Part One: Making metonyms both naturally and artistically

1§0. The making of metonyms comes naturally. In other words, I argue that the human capacity for metonymy is inborn, natural. This is not to say, however, that the making of metonyms in verbal and visual art needs to be artificial. Metonymy can be artistic, yes, but the artistry of making metonyms—as well as metaphors—can still be natural. In what follows, I will explore the natural foundations of metonymy—as also of metaphor—and then I will show examples of artistic creations that are built on those foundations. As I get started, I will be concentrating on examples taken from verbal arts. Then, as the exploration proceeds, I will gradually take into account the visual arts as well.

An inborn capacity for making metonyms—as well as metaphors

1§1. My point of departure is something that Aristotle says about metaphor only. For him, metaphor is a certain something that you cannot really learn and you cannot really teach. To be a master of metaphor, you just have to have the inborn capacity, the natural ability, to engage in the right kind of mental process:

Extract 1-A

But the greatest use of words is the use of metaphor [tò metaphorikon ‘that which is transferable’]. This is the only thing that cannot be learned from someone else; and it is also a sign [sēmeion] of a good quality that is inborn [euphuia], since the making of good metaphors [eu metapherein ‘good transference’] is the same thing as the contemplation [theōreîn] of what is similar [homoion] to what.
Aristotle Poetics 1459a5–8 [1]
1§2. If the capacity for making a metaphor is inborn, then what about the making of a metonym? Surely the capacity for metonymy must likewise be inborn within the self—if it is true that metonymy, as distinct from metaphor, depends on what is oikeion or ‘familiar’ to the self, not on what is allotrion or ‘alien’ to it. And we already saw that much just from reading Extract 0-B (scholia for Dionysius of Thrace Ars Grammatica 461.5) in the Introduction.
1§3. For an example of this idea that metonymy and metaphor come from something natural inside us, from something we are born with, I bring up a scene from a subtitled film called The Postman, or Il Postino in the original Italian version (1994). In this scene, a shy and relatively uneducated Italian postman named Mario is engaged in a dialogue with a fictionalized version of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973). The postman (acted by Massimo Troisi, who was also the writer of the screenplay) has been reading—in Italian translation—the poems of Neruda (acted by Philippe Noiret) in hopes of emulating the exiled poet. Mario is eager to impress Don Pablo, as he calls him, by quoting back at him some of the famous similes and metaphors invented by Neruda.
1§4. Mario is quoting similes and metaphors without knowing what they are. But the meaning of these terms simile and metaphor becomes clear as the conversation between the postman and the poet continues. Mario is gently scolded by the poet: why do you shower me with quotations of similes and metaphors taken from my book of ‘elementary’ poems—I’ve composed many other poems as well, maybe better than those poems. The wording of the Italian script here plays on the double meaning of the Spanish word elementales in the original Spanish title of this book of collected poems by Neruda, Odas elementales (1954), since elementales here means not only ‘elementary’: it refers also to the intended elemental force of these odes. And something elemental is actually being awakened inside Mario as he engages with the elementary principles of poetry, even though he does not understand that he has been quoting similes and metaphors. I use the word ‘awakened’ here quite deliberately: something elemental is literally being awakened in Mario, since the story makes it clear that the postman’s capacity for understanding simile and metaphor is something that is inborn.
1§5. But the problem is, the self-education of Mario has been so elementary that he does not understand one of the two words for this elemental something that is inborn in him. The Italian word for ‘simile’ he understands, yes, since the meaning of the plural form similitudini is transparent in Italian—and so this word is familiar to Mario. When you make a simile or similitudine, something will be like this while another thing will be like that. This much is clear for now, though we will see in Part Two of this book that the making of similes is not as simple as it seems here. Still, the point for now is simple enough, and the meaning of simile is clear in the present context. But the other Italian word, metafora ‘metaphor’, is opaque in this same context. The word is quite alien to Mario. So, when Don Pablo uses this word in the plural, metafore ‘metaphors’, in referring to the poetic words that Mario has been quoting back at the poet, the postman asks Neruda plaintively for a definition, as if a definition from the poet could turn this alien word into something familiar—something that could now become a part of Mario himself. Here are the words of the dialogue:

Extract 1-Ba

Don Pablo [speaking to Mario]: Elementary Odes isn’t the only book I’ve written. I've written much better. It’s unfair of you to shower me with similes [similitudini] and metaphors [metafore].
Mario [not understanding the word metafore ‘metaphors’]: Don Pablo?
Don Pablo: Metaphors.
Mario: What are those?
Don Pablo: Metaphors? Bha! Metaphors are—How can I explain? When you talk of something, comparing it to another.
Mario: Is it something … you use in poetry?
Don Pablo: Yes, that too.
Mario: For example?
Don Pablo: For example … when you say, "The sky weeps [piangere]" [Il cielo piange], what do you mean?
Mario: That it’s raining.
Don Pablo: Yes, very good. —That’s a metaphor.
Mario: —It’s easy then! Why has it got such a complicated name?
Don Pablo: Man has no business with … the simplicity or complexity of things.
Mario: Excuse me, Don Pablo, then I’ll go. I was reading something yesterday: ‘The smell of barber shops makes me weep [piangere] and cry [stridere]’ [L’odore dei parrucchieri mi fa piangere e stridere]. [2] Is that a metaphor, too?
Don Pablo: No … not exactly.
Mario: I liked it, too, when … when you wrote: "I am tired of being a man" [Sono stanco di essere uomo]. [3] That’s happened to me, too … but I never knew how to say it. I really liked it when I read it. Why ‘the smell of barber shops makes me weep [piangere]’?
Don Pablo: You see, Mario … I can’t tell you … in words different from those I’ve used. When you explain it, poetry becomes banal. Better than any explanation … is the experience of feelings that poetry can reveal … to a nature open enough to understand it.
From the subtitled script of Il Postino (1994, directed by Michael Radford) [4]
Here is a link to the scene:

Extract 1-Bb

1§6. In this dialogue, the first elementary lesson to be learned is about metaphor. But the poet does not really teach you by explaining how to make a metaphor: he only awakens within you the inborn natural capacity for metaphor. "Better than any explanation," Don Pablo says to Mario, "is the experience of feelings that poetry can reveal … to a nature open enough to understand it" (the highlighting of the words feelings and nature is mine). So, the capacity for understanding metaphor is natural. That is why the poet teaches not by explaining but merely by giving an example. In this example of a metaphor, the natural experience of seeing rain pouring from the sky is being compared to weeping, piangere, which is the natural experience of seeing tears flowing from someone’s eye—or even from your own. You substitute the idea of weeping for the idea of raining, and, there it is, the metaphor comes to life.
1§7. Now comes the second elementary lesson to be learned in this dialogue, and it is about metonymy. After Mario quotes for Neruda another set of words once composed by the poet, "The smell of barber shops makes me weep [piangere]," he asks Don Pablo whether these words show another example of metaphor. The poet replies: "No … not exactly." But Don Pablo does not say what this thing really is if it is not a metaphor. Clearly, we see here a metonymy. Something familiar to both the poet and the postman, which is the smell of talcum powder wafting from inside a barber shop where men get their hair cut, is connected here to something that makes a man sad about being a man, and that sad something makes you weep, piangere, and cry out loud. As before, when I was analyzing a scene from a film by Forman, I am deliberately referring here to a personal "you," not to an impersonal "someone." After all, as I already said, metonymy has the power to draw the unfamiliar toward the familiar, which verges on the personal.
1§8. So, we have seen in this dialogue a deft interplay of metaphor and metonymy. In the case of metonymy, we can say that it comes from an inborn capacity to connect something that is familiar with something else that is familiar or can become familiar. And the familiarity here comes from personal experience, as when you smell the scent of talcum powder wafting from inside a barber shop. The mind has the inborn natural capacity to connect such a specific personal experience to other specific personal experiences, such as feeling tears flowing from your eyes. But the mind also has the natural inborn capacity to substitute for something that is familiar something that is alien, not familiar. That is what metaphor is all about, according to the working definition of Aristotle. So, in the case of the metaphor we have just encountered, about the sky that weeps, surely we would never know from personal experience that the sky is weeping when it rains. To think that tears are pouring from the sky is to transfer something familiar that we do personally experience, weeping, to something unfamiliar that we will never personally experience, which is what happens to the sky when it rains. While the experience of weeping is familiar to us, it is alien to the sky. While the experience of seeing rain fall from the sky is familiar to us, the idea of seeing tears falling from the sky is alien, because surely the sky does not have eyes.

Activations of the five senses in the making of metonymy

1§9. All five senses can be activated in the mental process of making metonymy: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. Of these five, the sense of seeing is primary, and I will consider it together with the sense of hearing, which is secondary. Then I will consider the three remaining senses: smelling, tasting, and touching.
1§10. I consider together the senses of seeing and hearing because metonymy, which is primarily visual, is communicated through language, which is primarily verbal. Language is something that is heard, though special kinds of language may be read as well as heard. Also, I should repeat here something I said earlier, that visual arts have their own language. That is why, throughout this book, we will be considering not only the verbal arts of song, poetry, and prose but also the visual arts.
1§11. For the moment, in any case, I concentrate simply on the sense of seeing, artful or not artful, as combined with the sense of hearing. Of these two senses, seeing is not only primary but even primal for making metonymy. This sense is primal because sight is the primary source of imagination. Combined with the sense of hearing, which receives the sound that conveys what is being imagined, the sense of seeing creates the imagery of metonymy. As for the sound that conveys what is being imagined, it can come from everyday words or from the words of song, poetry, and prose. The sound can even be music, as we call it, which is abstracted from the words of song. Or the sound can be muted, as when we experience imagination simply by reading silently to ourselves.
1§12. What I have said so far about the activation of the senses in the making of metonymy applies also to the making of metaphor. The sense of seeing creates the imagery of metaphor, not only of metonymy. As in the case of metonymy, the primary requirement of metaphor is imagination. I return here to the example from the film Il Postino, where the metaphor of the weeping sky requires the picturing of tears flowing from the eyes: these tears can then be substituted for rain in picturing the sky when it rains. And the wording of the metaphor as we hear it can do the work of imagining for us this mental act of substitution.
1§13. Unlike metaphor, however, metonymy goes beyond imagination, activating not only the two senses of seeing and hearing. Also activated in the making of metonyms are the three other senses: smelling, tasting, touching.
1§14. As we begin to consider these three other senses, I note right away that there is something metonymical even about the way these senses are activated. What I mean is, each sense as it gets activated has a way of combining with other senses. And the mental process of making combinations, as we will see, is the essence of metonymy.
1§15. That said, I am ready to consider the first of these three other senses, the sense of smell. In terms of evolutionary biology, smell is almost as primal as sight, since the olfactory connection of nerves to the brain is secondary only to the optic connection. The power of this primal sense of smell comes through clearly in the metonym we have already read in the poetry of Pablo Neruda: "The smell of barber shops makes me weep and cry." And a sign of such primal power is the fact that, in some languages, the word for ‘sense’ in general is the same as the word for ‘smell’ in particular. That is what happens with the French verb sentir, which can mean not only ‘sense’ in general but also ‘smell’ in particular. Moreover, this same French verb can mean ‘taste’ as well as ‘smell’. Next I turn to the Latin verb sentīre, meaning ‘sense’, from which French sentir is derived: this verb is even more versatile in meaning, since it can take as its direct object anything perceived by any one of the five senses, such as a flash, a noise, a smell, a taste, a touch.
1§16. As we consider the overlap in the specialized meanings of French sentir as both ‘smell’ and ‘taste’, I draw attention to other meanings that overlap by way of engaging the sense of smell in combination with the sense of taste. For example, the French word doux, meaning ‘sweet’, can refer to a good smell, not only to a good taste. In English as well, the word sweet can refer to a good smell, as when we speak of the sweet smell wafting from a fresh brew of coffee—even though the coffee has no sweetness to the taste. What we see here is not a substitution of taste for smell, which would be a mental process that is metaphoric. Rather, what is at work here is a combination of taste and smell, which is a mental process that is metonymic. There is a combinatory mental association going on here. Smelling and tasting go together organically. They are already familiar to each other. So there should be nothing alien to the mental process of tasting when you smell something good, and there should be nothing alien to the mental process of smelling when you taste something good.
1§17. By now I have touched on four of the five senses that can be activated in the making of metonymy: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting. As for the fifth sense, touching, this one comes closest to the basic idea that I had built into my initial working definition of metonymy. As I said at the beginning, metonymy is a mental process that expresses meaning by connecting something to something else that is next to it or at least near to it, thereby making contact. I now highlight the word contact in this working definition, since its meaning depends on the idea of touching. And the sense of touching is the most inclusive of the sensory aspects of metonymy.
1§18. To show the metonymic inclusiveness of touching, I focus on the meaning of the English word feeling, which can be used to express the experience of touching or being touched. At this early stage of my argumentation, this word feeling is especially good to think with, since it can apply either to the sense of touch in particular or to all five senses in general, just as Latin sentīre ‘sense’—and Greek aisthanesthai ‘sense’—apply to all five senses. But the application of the word feeling to the other four senses besides touching needs to be mediated by emotions—such as loving, being happy, being afraid, being sad, being angry, hating, and so on. For example, I can say that I feel the emotion of love when I see someone I love. Similarly, I can feel love when I hear a sound or smell a smell or taste a taste that is lovable. But, ordinarily, I cannot say in English that I feel directly a sight or a sound or a smell or a taste. I can say that I feel, without the intermediacy of emotions, only when I touch.
1§19. The metonymic inclusiveness of the sense of touch is most evident in the variety of its combinations with the other senses. For example, in English we can say that someone has a sweet touch. Or, in French, the adjective doux can mean ‘gentle to the touch’, not only ‘sweet to the taste’. Or again, to go back to English, if we say colloquially that something has a good look and feel to it, we are thinking of a good feeling in general, connecting all the senses—not only the senses of looking and touching.

Differentiating two terms: metonymy and synesthesia

1§20. From this brief survey of linguistic evidence taken mostly from English, we have by now seen examples of words used metonymically in referring to all five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. What creates the effect of metonymy, as we have also seen, is the mental process of combining references to the senses. And in each of these combinations, what seems to be at work is a kind of fusion—some would even call it confusion. In neuroscience, there is an invented term that is meant to convey this kind of fusion or confusion of the senses. The term is synaesthesia or synesthesia. It is a modern linguistic creation, combining two ancient Greek words: the preverb syn-, meaning ‘together’, and a noun derived from the verb aisthanesthai, meaning ‘to sense’. [5] The basic idea here is that the senses can be interchangeable in the process of perception. It is as if one sense could substitute for another.
1§21. But can we really say that metonymy is the same thing as synesthesia? I say no, if in fact the term synesthesia is meant to account primarily for the substitution of one sense for another. In terms of the working definitions that I used at the beginning of my project, the mental process of substitution creates metaphors, not metonyms, which are created instead by the mental process of connecting, combining. Although metonymy can produce the momentary effect of fusing one sense with another, the senses can still remain distinct from each other, since the fusion happens only in the actual moment of combining one sense with another—of connecting the senses with each other—but the same senses that we see being fused together in one moment can still get separated from each other in other moments. For example, Hungarian apricot brandy smells intensely sweet—but it has no sweetness to the taste. So, in this case, a sensory fusion at the moment of smelling is counteracted by a sensory distinctness at the moment of tasting.

Two kinds of fusion: sensory and emotional

1§22. What I have argued here about the metonymy of sensory fusion, as an experience, is parallel to another kind of metonymy, which I will call emotional fusion. A classic example is this short poem by Catullus, who lived in the first century BCE:

Extract 1-C

I hate and I love. Why I am doing it, you might be asking? | I don’t know. But I feel [sentīre] it happening to me, and for me it is a torture.
Catullus 85 [6]
1§23. The speaker here is shown in a moment of actively engaging in the emotions of hate and love simultaneously, but this same moment is viewed also as a passive experiencing of these same two emotions, again simultaneously. Hating and loving are things I am doing actively right now, the speaker is saying, but these same things are at the same time also being done to me, and I am passively letting it all happen. Just as the fusing of senses at one moment can be contrasted with the separation of these same senses at other moments, so also with the emotions: what may be a simultaneous experiencing of hate and love in one context, as in the wording I just quoted, can be viewed as distinct experiences in other contexts. The emotions of hate and love are here metonymically combined with each other, just as the senses can be combined. What we are seeing, then, is not mutual replacement, where one sense or emotion substitutes for another, but mutual connectivity.

A metonymic exercise in sensory fusion

1§24. I return here to the colloquial expression look and feel. As I noted a few moments ago, this expression refers to a feeling in general, connecting all the senses—not only the senses of looking and touching. So, when a given situation has a really good look and feel to it, you could even take away the primary sense of eyesight and still be left with a good look and feel. The point I am making here conjures in my mind the celebrated “tango scene” in the film Scent of a Woman (1992; directed by Martin Brest, screenplay by Bo Goldman), where we encounter a blind man literally feeling his way around a dancing floor. What we see in this scene, as I will now argue, is a metonymic exercise in sensory fusion.
1§25. As we join the scene, a blind man named Frank (acted by Al Pacino) is about to dance the tango with a beautiful young woman named Donna (acted by Gabrielle Anwar), whom he has persuaded to learn this dance from him. Before the dance begins, Frank leans over to Charlie (acted by Chris O’Donnell), a timid young man who has been hired to take care of the blind older man, and asks him to estimate the “coordinates” of the dance floor. Once this spatial framework is set in his mind, Frank can begin the dance. Here is a link to the tango scene:

Extract 1-Da

The original song in this scene is “Por una cabeza,” music and lyrics 1935 by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera. Here is a link to a brief survey of the reception:

Extract 1-Db

1§26. So, dancing the tango here has a good look and feel to it, even for Frank, who cannot see and can only feel his way around the dancing floor. But what does this tango scene have to do with the title of the story, Scent of a Woman? For an answer, which will require an extended exercise in metonymic reading, I return to the point I already made about the primal feel of the sense of smell. Earlier in the story of Scent of a Woman, Frank is having a conversation with Charlie about the attractive scent of a cologne, the brand name of which is attractive in its own right, Floris. Frank recognizes that scent wafting from the direction of an attractive woman who had served him a drink a moment ago. The aroma inspires Frank to embark on a crude meditation about women:

Extract 1-Dc

Oh, but I still smell her. [ Sniffing ] Women! What can you say? Who made ’em? God must have been a fuckin’ genius. The hair—They say the hair is everything, you know. Have you ever buried your nose in a mountain of curls … and just wanted to go to sleep forever? Or lips—and when they touched yours, were like … that first swallow of wine … after you just crossed the desert. Tits! Whoo-ah! Big ones, little ones, nipples staring right out at ya … Like secret searchlights. Mmm. And legs—I don't care if they’re Greek columns … or secondhand Steinways. What’s between ’em, passport to heaven. I need a drink.
From the script for Scent of a Woman (1992; directed by Martin Brest, screenplay by Bo Goldman)
1§27. The scent of a woman, already foregrounded in the part of the script we are reading here, is what triggers the later tango scene. But, by the time we reach that later scene, the center of attention has become the scent of another woman. That woman is Donna.
1§28. Here is the setting. The dance floor for the tango is adjacent to a table where Frank and Charlie are having drinks, and Frank catches the scent of soap wafting from the direction of someone having a drink ‘from down there’, at the next table. So Frank in his blindness interrogates Charlie, in order to get the big picture:

Extract 1-Dd

Frank. Who are we drinking with? I’m getting a nice soap-and-water feeling from down there.
Charlie. Ah … female.
Frank. Female? You’re callin’ her female, must mean you like her or you wouldn't be so casual. Is she alone?
Charlie. Yeah, she’s alone.
Frank. Things are heatin’ up. Chestnut hair?
Charlie. Brown … Light brown.
Frank. Twenty-two?
Charlie. Wh— What am I, a guy at a carnival?
Frank. The day we stop lookin’, Charlie, is the day we die.
From the script for Scent of a Woman (1992)
1§29. By now the older man, with the timid young man in tow, is moving over to the table where Donna is seated. Frank starts up a conversation with her, hoping to win for Charlie her affections. The conversation soon turns to soap:

Extract 1-De

Frank. You know, I detect … a fragrance in the air. Don’t tell me what it is. Ogilvie Sisters soap.
Donna. Ah, that’s amazing.
Frank. I’m in the amazing business !
Donna. It is Ogilvie Sisters soap. My grandmother gave me three bars for Christmas.
Frank. I’m crazy about your grandmother. You know, I think she’d have liked Charlie too.
From the script for Scent of a Woman (1992)
1§30. Soon after this aexchange, Donna will get drawn into ‘giving it a try’ by dancing the tango with the blind man, who reassures her that this dance is not like life—because the tango is forgiving of mistakes. If you make a mistake and ‘get tangled’ when you dance the tango, you just ‘tango on’. The reassurances are vital, since Donna has already confessed to Frank that she is mortally afraid of making mistakes.
1§31. So, the combinatory power of metonymy makes it possible for the mind to link the primal sense of smell with the look and feel of dancing the tango. The smell here metonymically triggers the mental association that leads to the dance.
1§32. I must stress here that such a mental association should not be mistaken for what is sometimes known as free association, since the elements that are now being connected follow an ordered sequence, a natural and organic continuum. Such an ordered sequence is like the ordering of steps that add up to a dance like the tango itself.
1§33. So, the scent of a woman can be a metonym. And I must add that the title of the film Scent of a Woman is in fact a metonym, since it triggers the mental associations that lead into the entire story by that name. Titles are like that. When they connect well to the connected parts of the story and to the story as a whole, they can become metonyms. In some cases, they can even become masterpieces of metonymy.

A metonymic activation of all five senses: a Muse inspires a poet

1§34. What I am about to analyze is a primal scene that gets replayed in many forms throughout the history of literature. I concentrate here on a form that derives from ancient Greek poetic traditions. In the scene I have chosen as the first example of this form, we will see a Muse inspiring a poet, and her act of inspiration will activate all five senses. What results is, I think, a masterpiece of metonymy.
1§35. The setting for this primal scene is exquisitely French. The text comes from the Epilogue of the romantic opera The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), composed by Jacques Offenbach (libretto by Jules Barbier; world premiere February 10, 1881). Here is what we are about to see: a Muse, whose identity has been disguised up to now, reveals herself to a poet, whose persona is a fictionalized version of a real author named Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (1776–1822; he renamed himself E. T. A. Hoffmann and, pointedly, the new “A.” of E. T. A. stands for “Amadeus”). We join the scene at a moment when the Muse, dropping her disguise as the poet’s faithful manservant and now revealing herself in all her celestial feminine beauty, addresses Hoffmann in prose, and then the poet responds to her words in passionate song:

Extract 1-Ea

The Muse to Hoffmann. What about me? Me, the faithful friend whose hand would wipe the tears from your eyes. The one who made your sorrow go to sleep, to be exhaled in dreams that soar to the skies. Am I nothing to you? May the storm of your passions subside in you. The man who was exists no more. Be reborn, poet! I love you, Hoffmann. Belong to me.
Hoffmann responds to the Muse by singing. God, with what intoxication do you [= the Muse] set my soul on fire! | Your voice, like a divine harmony, has penetrated me. | My very being is devoured by a fire that is sweet as it burns. | The looks of your eyes have poured their flame into mine, | like radiant stars! | And I sense [sentir], ah, my Muse loved by me, | your perfumed breath passing | over my lips and over my eyes. | Muse loved by me, I belong to you.
Jacques Offenbach The Tales of Hoffmann Act 5 [No. 27] [Dibbern 2000:138–139] [7]
1§36. A most memorable example of this scene from The Tales of Hoffmann was performed at Covent Garden in 1981. Claire Powell was the Muse, and Placido Domingo was Hoffmann. I give here a reference to a recording:

Extract 1-Eb

1§37. I note in passing a detail in this clip that is purely coincidental to the story of Tales—though as we will see later it is not at all coincidental to other stories about human contact with the divine: as Claire Powell, acting the role of the Muse, removes the stovepipe hat she is wearing, revealing her true identity as a celestial Muse, we see a shock of curly hair, heretofore hidden underneath the hat, cascading down from her head and spreading luxuriantly around her neck and shoulders. In masterpieces of metonymy taken from other stories still to be explored in this book, we will see further examples of such cascading curly hair—and in these examples the image of the hair will be part of the story.
1§38. With this detail duly noted, I am now ready to focus on the central moment when the poet sings "I sense [je sens], ah, my Muse loved by me, | your perfumed breath passing | over my lips and over my eyes." [8] The verb sentir of the wording je sens ‘I sense’ here refers to two sensations at the same time. First, there is the sensation of feeling the breath of the Muse who has finally revealed herself as the true object of the poet’s desire. Second, there is the sensation of actually smelling the sweet scent wafting from this divine breath. And why is this scent sweet to the taste? It is because the wording pictures the Muse’s breath at the precise moment of actually touching the lips of the poet, entering his mouth, and her voice can now penetrate him and devour him, inside out, with the sweetness of its fire: "With what intoxication do you [= the Muse] set my soul on fire! | Your voice, like a divine harmony, has penetrated me. | My very being is devoured by a fire that is sweet [doux] as it burns." [9]
1§39. In my metonymic reading, the feeling of the Muse’s perfumed breath, which is literally a poetic inspiration, becomes an exquisite experience of physical contact with the poet’s lips, which can now speak, and with his eyes, which can now see what is being spoken to be heard: "The looks of your eyes have poured their flame into mine, | like radiant stars!" [10] We can now finally understand that the contact of the poet’s lips and eyes with the sweet-smelling breath of the Muse is the combined sensory experience of touching as well as seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting her divine presence.
1§40. So, by the time the Muse finally says to the poet, "Belong to me," and the poet responds in passionate song, "I belong to you," what has happened is a metonymy of physical contact with the divine. And this contact extends from an earthbound existence all the way up to the sky—which would be otherwise a most alien place for a mortal to experience. While the sky is alien to a mortal poet in metaphor, as we saw in the example of the weeping sky, that same sky can now become familiar to him in the world of metonymy, which makes it possible for the celestial Muse and the earthbound poet to make contact by way of physically touching each other, mouth to mouth. I see a vivid contrast here between the poetics of connection in metonymy and the poetics of substitution in metaphor. Although something alien that is substituted in metaphor can remain truly alien, as when tears flowing from the human eye remain alien to the rain pouring from the sky, that same alien something can become familiar—intimately familiar—when it is actually being connected to something familiar. That is what happens when the tears of a poet make contact with something in the sky—and when that something turns out to be a loving Muse who desires familiarity with the poet.
1§41. Such familiarity can be deceptive, of course. And, in fact, there is an alternative version of The Tales of Hoffmann where the poet sings his love not to the true Muse, as he does in the Epilogue of so many older versions as also in the new version performed at Covent Garden in 1981 (Act 5 [No. 27]), but to a false Muse. In this alternative version, which is actually closer to the original intention of the composer Jacques Offenbach, the song of the poet’s totalizing love is sung not in the Epilogue (Act 5 [No. 27]) but in an earlier part of the narrative (Act 3 [No. 16]), and, in this earlier part, the immediate object of desire is not the real Muse but a perfidious courtesan named Giulietta. [11] In this alternative version, the concluding words where the poet sings "Muse loved by me, I belong to you" [12] are missing; also, the poet in this version does not sing "Ah, my Muse loved by me," [13] as in the version of the Epilogue, but simply "O my beloved one." [14] All that is because the poet here is singing to Giulietta, and this woman is, as I said a minute ago, a false Muse.
1§42. Or, to put it more accurately, the poet in this alternative version is singing to a refraction of a false image of the real Muse. Here is what I mean. In the logic of the master narrative that connects the three tales of love that are told by the character of Hoffmann in The Tales of Hoffmann, the immortal Muse of the poet is displaced in his intoxicated mind by a deceptive reflection, a diva singer of high opera whose name is, appropriately, La Stella, or the ‘Star’, and this false reflection of the real Muse is fragmented into three refractions of the divine image. That is how the character of Giulietta as a false Muse takes shape: she is one of these three refractions, since she is one of the three women loved by the poet in the three tales of love that he tells in The Tales of Hoffmann. And, like Giulietta, the other two women in the other two tales are also false Muses. They are Olympia and Antonia, who as we will see later are likewise refractions of the false image of the real Muse. Even before this real Muse drops her disguise as Hoffmann’s faithful manservant and reveals herself in all her celestial feminine beauty, she herself declares that all three of these women in Hoffmann’s three tales are really one and the same woman, who is the operatic diva named La Stella:

Extract 1-Ec

Olympia … Antonia … Giulietta … they are all just one and the same woman, La Stella!
Jacques Offenbach The Tales of Hoffmann Act 5 No. 25 [Dibbern 2000:136] [15]
1§43. I said a minute ago that the name of this diva, La Stella or the ‘Star’, is most appropriate. Here is why: this false Muse attracts the poet by looking like the real Muse—as if she too were a heavenly body. I recall the words sung by Hoffmann to the real Muse in the Epilogue (Act 5 [No. 27]): "The looks of your eyes have poured their flame into mine, | like radiant stars!" [16] In the alternative version, placed at an earlier phase of the narrative (Act 3 [No. 16]), Hoffmann is suffering from a tragic delusion when he sings these words to Giulietta instead of the Muse. This way, the poet is in effect singing to a refraction of the false Muse who is the ‘Star’ named La Stella. But the song remains the same song, intended for the poet’s one true love.
1§44. For the sake of variation, I will now show an English-language text of this same song. In this case, the libretto for The Tales of Hoffmann adopts the alternative version for performing the song, and so Hoffmann sings it at the earlier point in the story (Act 3 [No. 16]) where, tragically, he is singing not to the real Muse but to the false one. Here again is the poet’s passionate song, this time reworded into English:

Extract 1-Ed

O heaven O joy divine | illumines all around me. | Let music from the spheres. | Your voice has pierced my heart. | A fervent eager flame | consumes my every part. | Your glances kindle mine | and tongues of fire surround me. | They burn as the stars in the skies | and I feel with my love ablaze. The breath of your passion that plays | on my mouth and on my eyes. | The breath of your passion, | of that passion that plays | on my mouth | on my mouth | and on my eyes. | O heaven O joy divine | illumines all around me. | Your glances kindle mine | and tongues of fire | and tongues of fire surround me.
From the film The Tales of Hoffmann (1951; directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; French libretto of Jules Barbier translated into English by Dennis Arundell)
Here I refer to the relevant sequence in the film:

Extract 1-Ef

1§45. Even in this version where Hoffmann is singing to Giulietta instead of the Muse, the love of the poet is already intended for the true Muse. The poet will soon fall out of love with Giulietta, this refraction of La Stella, and, in the end, he will also fall out of love with La Stella herself, that false reflection of the true Muse. Instead, he will love the true Muse as the goddess who has always been there for him even if he did not know it.

Another metonymic activation: the Muses inspire Hesiod

1§46. In the scene that I have analyzed from The Tales of Hoffmann, we have just seen a faithful transmission of a classical Greek model for poetic inspiration. A prototype of this model is a scene in the Hesiodic Theogony where the nine Muses, who are nine refractions emanating from a singular divine female source of inspiration, are shown in the act of inspiring Hesiod, thus making him a poet, by literally breathing into (en-pneîn) him an audē or ‘voice’:

Extract 1-Fa

They [= the Muses] breathed into [en-e-pneu-san] me [= Hesiod] a voice [audē]
Hesiodic Theogony 31 [17]
1§47. This voice that the Muses breathe into Hesiod, thus making him a poet, is really their voice, which now becomes also his voice:

Extract 1-Fb

Their voice [audē] pours forth from them [= the Muses] without ever running out of power, | and flowing sweet [hēdu-] from their mouths.
Hesiodic Theogony 39–40 [18]
1§48. Elsewhere too in the Hesiodic Theogony, the Muses are described as hēdu-epeiai ‘having sweet words’ (Theogony 965, 1021). [19] And the sound of their voice, which is literally sweet to the taste, is eroticized as well as estheticized by the beautiful desirability of their mouth, which is explicitly visualized:

Extract 1-Fc

Sending through their mouth [stoma] a voice [ossa] that rouses desire, | they [= the Muses] sing-and-dance [melpesthai].
Hesiodic Theogony 65–66 [20]
1§49. The very vision of a Muse’s mouth, if it is ever to be visualized, can be pictured as a singular female mouth. That is what happens in the description we have just read. And why does this vision need to be singularized? One reason is that the nine Muses can be seen as nine refractions emanating from a singular divine female source of inspiration, who is the goddess Mnēmosunē or ‘Memory’, their mother (Theogony 54, 915). But there is also another reason, which is more to the point. The mouth of the Muses needs to be pictured as a singular female mouth because the sweet-tasting voice that flows from such a single mouth is being poured into the mouth of one single male poet. And this pouring is mediated by the sweet-smelling breath of divine inspiration that emanates from the Muses. So, the sweet-tasting voice of these Muses makes contact not merely with the hearing of the poet. Because it is sweet-tasting, this voice can flow right into the mouth of the poet. Implicit in this mediation is a mystical kind of contact, a kind of touching, which makes it possible for the sweet taste to be poured directly from the desirable female mouth of the Muses into the desirous male mouth of the poet. It is some kind of cosmic mouth-to-mouth kiss.

Variations on a theme of a kiss: a metonymic reading of the opening words in the Song of Songs

1§50. Such a mentality is comparable to what we read in the 86 sermons of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) on the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible—a text that Bernard had read in the Latin Vulgate translation. In the mystical interpretation of Bernard, the Word of God reaches the human soul with an ineffable cosmic mouth-to-mouth kiss (Sermons on the Song of Songs 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, and so on), and, for textual support, he is thinking of the opening words of the Song of Songs. In the Latin Vulgate version that Bernard was reading, what we see is a syncopated re-enactment of an erotic dialogue between lovers. I offer here a working translation of the words as read by Bernard:

Extract 1-Ga

May he kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.
Song of Songs 1:1, Latin Vulgate version [= 1:2 in the Hebrew Bible] [21]
1§51. Bernard of Clairvaux recognizes (as in Sermons on the Song of Songs 1:5) that the point of comparison in this lyrical passage that opens the Song of Songs is a sexual encounter between lovers, but for him the erotic dialogue between them is to be interpreted as an allegory about the initiative taken by God to establish contact between the Word of God and human nature. And the high point of this allegory is the reference, at the very beginning of the Song of Songs, to the mouth-to-mouth kiss shared by the lovers. For Bernard, it is this kiss that expresses allegorically the actual moment of spiritual contact between the Word and humanity.
1§52. I take this opportunity to offer a working definition of allegory: if we understand metaphor as an expression of meaning by substitution, then allegory is an extended metaphor that maintains the substitution, not letting go of it at any point. So, the presence of an allegory in a given narrative is the omnipresence of one single driving metaphor, which can pervade without limitations the entire narrative.
1§53. Even if the allegorical interpretation of Bernard goes far beyond the intent of the original Hebrew text of the Song of Songs, I think that he is right to see in this text some kind of reference to some kind of contact between God and humanity. In the logic of the Hebrew text, however, I think that the activation of such a transcendent contact is made possible by the explicitly sexual contact that is taking place between human and human. In terms of this logic, it is such sexual contact that makes it possible for humans to communicate with the divine. And, conversely, in the chicken-and-egg mentality of this logic, it is this communication with the divine that makes it possible for a human couple to experience the sublimity of sexual pleasure with one another.
1§54. Following this train of thought, I will now examine the larger context of the opening of the Song of Songs, reading it metonymically. I begin with a translation of the text that follows the version transmitted in the Latin Vulgate: [22]

Extract 1-Gb

[She:] |2 May he kiss me with the kiss of his mouth.
[He:] [I kiss you] because [quia] your breasts are better than wine. |3 They are scented with perfumed oils that are the best.
[She:] Like [perfumed] oil when poured is [the sound of] your name. That is why girls have loved you. |4 “Go ahead and tug at me! We will run after you, [following the scent of your perfumed oil]. The king has led me into his chamber.”
[He:] We [= I] will celebrate, finding joy in you, and we are [= I am] keeping in mind your breasts, which are better than wine. Those who are straightforward [masculine] do love you.
Song of Songs 1:2–4, Latin Vulgate version [where the numbering is 1:1–3] [23]
1§55. And here is the version as transmitted in the Greek Septuagint:

Extract 1-Gc

[She:] |2 May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.
[He:] [I kiss you] because [ὅτι] your breasts are better than wine. |3 And that scent of yours, the scent that comes from oil of myrrh, is better than all other perfumes.
[She:] Like oil of myrrh when poured is [the sound of] your name. That is why girls have loved you. |4 They have tugged at you, [saying] “We will run after you, following that scent of yours, the scent that comes from oil of myrrh. The king has led me into his chamber.”
[He:] We [= I] will celebrate, finding joy in you, and we [= I] will love your breasts, which are better than wine. The essence of straightforwardness has loved you.
Song of Songs 1:2–4, Greek Septuagint version [where, again, the numbering is 1:1–3] [24]
1§56. My two working translations here, though they conform to the words transmitted in the Latin Vulgate and in the Greek Septuagint, do not conform in some ways to the words transmitted in the surviving version of the Hebrew text. This Hebrew version, which follows the Masoretic tradition of restoring the vowels that were originally left unwritten in the earlier textual transmission of the Hebrew Bible, shows some words that differ in meaning from corresponding words transmitted by both the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint. But these corresponding words, as we will now see, stem from an alternative Hebrew reading that was evidently the source for the translations we see in the Latin Vulgate and in the Greek Septuagint.
1§57. In the alternative reading of the Hebrew text as reflected in the translations I have just given for Song 1:2, 4, a woman’s breasts are ostentatiously foregrounded. In the Masoretic reading, on the other hand, even the visualization of breasts is absent. That is because the Masoretic tradition, in restoring the vowels that were left unwritten in the consonantal sequence ddyk found in the earlier textual transmission of the Hebrew Bible, gives the reading dōḏeyḵā, which would mean ‘your [masculine your] love’, instead of daddayiḵ, which would mean ‘your [feminine your] breasts’—and which corresponds to the reading transmitted not only by the Latin Vulgate, which gives the translation ubera tua, meaning ‘your breasts’, but also by the Greek Septuagint, which gives the translation mastoi sou (μαστοί σου), likewise meaning ‘your breasts’.
1§58. Some have argued, I should hasten to add, that the translation ‘your breasts’ in the Latin Vulgate and in the Greek Septuagint stems not from the form daddayiḵ in Hebrew, which would mean ‘your [feminine your] breasts’, but from daddeyḵā, which would mean ‘your [masculine your] breasts’. [25] The motivation for making such an argument can be traced back to a general desire to interpret the entire Song of Songs as an allegory. In terms of an allegorical interpretation, we would start with the general idea that the lovers in the Song, imagined as a bridegroom and a bride, are meant to be viewed as substitutes for God and Israel respectively, or, according to a Christian re-reading, for Jesus and his Church—or simply for God and the human soul. [26] Here I apply again my working definition of allegory as an extended metaphor that maintains the substitution created by the metaphor, not letting go of it at any point. As I already said, the presence of an allegory in a given narrative is the omnipresence of one single driving metaphor, which can pervade without limitations the entire narrative. At the beginning of the Song of Songs, for example, if the two lovers are viewed from the start as acting the parts of bridegroom and bride for the purpose of serving as allegorical substitutes for God and Israel, then the logic of any details about this amorous pair should conform to an overall discourse about God and Israel, not to any kind of realism that may be needed for achieving an artistic description of a sexual encounter between lovers. That is how, in terms of an allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs, the object of erotic attention could become the breasts of a male lover, not of a female lover: after all, even God could be eroticized simply by being compared to an amorous bridegroom.
1§59. Responding to such a line of argumentation, I start by accepting the idea that God can be eroticized in the context of the Song of Songs writ large, and so I subscribe to the term theo-eroticism as used by some exegetes of the Bible. [27] But then I still need to dispute the argument that insists on a reference, by allegory, to the male breasts of God. Such an allegorical reading, with reference to the passage we have just read in Songs 1:2, 4, is lacking in internal consistency. Nowhere else in the Song of Songs are male breasts eroticized—let alone mentioned. Moreover, if we consider the entire Greek version of the Hebrew Bible as transmitted by the Septuagint, nowhere else are male breasts ever even mentioned: in the Septuagint, the Greek word mastoi refers always to female breasts, never to male breasts. [28] The only exception would be the present example of mastoi in Song 1:2, 4, and the only way to defend the interpretation of this word as referring to male breasts in this context would be to argue that the eroticizing of God justifies an eroticizing of his male breasts, linked to an eroticizing of the male lover. But there is no textual evidence for the idea of eroticizing God by envisioning his male breasts.
1§60. Granted, a possible exception could be cited from a Christian text, Revelations 1:13, where we read a description of a splendid golden sash worn around the mastoi ‘breasts’ of the glorified Son of Man. [29] But even this image, stemming from the early Christian era (Revelations was composed in the late first century CE), is not so much eroticized as it is estheticized, and it could be interpreted in an erotic sense only if we assume that (1) the Christian composer of this image is alluding to the passage we have read in Song 1:2,4, and (2) this composer understands the Greek wording mastoi sou ‘your breasts’ as referring to male breasts in that passage. But I do not find either one of these two assumptions compelling, and so I continue to argue for the interpretation of the Greek mastoi sou ‘your breasts’ and of the Latin ubera tua ‘your breasts’ at Song 1:2, 4 as referring to the breasts of a woman who is loved by a man.
1§61. That said, I can resume my own ongoing interpretation of the opening of the Song of Songs. In the Latin Vulgate, the vision of a woman’s ubera ‘breasts’ at Song 1:2 (numbered 1:1 in the Vulgate) is continued in the next verse, Song 1:3 (1:2), with an adjective: these breasts are fraglantia ‘fragrant’, smelling of the best perfumed oil. [30] So, in this version, the woman is already anointed with oil. In the Greek Septuagint, the same vision of the woman’s mastoi ‘breasts’ at Song 1:2 is this time continued with an explanatory clause in the next verse, at Song 1:3: "And that scent of yours, the scent that comes from oil of myrrh, is better than all other perfumes." [31] So, in this version too, as we can see from the explicit reference to "your" scent, the woman is once again already anointed with perfumed oil. But then, what follows in both the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint at Song 1:3 is a reference to the perfumed oil that is poured to anoint the man who loves the woman. So by now both the man and the woman have been anointed with perfumed oil. In the Masoretic version, however, even the very first reference to the smell of perfumed oil applies not to the woman but to the man, whose "love" in Song 1:2 is the referent for the smell of the oil that is poured.
1§62. Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, we find other contexts that support the non-Masoretic alternative Hebrew version of Song 1:2–4 as reflected in the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint. [32] One such context is Song 4:10, where ddyk is interpreted in the Masoretic tradition as dōḏayiḵ, which would mean ‘your [feminine your] love’. But a non-Masoretic alternative version is daddayiḵ, which would mean ‘your [feminine your] breasts’. This version, featuring a woman’s breasts instead of simply her "love," corresponds again to the translations provided by the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint at Song 4:10, where the man exclaims to the woman: "More beautiful are your breasts than wine!" [33]
1§63. Also, at Song 7:13, where the consonantal sequence ddy in the Hebrew textual transmission is vocalized in the Masoretic tradition as dōḏay, which would mean ‘my [feminine my] love’, a non-Masoretic alternative version is dadday, which would mean ‘my [feminine my] breasts’. Here too, such an alternative Hebrew reading was evidently the source for the Latin Vulgate and Greek Septuagint translations of the passage, where the woman says to the man that she will take him to a beautiful vineyard, and "there I will give my breasts to you." [34]
1§64. Finally, there is an attestation of daddeyhā in the sense of ‘her breasts’ in the Masoretic text of Proverbs 5:19. Here is the context: a loving father, instructing his son, is saying to him that a good husband should avoid having sex with women other than his wife, who is described as having desirable breasts: the husband should be "intoxicated" with this woman’s breasts, that is, with daddeyhā in the sense of ‘her breasts’. The Hebrew wording in the Masoretic text of Proverbs 5:19 is this: "May her breasts satisfy you always, may you always be intoxicated in her love." [35] In the Latin Vulgate version of Proverbs 5:19, we read: "May her breasts intoxicate you always, and may you always feel delight in her love." [36] Next, in Proverbs 5:20, the text goes on to say that the husband should not be intoxicated with the breasts of a woman who is a stranger to him. [37] The feeling of intoxication in response to a woman’s breasts, as expressed here, is I think parallel to the feeling expressed in Song 1:2, 4 (1:1, 3), where the woman’s breasts are described as superior to wine.
1§65. On the basis, then, of the comparative evidence that we can extract from the contexts I have just surveyed, especially from the context of Proverbs 5:19–20, I argue that the non-Masoretic alternative Hebrew version of Song 1:2–4 as translated in the Greek Septuagint and in the Latin Vulgate, where the breasts of a woman are highlighted, is more accurate than the Masoretic version in transmitting the traditional wording of this composition.
1§66. To back up this argument, I now argue further that the Masoretic version, where the image of the woman’s breasts is not made visible, forces upon the reader an interpretation that lacks internal coherence. To make this further argument, I will first offer a literal translation of the Masoretic version and will then analyze briefly the problems I encounter in the course of interpreting the text of this version. Here, then, is my translation of the relevant Masoretic text:

Extract 1-Gd

|2 May he kiss me with the kiss of his mouth, because your [masculine your] love is better than wine. |3 Your [masculine your] perfumed oils are the best. Like oil being poured is [the sound of] your [masculine your] name. That is why girls have loved you [masculine you]. |4 Tug at me. We will be running after you, following the scent of your perfumed oils. The king has given me entrance into his chamber. We will celebrate, rejoicing in you [masculine you], thinking of your [masculine your] love as better than wine. Those who love you [masculine you] are right to do so.
Song of Songs 1:2–4, Masoretic text [38]
1§67. The text of this Masoretic version, as we see in the translation I offer here in Extract 1-Gd, shows the same sensory experiences that we saw in the alternative version as I translated it in Extracts 1-Gb and 1-Gc. Both the Masoretic version and the alternative version highlight the smelling of perfumed oil and the tasting of wine—as well as kissing and touching. But there is a big difference between the two versions. In the Masoretic version, not only is there an absence of female breasts. More important, there is also an absence of participation by the man in the mutuality of amorous exchange with the woman. So, at verse 3, the Masoretic version formats the vowels of the Hebrew forms corresponding to the three instances of "you(r)" in such a way as to make all three of these forms masculine, though they could all be vocalized as feminine forms as well. [39] Also, according to the Masoretic vocalization, only the "love" of the man is scented with perfumed oil, starting at verse 2, and only he gets anointed when the perfumed oil is poured at verse 3. Further, the pleasant thought of tasting wine is linked only with the pleasant thought of the love that comes from the man and goes to the woman.
1§68. So, we see that the woman expresses her feelings of attraction to the man, but we can find no corresponding expressions of feelings from the man. In the alternative version, on the other hand, the sensory experiences are associated with both the woman and the man. And, though there do exist some differences between the interpretations that are built into the texts of the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint, what matters for the moment is the simple fact that both these texts indicate an attraction that is mutual. Both the man and the woman express their feelings of attraction for each other, corresponding to the give-and-take of the dialogue that takes place between them. (Other examples in the Song of Songs where the man talks back to the woman, reciprocating her amorous feelings, include: 1:9–11, 1:15, 2:2, 6:4–9.)
1§69. But how can we be sure that there really is a dialogue going on in the non-Masoretic alternative Hebrew version at Song 1:2–4, as reflected in the translations of the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint? For me the most telling indication is the shift from the feminine "me" to the feminine "your" in the opening of this alternative version. The person who is speaking about the feminine "me"—saying that "I" desire to be kissed—cannot be the same speaker as the person who is speaking to the feminine "you" about "your" breasts. By contrast, in the Masoretic version, the person who is speaking about the feminine "me"—saying that "I" desire to be kissed—must be the same speaker who then speaks to a masculine "you"—in this case, to the man whose love is desired. There is no evident motivation, however, for the abrupt shift in the Masoretic version from an indirect address in expressing a desire to be kissed—"may he kiss me"—to the direct address that immediately follows—"because your [masculine your] love is better than wine." In the non-Masoretic alternative Hebrew version, by contrast, the corresponding abruptness of the shift from indirect to direct address could be motivated by the interruption of one speaker by another. I offer here just one possible rhetorical scenario for such an interruption. The indirectness of the woman, who is saying "May he kiss me with the kiss of his mouth," may be a gesture expressing the speaker’s feelings of shyness about the boldness of her desire. But then she is interrupted by the directness of the man, who is not shy at all in responding to the boldness of the woman’s desire. His response expresses his share in the desire for mouth-to-mouth kissing, but now one bold desire leads to another, as the "I" of the man speaks directly to the "you" of the woman about the beauty of her breasts scented with perfumed oil. What has just happened is an escalation in the boldness of mutual desire.
1§70. With this analysis in place, I now offer an experimental metonymic interpretation of the non-Masoretic alternative version of Song 1:2–4 as transmitted in the Latin Vulgate and in the Greek Septuagint (in both those texts, the traditional numbering is 1:1–3):
1§70-A. In Song 1:2 (1:1), a woman expresses her desire for the pleasure of mouth-to-mouth kissing with a man, which activates for both the woman and the man the sense of touching—as also the sense of tasting. At a later point, in Song 4:11, the woman is addressed as "my bride" by the man, and he goes on to tell her that drops of honey are flowing from her lips, and then, that both honey and milk reside under her tongue, while her garments exude the scent of incense from Lebanon. [40] At a still later point, in Song 7:9, the words of the man praise the woman’s mouth by comparing it to wine, and then the words of the woman express the wish that the wine should flow into the mouth of her lover.
1§70-B. Back at Song 1:2 (1:1), before the woman can say anything more about her desire to be kissed, the man interrupts, continuing where she left off and intensifying the desire for mouth-to-mouth kissing by making this desire mutual. He too desires mouth-to-mouth kissing, but now there is something added to the desire of the woman: besides the desire that she expresses for her own reasons, the man expresses the desire for mouth-to-mouth kissing also for another reason—because [quia, ὅτι] he wants also the pleasure of seeing and touching the breasts of the woman. This pleasure of seeing and touching the breasts of the woman is then linked with the further pleasure of smelling the perfumed oil anointed on her breasts, which is further linked with the pleasure of tasting wine.
1§70-C. Next, at Song 1:3 (1:2), it is said that the smelling of perfumed oil is by comparison better than the tasting of wine, but this comparison is not metaphorical, since no substitution is required. The smelling of perfume can be combined with the tasting of wine, but, for now, the smelling is in the foreground while the tasting remains in the background, since the smelling is linked to the breasts, which have been decisively foregrounded.
1§70-D. Next, at Song 1:3 (1:2), the smelling of the perfumed oil is to be shared by the woman and the man as it is poured out from some kind of container.
1§70-E. Looking ahead, I highlight a relevant detail that we see at a later point, in Song 1:13 (1:12): visualized there is a small container, filled with oil of myrrh, which is suspended from the woman’s neck and "residing" between her breasts.
1§70-F. Having noted this detail, I come back to the present moment in the text, back to Song 1:3 (1:2). The next connection to be made in the ongoing sequence of connections is the pouring of perfumed oil, which is linked to the hearing of the sound of the man’s name as that sound pours out from the mouth of the woman, whose voice is then echoed by the voices of girls who accompany the woman as her attendants. These voices, as we are about to see, are quoted.
1§70-G. When I speak of quotation in this context, I should say in advance that I have in mind a speaking voice embedded not within a text that is simply being read but, rather, within wording that is spoken by speaking voices. In the Song of Songs, there are two primary speaking voices, "his" and "hers," and, more important for the moment, there are also secondary speaking voices—voices that are embedded within the dramatic frame of wording spoken by the primary voices.
1§70-H. That said, I am ready to argue that the woman’s voice in this passage is quoting the voices of young girls who are her attendants, and this quotation is preceded by a declaration that creates the effect of vicariously experiencing the collective amorous feeling of the girls in reaction to the perfumed scent of the man: “That is why girls have loved you,” the woman says to the man at Song 1:3 (1:2). Now the quotation can start, at least in the Vulgate version of Song 1:4 (1:3), and the amorous girls are quoted here in the act of calling out to the man flirtatiously: “Go ahead and tug at me! We will run after you.” In the Septuagint version of Song 1:4 (1:3), the words of the girls go further: “We will run after you, following that scent of yours, the scent that comes from oil of myrrh.”
1§70-I. But the part in the Vulgate version where the girls say flirtatiously “Go ahead and tug at me!” in Song 1:4 (1:3) differs from the corresponding part in the Septuagint version. There the flirtatious words of the amorous girls—“Go ahead and tug at me!”—are not spoken. What is spoken instead is a narration, not a quotation, of what the amorous girls say and do. And the voice of narration is the primary speaking voice of the woman, who pictures the girls in the act of behaving flirtatiously and actually tugging at the man, hoping that he will let them follow him into the king’s chamber. And, if any one of the girls succeeded, that girl could boast, as in Song 1:4 (1:3) “The king has led me into his chamber.” So, in the Septuagint version, the girls are bolder: instead of tempting the man to tug at them, they tug at him.
1§70-J. We see at work here a mental process of self-identification, involving a psychology of projection. I start with the persona of the woman who is speaking. This woman projects her own feelings into the feelings of the amorous girls: she too desires to follow the perfectly scented man, who is evidently the king, into his royal bedchamber, but she is too shy to tug at him. So, as we see in the Vulgate version, she makes the gesture of asking him instead to tug at her. In the Masoretic version as well, the persona of the primary speaking woman in Song 1:4 is making the same gesture to the man, saying “Tug at me!” If the man now makes a move and tugs at the woman, thus responding to her gesture, she will follow him gladly. As for the Septuagint version, the desire to follow the king to his royal bedchamber is escalated, since the amorous girls have already been tugging at the king, flirtatiously hoping that he will let them follow along.
1§70-K. By now we can understand more deeply, I think, the mental process of self-identification that is going on here: the speaker to whom I have referred up to now simply as the woman can become simultaneously one of the amorous girls who desires to follow the king into his bedchamber. So, we now see here a projection in reverse: if I am one of the girl attendants, I can project my feelings into the feelings of the principal female speaker of the Song of Songs, and then I, yes, I will be the one who is chosen by the king to become his one true love.
1§70-L. Then, in both the Vulgate and the Septuagint versions of Song 1:4 (1:3), we come back full circle to the expression of a desire already expressed at the beginning, at Song 1:2 (1:1). The object of desire had been the pleasure of seeing and touching the woman’s breasts, linked with the pleasure of smelling the perfumed oil that anoints the breasts—a pleasure that is now once again decisively foregrounded against the attendant pleasure of tasting wine. That is why the persona of the principal male speaker says in the Vulgate version of Song 1:2 that he is "keeping in mind" the breasts of the woman he loves: "we," he says, are memores, that is, "we are keeping them in mind." Those breasts that are even now kept in mind had already come into his mind at the very beginning, at Song 1:2 (1:1). And now, as a climax in the festive celebration has been reached, the Vulgate text at Song 1:4 (1:3) quotes the primary male speaker as saying exultabimus ‘we will celebrate’.
1§70-M. As we can now see, what I said earlier about secondary speakers in the Song of Songs—that they are quoted within the frame of what is spoken by the woman and the man who are the primary speakers—applies to the primary speakers as well. That is to say, the woman and the man who are speaking to each other from the very beginning of the Song of Songs are themselves quoted by the outermost frame of this composition, which is the drama that quotes the parts, as it were, that the woman and the man say to each other.

Interpersonal metonymy

1§71. We have just seen how the dialogic interaction between the persona of the woman and the persona of the man in the opening of the Song of Songs is complicated by further dialogic interaction—this time, between the woman as a primary speaker and the flirtatious girls as secondary speakers. And the interaction between the woman and the man as the two primary speakers is even more complicated, as we can tell from the vast variety of interpretations when it comes to assigning the speaking parts to the persona of the woman or to the persona of the man. Already at the very beginning of the Song of Songs, the casual reader can easily get confused about who says what. It is unclear whether the male persona does or does not respond to what is being said by the female persona. But such lack of clarity in the reader’s mind cannot be blamed on any sense of confusion in the ancient verbal art that produced the Song of Songs. In that kind of art, what we see at work is a mental process of fusion, not confusion. Previously, we had seen examples of sensory fusion. And, yes, we see such examples also in the Song of Songs—in fact, all five senses are engaged in what we have read in the Song: tasting and touching and smelling and seeing and hearing. But now we can see another kind of fusion as well, affecting both the principal speakers and the secondary speakers: it is an interpersonal fusion, as when the feelings of the woman are projected into the feelings of the amorous girls who attend her—or the other way around. And, more important, we can see another example of such interpersonal fusion when we read the central words projecting the feelings of the woman into the feelings of the man—or the other way around. And such fusion, I argue, is metonymic, just as sensory fusion is metonymic. That is what I mean when I speak of interpersonal metonymy.
1§72. The most telling examples of interpersonal metonymy can be found in the uses of possessive personal pronouns. In what we have read from the Latin and Greek versions of the Song of Songs, for example, we see references to his mouth, your breasts, your scent, your name, his chambers, and (again) your breasts. To which we may add your love in the Masoretic Hebrew version. In order to appreciate more fully the interpersonal force of these possessive combinations, I focus here on one example, his mouth. When the female speaker expresses a desire to be kissed by the kiss of his mouth, that mouth-to-mouth kiss will become the kiss of her mouth as well. The kissing will create a fusion of ownership, of possession. The possession expressed by the possessive pronoun his can become the same possession as expressed by the possessive pronoun her(s). So we see here an interpersonal fusion—even an exchange of identities. The me of the woman who desires to be kissed can become the you of the man who will kiss her on her mouth with his mouth, since the mouth-to-mouth kiss will be both his kiss and her kiss. Thus the lovers will have possession of one another, and that is why the woman in the Song of Songs keeps declaring that he is mine and I am his (Song 2:16, 6:3, 7:10). [41] Even more than that, the two lovers have projected their identities into one another, fusing themselves together.
1§73. For another example of such interpersonal fusion, I proceed to a modern context that is historically unrelated but good to think with as a point of comparison. I cite here the words of a song composed in 1958 by Mikis Theodorakis (1925–), incorporating words from a poem composed in 1936 by Yiannis Ritsos (1919–1990). The poem of Ritsos, originally entitled Miroloyi (Μοιρολόγι), meaning Song of Lament, is lengthy, consisting of fourteen stanzas. In the final version, published in 1956, the poem was renamed Epitaphios (᾿Επιτάφιος), by now consisting of twenty stanzas. [42] The corresponding song of Theodorakis, by contrast, is short, consisting of the first four rhymed couplets of Stanza III. And the title of the song features wording taken from the last of the four couplets. I present here the text of the song, which is preceded by the wording for the title of the song:

Extract 1-Ha

Title: Lips, those sweet-smelling lips of yours for me [43]
|| Hair, that curly head of hair, I would slip my fingers through it, | all those nights, while you were asleep, and I was awake, right there next to you.
|| Eyebrows, those eyebrows of yours for me, brows shaped like a curved scimitar, sketched with a pencil point ever so fine | —an arched chamber where my gaze could nestle and be at rest.
|| Eyes, those dreamy eyes in which would shine the reflection of a distant morning sky, | and I would try and make sure they never got blurred by even one single teardrop.
|| Lips, those sweetly scented lips of yours for me, when they made words, there was a blossoming | even from rocks and dried out trees, and nightingales would flutter.
first four couplets of Stanza III of the poem Epitaphios (᾿Επιτάφιος), by Yiannis Ritsos (Γιάννης Ρίτσος); the poem was originally published as Miroloyi (Μοιρολόγι) on May 12, 1936, in the Athenian newspaper Rizospastis (Ριζοσπάστης); set to music in 1958 by Mikis Theodorakis (Μίκης Θεοδωράκης) [44]
Here I refer to the first recorded version of the song:

Extract 1-Hb

Mikis Theodorakis (Μίκης Θεοδωράκης), Χείλι μου μοσχομύριστο, sung by Grigoris Bithikotsis (Γρηγόρης Μπιθικώτσης)
And here I refer to a “recital” version of the same song, rearranged by the composer Manos Hadzidakis (1925–1994):

Extract 1-Hc

Mikis Theodorakis (Μίκης Θεοδωράκης), Χείλι μου μοσχομύριστο, rearranged by Manos Hadzidakis (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις), sung by Nana Mouskouri (Νάνα Μούσχουρη)
1§74. In quoting my translation of the song, I have used the notation of two parallel vertical bars, ||, to indicate the beginning of each one of the four couplets—and the notation of one vertical bar, |, to indicate the break between the two parts of each couplet. I draw special attention to the word that comes right after the notation || that marks the beginning of each couplet. Each one of the four English words that occupy that space in my translation corresponds exactly to each one of the Greek words that start each couplet. And each couplet, as we can see from my translation, begins with a word for a part of the body: head of hair, eyebrows, eyes, lips. There is a sequential logic to it all, starting from the top and moving downward from one body part to the next: head of hair to eyebrows to eyes to lips. The title refers to the fourth of the four body parts, the lips, and, by starting with the lips as a title and ending with the lips as the last of the body parts in the song, there is a coming full circle.
1§75. So we see a metonymy at work here, featuring a logical sequence of body parts combined with an activation of all the senses. From the very start, already in the title, there are lips that are sweet-smelling, waiting to be kissed by the loving lips of the speaker. Next there is the hair, a shock of curls waiting to be touched and fondled by the speaker’s loving fingers. Next there are eyebrows, on which the eyes of the speaker may focus their loving gaze. Next there are eyes, which dreamily open in the morning and can now meet the gaze of the speaker’s own loving eyes. Next there are the lips again, ready to be kissed one more time by the loving speaker. So we see here a metonymy of sensory fusion, activating all five senses. There is tasting, smelling, touching, seeing, and, climactically, even hearing—as words start to flow from the lips of the beloved, fused with the words flowing from the lips of the loving speaker whose role is sung by the singer of the song.
1§76. Besides the metonymy of sensory fusion, we see here also another kind of metonymy. It has to do with the ownership, as it were, of the lips, the hair, the eyebrows, the eyes, and then again the lips. The I of the loving speaker is addressing not the you who is the beloved but rather your lips and your hair and your eyebrows and your eyes, and then your lips once more. But the language of the original Greek wording here is saying not your but my. When the speaker addresses the lips of the beloved, those are not your lips but my lips, as if the lips of the beloved now belonged to the loving speaker as well, not only to the beloved. In the Greek, híli mou means literally my lips, but the persona who is addressed is clearly not I but you, the owner of the lips, the loved one. So, what we see is a projection of identity, a fusion of I and you, which is strikingly similar to the patterns of fusion we have seen in the Song of Songs. This pattern is an example of what I have been calling interpersonal metonymy. Another example in the original Greek of this song is frídhi mou, which means literally my eyebrows. In my attempt to render these examples of interpersonal metonymy into English, I have translated híli mou not as my lips but as ‘those lips of yours for me’, and frídhi mou not as my eyebrows but as ‘those eyebrows of yours for me’. But the fact is, the starkness of the transfer of possession from the beloved to the one who loves is unmistakably clear in the original Greek.
1§77. Questions remain. In this song of Mikis Theodorakis, how are we to imagine the beloved? And what about the one who loves this beloved? Are the words of the song referring to a beloved man to whom a loving woman addresses her song? Or is it a beloved woman to whom a loving man addresses his song? In the original Greek of the song, there is no way of telling who is who, since there are no pronouns indicating the gender of either the beloved or the one who loves this beloved. In the version sung by the male singer, as I cited it in Extract 1-Hb, we could guess that the beloved is a woman and that the lover is a man. Or, in the version sung by the female singer, as I cited it in Extract 1-Hc, the beloved could be a man and the lover could be a woman. In Modern Greek popular culture, such questions are misleading. This song, ever since its first recording and continuing all the way to the present, has been appreciated and even loved by millions of Greek-speaking listeners, male and female, who can identify with the emotion of love expressed by the singer—regardless of gender. And this love, as we see from the wording of the song, is deeply eroticized as well as estheticized.
1§78. So, for anyone who is not aware of the song’s origins, the obvious inference is that we see here an erotic description of a love shared by two lovers, where the I of the singing voice that describes this love is addressing the you who is loved by this loving I. Only those listeners who are aware of the poem of Ritsos, which as we have seen was the source of this song of Theodorakis, would know for sure that the I of the singing voice represents a she, and that the you is a he. And only they would know that the she, from the standpoint of the lengthy poem from which the short song was extracted, is Mary the mother of Jesus, and that the he is Jesus himself, whose death on the cross is being lamented by his mother in song. The poet Ritsos had based his poem on a lengthy song of lament attributed to Mary in the folk traditions of Christian Greek songmaking—a song entitled Epitaphios Thrinos (Ἐπιτάφιος Θρῆνος), which had crystallized into a poem dating back to the fourteenth century CE. The meaning of the title points to a lament sung at the funeral of the dead Jesus. It has been said about this medieval Greek poem:
This traditional lament, based on early forms dating to the sixth century, is sung by entire congregations throughout Greece and all Greek Orthodox communities in the diaspora every spring during the Good Friday evening service. ... [Ritsos] reaches the broadest audience possible for a poet writing in Greek, for the Epitaphios Thrinos is known to nearly all speakers of the language: men and women, young and old, urban and rural, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, of all political persuasions. The Greek populace’s personal memories of the lament, furthermore, are inextricably intertwined with its context, since it is sung as part of an elaborate service which re-enacts the funeral of Christ and his descent into Hades. [45]
1§79. In Greek folk traditions of lament, the dead person who is being lamented is conventionally eroticized as well as estheticized, and, in the case of laments sung at funerals for young men, the corpse can even be compared to a beautiful bridegroom who is getting ready for a wedding; moreover, songs of lament can in general be interchangeable with wedding songs. [46] In the Epitaphios of Ritsos as well, the corpse of Jesus is estheticized and even eroticized, as if he were a beautiful bridegroom at a wedding (X.1, XVIII.5). [47]
1§80. Earlier, I had mentioned the term theo-eroticism as used by some exegetes of the Hebrew Bible in referring to erotic descriptions of an idealized bridegroom who figures as the center of attention in the Song of Songs. By now we can see that this term can apply also, at least indirectly, to the eroticized male body in the song of Theodorakis.
1§81. But we are not finished with the context of this song. The original poem of Ritsos was inspired by a historical event. On May 10, 1936, Ritsos saw a photograph in a newspaper. It showed a woman mourning over the dead body of a young man lying on the street. It was her son, Tassos Toussis, a factory worker who had just been killed by police at a demonstration by striking workers in the city of Thessaloniki on May 9, 1936. This image led Ritsos to compose the poem that is now known as the Epitaphios, imagined as a lament sung by the mourning mother in the photograph. I refer here to one of the published photographs recording that moment when Tassos Toussis, lying dead on the street, is mourned by his mother:

Extract 1-Hd

Nagy MoM Fig2
Photo: Tassos Toussis, lying dead on the street, is mourned by his mother. Originally published on the front page of the Greek newspaper Rizospastis (Ριζοσπάστης). May 10, 1936. Photo by kind permission of Rizospastis.

Defining synecdoche

1§82. There is yet another kind of metonymy at work in the song of Theodorakis. When the beloved is addressed as my lips or my eyebrows instead of being viewed as a whole person, what we see is a highlighting of a part of the whole, as if the part could mean the same thing as the whole. There is a word for this specialized kind of metonymy, which is synecdoche. This English word is a latinized spelling of the Greek word sunekdokhē, which means literally ‘getting a sense of one thing together with another thing’. In the ancient Greek lexicographical tradition, sunekdokhē is defined this way: ‘when someone learns from a part of the whole’ (Hesychius 2495, under the entry συνεκδοχή). [48]
1§83. This definition needs to be supplemented. I must add that synecdoche is not a metaphoric substitution, where a given something is replaced by something different, alien. Rather, synecdoche is a mental process of metonymic connection, where a given something is partitioned into parts of that something—and where any one of these parts, which stay connected to each other, can refer to that same whole something. Such a reference to the whole by way of any one of its parts is not a substitution for the whole, since all the parts, whether or not they are visible, can continue to participate in the mental process of referring to the whole by way of their interconnectedness with each other.

Contrasting examples of metaphor and synecdoche

1§84. To show how metaphoric substitution is different from metonymic connection by way of synecdoche, I will contrast an example of metaphor with an example of synecdoche. For metaphor, I will now go back once again to a most useful example that we saw already at the beginning, back when we looked at that fictional exchange between the poet and the postman. In that example, the expression it is raining is replaced by the metaphor the sky is weeping. For the making of this metaphor, as we saw, the vision of rain pouring from the sky is replaced by the picturing of tears flowing from the eyes—so that tears of sadness can now be seen pouring from the sky itself in the listener’s imagination. As for an example of metonymic connection by way of synecdoche, I will analyze a passage featuring not the sky itself but, instead, a god of the sky.
1§85. In the case of the metaphor about teardrops instead of raindrops falling from the sky, what is metaphorical about the substitution of tears for rain is the simple fact that something alien to the sky, weeping, has replaced something that is not alien to the sky, raining. As I noted from the start, surely we would never know from personal experience that the sky is weeping when it rains. To think that tears are pouring from the sky is to transfer something familiar that we do personally experience, weeping, to something unfamiliar that we will never personally experience, which is what happens to the sky when it rains. While weeping is familiar to us, it is alien to the sky.
1§86. Now I turn to an example of metonymic connection by way of synecdoche. This example has to do with the picturing of the sky god Zeus in the Homeric Iliad. To think of the sky as Zeus, who is personified as god of the sky, is already a metonymy in itself, since the personification makes the sky more familiar and thus less alien to humans who worship Zeus. I will have more to say in a minute about the human motivation for worshipping Zeus, as described in ancient Greek sources, but for now I limit myself to observing the simple fact that this metonymy involving Zeus is also a synecdoche, since Zeus as a personalized god of the sky thus becomes part of the overall human experience of the sky. Zeus is a part of that whole experience, a most important part.
1§87. The familiarity generated by such a synecdoche about Zeus as god of the sky stands in sharp contrast with the unfamiliarity of a metaphor like the one we have just considered, which pictures tears flowing from the sky. Although our familiar human experiences of seeing tears flow from our eyes and seeing rain pour from the sky can get defamiliarized by way of metaphorically picturing tears instead of rain pouring from the sky, these same experiences can get refamiliarized by way of a metonymy that pictures these tears flowing from the eyes of a sky god. That is exactly what happens in a striking verse we encounter in the Homeric Iliad, where the god Zeus is mourning in advance the impending death of his son, Sarpedon. This hero is the only mortal in the Iliad whose father is the sky god himself. Here, then, is the verse describing the sky god as he weeps:

Extract 1-Ia

He [= Zeus] poured down [kata-kheîn] bloody drops [psiades] to the earth.
Iliad XVI 459 [49]

Metonymies of tears

1§88. The drops of blood that flow from the body of Sarpedon when he is killed in battle are metonymically linked, even fused, with the drops of tears flow from the eyes of Zeus himself as god of the sky. Metaphorically, we can say that the sky weeps when we see rain pouring from the sky. But here, metonymically, the sky is personified as the sky god Zeus, who has eyes just as we mortals have eyes, and so, just as tears can pour down from our eyes, so also they can now pour down from the eyes of the god.
1§89. The verb that is used in this passage we have just read from the Iliad, kata-kheîn ‘pour down’, is used elsewhere in Homeric poetry together with dakru ‘teardrop’ as its direct object, as when the words of the hero Hector picture some future time when his wife Andromache, soon to become his widow, will be weeping for him after he is killed:

Extract 1-Ib

|459 And, one fine day, somebody will say when they see you [= Andromache] pouring down [kata-kheîn] your tears [dakru]: |460 “This one here used to be the woman of Hector, who was best in battle |461 among all the Trojans, horse-tamers, back when they were fighting to defend Ilion.”
Iliad VI 459–461 [50]
1§90. Soon after these words are spoken, Hector and Andromache will part. This moment is the last time these lovers will ever see each other, speak to each other. And, as we see Andromache heading back to her chambers while Hector heads off in the other direction, going off to his imminent death in war, the wife cannot resist turning back again and again for one last glimpse of her beloved husband, whom she will never again see alive:

Extract 1-Ic

She [= Andromache] was turning her head back again and again, pouring down [kata-kheîn] her tears [dakru], which were flowing thick and fast.
Iliad VI 496 [51]
1§91. What we see here are familiar human reactions to the deep sadness of suffering and dying. And these familiar reactions of mortals are experienced also by the deathless sky. That is because Zeus, potentially a remote sky god, is being personalized at the moment of his experience of sadness over the death of his mortal son, and thus he becomes familiar to humans. His bloody tears, then, are not metaphorical. It is not that these bloody tears, which in everyday circumstances are alien to the sky, are a metaphorical substitution for rain. Rather, bloody teardrops are a metonymical connection. The teardrops connect not with the sky, which is alien to tears, but with the part of the sky that is the sky god Zeus—and with the part of Zeus that is seen as his own eyes, which are not alien to tears, just as the god’s eyes are not at all alien to him. And the tears of Zeus are fused with blood because the bloody death of his mortal son is not at all alien to him. The god feels touched here by the human condition, and so his stylized weeping is not metaphorical but metonymical. The metonymy of the tears shed by the familiarized sky god overrides the metaphor of tears shed by an alien sky.
1§92. In Virgil’s Aeneid, we see a cosmic extension of such metonymy—where the weeping of humans literally touches every single atom in the universe, as if every particle of reality had inside it a tear-filled story to tell. The hero Aeneas, breaking down in tears when he sees images that show all the suffering and dying experienced by his own people in the Trojan War, says it this way:

Extract 1-J

There are tears [lacrimae] that connect with the real things [rēs plural] [of the universe], and things that happen to mortals touch [tangere] the mind [mēns].
Virgil Aeneid 1.462 [52]
1§93. So, we began with the weeping of the sky. Now we see the weeping of all the atoms of the universe. Elsewhere, I have analyzed in some detail the wording of this extraordinary passage from Virgil, focusing on the poet’s allusion to atomic theory as articulated in the poetry of Lucretius. [53] Here I confine myself to comparing three of the relevant passages in Lucretius.
1§94. Before I turn to Lucretius, however, I need to highlight a word in the passage I just quoted from Virgil, the neuter plural mortālia, which I translate as ‘things that happen to mortals’. We see here a universalizing reference to the rēs ‘things’ (genitive rērum) in the real world. I am using the word real here in the sense of its etymology as an adjective derived from the noun rēs, which refers here and elsewhere in Lucretius and Virgil to the world of reality. [54] In the wording of Virgil, the rēs ‘things’ (genitive rērum) of the real world are connected with the shedding of tears, and these realities are further connected with the mental faculty of the mēns or ‘mind’. The mental connection here is a matter of genuine contact with things that are real. These real things literally touch the mēns—and the word for ‘touch’ here is tangere. In the poetic world inherited by Virgil, the experience of touching cannot be insubstantial. If something touches and is touched, it must be substantial, real. [55]
1§95. That said, I turn to the first of the three passages I will quote from Lucretius. In this passage the poet speaks of reality as corporeality. What is substantial may be either visible or invisible, like the atom, but it must be a corpus or ‘body’:

Extract 1-Ka

No single thing [rēs] can touch [tangere] and be touched [tangere] unless it is a body [corpus].
Lucretius De rerum natura 1.304 [56]
1§96. Now I turn to the second passage I will quote from Lucretius, where we can see clearly the relevance of the word rēs ‘thing’ to atomic theory:

Extract 1-Kb

Nor should you think that the good colors of real things [rēs plural], colors that nourish [= are a feast for] the eyes, are similarly constituted in their atomic seed as the [bad] colors [of real things], which cause a sharp sting [for the eyes] and compel the shedding of tears [lacrimāre]. [57]
Lucretius De rerum natura 2.418–420 [58]
1§97. In this description, the exterior stimuli come from invisible particles, but these particles are still part of the real world. Again I am using the word real here in the sense of its etymology as an adjective derived from the noun rēs, which refers to the world of reality. [59]
1§98. Now I turn to the third passage from Lucretius, where the use of the word mēns ‘mind’ helps us understand its use in the passage I quoted earlier from Virgil:

Extract 1-Kc

|136 The animus and the anima, I say, are held joined together one with the other, |137 and form one single nature of themselves, |138 but the chief and dominant thing in the whole body [corpus] |139 is still that faculty of reasoning that we call the animus or mind [mēns], |140 which is lodged in the middle region of the chest [pectus]. |141 Here is where fear and terror flourish; it is around these places |142 that moments of happiness offer their caresses; here, then, is the mind [mēns] or animus. |143 The remaining part of the anima is scattered throughout the whole body [corpus], |144 but it obeys and is moved [movēre] according to the assent and the motion of the mind [mēns].
Lucretius De rerum natura 3.136–144 [60]
1§99. Returning to the passage from Virgil, I now focus on the genitive construction lacrimae rerum, which could be translated literally as ‘tears of the real things [of the universe]’. Such a translation, however, is too specific—as if the use of the genitive case here implied some kind of ownership. But the idea of ownership is only tangential to the genitive case. The most general function of the genitive, rather, is simply to express a connection between one thing and another thing. In other words, the most general function of the genitive case is to express a metonymic relationship. So, that is why I translated lacrimae rerum this way: ‘tears that connect with the real things [of the universe]’. [61]

Zeus and his metonymic contacts with human emotions

1§100. A few minutes ago, we saw how Zeus, potentially a remote sky god, can become personalized and thus familiarized through the metonymy of his tears. We may say that he is making metonymic contact with human emotions. To drive the point home, I return here to the verb that signals this metonymy, kata-kheîn, which means literally ‘to pour down’, as when Zeus ‘pours down’ bloody tears from his eyes to signal his emotional reaction to the impending death of his beloved son Sarpedon. We saw that this same verb kata-kheîn applies to humans when they ‘pour down’ tears from their own eyes, as when Andromache ‘pours down’ her tears in her own emotional reaction to the impending death of her beloved husband Hector. What I find singularly remarkable about this parallelism between Zeus and Andromache is that we get to see, at a later point in the storytelling of the Homeric Iliad, that these two figures actually get connected to each other by the story itself. It happens at a most climactic moment of the storytelling, in a scene where Zeus himself shows that he feels an emotional connection with the weeping of Andromache over the death of Hector. It is this extraordinary scene that I have in mind as I start to elaborate on the metonymic contacts of Zeus with human emotions.
1§101. It happens in Iliad XVII, just after Hector kills Patroklos, who in turn had just killed Sarpedon, the son of Zeus. The sky god is watching from his celestial vantage point as Hector starts pulling off the armor from the corpse of Patroklos. This armor really belongs to Achilles, but Patroklos had put it on his own body when he went to battle as the ritual substitute of Achilles. And now, after pulling off this armor from the corpse of Patroklos, Hector later on proceeds to put it on his own body. Reacting emotionally, Zeus says to himself that Hector is now doomed to be killed by Achilles. And the god also says in the same breath—this is what I find so singularly remarkable—that Hector’s wife Andromache is now doomed to feel the pain of never seeing Hector alive again. So, Zeus is in effect saying that he will now be the cause of grief for Andromache, making her weep, and the god expresses a certain sadness in the way he says this. I quote here the wording, within the context of the whole scene as I have just described it:

Extract 1-La

|194 He [= Hector] put on the immortalizing armor |195 of Achilles the son of Peleus, which the skydwelling gods |196 gave to his [= Achilles’] father near and dear. And he [= Peleus] had given it to his son [= Achilles] |197 when he [= Peleus] grew old. As for the son, he never reached old age wearing the armor of his father. |198 He [= Hector] was seen from afar by Zeus, gatherer of clouds. |199 There he [= Hector] was, all fitted out in the armor of [Achilles] the godlike son of Peleus. |200 Then he [= Zeus] moved his head and spoke to himself [= to his own thūmos]: |201 “Ah, you [= Hector] are a pitiful wretch. Your own death is not on your mind [thūmos] |202 —a death that is coming near. There you are, putting on the immortalizing armor |203 of a man who is champion, one who makes all others tremble. |204 It was his comrade [= Patroklos] you killed, gentle he was and strong, |205 and his armor, in a way that went against the order [kosmos] of things, from his head and shoulders |206 you took. All the same, I will for now put into your hands great power [kratos]. |207 As a compensation [poinē] for this, you will never return home from the battle. |208 Never will you bring home, for Andromache to receive, the famed [kluta] armor of [Achilles] the son of Peleus.” |209 So spoke [Zeus] the son of Kronos, and with his eyebrows of blue he made a reinforcing [= epi-] nod. |210 He [= Zeus] fitted the armor to Hector’s skin, and he [= Hector] was entered by Ares |211 the terrifying, the Enyalios. And his [= Hector’s] limbs were all filled inside |212 with force and strength. Seeking to join up with his famed allies |213 he went off, making a great war cry. He was quite the picture for all to see. |214 He was shining in the armor of the man with the great heart [thūmos], [Achilles] the son of Peleus.
Iliad XVII 194–214 [62]
1§102. When Zeus nods his head here at verse 209, he is formally expressing his will, which is a plan for the outcome of this part of the story: Hector will be killed, and the hero’s death will cause grief for Andromache. Only one other time does Zeus nod his head in the Iliad, and that previous nod of the head translates into the outcome of the whole story:

Extract 1-Lb

|528 So spoke [Zeus] the son of Kronos, and with his eyebrows of blue he made a reinforcing [= epi-] nod. |529 Ambrosial were the locks of hair that cascaded from the lord’s |530 head immortal. And he caused great Olympus to quake.
Iliad I 528–530 [63]
1§103. When Zeus nods his head here at verse 528, he is formally expressing his plan to make the whole story of the Iliad happen. The Plan of Zeus is the Will of Zeus. It is an executive order that determines the outcome of the Iliad—how the anger of Achilles will make the Achaeans lose their advantage in the Trojan War until they compensate this angry hero for the insult that their king Agamemnon had inflicted on him.
1§104. Likewise, as we saw a minute ago, there is another moment in the Iliad where the god nods his head and thus signifies his will, which is again the Plan of Zeus. That time, however, the Plan is equated not with the whole story of the Iliad, as in Iliad I, but only with a part of the story. That part of the story will begin with a scene in Iliad XXII where Andromache first sees the corpse of Hector and weeps over his death, singing a song of lamentation for him. Like some director of a grand theatrical production, Zeus himself is setting up that scene, already picturing Andromache as she helplessly waits for Hector to come back to her. It is the Plan of Zeus that Andromache will be kept waiting, since, sadly, Hector will never again come back to her alive. [64]
1§105. So the exquisite moment when Zeus makes his nod is pictured not once but twice in the Iliad. The first time, Zeus signals his metonymic contact with the emotions of Achilles—first there was sadness, and then there was anger—as the divine nod leads into the whole story of the Iliad. The second time, Zeus signals his metonymic contact with the emotions of Andromache—as his nod leads into the embedded story that tells how Hector was killed and how Andromache lamented him.
1§106. This signaling of the god’s contact with human emotions was synthesized in the classical period, in the middle of the fifth century BCE, with the creation of a colossal statue of Zeus. This spectacular work of art, made of gold and ivory, dominated the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, and the creator of the statue was Pheidias the Athenian. I quote here a relevant story about him. The story is reported by Strabo (first century BCE/CE), who tells us what exactly it is was that inspired Pheidias to make this statue:

Extract 1-M (including a quotation of the text we read in 1-Lb)

Collaborating in many ways with Pheidias was Panainos the painter [zōgraphos]. [65] He was his nephew and his partner in getting the contract [for making the statue]. The collaboration had to do with the adorning [kosmēsis] [66] of the statue [xoanon], particularly of its fabrics, [67] with colors [khrōmata]. And many wondrous paintings [graphai], [68] works of Panainos, are also to be seen all around the temple. There is this recollection about Pheidias: when Panainos asked him what model [paradeigma] he was following as he [= Pheidias] started to make the likeness [eikōn] of Zeus, he [= Pheidias] replied that he was going to make it after the likeness set forth by Homer in these words [epos plural]:
Strabo 8.3.30 C354 [69]
[What follows here is Strabo’s quotation of the Homeric passage:]
|528 So spoke [Zeus] the son of Kronos, and with his eyebrows of blue he made a reinforcing [= epi-] nod. |529 Ambrosial were the locks of hair that cascaded from the lord’s |530 head immortal. And he caused great Olympus to quake.
Iliad I 528–530 [70]
1§107. According to this story, the creative impulse that leads Pheidias to make the statue of Zeus is a distinctly Homeric impulse. The moment captured by the maker of the statue is a Homeric moment. It is the moment when Zeus nods his head and thus signifies his divine will, that is, the Plan of Zeus, which is coextensive with both the overall story of the Homeric Iliad and the embedded story about the death of Hector and the sorrows of Andromache over this death. [71]
1§108. The Plan of Zeus will make Andromache weep, yes. Nevertheless, as we have seen, the god speaks of his plan in a way that reveals his compassion for the woman who will never again see her husband alive. As I said already, this is a sky god who makes metonymic contact with human emotions.
1§109. The picturing of Zeus at a moment when he makes contact with human emotions not only familiarizes the sky god by way of personalizing him: such a picture, as I will now argue, also estheticizes him, and even eroticizes him. In making this argument, I will consider not only the Homeric visualization of the contact that Zeus makes with extraordinary humans in the heroic age. There is also an piece of evidence about visualizations attributed to ordinary humans in the post-heroic age. I am about to quote from a text that shows how ordinary humans can express a hope that Zeus will make contact with them as well. Such a hope is what Pheidias must have had in mind when he said, as we saw in the story reported by Strabo, that he was inspired to picture Zeus at the moment when he nods his head in the Iliad.
1§110. What I just said is not an attempt on my part to second-guess what Pheidias really thought when he made the statue of Zeus. No, the second-guessing comes from the ancient world, and we can see it not only in the passage I quoted from Strabo. I am about to quote another passage that explores even further the thinking of Pheidias. This passage is what I was describing a moment ago as a piece of evidence about visualizations attributed to ordinary humans in the post-heroic age. The author of the passage, as we will see, is exploring the emotional reactions of ordinary humans at the sight of the statue of Zeus by Pheidias. According to this author, the attempt of Pheidias to visualize the Homeric moment when the remote sky god makes contact with humans can be seen as a sincere artistic response to a basic human need. The need, in such a line of thinking, was to make this remote sky god reachable, even touchable.
1§111. The author of the text I am about to quote was an intellectual named Dio of Prusa, who lived in the first and the second centuries CE. In this text, which I extract from his Olympic Discourse (Oration 12), Dio is imagining a hypothetical speech delivered by none other than Pheidias himself, who is speaking here about his masterpiece, the colossal statue of Zeus that he created for the temple of Zeus at Olympia. In his speech, Pheidias explains his idealizing of the human form by creating the spectacular statue of Zeus. To justify this human form that he creates for Zeus, the sculptor speaks about a basic need felt by humans to go beyond imagining gods as they might exist in the sky or in the cosmos in general. More specifically, humans need to have a feeling of divine immediacy by getting near them, close to them—a feeling achieved by way of mental or even physical contact with statues and with paintings and with other images of the gods. [72] Here is how Pheidias says it, in his speech as staged by Dio:

Extract 1-N

No one would argue that it would have been better if no statue or image of gods [theoi] had ever been set up in the realm of humans for them to look at—arguing on the grounds that humans should look only toward those things that are connected with the realm of the sky [tà ourania]. Here is why I say this. Granted, everyone with good sense holds in worshipful reverence those things [connected with the realm of the sky], thinking that those things are blessed gods [theoi] as viewed from a vast distance. Nevertheless, because humans are attracted to whatever the divine thing [ daimonion] is [that is unknown], [73] they all have a powerful erotic desire [erōs] to worship [tīmân] and to take care of [therapeuein] whatever the divine thing [ theion] [74] is [that is known], [and they do so] by getting up close to it and near it, as they approach it and try to touch it in an act of persuasion, and they sacrifice to it and put garlands [stephanoûn] on it. Quite simply, they are like disconnected [nēpioi] [75] children who have been torn away from their father or mother and who, feeling a terrific urge [himeros] and longing [pothos], often reach out their hands while they are dreaming, in the direction of their parents who are not there; so also are humans in their relationship with the gods [theoi], loving them as they do, and justifiably so, because the gods do good things for them and have an affinity with them. And, in their love for the gods, humans strive in all possible ways to be with them and in their company.
Dio of Prusa (“Dio Chrysostom”) 12.60–61 [76]
1§112. Earlier, we saw that a god like Zeus, despite his remoteness in the sky, can still make contact with the emotions of mortals. Now we see that mortals have a deep yearning for such contact. They even yearn to make contact on their own with tò theion, which I have translated as ‘whatever the divine thing is that is known’. In colloquial American English, we could call it the “god” thing. And, in the words of the sculptor Pheidias as staged by Dio, humans express their yearning for this thing by worshipping it, and I quote Dio again as he describes how the worshippers worship this thing: "by getting up close to it and near it, as they approach it and try to touch it in an act of persuasion, and they sacrifice to it and put garlands [stephanoûn] on it." Such yearning verges on something that might as well be described as not only erotic but even theo-erotic.
1§113. Earlier, I had talked about the mentality of theo-eroticism in interpreting the Song of Songs. I see a comparable mentality when I think of Zeus as he was pictured in the Homeric Iliad—and, later, as he was shaped into the magnificent statue created by the sculptor Pheidias in Olympia. I focus here on one detail. As we saw in the description given by Strabo (8.3.30 C354), Pheidias lavished special attention on the cascading locks of divine hair at the moment when the god nods his head, as lovingly described in the Homeric Iliad (I 528–530). [77]
1§114. We can read surviving reportage about the strong impressions experienced by viewers attracted to the spectacular sight of this splendid head of hair. I focus here on just one example. In the early Byzantine era, the head of Olympian Zeus became a model for artists seeking to picture the head of Jesus himself, and there are stories that tell of dire consequences. I cite here one such story, which survives from ancient excerpts taken from the writings of the historian Theodorus Lector (lector is a latinized way of rendering Greek anagnōstēs, the oldest meaning of which is ‘the one who reads out loud’), who flourished in the early sixth century CE. [78] We read in these excerpts a story about Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 458 to 471 CE, who mercifully and miraculously healed the withered hand of a painter [zōgraphos] punished by superhuman forces for painting [graphein] Jesus in the likeness of Olympian Zeus. [79] According to Theodorus Lector, the conventional skhēma or ‘way of representing’ as practiced by painters who painted pictures of Jesus in that period—the ‘more true’ way [alēthesteron]—was to show him with short, tight curls [oulon kai oligotrikhon]. By contrast, the hair of Olympian Zeus was long, with curls less tight and more flowing. Also, the hair of Zeus had a telltale parting at the middle of his forehead, leaving the god’s face stylishly unencumbered by hair. According to Theodorus Lector, the painter [zōgraphos] had painted the hair of Jesus in this style, so that those who desired to worship Zeus could pretend to be worshipping Jesus instead. [80]
1§115. The dating of this Byzantine story about Olympian Zeus as a model for Jesus corresponds to a major event in the history of art: at some point in the era of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II, who ruled from 406 to 450 BCE, the statue of Zeus had been removed from the ruins of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and transferred to a high-ceiling palace in Constantinople, hub of the Byzantine Empire, along with many other art treasures of the ancient world. This new home for Zeus was not to last. Sadly, the god’s stay in Constantinople was all too brief, lasting less than even one single century, since the palace where his statue was exhibited burned down, Zeus and all, probably in the great fire of 475 CE. [81] Before Olympian Zeus finally went up in flames, however, he evidently managed to leave a deep impression on the artists of Constantinople at the time, as we see from the story of the painter who was punished for modeling his image of Jesus on the image of Zeus. And, despite the threats of divine punishment as conveyed by this story, the picturing of Zeus not only persisted but even prevailed in the end. Although Olympian Zeus had gone up in flames and was now lost for all eternity, his visual effects were destined to last: in conventional Byzantine art as it evolved beyond the early period when the statue of Zeus was still extant in Constantinople, the head of Jesus—especially in his role as Christ the Pantokratōr or ‘ruler of the whole universe’—retained the look and feel of the old sky god whom the sculptor Pheidias had made accessible to all humanity—almost a thousand years earlier. [82] A most striking example of this look and feel is a mosaic dating from the late twelfth century CE, inside the Monreale Cathedral, Santa Maria la Nuova, near Palermo in Sicily, where we see Christ the Pantokratōr looking down from the celestial heights of the central dome. Here I refer to the image:

Extract 1-O

Nagy MoM Fig1
Mosaic of Christ Pantokrator. In the Monreale Cathedral, Santa Maria la Nuova, Sicily (near Palermo). Made available on Wikimedia Commons by the user Mboesch under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
1§116. In describing here the visual effect of seeing the flowing curls of Jesus and, indirectly, of Zeus, I deliberately used the colloquial expression look and feel, recalling what Pheidias as staged by Dio says about the desire of humans to worship tò theion, that is, to worship whatever is divine. I quote again the words, as we read them in Extract 1-P, describing how humans worship this divine thing, whatever it is: "because humans are attracted to whatever the divine thing [ daimonion] is [that is unknown], they all have a powerful erotic desire [erōs] to worship [tīmân] and to take care of [therapeuein] whatever the divine thing [ theion] is [that is known], [and they do so] by getting up close to it and near it, as they approach it and try to touch it in an act of persuasion, and they sacrifice to it and put garlands [stephanoûn] on it."
1§117. I continue to focus here on the human desire, even erotic longing, for physical contact with whatever is divine: to be near it, next to it, touching it. And I note how the sense of touch is being foregrounded here. Such foregrounding leads us back to the topic of theo-eroticism: so what exactly is theo-erotic about this Jesus whose image is modeled on the image of Olympian Zeus? A simple way of starting to address this question is to quote again the words from the song of Theodorakis, taken from the poem Epitaphios by Ritsos:

Extract 1-P (repeating 1-Ha)

|| Hair, that curly head of hair, I would slip my fingers through it, | all those nights, while you were asleep, and I was awake, right there next to you.
|| Eyebrows, those eyebrows of yours for me, brows shaped like a curved scimitar, sketched with a pencil point ever so fine | —an arched chamber where my gaze could nestle and be at rest.
|| Eyes, those dreamy eyes in which would shine the reflection of a distant morning sky, | and I would try and make sure they never got blurred by even one single teardrop.
|| Lips, those sweetly scented lips of yours for me, when they made words, there was a blossoming | even from rocks and dried out trees, and nightingales would flutter.
from the poem Epitaphios, by Ritsos, turned into song by Theodorakis [83]
1§118. At the very beginning of this song, there is an erotic sensation of fingers touching a curly head of hair. And fingers are most relevant to the idea of metonymy, which I defined from the start as a mental process that expresses meaning by connecting something to something else that is next to it or at least near to it, thereby making contact. As I revisit here the wording of this working definition, I now highlight the last word, contact. To make contact is to touch. And that is how fingers become most relevant to the idea of metonymy. From the start, I showed as an example of metonymy the sense of connectivity that we notice in a sequence connecting the hand to the arm to the shoulder and so on. But now I can show a better example if I start again with the hand but then proceed in a sequence that is heading in the other direction, connecting the hand to the fingers to what the fingers touch—or, even better, to what the fingertips are used to touching. To touch is to become familiar, which as we have seen is a sign of metonymy. And that is what we see happening in the words quoted from the song of Theodorakis: "hair, that curly head of hair, I would slip my fingers through it." As I think about the ultrasensitivity of fingertips, my mind turns here to the interest of evolutionary biologists in the intense concentration of nerves situated at the tips of human fingers.
1§119. In quoting again the words from the song of Theodorakis, I focused on the sense of touch. But that sense connects in this song to all the other senses. And the senses all converge on a unifying experience in this song. That experience of sensory fusion comes very close, I think, to the experience of making metonymic contact with the divine. And the sensuality of the sensory fusion can be described as theo-eroticism. After all, the song of Theodorakis connects with the song of lament sung by the mother of Jesus over his beautiful body—as brought back to life in the poem of Ritsos. And the making of both this song and this poem is what I would describe as a masterpiece of metonymy.

Another example of divine metonymic contact with human emotions

1§120. Before we turn away from the theo-eroticism of the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus created by Pheidias, I must consider an equally famous statue created by the same sculptor in an earlier phase of his career. It is the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of the goddess Athena inside the Parthenon, that spectacular building situated on the Acropolis of Athens and revered as the home of the goddess Athena Parthénos or ‘Virgin’. According to a reliable source dating from the fourth/third centuries BCE (Philochorus FGH 328 F 121), the statue of Athena Parthénos was inaugurated in 438/7 BCE, and the statesman Pericles himself was an epistatēs ‘supervisor’ of its creation. [84] Here I concentrate on a story that tells what ultimately happened to this statue—more than nine hundred years later. In this story, as we will see, there was something about the Athena of Pheidias that caused a man to experience the sensory fusion of simultaneously seeing and hearing the goddess herself. And the experience of this man, as we are also about to see, is another example of divine metonymic contact with human emotions.
1§121. The man is Proclus. He was a Platonic philosopher, a non-Christian, who is best known for the commentaries that he published on Plato’s Timaeus and Republic, among many other works. And the story comes from The Life of Proclus, authored by Marinus of Samaria, a follower of Proclus (Life 1, 5, 9, 16–17, 20, 27, 30–35). This Marinus (Life 35–36) gives an exact date for the birth of Proclus in the context of documenting the man’s horoscope—as also a date for his death. So, the philosopher was born in Constantinople on February 8, in 412 CE, and he died in Athens on April 17, in the year 485. And we know from Marinus (Life 10) that Proclus at a young age moved from Constantinople to Athens, where he eventually became the director of Plato’s Academy. We also know that, from his place of residence at Athens, he could see the Acropolis (Life 29). So he could enjoy a view of the Parthenon, which, as I noted, was the home of the goddess Athena. This detail, as we will see, is most relevant to the story that tells what ultimately happened to the statue of Athena in the Parthenon—and how this Platonic philosopher Proclus experienced a kind of sensory fusion involving that statue.
1§122. This story is roughly contemporaneous with the story that tells what happened to the statue of Zeus after its relocation from Olympia to Constantinople. As we are about to see, the fate that befell the statue of Athena in Athens was more ignominious than the disaster that happened to her father’s statue at around the same time in Constantinople. In the case of Zeus, at least he was situated in a place of honor, however alien, at the moment when he finally went up in flames in the fifth century CE. In the case of Athena, by contrast, as we are about to read in the story told by Marinus (Life of Proclus 30), her statue in Athens was unceremoniously carted off by Christian zealots—never to be seen again. [85] In the story, this ignominious event is linked with an epiphany experienced by Proclus:

Extract 1-Qa

How dear [pros-philēs] he [= Proclus] was to the goddess of philosophy [= Athena] was amply demonstrated by the fact that he chose for himself a philosophical life. But, even more than that, the goddess herself showed it when her statue, which had been until this time situated in the Parthenon, was removed by those [= the Christians] who move [kineîn] things that must not be moved [akinēta]. In a dream [onar], he [= Proclus] seemed to be seeing a woman of great beauty coming toward him and announcing to him that he must, as quickly as possible, get his home [oikiā] ready for her, “because the Athenian Lady wishes to live with you in your home [para soi].”
Marinus Life of Proclus 30 [86]
1§123. Goddesses have a way of talking like that. Even when they speak in the first person, they will refer to themselves in the third person. A classic example is the wording of Aphrodite in the Hippolytus of Euripides (verse 33). [87] As we consider further the story about the epiphany of the goddess Athena, appearing as she does to Proclus in a dream, I need to highlight the fact that the goddess here is following up on an earlier epiphany experienced by the philosopher. As we are about to read in a passage extracted from an earlier point in The Life of Proclus, Athena appeared to the philosopher already in his youth, when he was still living in Constantinople. In this earlier epiphany, the goddess had invited young Proclus to embrace philosophy as his lifelong passion. I will now quote the wording of this story, calling attention in advance to a striking detail. As we are about to see, this epiphany is meant to explain why the philosopher developed a special feeling of intimacy with Athena as the goddess of wisdom, as the patroness of philosophy. Here, then, is the wording, which explains why Athena cared so much for Proclus from the very start:

Extract 1-Qb

You see, she [= Athena] appeared [phainesthai] to him in a dream [onar] and summoned him to a life of philosophy. And I think that this is why he experienced such great familiarity [oikeiotēs] with the goddess. As a result, he especially adored her and was observant of her rituals [orgia] with more of a passionate intensity of divine possession [enthousiastikōteron].
Marinus Life of Proclus 6 [88]
1§124. The intimacy that Proclus felt he shared with the goddess Athena is expressed here by the word oikeiotēs, which I translate as ‘familiarity’. As we saw from the start, the Greek adjective oikeio- ‘familiar’, from which the noun oikeiotēs ‘familiarity’ derives, captures the basic feature of metonymy that distinguishes it from metaphor: the opposite of oikeio- ‘familiar’, which is indicated by metonymy, is allotrio- ‘alien’, indicated by metaphor.
1§125. To be familiar with something or someone is to be at home with that something or someone. After all, the adjective oikeio- is derived from the noun oikos, meaning ‘home’; a related noun is oikiā, likewise meaning ‘home’, which is used in the text I quoted in Extract 1-Qa (Marinus Life of Proclus 30) when Athena at the moment of her epiphany tells Proclus that he must, as quickly as possible, get his oikiā ‘home’ ready for her. Here I return one last time to the story about the removal of the statue of Athena from her home in the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis of Athens. As we saw in this story, Proclus experiences the sensory fusion of both seeing and hearing the goddess at the very moment when her statue is being permanently removed from sight. As her statue disappears forever, the goddess re-appears to Proclus in a final epiphany that recalls the primal epiphany that had bonded the philosopher to her forever. Though the statue of the goddess is gone, removed from her home in the Parthenon, the goddess of philosophy now finds for herself a new home in the heart of the philosopher who will love her forever and ever.
1§126. Here I return to the expression enthousiastikōteron in Extract 1-Qb (Life of Proclus 6), describing the passionate intensity felt by Proclus in worshipping the goddess Athena. My translation of this expression, ‘with more of a passionate intensity of divine possession’, was meant to reflect the etymology of this word, which is derived from the adjective en-theos, meaning ‘possessed by a divinity’ or even ‘having a divinity inside’ (as in Plato Ion 533e).
1§127. Such, then, is the power of metonymic contact with the goddess Athena. And such is the power of her theo-erotic attractiveness.

On the idea of epiphany

1§128. A moment ago, I used the word epiphany in describing the vision of Athena as she appears to her worshipful follower Proclus. The ancient Greek word epiphaneia, which I translate as ‘epiphany’, refers to the experiencing of something superhuman that makes itself known primarily by way of a visual appearance. [89] We will need to hold on to this word as we prepare for readings still to come.
1§129. In fact, we have already seen the verb from which this noun epiphaneia ‘epiphany’ is derived. It is phainesthai ‘appear [in a vision]’, as used in Extract 1-Qb (Life of Proclus 6), where this verb refers to the appearance of the goddess to Proclus in his youth, on the occasion of her first epiphany. Later in the narrative, we find the noun opsis ‘vision’ referring to that same epiphany (Life of Proclus 10). In that context (and also already in Life of Proclus 9), the first epiphany of Athena is described as the divine force that leads young Proclus to relocate to Athens, where he is destined to preserve the teachings of Plato and to become, eventually, the director of Plato’s Academy (again, Life of Proclus 10).

Metonymic contact with the world of heroes

1§130. The sacred relationship of the Platonic philosopher Proclus with Athena is linked to further relationships that are also sacred. The metonymic contact of Proclus with the goddess of Athens extends to other contacts with other superhuman powers that resided in that city. As we are about to read in The Life of Proclus, Marinus goes on to say that Proclus developed a sacred relationship with the cult heroes of Athens. I must stress here that cult heroes, though they were not considered to be gods, were nevertheless traditionally worshipped as sacred superhuman forces in their own right. [90] Moreover, the cult heroes of Athens in the era of Proclus—and even in earlier eras—included Socrates and Plato. Here I rely on the relevant facts gathered by Stephen A. White in a perceptive and far-reaching study of initiatives taken by Plato for instituting a hero cult for Socrates; in that study, White also examines further initiatives taken by Plato’s successors in maintaining a hero cult not only for Socrates but even for Plato. [91]
1§131. In the next section, we will consider White’s arguments for the existence of hero cults established in honor of Socrates and Plato in Athens. But first, I propose to examine a relevant passage in The Life of Proclus, and I start by focusing on a point in the narrative where a youthful Proclus first comes to Athens. At this point in the narrative, a mystical event confirms his destiny as the future director of Plato’s Academy, and I begin by summarizing here the main details of this event (Life of Proclus 10). As soon as he lands at the Athenian harbor of Peiraieus, Proclus proceeds to walk toward the city of Athens. Along the way, he becomes thirsty. He tells his companion Nikolaos that he needs a drink of water, which is then brought to him. Although Proclus does not yet know it, his first drink of water on Athenian soil comes from a pēgē ‘spring’ that flows from a plot of ground described as a khōrion hieron ‘sacred space’. Sacred to whom? As we are about to see, this place is sacred to Socrates, the teacher of Plato. The name of the place, as we are also about to see, is Sōkrateion, ‘the space of Socrates’, and the spring is near a stēlē ‘stele, pillar’ that had been set up in honor of this philosopher, who is said to receive tīmai ‘honors’ there. The use of the word tīmai is essential in this context, because tīmai conventionally refers to the ‘honors’ received by cult heroes in hero cults. [92] When Proclus is informed about the source of the water that he just drank, he offers to Socrates ‘a gesture of worship’, as expressed by the verb proskuneîn, before he resumes his journey and continues his walk toward the city. Here, then, is my translation of the text that tells about this mystical event, and I ask the reader to track with special care the words I have already highlighted:

Extract 1-Qc

So, he [= Nikolaos] was escorting him [= Proclus] to the city [of Athens]. He [= Proclus] was feeling the effects of the exertion he was experiencing from all the walking along the way [to the city], and, in the space of Socrates [tò Sōkrateion]—though he [= Proclus] did not yet know and had not heard that this was a place where Socrates was the recipient of honors [tīmai]—he [= Proclus] asked Nikolaos if it was all right for him [= Proclus] to stop there for a while and sit down. He [= Proclus] also asked if he [= Nikolaos] could bring him some water from somewhere. He [= Proclus] was feeling held back, he said, because he was so very thirsty. He [= Nikolaos] most readily did as he was asked, and he had the water brought to him [= Proclus] from a place that was none other than that sacred [hieron] space [khōrion]. You see, the spring [pēgē] was not so far away from the pillar [stēlē] of Socrates. When he [= Proclus] finished drinking, he [= Nikolaos] addressed him [= Proclus]: “this is a symbol [sumbolon],” he said—only then realizing it for the first time. He [= Nikolaos] was referring to the fact that he [= Proclus] was sitting in the space of Socrates [tò Sōkrateion], and that it was in this place that he [= Proclus] first drank the water of Athenian territory [= Attica]. He [= Proclus] stood up, made a gesture of worship [proskuneîn], and then resumed his journey as he started walking again toward the city [of Athens].
Marinus Life of Proclus 10 [93]
1§132. The wording used in the narrative here indicates that Proclus has at this precise moment made contact with something sacred—that is, with a hero cult established in earlier times by Plato’s followers in honor of Socrates. And this sacred contact is metonymic: the fresh water that Proclus is drinking flows from a spring that is sacred by way of its contact with the sacred space of Socrates, who is worshipped as a cult hero within that space.

The metonymy of periodic recurrence in hero cults

1§133. I emphasize another detail in this narrative of Marinus that I just quoted in Extract 1-Qc (Life of Proclus 10): as soon as he is told about the source of the fresh water he is drinking, Proclus makes a ritual gesture of worshipping Socrates. Elsewhere too in the narrative of Marinus, there are references to the ritual correctness of Proclus in observing the customs of worshipping cult heroes and of honoring the dead in general. This correctness, as we will see, has to do with the observance of rituals that recur year after year in honor of cult heroes. And the mentality of ancient reportage about such a periodic recurrence, as we will also see, is metonymic.
1§134. Marinus describes such a mentality in the context of noting that Proclus, toward the end of his life, had planned ahead for a traditional funeral, Athenian style, to be held in his honor after he died:

Extract 1-Qd

He [= Proclus] deemed it proper that his body should receive the kind of ritual care [therapeiā] that accorded with the ancestral customs of the Athenians—and that accorded also with the arrangements he had made while he was still alive. You see, this was yet another thing that this blessed [makarios] man had in his possession, more than anyone else: he had an understanding and a practical knowledge of the rituals performed [tà drōmena] in connection with the departed. He neglected no date [kairos] marking the customary ritual care [therapeiā] of these [departed ones]. Every year, on properly determined days, he would make the rounds visiting the monuments [mnēmata] of the heroes of the Athenian territory [= Attica], as also the monuments of those who led a philosophical life, and, more generally, of those who had been his friends and acquaintances. He would ritually perform [drân] there the traditional things [tà nenomismena] to be performed—not by way of some intermediary but rather by activating [energeîn] the rituals himself. And, after having rendered the proper ritual care [therapeiā] in each case, he would go off to the Academy and, at a special space that was set aside for that purpose, he would supplicate the spirits [psūkhai] of his ancestors and, inclusively, all related spirits. Then, in general, at another [special] place, he would pour libations for, this time, the spirits [psūkhai] of all those who had led a philosophical life. In addition to all these things, that most holy man would mark out a third [special] space and, at that spot, he would pronounce a blessing on the spirits [psūkhai] of all departed humans.
Marinus Life of Proclus 36 [94]
1§135. This text of Marinus shows the great care taken by Proclus to visit in general the sacred spaces of the ‘Attic heroes’, that is, of cult heroes who were worshipped in Athenian territory. [95] More specifically, as we see in this same text, Proclus also visited various other sacred spaces—especially monuments established in honor of heroized philosophers. The evidence of this text, then, backs up a point made by White, that the heroization of philosophers was not uncommon. [96] Here is an example: the philosopher Parmenides, who lived in the fifth century BCE, founded a hērōion, that is, a ‘site for a hero cult’, to honor his teacher, the Pythagorean philosopher Ameinias; the source for this information is Diogenes Laertius (Lives of Philosophers 9.21), who lived in the third century CE—and whom I will soon cite again for other such pieces of information.
1§136. I now come to a remarkable detail mentioned by Marinus in the passage we have just read in Extract 1-Qd (Life of Proclus 36) about the visits made by this philosopher Proclus to the sacred spaces of heroes. Such visits, as the wording of Marinus in this text indicates, were periodically recurrent, determined by ritual calculations of different dates for different yearly visits. The key word used here by Marinus is kairos in the sense of ‘anniversary date’. This word, referring to the ritual observances practiced by Proclus, is directly relevant to the ancient Greek practice of worshipping cult heroes—and my terminology here includes philosophers as cult heroes. As Marinus mentions elsewhere in The Life of Proclus (23), two of the anniversary dates that Proclus observed were the birthdays of Socrates and Plato. We know the actual dates from other sources: Socrates was supposedly born on the sixth day of the month Thargelion, while Plato was born on the seventh day of the same month. One of the sources for this information about the birthdays of Socrates and Plato is Diogenes Laertius (Lives of the Philosophers 2.44 and 3.2 respectively).
1§137. Once again I return to the study of White, who emphasizes that such observances in honor of Socrates and Plato had to do with hero cults that were instituted in honor of these two philosophers:
Most families [in Athens] visited the graves of their closest relatives through the year to leave simple offerings of flowers and small gifts. Some also honored their parents and ancestors in private ceremonies. But heroes, like gods, were typically celebrated by wider groups than the family, with sacrificial meals, and on special occasions that often became known as their birthdays [genethlia]. It is therefore remarkable that later Platonists celebrated the birthdays of both Plato and Socrates with sacrifices and readings [Porphyry Life of Plotinus 2]. These are not merely Neoplatonist inventions. Plutarch [second century CE] earlier did the same. In fact, he records the dates in one of his sympotic dialogues, recounting how he and some friends celebrated Socrates’ birthday [τὴν … γενέθλιον (ἡμέραν)] with a feast on the sixth of Thargelion, and Plato’s the following day [Plutarch Table Talk 8.1 717b]. [97]
1§138. In the case of Socrates, as White has shown, the traditional dating of his birthday is identical with the date of the day when he actually died, the sixth of Thargelion, in 399 BCE, and such a dating of the philosopher’s birthday was evidently formalized by his follower Plato and by Plato’s followers. [98]
1§139. In general, the idea of celebrating someone’s birthday even after that someone is already dead follows a traditional mentality that is typical of ancient Greek hero cults. To celebrate such a special birthday, as White has shown, worshippers of any given cult hero would gather every year to participate in a communal feast. [99] The occasion for such feasting in honor of cult heroes has aptly been described as “a consecration of conviviality.” [100]
1§140. So, the connectivity for remembering a cult hero was made possible by celebrating the periodic recurrence of a communal feast, and this recurrence was pictured as something cyclical. In other words, the metonymy of connectedness here is circular, not linear.
1§141. Here is my attempt at formulating such a circular connectedness: the day of death for a cult hero could be rethought as a day of rebirth—a periodically recurrent or cyclical rebirth that needed to be repeated year after year, like a birthday, but, unlike an ordinary person’s birthday, such a day of rebirth needed to be repeated yearly for all time to come.

The metonymy of periodic recurrence in hero cults of philosophers

1§142. In the case of philosophers who were honored as cult heroes, the feast of celebrating such a notional birthday was the occasion for recalling, either directly or indirectly, the words of the philosopher himself. I cite, as the most striking example, a piece of evidence preserved in a remarkable text: it is the last will and testament of the philosopher Epicurus, who died in 270 BCE. In the wording of his will, which is quoted directly by Diogenes Laertius (Lives of the Philosophers 10.18), Epicurus stipulated that his birthday, even after his death, needed to be celebrated annually at a feast commemorating him as a cult hero. And, in fact, Epicureans continued these annual rituals of commemoration for many years to come, as we see from documented evidence extending well into the second century CE. The evidence has been studied in some detail by Diskin Clay, [101] who notes that one form of such commemoration was the practice of reading aloud texts relating in one way or another to the teachings of Epicurus, and these texts included even the instructional letters written for the Epicureans by their teacher. [102] Plutarch, who lived in the second century CE, makes a pointed reference to this practice of reading aloud the words of Epicurus at communal feasts of Epicureans (Live Unknown 1129a). As Clay observes, such commemorative readings, which he describes as a prominent feature of Epicurean philosophy, were “a part of the hero cults of Epicurus.” [103] Here I will build on this observation by arguing that the practice of reading aloud the words of a philosopher in the context of celebrating his birthday was understood to be a substitute for bringing him back to life. To put it another way, the periodic recurrence of the philosopher’s words could be substituted for a belief in his afterlife. Instead of continuing life, the philosopher would be dead, but his words as read by his followers could continue their own life by reconnecting metonymically with the words he actually spoke when he was alive.
1§143. Epicurus, as we know well from Epicurean teachings, strongly argued against believing in any prospect of a personal afterlife. [104] And yet, he stipulates in his will that he must be honored as a cult hero. There seems at first to be contradiction here. After all, hero cults were predicated on the idea that there is in fact an afterlife in store for the cult hero. [105] So, how can it be that the teachings of Epicurus about the finality of death did not stop him from endowing his own hero cult as a ritual expression of perpetuity for himself? The answer, as I will now argue, has to do with the practice of reading out loud the words of the philosopher on the occasion of seasonally recurring memorial celebrations in his honor.
1§144. In order to make this argument, I start by considering another example of yearly memorial celebrations held in honor of a dead philosopher. I have in mind a traditional yearly feast known as the Platōneia, celebrating the notional birthday of Plato. On the occasion of this feast, Plato’s followers would read aloud various texts that were relevant to his teachings, as we see from the reportage of the Platonic scholar Porphyry, whose life extended from the third century CE into the first few years of the fourth. In a treatise he produced about the life of the Platonist philosopher Plotinus, who was his teacher, Porphyry reminisces about a time when he himself performed a public reading of one of his own essays on the occasion of the yearly memorial feast celebrating Plato’s birthday, the Platōneia, and how Plotinus at that time complimented him on his effort (Life of Plotinus 15).
1§145. Elsewhere in The Life of Plotinus, we find Porphyry making another reference to such occasions of public readings at the memorial feasts celebrating the birthdays of Socrates as well as Plato.

Extract 1-R

If we count backward sixty-six years from the second year of [the emperor] Claudius, then the date when Plotinus was born falls on the thirteenth year of [the emperor] Severus (204/5 CE). He [= Plotinus] never disclosed to anyone the month when he was born or the date of his birthday [genethlion], since he did not want anyone to make sacrifice [thuein] and to organize feasts [hestiân] on his birthdays [genethlia]. Nevertheless, at the traditional birthdays [paradedomena genethlia] of Plato and Socrates, he would follow the practice of making sacrifice [thuein] and organizing feasts [hestiân] for his companions, and, on these occasions, every one of these companions who was able to do so was expected to perform a reading aloud [anagnōnai] of an argument [logos] in the presence of the group that was assembled.
Porphyry Life of Plotinus 2 [106]
1§146. I need to justify my translation of logos here as ‘argument’. For Plato and for Plato’s Socrates, as I show at length in another project, this word logos refers to the living ‘word’ of dialogue in the context of philosophical argumentation. [107] When Socrates in Plato’s Phaedo (89b) tells his followers who are mourning his impending death that they should worry not about his death but about the death of the logos—if this logos cannot be resurrected or ‘brought back to life’ (ana-biōsasthai)—he is speaking of the dialogic argumentation supporting the idea that the psūkhē or ‘soul’ is immortal. In this context, the logos itself is the ‘argument’:

Extract 1-S

[Phaedo is speaking:] I was sitting on a kind of stool, |89b while he [= Socrates] was lying on a couch that was quite a bit higher than where I was. So then he stroked my head and fondled the locks of hair along my neck—he had this way of playing with my hair whenever he had a chance. And then he said: “Tomorrow, Phaedo, you will perhaps be cutting off these beautiful locks of yours?” “Yes, Socrates,” I 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 89a–89b [108]
1§147. For Plato’s Socrates, it is less important that his psūkhē or ‘soul’ must be immortal, and it is vitally more important that the logos itself must remain immortal—or, at least, that the logos must be brought back to life. And that is because the logos itself, as I say, is the ‘argument’ that comes to life in dialogic argumentation. [109]
1§148. In terms of White’s formulation, this logos is learned by Phaedo, who is figured as the narrator of the dialogue that we know as Plato’s Phaedo, and this man Phaedo can then bring the original logos back to life by performing it all over again in the Phaedo: so, he performs the logos “rhapsodically,” White says, “as countless others have done since.” [110] When White speaks here of a rhapsodic performance, he evidently has in mind the medium of Homer, performed by professional rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’. At the festival of the quadrennial Panathenaia (traditionally known as ‘Great Panathenaia’) in Athens, the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey were performed rhapsodically every four years, and such quadrennial reperformances were expected to recur for all time to come. [111] Similarly with the annual birthday celebrations of Plato and Socrates: they too were expected to recur for all time to come. White puts it this way: “Through Plato’s writing, Socrates thus attains the immortality that epic song awards its heroes.” [112] So, the logos of Plato’s Socrates, like the epic song of Homer, is meant to be seasonally reperformed forever.
1§149. In Plato’s Phaedo, such reperformance of the words of Socrates is imagined as an event that happened in the context of a real dialogue between a man called Phaedo, the student of Socrates, and a man called Echecrates: in terms of the text that we know as Plato’s Phaedo, this man Phaedo literally reperforms for Echecrates, from memory, the words once supposedly spoken by Socrates and by the philosopher’s interlocutors in the course of the last few days of his life. But we can imagine further reperformances in the form of reading aloud the text of Plato’s Phaedo on the occasion of annual gatherings of students celebrating the birthday of their teacher. And the word for such reading aloud, as we have already seen, is anagnōnai. In this connection, I note with interest a report claiming that Plato called his most famous student, Aristotle, his anagnōstēs, that is, ‘the one who reads aloud’ (Vita Marciana, Aristotle Fragments 428.2 Rose). [113]
1§150. Here I find it most relevant to note that Proclus himself, at the beginning of his Essay 6, which is a separate piece of argumentation within his overall Commentary on the Republic of Plato, refers to logoi or ‘arguments’ that are generated in the context of dialogues—or, at least, conversations—that take place at the recurrent memorial feasts held on the occasion of Plato’s birthday:

Extract 1-T

Just the other day, in the course of the conversations [tà dialegomena] that take place at Plato’s birthday celebrations [genethlia], we had the opportunity of examining how someone could make arguments [logoi] on behalf of Homer that would be appropriate responses to the Socrates of the Republic, and how one could make a showpiece performance [epideiknunai] of (1) things that are in most complete accord both with the nature of the content [of Homeric poetry] and with the things that are most pleasing to the philosopher as also (2) things that offer instruction about matters both divine and human.
Proclus Commentary on the Republic of Plato VI (I p. 69 lines 23–26 and p. 70 lines 1–3 ed. Kroll 1899) [114]
1§151. In this case, Proclus is presenting his logoi or ‘arguments’ as words that were generated in the context of dialogues—or, at least, conversations—that took place on the actual occasion of Plato’s birthday. In this way, the logoi of Proclus are dramatized here as a continuation of the logoi originating from Plato himself. I find it relevant that Proclus, as director of Plato’s Academy, was officially known by the title of diadokhos or ‘continuator’, which is another way of saying that he was thought to continue the logoi of Plato in the context of his own logoi. And, in the last passage I quoted, Proclus is expressing his intent to make "a showpiece performance" that continues the actual words of Plato—or even of Homer.

Homer’s God

1§152. I started my observations on Proclus by concentrating on the sensory fusion that he reportedly experienced in making metonymic contact with the goddess Athena as the patroness of philosophy. After that, as we saw, the philosopher’s experiences of metonymic contact extended further, including not only the goddess but also cult heroes in general and the heroized figures of Socrates and Plato in particular. And then the experiences extended even further, including Homer as a thinker whose thoughts could be connected with those of Plato.
1§153. As I now leave the world of Proclus, I bring to a close my collection of examples showing metonymic contact between the human and the superhuman—but not before I quote the words of another thinker who is named Homer. This time, the speaker is Homer Simpson, referring to an epiphany he experienced in a dream. Appearing to him, he says, was God, whom Homer describes in these words:

Extract 1-U

Perfect teeth. Nice smell. A class act, all the way.
From Homer the Heretic (The Simpsons, season 4, episode 3; originally aired 1992.10.08; written by George Meyer, directed by Jim Reardon)
1§154. After mentioning only two of the five senses in describing his contact with God—divine teeth to look at and a divine scent to smell—our Homer continues by rounding out his thought with these words: "a class act, all the way." The wording here seems at first imprecise, but this way of speaking is typical of metonymy. As I will now argue in my concluding remarks, metonymy can in fact be quite precise, accurate, in giving a sense of direction.

The directional power of metonymy

1§155. Metonymy has a directional power. When you say what is connected to what, you do not have to say everything. You can just say a part of everything, a part of the whole. As we have seen earlier, this kind of metonymic expression is what can be called synecdoche. Whatever is highlighted as a part can help us get a sense of the whole. But, more than that, the metonymy of synecdoche can actually set the direction of our thinking. And here is where the sensory fusion of the divine, as expressed by Homer, is most telling: he homes in on the scent of God. No need to say anything further. Everything after that is understandable: "a class act, all the way."
1§156. Homer’s homing in on the sense of smell here is relevant to a point I am about to make, which is about the experience of smelling as a sign of accuracy in metonymic thinking. One last time here I pick up on the semantics of the French verb sentir, which as we have seen means ‘to sense’ in general but also ‘to smell’ in particular. This time, I consider also the corresponding French noun sens, which means not only ‘sense’ or even ‘meaning’ in general but also ‘direction’ in particular. The directionality of the French word sens is evident, for example, in French roadway signs saying sens unique. This French expression can become a “false friend,” as teachers of the French language would describe it to speakers of English, if these speakers think it means unique sense. Rather, the sign saying sens unique is warning the driver that the direction of traffic is not two-way but one-way.
1§157. So, what is the connection between smelling and a sense of direction? Here is a simple answer: by following the scent of whatever given thing we are looking for, we are following along in a given direction.
1§158. Here is an example that shows what I mean. Some years, ago, as I was paging through the New York Times, something caught my eye that bothered me: it was the use of the word epiphany in the headline of a brief obituary article. Ancient epiphanies, I was saying to myself, were not the same thing that most people mean nowadays when they use this word epiphany. I noted a moment ago the fact that the ancient Greek word epiphaneia, which we translate as ‘epiphany’, refers to the experiencing of something superhuman that makes itself known primarily by way of a visual appearance. In modern usage, by contrast, this word epiphany can refer in general to any sudden thought that leads to the solution of a problem. Despite my initial reservations about the use of this word in the New York Times, however, I ended up appreciating the motivation for this use: what was being described in the story is in fact an experience that verges on the superhuman. Here is the text of the brief story, in its entirety:

Extract 1-V

Serendipity led Dr. Hasler to explain how migrating salmon find their way back to their home streams to spawn. Hiking near his birthplace in Utah in 1946, he had a homing epiphany. | At a waterfall, the fragrances of mosses and columbine enveloped him, evoking forgotten memories. And he wondered whether salmon might have a similar experience. | In the late 1940’s he translated that hypothesis of ‘olfactory imprinting’ into science to demonstrate that salmon could journey thousands of miles to spawn in the precise stream of their birth. The secret, he said, was a finely honed and ingrained sense of smell.
Wolfgang Saxon, New York Times obituary, Saturday March 31 2001 p. A 15. The headline reads: “Arthur D. Hasler, 93; Deciphered Salmon’s Homing Instinct”; the sub-headline reads: “Scientist inspired by an epiphany at a waterfall.
1§159. Reading this story, I find myself drawn to the word homing, combined here with the word epiphany. It brings me back to my second working definition of metonymy as a mental process of connecting things that are familiar to the self. Familiar things are those kinds of things that make the self feel at home. So, the directional power of metonymy leads the self back home to familiarity. And the association of this homing instinct with the sense of smell leads me back to something I said near the beginning, that smell is almost as primal as sight, if it is fair to say that the olfactory nerve of humans is secondary only to the optic nerve as a pathway to the brain. By now we see that the olfactory imprinting of the familiar can give the self its sense of direction for finding its way back home. I cannot resist making a mental connection here between the reproductive drive that we see at work in the spawning of salmon coming back home where they had once been spawned and the sense of sexual attraction expressed by the names of perfumes such as Je Reviens, ‘I am coming back’. [115]


[ back ] 1. πολὺ δὲ μέγιστον τὸ μεταφορικὸν εἶναι. μόνον γὰρ τοῦτο οὔτε παρ’ ἄλλου ἔστι λαβεῖν εὐφυΐας τε σημεῖόν ἐστι· τὸ γὰρ εὖ μεταφέρειν τὸ τὸ ὅμοιον θεωρεῖν ἐστιν.
[ back ] 2. Here is the wording in the original Spanish: El olor de las peluquerías me hace llorar a gritos. From the poem “Walking Around,” in: Residencia en la tierra (1931–1935) Libro 2, Parte II (1960). I have modified slightly the translation of this wording used in the English subtitles.
[ back ] 3. Here is the wording in the original Spanish: Sucede que me canso de ser hombre. From the same poem “Walking Around.”
[ back ] 4. This scene, and the whole film, is based on the novel (and film) of Antonio Skármeta, Ardiente Paciencia (1983), later republished as El Cartero de Neruda.
[ back ] 5. For comments on such concepts as synesthesia and fusion in the context of Greek ritual, see Bierl 2009:255, 259–264.
[ back ] 6. odi et amo: quare id faciam fortasse requiris. | nescio sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
[ back ] 7. The Muse to Hoffmann. Et moi? moi la fidèle amie dont la main essuya tes yeux? Par qui la douleur endormie s’exhale en rêves dans les cieux. Ne suis-je rien? Que la tempête des passions s’appaise en toi. L’homme n’est plus! Renais, poète! Je t’aime, Hoffmann. Appartiens-moi!
Hoffmann responds to the Muse by singing. O Dieu! de quelle ivresse embrases-tu mon âme, | comme un concert divin ta voix m’a pénétré, | d’un feu doux et brûlant mon être est dévoré, | tes regards dans les miens ont épanché leur flamme, | comme des astres radieux! | Et je sens, a ma muse aimée, | passer ton haleine enbaumée | sur mes lèvres et sur mes yeux! | Muse aimée, je suis a toi!
[ back ] 8. Je sens, … | passer ton haleine enbaumée | sur mes lèvres et sur mes yeux!
[ back ] 9. De quelle ivresse embrases-tu mon âme, | comme un concert divin ta voix m’a pénétré, | d’un feu doux et brûlant mon être est dévoré
[ back ] 10. Tes regards dans les miens ont épanché leur flamme, | comme des astres radieux!
[ back ] 11. For documentation, see Dibbern 2000:139; also Nagy 2009c:88.
[ back ] 12. Muse aimée, je suis a toi!
[ back ] 13. A ma muse aimée.
[ back ] 14. Ô ma bienaimée.
[ back ] 15. Olympia … Antonia … Giulietta … Ne sont qu’une même femme: La Stella!
[ back ] 16. Tes regards dans les miens ont épanché leur flamme, | comme des astres radieux!
[ back ] 17. ἐνέπνευσαν δέ μοι αὐδὴν.
[ back ] 18. τῶν δ’ ἀκάματος ῥέει αὐδὴ | ἐκ στομάτων ἡδεῖα.
[ back ] 19. ἡδυέπειαι.
[ back ] 20. ἐρατὴν δὲ διὰ στόμα ὄσσαν ἱεῖσαι | μέλπονται.
[ back ] 21. osculetur me osculo oris sui.
[ back ] 22. The parts of the translation that are labeled “[She]” and “[He]” are not, I must emphasize, a part of the textual tradition. The square brackets are meant to indicate that I am reconstructing these assignments of “parts” in a dialogue.
[ back ] 23. |2 osculetur me osculo oris sui quia meliora sunt ubera tua vino |3 fraglantia unguentis optimis oleum effusum nomen tuum ideo adulescentulae dilexerunt te |4 trahe me post te curremus introduxit me rex in cellaria sua exultabimus et laetabimur in te memores uberum tuorum super vinum recti diligunt te.
[ back ] 24. |2 Φιλησάτω με ἀπὸ φιλημάτων στόματος αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἀγαθοὶ μαστοί σου ὑπὲρ οἶνον, |3 καὶ ὀσμὴ μύρων σου ὑπὲρ πάντα τὰ ἀρώματα. Μύρον ἐκκενωθὲν ὄνομά σου. διὰ τοῦτο νεάνιδες ἠγάπησάν σε, |4 εἵλκυσάν σε, ὀπίσω σου εἰς ὀσμὴν μύρων σου δραμοῦμεν. Εἰσήνεγκέν με ὁ βασιλεὺς εἰς τὸ ταμίειον αὐτοῦ. Ἀγαλλιασώμεθα καὶ εὐφρανθῶμεν ἐν σοί, ἀγαπήσομεν μαστούς σου ὑπὲρ οἶνον· εὐθύτης ἠγάπησέν σε.
[ back ] 25. Such an argument is evaluated by Kaplan 2010:59–60, 134–135.
[ back ] 26. Kaplan 2010:iii, 28.
[ back ] 27. For the term, see Kaplan 2010:135, who describes as “theo-erotic” the trope of describing God or Jesus erotically.
[ back ] 28. Kaplan 2010:134–135n168.
[ back ] 29. Kaplan 2010:133–136, with bibliography.
[ back ] 30. |2ubera tua … |3 fraglantia unguentis optimis ‘your breasts, fragrant with the best oils’.
[ back ] 31. καὶ ὀσμὴ μύρων σου ὑπὲρ πάντα τὰ ἀρώματα. The numbering of this passage in the Septuagint is Song 1:2.
[ back ] 32. See again Kaplan 2010:59–60, 134–135.
[ back ] 33. Latin Vulgate: pulchriora ubera tua vino. Greek Septuagint: τί ἐκαλλιώθησαν μαστοί σου ἀπὸ οἴνου; For the Greek, a more precise rendition would be "How your breasts are more beautiful than wine!"
[ back ] 34. Latin Vulgate: ibi dabo tibi ubera mea. Greek Septuagint: ἐκεῖ δώσω τοὺς μαστούς μου σοί. The numbering of this passage in both the Vulgate and the Septuagint is 7:12.
[ back ] 35. The Masoretic text of this part of Proverbs 5:19 reads:
דַּדֶּיהָ יְרַוֻּךָ בְכָלˉעֵת בְּאַהֲבָתָהּ תִּשְׁגֶּה תָמִיד.
[ back ] 36. ubera ejus inebrient te in omni tempore, in amore eius delectare iugiter. In the Greek Septuagint, the wording is not so explicit: ἡ δὲ ἰδία ἡγείσθω σου, καὶ συνέστω σοι ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ "May she be considered your very own, and may she be with you always."
[ back ] 37. On these readings of the relevant Hebrew texts, I gratefully acknowledge the expert help and advice of Keith Stone 2013.12.28. On the Song of Songs in general, I recommend the judicious assessment of Stern 2008.
[ back ] 38. Masoretic text of Songs 1:2–4:
יִׂשָּׁקֵנִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת פִּיהוּ כִּיˉטוֹבִים דֹּדֶיךָ מִיָּיִן.
לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ טוֹבִים שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ עַל־כֵּן עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ.
מָשְׁכֵנִי אַחֲרֶיךָ נָּרוּצָה הֱבִיאַנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ חֲדָרָיו נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בָּךְ נַזְכִּירָה דֹדֶיךָ מִיַּיִן מֵישָׁרִים אֲהֵבוּךָ.
[ back ] 39. Again, I thank Keith Stone 2014.01.04 for his help and advice. On the Song of Songs in general, I recommend the judicious assessment of Stern 2008.
[ back ] 40. I admire the relevant formulation of Exum 1999:61: “[At Song 4:11] ‘lips’ and the more precise term ‘tongue’ are substituted for the mouth of [Song] 1:2 [1:1], and kisses, rather than being mentioned, are described metonymically as distilled nectar, milk and honey.”
[ back ] 41. Exum 1999:62 gives a perceptive analysis of the “mutuality” that is built into this amorous declaration.
[ back ] 42. For an illuminating introduction to the work of Ritsos, see Prevelakis 1983.
[ back ] 43. Χείλι μου μοσχομύριστο.
[ back ] 44. ||Μαλλιὰ σγουρὰ ποὺ πάνω τους τὰ δάχτυλα περνοῦσα |
 τὶς νύχτες ποὺ κοιμόσουνα καὶ πλάϊ σου ξαγρυπνοῦσα ||Φρύδι μου, γαϊτανόφρυδο καὶ κοντυλογραμμένο,
 | καμάρα ποὺ τὸ βλέμμα μου κούρνιαζε ἀναπαμένο ||Μάτια γλαρὰ ποὺ μέσα τους ἀντίφεγγαν τὰ μάκρη
 | πρωινοῦ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ πάσκιζα μὴν τὰ θαμπώσει δάκρυ ||Χείλι μου μοσκομύριστο ποὺ ὡς λάλαγες ἀνθίζαν
 | λιθάρια καὶ ξερόδεντρα κι ἀηδόνια φτερουγίζαν.
[ back ] 45. Newton 2014:9–10; Alexiou 1974:62–69.
[ back ] 46. Newton 2014:12–13; Danforth 1982:74–90.
[ back ] 47. Newton 2014:13.
[ back ] 48. συνεκδοχή· ὅταν τις ἀπὸ μέρους παραλάβῃ.
[ back ] 49. αἱματοέσσας δὲ ψιάδας κατέχευεν ἔραζε.
[ back ] 50. |459 καί ποτέ τις εἴπῃσιν ἰδὼν κατὰ δάκρυ χέουσαν· |460 Ἕκτορος ἧδε γυνὴ ὃς ἀριστεύεσκε μάχεσθαι |461 Τρώων ἱπποδάμων ὅτε Ἴλιον ἀμφεμάχοντο.
[ back ] 51. ἐντροπαλιζομένη, θαλερὸν κατὰ δάκρυ χέουσα.
[ back ] 52. sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
[ back ] 53. HC 1§§178–196.
[ back ] 54. HC 1§180.
[ back ] 55. This paragraph is derived from HC 1§183.
[ back ] 56. tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res.
[ back ] 57. In translating this particular passage, I gave up on my usual practice of simulating the original verse-boundaries.
[ back ] 58. neve bonos rerum similes constare colores | semine constituas, oculos qui pascere possunt, | et qui conpungunt aciem lacrimareque cogunt.
[ back ] 59. HC 1§180.
[ back ] 60. |136 nunc animum atque animam dico coniuncta teneri |137 inter se atque unam naturam conficere ex se, |138 sed caput esse quasi et dominari in corpore toto |139 consilium, quod nos animum mentemque vocamus. |140 idque situm media regione in pectoris haeret. |141 hic exultat enim pavor ac metus, haec loca circum |142 laetitiae mulcent: hic ergo mens animusquest. |143 cetera pars animae per totum dissita corpus |144 paret et ad numen mentis momenque movetur.
[ back ] 61. Further argumentation in HC 1§193.
[ back ] 62. |194 ὃ δ’ ἄμβροτα τεύχεα δῦνε |195 Πηλεΐδεω Ἀχιλῆος ἅ οἱ θεοὶ οὐρανίωνες |196 πατρὶ φίλῳ ἔπορον· ὃ δ’ ἄρα ᾧ παιδὶ ὄπασσε |197 γηράς· ἀλλ’ οὐχ υἱὸς ἐν ἔντεσι πατρὸς ἐγήρα. |198 τὸν δ’ ὡς οὖν ἀπάνευθεν ἴδεν νεφεληγερέτα Ζεὺς |199 τεύχεσι Πηλεΐδαο κορυσσόμενον θείοιο, |200 κινήσας ῥα κάρη προτὶ ὃν μυθήσατο θυμόν· |201 ἆ δείλ’ οὐδέ τί τοι θάνατος καταθύμιός ἐστιν |202 ὃς δή τοι σχεδὸν εἶσι· σὺ δ’ ἄμβροτα τεύχεα δύνεις |203 ἀνδρὸς ἀριστῆος, τόν τε τρομέουσι καὶ ἄλλοι· |204 τοῦ δὴ ἑταῖρον ἔπεφνες ἐνηέα τε κρατερόν τε, |205 τεύχεα δ’ οὐ κατὰ κόσμον ἀπὸ κρατός τε καὶ ὤμων |206 εἵλευ· ἀτάρ τοι νῦν γε μέγα κράτος ἐγγυαλίξω, |207 τῶν ποινὴν ὅ τοι οὔ τι μάχης ἐκνοστήσαντι |208 δέξεται Ἀνδρομάχη κλυτὰ τεύχεα Πηλεΐωνος. |209 Ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων. |210 Ἕκτορι δ’ ἥρμοσε τεύχε’ ἐπὶ χροΐ, δῦ δέ μιν Ἄρης |211 δεινὸς ἐνυάλιος, πλῆσθεν δ’ ἄρα οἱ μέλε’ ἐντὸς |212 ἀλκῆς καὶ σθένεος· μετὰ δὲ κλειτοὺς ἐπικούρους |213 βῆ ῥα μέγα ἰάχων· ἰνδάλλετο δέ σφισι πᾶσι |214 τεύχεσι λαμπόμενος μεγαθύμου Πηλεΐωνος.
[ back ] 63. |528 ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων· |529 ἀμβρόσιαι δ’ ἄρα χαῖται ἐπερρώσαντο ἄνακτος |530 κρατὸς ἀπ’ ἀθανάτοιο, μέγαν δ’ ἐλέλιξεν ῎Ολυμπον.
[ back ] 64. HC 4§269.
[ back ] 65. The -graphos is literally someone who performs a ‘filling in’ [graphein] of outlines by way of painting, thereby ‘animating’ or making ‘alive’ [zōi-] what has been filled in.
[ back ] 66. At a later point, I will comment on the idea of ‘adding’ inherent in kosmeîn ‘adorning’.
[ back ] 67. This is a matter of simulating the fabrics by shaping the material that is being sculpted.
[ back ] 68. A graphē is the result of a filling in of outlines by way of painting.
[ back ] 69. πολλὰ δὲ συνέπραξε τῷ Φειδίᾳ Πάναινος ὁ ζωγράφος, ἀδελφιδοῦς ὢν αὐτοῦ καὶ συνεργολάβος, πρὸς τὴν τοῦ ξοάνου διὰ τῶν χρωμάτων κόσμησιν καὶ μάλιστα τῆς ἐσθῆτος. δείκνυνται δὲ καὶ γραφαὶ πολλαί τε καὶ θαυμασταὶ περὶ τὸ ἱερὸν ἐκείνου ἔργα. ἀπομνημονεύουσι δὲ τοῦ Φειδίου, διότι πρὸς τὸν Πάναινον εἶπε πυνθανόμενον πρὸς τί παράδειγμα μέλλοι ποιήσειν τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ Διός, ὅτι πρὸς τὴν Ὁμήρου δι’ ἐπῶν ἐκτεθεῖσαν τούτων
[ back ] 70. |528 ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων· |529 ἀμβρόσιαι δ’ ἄρα χαται ἐπερρώσαντο ἄνακτος |530 κρατὸς ἀπ’ ἀθανάτοιο, μέγαν δ’ ἐλέλιξεν ῎Ολυμπον.
[ back ] 71. HC 4§96.
[ back ] 72. What I just said here matches my formulation in H24H 5§126.
[ back ] 73. This word daimonion is derived from daimōn, which refers to an unspecified god, whereas theos refers to a specific god: see H24H 5§1. That is why I translate daimonion here as the ‘whatever the divine thing is that is unknown’.
[ back ] 74. This word theion is derived from theos, which refers to a specific god. That is why I translate theion here as ‘whatever the divine thing is that is known’.
[ back ] 75. On this word nēpios, plural nēpioi, in the sense of ‘disconnected’, see Edmunds 1990, who shows that the disconnection can be mental, moral, or emotional.
[ back ] 76. οὐδὲ γὰρ ὡς βέλτιον ὑπῆρχε μηδὲν ἵδρυμα μηδὲ εἰκόνα θεῶν ἀποδεδεῖχθαι παρ’ ἀνθρώποις φαίη τις ἄν, ὡς πρὸς μόνα ὁρᾶν δέον τὰ οὐράνια. ταῦτα μὲν γὰρ ξύμπαντα ὅ γε νοῦν ἔχων σέβει, θεοὺς ἡγούμενος μακαρίους μακρόθεν ὁρῶν· διὰ δὲ τὴν πρὸς τὸ δαιμόνιον ὁρμὴν ἰσχυρὸς ἔρως πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐγγύθεν τιμᾶν καὶ θεραπεύειν τὸ θεῖον, προσιόντας καὶ ἁπτομένους μετὰ πειθοῦς, θύοντας καὶ στεφανοῦντας. ἀτεχνῶς γὰρ ὥσπερ νήπιοι παῖδες πατρὸς ἢ μητρὸς ἀπεσπασμένοι δεινὸν ἵμερον ἔχοντες καὶ πόθον ὀρέγουσι χεῖρας οὐ παροῦσι πολλάκις ὀνειρώττοντες, οὕτω καὶ θεοῖς ἄνθρωποι ἀγαπῶντες δικαίως διά τε εὐεργεσίαν καὶ συγγένειαν, προθυμούμενοι πάντα τρόπον συνεῖναί τε καὶ ὁμιλεῖν.
[ back ] 77. Other references to Iliad I 528–530 as the inspiration for Pheidias include Dio of Prusa 12.25–26. See further the analysis of Lapatin 2001:84–85.
[ back ] 78. On the meaning of anagnōstēs as ‘one who reads the text out loud’, see PP 149–150, 168, 176–177, 201. I note with interest a report claiming that Plato called Aristotle his anagnōstēs (Vita Marciana, Aristotle Fragments 428.2 Rose).
[ back ] 79. Theodorus Lector 1.15 in Patrologia Graeca (ed. J.-P. Migne) vol. 86 (1865) p. 173; see Mango 1972:40.
[ back ] 80. Fragment from Theodorus Lector 1.15 in Patrologia Graeca (ed. J.-P. Migne) vol. 86 (1865) pp. 220–221; see Mango 1972:40–41.
[ back ] 81. Mango 1963:58. For more details, see also Mango, Vickers, and Francis 1992.
[ back ] 82. Lapatin 2001:137 gives an admirable summary of the evidence, with further references.
[ back ] 83. ||Μαλλιὰ σγουρὰ ποὺ πάνω τους τὰ δάχτυλα περνοῦσα |
 τὶς νύχτες ποὺ κοιμόσουνα καὶ πλάϊ σου ξαγρυπνοῦσα ||Φρύδι μου, γαϊτανόφρυδο καὶ κοντυλογραμμένο,
 | καμάρα ποὺ τὸ βλέμμα μου κούρνιαζε ἀναπαμένο ||Μάτια γλαρὰ ποὺ μέσα τους ἀντίφεγγαν τὰ μάκρη
 | πρωϊνοῦ οὐρανοῦ,καὶ πάσκιζα μὴν τὰ θαμπώσει δάκρυ ||Χείλι μου μοσκομύριστο ποὺ ὡς λάλαγες ἀνθίζαν
 | λιθάρια καὶ ξερόδεντρα κι ἀηδόνια φτερουγίζαν.
[ back ] 84. In HC 4§§97–124, I analyze the rationale that led to the commissioning of Pheidias to make the gold-and-ivory statue of Athena.
[ back ] 85. By this time, in the fifth century CE, the original gold-and-ivory statue of Athena had undergone a series of remakings: see Lapatin 2001:89. So, the look and feel of the remade version that was finally removed from the Parthenon in the fifth century CE may have been a far cry from the glory days of the original statue as shaped by Pheidias in the fifth century BCE, over nine hundred years earlier.
[ back ] 86. ὅπως δὲ αὐτὸς καὶ αὐτῇ τῇ φιλοσόφῳ θεῷ προσφιλὴς ἐγένετο, παρέστησε μὲν ἱκανῶς καὶ ἡ αἵρεσις τοῦ ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ βίου, τοιαύτη γενομένη οἵαν ὁ λόγος ὑπέδειξε· σαφῶς δὲ καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ θεὸς ἐδήλωσεν, ἡνίκα τὸ ἄγαλμα αὐτῆς τὸ ἐν Παρθενῶνι τέως ἱδρυμένον ὑπὸ τῶν καὶ τὰ ἀκίνητα κινούντων μετεφέρετο. ἐδόκει γὰρ τῷ φιλοσόφῳ ὄναρ φοιτᾶν παρ’ αὐτὸν εὐσχήμων τις γυνὴ καὶ ἀπαγγέλλειν ὡς χρὴ τάχιστα τὴν οἰκίαν προπαρασκευάζειν. “ἡ γὰρ κυρία ᾿Αθηναΐς” ἔφη “παρὰ σοὶ μένειν ἐθέλει.” I disagree with the emendation ᾿Αθηναία proposed by Saffrey and Segonds 2001:165 for the manuscript reading ᾿Αθηναΐς. They argue that ᾿Αθηναία, meaning ‘Athenian’ in the feminine, is more appropriate for the goddess, since that form ᾿Αθηναΐς is a common name of Athenian women. But the dream itself indicates an ambiguity: the first impression of the dreamer is that the beautiful lady is not the goddess but simply a beautiful lady who happens to have a typically Athenian name.
[ back ] 87. Analysis in H24H 20§13.
[ back ] 88. αὕτη γὰρ αὐτῷ ὄναρ φαινομένη ἐπὶ φιλοσοφίαν παρεκάλει. ὅθεν, οἶμαι, αὐτῷ συνέβη καὶ πολλὴ οἰκειότης περὶ τὴν θεόν, ὥστε καὶ ἐξαιρέτως τὰ ταύτης ὀργιάζειν καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικώτερον αὐτῆς τοὺς θεσμοὺς μετιέναι.
[ back ] 89. H24H 5§38.
[ back ] 90. H24H 00§13, 8§44, 11§14.
[ back ] 91. White 2000. See also H24H 23§46.
[ back ] 92. H24H 17§1.
[ back ] 93. ἦγεν οὖν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν. ὁ δὲ ἐκ τοῦ βαδίζειν κόπου ᾔσθετο κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν καὶ περὶ τὸ Σωκρατεῖον—οὔπω εἰδὼς οὐδὲ ἀκηκοὼς ὅτι Σωκράτους αὐτοῦ που ἐγίγνοντο τιμαί—ἠξίου δὴ τὸν Νικόλαον ἐπιμένειν τε αὐτόθι βραχὺ καὶ καθέζεσθαι, ἅμα δὲ καὶ εἰ ἔχοι ποθὲν ὕδωρ, αὐτῷ πορίσασθαι· καὶ γὰρ δίψει πολλῷ, ὡς ἔλεγε, κατείχετο. ὁ δὲ ἑτοίμως αὐτῷ, καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἀλλαχόθεν ποθέν, ἐξ αὐτοῦ δὲ ἐκείνου τοῦ ἱεροῦ χωρίου ἐποίει φέρεσθαι· οὐδὲ γὰρ πόρρω ἦν ἡ πηγὴ τῆς Σωκράτους στήλης. πιόντι δὲ αὐτῷ σύμβολον ὁ Νικόλαος, καὶ τότε πρῶτον ἐπιστήσας, εἶπεν ὡς τῷ Σωκρατείῳ εἴη ἐνιδρυθεὶς καὶ πρῶτον ἐκεῖθεν ᾿Αττικὸν ὕδωρ πιών. ὁ δ’ ἐξαναστὰς καὶ προσκυνήσας ἐπὶ τὴν πόλιν ἐπορεύετο.
[ back ] 94. καὶ θεραπείας τὸ σῶμα ἠξιώθη κατὰ τὰ πάτρια τὰ ᾿Αθηναίων, καὶ ὡς αὐτὸς ἔτι περιὼν διετάξατο. καὶ γὰρ αὖ καὶ τοῦτο ὑπῆρξε τῷ μακαρίῳ ἀνδρί, εἴπερ τινὶ καὶ ἄλλῳ, γνῶσις καὶ ἐπιμέλεια τῶν δρωμένων περὶ τοὺς ἀποιχομένους. οὐδένα γὰρ καιρὸν τῆς εἰωθυίας αὐτῶν θεραπείας παραλέλοιπεν, ἑκάστου δὲ ἔτους κατά τινας ὡρισμένας ἡμέρας, καὶ τὰ τῶν ᾿Αττικῶν ἡρώων περινοστῶν, τά τε τῶν φιλοσοφησάντων μνήματα καὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν φίλων καὶ γνωρίμων αὐτῷ γεγονότων, ἔδρα τὰ νενομισμένα, οὐ δι’ ἑτέρου, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς ἐνεργῶν. μετὰ δὲ τὴν περὶ ἕκαστον θεραπείαν, ἀπιὼν εἰς τὴν ᾿Ακαδημίαν τὰς τῶν προγόνων καὶ ὅλως τὰς ὁμογνίους ψυχὰς ἀφωρισμένως ἐν τόπῳ τινὶ ἐξιλεοῦτο. κοινῇ δὲ πάλιν ταῖς τῶν φιλοσοφησάντων ἁπάντων ψυχαῖς ἐν ἑτέρῳ μέρει ἐχεῖτο. καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τούτοις ὁ εὐαγέστατος τρίτον ἄλλον περιγράψας τόπον πάσαις ἐν αὐτῷ ταῖς τῶν ἀποιχομένων ἀνθρώπων ψυχαῖς ἀφωσιοῦτο.
[ back ] 95. For a full treatment of the local ‘Attic heroes’, see Kearns 1989. To date, there are around 300 attestations.
[ back ] 96. White 2000:160.
[ back ] 97. White 2000:153.
[ back ] 98. White 2000:156.
[ back ] 99. White 2000:160.
[ back ] 100. Nock 1944:155–156. Comment by White 2000:172n46.
[ back ] 101. Clay 1983 and 1986.
[ back ] 102. Clay 1998 [1986] 98–100.
[ back ] 103. Clay 1998 [1986] 99.
[ back ] 104. These Epicurean teachings are clearly documented by Clay 1983 and 1986; see also White 2000:160.
[ back ] 105. H24H 8§§43–44, 11§14.
[ back ] 106. ἀναψηφίζουσι δὲ ἡμῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ δευτέρου ἔτους τῆς Κλαυδίου βασιλείας εἰς τοὐπίσω ἔτη ἕξ τε καὶ ἑξήκοντα ὁ χρόνος αὐτῷ τῆς γενέσεως εἰς τὸ τρισκαιδέκατον ἔτος τῆς Σεβήρου βασιλείας πίπτει. οὔτε δὲ τὸν μῆνα δεδήλωκέ τινι καθ’ ὃν γεγέννηται, οὔτε τὴν γενέθλιον ἡμέραν, ἐπεὶ οὐδὲ θύειν ἢ ἑστιᾶν τινα τοῖς αὐτοῦ γενεθλίοις ἠξίου, καίπερ ἐν τοῖς Πλάτωνος καὶ Σωκράτους παραδεδομένοις γενεθλίοις θύων τε καὶ ἑστιῶν τοὺς ἑταίρους, ὅτε καὶ λόγον ἔδει τῶν ἑταίρων τοὺς δυνατοὺς ἐπὶ τῶν συνελθόντων ἀναγνῶναι.
[ back ] 107. H24H “Hours” 22 and 23.
[ back ] 108. ἔτυχον γὰρ ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ καθήμενος |89b παρὰ τὴν κλίνην ἐπὶ χαμαιζήλου τινός, ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ πολὺ ὑψηλοτέρου ἢ ἐγώ. καταψήσας οὖν μου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ συμπιέσας τὰς ἐπὶ τῷ αὐχένι τρίχας—εἰώθει γάρ, ὁπότε τύχοι, παίζειν μου εἰς τὰς τρίχας—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.
[ back ] 109. H24H 24§§44–49. My argumentation here was inspired by the earlier argumentation of Loraux 1982.
[ back ] 110. White 2000:161.
[ back ] 111. Supporting evidence comes from Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians (60.1), Plutarch Life of Pericles (13.9–11), Plato Ion (530a), Isocrates Panegyricus (4.159), and other sources. Further references in HPC I§26 p. 15n20. I offer an introduction to the subject of rhapsodic competitions at the Panathenaia in H24H 0§45; 7E§§1–4, 10; 8§§23, 25, 28–32.
[ back ] 112. White 2000:161.
[ back ] 113. Earlier, we saw this word applied to a historian, Theodorus ‘Lector’.
[ back ] 114. ἔναγχος ἡμῖν ἐν τοῖς τοῦ Πλάτωνος γενεθλίοις διαλεγομένοις παρέστη διασκέψασθαι, τίνα ἄν τις τρόπον ὑπέρ τε Ὁμήρου πρὸς τὸν ἐν Πολιτείᾳ Σωκράτη τοὺς προσήκοντας ποιήσαιτο λόγους καὶ ἐπιδείξειεν τῇ τε φύσει τῶν πραγμάτων καὶ τοῖς αὐτῷ <τῷ> φιλοσόφῳ μάλιστα πάντων ἀρέσκουσιν συμφωνότατα περί τε τῶν θείων καὶ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ἀναδιδάσκοντα. In translating pragmata here as ‘content’, I follow Lamberton 2012:59n76, who notes: “pragmata … is regularly used to designate the content, as opposed to the language, of poetry.” And I translate logoi here as ‘arguments’ in line with the use of the same word later on (I p. 71 line 22). And I note that Proclus, in making these logoi, is staging himself as actually ‘speaking’ them (legein: ἐμὲ δὲ τὸν λέγοντα at I pp. 25)
[ back ] 115.