we now proceed to read the Homeric Hymn (7) to Dionysus, we may observe the metaphorical interplay of the word sōphrōn, meaning ‘moderate, balanced’ (line 49), with the role of the kubernētēs (lines 15, 43, 49, 53) which I will hereafter translate simply as ‘steersman’:

Hour 24 Text C

|1 About Dionysus son of most glorious Semele |2 my mind will connect, how it was that he made an appearance [phainesthai] by the shore of the barren sea |3 on a prominent headland, looking like a young man |4 at the beginning of adolescence. Beautiful were the locks of hair as they waved in the breeze surrounding him. |5 They were the color of deep blue. And a cloak he wore over his strong shoulders, |6 color of purple. Then, all of a sudden, men seen from a ship with fine benches |7 - men who were pirates - came into view, as they were sailing over the wine-colored [oinops] sea [pontos]. |8 They were Etruscans. And they were being driven along by a destiny that was bad for them. The moment they saw him [= Dionysus], |9 they gave each other a knowing nod, and the very next thing, they were ashore, jumping out of the ship. Quickly they seized him and |10 sat him down inside their ship, happy in their hearts |11 because they thought that he was the son of a line of kings nurtured by the sky god. |12 That is what they thought he was. And they wanted to tie him up in harsh bondage, |13 but the ties of the bonds could not hold him, and the cords made of willow fell off him, all over the place, |14 falling right off his hands and feet. And he just sat there, smiling, |15 looking on with his deep blue eyes. Meanwhile the steersman [kubernētēs] took note [noeîn], |16 right away, and he called out to his comrades [hetairoi] and said to them: |17 “What kind of superhuman force [daimōn] has possessed you all! What kind of god [theos] is this that you have seized and tried to tie up, |18 powerful as he is? Why, he is too much for the well-built ship to make room for. |19 You see, he must be either Zeus or Apollo, the one with the silver quiver, |20 or Poseidon. I tell you, he is not like mortal humans, |21 he is not like [eikelos] them at all. Rather, he is like the gods who have their dwellings in Olympus. |22 So come on, we should let him go, leaving him on the dark earth of the mainland. |23 Let us do it right away. Do not manhandle him. What if he gets angry |24 and stirs up winds that will make hardship, and a huge whirlwind?” |25 That is how he [= the steersman] spoke. But the leader of the men reviled him [= the steersman], speaking with hateful words [mūthos]: |26 “No, [not we but] you are the one who is possessed by some kind of superhuman force [daimōn]. Just [do your work and] watch for the wind [to start blowing from behind, and, once it starts blowing], you start hoisting the sail of the ship |27 and hold on to all the ropes. As for this one [= the unrecognized Dionysus], he will be the concern [melein] of my men. |28 I expect he will arrive [with us] in Egypt or maybe in Cyprus |29 or maybe even in the land of the Hyperboreans or beyond. Wherever. In the end, |30 he will tell all: he will come around to saying who are his near and dear ones [philoi] and what are all the possessions he has |31 and he will tell about his siblings. And that is because a superhuman force [daimōn] has put him in our pathway.” |32 Having said this, he [= the leader himself] started hoisting the sail of the ship. |33 Now a wind came and blew right into the middle of the sail, and the ropes that held it at both ends |34 got all stretched to the limit. Then, right away, there appeared [phainesthai] to them things that would make anyone marvel. |35 Wine. That is what happened first of all. It was all alongside the swift black ship. |36 Sweet to drink, it was splashing around [the ship as if it were inside a cup], smelling good, and the fragrance that rose up |37 was something immortalizing [ambrosiā]. The sailors were seized with amazement, all of them, at the sight. |38 And then, all of a sudden, next to the top of the sail on both sides, there reached out |39 a vine - here, and here too - and hanging from it were many |40 clusters of grapes. Around the mast, dark ivy was winding around, |41 teeming with blossoms. And - a thing of beauty and pleasure [kharieis] - the berry sprang forth [from the ivy]. |42 The benches for rowing now had garlands [stephanoi] all over them. Once they [= the sailors] saw all this, |43 they started shouting at the steersman [kubernētēs], urging him |44 to sail the ship back to land. Meanwhile, he [= Dionysus] turned into a lion for them, right there in the ship, |45 looking horrific [deinos], at the prow. It roared a mighty roar. Then, in the middle of the ship, |46 he [= Dionysus] made a bear, with a shaggy neck. Thus he [= Dionysus] made his signals [sēmata] appear [phainein]. |47 It [= the bear] reared up, raging, while the lion, at the top of the deck, |48 glared at them with its horrific looks. The men, terrified, were fleeing toward the stern of the ship, |49 crowding around the steersman [kubernētēs], the one who had a heart [thūmos] that is moderate [sōphrōn]. |50 They just stood there, astounded [ek-plag-entes]. Then it [= the lion] all of a sudden leapt up |51 and took hold of the leader of the men, while they were trying to get out, rushing away from the bad destiny that was theirs. |52 They all together at the same time leapt out, once they saw what they saw, into the gleaming salt sea. |53 They became dolphins. As for the steersman [kubernētēs] - he [= Dionysus] took pity on him, |54 holding him back [from leaping overboard]. He [= Dionysus] caused it to happen that he [= the steersman] became the most blessed [olbios] of all men, and he [= Dionysus] spoke for the record this set of words [mūthos]: |55 “Have courage, you radiant man, reached by a force that works from far away. [6] You have achieved beauty and pleasure [kharizesthai] for my heart [thūmos]. |56 I am Dionysus, the one with the great thundering sound. The mother who bore me |57 was Semele, daughter of Cadmus, and Zeus made love to her.” |58 Hail and take pleasure [khaire], [O Dionysus,] child of Semele with the beautiful looks. There is no way |59 I could have my mind disconnect from you as I put together the beautiful cosmic order [kosmeîn] of my song.
Homeric Hymn (7) to Dionysus 1-59 [7]
24§13. Following the narration up through line 58, we come to a point where the narrator appears to break off: he now turns to the god Dionysus and addresses him directly, asking the god to stay mentally connected with the performance. In addressing the god, the performer is calling out to him with the salutation khaire (again, line 58), which is the imperative of the verb khairein, meaning ‘to take pleasure’. So I translate the salutation khaire as ‘hail and take pleasure!’ (again, line 58), adding the word ‘hail!’ because the imperative khaire (plural khairete) is used in contexts of marking the beginning or ending of a personal encounter. In the Homeric Hymns, this salutation khaire (plural khairete) marks a transition from focusing on a god or on an aspect of a god to focusing on the rest of the song. [8] This verb khairein, ‘to take pleasure’, is related to the noun kharis, which is analogous to the Latin noun gratia in combining the ideas of pleasure (‘gratification’) and beauty (‘gracefulness’) by way of reciprocity (‘graciousness’). [9] In Hour 21 (§§49, 63), we have already seen contexts where this word kharis combines the ideas of beauty and pleasure. And such a combination is implied also in the salutation khaire as we see it used in the Homeric Hymns. Accordingly, in the case of khaire at line 58 of this Homeric Hymn to Dionysus, we can interpret this salutation even more precisely as ‘hail and take pleasure in the beauty’.
24§14. Such a salutation, as we will now see, implies salvation. At lines 55-57 of the Hymn, we can read how the steersman who is saved at sea is addressed by the god who granted him his salvation. But then, as we have already seen at line 58, the narrator who performs the narration turns right around and addresses this saving god, Dionysus, asking him to stay mentally connected with the performance. It is as if the saving words of the saving god can now extend their saving grace or kharis to the performer as well, who prays for the god’s grace or kharis by calling out: ‘Hail and take pleasure in the beauty’. And such pleasure is already being experienced by Dionysus in the words that he addresses at lines 55-57 to the steersman whom he has just saved: as the god says to the steersman at line 55, ‘You have achieved beauty and pleasure [kharizesthai] for my heart [thūmos]’. It is as if the steersman and the performer were one and the same persona.
24§15. The beauty and the pleasure of this Homeric Hymn, as evoked at lines 58-59, radiate from ‘cosmic ordering’ of the song, as expressed by kosmeîn at line 59. Such cosmic order is made visible in the myriad details shown in the picturing of the miracles performed by Dionysus in the ship at sea: one such detail stands out, and here is how I translated it at line 41: ‘And - a thing of beauty and pleasure [kharieis] - the berry sprang forth [from the ivy]’. Earlier, at lines 35-37, the cosmic beauty of it all fuses the macrocosm of the sea and the microcosm of wine as it splashes around inside the cup of a reveler, since Dionysus at this moment has changed the entire sea into wine. So now the wine is splashing around the outside of the ship, as if it were still the wine that is splashing inside of the cup. The ‘wine-colored’ sea, as conveyed by the epithet oinops at line 7, has a good reason for looking like wine.
24§16. The salvation of the steersman by the grace of Dionysus earns him the epithet olbios at line 54 of this Hymn. We have already seen in Hours 11 and 13 that this word olbios means ‘blessed’ in the context of describing cult heroes who are granted the salvation of immortalization through the graciousness of the gods - and who can then show their own graciousness by saving the ordinary mortals who worship them. Since Dionysus, as we read at line 54 of the Hymn, ‘caused it to happen’ that the steersman ‘became the most blessed [olbios] of all men’, I interpret this divine action as the transforming of a man into a cult hero. The narrative does not say how this transformation happened, but I think that the saving of the steersman by Dionysus was imagined as the initial phase.

Achilles as saved hero and as savior hero

24§17. In the case of Achilles, there is a visible sign that shows how the god Dionysus is involved in this particular hero’s immortalization. That sign is a golden amphora, given by the god to Thetis the mother of Achilles, which contains the bones of the hero and which will save him by bringing him back to life after death. It is this salvation, I will argue, that empowers Achilles to become in turn the savior of his own people. To make my argument, I start by reviewing the story about the golden amphora given by the god Dionysus. We have already seen a direct reference to this talismanic object in the Homeric Odyssey. I quote again the relevant text, where we see the spirit of Agamemnon in Hādēs in the act of addressing the spirit of Achilles:

Hour 24 Text D (part of Hour 11 Text A)

|36 O you blessed [olbios] son of Peleus, godlike Achilles, |37 you who died at Troy far from Argos. And others, those all around you [= your corpse], |38 were being slaughtered, sons of both Trojans and Achaeans, the best, |39 as they were fighting over you [= your corpse]. There you were, lying in a swirl of dust. |40 You lay there so huge in all your hugeness, no longer thinking about your feats of charioteering. … |43 Then, when we had taken you [= your corpse] to the ships, out of the battlezone, |44 we laid you on your bed and cleansed your beautiful skin |45 with warm water and with oil. And, crying over you, many tears |46 did the Danaans [= Achaeans] shed, hot tears, and they cut their hair. |47 Your mother came, with her immortal sea nymphs, from out of the sea, |48 as soon as she heard, and the sound of a great wailing went forth over the sea, |49 a sound too wondrous for words, and all the Achaeans were overcome with trembling. … |58 Standing around you were the daughters of the Old One of the sea [= Nereus], |59 weeping piteously, and they [= the Nereids] clothed you [= the corpse of Achilles] in immortalizing [ambrota] clothes. |60 The nine Muses also came, all of them, and sang antiphonally with a beautiful voice, |61 singing their song of lament [thrēneîn]; you could not spot a single person who was not shedding tears, |62 of all the Argives [= Achaeans], so loudly did the piercing sound of lament rise up. |63 Days and nights seven and ten |64 we mourned you, we mortals and immortals alike, |65 but on the eighteenth day we gave you to the flames, and, over the fire, many |66 fat sheep and many horned oxen did we slay in sacrifice. |67 You were burning while clothed in the clothes of the gods, and with plenty of olive oil, |68 also sweet honey. And a multitude of Achaean heroes |69 were dancing in their armor around the pyre as you were burning. |70 There were footsoldiers and charioteers, and a great din arose. |71 But when the flames of Hephaistos had consumed you, |72 we gathered your white bones at dawn, O Achilles, and laid them |73 in unmixed wine and in oil. Your mother gave |74 a golden amphora to hold them - she had received it as a gift from Dionysus, |75 she said, and it was the work of the famed Hephaistos himself; |76 in this [amphora] were placed your white bones, O luminous Achilles, |77 mixed together with the bones of Patroklos who had died before you, |78 and separately from the bones of Antilokhos, whom you honored most of all |79 your other comrades [hetairoi] after Patroklos had died. |80 Over these bones a huge and faultless tomb [tumbos] |81 was built; it was a tumulus that we the sacred army of spear-fighting Argives [= Achaeans] heaped up, |82 at a headland jutting out over the open Hellespont, |83 so that it might be visible, shining forth from afar, for men at sea [pontos] |84 now living and for those that will be born hereafter.
Odyssey xxiv 36-84 [10]
24§18. At lines 73-78 here, as I noted already in Hour 11 (§12), the reference to a golden amphora containing the bones of Achilles and Patroklos is an implicit sign of the immortalization that awaits Achilles after his bones stored inside this golden vessel are regenerated into a living body by the power of the god Dionysus, who had originally given the amphora to Thetis the mother of Achilles (there is a reference to this myth in Stesichorus PMG 234). And this reference at lines 73-78 of Odyssey xxiv here is matched by another reference at lines 91-92 in Iliad XXIII, as quoted in Hour 8 Text A. In those two lines from the Iliad, the psūkhē or ‘spirit’ of Patroklos speaks about a golden amphora that will contain his own bones mixed together with the bones of Achilles. As I noted in Hour 8 (§38), this reference in the Iliad to the same golden amphora is likewise an implicit sign of the immortalization that awaits Achilles.
24§19. In the text I just quoted from Odyssey xxiv, Achilles is not only saved by being brought back to life after death. He is also a savior, as we see at lines 80-84, where the tumulus that contains his bones is pictured as a kind of lighthouse overlooking the sea and flashing a beacon light of salvation for sailors whose lives are threatened by the dangerous waters of the sea.

Achilles, hero of the Hellespont

24§20. A key to this role of Achilles as savior of sailors is the location of the tumulus that once contained the golden amphora that in turn contained his bones together with the bones of Patroklos. At line 82 in the passage I just quoted a minute ago from Odyssey xxiv in Text D, that location is described as a mountainous headland overlooking the sea of the Hellespont. As we saw in Hour 14§4, the Hellespont is a narrow stretch of sea that separates Europe from Asia Minor. And, as we saw in Hour 14§25, the tumulus of the hero Protesilaos is situated on the European coast of the Hellespont, to the northwest, while the tumulus of Achilles himself is symmetrically situated on the facing Asiatic coast, to the southeast. The ‘Hellespont’, or Hellēspontos in Greek, is mentioned by name at line 82 of Odyssey xxiv as I quoted it in Text D. In that same passage, we saw that the tumulus of Achilles is flashing a beacon light of salvation for sailors whose lives are threatened by the dangerous waters of the sea - and the word for ‘sea’ is pontos at line 83. As I have shown in an earlier project, the link between the name Hellēs-pontos for ‘Hellespont’ at line 82 and the word pontos for ‘sea’ at line 83 is most significant in the light of the etymology of pontos, which shows the following cognates in Indo-European languages other than Greek:
Indic pánthāḥ, ‘crossing’, from one given point to another: such a ‘crossing’ is both dangerous and sacralizing.
Latin pōns (genitive pontis), ‘bridge’. Most relevant is the report of Varro (De lingua latina 5.83) about a famous bridge, the Pōns Sublicius, which spans the river Tiber in Rome: the prototype of this bridge was built and ritually maintained by a prototype of the chief priest of Rome, the pontifex maximus. The Latin word ponti-fex means, etymologically, ‘the one who makes the crossing’.
Armenian hun, ‘fording’. [11]
24§21. The idea of a ‘crossing’ that is both dangerous and sacralizing is built into the name Hellēs-pontos, which means literally ‘the crossing of Hellē’, and this meaning is embedded in a myth that we see summarized in most its major details in the Library attributed to Apollodorus (1.91.1). According to this myth, there was once a boy named Phrixos and a girl named Hellē who were children of the hero Athamas and of a goddess called Nephelē, meaning ‘Cloud’; the divine mother of these children saved them from being murdered by their stepmother, named Ino, by sending to them as their helper the Ram with the Golden Fleece, who took the children on his back and flew away with them; as the ram was flying across the Hellespont, Hellē lost her grip and slipped off, plunging into the Hellespont and drowning there; and that is why the name of this dangerous body of water that Hellē was crossing is Hellēs-pontos or ‘crossing of Hellē’. [12] But Phrixos succeeds in crossing the Hellespont safely, and he escapes to the Far East, where he sacrifices the Ram with the Golden Fleece in thanksgiving for his salvation (again, Apollodorus Library 1.9.1). This salvation of Phrixos is explicitly marked by the words pontos, ‘crossing’, and sōzein, ‘save’, in a song of Pindar (Pythian 4.161): τῷ ποτ’ ἐκ πόντου σαώθη ‘by way of this [= the Golden Fleece] he [= Phrixos] was saved [saō-thē, from sōzein]’. [13]
24§22. The meaning of this name Hellēs-pontos is relevant to the role of Achilles as hero of the Hellespont. As we saw in Text D, where I quoted lines 80-84 or Odyssey xxiv, the tumulus that contains the bones of Achilles and Patroklos is pictured as a kind of lighthouse overlooking the Hellespont and flashing a beacon light of salvation for sailors whose lives are threatened by the dangerous waters of this stretch of sea. But how are we to imagine this beacon light of salvation? It would be misleading for us to think of it as the kind of modern lighthouse that New Englanders, for example, might expect to visualize. In the original Greek context, as we will now see, the beacon light is pictured as coming from a blazing fire that is lit at a herdsman’s station situated in the solitary heights of a headland overlooking the sea. Such a visualization comes to life in a vivid description of a gleam of light emanating from the Shield of Achilles as he arms himself to rejoin, at long last, the war against the Trojans:

Hour 24 Text E

|368 He [= Achilles] put it [= his armor] on, the gifts of the god, which Hephaistos had made for him with much labor. |369 First he put around his legs the shin guards, |370 beautiful ones, with silver fastenings at the ankles. |371 Next he put around his chest the breastplate, |372 and around his shoulders he slung the sword with the nails of silver, |373 a sword made of bronze. Next, the Shield [sakos], great and mighty, |374 he took on, and from it there was a gleam [selas] from afar, as from the moon, |375 or as when, from the sea [pontos], a gleam [selas] to sailors appears [phainesthai] |376 from a blazing fire, the kind that blazes high in the mountains |377 at a solitary [oiopolos] station [stathmos], as the sailors are carried unwilling by gusts of wind |378 over the fish-swarming sea [pontos], far away from their loved ones [philoi] |379 - so also did the gleam [selas] emanating from the Shield [sakos] of Achilles reach all the way up to the aether.
Iliad XIX 368-379 [14]
[[24§22+. This paragraph is not included in the printed version. I note with great interest the dazzling effect of light as reflected by bronze. A case in point is a bronze relief sculpture (the sculptor was St. Gaudens) showing the faces of soldiers of an all-black regiment marching to their death in 1863; their officer, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (a Harvard graduate) died with them; their story is told in the film Glory (1989). You can find the relief sculpture in front of the statehouse on Beacon Hill in Boston. Try to see it at the last light of the sunset of the summer solstice.]]
24§23. The gleam of light that flashes from the smooth bronze surface of the Shield of Achilles at line 374 emanates from a source that is not indicated. But this gleam is first compared to the light of the moon, at line 374, and so the initial impression is that the source of light here could be the moon at night. In other words, the initial comparison sets up a nighttime scene, even though the epic event that is being pictured is really a daytime scene. But the nighttime vision fits the poetic design here, since the next comparison maintains a picture of darkness at night. In the original Greek, at line 375, the gleam of light that flashes from the Shield is now being compared not to the light of the moon but to a light that flashes from a blazing fire that is lit at a solitary stathmos, that is, at a herdsman’s ‘station’, situated on the mountainous heights overlooking the sea. Here again the comparison sets up a nighttime scene. [15] And the light that flashes from the herdsman’s station at line 375 is pictured as visible ‘from’ the pontos or ‘sea’, that is, from the perspective of the sailors who are sailing over the dangerous waters of this sea. Similarly in Odyssey xxiv 82-84, as I quoted it in Text D, we saw that the tumulus of Achilles is situated ‘at a headland jutting out over the open Hellespont, |83 so that it might be visible, shining forth from afar, for men at sea [pontos] |84 now living and for those that will be born hereafter’. In the original Greek, what I have translated as ‘so that it [= the tumulus] might be visible, shining forth from afar for men at sea [pontos]’ can be rendered more literally as ‘so that it might be appearing radiantly from afar [tēle-phanēs] for men looking at it [= the tumulus] from the sea [pontos]. [16] The parallelism with the wording of Iliad XIX 375-377 is most striking: ‘or as when, from the sea [pontos], a gleam [selas] to sailors appears [phainesthai] |376 from a blazing fire, the kind that blazes high in the mountains |377 at a solitary [oiopolos] station [stathmos]’. [17] So, both in Iliad XIX and in Odyssey xxiv, the poetry is picturing what is seen ‘from’ the sea, that is, from the perspective of those who are at sea. [18]
24§24. A question remains: how is a herdsman’s solitary stathmos or ‘station’ as described in Iliad XIX 377 connected to the tumulus of Achilles as described in Odyssey xxiv 80-84? There is an answer to be found in the wording that describes a picture made by the divine artisan Hephaistos on the Shield of Achilles, where we see a revealing attestation of this same word stathmos in collocation with two related words:

Hour 24 Text F

|587 Next, the one with the two great arms [= Hephaistos], whose fame is supreme, made [an image of] a space for pasturing |588 in a beautiful mountainous place. It was a vast space, full of sheep with shining fleeces. |589 It [= this space for pasturing] had stathmoi, klisiai with covering on top, and sēkoi.
Iliad XVIII 587-589 [19]
24§25. In this picture of a space for pasturing, which is also the space for picturing what is in the pasture, we see three words that relate to the pastoral activities of herdsmen: stathmos, klisiā, and sēkos. In another project, I compared the etymologies of these three words with the contexts of their usage in other pastoral settings, and I found that their reconstructed meanings are interrelated: [20]
The stathmos (derived from the root *sta- meaning ‘stand up’) is a makeshift post of a herdsman’s shelter or tent.
The klisiā (derived from the root *kli- meaning ‘lie down’ or ‘lean’) is a space in the shelter where the herdsman reclines - or, alternatively, it is a ‘lean-to’ covering, which affords a makeshift shelter.
The sēkos (derived from the root *sak- meaning ‘fill [an empty space]’) is an enclosure where the herdsman’s herd is penned in.
There are further implications. By way of metonymy, the klisiā is not only an aspect of the shelter but also the entire shelter. Likewise, the stathmos is not only the post of the shelter but also the entire shelter and everything contiguous with the shelter, including the sēkos. That is how I understand that definition of the stathmos as a herdsman’s ‘station’. [21]
24§26. The pastoral word sēkos refers not only to the enclosure where a herd is penned in but also to the enclosure where a cult hero is buried and worshipped. [22] And, I argue, such sacral connotations are attached to the pastoral words klisiā and stathmos as well. All three words connote traditional images typical of cult heroes. [23]
24§27. In the Iliad, the word klisiā refers to the abode that a hero like Achilles frequents in life: his klisiā is his shelter, which marks the place where his ship is beached on the shores of the Hellespont during the Trojan War (VIII 224, XI 7, and so on). In later poetry we see a related use of stathmos (plural stathma) with reference to the places where the ships of Achaean heroes are beached on the shores of the Hellespont (“Euripides” Rhesus 43); these places are also called naustathma ‘ship stations’ (Rhesus 136, 244, 448, 582, 591, 602, 673). Among these stathma ‘stations’ lining the coast of the Hellespont is the heroic space occupied by Achilles.
24§28. According to the Iliad (VIII 220-226 and XI 5-9), the ship of Achilles is beached farthest to the west on the coastline of the Hellespont, and the station of Achilles on the coast of the Hellespont is marked by the space where his klisiā or ‘shelter’ stands at the beach (again, VIII 220-226 and XI 5-9). In the narrative topography of the Iliad, the hero’s stathmos or ‘station’ is imagined as the abode he frequents in the heroic time of the Trojan War. But it is also imagined as the abode that the hero frequents after death, in the future time of audiences listening to the story of the Trojan War. So I am arguing that the stathmos oiopolos or ‘solitary station’ of Achilles in Iliad XIX 377 can be viewed, by way of metonymy, as his tomb, situated on the heights overlooking the space where his ship had once been beached. The wording σταθμῷ ἐν οἰοπόλῳ here in Iliad XIX 377, which I translate ‘at a solitary [oiopolos] station [stathmos]’, is analogous to an expression we see in Odyssey xi 574, ἐν οἰοπόλοισιν ὄρεσσιν, ‘in the solitary [oiopola] heights of the mountains’. [24]
24§29. The stathmos or ‘station’ of Achilles can be pictured bilocally: either as a herdsman’s shelter on the beach where the ship of Achilles is beached or as a herdsman’s shelter in the heights of the headland that overlooks the beach. In the Hērōikos of Philostratus (15.12-13), as quoted in Hour 14 Text K, we saw a sacrificial symmetry that corresponds to such bilocation: whereas a black bull is sacrificed to Achilles on the heights of the headland where the hero’s tumulus is situated, a white bull is sacrificed to him on the beach. I see this bilocalism as a kind of sacral metonymy, since the very idea of a sacred space reserved for Achilles is expandable, accommodating the full range of his roles as epic hero and as cult hero. Examples can be found in the contexts that I studied in Hour 14 (§§25, 26a, 31).
24§30. By now we have seen how the Hellespont has a special meaning as a scenic setting for the solitary tomb of Achilles. This tomb, mystically inhabited by the restless spirit of that alienated hero, is a source of salvation for sailors who brave the dangerous waters of the Hellespont not only in the heroic time of epic and but also in the present time extending from that glorious past. Paradoxically, this brooding and alienated hero of the Hellespont becomes a kindly and saving helper of all Greeks in their historical present, and Homeric poetry pictures these once and future Greeks collectively as sailors lost at sea and yearning to be reunited at long last with their loved ones. Showing the way to salvation is the light that emanates from the hero’s tomb, situated in the heights overlooking the Hellespont. It is a light fueled by beacon fires burning at the tumulus of Achilles, looming over the Hellespontine shoreline where the hero’s ‘station’ gave him shelter in the glory days of the Trojan War. [25]
24§31. Not only at the Hellespont but also in other parts of the Greek-speaking world, the power of Achilles can manifest itself in the form a wind called ‘the one from the Hellespont’, the Hellēspontiēs. There is a stirring narrative about a moment in history when Achilles is thought to have intervened and saved the Greeks by unleashing the power of this wind. It happened in 480 BCE, at Cape Sepias in Magnesia, on the European coast of the Aegean Sea, when part of the fleet sent by the Persian Empire to destroy the Athenians and their allies was wrecked by a windstorm:

Hour 24 Text G

|7.188.1 The armada [of the Persians] got started and sailed on until they arrived at the beach of the land mass of Magnesia, between the polis of Kasthanaia and the headland of Sepias. The first ships to arrive were moored to the land, while the others after them were anchored offshore; since the beach was not large, they were anchored in rows that were eight ships deep, extending out into the sea [pontos]. |7.188.2 This was what was going on in the evening. At dawn, out of a clear and windless sky, a storm descended upon them and the sea began to boil. A strong east wind blew, which the people dwelling around there call the Hellēspontiēs. |7.188.3 Those who felt the wind gaining strength and were moored to the land dragged their ships up on shore ahead of the storm and so survived along with their ships. But the wind carried the ships that were stuck in the open and smashed them against the rocks called the Ovens at Pelion - or straight to the beach. Some ships were wrecked at the headland called Sēpias, while others were cast ashore at the city of Meliboia or at Kasthanaia. The power of the storm was beyond endurance. |7.189.1 ... |7.191.2 The storm lasted three days. Finally the Magi made sacrificial offerings and sang incantations to the wind. In addition, they sacrificed [thuein] to Thetis and the Nereids. Doing so, they made the wind stop on the fourth day. Or, alternatively, it stopped somehow all by itself. They [= the Persians] sacrificed to Thetis after finding out from [their allies] the Ionians the story [logos] that it was from this place that she had been abducted by Peleus, and that all the headland of Sepias belonged to her and to the other Nereids.
Herodotus 7.188.1-7.189.1, 7.191.2 [26]
24§32. The place where Peleus abducted Thetis, Cape Sepias, is named after a polymorphous invertebrate animal called the sēpiā. The Greek word is ordinarily translated into English as ‘cuttlefish’. The Greek name is most significant in the mythology surrounding Cape Sepias, since it was here that the hero Achilles was conceived by the goddess Thetis at the time of her abduction by Peleus. And, according to the myth as reported in the scholia for the Alexandra of Lycophron (175), the polymorphous goddess Thetis had just turned into a sēpiā at the very moment when she conceived Achilles. In the symbolism of the myth, this polymorphous conception is of cosmic importance, and I have spent much time and effort studying the implications in another project. [27] Here I confine myself to one detail of the myth, as we find it narrated in the exquisitely compressed lyrical wording of Pindar (Isthmian 8.31.35): if Peleus had not fathered Achilles, then Zeus himself or Poseidon would have mated with Thetis, and this divine son would have overthrown the regime of the Olympian gods. [28] Thus the demigod Achilles, if we think of the father he never had, is a hero of infinite cosmic potential. [29]

Three more glimpses of heroic salvation

24§33. In what follows, I offer a triptych of poetic images focusing on salvation either granted or received by a hero. In the first two of the three images, the hero is once again Achilles, and he is seen in the act of granting salvation. Then, in the third image, we will see Odysseus at a moment of receiving salvation - from the White Goddess herself. What all three images have in common, as we will see, is the generalized idea of Greeks as a seafaring people.
24§34. The first image comes from a moment in the Iliad when Achilles has not yet received the armor that he will wear for his renewed war with the Trojans. But the divine messenger Iris tells him to signal to his Achaean comrades that he will be rejoining them. As Achilles now stands up, he experiences a burst of fire emanating from his head:

Hour 24 Text H

|203 As for Achilles, dear to Zeus, he stood up, and Athena |204 flung over his mighty shoulders her tasseled aegis. |205 And around his head a cloud was garlanded by this goddess of goddesses whose radiance comes from the sky. |206 The cloud was golden, and from it she ignited a blazing burst of fire. |207 Just as the smoke that goes up into the aether from some city |208 on some island - and the smoke is visible from afar - as the enemy are surrounding the city and fighting to capture it, |209 while the people [inside the city] are engaged in a life-and-death struggle all day long in the hateful war of Arēs, |210 and they are fighting back, bursting out from inside their city, but then, as the sun is going down, countless beacon fires blaze forth, and the light that comes from the fires shoots high up into the sky |212 for those to see who dwell [in other places] near the island, |213 in hopes that somehow they will come with their ships and become saviors [alk-tēres], saving the people from destruction |214 - so also did the gleam [selas] emanating from the head of Achilles reach all the way up to the aether.
Iliad XVIII 203-214 [30]
24§35. The people in the unnamed city of this unnamed island are hoping that the burst of light emanating from their burning beacon fires will be a signal to their allies across the sea, who will then sail over on their ships and become alk-tēres or ‘saviors’ (alk-tēr is a synonym of sō-tēr, ‘savior’). Compared to these fires signaling the hope of salvation for the anonymous islanders is the fire that bursts forth from the hero’s head at line 206, producing an explosion of light or selas, ‘gleam’, which reaches all the way up to the aether. This gleam anticipates the gleam that will emanate from the Shield of Achilles, signaling salvation for his people. I review here the wording:

Hour 24 Text I (part of Text E)

Next, the Shield [sakos], great and mighty, |374 he [= Achilles] took on, and from it there was a gleam [selas] from afar, as from the moon, |375 or as when, from the sea [pontos], a gleam [selas] to sailors appears [phainesthai] |376 from a blazing fire, the kind that blazes high in the mountains |377 at a solitary [oiopolos] station [stathmos], as the sailors are carried unwilling by gusts of wind |378 over the fish-swarming sea [pontos], far away from their loved ones [philoi] |379 - so also did the gleam [selas] emanating from the Shield [sakos] of Achilles reach all the way up to the aether.
Iliad XIX 373-379 [31]
24§36. The second image in my triptych of three glimpses of heroic salvation comes from a song of Pindar, dated to 446 BCE, which celebrates the glorious past of the people who inhabited the island state of Aegina. The song expresses a fond hope of salvation for these islanders, who are dramatized as singing and dancing their hope in the form of a choral prayer:

Hour 24 Text J

|95 Creatures of a day. What is a someone, what is a no one? Α dream of a shade |96 is man. But when the radiance [aiglē] that is given by Zeus comes, |97 then there is a light shining over men, and the recircling of time [aiōn] is sweet to the taste. |98 Aegina! Mother near and dear [philē]! Make a [naval] mission [stolos] of freedom |99 for this polis [= the island state of Aegina] as you bring it back to safety [komizein], back to Zeus! May it happen with the help of Aiakos the Ruler. |100 And of Peleus. And of noble Telamon. And especially of Achilles.
Pindar Pythian 8.98-100 [32]
24§37. The land of this island, named after the local goddess Aegina, is invoked here as the Mother Earth of the island’s population. As I have argued at length in another project, this reverent invocation of Mother Aegina is a pointed reference to the glorious past of the island state, likewise called Aegina, as a major maritime power in the Mediterranean world. [33] In a gesture of sacred nostalgia, the people of Aegina are represented here as praying to their mother goddess to send for them ‘a [naval] mission of freedom’, an eleutheros stolos (line 98), which is to be activated by the superhuman help of the prototypical native son of Aegina, the hero Aiakos (line 99), and of his heroic descendants, namely Peleus, Telamon, and ‘especially’ Achilles (line 100).
24§38. The aiglē or ‘radiance’ of Zeus in line 96 of this song is imagined as the power of song to visualize this radiance. And the light that comes from Zeus is envisioned as a clear sky that follows a spell of fearsome darkness for sailors beset by a storm at sea. [34] Such a salvation from darkness and death is expressed by the use of the word aiglē, ‘radiance’, in line 140 of Ode 13 of Bacchylides, which signals the cessation of violent winds and the ultimate salvation of the Achaeans. [35]
24§39. As I already argued in Hour 10§23, the identity or non-identity of a hero matches the presence or absence of light: in the words of Pindar at lines 95-97 of this song, the difference between being tis ‘someone’ and being ou tis ‘no one’ becomes visible when a burst of light and life coming from Zeus himself illuminates the void of darkness and death. [36]
24§40. The word komizein at line 99 of this song, which I translate as ‘bring back to safety’, can be interpreted in the mystical sense of ‘bring back to light and life’, parallel to the mystical sense of the noun nostos, ‘return to light and life’. [37] This meaning connects with the meaning of aiōn at line 97 in the sense of an eternally recycling and luminous ‘life-force’. As we saw in Hour 14§34 (also in Hour 18§44), the adverb aiei, ‘forever’, is the old locative singular of the noun aiōn in the sense of a ‘life’ or a ‘life-force’ that keeps coming back to life by way of a ‘recircling of time’, and this locative aiei means literally ‘in a recircling of time’, signaling an eternal return. [38]
24§41. I come now to the third image in my triptych of three glimpses of heroic salvation. In this image, the hero is Odysseus, and we see him being saved by the White Goddess, known as Ino before her death and immortalization. We join the action at a moment when Odysseus is about to drown, but the White Goddess sees him:

Hour 24 Text K

|333 He [= Odysseus] was seen by the daughter of Cadmus. She is Ino, with the beautiful ankles, |334 and she is also called the White Goddess [Leukotheā], but she had been a mortal before that, endowed with a special voice [audē]. |335 But now, in the depths, she had a share in the honor [tīmē] that belongs to gods. |336 She took pity on Odysseus, lost at sea and suffering pains [algea]. |337 Appearing as a winged diving bird [aithuia], she emerged from the waters |338 and perched on the raft, addressing him with this set of words [mūthos]: |339 “Unfortunate man, why on earth is Poseidon the earth-shaker |340 so terribly hateful toward you, creating so many bad experiences for you? |341 But I now see that he will not destroy you, much as he wants to. |342 Do as I tell you, and I think you will not miss in your mind what I tell you: |343 get out of these clothes of yours and let your raft be carried off by the winds. |344 Just let it go. Then start paddling with your hands and strive for your homecoming [nostos] |345 by heading for the land of the Phaeacians, where your destiny [moira] for escape awaits you. |346 Here, take my veil [krēdemnon] and wrap it around your chest. |347 It is a veil that is immortalizing [ambroton], and there is nothing to be afraid of: you will not suffer anything or be destroyed. |348 But as soon as you touch land with your hands, |349 at that moment take off the veil and throw it into the wine-colored sea [pontos]. |350 Throw it as far back as you can into the sea, while you turn in the other direction.” |351 Speaking these words, the goddess took off her veil [krēdemnon] and gave it him. |352 Then she plunged down again into the seething sea [pontos], |353 looking like the diving bird [aithuia], and vanished beneath the dark waves.
Odyssey v 333-353 [39]
24§42. As we saw in Hour 18§43, the female hero named Ino leapt into the sea from the top of a shining white rock - and then came back to life. According to one of the local versions of this myth, recorded by Pausanias (1.44.7-9), Ino made her leap from the rocky heights of Megara, plunging into the dark watery depths below and drowning in the sea - only to come back to life thereafter as the Leukotheā or ‘White Goddess’. The Homeric version of the myth, as reflected in the passage I just quoted, corresponds in most details to this local myth. [40] Also, in the poetry of Pindar (Olympian 2.29), the immortal afterlife of Ino is described as a biotos ‘life’ that is aphthitos, ‘unwilting’. [41]
24§43. As the White Goddess tells Odysseus at line 344 of the text I just quoted from Odyssey v, she is helping the hero achieve his ultimate nostos, which is not only a safe homecoming but also, as we have seen many times in this book, a return to light and life. Just as Ino drowned, Odysseus was about to drown, and so the White Goddess appears to the hero as a model of salvation. But the hero must achieve this salvation in his own way, and that way is his own personalized nostos, achieved by living through the entire plot of the Homeric Odyssey.

The living word of Plato’s Socrates

24§44. In all three examples of heroic salvation that I have just analyzed, the experience of being saved has been connected in one way or another with the sea. [42] Here I return once again to the metaphor of salvation that pervades Plato’s Phaedo, noting that there is a connection here again with the sea. As we saw in Hour 23, the idea of theōriā as a sacred voyage of the Ship of State is synchronized with the idea of theōriā as philosophical contemplation, which is meant to continue as the living word of the dialogue that is dramatized in the Phaedo. And there is hope that such dialogue will continue and thus be saved even after the death of Socrates, just as the myth of Er is saved at the end of Plato’s Republic.
24§45. But this hope seems to be in doubt as the death of Socrates draws near. His followers show their doubt by weeping uncontrollably before he dies:

Hour 24 Text L

“Go,” said he [= Socrates], “and do as I say.” Crito, when he heard this, signaled with a nod to the boy servant who was standing nearby, and the servant went in, remaining for some time, and then came out with the man who was going to administer the poison [pharmakon]. He was carrying a cup that contained it, ground into the drink. When Socrates saw the man he said: “You, my good man, since you are experienced in these matters, should tell me what needs to be done.” The man answered: “You need to drink it, that’s all. Then walk around until you feel a heaviness |117b in your legs. Then lie down. This way, the poison will do its thing.” While the man was saying this, he handed the cup to Socrates. And Socrates took it in a cheerful way, not flinching or getting pale or grimacing. Then looking at the man from beneath his brows, like a bull - that was the way he used to look at people - he said: “What do you say about my pouring a libation out of this cup to someone? Is it allowed or not?” The man answered: “What we grind is measured out, Socrates, as the right dose for drinking.” “I understand,” he said, |117c “but surely it is allowed and even proper to pray to the gods so that my transfer of dwelling [met-oikēsis] from this world [enthende] to that world [ekeîse] should be fortunate. So that is what I too am now praying for. Let it be this way.” And, while he was saying this, he took the cup to his lips and, quite readily and cheerfully, he drank down the whole dose. Up to this point, most of us had been able to control fairly well our urge to let our tears flow; but now when we saw him drinking the poison, and then saw him finish the drink, we could no longer hold back, and, in my case, quite against my own will, my own tears were now pouring out in a flood. So I covered my face and had a good cry. You see, I was not crying for him, |117d but at the thought of my own bad fortune in having lost such a comrade [hetairos]. Crito, even before me, found himself unable to hold back his tears: so he got up and moved away. And Apollodorus, who had been weeping all along, now started to cry in a loud voice, expressing his frustration. So he made everyone else break down and cry - except for Socrates himself. And he said: “What are you all doing? I am so surprised at you. I had sent away the women mainly because I did not want them |117e to lose control in this way. You see, I have heard that a man should come to his end [teleutân] in a way that calls for measured speaking [euphēmeîn]. So you must have composure [hēsukhiā], and you must endure.” When we heard that, we were ashamed, and held back our tears. He meanwhile was walking around until, as he said, his legs began to get heavy, and then he lay on his back - that is what the man had told him to do. Then that same man who had given him the poison [pharmakon] took hold of him, now and then checking on his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel it; and he said that he couldn’t; and then he pressed his shins, |118a and so on, moving further up, thus demonstrating for us that he was cold and stiff. Then he [= Socrates] took hold of his own feet and legs, saying that when the poison reaches his heart, then he will be gone. He was beginning to get cold around the abdomen. Then he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said - this was the last thing he uttered - “Crito, I owe the sacrifice of a rooster to Asklepios; will you pay that debt and not neglect to do so?” “I will make it so,” said Crito, “and, tell me, is there anything else?” When Crito asked this question, no answer came back any more from Socrates. In a short while, he stirred. Then the man uncovered his face. His eyes were set in a dead stare. Seeing this, Crito closed his mouth and his eyes. Such was the end [teleutē], Echecrates, of our comrade [hetairos]. And we may say about him that he was in his time the best [aristos] of all men we ever encountered - and the most intelligent [phronimos] and most just [dikaios].
Plato Phaedo 117a-118a [43]
24§46. At the end of the Phaedo, Socrates says: sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios. As we saw in Hour 20 (§§29-33), this hero was the son of Apollo, and he had special powers of healing. Asklepios also had the power of bringing the dead back to life. Some interpret the final instruction of Socrates to mean simply that death is a cure for life. I disagree. After sacrificing a rooster at day’s end, sacrificers will sleep the sleep of incubation and then, the morning after the sacrifice, they will wake up to hear other roosters crowing. [44] So Asklepios is the model for keeping the voice of the rooster alive. And, for Socrates, Asklepios can become the model for keeping the word alive.
24§47. That living word is dialogue. We saw it when Socrates says that the only thing worth crying about is the death of the word. Calling out to Phaedo, Socrates tells him:

Hour 24 Text M (part of Hour 23 Text N)

“Tomorrow, Phaedo, you will perhaps be cutting off these beautiful locks of yours?” “Yes, Socrates,” I [= Phaedo] replied, “I guess I will.” He shot back: no you will not, if you listen to me.” “So what will I do?” I said. He replied: “Not tomorrow but today I will cut off my own hair and you too will cut off these locks of yours - if our argument [logos] comes to an end [teleutân] for us and we cannot bring it back to life again [ana-biōsasthai].
Plato Phaedo 89b [45]
24§48. What matters for Socrates is the resurrection of the word, even if death may be the necessary pharmakon or ‘poison’ for leaving the everyday life and for entering the everlasting cycle of resurrecting the word.
24§49. Something comparable can be said about the ancient Greek hero. So long as the idea of the hero is alive, the word about the hero will be a living word. And if the word is alive, the hero will live on.


[ back ] 1. Τοῦτ’ ἔστι τὸ πλοῖον, ὥς φασιν Ἀθηναῖοι, ἐν ᾧ Θησεύς ποτε εἰς Κρήτην τοὺς “δὶς ἑπτὰ” ἐκείνους ᾤχετο |58b ἄγων καὶ ἔσωσέ τε καὶ αὐτὸς ἐσώθη. τῷ οὖν Ἀπόλλωνι ηὔξαντο ὡς λέγεται τότε, εἰ σωθεῖεν, ἑκάστου ἔτους θεωρίαν ἀπάξειν εἰς Δῆλον· ἣν δὴ ἀεὶ καὶ νῦν ἔτι ἐξ ἐκείνου κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν τῷ θεῷ πέμπουσιν. ἐπειδὰν οὖν ἄρξωνται τῆς θεωρίας, νόμος ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς ἐν τῷ χρόνῳ τούτῳ καθαρεύειν τὴν πόλιν καὶ δημοσίᾳ μηδένα ἀποκτεινύναι, πρὶν ἂν εἰς Δῆλόν τε ἀφίκηται τὸ πλοῖον καὶ πάλιν δεῦρο· τοῦτο δ’ ἐνίοτε ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ γίγνεται, ὅταν τύχωσιν ἄνεμοι |58c ἀπολαβόντες αὐτούς. ἀρχὴ δ’ ἐστὶ τῆς θεωρίας ἐπειδὰν ὁ ἱερεὺς τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος στέψῃ τὴν πρύμναν τοῦ πλοίου· τοῦτο δ’ ἔτυχεν, ὥσπερ λέγω, τῇ προτεραίᾳ τῆς δίκης γεγονός. διὰ ταῦτα καὶ πολὺς χρόνος ἐγένετο τῷ Σωκράτει ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ ὁ μεταξὺ τῆς δίκης τε καὶ τοῦ θανάτου.
[ back ] 2. HQ 119-125, 127-133, 152.
[ back ] 3. Nagy 2002b.
[ back ] 4. Καὶ οὕτως, ὦ Γλαύκων, μῦθος ἐσώθη καὶ οὐκ ἀπώλετο, |621c καὶ ἡμᾶς ἂν σώσειεν, ἂν πειθώμεθα αὐτῷ.
[ back ] 5. Chantraine DELG s.v. σώζω.
[ back ] 6. My interpretation of this uniquely attested word hekatōr as ‘reached by a force that works from far away’ is based on attestations of hekatos and related forms as studied by Chantraine DELG s.v. ἑκατηβόλος.
[ back ] 7. |1 Ἀμφὶ Διώνυσον Σεμέλης ἐρικυδέος υἱὸν |2 μνήσομαι, ὡς ἐφάνη παρὰ θῖν’ ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο |3 ἀκτῇ ἐπὶ προβλῆτι νεηνίῃ ἀνδρὶ ἐοικὼς |4 πρωθήβῃ· καλαὶ δὲ περισσείοντο ἔθειραι |5 κυάνεαι, φᾶρος δὲ περὶ στιβαροῖς ἔχεν ὤμοις |6 πορφύρεον· τάχα δ’ ἄνδρες ἐϋσσέλμου ἀπὸ νηὸς |7 ληϊσταὶ προγένοντο θοῶς ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον |8 Τυρσηνοί· τοὺς δ’ ἦγε κακὸς μόρος· οἱ δὲ ἰδόντες |9 νεῦσαν ἐς ἀλλήλους, τάχα δ’ ἔκθορον, αἶψα δ’ ἑλόντες |10 εἷσαν ἐπὶ σφετέρης νηὸς κεχαρημένοι ἦτορ. |11 υἱὸν γάρ μιν ἔφαντο διοτρεφέων βασιλήων |12 εἶναι, καὶ δεσμοῖς ἔθελον δεῖν ἀργαλέοισι. |13 τὸν δ’ οὐκ ἴσχανε δεσμά, λύγοι δ’ ἀπὸ τηλόσ’ ἔπιπτον |14 χειρῶν ἠδὲ ποδῶν· ὁ δὲ μειδιάων ἐκάθητο |15 ὄμμασι κυανέοισι, κυβερνήτης δὲ νοήσας |16 αὐτίκα οἷς ἑτάροισιν ἐκέκλετο φώνησέν τε· |17 Δαιμόνιοι τίνα τόνδε θεὸν δεσμεύεθ’ ἑλόντες |18 καρτερόν; οὐδὲ φέρειν δύναταί μιν νηῦς εὐεργής. |19 ἢ γὰρ Ζεὺς ὅδε γ’ ἐστὶν ἢ ἀργυρότοξος Ἀπόλλων |20 ἠὲ Ποσειδάων· ἐπεὶ οὐ θνητοῖσι βροτοῖσιν |21 εἴκελος, ἀλλὰ θεοῖς οἳ Ὀλύμπια δώματ’ ἔχουσιν. |22 ἀλλ’ ἄγετ’ αὐτὸν ἀφῶμεν ἐπ’ ἠπείροιο μελαίνης |23 αὐτίκα, μηδ’ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἰάλλετε μή τι χολωθεὶς |24 ὄρσῃ ἀργαλέους τ’ ἀνέμους καὶ λαίλαπα πολλήν. |25 Ὣς φάτο· τὸν δ’ ἀρχὸς στυγερῷ ἠνίπαπε μύθῳ· |26 δαιμόνι’ οὖρον ὅρα, ἅμα δ’ ἱστίον ἕλκεο νηὸς |27 σύμπανθ’ ὅπλα λαβών· ὅδε δ’ αὖτ’ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει. |28 ἔλπομαι ἢ Αἴγυπτον ἀφίξεται ἢ ὅ γε Κύπρον |29 ἢ ἐς Ὑπερβορέους ἢ ἑκαστέρω· ἐς δὲ τελευτὴν |30 ἔκ ποτ’ ἐρεῖ αὐτοῦ τε φίλους καὶ κτήματα πάντα |31 οὕς τε κασιγνήτους, ἐπεὶ ἡμῖν ἔμβαλε δαίμων. |32 Ὣς εἰπὼν ἱστόν τε καὶ ἱστίον ἕλκετο νηός. |33 ἔμπνευσεν δ’ ἄνεμος μέσον ἱστίον, ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ ὅπλα |34 καττάνυσαν· τάχα δέ σφιν ἐφαίνετο θαυματὰ ἔργα. |35 οἶνος μὲν πρώτιστα θοὴν ἀνὰ νῆα μέλαιναν |36 ἡδύποτος κελάρυζ’ εὐώδης, ὤρνυτο δ’ ὀδμὴ |37 ἀμβροσίη· ναύτας δὲ τάφος λάβε πάντας ἰδόντας. |38 αὐτίκα δ’ ἀκρότατον παρὰ ἱστίον ἐξετανύσθη |39 ἄμπελος ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα, κατεκρημνῶντο δὲ πολλοὶ |40 βότρυες· ἀμφ’ ἱστὸν δὲ μέλας εἱλίσσετο κισσὸς |41 ἄνθεσι τηλεθάων, χαρίεις δ’ ἐπὶ καρπὸς ὀρώρει· |42 πάντες δὲ σκαλμοὶ στεφάνους ἔχον· οἱ δὲ ἰδόντες |43 νῆ’ ἤδη τότ’ ἔπειτα κυβερνήτην ἐκέλευον |44 γῇ πελάαν· ὁ δ’ ἄρα σφι λέων γένετ’ ἔνδοθι νηὸς |45 δεινὸς ἐπ’ ἀκροτάτης, μέγα δ’ ἔβραχεν, ἐν δ’ ἄρα μέσσῃ |46 ἄρκτον ἐποίησεν λασιαύχενα σήματα φαίνων· |47 ἂν δ’ ἔστη μεμαυῖα, λέων δ’ ἐπὶ σέλματος ἄκρου |48 δεινὸν ὑπόδρα ἰδών· οἱ δ’ εἰς πρύμνην ἐφόβηθεν, |49 ἀμφὶ κυβερνήτην δὲ σαόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχοντα |50 ἔσταν ἄρ’ ἐκπληγέντες· ὁ δ’ ἐξαπίνης ἐπορούσας |51 ἀρχὸν ἕλ’, οἱ δὲ θύραζε κακὸν μόρον ἐξαλύοντες |52 πάντες ὁμῶς πήδησαν ἐπεὶ ἴδον εἰς ἅλα δῖαν, |53 δελφῖνες δ’ ἐγένοντο· κυβερνήτην δ’ ἐλεήσας |54 ἔσχεθε καί μιν ἔθηκε πανόλβιον εἶπέ τε μῦθον· |55 Θάρσει δῖ’ ἑκάτωρ τῷ ἐμῷ κεχαρισμένε θυμῷ· |56 εἰμὶ δ’ ἐγὼ Διόνυσος ἐρίβρομος ὃν τέκε μήτηρ |57 Καδμηῒς Σεμέλη Διὸς ἐν φιλότητι μιγεῖσα. |58 Χαῖρε τέκος Σεμέλης εὐώπιδος· οὐδέ πῃ ἔστι |59 σεῖό γε ληθόμενον γλυκερὴν κοσμῆσαι ἀοιδήν.
[ back ] 8. HC 200 = 2§27.
[ back ] 9. HC 11, 203-204 = P§35, 2§33.
[ back ] 10. |36 ὄλβιε Πηλέος υἱέ, θεοῖσ’ ἐπιείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |37 ὃς θάνες ἐν Τροίῃ ἑκὰς Ἄργεος· ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἄλλοι |38 κτείνοντο Τρώων καὶ Ἀχαιῶν υἷες ἄριστοι, |39 μαρνάμενοι περὶ σεῖο· σὺ δ’ ἐν στροφάλιγγι κονίης |40 κεῖσο μέγας μεγαλωστί, λελασμένος ἱπποσυνάων. … |43 αὐτὰρ ἐπεί σ’ ἐπὶ νῆας ἐνείκαμεν ἐκ πολέμοιο, |44 κάτθεμεν ἐν λεχέεσσι, καθήραντες χρόα καλὸν |45 ὕδατί τε λιαρῷ καὶ ἀλείφατι· πολλὰ δέ σ’ ἀμφὶ |46 δάκρυα θερμὰ χέον Δαναοὶ κείροντό τε χαίτας. |47 μήτηρ δ’ ἐξ ἁλὸς ἦλθε σὺν ἀθανάτῃσ’ ἁλίῃσιν |48 ἀγγελίης ἀΐουσα· βοὴ δ’ ἐπὶ πόντον ὀρώρει |49 θεσπεσίη, ὑπὸ δὲ τρόμος ἤλυθε πάντας Ἀχαιούς. … |58 ἀμφὶ δέ σ’ ἔστησαν κοῦραι ἁλίοιο γέροντος |59 οἴκτρ’ ὀλοφυρόμεναι, περὶ δ’ ἄμβροτα εἵματα ἕσσαν. |60 Μοῦσαι δ’ ἐννέα πᾶσαι ἀμειβόμεναι ὀπὶ καλῇ |61 θρήνεον· ἔνθα κεν οὔ τιν’ ἀδάκρυτόν γ’ ἐνόησας |62 Ἀργείων· τοῖον γὰρ ὑπώρορε Μοῦσα λίγεια. |63 ἑπτὰ δὲ καὶ δέκα μέν σε ὁμῶς νύκτας τε καὶ ἦμαρ |64 κλαίομεν ἀθάνατοί τε θεοὶ θνητοί τ’ ἄνθρωποι· |65 ὀκτωκαιδεκάτῃ δ’ ἔδομεν πυρί· πολλὰ δ’ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ |66 μῆλα κατεκτάνομεν μάλα πίονα καὶ ἕλικας βοῦς. |67 καίεο δ’ ἔν τ’ ἐσθῆτι θεῶν καὶ ἀλείφατι πολλῷ |68 καὶ μέλιτι γλυκερῷ· πολλοὶ δ’ ἥρωες Ἀχαιοὶ |69 τεύχεσιν ἐρρώσαντο πυρὴν πέρι καιομένοιο, |70 πεζοί θ’ ἱππῆές τε· πολὺς δ’ ὀρυμαγδὸς ὀρώρει. |71 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δή σε φλὸξ ἤνυσεν Ἡφαίστοιο, |72 ἠῶθεν δή τοι λέγομεν λεύκ’ ὀστέ’, Ἀχιλλεῦ, |73 οἴνῳ ἐν ἀκρήτῳ καὶ ἀλείφατι. δῶκε δὲ μήτηρ |74 χρύσεον ἀμφιφορῆα· Διωνύσοιο δὲ δῶρον |75 φάσκ’ ἔμεναι, ἔργον δὲ περικλυτοῦ Ἡφαίστοιο. |76 ἐν τῷ τοι κεῖται λεύκ’ ὀστέα, φαίδιμ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ, |77 μίγδα δὲ Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο θανόντος, |78 χωρὶς δ’ Ἀντιλόχοιο, τὸν ἔξοχα τῖες ἁπάντων |79 τῶν ἄλλων ἑτάρων μετὰ Πάτροκλόν γε θανόντα. |80 ἀμφ’ αὐτοῖσι δ’ ἔπειτα μέγαν καὶ ἀμύμονα τύμβον |81 χεύαμεν Ἀργείων ἱερὸς στρατὸς αἰχμητάων |82 ἀκτῇ ἔπι προὐχούσῃ, ἐπὶ πλατεῖ Ἑλλησπόντῳ, |83 ὥς κεν τηλεφανὴς ἐκ ποντόφιν ἀνδράσιν εἴη |84 τοῖσ’, οἳ νῦν γεγάασι καὶ οἳ μετόπισθεν ἔσονται.
[ back ] 11. Benveniste 1966 [1954] 296-298; BA 339 = 20§21. For more on the Pōns Sublicius and the pontifex maximus, see Hallett 1970.
[ back ] 12. Benveniste 1966 [1954] 298; BA 339 = 20§21.
[ back ] 13. BA 339-340 = 20§21.
[ back ] 14. |368 δύσετο δῶρα θεοῦ, τά οἱ Ἥφαιστος κάμε τεύχων. |369 κνημῖδας μὲν πρῶτα περὶ κνήμῃσιν ἔθηκε |370 καλὰς ἀργυρέοισιν ἐπισφυρίοις ἀραρυίας· |371 δεύτερον αὖ θώρηκα περὶ στήθεσσιν ἔδυνεν. |372 ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ ὤμοισιν βάλετο ξίφος ἀργυρόηλον |373 χάλκεον· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα σάκος μέγα τε στιβαρόν τε |374 εἵλετο, τοῦ δ’ ἀπάνευθε σέλας γένετ’ ἠΰτε μήνης. |375 ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἂν ἐκ πόντοιο σέλας ναύτῃσι φανήῃ |376 καιομένοιο πυρός, τό τε καίεται ὑψόθ’ ὄρεσφι |377 σταθμῷ ἐν οἰοπόλῳ· τοὺς δ’ οὐκ ἐθέλοντας ἄελλαι |378 πόντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα φίλων ἀπάνευθε φέρουσιν· |379 ὣς ἀπ’ Ἀχιλλῆος σάκεος σέλας αἰθέρ’ ἵκανε.
[ back ] 15. There is a fuller analysis of these poetic images in BA 338-339 = 20§20. As I say already there at the end of the paragraph, “Achilles is emerging as savior of the Achaeans.”
[ back ] 16. ὥς κεν τηλεφανὴς ἐκ ποντόφιν ἀνδράσιν εἴη.
[ back ] 17. ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἂν ἐκ πόντοιο σέλας ναύτῃσι φανήῃ |376 καιομένοιο πυρός, τό τε καίεται ὑψόθ’ ὄρεσφι |377 σταθμῷ ἐν οἰοπόλῳ.
[ back ] 18. HPC 150-151 = II§50n11 and II§54n14.
[ back ] 19. |587 ἐν δὲ νομὸν ποίησε περικλυτὸς ἀμφιγυήεις |588 ἐν καλῇ βήσσῃ μέγαν οἰῶν ἀργεννάων, |589 σταθμούς τε κλισίας τε κατηρεφέας ἰδὲ σηκούς.
[ back ] 20. HPC 152 = II§56.
[ back ] 21. Again, HPC 152 = II§56.
[ back ] 22. There is a short survey of epigraphical and literary contexts by Chantraine DELG s.v. σηκός.
[ back ] 23. This paragraph and the two paragraphs that follow are derived from HPC 153 = II§§57-59.
[ back ] 24. HPC 151 = II§54n15.
[ back ] 25. This paragraph can be supplemented by a fuller analysis in BA 338-339 = 20§20.
[ back ] 26. |7.188.1 Ὁ δὲ δὴ ναυτικὸς στρατὸς ἐπείτε ὁρμηθεὶς ἔπλεε καὶ κατέσχε τῆς Μαγνησίης χώρης ἐς τὸν αἰγιαλὸν τὸν μεταξὺ Κασθαναίης τε πόλιος ἐόντα καὶ Σηπιάδος ἀκτῆς, αἱ μὲν δὴ πρῶται τῶν νεῶν ὅρμεον πρὸς γῇ, ἄλλαι δ’ ἐπ’ ἐκείνῃσι ἐπ’ ἀγκυρέων· ἅτε γὰρ τοῦ αἰγιαλοῦ ἐόντος οὐ μεγάλου πρόκροσσαι ὅρμεον τὸ ἐς πόντον καὶ ἐπὶ ὀκτὼ νέας. |7.188.2 Ταύτην μὲν τὴν εὐφρόνην οὕτω. Ἅμα δὲ ὄρθρῳ ἐξ αἰθρίης τε καὶ νηνεμίης, τῆς θαλάσσης ζεσάσης, ἐπέπεσέ σφι χειμών τε μέγας καὶ πολλὸς ἄνεμος ἀπηλιώτης, τὸν δὴ Ἑλλησποντίην καλέουσι οἱ περὶ ταῦτα τὰ χωρία οἰκημένοι. |7.188.3 Ὅσοι μέν νυν αὐτῶν αὐξόμενον ἔμαθον τὸν ἄνεμον καὶ τοῖσι οὕτω εἶχε ὅρμου, οἱ δ’ ἔφθησαν τὸν χειμῶνα ἀνασπάσαντες τὰς νέας· καὶ αὐτοί τε περιῆσαν καὶ αἱ νέες αὐτῶν. Ὅσας δὲ τῶν νεῶν μεταρσίας ἔλαβε, τὰς μὲν ἐξέφερε πρὸς Ἴπνους καλεομένους τοὺς ἐν Πηλίῳ, τὰς δὲ ἐς τὸν αἰγιαλόν· αἱ δὲ περὶ αὐτὴν τὴν Σηπιάδα περιέπιπτον, αἱ δὲ ἐς Μελίβοιαν πόλιν, αἱ δὲ ἐς Κασθαναίην ἐξεβράσσοντο. Ἦν τε τοῦ χειμῶνος χρῆμα ἀφόρητον. |7.189.1 ... |7.191.2 Ἡμέρας γὰρ δὴ ἐχείμαζε τρεῖς· τέλος δὲ ἔντομά τε ποιεῦντες καὶ καταείδοντες βοῇσι οἱ μάγοι τῷ ἀνέμῳ, πρὸς δὲ τούτοισι καὶ τῇ Θέτι καὶ τῇσι Νηρηίσι θύοντες ἔπαυσαν τετάρτῃ ἡμέρῃ, ἢ ἄλλως κως αὑτὸς ἐθέλων ἐκόπασε. Τῇ δὲ Θέτι ἔθυον πυθόμενοι παρὰ τῶν Ἰώνων τὸν λόγον ὡς ἐκ τοῦ χώρου τούτου ἁρπασθείη ὑπὸ Πηλέος, εἴη τε ἅπασα ἡ ἀκτὴ ἡ Σηπιὰς ἐκείνης τε καὶ τῶν ἀλλέων Νηρηίδων.
[ back ] 27. The essentials of the symbolism surrounding the polymorphous conception of the hero Achilles are presented in BA 345-347 = 20§§27-29.
[ back ] 28. BA 346 = 20§28. See also Slatkin 2011, who gives a luminously comprehensive reading of the poetic traditions centering on the goddess Thetis.
[ back ] 29. BA 345-347 = 20§§27-29.
[ back ] 30. |203 αὐτὰρ Ἀχιλλεὺς ὦρτο Διῒ φίλος· ἀμφὶ δ’ Ἀθήνη |204 ὤμοις ἰφθίμοισι βάλ’ αἰγίδα θυσσανόεσσαν, |205 ἀμφὶ δέ οἱ κεφαλῇ νέφος ἔστεφε δῖα θεάων |206 χρύσεον, ἐκ δ’ αὐτοῦ δαῖε φλόγα παμφανόωσαν. |207 ὡς δ’ ὅτε καπνὸς ἰὼν ἐξ ἄστεος αἰθέρ’ ἵκηται |208 τηλόθεν ἐκ νήσου, τὴν δήϊοι ἀμφιμάχωνται, |209 οἵ τε πανημέριοι στυγερῷ κρίνονται Ἄρηϊ |210 ἄστεος ἐκ σφετέρου· ἅμα δ’ ἠελίῳ καταδύντι |211 πυρσοί τε φλεγέθουσιν ἐπήτριμοι, ὑψόσε δ’ αὐγὴ |212 γίγνεται ἀΐσσουσα περικτιόνεσσιν ἰδέσθαι, |213 αἴ κέν πως σὺν νηυσὶν ἄρεω ἀλκτῆρες ἵκωνται· |214 ὣς ἀπ’ Ἀχιλλῆος κεφαλῆς σέλας αἰθέρ’ ἵκανε.
[ back ] 31. αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα σάκος μέγα τε στιβαρόν τε |374 εἵλετο, τοῦ δ’ ἀπάνευθε σέλας γένετ’ ἠΰτε μήνης. |375 ὡς δ’ ὅτ’ ἂν ἐκ πόντοιο σέλας ναύτῃσι φανήῃ |376 καιομένοιο πυρός, τό τε καίεται ὑψόθ’ ὄρεσφι |377 σταθμῷ ἐν οἰοπόλῳ· τοὺς δ’ οὐκ ἐθέλοντας ἄελλαι |378 πόντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα φίλων ἀπάνευθε φέρουσιν· |379 ὣς ἀπ’ Ἀχιλλῆος σάκεος σέλας αἰθέρ’ ἵκανε.
[ back ] 32. |95 ἐπάμεροι· τί δέ τις; τί δ’ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ |96 ἄνθρωπος. ἀλλ’ ὅταν αἴγλα διόσδοτος ἔλθῃ, |97 λαμπρὸν φέγγος ἔπεστιν ἀνδρῶν καὶ μείλιχος αἰών. |98 Αἴγινα φίλα μᾶτερ, ἐλευθέρῳ στόλῳ |99 πόλιν τάνδε κόμιζε Δὶ καὶ κρέοντι σὺν Αἰακῷ |100 Πηλεῖ τε κἀγαθῷ Τελαμῶνι σύν τ’ Ἀχιλλεῖ.
[ back ] 33. Nagy 2011a:47-49.
[ back ] 34. Nagy 2011b:191-192.
[ back ] 35. Nagy 2011b:192.
[ back ] 36. Nagy 2000:110-111. Here I also analyze the relevance of the riddling expression ‘a dream of a shade is man’ at lines 95-96 of Pythian 8.
[ back ] 37. Nagy 2011a:47n15; also Nagy 2001c:152-155 (with notes 13 and 22).
[ back ] 38. Nagy 2011b:179, following PH 195n210 = 6§88.
[ back ] 39. |333 τὸν δὲ ἴδεν Κάδμου θυγάτηρ, καλλίσφυρος Ἰνώ, |334 Λευκοθέη, ἣ πρὶν μὲν ἔην βροτὸς αὐδήεσσα, |335 νῦν δ’ ἁλὸς ἐν πελάγεσσι θεῶν ἐξέμμορε τιμῆς. |336 ἥ ῥ’ Ὀδυσῆ’ ἐλέησεν ἀλώμενον, ἄλγε’ ἔχοντα· |337 αἰθυίῃ δ’ εἰκυῖα ποτῇ ἀνεδύσετο λίμνης, |338 ἷζε δ’ ἐπὶ σχεδίης καί μιν πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπε· |339 “κάμμορε, τίπτε τοι ὧδε Ποσειδάων ἐνοσίχθων |340 ὠδύσατ’ ἐκπάγλως, ὅτι τοι κακὰ πολλὰ φυτεύει; |341 οὐ μὲν δή σε καταφθείσει, μάλα περ μενεαίνων. |342 ἀλλὰ μάλ’ ὧδ’ ἕρξαι, δοκέεις δέ μοι οὐκ ἀπινύσσειν· |343 εἵματα ταῦτ’ ἀποδὺς σχεδίην ἀνέμοισι φέρεσθαι |344 κάλλιπ’, ἀτὰρ χείρεσσι νέων ἐπιμαίεο νόστου |345 γαίης Φαιήκων, ὅθι τοι μοῖρ’ ἐστὶν ἀλύξαι. |346 τῆ δέ, τόδε κρήδεμνον ὑπὸ στέρνοιο τανύσσαι |347 ἄμβροτον· οὐδέ τί τοι παθέειν δέος οὐδ’ ἀπολέσθαι. |348 αὐτὰρ ἐπὴν χείρεσσιν ἐφάψεαι ἠπείροιο, |349 ἂψ ἀπολυσάμενος βαλέειν εἰς οἴνοπα πόντον |350 πολλὸν ἀπ’ ἠπείρου, αὐτὸς δ’ ἀπονόσφι τραπέσθαι.” |351 ὣς ἄρα φωνήσασα θεὰ κρήδεμνον ἔδωκεν, |352 αὐτὴ δ’ ἂψ ἐς πόντον ἐδύσετο κυμαίνοντα |353 αἰθυίῃ εἰκυῖα· μέλαν δέ ἑ κῦμ’ ἐκάλυψεν.
[ back ] 40. BA 175 = 10§1n4; Nagy 1985:79-81 = §§76-79.
[ back ] 41. GM 126, following BA 175, 203 = 10§1n4 and 10§41n2.
[ back ] 42. For Modern Greek myths about salvation at sea, see Payne 1991:176-181.
[ back ] 43. ἀλλ’ ἴθι, ἔφη, πείθου καὶ μὴ ἄλλως ποίει. Καὶ ὁ Κρίτων ἀκούσας ἔνευσε τῷ παιδὶ πλησίον ἑστῶτι. καὶ ὁ παῖς ἐξελθὼν καὶ συχνὸν χρόνον διατρίψας ἧκεν ἄγων τὸν μέλλοντα δώσειν τὸ φάρμακον, ἐν κύλικι φέροντα τετριμμένον. ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Σωκράτης τὸν ἄνθρωπον, Εἶεν, ἔφη, ὦ βέλτιστε, σὺ γὰρ τούτων ἐπιστήμων, τί χρὴ ποιεῖν; Οὐδὲν ἄλλο, ἔφη, ἢ πιόντα περιιέναι, ἕως ἄν σου βάρος |117b ἐν τοῖς σκέλεσι γένηται, ἔπειτα κατακεῖσθαι· καὶ οὕτως αὐτὸ ποιήσει. Καὶ ἅμα ὤρεξε τὴν κύλικα τῷ Σωκράτει. Καὶ ὃς λαβὼν καὶ μάλα ἵλεως, ὦ Ἐχέκρατες, οὐδὲν τρέσας οὐδὲ διαφθείρας οὔτε τοῦ χρώματος οὔτε τοῦ προσώπου, ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ εἰώθει ταυρηδὸν ὑποβλέψας πρὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον, Τί λέγεις, ἔφη, περὶ τοῦδε τοῦ πώματος πρὸς τὸ ἀποσπεῖσαί τινι; ἔξεστιν ἢ οὔ; Τοσοῦτον, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, τρίβομεν ὅσον οἰόμεθα μέτριον εἶναι πιεῖν. |117c Μανθάνω, ἦ δ’ ὅς· ἀλλ’ εὔχεσθαί γέ που τοῖς θεοῖς ἔξεστί τε καὶ χρή, τὴν μετοίκησιν τὴν ἐνθένδε ἐκεῖσε εὐτυχῆ γενέσθαι· ἃ δὴ καὶ ἐγὼ εὔχομαί τε καὶ γένοιτο ταύτῃ. Καὶ ἅμ’ εἰπὼν ταῦτα ἐπισχόμενος καὶ μάλα εὐχερῶς καὶ εὐκόλως ἐξέπιεν. καὶ ἡμῶν οἱ πολλοὶ τέως μὲν ἐπιεικῶς οἷοί τε ἦσαν κατέχειν τὸ μὴ δακρύειν, ὡς δὲ εἴδομεν πίνοντά τε καὶ πεπωκότα, οὐκέτι, ἀλλ’ ἐμοῦ γε βίᾳ καὶ αὐτοῦ ἀστακτὶ ἐχώρει τὰ δάκρυα, ὥστε ἐγκαλυψάμενος ἀπέκλαον ἐμαυτόν – οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἐκεῖνόν γε, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ τύχην, οἵου ἀνδρὸς |117d ἑταίρου ἐστερημένος εἴην. ὁ δὲ Κρίτων ἔτι πρότερος ἐμοῦ, ἐπειδὴ οὐχ οἷός τ’ ἦν κατέχειν τὰ δάκρυα, ἐξανέστη. Ἀπολλόδωρος δὲ καὶ ἐν τῷ ἔμπροσθεν χρόνῳ οὐδὲν ἐπαύετο δακρύων, καὶ δὴ καὶ τότε ἀναβρυχησάμενος κλάων καὶ ἀγανακτῶν οὐδένα ὅντινα οὐ κατέκλασε τῶν παρόντων πλήν γε αὐτοῦ Σωκράτους. Ἐκεῖνος δέ, Οἷα, ἔφη, ποιεῖτε, ὦ θαυμάσιοι. ἐγὼ μέντοι οὐχ ἥκιστα τούτου ἕνεκα τὰς γυναῖκας ἀπέπεμψα, ἵνα μὴ |117e τοιαῦτα πλημμελοῖεν· καὶ γὰρ ἀκήκοα ὅτι ἐν εὐφημίᾳ χρὴ τελευτᾶν. ἀλλ’ ἡσυχίαν τε ἄγετε καὶ καρτερεῖτε. Καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀκούσαντες ᾐσχύνθημέν τε καὶ ἐπέσχομεν τοῦ δακρύειν. ὁ δὲ περιελθών, ἐπειδή οἱ βαρύνεσθαι ἔφη τὰ σκέλη, κατεκλίνη ὕπτιος – οὕτω γὰρ ἐκέλευεν ὁ ἄνθρωπος – καὶ ἅμα ἐφαπτόμενος αὐτοῦ οὗτος ὁ δοὺς τὸ φάρμακον, διαλιπὼν χρόνον ἐπεσκόπει τοὺς πόδας καὶ τὰ σκέλη, κἄπειτα σφόδρα πιέσας αὐτοῦ τὸν πόδα ἤρετο εἰ αἰσθάνοιτο, |118a ὁ δ’ οὐκ ἔφη. καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο αὖθις τὰς κνήμας· καὶ ἐπανιὼν οὕτως ἡμῖν ἐπεδείκνυτο ὅτι ψύχοιτό τε καὶ πήγνυτο. καὶ αὐτὸς ἥπτετο καὶ εἶπεν ὅτι, ἐπειδὰν πρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ γένηται αὐτῷ, τότε οἰχήσεται. Ἤδη οὖν σχεδόν τι αὐτοῦ ἦν τὰ περὶ τὸ ἦτρον ψυχόμενα, καὶ ἐκκαλυψάμενος – ἐνεκεκάλυπτο γάρ – εἶπεν – ὃ δὴ τελευταῖον ἐφθέγξατο – Ὦ Κρίτων, ἔφη, τῷ Ἀσκληπιῷ ὀφείλομεν ἀλεκτρυόνα· ἀλλὰ ἀπόδοτε καὶ μὴ ἀμελήσητε. Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα, ἔφη, ἔσται, ὁ Κρίτων· ἀλλ’ ὅρα εἴ τι ἄλλο λέγεις. Ταῦτα ἐρομένου αὐτοῦ οὐδὲν ἔτι ἀπεκρίνατο, ἀλλ’ ὀλίγον χρόνον διαλιπὼν ἐκινήθη τε καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐξεκάλυψεν αὐτόν, καὶ ὃς τὰ ὄμματα ἔστησεν· ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Κρίτων συνέλαβε τὸ στόμα καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς. Ἥδε ἡ τελευτή, ὦ Ἐχέκρατες, τοῦ ἑταίρου ἡμῖν ἐγένετο, ἀνδρός, ὡς ἡμεῖς φαῖμεν ἄν, τῶν τότε ὧν ἐπειράθημεν ἀρίστου καὶ ἄλλως φρονιμωτάτου καὶ δικαιοτάτου.
[ back ] 44. On rituals of overnight incubation in the hero cults of Asklepios, see Brelich 1958:113-118.
[ back ] 45. Αὔριον δή, ἔφη, ἴσως, ὦ Φαίδων, τὰς καλὰς ταύτας κόμας ἀποκερῇ. Ἔοικεν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ὦ Σώκρατες. Οὔκ, ἄν γε ἐμοὶ πείθῃ. Ἀλλὰ τί; ἦν δ’ ἐγώ. Τήμερον, ἔφη, κἀγὼ τὰς ἐμὰς καὶ σὺ ταύτας, ἐάνπερ γε ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος τελευτήσῃ καὶ μὴ δυνώμεθα αὐτὸν ἀναβιώσασθαι.