Chapter 2

Mimesis, Models of Singers, and the Meaning of a Homeric Epithet

Let us continue where we left off, with the song of the nightingale. In the previous chapter, we noted that the idea of variation is implicit in the epithet poludeukḗs describing the voice (phōnḗ) of the songbird in Odyssey xix (521), but the task remains to formulate the precise meaning of this epithet, which will be pertinent to the meaning of the elusive word mímēsis (henceforth spelled simply as “mimesis”). We will see that mimesis, ordinarily translated as ‘imitation’, can have a deeper sense, ‘re-enactment’. To make a re-enactment is to pattern something on a model, and the idea of such patterning is inherent, as we will see, in the meaning of the Homeric epithet of the nightingale. This idea will prove to be essential for understanding poetry as performance.
Let us look again at the context of the epithet for the nightingale. We have seen that Aelian in De natura animalium (5.38), who says that poludeukḗs is an alternative to poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’ in Odyssey xix (521), interprets the first of these two variant epithets to mean τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘making imitation [mimesis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’. If he is right, then this variant epithet poludeukḗs points to the songbird’s capacity for variety, that is, the capacity to perform poikílōs ‘in a varied way’. [1] The idea of variety is reinforced by the meaning of the participle trōpôsa (τρωπῶσα) in Odyssey xix (521), describing the {39|40} nightingale as she ‘changes around’ or literally ‘turns’ the sound of her beautiful song. [2]
The nightingale’s distinctive capacity for variety—for ‘turning’ as it were—is empirically verifiable. In his “zoömusicological” description of patterns inherent in the singing of the nightingale, specifically the Luscinia megarhynchos, François-Bernard Mâche actually uses the term “strophe,” deliberately evocative of the idea of “turning,” to denote a distinctive sequence of sound-units—let us call them “notes”—in the bird’s song. [3] Moreover, the melodic patterning of the nightingale’s song, as opposed to that of the lark, for example, involves the operation of a paradigmatic or “vertical” axis of selection, not only a syntagmatic or “horizontal” axis of combination. [4]
Such a patterning is made clear in Mâche’s study of a “corpus” of 165 strophes produced by four individual nightingales, two of the singers recorded in Hungary and two in France. [5] According to one formulation, each strophe is divisible into three parts: an opening, a middle, and a closing or coda. [6] The opening consists of different notes and different numbers of these notes, averaging between five and six; the middle consists of a series of repeated notes, with an average of two-thirds being in staccato format, that is, where one note is being rapidly repeated between extremely short pauses, and the other third being in trill format, that is, where the alternation of two notes—one of them simplex in timbre and the other, complex—is likewise being rapidly {40|41} repeated; and the coda, finally, consists of a single note in general, uniquely different from all the other notes in the strophe. There exists an option to insert—at a point that comes before the coda and after the middle, with its cluster of repetitions—transitional notes and even one or several clusters of further repetitions; moreover, the actual linking of such clusters of repetitions generally causes an abrupt change in tempo.
We may compare this description with the onomatopoeia that represents the nightingale’s song in the Birds of Aristophanes: τιὸ τιὸ τιὸ τιοτίγξ = tiò tiò tiò tiotínx (738, 741, 743, 751) and τὸ τὸ τὸ τὸ τὸ τὸ τὸ τὸ τοτίγξ = tò tò tò tò tò tò tò tò totínx (748). [7] In the first instance of tiò tiò tiò tiotínx (738), the birdcall is framed by the vocative of ‘Muse in the thickets’ (737: Μοῦσα λοχμαία) and by her epithet, poikílē ‘varied’ (739: ποικίλη). Also, the music of the aulós ‘reed’ fulfills the representation of the nightingale’s song, as indicated in the manuscript tradition of the Birds by the notation αὐλεῖ ‘plays the aulós’ at verse 222.
To return to the description by Mâche, what emerges is a pattern of interplay between combination and selection in the song of the nightingale. In other words, it is not just a matter of the songbird’s capacity to combine sounds into given sequences. More than that, each combination of sounds can be selected—or, better, re-selected—to create further combinations. The idea of re-selecting, that is, selecting again the same combination in order to make another combination, fits the image of coming around, turning, returning.
In this light, let us return to Aelian’s interpretation of the epithet poludeukḗs describing the voice of the songbird in Odyssey xix (521). To repeat, if indeed poludeukḗs implies that the nightingale {41|42} is τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘the one who makes imitation [mimesis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’, then this variant epithet poludeukḗs points to the songbird’s capacity for variety. But the argument goes beyond establishing the idea of variety in the word poludeukḗs. There is even more to Aelian’s description of the nightingale’s birdsong, since he insists on the notion of mimesis in his definition: τὴν ποικίλως μεμιμημένην ‘the one who makes imitation [mimesis] in a varied [poikílōs] way’. If Aelian is right, then the variant epithet poludeukḗs conveys not only variety but also the very idea of mimesis, which is translated here as ‘imitation’. If he is right, then poludeukḗs is closely parallel in meaning to poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’, since ēkhṓ ‘resounding, echo’ likewise conveys the idea of mimesis. As we will now see, moreover, there is a deeper meaning of mimesis, which can be understood by discovering the deeper meaning of the epithet poludeukḗs.
Let us pursue the argument that poludeukḗs, once we examine its usage and its etymology, is indeed parallel in meaning to poluēkhḗs as an epithet of the Homeric nightingale’s song. Let us begin with the first component, polu, of both poluēkhḗs ‘with many resoundings’ and poludeukḗs, the variant epithets describing the voice of the nightingale in Odyssey xix (521). In the case of the compound poluēkhḗs, which has been translated up to now simply as ‘with many resoundings’, that is, ‘having many resoundings’, the idea of variety is inherent even in the semantic combination of polu ‘much, many’ with ēkhṓ ‘echo, resounding’, to the extent that we may interpret the meaning of this compound not only as ‘having resoundings/echoes many times’ but also as ‘having resoundings/echoes in many ways’. [8] In the case of poludeukḗs, however, the idea of variety is revealed by its etymology, in the second component as well, deukḗs. Also inherent in the etymology is the idea of mimesis. {42|43}
The strong sense of variety, even multiformity, in poludeukḗs is evident in its application to the word morphḗ ‘form’ in Nicander’s Theriaka (209), in a zoological description of vipers as a sub-set of the snake family. The combination of the words poludeukḗs and morphḗ with the genitive of the word for ‘vipers’ has aptly been translated by the editors of Nicander as “the various forms of the viper.” [9] In the next verse of Nicander (210), we are in fact told by the poet that vipers are to be found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. We have in this attestation, then, a convenient point of departure for surveying the ideas of variety and polymorphism inherent in the rare epithet poludeukḗs. But the question remains to be pursued: is there an idea of mimesis as well as variety in poludeukḗs?
Let us for a moment turn to matters of etymology. Pierre Chantraine in his Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque and Ernst Risch in his Wortbildung der homerischen Sprache are both uncertain about how to explain the meaning of the root *deuk / *duk in poludeukḗs, but they are both quite certain about the morphological relationship of this word with two other words, the negative adeukḗs and the adverb endukéōs. [10] We have seen in the previous chapter that Aelian as well, in his discussion of poludeukḗs as an epithet of the nightingale, treats adeukḗs as the negative of poludeukḗs. He thinks that adeukḗs means ‘incapable of mimesis’. As we will see, mimesis in such a context means more than ‘imitation’: it conveys also a deeper sense of continuity.
Let us start, however, not with the negative adjective adeukḗs but rather with the adverb endukéōs. From a survey of its contexts, I infer that this word endukéōs is associated with the notion of an uninterrupted sequence, as for example in contexts like the verse in Odyssey xiv (337) involving the action of sending or accompanying someone on a journey (verb pémpein at 333, 334, 338). There are sinister implications here concerning any interruption of the journey as a sequence, a continuum. Similarly in Iliad XXIV (438), a disguised Hermes tells Priam that he will accompany him endukéōs, whether {43|44} on ship or on foot: as your pompós or ‘conductor’ (437), he continues, I would journey with you even as far as Argos itself, and no one will dare stand up to you so long as I am your ‘conductor’ (439: again, pompós). Again, a successful journey is pictured as a sequence, a continuum.
Conversely, the negative adeukḗs occurs in contexts referring to an interrupted sequence, as in a quoted question about the Achaeans coming home from Troy in Odyssey iv (489): did any of them, Menelaos is asking the Old Man of the Sea, perish while on a ship at sea, destroyed by a doom (ólethros) that is adeukḗs? [11] In Odyssey x (245), Eurylokhos puzzles over how to announce the bad news that Odysseus’ companions have just been turned into swine, which is a fate (pótmos) that is adeukḗs. In Odyssey vi (273), Nausikaa is worrying about bad things that the Phaeacians may say about her: they may, she fears, make the kind of utterance (phêmis) that is adeukḗs for her reputation. It is as if one’s good reputation were a steady stream of positive speech, the interruption of which threatens to produce a bad reputation.
Returning to the adverb endukéōs, we may say that its contexts of an uninterrupted sequence imply a ritualized continuity or consistency, as in descriptions of a host’s treatment of a guest. In Odyssey xv (305), for example, Odysseus is testing the swineherd Eumaios, who is, unwittingly, playing host to his disguised master, whether he philéoi ‘loves’ him endukéōs or whether he will suddenly switch, turning against him. In Odyssey xv (491), endukéōs refers to the steady flow of food and drink provided by the master of the household to his dependent, in this case Eumaios, without ever cutting off the supply; Eumaios is not aware that he is being told all this by his own long-lost master, the disguised Odysseus. In Odyssey xiv (111), a disguised Odysseus as guest is eating, in a way that is described as endukéōs, the meal that Eumaios, philéōn ‘loving’ host that he is, is offering him. In Odyssey xvii (111), Telemakhos says that Nestor as host ephílei ‘loved’ him endukéōs, treating him as if he had been a son who had just returned after an absence: here the status of the child as dependent {44|45} has been interrupted, but the love of the father has not. [12] This is how, continues Telemakhos (xvii 113), Nestor took care of me (ekómize), along with his own sons. In Odyssey xiv (390), the old woman endukéōs takes care of (koméesken) the old man. [13] In Homeric Hymn 26 (4), the Nymphs endukéōs raised (atítallon) the infant Dionysus in Nysa. [14]
In Odyssey x (65), there is a combination of both sending and hosting contexts: Aeolus the god of winds is telling Odysseus that he had sent him off endukéōs, so that the hero could reach home, but now the journey has been interrupted and the hero’s homecoming is utterly ruined because the bag of winds has been opened. We see here an ultimate interruption not only in the journey of the hero but in the epic narrative as well.
It is worth the effort to go to such lengths in examining the contexts of endukéōs and the morphologically related adeukḗs because their positive and negative associations respectively with the notions of uninterrupted and interrupted sequences makes it clear that these words, and poludeukḗs also, as we will see presently, are all derived from the same root *deuk / *duk that we find in Latin dūcere, dux. The arguments that follow are intended as proof of an etymological connection of endukéōs / adeukḗs / poludeukḗs with Latin dūcere, dux on the basis of the inherited contexts that we are about to find for these Latin words. [15]
In their etymological dictionary of Latin, Ernout and Meillet explain dūcere as an old pastoral word conveying the basic idea of pull rather than push (agere): the herdsman or dux is “pulling” or leading (dūcere) the herd when he goes in front, while he is “pushing” or driving (agere) when he is coming up from behind. [16] Going beyond this formulation of Ernout and Meillet, Emile Benveniste adds the notion of a continuum, so that the dux who {45|46} marches in front of the aggregate is necessarily connected, as the prime linking force, as it were, to the train that follows. [17] We may compare the semantics of Latin prae, which means not simply ‘in front of’ but ‘in front of and connected to what follows’. When someone falls praeceps or ‘head-first’, for example, the body follows the head because it is connected to it. [18] We can understand the semantics of dūcere more clearly if we substitute for the translation pull the English synonym draw, the richly varied compound patterns of which, such as draw up, draw out, draw in, draw back, and so on are comparable to the ones that we are about to see in the Latin compounds of dūcere. [19]
As we will now see, the idea behind dūcere, and draw, for that matter, is not only an uninterrupted sequence but also one that draws toward a definite goal. Benveniste’s most telling example is the Latin expression rationem dūcere, which means ‘add up’ or ‘add up the account’ and which we may translate more literally as ‘draw up’, as in the expression draw up the account. [20] When you add, you are following an uninterrupted sequence from the bottom up, with the definite goal of a summa or summit, that is, a sum. The direction of sequence in a sum is likewise from bottom to top, as in the idiom to sum up. There is a similar set of semantics, with the same visualization of movement from bottom to top, in the Greek verb ekkoruphoûn (as in Hesiod Works and Days 106). [21]
Another instance of this idea of an uninterrupted sequence drawing toward a definite goal is the Latin expression dūcere aquam /aquas ‘conduct water’. As we may infer from the derivative aquae ductus, an aqueduct must ultimately have a destination. [22] As we look back at the contexts where the Greek adverb endukéōs is associated with the idea of raising a child, we can now see a basic semantic connection with the Latin compound verb ēducāre, {46|47} which conveys the idea of raising a child, or a plant, toward the definite goal of maturity. [23]
Having a set sequence and a set goal by no means precludes the idea of variety. We may consider Benveniste’s examples of Latin expressions combining the verb dūcere with a direct object indicating the shape of a letter of the alphabet: hence the ductus of a letter is the drawing or tracing of a letter, and of course each different letter has its own different ductus. Thus the sequence or pattern of drawing, the pattern of dūcere, is itself a matter of variety. Even the English word pattern provides a striking illustration of this idea: a basic meaning of pattern is ‘model’, as in the world of dress-making. Etymologically, a pattern is a model. And yet, pattern is variety, as we can see even from the current sense of the word.
The idea of pattern as variety comes to life in the rich variety of compound patterns built from Latin dūcere, such as condūcere, dēdūcere, ēdūcere / ēducāre, indūcere, and so on, as also the corresponding compounds in the Germanic languages. [24] And there is a rich variety of meaning and application even within each one of the compounds. In the case of indūcere, for example, let us consider some of the categories of definition in the Oxford Latin Dictionary: meaning 5 is ‘introduce a custom or law’; meaning 6, in the legal sense, is ‘sanction, give grounds for’; meaning 7 is ‘apply a rule’; meaning 1, again in a legal sense, is ‘bring in’, as for example a witness; meaning 8 is ‘initiate, install into a position’; meaning 3, is ‘put on stage’, that is, introduce a performer into the action of the drama, or alternatively, to introduce a character into a narrative by presenting him or her to the mind’s eye, as it were; and the list goes on. Then there is the abstract noun derivative, inductiō, meaning (1) bringing in a performer, (2) initiation, (3) prompting to a course of action, focusing the mind, (4), reasoning by analogy—which translates the Greek philosophical concept of epagōgḗ. In Cicero’s De inventione (1.51), we read the following definition: inductio est oratio quae rebus non dubiis captat {47|48} assensionem eius quicum instituta est; quibus assensionibus facit ut illi dubia quaedam res propter similitudinem earum rerum, quibus assensit, probetur ‘induction is a form of speaking that seeks, in matters that are not open to doubt, the assent of the person with whom this form of speaking has been undertaken; by way of these assents the speaker makes credible to this person some matter that is open to doubt, because of its likeness to those things to which he has already given assent’. [25]
This definition of induction can also serve as a definition of the root *deuk / *duk itself, as we focus our attention on the notion of similitūdō as a key to the process. In terms of Cicero’s definition of induction, we may view the root *deuk / *duk as ‘draw continuously toward a definite goal’, where continuity is established through the mental process of connecting like with like. Moreover, the continuum is achieved through variety and diversity. The notion of continuum through variety and diversity may be pictured as a game of “connect the dots,” where the object of the game is to keep on moving from one dot to the closest dot: the thicker the clustering of dots along the way, the easier is the movement. [26]
The Alexandrian dictionary tradition that goes under the name of Hesychius helps confirm this interpretation with a series of glosses. The otherwise unattested adjective endeukéa is glossed in Hesychius as empherê, hómoia. The Greek adjectives empherḗs and hómoios mean ‘similar, resembling’. Also in Hesychius, endeukés is glossed as hómoion ‘similar, resembling’, and the first gloss for endukés is sunekhés ‘continuous’. [27] In Nicander’s Theriaka (263), endukés is attested in the sense of ‘continuous’. [28] {48|49}
The word sunekhḗs ‘continuous’ is actually used in [“Aristotle”] Historia animalium 632b21 to describe the singing of the nightingale: ἀηδών ᾀδει μὲν συνεχῶς ‘the nightingale sings in a sunekhḗs way’. Likewise Pliny Natural History 10.81 describes this birdsong as garrulus sine intermissu cantus ‘a talkative song without interruption’.
As we approach the end of this sequence of examples for the idea of continuity in the root *deuk / *duk, we reach perhaps the most striking example in the Latin expression fīlum dēdūcere ‘draw out a thread [in spinning]’ (e.g. Ovid Metamorphoses 4.36; cf. Tibullus 1.3.86). There are comparable expressions where the verb dūcere or dēdūcere is metaphorically combined with objects like carmen ‘song’ to mean ‘compose the song’ (e.g. Propertius 4.6.13, Ovid Metamorphoses 1.4).
The association of the root *deuk / *duk with the idea of songmaking takes us back to the meaning of poludeukḗs, variant epithet for the nightingale’s song in Odyssey xix (521), which we may now interpret as meaning ‘having much continuity’ or ‘having continuity in many different ways’ or even ‘patterning in many ways’ (or ‘many times’). [29] The translation ‘patterning’ highlights the idea of continuity through variety and diversity. And the patterns of continuity through variety and diversity are conceived as the distinctly poetic skills of songmaking in performance. From the discussion that follows, moreover, it will be clear that the idea of ‘many different ways’ (or ‘many times’) is an inherently agonistic one, with each new {49|50} performance ever competing against previous performances. Thus we will find that poludeukḗs in the sense of ‘patterning in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’) as an apt description of oral tradition itself.
As Lord observes about the dynamics of oral tradition, “there is a pull in two directions: one is toward the song being sung and the other is toward the previous uses of the same theme”. [30] If we reformulate this insight in terms of Prague School linguistics, we may say that the poetic process of referring to anything involves, simultaneously, a “horizontal” axis of combination and a “vertical” axis of selection. [31] Lord himself implies such an interaction between combination and selection when he says:
Where the association is not linear, it seems to me that we are dealing with a force or ‘tension’ that might be termed ‘submerged.’ The habit is hidden, but felt. It arises from the depths of the tradition through the workings of the traditional processes to inevitable expression. And to be numb to an awareness of this kind of association is to miss the meaning not only of the oral method of composition and transmission, but even of epic itself. Without such an awareness the overtones from the past, which give tradition the richness of diapason of full organ, cannot be sensed by the reader of oral epic. The singer’s natural audience appreciates it because they are as much part of the tradition as the singer himself. [32]
From this point of view each occurrence of a theme (on the level of content) or of a formula (on the level of form) in a given composition-in-performance refers not only to its immediate context but also to all other analogous contexts remembered by the performer or by any member of the audience. [33]
Pursuing the argument that the Homeric epithet poludeukḗs conveys a distinctly poetic idea, we may use as evidence the formulaic system of Homeric diction. There is a striking parallelism, both morphological and semantic, between poludeukḗs ‘having {50|51} much continuity [es-stem *deûkos]’ or ‘having continuity in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’), epithet of the aēdṓn ‘nightingale’ as a lamenting songbird on the one hand and, on the other, polupenthḗs ‘having much grief [es-stem pénthos]’ or ‘having grief in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’), epithet of the (h)alkúōn, another lamenting songbird, in Iliad IX (563). [34] In Homeric diction, both pénthos and ákhos mean not only ‘grief’ but also ‘song about grief’, that is, a ritual song of lament. [35]
Also pertinent is the name of one of the two Divine Twins, Poludeúkēs (Iliad III 237, Odyssey xi 300). The noun itself is straightforwardly related to the adjective poludeukḗs, in that the recessive accent of the name is typical of the naming function, as we see from such morphologically related formations as Poluneíkēs ‘having many quarrels [es-stem neîkos]’ or ‘having quarrels in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’). [36] In the mythological functions of the divine figure Poludeúkēs, the idea of continuity seems as evident as that of variety, since the Divine Twins are models of consistency, perseverance, reliability (as in Homeric Hymn 33). [37] In an astrological sense, we could say that Poludeúkēs, in the role of Morning Star, is ‘repeating many times’, the symbol of many happy returns. [38] And the repetition can be visualized as a cyclical one—a pattern of eternal return. There is a striking semantic and morphological parallel in poluderkḗs ‘seeing in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’), epithet of the dawn-goddess Eos in Hesiod (Theogony 451).
The multiple repetition of the same, each repetition being different, is an idea encapsulated in the very identity of Poludeúkēs as a twin, one of the Divine Twins. The very idea of a twin conveys both sameness and difference. Here we may consider in general {51|52} the semantic function of the Homeric epithet: each time the epithet is repeated, it is both same and different in meaning. [39] With each of its countless returns, the epithet refers to the same thing, but to a new instance of the same old thing.
The word repetition has been introduced in this context in order to evoke a 1843 work of Kierkegaard, entitled Repetition. Just as ancient Greek philosophy teaches, it is claimed, “that all knowledge is a recollecting,” so also “modern philosophy will teach that all life is a repetition.” [40] To quote further: “repetition and recollection are the same movement, except in opposite directions, for what is recollected has been, is repeated backward, whereas genuine repetition is recollected forward.” [41]
The idea of “recollecting forward” is applicable to the definition of induction that we have examined earlier, and to the reinterpretation of the root *deuk / *duk as ‘draw continuously toward a definite goal’, with the implication that continuity takes place through the mental process of connecting like with like. As we will now see, such a reinterpretation suits the ancient Greek concept of mimesis as well, which is fundamental to poetry as performance. In fact, the semantics of mimesis will help us reach a sharper definition of the mental process of connecting like with like. From the earliest attested meanings of mimesis, we will see there must be a definitive model as well as a definite goal.
It is easier to approach the topic of a definitive model if we first review the idea of a definite goal. In case of the root *deuk / *duk, we have already seen the example of the Latin compound verb ēducāre, which conveys the idea of raising a child, or a plant, toward the definite goal of maturity, and this idea is still current in the English usages of educate. [42] We may note, with reference to {52|53} the definite goal of maturity, that the Greek word télos can designate either such a goal or a ritual of initiation. [43] Further, we have already seen derivatives of the root *deuk / *duk such as indūcere and the English borrowing induct in the sense of ‘initiate’.
This much said, let us proceed to explore in more depth the meaning of mimesis. As with the root *deuk / *duk, where the goal that is implied helps us comprehend the model as well, so also with mimesis. The definitive models of mimesis take shape by way of a process that leads towards definite goals such as initiation and education—which are the very concepts reflected in the Latin words indūcere and ēducāre.
With the ultimate purpose of arriving at a working definition of mimesis, let us first consider its function in the context of the khorós ‘chorus, song-and-dance ensemble’, a traditional Greek performance medium that serves as an instrument of initiation as well as education in archaic Greek society. [44] A premier example, as we will see, is Alcman Song 1 (as numbered in the PMG edition of Denys Page), the socalled Partheneion, the text of a choral composition destined for performance in archaic Sparta. [45]
As John Herington argues in his Poetry into Drama, the performance of a chorus is ordinarily a matter of a seasonally recurring reperformance. [46] There are particularly striking examples from Sparta, such as the description in Sosibius (FGH 595 F 5, by way of Athenaeus 15.678bc), of choral performances at the Spartan Feast of the Gymnopaidiai, featuring reperformances of compositions attributed to Alcman and other archaic figures. We may note too the description in Polycrates (FGH 588 F 1, by way of Athenaeus 4.139e) of choral performances at the Spartan festival of the Hyakinthia, where the compositions of Alcman were most likely a part of the repertory (witness the papyrus commentary to Alcman, PMG 10[a].5). Here is the text of Polycrates’ vivid description:
τῇ δὲ μέσῃ τῶν τριῶν ἡμερῶν γίνεται θέα ποικίλη καὶ πανήγυρις ἀξιόλογος καὶ μεγάλη· παῖδές τε γὰρ κιθαρίζουσιν ἐν χιτῶσιν ἀνεζωσμένοις καὶ πρὸς αὐλὸν ᾄδοντες πάσας ἅμα τῷ πλήκτρῳ τὰς χορδὰς ἐπιτρέχοντες ἐν ῥυθμῷ μὲν ἀναπαίστῳ, μετ' ὀξέος δὲ τόνου τὸν θεὸν ᾄδουσιν· ἄλλοι δ' ἐφ' ἵππων κεκοσμημένων τὸ θέατρον διεξέρχονται· χοροί τε νεανίσκων παμπληθεῖς εἰσέρχονται καὶ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων τινὰ ποιημάτων ᾄδουσιν, ὀρχησταί τε [ἐν] τούτοις ἀναμεμιγμένοι τὴν κίνησιν ἀρχαικὴν ὑπὸ τὸν αὐλὸν καὶ τὴν ᾠδὴν ποιοῦνται. τῶν δὲ παρθένων αἳ μὲν ἐπὶ καννάθρων [καμαρωτῶν ξυλίνων ἁρμάτων] φέρονται πολυτελῶς κατεσκευασμένων, αἳ δ' ἐφ' ἁμίλλαις ἁρμάτων ἐζευγμένων πομπεύουσιν, ἅπασα δ' ἐν κινήσει καὶ χαρᾷ τῆς θεωρίας ἡ πόλις καθέστηκεν. ἱερεῖά τε παμπληθῆ θύουσι τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην καὶ δειπνίζουσιν οἱ πολῖται πάντας τοὺς γνωρίμους καὶ τοὺς δούλους τοὺς ἰδίους· οὐδεὶς δ' ἀπολείπει τὴν θυσίαν, ἀλλὰ κενοῦσθαι συμβαίνει τὴν πόλιν πρὸς τὴν θέαν.
But the middle day of the three days there is a variety-filled [poikílē] spectacle [théā] and a great and notable gathering of all {53|54} [panḗguris]. Boys wearing girtup khitons play the lyre, sweeping all the strings with the plectrum as they sing the god in the anapaestic rhythm and at a high pitch. Others pass through the viewing area [théatron] on finely ornamented horses. Massed choruses [khoroí] of young men now enter and sing some of the epichoric songs, while dancers mixed in with them perform the ancient dancemovements to the pipe [aulós] and the singing. Next maidens enter, some riding in richly adorned wicker carts, while others make their competitive procession in chariots yoked with mules. And the entire city is astir, rejoicing at the spectacle [theōríā]. On this day they sacrifice an abundance of animal victims, and the citizens feast all their acquaintances and their own slaves. And no one is left out of the sacrifice [thusía], and what happens is that the city is emptied for the spectacle [théa]. [47]
Polycrates FGH 588 F 1, by way of Athenaeus 4.139e
Herington concludes, on the basis of this and similar testimony, that “some at least of Alcman’s compositions were still being reperformed well into the Hellenistic era [emphasis mine].” [48]
In an earlier work, I linked the meaning of mimesis with this medium of the khorós, [49] arguing that the primary meaning of mimesis was ‘reenactment, impersonation’ in a dramatic sense, as in a khorós, and that the secondary meaning of ‘imitation’—which is a builtin aspect of reenactment—became the new primary meaning of this word only after the dramatic sense of mimesis was destabilized. [50] For present purposes, let us use the word “dramatic” strictly with reference to traditional societies like those of archaic Greece, where drama entails an interaction of myth and ritual. [51] As for myth, we may define it tentatively as a given {54|55} traditional society’s coding of truthvalues through narrative. [52] And we may adopt, at least for the moment, Stanley Tambiah’s definition of ritual as “a culturally constructed system of symbolic communication.” [53] Keeping in mind this broad working definition of ritual, I propose that myth—or at least the performance of myth as song, poetry, or prose—can even be seen as an aspect of ritual, though of course myth is also potentially distinguishable from ritual. [54]
This working definition of mimesis as ‘re-enactment, impersonation’ is supported by the celebrated description of mimesis in the Poetics of Aristotle as the mental process of identifying the representing ‘this’, as in the ritual of acting the drama, with the represented ‘that’, as in the myth that is being acted out by the drama: in Greek this mental process can be expressed by way of the equation hoûtos ekeînos ‘so this is that!’ (1448b17). [55] The restatement of this equation in Aristotle’s Rhetoric (1.1371a21 [[corrected to 1.1371b9]]) makes it clear that the media of representation that Aristotle has in mind are not just the visual arts but also the verbal arts, primarily the art of songmaking and poetry as performed in the dramas of Athenian State Theater.
As the discussion proceeds, it will become clear that I think of all song and poetry as mimetic, although in varying degrees—not just the song and poetry of theatrical drama in particular and of performance by a khorós in general. My usage of performance is analogous, in that I extend the theatrical connotations of this English word to all kinds of song and poetry. For the moment, though, let us consider Aristotle’s formulation of mimesis primarily from the viewpoint of song and poetry in drama or, at least, in the framework of a khorós. So long as the represented ‘that’ remains absolute—that is, absolutized by the myth—the representing ‘this’ remains a re-enacting ‘this’. [56] So long as ‘this’ imitates an absolute ‘that’, it re-enacts as it imitates; the re-enactment remains primary, and the imitation remains {55|56} secondary. [57] Once you start imitating something that is no longer absolute, however, you can no longer re-enact the absolute: then you can only make a copy, and your model may be also just a copy. I have just described here the general mentality induced by the destabilization of the conceptual world of mimesis. [58]
It bears repeating that both re-enactment and imitation are genuine aspects of the older conceptual world of mimesis. If you re-enact an archetypal action in ritual, it only stands to reason that you have to imitate those who re-enacted before you and who served as your immediate models. But the ultimate model is still the archetypal action or figure that you are re-enacting in ritual, which is coextensive with the whole line of imitators who re-enact the way in which their ultimate model acted, each imitating each one’s predecessor.
Pursuing the idea that mimesis was a traditional function of the khorós, let us turn to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, which describes a khorós of Delian Maidens performing at a festival on the island of Delos. [59] In earlier work, I argued that the Delian Maidens represent an idealization of choral lyric. [60] We may compare Plato’s picture of the ultimate divine khorós, comprised of the Olympian gods themselves, serving as model for all human choruses (Phaedrus 247a: θείου χοροῦ). I also argued that the Delian Maidens are presented in the Hymn as archetypes meant to be reenacted in the local ritual context of real choral performances at Delos—in which context any real chorusmembers would be equated, for the ritual moment, with the archetypal Maidens. [61] Such a reenactment of a model would be mimesis in the primary sense just outlined.
The Delian Maidens show the way for others to re-enact them by demonstrating their own power to re-enact all other people, in all their varieties. These Maidens are models of mimesis by way of practicing mimesis: they can repeat everyone’s voice, mimeîsthai (Hymn to Apollo 163), and everyone who hears the repetition will {56|57} think that it is his or her own voice (163–164). [62] We may compare this usage of mimesis with the semantics of Latin inductiō, meaning not only ‘induction’ in the sense of initiation but also induction as a mental process of connecting like with like, thus achieving a continuum through variety. We may also compare the traditional image of the sacrificing god, as recently studied by Kimberley Patton in a wide variety of different cultures: when gods take the seemingly paradoxical stance of sacrificing, they are simply acting as models, authoritatively showing the way for others to sacrifice by being the first to do so themselves. [63]
I offer a similar formulation in the case of Alcman’s Partheneion: I propose that archetypal figures, including the primary archetypal figures named Hagesikhora and Agido, are models being acted out by real chorusmembers in performances held on a seasonallyrecurring basis. [64] Even their names designate models—either divine, like Hagesikhora, or royal, like Agido. [65]
We may reconstruct a similar principle at work in the earliest stages of Athenian State Theater: the real chorusmembers of a tragedy would be reenacting an archetypal ensemble that is interacting with archetypal figures of the heroic world, figures acted by actors playing roles differentiated out of the ranks of the chorus. [66]
But the paradox of mimesis is that the archetype to be re-enacted must re-enact, not just enact, in its own right. So also in Song I of Jaufré Rudel, we had seen that the song of the nightingale, which serves as model for the song of the poet, is itself a model of recomposition, not just composition, in that even the songbird is in fact recomposing his own song by virtue of performing it. The nightingale of Provençal songmaking moves his song, which is inherently recurrent and recomposed, much as every new season of spring is a joyous event of inherent recurrence and recomposition, even re-creation.
So also in the case of poludeukḗs, variant epithet for the nightingale of Homeric songmaking: if the interpretation, ‘patterning {57|58} in many different ways’, is cogent, we see here a model of songmaking that is ultimately patterned on its own goal, achieved by maintaining continuity through variety. [67] To maintain this continuity is to keep on re-creating, which is the process of mimesis. [68] In mimesis, every performance is a re-creation. To rephrase the words of Aristotle in the Poetics, the representing “this” re-creates the represented “that” (1448b17). {58|59}


[ back ] 1. The semantics of poikílos ‘varied’ are illuminated by the context of the epithet of the nightingale in Hesiod Works and Days 203, poikilódeiros, which is interpreted as ‘having a varied[-sounding] throat’ in ch. 3n1; also by the context of the epithet of Aphrodite in Sappho 1.1, poikilóthronos, which is interpreted in the sense of ‘with varied pattern-woven flowers’ in ch. 4.
[ back ] 2. Pliny Natural History 10.85 refers to the vox ‘voice’ of the nightingale as modulata ‘modulated’ and varia ‘varied’ (where modulated is to be understood in the ancient, not modern, sense: see ch. 1n56).
[ back ] 3. Mâche 1991:119, with reference to the Luscinia megarhynchos. A “phrase” in birdsong, according to the descriptive scheme developed by Mâche, is a sequence or “suite” of sounds framed by intervals of silence; wherever such a sequence or “suite” begins with a repeated pattern of sounds, it is a “strophe” (Mâche p. 112). On the functioning of such strophes in situations where we find no explicit framing by pauses or intervals of silence, see Mâche p. 144.
[ back ] 4. Mâche 1991:119. On the concept of an opposition between an axis of combination and an axis of selection, see n7 in the Introduction above. On the sequencing of the “strophes” themselves in the case of the nightingale’s singing, Mâche p. 121n14 refers to Todt 1971, whose work raises—at least implicitly, in my opinion—important questions concerning the opposition of langue and parole in the performance of an individual nightingale.
[ back ] 5. Mâche 1991:119–123.
[ back ] 6. Mâche 1991:121. What follows in the rest of this paragraph is a close paraphrase of his formulation. We may note in passing the implications of many of these formulations for the diachronic analysis of Greek lyric meters, as in PH 439–464.
[ back ] 7. There is an analogous onomatopoeia implicit in the form ´Itus (Ἴτυς), a name of the son of the unfortunate mythical woman who was turned into a nightingale, in contexts where ´Itus is doubled, as in Aeschylus Agamemnon 1144: Ἴτυν Ἴτυν στένουσ᾿ ‘[the nightingale] mourning “´Itun ´Itun”’; also Sophocles Electra 148: ἃ Ἴτυν αἰὲν Ἴτυν ὀλοφύρεται ‘who keeps on mourning “´ Itun ´ Itun”’. As Ian Rutherford points out to me, the refrain ἴτω ἴτω χορός = ítō ítō khorós ‘let the chorus get under way!’ in SLG S 460.13/15/17 represents not only the song of the nightingale (ἀηδονὶς ὧδε λέλακε ‘thus the nightingale spoke’ at line 8) but also the sound of the song, by way of onomatopoeia; in this context, the songbird signals the inception of choral song and dance in springtime (cf. ἐν ὥραις at line 12). In the song of Tereus at Aristophanes Birds 228–229, the onomatopoeia of ítō is made explicit by the purely onomatopoeic sequence that precedes it: ἰὼ ἰὼ ἰτὼ ἰτὼ ἰτὼ ἰτὼ | ἴτω τις ὧδε τῶν ἐμῶν ὁμοπτέρων ‘iṑ iṑ itṑ itṑ itṑ itṑ | ítō [let come] all my fellow feathered-ones’.
[ back ] 8. The scholia V for Odyssey xix 521 explain poluēkhéa as pollàs metabolàs poiouménēn ‘making many changes’. The same word poluēkhḗs occurs in Iliad IV (422), epithet of aigialós ‘beach’. Applying the interpretation of the scholia, we may translate either ‘resounding many times’ or ‘resounding in many ways’. To emphasize the idea of variety, we may translate hereafter: ‘resounding in many different ways’. In what follows, I will have more to say about other compounds where the combination of polu ‘much, many’ with a given noun yields a meaning that can be approximated by ‘in many different ways’.
[ back ] 9. Gow and Scholfield 1953:43. In the scholia to Nicander Theriaka 209, poludeukḗs is glossed as poikílos ‘varied’ in morphḗ ‘shape’. {The varia lecto is πολυδερκέα. The gloss is πικράν.}
[ back ] 10. Chantraine DELG s.v. ἀδευκής (cf. already Frisk GEW 20) and Risch 1974:81–83 (cf. also Bader 1986, whose explanation differs from the one presented here.
[ back ] 11. On the possibility of a variant reading involving adeukḗs in Odyssey i 46, with reference to the death of Aegisthus, see Dyck 1993:11–12, especially p. 12n26. In the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes we find adeukḗs as epithet of átē ‘doom’ (1.1037), aîsa ‘fate’ (4.1503), háls ‘sea’ (2.388), áellai ‘gusts of wind’ (2.267).
[ back ] 12. We may compare the collocation of verse-initial ḗpios and verse-initial endukéōs in Odyssey xv 490 / 491, the Eumaios passage. On the semantics of ḗpios, see Edmunds 1990:98: “The typically ḗpios figure is mature, gives good advice, understands justice, and promotes social cohesion.
[ back ] 13. In Odyssey x 450, Circe endukéōs washes and anoints the companions.
[ back ] 14. For the moment, let us simply note in passing the combinations of endukéōs with tréphein ‘raise’ in Iliad XXIII 90, Odyssey vii 256. These combinations turn out to be valuable evidence in the discussion that follows. {Cf. xiv 62, xv 305, 543, xvii 56, 11, xix 195, xxiv 272; also xxiv 212, 390; cf. xvii 113; xiv 109, XXIV 158, 187.Cf. xiv 62, xv 305, 543, xvii 56, 11, xix 195, xxiv 272; also xxiv 212, 390; cf. xvii 113; xiv 109, XXIV 158, 187.}
[ back ] 15. In the discussion that follows, I have benefited from the valuable advice of Richard P. Martin.
[ back ] 16. Ernout / Meillet DELL 185.
[ back ] 17. Benveniste 1973.121–130. Cf. Ernout / Meillet DELL 185, who stress the correlation of dūcere ‘lead’ with sequī ‘follow’—the verb conveying the very idea of sequence.
[ back ] 18. Benveniste 1949. {Cf. athroos in Theocritus.Cf. athroos in Theocritus.}
[ back ] 19. Besides the English combinations, we may consider the vast variety of nuances in the corresponding Gothic compounds, as noted by Benveniste 1973:125. On the implications of German ziehen and Zug, see Schur 1998.
[ back ] 20. Benveniste 1973:122.
[ back ] 21. Cf. West 1978:178.
[ back ] 22. See OLD 578. Ernout / Meillet DELL point out that Cicero uses ductus aquarum where Vitruvius has ductio aquarum.
[ back ] 23. Contexts of ēducāre with plant as object include Columella 4.29.17 (human agent; other contexts listed in OLD 588 s.v., section c); we may compare the correlation, as noted above, of the Homeric adverb endukéōs with contexts of tréphein and atitállein, where the object of the verb may be a child or a plant.
[ back ] 24. See n19 above. For an illuminating analysis of the poetics of German ziehen, see Schur 1998.
[ back ] 25. The notion of captat assensionem ‘seeks assent’ is analogous to the implications of assent in Aristotle’s description of mimesis in terms of the formula οὗτος ἐκεῖνος ‘this is that’ in Poetics 1448b17 as discussed in PH 44, especially n134; further discussion of this formula in what follows.
[ back ] 26. Cf. the formulation offered by Mâche 1991:125 concerning the “art” of birdsong in particular and music in general: virtuosity is a matter of finding an equilibrium between recurrence and novelty.
[ back ] 27. The other glosses given in Hesychius for endukés are sunetón ‘aware, understanding’, aphelés ‘even’, asphalés ‘steady’, glukú ‘sweet’, próthumon ‘cooperative’, eúnoun ‘kindly disposed’, pistón ‘reliable’, epimelés ‘caring’. Most of these interpretations suit the contexts of the Homeric adverb endukéōs as surveyed above. I see as a common semantic thread the idea of attentiveness to proper procedure. The glosses in Hesychius for endúkion are pistón ‘reliable’, phílon ‘near and dear’, empherés ‘similar’, bébaion ‘certain’, and apókruphon ‘obscure’; perhaps the last of these is meant as a comment on the meaning; the gloss for deukés is hómoion ‘similar’ (in Latte’s 1953 edition of Hesychius vol. 1, the other gloss lamprón ‘shining, visible’ is removed and transposed under the entry deikés).
[ back ] 28. This endukés is also apparently attested as an adverb in Apollonius of Rhodes 1.883: as bees are ekkhúmenai ‘pouring forth’ from their hive (880), so also the women, in an endukés manner, prokhéonto ‘poured forth’ (883), lamenting, around the men. We may note that the nightingale in Odyssey xix 521 khéei ‘pours forth’ her poludeukéa (or poluēkhéa) sound. Recalling the adverb endukéōs, derivative of this adjective endukḗs, we may note some additional attestations beyond the Homeric ones already surveyed. In Bacchylides 5.125 endukéōs refers to the steady fighting of warriors over the hide of the Calydonian Boar, and at 5.112 endukéōs is used correlatively with sunekhéōs ‘continuously’ with reference to the warriors’ fight against the Boar itself. Chantraine DELG s.v. ἐνδυκέως emphasizes the idea of continuity and perseverance in this passage. In the Hesiodic Shield 427, endukéōs refers to a lion’s tearing away at the flesh of its prey: in today’s idiom, we would say that the lion is systematically or methodically devouring its prey. At Pindar Pythian 5.85, hosts are described as receiving their guest endukéōs with thusíai ‘sacrifices’.
[ back ] 29. On the semantics of polu in the sense of ‘many different’, not just ‘many’ or ‘much’, cf. poluēgerées ‘assembled from many different places’, a variant reading reported by Aristarchus for tēlekleitoí in Iliad XI 564, and polusperḗs ‘much-dispersed’, referring in Iliad II 804 to peoples who are dispersed throughout many different places. Further morphological parallels for this kind of compounding with esstems: polutharsḗs ‘having much audacity’, as in Iliad XVII 156, etc., and polukankḗs ‘much-burning’, epithet of thirst in Iliad XI 642.
[ back ] 30. Lord 1960:94; cf. also pp. 66, 94–97.
[ back ] 31. See n7 in the Introduction above.
[ back ] 32. Lord 1960:97.
[ back ] 33. Cf. Foley 1991, who invokes the term immanence to argue that the immediate reference in oral poetics is but a part of the totality of meaning.
[ back ] 34. On the explicit connections of the (h)alkúōn with songs of lamentation, see BA 111.
[ back ] 35. BA 94–117, especially pp. 99–100 on Odyssey iv 220.
[ back ] 36. Cf. also Polupheídēs in Odyssey xv 249, which could mean ‘having parsimony in many different ways’ (or ‘many times’). On the poetics of naming as an aspect of a poetic system, see PH 206–207 and Higbie 1995:189.
[ back ] 37. In light of the close association of endukéōs, as surveyed above, with the ritualistic performance of one’s duties as xénos, ‘host’ or ‘guest’, we may note the traditional characterization of the Divine Twins as philóxe(i)noi ‘dear to xénoi’, as in Pindar Olympian 3.1.
[ back ] 38. On the mythological model of the Divine Twins as alternating Morning Star / Evening Star, see GM 258–259.
[ back ] 39. Cf. Foley 1991, who shows how the Homeric epithet transcends its immediate context, that is, its “instance.” The referentiality of the epithet is “extrasituational,” in that “epithet and instance harmonize not because the phrase can be reduced—its complexity conveniently denatured—but rather because it entails a larger reality than can be presented in any one narrative event” (p. 141). In the “pars pro toto” logic of oral composition-in-performance, “the ever-incomplete performance or text is the only medium through which we can completely experience the oral traditional work of art” (p. 10; cf. p. 58). Meaning is thus “inherent” in the context, not “conferred” exclusively by the context (p. 8).
[ back ] 40. Kierkegaard 1843 [1983]:131.
[ back ] 41. Kierkegaard 1843 [1983]:131.
[ back ] 42. See n23 above.
[ back ] 43. Cf. PH 245–246.
[ back ] 44. For more on the khorós as a medium of initiation and education, see Calame 1977, especially I 437–439.
[ back ] 45. Detailed discussion in PH 345–349 (cf. N 1989:50–51) and Clay 1991.
[ back ] 46. Herington 1985.
[ back ] 47. This translation of Polycrates FGH 588 F 1 is based on that of Herington 1985:7, who goes on to say about Polycrates: “Even if he lived relatively late in the Hellenistic period, ... Sparta’s ritual and musical conservatism was such that he could well have witnessed a celebration of the Hyakinthia in much the same form that it would have had in classical times” (p. 224n8; cf. PH 351, 371n168 and Clay 1991:64). As Victor Bers points out to me, the emphasis on the idea that ‘no one is left out of the sacrifice’ echoes the semantics of a ‘gathering of all’ inherent in the word panḗguris.
[ back ] 48. Herington 1985:25–26. I disagree, however, with his general assumption that the composition of archaic Greek lyric performances required the technology of writing (pp. 41–42): see PH 19n7.
[ back ] 49. PH 339–413. A pioneering study of mimesis, to which I am much indebted, is Koller 1954.
[ back ] 50. PH 42–45, 346, 349, 373–375, 381, 387, 411.
[ back ] 51. PH ch. 13.
[ back ] 52. Elaborations in GM 8; cf. PH 313–317.
[ back ] 53. Tambiah 1985:128.
[ back ] 54. Cf. the formulation “myth implies ritual in the very performance of myth” at p. xi of my foreword to Martin 1989 and at GM 317.
[ back ] 55. PH 44.
[ back ] 56. PH 42–44.
[ back ] 57. PH 42–44.
[ back ] 58. Cf. Nehamas 1982.
[ back ] 59. Burkert 1987:54 interprets lines 162-165 of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as a reference to the “performance of choral lyrics.”
[ back ] 60. PH 43, 375–377.
[ back ] 61. PH 43, 375–377.
[ back ] 62. Detailed discussion in PH 43–44, 375–377.
[ back ] 63. Patton 1992.
[ back ] 64. N 1989:50–51, PH 345–370; cf. Clay 1991.
[ back ] 65. PH 345–348.
[ back ] 66. On the complex patterns of differentiation that led to the emergence of the first, second, and third actors as distinct from the chorus, see PH 378–379.
[ back ] 67. The idea of continuity through variety may be expressed by the metaphor of ‘breaking’. Successive interruptions or ‘breakings’ in a continuum may actually contribute to an overall sense of continuity or non-interruption, as in the pulsation of sound or light. Hence the metaphor of refraction, as we see in the expression περὶ δέ σφισιν ἄγνυτο ἠχώ ‘and the echoing sound [ēkhṓ] they made was refracted [= literally ‘broke’] all around them’ in the Hesiodic Shield, verses 279 and 348. At verse 348, the expression applies to the neighing of war-horses; at 279, it applies to the sound of choral voices singing in response to a tune presumably sung by a choral leader, accompanied by herdsmen’s pipes. With reference to verse 279, we may compare the metaphors of refraction as discussed in the context of ch. 1n55 above. There is a relevant discussion by Bonanno 1993:68, who actually cites both these Hesiodic passages, though she does not, I think, fully integrate their significance with her own arguments.
[ back ] 68. The metaphor of breaking’ can express—even mime—discontinuity as well as continuity, as in the expression κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε ‘my tongue has broken down’ in Sappho 31.9; the translation ‘has broken down’ here connotes the English metaphor of breakdown with reference to the operation of a mechanism or a faculty—in this case, the faculty of speech. In N 1974:45, I argue that the metaphor of ‘breakdown’ here is reinforced by a ‘gagging’ effect, produced by the hiatus of word-final and word-initial short vowels in the actual sequence κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε ‘my tongue has broken down’. Thus the discontinuity in speech is symbolized by the discontinuity in sound. The sound of gagging—that is, the sound of an interrupted voice—is conveyed by hiatus and thus matches an expression that designates the sensation of gagging. And the voice that is being interrupted in Sappho 31 is of course ultimately the poetic voice. Such an onomatopoetic effect, as I point out in N 1974:45, could not have evolved if there had not been a pre-existing pattern of hiatus associated with the inherited phraseology of the root ἀγ, thanks to the loss of initial ϝ in the root ϝαγ of ἔαγε, which can be reconstructed as *ϝέϝᾱγε. There may also be an onomatopoetic effect in the positive instance of the ‘breaking’ metaphor that we examined earlier, περὶ δέ σφισιν ἄγνυτο ἠχώ ‘and the echoing sound [ēkhṓ] they made was refracted [= literally ‘broke’] all around them’ in the Hesiodic Shield, verses 279 and 348; this time, the hiatus is etymologically motivated by the loss of initial ϝ in *ϝᾱχώ. See Bonanno 1993, especially pp. 62 and 68, who does not give me credit for having recognized the linguistic background for the hiatus in Sappho 31.9 (she does make clear, however, that I initiated the onomatopoetic interpretation, and for this I am grateful to her). While I agree with her that the ancient imitations of Sapphic γλῶσσα ἔαγε, in Lucretius 3.155 and Theocritus 2.108–109, convey the idea of stammering, I maintain that the more basic idea is that of an interruption of speech—or, to return to the English idiom, breakdown of speech.