Chapter 1

The Homeric Nightingale and the Poetics of Variation in the Art of a Troubadour.

{|7} Let us begin with a passage from epic, where the epic is representing lyric, not epic. Specifically the lyric form is a song of lament. Penelope is at the moment comparing herself to a nightingale, the typical songbird of lament in ancient Greek traditions, who in a previous life had been a woman who suffered the ultimate grief of ‘inadvertently’ killing her own child:
ὡς δ᾿ ὅτε Πανδαρέου κούρη, χλωρηῒς ἀηδών,
καλὸν ἀείδῃσιν ἔαρος νέον ἱσταμένοιο,
520δενδρέων ἐν πετάλοισι καθεζομένη πυκινοῖσιν,
ἥ τε θαμὰ τρωπῶσα χέει πολυηχέα φωνήν,
παῖδ᾿ ὀλοφυρομένη Ἴτυλον φίλον, ὅν ποτε χαλκῷ
κτεῖνε δι᾿ ἀφραδίας, κοῦρον Ζήθοιο ἄνακτος.

As when the daughter of Pandareos, the nightingale [aēdṓn] in the green [1]
sings beautifully at the onset anew of springtime,
perched in the dense foliage of trees,
and she pours forth, changing it around thick and fast, a voice with many resoundings, {7|8}
lamenting her child, the dear Itylos, [2] whom once upon a time with weapon of bronze
she killed inadvertently, the son of Zethos the king.
Odyssey xix 518–523
This form of the story, where the unfortunate woman is daughter of Pandareos and wife of Zethos, is different from the better-known variant native to Athens, where Procne the daughter of Pandion and wife of Tereus deliberately kills her child Itys. [3] For now, however, the focus is on the variations not in the myth but rather in the actual wording of the passage. At verse 521, a variant reading πολυδευκέα (poludeukéa), the meaning of which is unclear, is reported by Aelian De natura animalium 5.38, in place of what we see in the text as quoted, πολυηχέα (poluēkhéa) ‘with many resoundings’.
In a book about the textual history of the Homeric poems, one critic notes that poludeukḗs (the nominative) is “rarer” than poluēkhḗs, adding: “we have seen, however, that many conjectures were introduced by the ancients into Homer and that sometimes the original was replaced by a rarer and more difficult word.” [4] In his footnotes, he offers this opinion: “in a poet such as Homer the simpler and less sophisticated expression is likely to be the original one.” [5]
Let us juxtapose this opinion with a general formulation offered by Albert Lord in response to modern cultural preconceptions about oral poetry: {8|9}
Our real difficulty arises from the fact that, unlike the oral poet, we are not accustomed to thinking in terms of fluidity. We find it difficult to grasp something that is multiform. It seems to us necessary to construct an ideal text or to seek an original, and we remain dissatisfied with an ever-changing phenomenon. I believe that once we know the facts of oral composition we must cease trying to find an original of any traditional song. From one point of view each performance is an original. [6]
If we apply this line of thinking to the passage about the nightingale, we may ask whether the variant readings poluēkhḗs and poludeukḗs may both be “original,” if indeed they stem ultimately from variant performances in oral poetry. But how do we square variation in performance with variation in text? This question brings me to consider two concepts, mouvance and variance. As we will see, neither of these concepts provides an immediate answer to the question at hand, but together they help shape an ultimate answer.
The term mouvance was suggested by Paul Zumthor as a way of coming to terms with his perception that a medieval literary production like the Chanson de Roland is not so much a finished product, un achèvement, as it is a text in progress, un texte en train de se faire. [7] Viewing mouvance as a widespread phenomenon in medieval manuscript transmission, Zumthor defines it as a quasi-abstraction that becomes a reality in the interplay of variant readings in different manuscripts of a given work; he pictures mouvance as a kind of “incessant vibration,” a fundamental process of instability. [8] He links mouvance with the workings of oral tradition: for example, he suggests that certain textual variations in the Carmina Burana reflect the potential for actual variations in performance. [9] {9|10}
Zumthor’s idea of mouvance is not far removed from the idea of variance, which is a second concept that I apply to the general question of variation in performance and variation in text. This term variance was formulated by Bernard Cerquiglini in his influential Eloge de la variante. [10] For Cerquiglini, “medieval writing does not produce variants; it is variance.” [11] Unlike mouvance, however, Cerquiglini’s model of variance is not to be viewed in terms of oral tradition as reflected in written tradition: his definition insists that the written tradition itself is a matter of variance. [12]
While there is much to be learned from Cerquiglini’s far-reaching insights concerning the fact of variation in medieval manuscript traditions, it is more useful for now to pursue the implications of Zumthor’s term mouvance. There are two reasons.
First, since the term mouvance is predicated on a link with oral traditions, it seems apt for describing a wide variety of situations where we do indeed observe a distinct degree and even a distinct kind of textual variation: there is a genuine distinction, it can be argued, between variant manuscript readings stemming from errors or deliberate changes in the mechanical process of writing copies of previous manuscripts on the one hand and, on the other, variant manuscript readings reflecting a performance tradition that is still alive in a given culture. This observation about the writing down of poetic wording extends also to the writing down of melodic patterns that may accompany the wording, as the research of musicologists has suggested: in the case of the medieval French chansonniers, for example, “there was not only a scriptless culture next to a literate one, but also a notationless culture side by side with a very small notated one.” [13] It has even {10|11} been argued that “for each chanson there existed probably as many versions as there were jongleurs who performed that particular chanson.” [14]
Second, mouvance is not just a word coined by Zumthor: we are about to see a word meaning ‘to move’ which actually designates the process of mouvance and which is being used by a given songmaking tradition in referring to its own capacity for variation. Moreover, this word meaning ‘to move’ is used in this given tradition to refer to the song of both the nightingale and the poet.
It should be noted in advance that the tradition in question—even the culture in question—differs is in many ways from that of the ancient Greeks. We must therefore recognize from the start that any parallels we may find between the two traditions about to be compared are merely typological ones, and the implications of such parallelisms will have to be re-examined at length in terms of the available Greek evidence—to which we will turn in the two chapters that follow this one. Still, the poetic and even philological problems that we are about to see are in some respects strikingly similar to those faced by specialists in the ancient Greek Classics.
The key word in question is Provençal mover, the equivalent of French mouvoir and meaning, like the French word, ‘to move’. The textual tradition in question involves the medieval Provençal chansonniers—in this case a sub-set of songs or lyric poems attributed to a twelfth-century troubadour named Jaufré Rudel, prince of Blaye. The edition in question is a 1978 publication by Rupert {11|12} T. Pickens. The methodology that is adopted in this edition, as we will see, is particularly relevant to the questions at hand.
Pickens, as editor of Jaufré Rudel, is candid in telling his readers that he had originally undertaken his project in hopes of improving on an earlier edition of this troubadour by Alfred Jeanroy (1924):
In the beginning stages of this project, I thought simply that it was possible to determine what Jaufré’s “authentic” texts were by adopting a more dispassionate regard for the poems than Jeanroy was apparently able to do. The arrogant assumption was that Jeanroy’s edition could be “improved upon” by rigorous application of Lachmannian principles. ... It soon became apparent, however, that not only can “authentic” texts not be discovered, much less “established” with a sufficient degree of certainty, but that, given the condition of the manuscripts and the esthetic principles involving textual integrity affirmed by Jaufré himself as well as by his transmitters, the question of “authenticity,” insofar as the meaning of the texts was concerned, was largely irrelevant. The conventions and traditions of the courtly lyric have conspired to efface the author and to create at least as many Jaufré Rudels as there are medieval anthologies.” [15]
In abandoning one solution, where the goal is to reconstruct a given manuscript tradition back to one textual archetype, following methods established by Karl Lachmann, [16] this particular editor adopts an alternative solution by invoking the concept of mouvance as formulated by Zumthor, [17] and he explicitly connects “the poetics of mouvance” with the factor of “performance” in oral tradition. [18] More than that, this editor has discovered a {12|13} remarkable detail, to which I have just now drawn attention: that the Provençal word mover in the sense of French mouvoir and English move is actually used in Provençal songmaking to express an idea of mouvance.
The passage in question is the ending of Jaufré Rudel’s Song VI, version 1a: [19]
bos es le sons s’ieu non menti
e tot qant i a, ben ista;
e cel qi de mi l’apenra
gard si non mueva ni camgi,
qar si l’auson en Caerzi;
le coms de Tolsa l’entendra. a. a.

The melody is good, if I have not lied, {alternatively: so I have not lied}
and all there is in it goes well;
and the one who will learn it from me,
beware lest it move or change,
for if they hear it in Quercy, {alternatively: for thus may they hear it in Quercy}
the count of Toulouse will understand it. Ha! Ha!”
In other attested manuscript versions of Song VI of Jaufré Rudel, it is made clear by the composer that the intermediary transmitter of the song, described in the passage just quoted as ‘the one who will learn it from me’, must deliver it unchanged to two noblemen, who must in turn hear it. In version 1a of Song VI, the composition ends as just quoted. In other versions, however, the references to the destined audiences are followed by further references, resulting in a longer song. Of these other available versions, let us take as one example the last eight lines of Song VI version 1 (as distinct from 1a): [20]
bos es lo vers s’ieu no.y falhi,
ni tot so que.y es, ben esta;
e selh que de mi l’apenra,
guart si que res no mi cambi,
que si l’auzon en Caerci
lo vescoms ni.l en Tolza.{13|14}

bos es lo sos, e faran hi
quas que don most chans gensara

Good is the poem if I did not fail in it {alternatively: so I did not fail in it}
and all there is in it goes well;
and the one who will learn it from me,
let him beware lest he change anything for me, [21]
for thus may they hear it in Quercy,
the viscount and the count in the Toulousain.

The melody is good, and they will do there
whatever things from which my song will grow more noble. {alternatively: more fair}
As another example, let us take the last eight lines of Song VI version 1b: [22]
bos es lo vers can no.i falhi,
e tot so que.i es, ben esta,
e sel que de mi l’apenra
gart se no.i falha ni.l pessi ,
qu[e] si l’auzo en Lemozi
e Bertrans e.l coms el Tolza.

bons er lo vers e faran y
calsque motz que hom chantara

The poem is good, since I did not fail in it,
and all there is in it goes well,
and the one who will learn it from me,
let him beware lest he fail in it and break it up,
for thus may they hear it in the Limousin,
both Bertran and the count in the Toulousain.

The poem will be good, and they will make there [the Limousin or the
Toulousain] (for it)
whatever words someone will sing.
Whereas according to Pickens the intermediary must deliver the song unchanged to two noblemen, “those who are destined to receive it must, on the contrary, introduce changes.” [23] It is {14|15} probably enough to say that the destined audience may “move” the song while the intermediary must not.
As we see from the wording of the variations in Song VI, the chance to move the song is equivalent to the chance to change it into a version different from that of the composer, even though the intermediary must keep the composer’s version the same until it reaches the destined audience. The noblemen who are to be the song’s audience are in turn to become the song’s new performers—and thereby the song’s recomposers.
The remarkable thing, moreover, is that mover ‘move’ can designate not only the recomposing of a song through reperformance but even its archetypal composition through its archetypal performance. As Pickens also notices, mover ‘move’ can refer not only to the changing of the song, as here, but also to the actual singing of the song, even to the actual beginning of the singing, as when the poet starts his song by picturing a nightingale as it sings, that is, as it moves its song. [24] Here is the beginning, for example, of Jaufré Rudel’s Song I version 1: [25]
quant lo rosignols el fuoillos
dona d’amor e.n quier e.n pren
e mou so chant jauzen joios
e remira sa par soven,
e.ill riu son clar e.ill prat son gen,
pel novel deport que reingna,
me ven al cor grans jois jacer.

When the nightingale in the leafy wood
gives of love, asks for it and takes of it
and composes (moves) his song rejoicing and joyous
and beholds (reflects) his she-equal often,
and the streams are clear and the fields are pleasant,
through the new sense of pleasure that reigns,
great joy comes to lie in my heart.
Here in Song I of Jaufré Rudel, the symbol of the singing nightingale is drawn into a parallel with the singer who is the {15|16} poet. Just as the nightingale moves his song by singing—that is, by performing—so also the poet implicitly moves his own song by composing it. [26] This symbol provides an opportunity to compare a model developed by Lord, centering on composition-in-performance, with the model of Zumthor centering on mouvance. The symbol of the nightingale, deployed as it is to launch the poet’s composition, superimposes the medium of performance on the act, the fact, of composition. By comparing himself to the nightingale, the poet presents himself as one who performs as he composes. Just as the nightingale goes about his performance, so also the poet goes about his composition by performing it, by moving it. Just as the poet composes his song, so too his model, the nightingale: in Pickens’ translation, the songbird “composes (moves) his song rejoicing and joyous” (e mou so chant jauzen joios). We may recall the image in Aeschylus (Suppliants 60–67) of the mythical figure Procne, who has been transformed by the gods into a nightingale (aēdṓn, verse 62: ἀηδόνος): the songbird is pictured as literally “composing” (suntíthesthai, verse 65: ξυντίθησι) the sad song of her murdered child’s fate (verse 65: παιδὸς μόρον). [27]
Just as the nightingale’s song in Song I of Jaufré Rudel is an implicit model for the poet who hears him and makes his own song, so also the poet is the model for the noblemen who in turn hear him and make their own song by performing the song of the poet. To perform the song, however, is to recompose it, to change it, that is, to move it. In this light, mouvance is the same thing as recomposition-in-performance. The nightingale who is “composing” his song in Song I of Jaufré Rudel may serve as the model, the archetype, for the song of the poet, but even the songbird is in fact recomposing his own song by virtue of performing it. So it is apt for the nightingale to move his song, which is “original” for the poet but which is at the same time inherently recurrent and recomposed, much as every new season of spring is {16|17} a joyous event of inherent recurrence and recomposition, even re-creation.
In applying the idea of a “poetics of mouvance” to his edition of the songs of Jaufré Rudel, Pickens confronts a set of problems. Even without a single holograph, to be reconstructed according to the principles of Lachmann, [28] the question remains whether it is possible to explain the variations in Jaufré Rudel’s manuscript tradition simply in terms of the poet’s own lifetime activity: “a stemma,” Pickens explains, “could represent the career of a poet just as easily as a two-hundred-year tradition of manuscript transmission.” [29] It is in any case impossible to exclude the author himself from the process of varying his own composition. [30] Accordingly, in considering all the variations attested in the manuscript tradition of Song V, Pickens is willing for the moment to entertain the idea that all these variations may be “by” Jaufré Rudel; after all, Jaufré “was a troubadour who constantly reworked his material.” [31] Pursuing the question, Pickens concludes after an intensive analysis of the manuscript variations in both Songs I and V of Jaufré Rudel:
Jaufré’s authorship of at least two formally and linguistically distinct versions of the former [Song I] and two of the latter [Song V] cannot be disproved; the poems have equal claims for authenticity and there is no reason to suppose that Jaufré did not compose them. If he could have produced two or three versions of the same song, then why could he not also have produced six or ten or fifteen? Corollary to the theory is the assumption that Jaufré was a troubadour-performer creating his works in an atmosphere heavy with the esthetics of oral composition. As epic criticism has suggested, orality and mutation, not writing and fixity, were the compositional medium and consequent destiny of chanson de geste texts. The courtly lyric is also an oral genre, performed orally and heard, not read. It is not {17|18} unreasonable to suppose, therefore, that Jaufré altered his works frequently in conformity with the practices of oral tradition and that, in concert with all poetic practice, he strove to “perfect” his poetry by reworking, adding and casting out (but, like all who publish, the person who changes must still ever be confronted by what has previously been released to the public). [32]
Even allowing for this much participation by the author himself in the process of variation, we are reminded of his own references to other participants, such as the noblemen in Song VI who are imagined as not only hearing the song in performance but also reperforming it themselves afterwards and thereby recomposing it. Pickens explicitly argues for the reality of such participation by invoking “the dynamic condition of the medieval poem,” with specific reference to Zumthor’s idea of mouvance. [33] Here he links his observations about the medieval Provençal troubadour with those of Harry H. Lucas about the medieval French trouvère: the song, Lucas argues, is not only created by the trouvère but also re-created by any number of fellow trouvères, as well as amateurs, before it is ever incorporated into the manuscript tradition of the chansonnier, and most likely even afterward, so that the song of a trouvère can truly be said to be a work of collaboration. [34]
By now, Pickens has brought into play two “solutions”: according to the first, Jaufré Rudel is the only contributor to the “creative acts”; according to the second, these creative acts “are seen as operating in transmission as well.” [35] Moreover, “Jaufré himself affirms the principle of change as esthetically proper to his genre, so that it might be said that mouvance is an aspect of the intention of his songs.” [36] Precisely in this context Pickens introduces the passage {18|19} from Song VI where the poet urges that the noblemen must hear and then reperform the song of Jaufré Rudel, with the implicit assumption that they will thereby recompose it as well. [37] In this same context we have seen the poet urging the intermediary transmitter not to “move” the poem, that is, not to recompose it.
This detail is essential for coming to terms with questions of authorship in this culture. If indeed Jaufré Rudel is not the only contributor to the “creative acts,” then how exactly is he an author? Here we may recall the striking formulation of Rupert Pickens: “The conventions and traditions of the courtly lyric have conspired to efface the author and to create at least as many Jaufré Rudels as there are medieval anthologies.” [38]
Let us go beyond the problems raised by this particular example in this particular culture and ask a more general question: what is it, in any case, to be an author in any tradition where performance is needed to make a song come to life? [39] Applying the observation of Parry and Lord that composition and performance are aspects of the same process in oral traditions, I suggest that authority in performance is a key to the very concept of authorship in composition. [40] In the present example from Jaufré Rudel as well, it is authority in performance that is crucial: the poet’s song does not become authoritative until it is performed in an authorized setting. Only then does the song become real, authentic. Thus the intermediary transmitter is enjoined not to “move” the song of Jaufré Rudel because he is as yet unauthorized to do so. This injunction by the poet is presented not as a statement of fact so much as a stylized gesture to his intended audience. Thus I doubt that this unnamed intermediary is really understood by the poet to be a “mechanical” transmitter who is not a “re-creative” singer. [41] I propose instead that the authorization of the composer is implicitly not enough because the transmitter as performer must also be authorized by his audience, who are presumed to be authoritative members of the song culture. [42] {19|20}
The intermediate transmitter of the troubadour, who is potentially a jongleur, becomes an authoritative performer through the dual authorization of composer and audience. [43] It would be misleading, though, to generalize the jongleur as a mechanical performer who repeats the song of the authoritative composer, the troubadour; it would also be misleading to set up a strict dichotomy between a “creative” troubadour and a “re-creative” jongleur. [44] In the troubadour traditions, the transmitter of song becomes a potential troubadour by virtue of reperforming the song. It all depends on the circumstances of reception: in Jaufré’s song, for example, it is implied that the transmitter of his song must have approval from both the composer and the audience which is to hear the transmitter’s performance. The transmitter is to be authorized on the grounds that both the composer and the audience of noblemen are authoritative. The noblemen may reperform and thereby recompose the song precisely because they are presumed, by the song, to be authoritative. So also the nightingale “moves” the song because he has the authority to do so. Only in this case, the authority is not social but elemental—even archetypal. We will return to this theme of archetypal authority in Chapter 2, where I will explore the idea that repetition is archetypal.
We see another example of performative intermediacy in Song II of Jaufré Rudel, where the song is pictured as being transmitted from the troubadour to a nobleman through an intermediary, named Fillol or ‘Godson’ in some versions. [45] Here is the text of Song II, version 1, strophe v: [46]
senes breu de pargamina,
tramet lo vers en chantan
plan et en lenga romana
a.n Hugon Brun per Fillol. {20|21}
bon m’es, car gens Peitavina,
de Beiriu et de Bretaigna
s’esgau per lui, e Guianna.

Without any writing on parchment,
I transmit the poem in singing,
plainly and in the vernacular language,
to Lord Hugh the Swarthy, by Godson. [47]
I am glad, since the people of Poitou,
of Berry, and of Brittany
are delighted by him; and of Guyenne. [48]
Even in the sort of situation where the composer allows himself to express a concern that his song may be exposed to unauthorized performance, as if there were a danger that someone will “move” it in a negative sense, this concern turns out to be a rhetorical way of seeking reassurance from the audience that the performance really is authoritative, so that those who heard the song and learned to perform it can thus implicitly “move” it in a positive sense, much as the nightingale “moves” his own song. {21|22} We come back to the case of Song VI, which is predicated on the poet’s satisfaction with his composition: bos es lo vers can no.i falhi ‘the poem is good, since I did not fail in it’ (version 1b strophe v). The anonymous transmitter is enjoined to learn the song from the poet exactly as it was composed: in the different versions of the song, we hear that the transmitter must therefore ‘beware lest he fail in it and break it up’ (gart se no.i falha ni.l pessi, version 1b strophe v) or ‘beware lest he fracture it or break it up’ (gart no.l fran[ha] ni [no.]l pezi , version 2a strophe vii) or ‘beware lest it move or change’ (gard si non mueva ni camgi, version 1a strophe iv) or even perhaps ‘beware lest anything changes me’ (guart si que res no mi coambi, version 1 strophe vii). [50]
The fact that even this poetic injunction against variation survives by way of variants is a striking example of a paradox that is characteristic of a wide variety of oral traditions: a tradition may claim unchangeability as a founding principle while at the same time it keeps itself alive through change. Outsiders who are looking in, as it were, on a given tradition can be objective about any change that they do observe. Insiders, however, are apt to be subjective. Participants in a given tradition may of course choose to ignore any change whatsoever. [51] If they do recognize change, however, either it must be negative or, if it is to be positive, it must not really be change after all. In other words, positive change must be a “movement” that leads back to something that is known, just as negative change leads forward to something that is unknown, uncertain, unpredictable. And yet, even if positive change is a moving back toward whatever is known, certain, and predictable, all the more will it be deemed to be an ongoing process of improvement, not deterioration, by those who participate in the tradition. In fact, it will be an improvement precisely because such positive ‘movement’ aims at the traditional, even the archetypal.
From this point of view, the noblemen who are to hear the song of the poet are described in Song VI of Jaufré Rudel as {22|23} destined to improve that song by way of a presumed authoritativeness inherent in their reperformances. To quote from one of the variants that we have already seen, ‘The melody is good, and they will do there | whatever things from which my song will grow more noble’. [52] When the nightingale ‘moves’ his song, it is a matter of positive change because tradition is reactivated. If, however, a jongleur ‘moves’ the song of a troubadour in an unauthorized situation, it is a matter of negative change because tradition breaks down. For a performer of a song to ‘move’ it in a negative sense is to ‘change’ it, even to ‘break’ it.
Just as the idea of ‘moving’ a song can be turned from a negative to a positive sense, however, even the idea of ‘breaking’ a song can be made positive in the poetics of mouvance. The negative poetics of the verb franhar ‘break’, as deployed in the poet’s injunction to the transmitter not to ‘break’ the song, are echoed by the positive poetics of the verb refranhar, to be interpreted in another poem of Jaufré Rudel as ‘refract’ in referring specifically to the singing of the nightingale and, in response, the singing of the poet. [53] Before we reflect on the meaning of the metaphor inherent in the image of ‘refraction’, let us consider its precise context in the song:
qan lo rius de la fontana
s’esclarzis si cum far sol,
e par la flors aiglentina,
e.l rossignoletz el ram
volf e refraing et aplana
son doutz chantar et afina
dreitz es q’ieu lo mieu refraigna

When the stream from the spring
runs clear, the way it usually does,
and the sweetbrier flower appears,
and the little nightingale on the branch
turns and refracts and polishes
his sweet singing and refines it (brings it to an end),
it is right that I should refract my own. {23|24}
Jaufré Rudel, Song II version 1 strophe i [54]
The metaphor inherent in the Provençal verb refranhar can be explained as an auditory equivalent of a visual metaphor, the ‘refracting’ of light (as in Latin refringere). The driving image of refraction also accounts for two Provençal nouns: refrins, meaning ‘echo’ (as a part of sound that repeats itself), and refrim, meaning ‘birdsong, sound, refrain’. [55] The verb refranhar can also refer to the musical process of modulation in song: much as light is refracted through glass or a prism, so also the musical sound of song is modulated. [56] When the nightingale ‘turns and refracts [refranhar] and polishes’ his song, the songbird is being envisaged as a craftsman who is constantly engaged in the process of improving the work of his craftsmanship, in principle coming ever nearer to the finished product. The poet echoes the songbird as he reaches the end of the strophe just quoted, and so also by implication the other singers must echo the poet, as they too must ‘turn and refract and polish’ the song, refining it and ‘bringing it to an end’. The end of one singer’s ‘refinement’, however, is the beginning of another’s, and each beginning, each new ‘movement’, is a return to tradition. In this theme of ‘refinement’, we see the ultimate image of improvement as an eternal return to the traditional, which is envisaged as an eternal musical modulation.
Let us return here once again to the troubadour’s image of the songbird, with one more example of the word mover ‘move’ in the archetypal sense of referring to birdsong. In the sole extant version of Song IV, the first four verses of the last strophe run as follows: [57]
el mes d’abril e de Pascor,
can l’auzel movon lurs dous critz,
adoncs vueill mon chas si’ auzitz;
et aprendetz lo, cantador ... {24|25}

In the month of April, and of Easter,
when birds compose (move) their sweet cries,
then I wish my song to be heard:
and learn it, singers ...
It is time to propose a reformulation of the idea of mouvance, supplementing it with the usage of mover as we have seen it operate in a troubadour’s poetics—and in light of one given editor’s detailed and patient work on the texts attributed to Jaufré Rudel. I propose, then, that mouvance is the process of recomposition-in-performance as actually recognized by a living oral tradition, where the recognition implies the paradox of immediate change without ultimate change.
On the basis of his editorial experience, Rupert Pickens concludes that “at least in the case of Jaufré Rudel, mutation is appropriate to the lyric genre.” [58] According to this line of thinking, the courtly lyric of Jaufré is not “authoritative” in the same sense as Scripture, in that the work is freed to be “re-created and re-generated.” [59] I agree, though I stress that the authoritativeness of Jaufré’s tradition is as real as that of Scripture, with the basic difference being that the troubadour’s words do not insist on the idea of unchangeability, typical of the claims of scriptures in a wide variety of cultures. At a later point, we will consider in further detail the very notion of “scripture.”
Pickens observes about the patterns of mutation in the lyrics of Jaufré Rudel that “it is impossible to determine at what points his personal interventions ceased and his transmitters continued the process of perfecting beyond his personal intentions.” [60] Which leads to this conclusion: “Given these conditions, under which it is impossible to rediscover Jaufré’s intentions (i.e., the extent of his personal involvement in the creation and regeneration of his works), each manifestation of a song must be considered to be, in its own right, as valid a whole, complete poem as any other versions.” [61] In light of these findings, this editor of medieval texts differs from the approach of previous {25|26} scholars like Gaston Paris and Alfred Jeanroy, whose goal was to recover a given author’s archetypal text. [62] But he also differs from the approach of other editors like Joseph Bédier, whose own findings about textual variation led him to abandon the idea of recovering the archetypal text, but whose goal remained nevertheless the idea of recovering at least the closest thing to an archetype. [63] Pickens offers the following critique:
... the Bédier method forces the editor to ignore what the poem has acquired through mouvance (making what is not in the base manuscript become, in Gaston Paris’s phrase, “les oubliettes de l’appareil critique,” whatever their literary worth); moreover, it might be added that Bédier’s methodology tends to falsify the historical question by giving only the “best” version of a song the stamp of authority. [64]
While offering his own adjustments in line with the hermeneutic principle of mouvance, Pickens has this to say about the criteria of editing proposed by Lucas: “to my knowledge, they have never been observed in an edition of medieval lyric poetry.” [65] In a retrospective work, Pickens with good reason describes his own 1978 edition of Jaufré Rudel, with its “multitext format,” as “the first widely recognized edition attempting to incorporate a procedure to account for re-creative textual change.” [66]
The need for a multitext format in editing texts is most evident in the case of manuscript traditions where the phenomenon of phraseological variation seems to reach all-pervasive proportions. A striking example is the textual transmission of the medieval French epic, the Chanson de Roland. [67] As Ramón Menéndez Pidal observes, three of the earliest manuscript versions of the Chanson {26|27} have not a single identical verse in common with each other. [68] He concludes that such a degree of textual variation is symptomatic of an ongoing oral tradition, and that in fact an oral tradition stays alive through its variations and reworkings. [69] Following Menéndez Pidal, Michael Zwettler has concluded that early Arabic poetry is likewise the product of a vigorous oral tradition, as reflected in the extraordinary wealth of variants transmitted in the textual tradition:
We are doubly fortunate in Arabic, in that we often have not only two or more recensions of many poems ... but also a mass of additional variants presented in the scholia to the poems or in various supplementary philological and literary-historical sources where poetry held a paramount position. And nowhere does the inherent instability or, better, fluidity of the early Arabic poem—its essential multiformity—emerge with greater clarity than through consideration of the body of those lectiones variae that the textual tradition has preserved. [70]
Following Lord, Zwettler emphasizes not only the multiformity inherent in the oral tradition, as in the observation just quoted, but also the futility of attempting to establish an “original” text on the basis of attested variants. If indeed oral poetry lives through its variants, then it is ironic, Zwettler finds, “that scholars of Arabic poetry have so often cast doubt upon the ‘authenticity’ or ‘genuineness’ of this or that verse, poem, or body of poems or, sometimes, of pre-Islamic poetry in general, because they have found it impossible to establish an ‘original version’.” [71] Following Zwettler, Olga Davidson argues that the degree of textual variation in the medieval Persian manuscript transmission of the epic Shāhnāma of Ferdowsi likewise reveals the product of an oral tradition. [72] Using as a test-case a randomly-selected passage from the Shāhnāma, Davidson shows that “every word in this {27|28} given passage can be generated on the basis of parallel phraseology expressing parallel themes.” [73] She finds, moreover, that “the degree of regularity and economy in the arrangement of phraseology” is “suggestive of formulaic language.” [74] She advocates the need for a monumental new edition of the Shāhnāma that would account for all attested variants above and beyond the verifiable instances of scribal error, in order to come to grips with “the full creative range of the Shāhnāma tradition.” [75]
Davidson too, like Zwettler before her, stresses the futility of trying to recover the archetypal fixed text from a mass of textual variants that can all be judged “genuine” in terms of the poetic tradition that had generated these variants. There are many other studies that focus on variation in textual transmission as a mark of oral tradition, but it will suffice for the moment to mention just one more example, the work of Joseph Nagy on medieval Irish traditions: he concludes that “the bewildering proliferation of variants which often characterizes the medieval literary transmission of Irish narrative takes on new meaning when viewed as the imprint of an ongoing oral tradition.” [76]
In all three of these studies just mentioned, as also in the study of troubadour poetry that we had considered in detail earlier, it is the degree of multiformity in the textual tradition that leads to the conclusion that an oral tradition is at work backstage, as it were. In each case, the nature of the given oral tradition may be quite different, but the effect of variation may be strikingly similar. The question arises, then, whether we can find cases of a comparable degree of variation in ancient Greek—or for that matter in Latin—textual traditions.
From a survey of Martin West’s handbook on textual criticism, we see from the precise wording of his descriptions that the most likely candidates are (1) Greek tragedies, “which suffered extensively from interpolations by actors (or at any rate for their use), probably more in the fourth century BCE than at any later {28|29} time,” [77] (2) the comedies of Plautus, “which may have undergone something of the sort on a smaller scale in the second century,” [78] and (3) the Homeric poems, through the “embellishment” of rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’ as reflected in quotations by authors of the fourth century and in the attested papyri, especially those dated before the middle of the second century. [79]
In West’s descriptions here, as also in most accounts written by Classicists, the textual traditions of ancient tragedy, comedy, and epic are not organically related to the performance traditions of these three forms. It is as if the performance traditions were impositions on the text, rather than historical antecedents of the text. Thus textual variations are explained in terms of textual rather than performative conditions even when the medium in question is overtly performative. It is not the performance itself that is held accountable for textual variation, but the text that is used by the performer. Thus the so-called “actors’ interpolations” are invoked to explain textual change in drama. Where epic, too, is concerned, West explains the existing patterns of textual variation in terms of textual causes: the “embellishment” of rhapsodes, he notes, is primarily characterized by “additional lines of an inorganic nature (often borrowed from other contexts).” [80]
Where the Classical text stems not so much from performance traditions as from “practical learning,” the role of ongoing recomposition as a direct cause of textual variation is more easily understood. [81] With reference to works of practical learning, West makes the remark that “commentaries, lexica and other works of a grammatical nature were rightly regarded as collections of material to be pruned, adapted or added to, rather than as sacrosanct literary entities.” [82] A similar description applies to more exalted compositions such as treatises on rhetoric, perhaps even to such canonical works as the essay on style attributed, rightly or wrongly, to Demetrius of Phaleron. An ideal example of a literary {29|30} form in which massive textual variation results from active ongoing recomposition is the Hippocratic corpus: as West puts it, parts of this corpus “were subject to revision or rearrangement.” [83]
James Zetzel is exceptional among contemporary Classicists in comparing explicitly the textual variations resulting from traditions of practical learning with those resulting from traditions of performance. [84] Zetzel’s list of “works that provide practical learning,” subject to “wholesale alteration,” includes such other diverse examples as the cookbook of Apicius, magical prescriptions, and the Digest of Roman Law. [85] Adopting for all such works the operative metaphor of the cookbook, Zetzel goes on to describe them as “unprotected texts.” [86] By contrast, he notes that “wholesale alteration of the sort just described rarely occurred in the transmission of standard texts of the school curriculum ..., precisely because they generally stayed out of the kitchen.” [87] A notable exception among standard works, however, is a text that stems from a performance tradition: Zetzel cites Plautus’ comedies, “the only major Latin literary text that I know in which wholesale alteration has taken place, precisely because our manuscripts largely descend from actors’ versions.” [88]
Zetzel makes clear his sense that the ultimate sources of textual variation in such cases as Plautine comedy are the traditions of performance, even if we posit the texts of the performers as an intermediate source. Zetzel’s emphasis on performance is subtle but clear, as we see in his assessment of textual variations in Greek tragedy: “similarly, our texts of Greek tragedy incorporate actors’ interpolations that must have been added at a time when the plays were still being performed.” [89]
Where textual variations stem from outright performance traditions, as in the case of drama, it seems justified to compare the phenomenon of mouvance. In cases of textual variations stemming from the vicissitudes of practical learning, as in the case of, say, a {30|31} cookbook, the broader term variance, as coined by Cerquiglini, seems a more appropriate point of comparison. It must be recognized, however, that the prescriptive traditions of a cookbook may also be to some extent “performative.” As for instances of textual transmission following the schoolbook mentality, in sharp contrast with the “cookbook” mentality, we may expect the minimum degrees of variation. [90] In such instances, it seems unnecessary to insist on any point of comparison with either mouvance or variance.
Let us focus on the subject of variations in the textual traditions of Greek drama and epic. Unfortunately, historical circumstances have prevented our access to an ample range of attested variants in the performance traditions of drama. As for epic, there is relatively more attested evidence, but the history of Homeric transmission is in any case far more complicated than what we have seen so far in the case of medieval traditions. If indeed a multitext format is needed for editing medieval texts like the songs of Jaufré Rudel, then perhaps the need is even greater in the case of ancient Greek drama and epic. But the difficulties are greater as well.
Here we must confront a major intellectual and aesthetic obstacle for Classicists. It is clear to us that the actor in a Sophoclean drama is not another Sophocles, the rhapsode of epic is not another Homer. How, then, could an actor’s so-called “interpolation” or a rhapsode’s “embellishment” be comparable to the ipsissima verba of a Sophocles, of a Homer? Any answer must be formulated in relative terms, and varying degrees of comparison are to be applied. To start at one extreme of the spectrum, we might say that the compositions attributed to, say, Sophocles, are relatively less adaptable to the process of recomposition because the phraseology itself is less capable of variation in the first place. At the other extreme, the compositions attributed to Homer were in the earliest recoverable periods doubtless far more adaptable to {31|32} ongoing recomposition because the phraseology traditionally operated on the very principle of variation. In the later periods of Homeric transmission, however, this adaptability becomes drastically reduced, for reasons that we will later on examine in some detail.
Concentrating on the principle of variation in earlier phases of Homeric transmission, let us return to the passage with which we started this chapter, the Homeric image of the aēdṓn ‘nightingale’ in Odyssey xix (518–523), who is pictured as singing her beautiful song at the onset of yet another new season of springtime (519: ἔαρος νέον ἱσταμένοιο), perched in the dense foliage (520) and pouring forth her voice as she keeps changing it around (521: τρωπῶσα), thick and fast (521: θαμά)—a voice that is described as poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’ (521: πολυηχέα) or, according to the variant reported by Aelian (De natura animalium 5.38), as poludeukḗs (521: πολυδευκέα), the meaning of which word we have not yet examined. Here, then, is Aelian’s report:
Χάρμιδος ἀκούω τοῦ Μασσαλιώτου λέγοντος φιλόμουσον μὲν εἶναι τὴν ἀηδόνα, ἤδη δὲ καὶ φιλόδοξον. ἐν γοῦν ταῖς ἐρημίαις ὅταν ᾄδῃ πρὸς ἑαυτήν, ἁπλοῦν τὸ μέλος καὶ ἄνευ κατασκευῆς τὴν ὄρνιν ᾄδειν· ὅταν δὲ ἁλῷ καὶ τῶν ἀκουόντων μὴ διαμαρτάνῃ, ποικίλα τε ἀναμέλπειν καὶ τακερῶς ἑλίττειν τὸ μέλος. καὶ Ὅμηρος δὲ τοῦτό μοι δοκεῖ ὑπαινίττεσθαι λέγων
[Odyssey xix 518–523, with πολυηχέα at verse 521]
ἤδη μέντοι τινὲς καὶ πολυδευκέα φωνὴν γράφουσι τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην, ὡς τὴν ἀδευκέα τὴν μηδ' ὅλως ἐς μίμησιν παρατραπεῖσαν.
I hear tell from Charmis of Massalia that the nightingale is a creature who is a lover of the Muses and even a lover of fame. He [= Charmis] goes on to say, in any case, that when she is singing to herself in desolate places, her melody is simple, and that the bird sings without preparation. But when she is captured and has no lack of an audience, he says that she strikes up her melody in a varied [poikíla] way and meltingly changes the song around. And Homer seems to me to be referring to this enigmatically when he says:
[Here Aelian quotes Odyssey xix 518–523, with poluēkhḗs at verse 521] {32|33}
But there are even those who write πολυδευκέα φωνὴν [a voice that is poludeukḗs], that is, “making imitation [mímēsis] in a varied [poikílōs] way,” just as ἀδευκέα [adeukḗs] means “not at all adapted for imitation [mímēsis].”
Aelian De natura animalium 5.38
In considering these two variants poluēkhḗs and poludeukḗs in Odyssey xix (521), I am ready to argue that both are legitimate, both ultimately generated from the multiform performance tradition of Homer. I will also argue that the variant reported by Aelian has an archaic meaning that even he could not fully understand. This meaning, as we will see in the next chapter, captures the very essence of continuity in variation.
We have already considered one critic’s analysis of these two variants. [91] His view is that, although poludeukḗs is “rarer” than poluēkhḗs, the editorial principle of lectio difficilior should not be applied in this case: “we have seen ... that many conjectures were introduced by the ancients into Homer and that sometimes the original was replaced by a rarer and more difficult word.” [92] Arguing that the reading poludeukḗs could not be “original,” this critic goes on to say: “If this reading were original, it would be very surprising that the leading critics of antiquity ignored it, while it was preserved by a later author like [Aelian], who had far fewer resources at his disposal.” [93]
Let us contemplate for a moment the resources at Aelian’s disposal. Born in the third quarter of the second century CE, he seems to typify the kind of scholars who populate the compendium that we know as Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistai. As for his specific source in this case, Aelian says that he ‘had heard tell’—that is to say, that he had read or had someone read to him—about the nightingale, and that his source was a man called Charmis of Massalia. [94] At the very mention of Massalia, a question may arise {33|34} in our minds whether this man from Marseille may also have been Aelian’s actual source for the variant reading in the Homeric passage about the nightingale—and whether this variant may even have stemmed from the so-called Massaliōtikḗ, the city text of Homer that was often cited by the Homer critic Aristarchus. [95] While we cannot with any certainty answer such a question, we can say at least this much: that Aelian in De natura animalium 5.38 uses the report of Charmis about nightingales as a pretext for offering what he implies is his own scholarly interpretation of the Homeric variant poludeukéa describing the sound the nightingale makes.
‘I hear tell’, says Aelian, ‘from Charmis of Massalia’ (Χάρμιδος ἀκούω τοῦ Μασσαλιώτου λέγοντος...) that the nightingale is a creature that loves the tradition of the Muses: it is philómouson. It also loves the fame that songmaking brings with it: it is philódoxon. When the nightingale sings in the wilderness, as Charmis reports, her song is simple and unvaried; when she sings in captivity, however, she becomes aware that she now has an audience, and so she now shifts to a different style, that is, ποικίλα ... ἀναμέλπειν καὶ τακερῶς ἑλίττειν τὸ μέλος ‘she sings in a varied [poikíla] way and meltingly changes the song around’. Then Aelian quotes the passage from the Odyssey, xix 518–521 in the same form that we have in our latter-day editions, featuring poluēkhéa ‘with many resoundings’ as epithet of phōnḗn ‘voice’ at verse 521.
It would seem, at first sight, that the reading poluēkhéa ‘with many resoundings’ has already aptly illustrated the report of Charmis about the more patterned voice of the nightingale who has become aware that she has an audience. Then, if it were an afterthought, Aelian adds at this point the scholarly observation that ‘some even write’ (ἤδη μέντοι τινὲς ... γράφουσι) not poluēkhéa but poludeukéa, which he glosses as τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘making imitation [mímēsis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’, and he compares the formation poludeukéa with the negative adeukéa (ἀδευκέα), which he glosses as μηδ᾿ ὅλως παρατραπεῖσαν ἐς μίμησιν ‘not at all adapted for imitation’. The use of the word mímēsis, which can be translated for the moment as {34|35} ‘imitation’, is crucial for the interpretation of the variant reading poludeukéa, as we will see in Chapter 2.
Whether this variant reading is Aelian’s own additional piece of information or, as is more likely, it stems ultimately from Charmis of Massalia, it seems that Aelian’s own interpretation does not do full justice to the archaic meaning of poludeukéa. Aelian is interested mainly in the nightingale’s versatility as an imitator, whereas the epithet poludeukéa draws attention also to the continuity of the singer’s performance, as we will see in the next chapter.
We may be dissatisfied also with other facets of Aelian’s interpretation. He seems to be saying that the expanded variety of the songbird’s repertoire as a musician (philómouson) is a singer’s desire for fame (philódoxon) before an expanded audience, now that she finds herself in captivity. We may note the fact that the nightingale in the ancient Greek songmaking traditions is generically female, singing a song of lament, unlike the male nightingale of the medieval troubadour traditions, which is conventionally singing a love-song. [96] This is not to say that songs of lament and songs of love are incompatible: they are in fact regularly interchangeable in Greek traditions, for example. [97] The point is, rather, that the nightingale sings from the heart, as it were, the afflictions of love or death. As a captive, the nightingale may sing her heart out not only because of any pride in her songmaking virtuosity but also, more basically, because of her sorrows. [98] In light of the {35|36} tragic story underlying the nightingale’s lament in the Greek traditions, we may wish to reinterpret the variety of the songbird’s song not only as a performer’s response to an ever-widening audience but also as a victim’s response to an ever-widening threshold of pain and suffering. We may note in passing the title of the autobiography of the poet Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. [99] (The wording of the title is taken from the exquisite poem “Sympathy,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar [1872–1906], which needs to be read in its own right.)
Surely the nightingale in the Odyssey sings her beautiful song of lament about the fact of her own suffering. The woman who had killed her own child—inadvertently, the Odyssey claims—had suffered much, but now she suffers more, transformed into a songbird singing her own mournful song. Of course the song is as beautifully varied as it is mournful, and then it can become even more so with her new misfortune, her loss of freedom and her new identity as a captive singer. We may recall the words in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a novel centering on the twin tragedies of slavery and infanticide: “it was not a story to pass on.” [100] And yet, as we will see in the next chapter, the song of the nightingale has a continuousness, a continuity. It is indeed passed on.
The continuity is implicit in the variety. We may note the meaning of trōpôsa (τρωπῶσα) in Odyssey xix (521), describing the nightingale as she changes around or literally turns the sound of her beautiful song. Let us recall the song of the henightingale in Song I of Jaufré Rudel, where birdsong serves as model for the song of the poet, and where the model itself is that of recomposition, not just composition, in that even the songbird is in fact recomposing his own song by virtue of performing it. The nightingale moves his song, which as we have seen is inherently both recurrent and recomposed, much as every new season of spring is a joyous event of inherent recurrence and {36|37} recomposition, even re-creation. To the extent that mouvance in the poetics of the troubadour conveys the idea of continuity through variation, we can see in the usage of the word trōpôsa (τρωπῶσα) in Odyssey xix (521), the first attestation of this idea in European traditions.
The usage of the root *trep- as in trōpôsa, with the basic meaning of ‘turn’ or ‘change around’ and with the implied meaning of continuity through variation, lives on in the songmaking traditions of ancient Greece, taking on the form of the noun-derivative trópos. This word refers in practical terms to a given pattern of modulation in the singing voice, corresponding to a given pattern of accordatura or tuning of the accompanying lyre (an ideal example is Pindar Olympian 14.17). More generally and theoretically, trópos is a ‘style’ of melody (“Aristotle” Problems 19.38). Such a ‘style’, in the usage of ancient Greek music theory, “may be determined by any combination of scale-structure, pitch, and melodic shape.” [101] Eventually, trópos becomes a word for ‘style’ in general, especially rhetorical style (Plato Republic 3.400d). In the technical language of rhetoric, it takes on the meaning of ‘trope, figure of speech’, and it is at this stage of semantic development that Greek trópos is borrowed into Latin as tropus (Quintilian Institutio oratoria 8.6). From the high language of the schools, the noun tropus is borrowed into the popular language, which creates on its own a derivative verb *tropāre. This “Vulgar Latin” verb *tropāre is actually attested in late Latin authors as the compound verb contropāre (also adtropāre), [102] and it lived on as an inherited form in the Romance languages or as a borrowed form in the Celtic languages, witness modern French trouver and medieval Irish trop. [103] Most important for now, *tropāre also lived on as the medieval Provençal verb trobar, meaning ‘find, invent’ or ‘compose poetry’, and in the noun-derivative trobador, later spelled as troubadour. This meaning is pertinent, as we shall see, even to the modern French verb trouver, in the everyday sense of ‘find, invent, discover’.
This is not the time to attempt a systematic retracing of the semantic route of continuity in meaning from *tropāre to trobar in {37|38} the language of the troubadours. We may simply review the intuitive summary of Peter Dronke concerning medieval musical traditions during the century and a half following the death of Notker in the year 912:
Sequences become more and more abundant throughout this period, especially at the established musical centres such as Saint-Gall and Saint-Martial, but also in England. Gradually syllabic parallelism in the sequence is embellished by regular stresses and rhymes, giving more obvious—and less subtle—harmonies than any that the ninth century had known. Alongside the sequences were composed tropes, that is, poetic and musical amplifications of liturgical texts, some of which, probably under the influence of vigorous popular oral traditions of drama and dramatic song, become lyrical dialogues. [104]
The concept of lyrical dialogues, which we may picture in ancient Greek terms as the mímēsis—let us translate the word for now as ‘imitation’—of speech by way of song, lies at the heart of the medieval troubadour traditions, where one side of a dialogue, the side of the lover, is highlighted as if it were a monologue. As a performance, such a monologue is of course implicitly a dialogue with the audience who is being addressed, as also with the beloved, real or imaginary.
Here the chapter comes to a halt. But the subject of the nightingale’s song, sung again and again in all its varieties through time, from the aoidoí of ancient Greece to the troubadours of medieval Provence, will continue. {38|39}


[ back ] 1. On the identification of the aēdṓn, here apparently personified as Aedon, with what we know as the nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), see Thompson 1936:16–22; cf. Pischinger 1901:15–16 and Schmid 1904:3–4. For the moment, khlōrēḯs (χλωρηΐς) is rendered as ‘in the green’. Cf. Irwin 1974:72–75, who points out that the usage of khlōrēḯs must be related to that of khlōraúkhēn (χλωραύχην), conventionally translated as ‘green-throated’, which serves as epithet of the nightingale in Simonides PMG 586.2 (ἀηδόνες ... χλωραύχενες). The visual characteristics of khlōrós, even if we translate it imperfectly as ‘green’, are linked metaphorically with the auditory characteristics of the nightingale’s voice: see ch. 3n1.
[ back ] 2. On the onomatopoeia implicit in the name Itylos = ´Itulos, as derivative of ´Itus, see ch. 2n7. In the ancient Greek lyric traditions, as we will see, this name apparently mimics the birdsong of the nightingale.
[ back ] 3. Cf. Apollodorus 3.14.8. Van der Valk 1949:203 argues that the Odyssey version is an Ionic myth. On the pertinence of the nightingale simile, and of the implied myth of Aedon / Procne, to the situation of Penelope in this narrative context, see Papadopoulou-Belmehdi 1994:135–147; cf. Austin 1975:228–229 and Seaford 1994:56. {Antoninus Liberalis 11 gives a version of the myth of Aedon featuring different names.}
[ back ] 4. Van der Valk p. 83. (The highlighting of “original” is mine.) Van der Valk concedes that the variant πολυδευκέα (poludeukéa) of Odyssey xix 521 is attested not only in Aelian but also in Hesychius, where πολυδευκέα φωνήν is glossed as τὴν πολλοῖς ἐοικυῖαν ‘[the voice] similar to many’ (on the basis of the arguments assembled in ch. 2, we will see that this gloss is perhaps not far off the mark). In Hesychius we also find, besides πολυδευκέα φωνήν, the variant that prevailed in the Homer text as it has come down to us: πολυηχέα φωνήν.
[ back ] 5. Van der Valk 1949:83n4. The highlighting of “original” is mine.
[ back ] 6. Lord 1960:100. The highlighting of “original” (three times) and of “multiform” is mine.
[ back ] 7. Zumthor 1972:73.
[ back ] 8. Zumthor 1972:507: “le caractère de l’oeuvre qui, comme telle, avant l’âge du livre, ressort d’une quasi-abstraction, les textes concrets qui la réalisent présentant, par le jeu des variantes et remaniements, comme une incessante vibration et une instabilité fondamentale.” Cf. Zumthor pp. 43–47, 65–75. See also HQ 69. (In N 1992a:44, another discussion of mouvance is cited, Zumthor 1984:160; this citation should be corrected to 1987:160.) On the notion of a “transitional text,” as applied to the Chanson de Roland in Curschmann 1967, see the critique of Zwettler 1978:21.
[ back ] 9. Zumthor 1987:160-161. For more on mouvance, see HQ 69.
[ back ] 10. Cerquiglini 1989; cf. Vance 1987:xxvi–xxvii.
[ back ] 11. Cerquiglini 1989:111: “Or l’écriture médiévale ne produit pas de variantes, elle est variance.” Cf. Nichols 1990:1, with reference to “new” philology; as he points out at p. 3, “editors of the ‘old’ philological persuasion sought to limit variation, not reproduce it.” In the same volume edited by Nichols, we may note the remarks on Cerquiglini by Fleischman 1990:19 and Bloch 1990:46. Pickens 1994 offers a critique of the “new” philology in medieval studies.
[ back ] 12. See Cerquiglini 1989:120n19, where he distances himself from Zumthor’s idea of mouvance. Other important works on the question of approaches to variation in the editing of texts include McGann 1983 (cf. also 1991) and Gabler 1984 (cf. 1993); see in general Greetham 1993. Thanks to Jenny Wallace for introducing me to the pioneering studies of McGann.
[ back ] 13. Van der Werf 1993:173.
[ back ] 14. Van der Werf 1967:232. There will be more below concerning the convergences as well as divergences between jongleur as “performer” and trouvère as “composer.” For instances where the scribe may have copied from memory what was heard in formal performance—or even in his own informal unit-by-unit reperformance—rather than what was seen in an earlier copy, see van der Werf 1965:65–66. Though there are isolated instances where the musical notation may have been affected by the copyist’s adherence to principles of theory rather than praxis (van der Werf p. 66), it can be said in general that “the chansons of the trouvères originated and circulated in a notationless musical culture in which notation and theory exercised little or no influence” (p. 67, with his highlighting). Surveying the textual variants in the musical notations of medieval French chansons, he notes that “only an infinitesimally small number of them” are mechanical errors of the scribe. This formulation differs from that of earlier editors who “seem to have been guided by the principle that most of the discrepancies in the sources are deteriorations caused by scribal inaccuracy or by inadequacies of the oral tradition” (van der Werf 1965:62).
[ back ] 15. Pickens 1978:40. The highlightings here, to be explained further below, are mine.
[ back ] 16. The case in point is Lachmann’s 1850 work on the manuscript tradition of Lucretius. For a critique of Lachmann’s methodology, see Pasquali 1952:3–12, Timpanaro 1981, Zetzel 1993:101–103; for background, see Reynolds and Wilson 1991:209–211.
[ back ] 17. Pickens 1978:34; also in his article, Pickens 1977, which is actually entitled “Jaufré Rudel et la poétique de la mouvance.”
[ back ] 18. Pickens 1977:323. In this article, written as it is in French, the author puts “performance” in quotation marks in view of the fact that the word is considered by native speakers of French to be a borrowing from English. It goes without saying that Pickens’ reference to Provençal songmaking as oral tradition should not be taken to mean that the Provençal and the ancient Greek poetic traditions are the “same.” On the dangers of trying to universalize the features of oral and written traditions, see PH 35.
[ back ] 19. As edited by Pickens 1978:232; here as elsewhere, I follow closely his translations of Jaufré Rudel. The highlighting of mueva ‘move’ is mine.
[ back ] 20. Pickens 1978:224; I also follow his translation at p. 225.
[ back ] 21. For this interpretation, see Pickens 1978:225n40, which seems preferable to ‘let him beware lest anything changes me’, as Pickens p. 225n40 renders guart si que res no mi cambi at p. 225. On this point, I have benefited from the generous advice of Ursula Dronke and Peter Dronke.
[ back ] 22. Pickens 1978:236; I also follow his translation at p. 237.
[ back ] 23. Pickens 1978:36.
[ back ] 24. Pickens 1978:36. In the Provençal tradition, the nightingale is a he not a she, as in the ancient Greek. Pliny Natural History 11.268 tells us that the female nightingale has the same song repertoire as the male. On the topic of the nightingale in medieval literature in general, see Pfeffer 1985.
[ back ] 25. Pickens 1978:70; I also follow his translation at p. 71.
[ back ] 26. For another attestation of this theme in the troubadour traditions, see for example Bernard de Ventadour, Song 20 verse 4, where the nightingale mou so chan ‘moves his song’.
[ back ] 27. Cf. Loraux 1990:145n138, who points out that the same word suntithénai is used by Thucydides in referring to the process of composing history (1.21.1: ὡς λογογράφοι ξυνέθεσαν; cf. 1.97.2).
[ back ] 28. Pickens 1978:23, with references to studies arguing for such a hypothetical holograph.
[ back ] 29. Pickens 1978:23.
[ back ] 30. Pickens 1978:24.
[ back ] 31. Pickens 1978:32. Pickens at p. 26 sets up a useful distinction between palaeographically significant or non-significant variants, while all along insisting that “no variant is poetically non-significant.”
[ back ] 32. Pickens 1978:32–33.
[ back ] 33. Pickens 1978:34.
[ back ] 34. Lucas 1965:701, quoted by Pickens 1978:34–35: “Toutefois, une chanson de trouvère n’est pas qu’un document historique; et le trouvère, bien qu’il ait joué le rôle prépondérant dans sa création, n’a pas été seul à contribuer. Telle chanson, “trouvée” par tel ou tel poète, mais qui a eu du succès, qui a été chantée, modifiée, améliorée parfois, par des douzaines de confrères et d’amateurs, avant d’être incorporée dans la tradition des chansonniers—et encore après, sans doute—est, en un sens très réel, une oeuvre de collaboration.” The highlighting here is mine. This formulation by Lucas is comparable with the term “collaborative interpolation” suggested by Tarrant 1989.
[ back ] 35. Pickens 1978:35.
[ back ] 36. Pickens 1978:35.
[ back ] 37. Pickens 1978:35.
[ back ] 38. Pickens 1978:40. The highlightings here are mine.
[ back ] 39. This discussion has a bearing on the broader question posed by Foucault 1969: “Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?”
[ back ] 40. PH 339–381, ch. 12: “Authority and Authorship in the Lyric Tradition.” Also pp. 79–80 on the “LMN” principle.
[ back ] 41. To use the wording of Pickens 1978:36.
[ back ] 42. On the term song culture, see Herington 1985:3–5.
[ back ] 43. On the relationship between troubadour = trobador and jongleur = joglar, the remarks of Dronke 1968:20–21 are most helpful. Of special interest is his observation, p. 20, with reference to patterns of social difference between higher-class trobadors and lower-class joglars, that “the joglar tends to adopt a ‘stage-name’, a name that is striking, piquant, witty, or self-mocking: Alegret, Esperdut, Falconet, Brisepot, Mal Quarrel, Quatre-oeufs.” Dronke’s use of the term “stage” here is pertinent to the concept of mimesis as interpreted in ch. 3 and following. The jongleur is represented as a nightingale in the poetry of Elias Cairel, Song 13.49–53 (cf. Pfeffer 1985:110–111).
[ back ] 44. PH 55.
[ back ] 45. Cf. Pickens 1978:103n.
[ back ] 46. As edited by Pickens 1978:102; I also follow his translation at p. 103.
[ back ] 47. I have added the comma before by.
[ back ] 48. Pickens 1978:103 points out that the wording can also be interpreted to mean ‘by it’ that is, by the song; as for the alternative interpretation, ‘by him’, the ‘him’ could be either Hugh or Fillol the “godson.” Pickens p. 103n compares the godfather-godson relationship that is evoked at Song V strophes vii–viii; on the basis of this comparison, we may infer that the ‘godson’, in his role as ‘messenger’ of the song (so Pickens p. 103), is the poetic apprentice. If indeed Fillol is to be the jongleur, whose authorization depends on both the troubadour and the audience, and if indeed Hugh represents an authoritative audience, then the ‘him’ could refer to both.
[ back ] 50. Cf. Pickens 1978:35 (but see n21 above). In a late twelfth-century poem entitled Donnei des Amants, Tristan secretly woos Iseut by imitating birdsong: he ‘disguises his human language’ (humain language deguisa verse 463), ‘like one who had learned to break it up’ (cum cil que l’aprist de pec[e]a 464), and he ‘counterfeits’ a series of songbirds, the first of which is a nightingale (il cuntrefit le russinol 465); hearing Tristan’s sound, Iseut leaves the bed where King Mark is sleeping. Cf. Pfeffer 1985:155.
[ back ] 51. See ch. 8 on Theognis.
[ back ] 52. Rudel Song VI version 1 strophe vii. For this and other examples of the theme of improvement by way of reperformance in a noble context, see Pickens 1978:36.
[ back ] 53. Pickens 1977:330–331.
[ back ] 54. As edited by Pickens 1978:100; I follow his translation at p. 101, except for my substitution of the working translation ‘refract’ in the sense of ‘modulate’.
[ back ] 55. Extended discussion in Pickens 1977:331n20. The idea of ‘breaking’ a song in a positive rather than negative sense is attested in Greek poetry. In the Hesiodic Shield, verse 279, we find the striking expression περὶ δέ σφισιν ἄγνυτο ἠχώ ‘and the echoing sound [ēkhṓ] they made was refracted [= literally ‘broke’] all around them’. Here the voice of a potential solo singer, accompanied by herdsmen’s pipes, has been refracted into the multiple voices of the khorós, that is, of a ‘chorus’ of singers and dancers. Their voices echo the lead tune accompanied by the pipes. Further discussion below, ch. 2n67.
[ back ] 56. Pickens 1977:331n20. See PH 91–103 for a discussion of ancient notions of mode as a system of intervals in pitch and of modulation as a process of switching from one given system to another. Pliny Natural History 10.85 refers to the vox ‘voice’ of the nightingale as modulata ‘modulated’ and varia ‘varied’—qualities that he says become diminished in the birdsong as the summer wears on.
[ back ] 57. As edited by Pickens 1978:148; I also follow his translation at p. 149.
[ back ] 58. Pickens 1978:38.
[ back ] 59. Pickens 1978:36.
[ back ] 60. Pickens 1978:38.
[ back ] 61. Pickens 1978:39.
[ back ] 62. Paris 1893, Jeanroy 1934.
[ back ] 63. Bédier 1928. See the critique by Nichols 1990:5–6; also Cerquiglini 1989:122.
[ back ] 64. Pickens 1978:41.
[ back ] 65. Pickens 1978:42.
[ back ] 66. Pickens 1994:61. Here he refers also to other editorial projects in multitext format that take into account the factor of mouvance, most prominently the complete edition of the fabliaux by Noomen and van der Boogaard 1983 / 1984 / 1986 (with reference to Zumthor at 1983:ix); this format is also used by editors for whom “textual change is regarded as a hindrance to our perception of medieval textuality rather than its essence.” Cerquiglini 1989:112 mentions some of these editors, along with Noomen and van der Boogaard, but he does not stress the differences in their methodologies.
[ back ] 67. A key work on the subject is Duggan 1973.
[ back ] 68. Menéndez Pidal 1960:60–63, the importance of whose discussion is emphasized by Zwettler 1978:207 and Davidson 1985:134.
[ back ] 69. Menéndez Pidal 1960:67–68
[ back ] 70. Zwettler 1978:206. He stresses that scribal mistakes “do not constitute a major source of variation.”
[ back ] 71. Zwettler 1978:189.
[ back ] 72. Davidson 1994:54–72.
[ back ] 73. Davidson 1994:63–64.
[ back ] 74. Davidson 1994:64. On the concepts of “economy” and “formula,” see HQ 16–27.
[ back ] 75. Davidson 1985:139.
[ back ] 76. [J.] Nagy 1986:288, who in turn cites the work of Melia 1975:37 and Slotkin 1977–79:450.
[ back ] 77. West 1973:16, citing Page 1934.
[ back ] 78. West 1973:16.
[ back ] 79. West 1973:16, citing [S.] West 1967. In ch. 3, I propose to re-examine the concept of rhapsōidoí ‘rhapsodes’.
[ back ] 80. West 1973:16.
[ back ] 81. For applications of the term “practical learning,” see Zetzel 1993:111.
[ back ] 82. West 1973:16.
[ back ] 83. West 1973:17.
[ back ] 84. Zetzel 1993.
[ back ] 85. Zetzel 1993:110–111.
[ back ] 86. Zetzel 1993:111.
[ back ] 87. Zetzel 1993:111.
[ back ] 88. Zetzel 1993:111–112.
[ back ] 89. Zetzel 1993:112.
[ back ] 90. In the transmission of the medieval English text known as Cædmon’s Hymn, there is noticeable difference between the Latin and the vernacular environments, as noted by O’Keeffe 1990:46: “when the Hymn travels as ‘gloss’ to the Historia ecclesiastica, the text is subject to little variation, while those records of the Hymn which are integrated in the West Saxon translation of the History show a high degree of freedom in transmission.” In general, we may expect the Latin environment to foster the schoolbook mentality in medieval textual traditions.
[ back ] 91. Van der Valk 1949:82–89.
[ back ] 92. Van der Valk 1949:83. See also p. 8 above for a further statement about the “original” reading.
[ back ] 93. Van der Valk 1949:83.
[ back ] 94. On the idiom ἀκούειν + genitive of name X + λέγοντος, see Schenkeveld 1992:132, context type iii: “the hearer himself read, or listened to a public reading by his slave, from a text written by X.” At p. 133, Schenkeveld cites Aelian De natura animalium 7.7: Ἀριστοτέλους ἀκούω λέγοντος ὅτι ἄρα γέρανοι ‘I hear tell from Aristotle that the cranes ...’.
[ back ] 95. More on Aristarchus and the Marseille “edition” of Homer in ch. 5.
[ back ] 96. I recall the viva voce remark made by Nicole Loraux (7 January 1994) when she first heard my arguments about Aelian’s interpretation of the Homeric nightingale: Aelian forgets that the nightingale is a lamenting woman. In other words, he forgets about the metaphorical world that constitutes the habitat, as it were, of this Homeric songbird. On the nightingale as a singer of lament (thrênos): Homeric Hymn to Pan 18. On the association of the nightingale with love-songs and even with eroticism in medieval European traditions, see especially Pfeffer 1985 ch. 7, “Sex and the Single Nightingale.”
[ back ] 97. Alexiou 1974:56.
[ back ] 98. Again, the evidence of Greek traditions in the performance of lament shows that the expression of pride in one’s songmaking virtuosity—even the element of intense competition—is not incompatible with the expression of one’s sorrows: see Alexiou 1974:40 (cf. Herzfeld 1993). For a zoömusicological perspective on the competitiveness of the nightingale as singer, see Mâche 1991:156; see also in general his discussion, pp. 155–157, of the musical duel as a functional equivalent of a duet. In the same discussion, he reviews some salient ethnomusicological examples of “duel as duet,” including the sfide traditions of latter-day Sicily, analogous to such stylized amoebaean compositions as Theocritus 5, 8, 9, and so on. When one troubadour competes with another, as when Peire d’Alvernha in Song 28.1–7 challenges Bernard de Ventadour by name (verse 1), the challenge can take the form of a comparison with nightingales: in this case, Bernard is told that the nightingale understands love better than he does (verse 7, melhs s’enten que vos en amor).
[ back ] 99. Angelou 1969. Thanks to Marjorie Garber and Barbara Johnson for their helping me think through the “caged bird” conventions.
[ back ] 100. Morrison 1987:274. In Ovid’s version of the tragic story of Procne, Philomela, and Tereus, Metaphorphoses 6.412–674, the pain felt by Procne—as a woman—is beyond verbal expression: silet: dolor ora repressit ‘she is silent: the pain has repressed word of mouth’ (verse 583). Segal 1994:267 remarks: “what she finds is a tale whose pain lies beyond the power of words.” On the expression of this pain as a text, see ch. 3n25.
[ back ] 101. Barker 1984:199n68. This note by Barker is for me a treasury of relevant information and insights. Also Barker at p. 223n125. Most valuable are his remarks on continuity and music at p. 243.
[ back ] 102. Ernout / Meillet DELL 704.
[ back ] 103. Meyer-Lübke 1935 entry no. 8936 a.
[ back ] 104. Dronke 1977:44.