The Center for Hellenic Studies

A Misunderstood Ancient Wedding-Song—or Two [1]

J.C.B. (Yiannis) Petropoulos, Democritean University of Thrace & CHS-Greece
Given the special occasion for this collection of papers, I would like to preface mine with a few remarks—short reminiscences rather—that are necessarily (and a bit awkwardly) autobiographical. I return to the fatefully formative year 1981, when I wrote my senior thesis at Harvard under Greg Nagy’s galvanizing guidance. This exercise concerned itself with Hesiod’s famous passage about ‘wanton women’ and weak-kneed men at harvest (Works & Days 582-96) and Alcaeus’ drinking-song, fr. 347 a LP with its closely similar phrasing. In the thesis I raised the possibility that the two poets were indebted independently to seasonal songs—some of them quite peppery and comparable in content to a number of modern Greek folk-songs about the harvest. (The revised version of the thesis was published many years later in Greg’s Interdisciplinary Series: see Petropoulos 1994.) My comparative approach and subject caught the interest of Kenneth Dover at Oxford a year later, and under his supervision I wrote a DPhil thesis (revised and published subsequently; see Petropoulos 2003) that in essence engaged further with the question of the interface between literary, sub-literary and ‘folk’ genres in ancient Greece—and beyond. A delicate thread—which Greg started weaving in his Widener Library office—thus ran from the flagging farmers of my Hesiodic days to Aristophanes’ rustics and the anonymous adulteresses of ancient folk-song—as in carmen populare 853 (PMG)—who occupied me at Oxford. In a serious sense, Gregory Nagy set me on my scholarly course; and he showed me that (to paraphrase Plutarch’s Life of Alexander) we owe our ζῆν to our parents but to our finer teachers we owe τὸ εὖ ζῆν.
* * *
Page’s carmen populare 881(PMG, pp.468-9) is a messy medley of ancient comments with matching quotes:
(a) Schol. Pind. Pyth. iii 32, ii 67 seq. Dr.
τὸ ὑποκουρίζεσθαι ἀοιδαῖς εἶπε διὰ τὸ τοὺς ὑμνοῦντας ἐπευφημιζομένους λέγειν· σὺν κόροις τε καὶ κόραις. Αἰσχύλος (post κόραις habet cod. D ἔνιοί φασιν ἐκκόρει κόρει κορώνας. καὶ Αἰσχύλος)· Δαναΐσι (fr. 43 Ν.)· κἄπειτα δ ᾽εἶσι λαμπρὸν ἡλίον φάος / ἕως ἐγείρω πρευμενεῖς τοὺς νυμφίους / †νόμοισι, θέντων† σὺν κόροις τε καὶ κόραις. κἀν τῶι βίωι †εὐκορεῖ ἀντὶ τοῦ κόρους κορώνας παρατρέποντες† ἔνιοί φασιν· ἐκκόρει κόρει κορώνας (κἀν … κορώνας om. cod. D, vid. supra).
(b) Horapollo Hierogl. i 8, p. 18-19 Sbordone
ἑτέρως δὲ τὸν Ἄρεα καὶ τὴν Ἀφροδίτην γράφοντες δύο κορώνας ζωογραφοῦσιν ὡς ἄνδρα καὶ γυναῖκα, ἐπεὶ τοῦτο τὸ ζῶιον δύο ὠὰ γεννᾶι, ἀφ᾽ ὧν ἄρρεν καὶ θῆλυ γεννᾶσθαι δεῖ· ἐπειδὰν δὲ γεννήσηι, ὅπερ σπανίως γίνεται, δύο ἀρσενικὰ ἢ δύο θηλυκά, τὰ ἀρσενικὰ τὰς θηλείας γαμήσαντα οὐ μίσγεται ἑτέραι κορώνηι, οὐδὲ μὴν ἡ θήλεια ἑτέραι κορώνηι μέχρι θανάτου, ἀλλὰ μόνα τὰ ἀποζυγέντα διατελεῖ. διὸ καὶ μιᾶι κορώνηι συναντήσαντες οἰωνίζονται οἱ ἄνθρωποι ὡς χηρεύοντι συνηντηκότες ζώιωι· τῆς δὲ τοιαύτης αὐτῶν ὁμονοίας χάριν μέχρι νῦν οἱ ῞Ελληνες ἐν τοῖς γάμοις
ἐκκορὶ κορὶ κορώνη
λέγουσιν ἀγνοοῦντες.
(c) Hesych. s.v. κουριζόμενος· ὑμεναιούμενος, διὰ τὸ λέγειν γαμουμέναις (γαμ. διὰ τὸ λέγ. cod.)· σὺν κούροις τε καὶ κόραις. ὅπερ νῦν παρεφθαρμένως ἐκκορεῖν λέγεται.
(d) Aelian. h.a. iii 9 ἀκούω δὲ τοὺς πάλαι καὶ ἐν τοῖς γάμοις μετὰ τὸν ὑμέναιον τὴν κορώνην ἄιδειν, σύνθημα ὁμονοίας τοῦτο τοῖς συνιοῦσιν ἐπὶ τῆι παιδοποιίαι διδόντας.
The testimonia have elicited interpretations from a long line of scholars stretching from J. Mercier in the mid-sixteenth century to G. Lambin in the late twentieth century. [2] Herewith yet another attempt, in the year 2012, to read this ancient folk-song. To begin with, the scholiast apropos of Pindar’s Pythian Ode 3 (testimonium a) and Hesychius (testimonium c) attest the sung phrase (possibly a refrain?) ‘σὺν κόροις τε καὶ κόραις’. The scholiast glosses ὑποκουρίζεσθαι ἀοιδαῖς as ‘to shout in a (nuptial) hymn the wish “with both boys and girls.”’ Hesychius likewise glosses κουριζόμενος as ‘singing a wedding-song, saying to the brides “with both boys and girls.”’ The scholiast and Hesychius posit further that the nuptial tag was ‘corrupted’ into a phrase containing the verb εὐκορεῖν or ἐκκορεῖν. [3] On the other hand, neither of the other two witnesses, to wit Aelian in the late second or early third century and Horapollo (possibly a nom de plume for two ancient editors or authors) in the late fifth century AD, [4] quotes the auspicious phrase. Horapollo—or quite possibly his ancient source [5] —quotes a pagan song which may have been current but was at all events unintelligible in his day; its only recoverable meaning, which Aelian also attested nearly three centuries earlier, was that it referred to the conjugal harmony of crows as an inducement for the newlyweds on their first night (or rather, morning after): see Horapollo, τῆς δὲ τοιαύτης αὐτῶν ὁμονοίας χάριν; compare Aelian μετὰ τὸν ὑμέναιον τὴν κορώνην καλεῖν, σύνθημα ὁμονοίας τοῦτο τοῖς συνιοῦσιν ἐπὶ τῇ παιδοποιΐᾳ διδόντες (‘after the wedding-song they [reportedly] called upon / invited the crow, performing this as a cue for oneness of mind for those coming together for the sake of procreation’). [6] Instead of Aelian’s καλεῖν, incidentally and quite importantly, the nineteenth-century editor R. Hercher read ᾄδειν ‘to sing’, a detail to which I will return. [7]
In view of the discrepancy between the two broadly similar groups of testimonia, namely Pindar’s scholiast and Hesychius on the one side, and Aelian and Horapollo (a contemporary of Hesychius) on the other, it appears likely that the ancient witnesses confused two distinct and unrelated popular wedding-songs. [8] The first song featured the phrase σὺν κόροις τε καὶ κόραις, an ellipsis comparable with e.g. σὺν θεοῖς; see LSJ, s.v. σύν, 2 (‘with collat. notion of help or aid’). Aelian’s report and the first two verses of Aeschylus Danaids fr. 43 Radt (TrGF, iii.158) strongly suggest that the phrase belonged to a διεγερτικόν, or ‘morning after’ wedding-song. [9] One plausible reconstruction would be ‘I have come with both boys and girls (sc. bearers of good luck)’; alternatively, the ‘boys and girls’ were part of a sung wish for the newlyweds’ fertility. The phrase ‘with both boys and girls’ under the latter interpretation occurred—perhaps as a refrain—in a wedding-song closely related to the so-called κορώνισμα, a kind of seasonal carol performed ordinarily by boys at their neighbours’ doorstep. Athenaeus (Deipnosophistae 8.359 e-360 b Olson) preserves a literary pastiche or paraphrase of this chanson de quête; hoping to coax figs or suchlike from the unwed daughter of the house, the roaming chorus of men addressed to her a wish which recalled the nuptial phrase ‘with both boys and girls’:
θεοί, γένοιτο πάντ’ ἄμεμπτος ἡ κούρη,
κἀφνειὸν ἄνδρα κὠνομαστὸν ἐξεύροι,
καὶ τῷ γέροντι πατρὶ κοῦρον εἰς χεῖρας
καὶ μητρὶ κούρην εἰς τὰ γοῦνα κατθείῃ [10]
The second nuptial song, which Aelian, it seems, specifically called ‘The Crow’, [11] has been preserved in two variants: a) Schol. Pi.
ἐκκόρει κόρει κορώνας
b) Horapollo
ἐκκορὶ κορὶ κορώνη
Variant (a) may be emended in several ways. For example:
ἐκκόρει, κόρη, κορώνη<ν>
ἐκκόρει, κόρη, κορών<ας>
ἐκκόρει, κόρει, κορώνας
The third possibility, which preserves the scholiast’s text but simply adds punctuation, is cited in LSJ rev. Suppl. (1996), s.v. ἐκκορέω and is defined as a ‘marriage cry of dub. form and significance’. In common with L. Deubner, R. Renehan reads an obscene sense in the line as a whole and proposes
ἐκκόρει κόρει κορώνην
where ‘crow’ = pudendum muliebre, hence ‘Deflower, deflower the (bride’s) sex organ.’ Renehan calls the line ‘a ritual refrain … an emphatic imperative; this is very fitting in an old magical formula’ meant to exhort the bridegroom. [12] G. Lambin has challenged, not altogether convincingly, attempts to interpret ἐκκορεῖν and κορώνη as obscene. [13] One key witness for the obscene connotations of ἐκκορεῖν is Aristophanes Thesmophorizusae 760, τίς ἐξεκόρησέ σε; (‘Who has swept away/ taken away your «daughter»?’ where ‘daughter’ is taken to mean, tongue-in-cheek, ‘leather wine-flask’). Lambin argues that the verb ἐξεκόρησε here is already a double entendre and that to convert the underlying ‘daughter’ into a triple entendre would be pointless. This objection may well be right; but even if we dismiss the regress of metaphorical slapstick in the Aristophanes passage, it is still possible to build a case for the improper connotations of ‘crow’ in epithalamian and other settings, as will be seen.
Let us return for a moment to the first two emendations I have proposed: ‘Sweep out, maiden, the crow ’. If, as all of the witnesses state, the context is nuptial, the ‘maiden’ addressed is none other than the bride on the night of her wedding. Prima facie she is asked to ‘sweep out the crow’ for one of two reasons: either because, as suggested by LSJ s.v.ἐκκορέω, a crow rather lugubriously is ‘a prognostic of widowhood’ [14] or more diffusely on account of the sinister associations of this bird. Hesiod in Works and Days 746-7 attests the superstitious fear of a crow cawing after settling on a house (δόμος) under construction. [15] If the song understood or referred to the future couple’s bridal chamber, new room or even house, that was reason enough to ask the bride-to-be to take measures against the ‘cacophonous crow’ perched on the structure; compare again Hesiod op.cit. 746, μή τοι ἐφεζομένη κρώξει λακέρυζα κορώνη. (Perhaps the bride-to-be, or at any rate some other maiden, was supposed to sweep a broom apotropaically in the air.) Sappho fr. 111 (LP=111 Voigt) offers parallel instructions in a wedding context. The poem summons builders and carpenters to raise the roof—presumably of the thalamos—high enough for the the bridegroom’s epiphanic entrance: the allusion to buildng a roof may be a relic of a time when an extra room was added to the house for a son’s marriage. [16]
Another possible emendation is put forward by Mercier, Boeckh, and Th. Bergk: [17]
ἐκκόρει, κόρη κορώνη.
Ηere, according to Mercier and Boeckh, a ‘maiden crow’ (the bride?) is enjoined to sweep something out most likely on the nuptial night. [18] (Bergk’s interpretation is different, however; following Hesychius loc. cit., he takes ἐκκορεῖν intransitively and renders it ‘to sing a wedding-song’.) [19] But could a bride ordinarily be addressed figuratively as a crow?
Archilochus, among other considerations, suggests that ‘crow’ as used of a female had derogatory associations. If the scholiast who cites Archilochus fr. 41 W is right, a ‘female crow’ writhing (σαλευομένη) in erotic pleasure was likened by the poet to a ‘cormorant / that flapped its wings on a jutting rock’. Κορώνη here is almost certainly, owing to its similarity in sound to κόρη , a young prostitute, [20] and this is shown outright by a fragment doubtfully ascribed to Archilochus, fr. 331 W:
συκῆ πετραίη πολλὰς βόσκουσα κορώνας,
εὐήθης ξείνων δέκτρια Πασιφίλη
‘Like a fig tree on rocky ground that feeds many crows,
good-natured Pasiphile takes on strangers.’ [21]
Pasiphile, a brothel- or innkeeper, is said to be πολλὰς βόσκουσα κορώνας; compare the term πορνοβοσκός (‘brothel-keeper’). The well-known metaphor of the fig tree, which denotes the female genitals, [22] further demeans Pasiphile into a personified sexual organ. This uncomplimentary reduction may in fact be reflected in the comic compound κυσθοκορώνη, which, if as Hesychius suggests it was used in comedy of a bride, dealt a twin blow by treating her as nothing more than the genitals of a whore. [23] Iconography may well clinch the argument that ‘crow’ carried negative associations when applied to a woman: a hetaira identified by a graffito as Κορώνη is shown to be participating in erotic revelry with other hetairai and men on a red-figure cup of the late sixth century BC in Berlin by the Thalia painter; [24] and κορώνη καλή is inscribed on a black-figure lekythos, possibly referring to the same (notorious) hetaira. [25] Comparison with a crow would then cast a shadow on a girl’s morals and livelihood and possibly appearance. The metaphor of ‘crow’ pointed primarily to a whore or hetaira, not to her genitals, and in general, scholars from the nineteenth century on may be correct in discerning obscene and even punning allusions to defloration in our text, pace Lambin, as has been remarked. [26] So a bride might be addressed or otherwise referred to as ‘crow’ but of course only in the context of Fescennina iocatio (on which see below).
Κορώνη in the vocative case—which may on balance seem a likely reading [27] —might even so sound odd until we take a closer look at Horapollo’s version:
ἐκκορὶ κορὶ κορώνη
ἐκκορί may be an example of iotacism, the correct form being ἐκκόρει as preserved in Sch. Pi., whilst Horapollo’s κορὶ κορώνη may be emended to κορικορώνη. This compound has an unmistakable parallel in the hypocoristic reduplicated form χελιχελώνη/-α (= ‘torti-tortoise’) that occurs in the girls’ game-song printed as fr. 876 (c) (PMG). [28] Lambin contrariwise considers the scholiast’s ἐκκόρει κόρει ‘une correction malheureuse des cris ἐκκορὶ et κορὶ’, a nonsensical exclamation equivalent, as he suggests, to, say, the English ‘Hip-Hip-Hurrah!’ or the Berber youyou. [29] ἐκκορὶ κορὶ κορώνη or even ἐκκορικορικορώνη is on Lambin’s reading not so much a song per se as a sonorous refrain—a mimicry, I might add, of the crow’s raucous callings—and is formally comparable to the archetypal ὑμὴν ὑμήν, ὑμὴν ὦ ὑμέναιε; the trochaic dimeter ‘crow call’, he ventures, was shouted by a chorus to punctuate a wedding-song. [30] Besides the two versions just cited (ἐκκορὶ κορὶ κορώνη and ἐκκορικορώνη) this scholar has proposed two other trochaic versions, of which the former also has an absurd ring:
εὐκορὶ κορώνας
εὐκορεῖ κορώνας
I suggest, then, that Horapollo’s text might be approached as a mock crow’s caw (ἐκκορὶ κορὶ κορώνη / ἐκκορικορικορώνη). The considerable evidence of the denigratory sense of κορώνη as ‘whore’ strengthens my argument that the utterance as a whole was obscene and possibly a summons to the bridegroom or less probably to the bride to the consummatio matrimonii. It is a well-known fact that in cross-cultural popular traditions throughout history, humour at weddings or their aftermath can be ribald and is often expressed in communal song. Sexual slurs on the bride or bridegroom result, it seems, from the tensions between the two bodies of kin and especially the psychological inhibitions of the bride and her family. A bawdy version of ‘Hip-Hip-Hurrah!’, especially if it highlighted the bride as a sexual object by alluding provocatively to a ‘crow’, would make sense in such a setting. [31] Twenty-first-century scholars may consider such jocularity so crude as to be impossible in an ancient wedding. The only conceivable ancient comparandum is, as far as I am aware, the compound κυσθοκορώνη, which, as noted, Hesychius records was used of a bride in comedy; [32] unfortunately the context is unknown. But analogues from modern Greece may suggest that stylised barbs uttered or sung at weddings can reach a pitch of obscenity or graphic character assassination which—by our untutored sensibilities—would seem outrageous. [33]
Of the interpretations of the ancient folk-song I have entertained thus far, I incline to the last: carmen populare 881 is part of a licentious nuptial song or utterance referring to the bride (or her anatomy). I wish, in this final section, to consider two further possibilities, both slightly more attractive and both based on the presupposition that ‘crow’ is not obscene and may refer to a female other than the bride. If Horapollo’s text, which prompted three of Lambin’s conjectures, is emended in the light of Sch. Pi. to the command ἐκκόρει, the imperative may be addressed affectionately to someone other than the bride, namely κορικορώνη (‘Crowie-Crow’):
ἐκκόρει, κορικορώνη
‘Sweep out [the house], Crowie-Crow!’
This, I suggest, is a quite plausible version of a fragment of the wedding-song known as ‘The Crow’. Mercier, followed by Boeckh, proposed the command ἐκκόρει, κόρη κορώνη in the sense ‘Sweep, virgin crow’. In defending his emendation κορικορώνη Deubner op. cit., 301 resisted this literal-minded interpretation, which is not far from my own, on two grounds: 1) ἐκκόρει lacks an object, say δόμον, δῶμα vel sim., and 2) ‘die Aufforderung am Hochzeitstage selbst nicht gerade verständlich wäre’. As to his first objection I note that we possess at best what may be the first line of the controversial song; his second objection may be answered by consideration of the parallel instances of Sappho frr.110 a & b and 111 LP, as will be seen.
If not the bride, who would the addressee be? The compound κορικορώνη would be less harsh if used of an old woman, the import being ‘my dear old crow’; since the archaic period (see e.g. Hesiod fr. 304.1 MW) this bird was proverbial for its longevity. [34] If, moreover, Aelian mentioned a particular wedding-song as ‘The Crow’, the title most probably stemmed from the simplex κορώνη or even the compound κορικορώνη occurring in its incipit, which in my view Horapollo directly quotes. Songs, ancient and modern, may commonly be designated by their (famous) first verse. Hence, to cite a modern example, the well-known English folk-song ‘Keel Row’ takes its standard title from its first verse, ‘Weel may the keel row’. In his Acharnians Aristophanes by the same token treats as a familiar title the opening of what must be the favourite version of the (highly partisan) Athenian ‘national anthem’, φίλταθ’ Ἁρμόδι’ (= fr. 894, PMG). [35] At Acharnians 980 he converts the incipit to a proper noun in the accusative (τὸν Ἁρμόδιον ᾄσεται; compare also his punning neuter plural nominative at ibid. 1093, τὰ φίλταθ’ Ἁρμοδίου). To those unfamiliar with the English and Greek songs such popular shorthand would make little sense, and indeed—to return to carmen populare 881—the ancient commentators do not seem to be acquainted with any but the sparsest details of ‘The Crow’. The context for the command to ‘Old Crow’ may become clearer if we compare some of Sappho’s nuptial songs addressed to servants or workers. Sappho frr. 110 a and b LP (= 110 & 110b Voigt) direct a gibe at the θυρωρός or ‘doorkeeper’ entrusted with keeping the bride’s friends and kin out of the bridal chamber during the consummatio matrimonii. [36] Furthermore, as already noted, in fr. 111 LP (= 111 Voigt) real or imagined carpenters are ordered (in the imperative) to ‘raise up the roof’ to accommodate the outsize bridegroom, ready to storm Ares-like into the house. [37] On the foregoing analogies, at least two lines of interpretation are conceivable for ‘The Crow ’. We may assume, firstly if less probably, that the bridegroom is addressing his mother as κορικορώνη ‘dear old crow’, using a causative imperative, in effect ‘Tell / have the slaves [to] sweep the house …’ Or, secondly and much more likely, one or more individuals (the bridegroom? his friends?) are ordering an old ταμίη such as Odysseus’ Eurycleia to sweep the bridegroom’s house clean before the arrival of the beautiful bride. [38] Sweep the house, dear old crow, for the bride is about to arrive …’, whereupon a chorus of her friends would sing: ‘Here she comes, as beautiful as a goddess!’ [39]
In considering the welter of testimonia which D. L. Page treated as carmen populare 881 I embarked on what may now seem a wild goose chase (if I may be allowed an avian pun). It is nearly impossible to uphold with certainty any one reconstruction of the evidence, one reason being that we are most likely dealing not with multiforms of the ‘same’ song but rather with two separate wedding-songs which were poorly understood in late antiquity. One song contained the refrain ‘with both boys and girls’; the other song, the incipit or refrain featuring the word ‘crow’. This ‘Crow song’ lends itself to various reconstructions and corresponding interpretations depending on our choice of associations for the bird in this particular connubial context. Scabrous, belittling allusion to a whore and hence a vehicle for nuptial joking—or lugubrious forecast of widowhood and rotten luck in general? A diminutive cipher for longevity? Unless fuller evidence turns up in future, we never shall know.


Aelian = Garcia Valdes, M., et al., eds. 2009. Aelianus, De natura animalium. Berlin & New York.
Arnott, W. G. 2007. Birds in the Ancient World from A to Z. London & New York.
Athenaeus = Olson, S. Douglas, ed. & tr. 2008. Athenaeus, The learned banqueters, Books 8-10.420E. Loeb Classical Library 235. Cambridge, MA & London.
Bergk, Th. 1882. Poetae lyrici Graeci III. 4th ed. Leipzig.
Burnett, A. P. 1983. Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho. London.
Crevatin, F., & G. Tedeschi, eds. 2004. Horapollo l’Egiziano, Trattato sui geroglifici. Testo, traduzione e commento. Naples.
Deubner, L. 1913. ‘Ein griechischer Hochzeitsspruch’. Hermes 48:299-304.
Fabbro, H., ed. 1995. Carmina convivalia Attica. Rome.
Feher-Elston, C. 1991. Ravensong, A Natural and Fabulous History of Ravens and Crows. Reprinted 2004, 2005. New York.
Gerber, D., ed. & tr. 1999. Greek Iambic Poetry from the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries. Loeb Classical Library 259. Cambridge, MA & London.
Hercher (us), R. 1858. Aeliani de natura animalium … Paris.
Hesychius = Latte, K., ed. 1966. Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon. Vol. 2, E-O. Copenhagen.
Hunter, R. L. 1989. Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica Book III. Cambridge.
IEG i = West, M. L., ed. 1989. Iambi et elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati. Vol. 1, Archilochus, Hipponax, Theognidea. 2nd ed. Oxford.
Lambin, G. 1992. La chanson grecque dans l’antiquite. CNRS. Paris.
Mercier, J. 1551. Ori apollinis. De sacris notis. Paris.
Nagy, G. 2007. ‘Lyric and Greek Myth’. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology (ed. R. D. Woodward) 19-51. Cambridge [now electronically available].
Petropoulos, J. C. B. 1994. Heat and Lust: Hesiod’s Midsummer Festival Scene Revisited. Lanham, MD & London.
Petropoulos, J. C. B. 2003. Eroticism in Ancient and Medieval Greek Poetry. London.
PCG i = Kassel, R., & C. Austin, eds. 2001. Poetae comici Graeci. Vol. 1, Comoedia Dorica, etc. Berlin.
PCG viii = Kassel, R., & C. Austin, eds. 1995. Poetae comici Graeci. Vol. 8, Adespota. Berlin.
Renehan, R. 1976. Studies in Greek Rexts: Critical Observations to Homer, Plato, Euripides, Aristophanes and Other Authors. Gottingen.
Shapiro, H. A. 1983. ‘Epilykos Kalos’. Hesperia 52:305-310.
Silk, M. S. 1974. Interaction in Poetic Imagery with Special Reference to Early Greek Poetry. Cambridge.
West, M. L. See IEG i.
Zeltchenko, V. V. 1999. ‘ΧΕΛΙΧΕΛΩΝΗ’. Hyperboreus 5:40-55 [in Russian].


[ back ] 1. The late Sir Kenneth Dover and Professor Ewen Bowie very kindly commented on earlier versions of this paper.
[ back ] 2. Review of the relevant bibliography in Lambin 1992:88-90. Deubner 1913:299-304 remains indispensable on the considerable nineteenth-century German scholarship on this fragment.
[ back ] 3. Scholiast: εὐκορεῖ ἀντὶ τοῦ κόρους κορώνας παρατρέποντες. Cf. Hesychius: ὅπερ νῦν παρεφθαρμένως ἐκκορεῖν λέγεται.
[ back ] 4. So Sbordone 1940:xlix, the penultimate editor of the Hieroglyphica, followed by Lambin op. cit., 406-407n63. See now Crevatin & Tedeschi 2002:5-37 on Horapollo. (The latter edition was not available to me at the time of writing.)
[ back ] 5. Horapollo’s μέχρι νῦν οἱ Ἕλληνες may simply repeat an earlier excerpted scholion.
[ back ] 6. = Aelian 3.9.28-30 (Garcia Valdes et al., p.56). For the crow as a favourable sign for a bridal couple, see nn10 & 14 below. In general, for the crows as models of monogamy as in e.g. Arist. fr. 347 Rose, see Arnott 2007:113.
[ back ] 7. Valdes et al. note Hercher’s variant reading; see Hercher 1858.
[ back ] 8. Deubner op. cit., 301, noting that Hesychius is wrong in deriving ἐκκορεῖν from the nuptial phrase σὺν κούροις τε καὶ κόραις, seems to imply this. Lambin op. cit., 87, 89 does not treat σὺν κόροις τε καὶ κόραις, which he calls a refrain, in any detail and seems to leave open the question whether we are dealing with one or two different songs. I might add that Aelian suggests mistakenly, insofar as he takes the two songs to be one, that the lucky wish for children belonged to the ἐκκορεῖν song when he remarks that the so-called ‘Crow-song’ performed at weddings served as a protreptic to παιδοποιία.
[ back ] 9. This type of song is implied at Theocr. 18.55. For medieval and modern Greek examples of the διεγερτικόν, see Petropoulos 2003:105 (song TF1), 112 (songs TG27-9).
[ back ] 10. For this song see Lambin op. cit., 366-70. Here the crow figures as ‘un oiseau porte-bonheur’, combining the associations of longevity, constancy of affection, and (I may add) wealth (cf. the verse Πλοῦτος ἔκρουσε). The song also refers to the discrete stages of a young female’s life (op. cit., 370). Further on the auspiciousness of the crow in n14 below.
[ back ] 11. The implication seems straightforward especially if with Hercher (n7 above) we read ᾄδειν in his report (H.A. 3.9.28 ff., above).
[ back ] 12. Renehan 1976:18, following Deubner 1913:301-304. See also n28 below on κορικορώνη as a sexual euphemism.
[ back ] 13. Lambin op. cit., 88-9.
[ back ] 14. See again Aelian H.A. 3.9.26 ff. (testimonium d: a single crow can only be widowed). Earlier, Apollonius of Rhodes associated the crow (auspiciously) with weddings and marriage: Ap. Rh. 3.929-39 with Hunter 1989:200 ad loc.
[ back ] 15. μηδὲ δόμον ποιῶν ἀνεπίξεστον καταλείπειν, / μή τοι ἐφεζομένη κρώξει λακέρυζα κορώνη.
[ back ] 16. Petropoulos 2003:157n263.
[ back ] 17. Bergk 1882:663-664, cited in Lambin op. cit., 89.
[ back ] 18. If ἐκκορεῖν is normally transitive, the lack of an accusative object may be problematic; but see below.
[ back ] 19. Cited in Deubner op. cit., 301 and Lambin op. cit., 89.
[ back ] 20. For this folk etymology, see Lambin op. cit., 90 with n91; Burnett 1983:79 identifies the ‘crow’ supposedly referred to in Arch. fr. 41 W as a ‘prostitute’.
[ back ] 21. Tr. Gerber 1999:293. On the dubious attribution, see West, IEG i.18.
[ back ] 22. E.g. Gerber op. cit., 293 ad loc.
[ back ] 23. The term, glossed by Hesychius κ 4731 (Latte ii. 554) as ‘bride’ (com. adesp. fr. 377 PCG viii.117 [K.-A.]) might not, pace Deubner op. cit., 303n3, be based on κορικορώνη but may well have been generated independently. (Deubner did not take into account the Archilochus fragments noted above.)
[ back ] 24. Shapiro 1983:308n33.
[ back ] 25. Shapiro op. cit., 308n34.
[ back ] 26. See again Lambin op. cit., 88-89, particularly on Ar. Thesm. 760, τίς ἐξεκόρησέ σε;.
[ back ] 27. Of the MSS of Horapollo’s text only one preserves the accusative κορώνην, whereas four have the variant κορώνη in the nominative or vocative.
[ back ] 28. Deubner op. cit., 302 put forward κορικορώνη, interpreting the term however as a euphemism for pudendum muliebre. Hypocoristic, humorous reduplication of animal, esp. bird, names can be seen in modern Greek folk-song. On the ancient χελιχελώνη song see e.g. Zeltchenko 1999:40-55.
[ back ] 29. Lambin op. cit., 91.
[ back ] 30. Lambin op. cit., 92. For the comic alliteration of kappa and rho compare Epicharmus 44.1 (PCG i.36 [K.-A.]) κορακῖνοί τε κοριοειδέες (whatever that means!), cited in Silk 1974:178.
[ back ] 31. Cross-cultural evidence and full treatment of ‘nuptial blame’ as a social, literary, and ‘popular’ phenomenon in ancient, medieval, and modern Greece in Petropoulos 2003:49-60.
[ back ] 32. See n23 above.
[ back ] 33. See e.g. songs TG 43 & 44 in Petropoulos 2003:115-116.
[ back ] 34. Testimonia in Arnott op. cit., 114. Crows the world over are long-lived; in North America they live about twenty years: Feher-Elston 1991:115.
[ back ] 35. No less than four versions of the so-called ‘Harmodius song’ have been preserved and are printed as carmina convivalia frr. 893-896, PMG; see Fabbro 1995:137-152 for a philological commentary. It may of interest to examine the four versions from the vantage point of Parry and Lord.
[ back ] 36. On this fragment and its arguable link to ancient folk wedding- song, see Petropoulos 2003, esp. 51.
[ back ] 37. The bridegroom is said to be ‘equal to Ares’ (111.5), an equation which G. Nagy reads in the light of Iliad 11.604 as a latent comparison to Achilles ‘the eternal bridegroom’, by way of his therapon Patroclos. See Nagy 2007:30-35 and n39 below on divine and heroic exempla in wedding-song.
[ back ] 38. Crows are thorough housecleaners, ‘cleaning parasites out of the nests’ and one another’s feathers, head and eye area (Feher-Elston op. cit., 113-114, 130). In modern Greece a number of functional songs accompany the chores of preparing, inter alia, the embroidered canopy over the bridal bed ahead of the wedding ceremony. See Petropoulos 2003:129 on the ancient παστός and its modern analogue.
[ back ] 39. Sappho applies to the bride the exempla of Aeolic heroines in love with Achilles (indirectly attested in Hesiod fr. 214 a MW), of Andromache in fr. 44 LP, and of a numpha in the specialised sense of ‘local goddess’ in fr. 116 LP; in all cases such metaphorical divinisation is temporary and corresponds to the intermediate stage of the bride’s initiatory course of ‘death and rebirth’ from girl to goddess/heroine to woman, as Nagy argues; see Nagy op. cit., 30-37. Also on the ritual basis for the exaltation of the couple in wedding-song in the Greek language in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods, see Petropoulos 2003:40-45.