Chapter 3. Humnos in Homer and Plato: Weaving the Robe of the Goddess [1]

Pursuing an evolutionary model for the making of Homeric poetry, I have argued that this “making” needs to be seen diachronically as well as synchronically. An unexplored aspect of this “making” is “textualizing.” To develop the idea of textualization, let us turn to the metaphorical world of the Greek word humnos. We need to consider not so much the etymology but the technical meaning of this word—as it was used in its technical sense by poets and rhetoricians. To translate the word by way of its modern derivative, “hymn,” obscures that sense. From the technical viewpoint of poets and rhetoricians, humnos is not just a “hymn”—that is, a song sung in praise of gods or heroes—but also a song that functions as a connector, a continuator. It converges with the idea of the prooimion, but that word too has a sense that goes beyond our ordinary translation as “proem” or “prelude.” Technically, both humnos and prooimion have to do with the general idea of an authoritative beginning that makes continuity possible. More specifically, as we see in the usage of Homeric poetry and of Plato as an avid listener of Homeric poetry, the humnos is not just a proem that introduces epic but also the sequencing principle that connects with epic, then extends into epic, and then finally becomes the same thing as epic itself.
My starting-point is the expression ἁοιδῆς ὓμνον ‘humnos of song’ at Odyssey viii 429. This expression conveys the idea of the totality of a given performance of a song. [2] The noun humnos can be explained as a derivative of the verb-root that we {70|71} see in huphainein ‘weave’, in the metaphorical sense of ‘web’ or ‘fabric’ of song; an attractive alternative explanation is that humnos is related to humēn—more specifically, that humnos and humēn are both derived from another word for fabric-working, the verb-root *syuH- ‘sew’. [3] The actual derivation, however, is less important than the facts of usage. The point is, metaphors referring to the craft of fabric-workers pervade the usage of humnos in archaic Greek poetics. My central argument is that the word humnos is related to a metaphor that likens the fabric-worker to the rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’, the etymology of which can be explained as ‘he who sews together the song(s)’. [4] I say “fabric-worker” instead of “weaver” in order to include various kinds of specialized fabric production, not just weaving, in the overall historical context of the Greek-speaking world in the second millennium BCE and thereafter. [5] Such a differentiation, I argue, is reflected metaphorically in the word for ‘rhapsode’, rhapsōidos, in the etymological sense of ‘he who sews together the song(s)’. In other words, the metaphor inherent in this word implies the existence of professional male fabric-workers. [6] The {71|72} humnos of song at Odyssey viii 429, I further argue, reflects metaphorically the workmanship of such artisans. [7]
The work of the singer is metaphorically interlaced with the work of the fabric-worker. A prime example is the singer who performs for the Phaeacians, Demodokos, who is described as beginning the first of his three performances in Odyssey viii by starting from a thread, oimē (viii 74), much as a fabric-worker might. [8] Here we return to the reference at Odyssey viii 429 to the humnos of Demodokos. What connects the Homeric usage of humnos to the idea of weaving is a preoccupation with beginnings. The word humnos, as I will now argue, is concerned primarily with the choice of an ad hoc beginning, of an ad hoc point of departure.
When Demodokos starts singing his third song, which is specified as aoidē, at viii 499, he starts with a god, the identity of whom is not specified by the narrative: hormētheis theou arkheto ‘getting started, he began with the god’. What follows this start, as we hear it paraphrased by the Odyssey, is an epic account of the Iliou Persis, the destruction of Troy (viii 500–520). The reinforcing expression hormētheis ‘getting started’ at viii 499 has to do with the singer’s point of departure: the verb hormân is derived from the noun hormē, aptly described as “le seul véritable dérivé de ornumi”; [9] hormē can mean ‘setting oneself in motion’, as at the start of marching (LSJ s.v., III); I note the compound aphormē, which actually means ‘point of departure’ (cf. aphormēthentos at II 794, ii 375, iv 748). {72|73}
The expression theou arkheto ‘he began with the god’ at viii 499 indicates that Demodokos is singing a humnos. In the Homeric Hymns, which refer to themselves explicitly as humnos (as in the expression metabēsomai allon es humnon at HH 5.293, 9.9, 18.11, to be discussed below), the point of departure is marked by the collocation of arkhomai ‘I begin’ with the name of the specified god in the genitive (HH 4.293, 9.8, 18.11, 31.18, 32.18). [10] From the standpoint of the Homeric humnosas a performance—the god who is specified as the point of departure thereby presides over that performance in its entirety. The humnos is not just the beginning of the performance: everything that follows the humnos becomes part of the humnos, by virtue of the invoked god’s authority. The concept of arkhē is not just a matter of beginnings: it is also a matter of authority. Even if a given humnos, as a performance that started off with the subject of a god, switches from that subject to some other subject, such as the exploits of heroes, that performance is still notionally a humnos because it started as a humnos. [11]
It is a mistake, I propose, to assume that the textual endings of extant Homeric Hymns are also their performative endings. The expression metabēsomai allon es humnon (HH 5.293, 9.9, 18.11) means not, as is commonly thought, ‘I will switch to another humnos’ but rather ‘I will switch to the rest of the humnos’. [12] If an epic performance is introduced by a humnos, then epic becomes part of the humnos. Technically, only an epic that fails to be introduced by a humnos is not a humnos. The Iliad and Odyssey fit the category of non-humnos only if we imagine them as texts that start where we see them starting when we read Scroll One Verse One. It is a mistake, I propose, to assume that the {73|74} textual beginnings of the Iliad and Odyssey are the only possible performative beginnings. [13]
This is not to say that the semantics of humnos did not ultimately get extricated from the idea of wholeness. It is precisely by way of extrication from wholeness that we arrive, ultimately, at the narrower meaning of “hymn” as we use the word nowadays.
Let us return, however, to the earlier standpoint as reflected by archaic Greek poetry. From this standpoint, the semantics of humnos are inextricably connected to the idea of wholeness, which in turn is connected to the idea of an absolutizing point of departure. In terms of these connections, we may say that a beginning—wherever that beginning may be—must have a continuum that follows it, producing a whole. The wholeness of the humnos, as performance, is marked by the beginning. It is authorized by the beginning. Its arkhē is both beginning and authorization. This idea, implicit in humnos, of wholeness as marked by an authoritative beginning is remarkably similar to Aristotle’s idea of sustasis ‘order’ in the plots of tragedies.
Aristotle in the Poetics examines the minimum requirement of plot in tragedy, that is, wholeness of action, in terms of four aspects of wholeness: (1) order = sustasis, (2) amplitude, (3) unity, and (4) probable and necessary connection. Let us focus on the first of these aspects, order = sustasis:
κεῖται δὴ ἡμῖν τὴν τραγῳδίαν τελείας καὶ ὅλης πράξεως εἶναι μίμησιν ἐχούσης τι μέγεθος· ἔστιν γὰρ ὅλον καὶ μηδὲν ἔχον μέγεθος. ὅλον δέ ἐστιν τὸ ἔχον ἀρχὴν καὶ μέσον καὶ τελευτήν. ἀρχὴ δέ ἐστιν ὅ αὐτὸ μὲν μὴ ἐξ ἀνάγκης μετ᾿ ἀλλο ἐστίν. μετ᾿ ἐκεῖνο {74|75} δ᾿ ἕτερον πέφυκεν εἶναι ἤ γίνεσθαι· τελευτὴ δὲ τοὐναντίον ὅ αὐτὸ μὲν μετ᾿ ἄλλο πέφυκεν εἶναι ἤ ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἤ ὡς ἐπὶ τό πολύ. μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο ἄλλο οὐδέν· μέσον δὲ ὃ καὶ αὐτὸ μετ᾿ ἄλλο καὶ μετ᾿ μήθ᾿ ὁπόθεν ἔτυχεν ἄρχεσθαι μήθ᾿ ὅπου ἔτυχε τελευτᾶν, ἀλλὰ κεχρῆσθαι ταῖς εἰρημέναις ἰδέαις.
Now, we have settled that a tragedy is a mimēsis of a complete, that is, of a whole action, ‘whole’ here implying some amplitude (there can be a whole without amplitude). By ‘whole’ I mean ‘with a beginning, a middle, and an end’. By ‘beginning’ [in this context] I mean ‘that which is not necessarily the consequent of something else, but has some state or happening naturally consequent on it’, by ‘end’ ‘a state that is the necessary or usual consequent of something else, but has itself no such consequent’, by ‘middle’ ‘that which is consequent and has consequents’. Well-ordered plots, then, will exhibit these characteristics, and will not begin or end just anywhere.
Aristotle Poetics Ch. 7 1450b
What I find striking about this definition is the emphasis on the fact of sequence, by way of the consequent:
The beginning has a consequent after it but no consequent before it.
The middle has a consequent before it and a consequent after it.
The end has a consequent before it but no consequent after it.
To put it another way:
The beginning may or may not be a consequent and has a consequent after it.
The middle is a consequent and has a consequent before it and a consequent after it.
The end has a consequent before it but no consequent after it.
Unlike the middle and the end, which both have to be a consequent, the beginning does not. The beginning may be a consequent, even though it has no consequent before it, but it does not have to be a consequent itself. To this extent, the beginning is potentially absolute.
The idea that a humnos is an absolute beginning that makes a whole out of everything that follows it is analogous, in terms of my thesis, to the idea of weaving itself. Hereafter I will use this more specific word weaving instead of the more general designation fabric -work.
Before we proceed, let us review the basic vocabulary of weaving, as we see it described in archaic Greek traditions and elsewhere. [14] Weaving is a specialized form of interlacing or plaiting. The Greek equivalent of plait is plekein. Whereas plaiting is the process of joining basically two sets of whatever element, such as thread, in an over-under-over-under pattern, weaving superimposes a frame on this process:
Weaving, in the narrow, technical sense, involves two operationally different sets of elements: a pre-arranged and more-or-less fixed set, the warp, and a second set, the weft (or woof), interlaced into the first set. Weaving differs from plaiting and basketry partly in the differentiation of a weft from a warp, partly in the fixed nature of {76|77} the warp, and partly in the extreme length and flexibility of the typical weft. [15]
The frame for these two sets, the warp = chaîne and the weft = trame, is the loom = métier. [16] In the present discussion, I will focus on the single-beam warp-weighted loom, [17] not the ground loom [18] or the vertical two-beam loom. [19] In terms of a warp-weighted loom, which I will hereafter call simply the loom, the warp is vertical, hanging from the single beam or crossbeam, and the weft is horizontal. The rod that separates, in an over-under-over-under pattern, the odd/even threads of the warp is the shed bar (shed is cognate with German scheiden). [20] The shed bar guides the shuttle = navette. [21] Besides the shed bar, there exists a differentiated type of rod known as the heddle bar. [22] As for the direction of the whole process, “the weaving started at the top, and the rows of weft had to be packed upwards, against gravity.” [23]
Let us now briefly review the pertinent vocabulary in ancient Greek: histos is the loom; stēmōn or mitos designate the vertical threads, = warp = chaîne, while krokē or rhodanē designate the horizontal threads, = weft = trame; kerkis is the shuttle. [24] The kanōn, as in the description of a weaving woman in Iliad {77|78} XXIII 760–763, is commonly interpreted as a shed bar, [25] though the word may be referring in this context to the more differentiated concept of a heddle bar. [26] The pēnion is the bobbin or spool that guides, by way of the kanōn, the shuttle or kerkis over and under and over and under the warp or mitos. [27]
Let us also briefly review the pertinent vocabulary in Latin, with special attention to a passage in Ovid Metamorphoses 6.53–60 describing the primal weaving contest between the two prototypical female weavers par excellence, Athena and Arachne. The two contestants set up their looms or tēlae. The threads of the warp or stâmen (collective) are stretched vertically, attached from the single beam or crossbeam, that is, iugum. The shed or comb is the harundō. The thread of the weft, or subtemen, is attached to the shuttle or radius. [28]
We may note some important semantic convergences and divergences in the Greek. First of all, huphainein ‘weave’ is a specialized kind of plekein ‘plait’, but there are contexts where plekein can be used as a synonym of huphainein. [29] Also, the process of uniting, by way of weaving, the horizontal warp with the vertical weft is described as sumplokē in Plato Politics 281a; the same word sumplokē describes sexual union in Plato Symposium 191c. [30]
Next, let us note some semantic convergences and divergences in English and other languages. Besides the English {78|79} words weft or woof, there is also web. In a marked sense, web is a synonym of weft and woof. In an unmarked sense, however, web designates simply ‘fabric’ as an entirety, consisting of both warp and weft. Similarly in Latin, tēla in a marked sense means ‘warp’; in an unmarked sense, however, tēla designates ‘loom’ as an entirety, consisting of both warp and weft. French trame, as we have seen, is the weft or web; metaphorically, however, it means the plot of a narrative.
The metaphor implicit in French trame brings us back to the metaphor of weaving as applied to the craft of the singer of songs. As the metaphor of trame implies, you cannot have a plot in a story, a horizontal weft, if you do not have a framework to begin with. That framework is the loom, which must start with a vertical warp, which in turn makes possible the horizontal weft. Further, from the standpoint of working at the loom, you cannot start the horizontal weft without first attaching the vertical warp from the cross-bar. The English word web, as we have seen, can mean the entire fabric by default, not just the horizontal weft, but that entirety still depends on the warp to start it off. Similarly, the Latin word tēla may mean the entire loom, not just the vertical warp, and the horizontal axis of the weft depends on the vertical axis of the warp to give it a frame. Let us apply here the Prague School construct of a horizontal axis of combination interacting with a vertical axis of selection. From the standpoint of working at the loom, you cannot move horizontally from one point to the next unless each given oncoming point has already been set for you vertically.
Here I return to my thesis, that the idea of weaving, just like the idea of humnos, is connected with the idea of beginnings. The essential point is the point of departure. Wherever you begin, you must have a continuum that follows. Or, in Aristotelian terms, you must have a consequent. Here we see the essence of Aristotle’s idea of order (Greek sustasis). The wholeness of the performance is authorized by the beginning. To repeat, arkhē is both beginning and authorization. {79|80}
Aristotle’s idea of order in the plot of, say, a tragedy, is comparable to the meaning implicit in the Latin word from which English “order” is derived, ōrdō. Also comparable is the meaning of other related Latin words, especially ōrdior and exōrdior. [31] Each of these Latin words is connected to the metaphorical world of weaving, and each is preoccupied with the idea of beginnings. [32] Here I give just one example of ōrdior, showing the implicit meaning of ‘start’:
prisci oratores ab Ioue optimo maximo … orsi sunt
The ancient orators took their start [ōrdior] from Jupiter Optimus Maximus.
Valerius Maximus
In this Latin example, we see a direct parallel to the Greek notion of the prooimion:
ὅθεν περ καὶ Ὁμηρίδαι ῥαπτῶν ἐπέων τὰ πόλλ᾿ ἀοιδοὶ ἄρχονται, Διὸς ἐκ προοιμίου
starting from the very point where [hothen] the Homēridai, singers [aoidoi] of sewn-together [rhapta] utterances [epē], most often take their start [= verb arkhesthai], from the proem [prooimion] of Zeus’...
Pindar Nemean 2.1–3 {80|81}
The prooimion ‘proem’ is to the oimē ‘thread’ (and, probably, the oimos) as the humnos (as in a Homeric Hymn) is to the rest of the performance, as conveyed by the expression metabēsomai allon es humnon ‘I will switch to the rest of the humnos’. We may note the spondaic prooimion of Terpander (PMG 698):
Ζεῦ πάντων ἀρχά, πάντων ἁγήτωρ
Ζεῦ σοὶ πέμπω ταύταν ὕμνων ἀρχάν
O Zeus, beginning [/authority] of all things, leader of all things!
O Zeus, to you do I send this the beginning [/authority] of humnoi.
There is a striking parallel in Latin: cum semel quid orsus , [si] traducor alio, neque tam facile interrupta contexo quam absoluo instituta ‘once I have started weaving [ordior] something, if I get distracted by something else, it is not as easy for me to take up where I left off [contexō] than to finish what I have started’ (Cicero Laws 1.3.9).
These metaphors inherent in humnos and related words are also pertinent to another phenomenon in the mechanics of weaving on single-beam warp-weighted looms. This phenomenon concerns starting bands, that is, heading bands = starting borders = starting edges. Here are two useful descriptions:
“The starting edge is a closed one, and often is quite different from any of the other three edges of the cloth.” [33]
“Heading bands occur in several examples and varieties, but seem always to be of the most sophisticated type: a {81|82} tightly woven strip about a dozen threads wide, through which the warp has been pulled in long loops.” [34]
The Greek word that we may translate as ‘heading band’ is diasma (cf. exastis ‘selvedge’). In Hesychius, diasma is glossed as phareos arkhē, that is, ‘the beginning of the fabric’. [35] So also, I propose, the specially intricate humnos is the beginning of the rest of the song.
In light of this imagery of heading bands, let us reconsider a form of ancient Greek poetic composition known to modern scholars as the “rhapsodic hymn,” featuring aporetic questions that are used “to point up the difficulty of finding a suitable beginning.” [36] The prime example is to be found in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, verses 19 and 207:
πῶς γάρ σ᾿ ὑμνήσω πάντως εὐυμνον ἐόντα;
For how shall I hymn you, you who are so absolutely well-hymned? [37]
The absoluteness of the god’s authority is coextensive with the absoluteness of the humnos. {82|83}
This notional absoluteness of the humnos can be connected, I will now argue, with the ideological authority of Homeric poetry as it evolved in the context of the Feast of the Panathenaia in Athens. In terms of my argument, such an authority was expressed by way of equating this poetry, the Iliad and Odyssey, with the idea of humnos. It is as if the entire corpus of Homeric poetry were the notional equivalent of a single continuous—and gigantic—humnos performed for the goddess Athena on the occasion of her Feast, the Panathenaia.
A key to my argument is the cultural mentality that Plato is putting to work for his own philosophical purposes in one of his most admired masterpieces, the Timaeus. In the previous chapter, I have examined the indirect historical evidence provided by the Timaeus about the rhapsodic traditions of Homeric performance at the Panathenaia of Athens. Here I review only those aspects of my overall argumentation that bear on the metaphorical world of the humnos.
The dramatized occasion of Plato’s Timaeus is ‘the sacrificial festival [thusia] of the goddess’ (τῇ … τῆς θεοῦ θυσίᾳ 26e3), that is, the Panathenaia. [38] The would-be epic of Atlantis and Athens, about to be narrated by the figure of Critias, is described by him metaphorically as a humnos to be sung as an encomium of the goddess Athena, whose sacrificial festival is the occasion of this so-called humnos: to recall the narrative, Critias says, would be a fitting way both to please Socrates ‘and at the same time to praise the goddess on the occasion of her Festival in a righteous and truthful way, just as if we were making her the subject of a humnos ’ (καὶ τὴν θεὸν ἅμα ἐν τῇ πανηγύρει δικαίως τε καὶ ἀληθῶς οἷόνπερ ὑμνοῦντας ἐγκωμιάζειν 21a2–3).
Precisely in this context, Timaeus 20e, Plato evokes the first sentence of Herodotus, the so-called “prooemium” of the {83|84} History. I repeat what I have just quoted, this time in its larger context, and then I juxtapose it with the wording of Herodotus: [39]
πρὸς δὲ Κριτίαν τὸν ἡμέτερον πάππον εἶπεν…ὅτι μεγάλα καὶ θαυμαστὰ τῆσδ᾿ εἴη παλαιὰ ἐργα τῆς πόλεως ὑπὸ χρόνου καὶ φθορᾶς ἀνθρώπων ἠφανισμένα, πάντων δὲ ἓν μέγιστον, οὗ νῦν ἐπιμνησθεῖσιν πρέπον ἄν ἡμῖν εἴη σοί τε ἀποδοῦναι χάριν καὶ τὴν θεὸν ἅμα ἐν τῇ πανηγύρει δικαίως ἀληθῶς οῖόνπερ ὑμνοῦντας ἐγκωμιάζειν.
He [= Solon] said to Critias my grandfather … that there were, inherited by this city, ancient deeds, great and wondrous, that have disappeared through the passage of time and through destruction brought about by human agency. He went on to say that of all these deeds, there was one in particular that was the greatest, which it would be fitting for us now to bring to mind, giving a delightful compensation to you [= Socrates] while at the same time rightly and truthfully praising [enkōmiazein] the goddess on this the occasion of her festival, just as if we were making her the subject of a humnos .
Plato Timaeus 20e–21a
Ἡροδότου Ἁλικαρνησσέος ἱστορίης ἀπόδεξις ἥδε, ὡς μήτε τὰ γενόμενα ἐξ ἀνθρώπων τῷ χρόνῳ ἐξίτηλα γένηται, μήτε ἔργα μεγάλα τε καὶ θωμαστά, τὰ μὲν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ βαρβάροισι ἀποδεχθέντα, ἀκλέα γένηται, τά τε ἄλλα καὶ δι᾿ ἣν αἰτίην ἐπολέμησαν ἀλλήλοισι. {84|85}
This is the public presentation of the inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, with the purpose of bringing it about that whatever results from men may not, with the passage of time, become evanescent, and that great and wondrous deeds—some of them publicly performed by Hellenes, others by barbarians—may not become things without glory [kleos]; in particular, [40] [this presentation concerns] what cause made them war against each other.
Herodotus, prooemium
Plato’s evocation of the first words of Herodotus’ History refers not so much to the beginning of a history per se but to the formal conventions of this beginning. [41] The initial words of Herodotus’ history, by virtue of functioning as a prooimion ‘prooemium’, are modeled on the conventions of beginning an epic, not of beginning a “history” per se. [42]
It is important for my argument that Plato evokes the prooimion of a grand narration in the same context where he equates the idea of a humnos for Athena at the Panathenaia with his own grand narration in the Timaeus, which is to be followed by his Critias. The narration by Critias of a would-be epic about Athens and Atlantis will have to wait until the Critias of Plato gets under way. In the Timaeus of Plato, which has to come before the Critias, the narration concerns the cosmogony that must precede the would-be epic.
In Plato’s rhetorical strategy, we see a confirmation of the traditional homology between humnos and prooimion. We may find further confirmation in the usage of Thucydides, for whom the humnos as a genre is the equivalent of a prooimion, as we see {85|86} from his explicit reference (3.104.3–4) to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as a prooimion ‘prooemium’. [43] For Thucydides, the performance of a Homeric humnos is evidently the same thing as the performance of a Homeric prooimion. From the standpoint of archaic poetic diction, the difference is that the word prooimion refers exclusively to the beginning of a Homeric performance, whereas humnos can refer optionally to the whole performance—not only the prooimion but also the epic that extends from it.
Pursuing the idea that Homeric poetry, as it evolved, was equated notionally with a humnos for the Panathenaia, I need to emphasize that this poetry was not the only tradition that we see evolving within the larger context of the complex institution known as the Panathenaia. The festival of the Panathenaia itself was also all along evolving in its own right.
It is difficult for us to maintain a diachronic perspective on the Panathenaia, just as we find it difficult to do so for the Homeric poems. To get our bearings, we may start by briefly reviewing the main features of this festival as reported in the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians 60.1–3:
(1) competitions in mousikē; [44] prizes awarded: gold and silver.
(2) competitions in athletics, including equestrian events (horse-racing and chariot-racing); prizes awarded: Panathenaic amphoras containing olive oil.
(3) Panathenaic Procession (pompē).
(4) presentation of a woven robe, the Peplos, to Athena at the climax of the Panathenaic Procession.
For the moment, I have kept this outline at a minimum, recapping as closely as possible the main features as reported in the {86|87} Constitution (where they are ordered differently, however: 3, 1, 2, 4), and omitting details that are not directly spelled out by the report. One of these omitted details is an essential fact that we know independently from other sources, such as Plato’s Ion: a prominent feature of the competitions in mousikē (no. 1 in the listing above) was the performance of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey by rhapsodes. [45]
As we read the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians, the authoritative picture that we form in our minds can easily become so definitive that we start to lose sight of the fact that the Panathenaia, as described in this report, is different in many ways from earlier and later cross-sections of the same institution. For example, as we take a second look at the description, we notice that the author views the Panathenaia primarily in terms of the elected officials who were responsible for organizing the festival in his own day, the athlothetai. And yet, from a diachronic point of view, the function of these officials is clearly a variable:
The title of the athlothetae suggests that their original duty was to organise the contests (most of which took place at the Great [= quadrennial] Panathenaea only); when the Lesser [= annual] Panathenaea was reorganised in the 330’s the procession at that festival was the responsibility of hieropoioi [IG II2 334.31–35]; and we may guess that originally [hieropoioi] had overall control of the Great Panathenaea, with the athlothetae responsible simply for the contests. [46]
We will return in due course to the variations, over time, in the responsibilities of the athlothetai. For now, however, I propose to shift the emphasis from variables to constants in the {87|88} evolving institution of the Panathenaia. A central constant is the woven robe or Peplos of Athena, as prominently mentioned by the Aristotelian Constitution in the above outline of responsibilities assigned to the athlothetai. This Peplos was the raison d’être of the Panathenaic Procession as well as the “high point” of the whole Panathenaic Festival. [47] In what follows, I propose to connect the cult object of Athena’s Peplos with the concept of the humnos that is being notionally created for the purpose of celebrating the goddess on the occasion of the Panathenaia in Plato’s Timaeus.
The most important day of the Panathenaia was the 28th of the month of Hekatombaion, Athena’s birthday. [48] That was the day of the Panathenaic Procession. The climactic ritual presentation to Athena was the cult object of the Peplos. It started being woven nine months earlier, and the time frame matches symbolically the period of gestation before the birth of the goddess. [49]
For essential background, we need to appreciate the ritual significance of the formal presentation of the Peplos to Athena on the occasion of her “birthday” at the climax of the Panathenaia. Further, we have to consider the overall setting of this ritual act of presentation—the acropolis in general and the Parthenon in particular.
It becomes even more difficult for us to maintain a diachronic perspective on the Panathenaia when we stop for a moment to contemplate the representations of this festival in the sculptural art of the Parthenon, looming atop the acropolis of {88|89} Athens. Even in its present fragmentary form, the Parthenon stands out as the ultimate synchronic classical statement—as the definitively authoritative testament to the “golden age” of Pericles and to classicism itself. As we consider the sculptures of the temple as an ensemble, we must of course give pride of place to the colossal gold and ivory statue, no longer extant, of the goddess Athena by Pheidias. Even more important for our present purposes, however, are the sculptures of the pediments and metopes on the Parthenon, featuring a set of connected mythical and ritual themes that served to define, in global terms, the Olympian gods in general and the goddess Athena in particular, who embodied the totality of her city of Athens. The east and the west pediment showed respectively the birth of Athena and her victory over Poseidon in their struggle over the identity of Athens; the metopes showed the battle of the gods and giants on the east side, of the Hellenes and Amazons on the west, of the Lapiths and Centaurs on the south, and of the Achaeans and Trojans on the north. I draw special attention to the battle of the gods and giants, with Athena fighting in the forefront as a promakhos, [50] and to the Trojan War, the topical centerpiece of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. [51] In terms of my overall argument, these two sets of themes are appropriate respectively to a grandest prooimion and a grandest epic, where prooimion and epic connect with each other into one single continuous and seamless humnos.
Most important of all for our present purposes, the porch colonnades of the Parthenon featured not the expected metopes but instead a continuous frieze extending along the entire length of the outer walls of the cella. What was represented on this Parthenon Frieze was the Panathenaic Procession, which climaxes in the presentation of the Peplos to Athena: “This moment {89|90} of handing over the peplos, folded and with its ribbed edge [= selvedge] clearly shown, appears to be depicted on the east frieze of the Parthenon.” [52]
The ritual drama of the Panathenaic Procession, as represented on the Parthenon Frieze, is central to the whole Panathenaiac Festival, central to Athena, central to Athens. It is an ultimate exercise in Athenian self-definition, an ultimate point of contact between myth and ritual. The dialectic of such a Classical Moment has us under its spell even to this day. And it is precisely the anxiety of contemplating such a spellbinding moment that calls for the remedy of objective observation, from diachronic as well as synchronic points of view.
As I write, controversy persists over whether or not the Parthenon Frieze—obviously also known as the Panathenaic Frieze—depicts the woven robe or Peplos of Athena realistically. [53] The debate centers on various attested references to a gigantic Peplos that was featured as the sail for an official “ship of state” float that highlighted the parade of the Panathenaic Procession (see especially Plutarch Life of Demetrius 10.5, 12.3). [54] The question is, how do we reconcile these references with the other references to the Peplos as the dress for the wooden cult statue (xoanon) of Athena? [55] One expert estimates that “the peplos needed to be roughly 5 [feet] by 6 [feet]” in order to dress (literally) this statue. [56] There is an ongoing debate about whether or not to differentiate between the “sail-peplos” of the Panathenaic parade and the “dress-peplos” presented to the cult statue of the goddess. I will not enter that debate here. Instead, I simply draw attention to the observation that the images on the {90|91} Peplos feature “the same sacred scene, the Battle of the Gods and the Giants.” [57] From here on, I will refer to this all-important scene simply by way of its traditional Athenian designation, gigantomakhiai (as in Plato Republic II 378c; I note in passing the use of the plural by Plato). [58]
The imagery of gigantomakhiai brings us back to the athlothetai of the Panathenaia, as described in the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians (60.1–3). The athlothetai, as the description makes clear, were directly in charge of the all activities concerning the Panathenaia, including the supervision of the making of the Peplos (60.1: kai ton peplon poiountai); moreover, they were in charge of approving the paradeigmata or ‘models’ of the patterns to be woven into the Peplos (49.3). [59] Those woven patterns were functional narrations of the “sacred scene” of the gigantomakhiai, and the technique of representation in such patterns has aptly been described by one expert as the “story-frieze” style of weaving. [60] This responsibility of the athlothetai in supervising the narrative woven into Athena’s robe is surely relevant to the function of the Peplos as the raison d’être of the Panathenaic Procession as well as the “high point” of the whole Panathenaic Festival. [61]
So the obvious question imposes itself: why would such important elected state officials be held responsible for the narrative agenda of the “story-frieze” patterns on the Peplos of Athena? Clearly, these explicit narrative agenda must have matched in importance the implicit political agenda of the State. [62] {91|92} We get a sense of this importance directly from the words of Plato, describing the story patterns on the Peplos of Athena:
οἷα λέγεταί τε ὑπὸ τῶν ποιητῶν, καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγαθῶν γραφέων τά τε ἄλλα ἱερὰ ἡμῖν καταπεποίκιλται, καὶ δὴ καὶ τοῖςμεγάλοις Παναθηναίοιςπέπλος μεστὸς τῶν τοιούτων ποικιλμάτων ἀνάγεται εἰς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν
… such things as are narrated by poets, and the sacred things that have been pattern-woven [katapoikillein] for us by good artists; [63] in particular the Peplos at the Great [= quadrennial] Panathenaia, which is paraded up to the Acropolis, is full of such pattern-weavings [poikilmata]. [64]
Plato Euthyphro 6b–c
The represented speaker here is Socrates, who has just remarked that the public resents him for being skeptical about various myths; he then cites as the first object of his skepticism the central myth of the Athenian State, the Battle of the Gods and Giants, as represented on the Peplos of Athena herself. The all-importance of this myth is marked here not only by the Peplos itself but also by the occasion that highlights the Peplos, that is, the Great [= quadrennial] Panathenaia.
I draw attention to the metaphor of poikilia ‘pattern-weaving’, which establishes a parallelism between poetry and fabric-work as prime media of mythmaking. [65] Similarly in Plato Republic II 378c, the expression muthologēteon ‘to be mythologized’ is made parallel to poikilteon ‘to be pattern-woven’, and the subject of mythologization / pattern-weaving is none other than the battles of gods and giants, that is, the gigantomakhiai of the Great Panathenaia. [66]
For the wording, we may compare Iliad VI 294, with reference to the poikilmata on the great Peplos that Theano the priestess of Athena (VI 300) and the Trojan women offer to the cult statue of Athena at Troy by placing the robe on the goddess’s knees (VI 303). These poikilmata are “probably woven … rather than embroidered.” [67] Similarly, the story-patterns narrating the Achaean and Trojan ‘struggles’ (aethloi) that Helen ‘sprinkles into’ (em-passein) her web at Iliad III 126 are “woven into the cloth and not embroidered on afterwards.” [68] Another example is the web of Andromache at XXII 441, which is ‘sprinkled’ (again, em-passein) with patterns of throna; this word means ‘patterns of flowers’. [69] We may compare the infinitely varied patterns of flowers woven into the robe of Aphrodite poikilothronos in Sappho 1.1. [70]
In this context, I focus on a particularly interesting detail: the Peplos destined for dedication to the cult statue of Athena is described as shining like an astēr ‘star’ at Iliad VI 295, just one verse after its description as ‘the most beautiful’ and ‘the most big’ of all peploi by way of its poikilmata (VI 294: ὃς κάλλιστος ἔην ποικίλμασιν ἠδὲ μέγιστος). We learn from Aristotle [71] {93|94} that the Lesser [= annual] Panathenaia were aetiologized in terms of Athena’s killing of a Giant named Asterios [72] or Astēr. [73] The name, especially in the second version, is striking: the Giant is simply ‘star’. [74] We may compare again the Peplos dedicated to Athena at Iliad VI 295, which shines like an astēr ‘star’. There is some speculation that this Iliadic simile had motivated the name of the Giant (Astēr or Asterios). [75] I suggest, rather, that the simile and the name are both cognate with a traditional iconographic narratology of star-patterns woven into the Peplos of Athena at the Great Panathenaia. These stars are telling their own story. [76]
As we contemplate the grand Athenian State narrative of luminous poikilmata woven into the Peplos of Athena at the Great Panathenaia, we can appreciate all the more the philosophical magnitude of Socrates’ challenge to the central myth of this narrative, the gigantomakhiai, in Plato’s Euthyphro and Republic. In effect, Plato’s Socrates is challenging the State’s definition of Athena and even of Athens itself.
Elsewhere too, Plato uses the aura of the Great Panathenaia to illuminate the importance of his own philosophical agenda. The prime example is our own point of entry into the subject of the Panathenaic Festival, the Timaeus of Plato, which equates its own immediate occasion with the ultimate occasion of a festival celebrating the genesis of the goddess who presides over the city of Athens—and which further equates the discourse extending from Timaeus to Critias with a humnos to be sung in worship of this goddess. [77] Even further, Plato uses the technical {94|95} language of rhapsodes in conveying the continuities and discontinuities of the discourse extending from the Timaeus as text to the Critias as text. [78]
Another example is the Parmenides of Plato: the setting is again the Great [= quadrennial] Panathenaia (127a), which has just attracted a visit from the luminous Parmenides himself, accompanied by his charismatic friend Zeno (127a). The whole dialogue of the Parmenides, featuring the “quoted words” of Parmenides and Zeno and a youthful Socrates (126b–c), is represented as spoken by the character of Kephalos, who says that he heard these words from Antiphon (126b and following), who in turn heard them from Pythodoros, a friend of Zeno’s who was present at the occasion of the dialogues. [79] The elusiveness of establishing the “original words” of this dialogue is relevant, I suggest, to the dramatic setting of the Panathenaia, which also serves as the historical setting for the performance of Homeric poetry by rhapsodes.
This dramatized occasion of the dialogue that is the Parmenides coincides with a public reading by Zeno of a written text (grammata) that he is introducing for the first time in Athens and that the youthful Socrates has been eager to hear (127c). Socrates now hears the whole reading by Zeno. Not so Parmenides and Pythodoros, who are late in arriving and miss most of the reading (128c–d). A detail is ostentatiously added at this point: Pythodoros had already heard Zeno perform a public reading on a previous unspecified occasion (128d). When Zeno finishes reading, Socrates asks him to read again the first hypothesis of the first argument (logos), and this re-reading becomes the point of entry for the dialogue to begin, with a direct “quotation” of a question by Socrates (128d–e) in response to the re-reading.
By the time this Platonic dialogue gets underway, we have already been given the impression that its words may well {95|96} be just as textualized as the words of the written text from which Zeno had performed his public reading. Kephalos says that Pythodoros told the dialogue to Antiphon over and over again (126c) and that Antiphon then practiced “remembering” (apo-mnēmoneuei) the dialogue, word for word, over and over again (126c).
As Socrates and Zeno pursue their dialogue extending from Socrates’ question, it becomes clear that Zeno’s argument, extending from his written text (gramma: 128a, 128b, 128c), is meant as a reinforcement (boētheia) of Parmenides’ unwritten poetry (poiēmata: 128a). [80] A detail is ostentatiously added at this point: Zeno, who is represented as nearing the age of 40, claims that he originally produced his written text when he was still a young man, and that this original written text was then surreptitiously copied and has been circulating as a copy ever since (128d–e). Socrates, Zeno tells him, should accept the uniqueness of the original, not the plurality of the copies (128e). The elusiveness of this “original” text of Zeno, as parodied here by Plato, is analogous to the elusiveness of an “original” text of Homer.
The figure of Socrates replies that he accepts and follows this line of thinking, and in saying so he evokes a technical term conventionally used by rhapsodes to express the connection, by relay, of one performance to the next: the word is apodekhesthai (128e: ἀλλ ἀποδέχομαι), which I translate for the moment as ‘I accept and continue from here’. As I have already stressed, the Timaeus of Plato is full of similar technical references, by way of the word dekhesthai. [81] For example, when it is Critias’ turn in the Critias to take up where Timaeus in the Timaeus had left off, he says: dekhomai (Critias 106b: ἀλλ᾿ … δέχομαι). Timaeus had {96|97} just said: ‘I hand over [paradidomen] to Critias, as prearranged, the continuous discourse [ephexēs logos]’ (Critias 106b: παραδ ί δομεν κατὰ τὰς ὁμολογίας Κριτίᾳ τὸν ἐφεξῆς λόγον). I draw attention here to the expression ephexēs logos ‘continuous discourse’, which applies in “Plato” Hipparkhos 228b–c to the seamless web of Homeric poetry as performed by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia. [82]
Such metaphors of rhapsodes performing at the Panathenaia in Plato’s Timaeus and Parmenides bring us back one last time to the occasion of the Peplos, which is coextensive with the occasion of performing the Iliad and the Odyssey in their ultimately authorized setting. That merged occasion is the Great [= quadrennial] Panathenaia. Every four years, the identity of Athens becomes definitively reaffirmed with the official re-weaving of Athena’s web and with the official re-performance of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. This quadrennial convergence of Peplos and authorized Homeric performance at the Great Panathenaia is I think the central historical fact to be considered in the search for answers to the ongoing questions about the textualization of Homer.
My own ongoing question remains this: was this re-performance of Homer equated, metaphorically, with the re-weaving of the Peplos? The answer, I have argued, can be found in the metaphor implicit in the usage of humnos at Odyssey viii 429, as applied to the totality of Homeric poetry.
In the allegorizing commentary of Proclus on the Timaeus of Plato, the notional humnos of Plato’s discourse is interpreted as a Peplos in its own right, [83] more real even than the cult object presented to the goddess every four years by the ancient Athenians. [84] For Proclus, the ultimate Peplos is the web {97|98} woven by the essence of intelligence, the luminous intellect of Athena. [85] Scholars who study the Timaeus in our own time have suggested that Plato himself must have intended this masterpiece of his, this humnos, as his very own Peplos for the goddess. [86] I suggest that the metaphor applies also to Homeric poetry, as a Panathenaic humnos destined for eternal re-weaving in the eternally self-renewing context of Athena’s festival.
We know, of course, that this mentality of re-weaving gives way, in the course of time, to a web no longer re-woven. Once the weaving stops, the web can become a text. Homer can become textualized. The etymology of English text, from Latin textus, recapitulates the idea of textualization: the metaphor of ‘weaving’ is still alive in Latin textus (from texō ‘weave’), but it is dead in English text. [87] Similarly with Greek humnos at Odyssey viii 429, the metaphor of ‘weaving’ dies with the textualization of Homer. [88] {98|99}


[ back ] 1. The original version of this essay is N 2001a.
[ back ] 2. PP 64n22, following Koller 1956:177 on humn os as used at the final lines of attested Homeric Hymns; cf. PH 354n77 and GM 54n56.
[ back ] 3. In her 1996 thesis, Diana Gibson has adduced both linguistic and thematic evidence to show that humēn is indeed derived from the root-verb *syuH-, the basic meaning of which has to do with fabric work, and there are no serious phonological problems in deriving humnos as well from this root. There are phonological problems with deriving humnos from the root of huphainein; see PP 64-65. But see Schmitt 1967:300, with special reference to the collocation of huphainein ‘weave’ plus humnos as its object in Bacchylides Epinicia 5.9-10.
[ back ] 4. For a detailed exploration of the semantics of this word, see PP 61–78. Cf. Ford 1988. See also N 1997d on the distinctions between rhapsōidos and aoidos (‘singer’): “No doubt these two words represent relatively earlier and later stages in the prehistory and history of performance traditions”; see HQ 75–76, especially n37, with bibliography.
[ back ] 5. On the differentiation of sewing as a specialized aspect of the overall activity of weaving, see PP 61–76, with reference to the Greek words rhaptein and huphainein respectively.
[ back ] 6. See again PP 61–76 on the implicit association of the fabric-work designated by rhaptein with the work of men in particular. Already in the Linear B documents, the verb rhaptein applies to the work of men: see Chadwick and Baumbach 1963:242–243 on the masculine agent-noun ra-pte / ra-pte-re= rhaptēr / rhaptēres, vs. the feminine ra-pi-ti-ra2 = rhaptriai.
[ back ] 7. See especially Sophocles Epigonoi fr. 771 Radt, as supplemented by Pap.Oxy. inv. 87/110(a), to be published by Ch. Mülke, Corpus Christi College (also by H. Lloyd-Jones): we now have an attestation of a masculine agent noun huphantēres ‘weavers’ (col. ii line 8: ὑφαντῆ[ρες]).
[ back ] 8. On the interpretation of oimē as ‘thread’ at viii 74, see PP 63n19, n20. In a future project, I hope to show that oimos in the sense of ‘way’ is a metaphorical extension of the idea of ‘thread’.
[ back ] 9. Chantraine DELG 823.
[ back ] 10. See Koller 1956:190n1.
[ back ] 11. See Koller 1956:180 on the ending of HH 31, verse 19, where the erga ‘deeds’ of hēmitheoi ‘heroes’ are made explicit as the subject of the “main part” of the performance, as Koller puts it.
[ back ] 12. PH p. 353, following Koller 1956.
[ back ] 13. In N 1998a:217–218, I argue that the beginnings of the Iliad and the Odyssey (I 1ff and i 1ff), as transmitted in the medieval textual tradition, are technically without hymnic prooimia. The prooimia of the Iliad and the Odyssey, as we have them, are still prooimia, but they are non-hymnic.
[ back ] 14. The following discussion of weaving is an abbreviated version of a more detailed discussion, N 2000b.
[ back ] 15. Barber 1991:79.
[ back ] 16. Barber p. 80.
[ back ] 17. Barber pp. 91–113.
[ back ] 18. Barber pp. 83–91.
[ back ] 19. Barber pp. 113–116. The idiosyncrasies of loom traditions in Egypt are connected to the restrictions in raw material used for weaving: unlike elsewhere, the Egyptian tradition concentrates on linen, not wool. See Barber p. 211.
[ back ] 20. Barber p. 82.
[ back ] 21. See Barber p. 85n3 on the metaphors inherent in the words shuttle and navette (imagery of over and under and over and under).
[ back ] 22. Barber p. 110.
[ back ] 23. Barber p. 92.
[ back ] 24. Scheid/Svenbro 1994:21.
[ back ] 25. For example, Richardson 1993:253.
[ back ] 26. Barber pp. 112, 267.
[ back ] 27. Barber p. 267 refers to the pēnion as a weft bobbin. Barber ibid. notes the expression kata miton in the sense of ‘in due order’. For a semantic parallel, I suggest Latin ōrdō
[ back ] 28. I note that the woman described as weaving in Iliad XXIII 760–63 raises the kanōn to the same level as her breasts. This seemingly eroticized detail may be parallel to Ovid Metamorphoses 6.59–60: utraque festinant cinctaeque ad pectora uestes | bracchia docta mouent studio fallente laborem.
[ back ] 29. Scheid/Svenbro 1994:35, 126n26.
[ back ] 30. Scheid/Svenbro 1994:21n21.
[ back ] 31. I elaborate on all these Latin words in another work, N 2000b.
[ back ] 32. Ernout/Meillet DELL s.v. ōrdior think that the idea of ‘begin’ evolved from a “rapprochement” of orior and ōrdior. The idea of ‘begin’ is already implicit in the mechanics of weaving on a single-beam warp-weighted loom, so that the idea of ‘begin’ as conveyed by ōrdior is independent of its formal similarity with orior.
[ back ] 33. Barber 1991:271.
[ back ] 34. Barber p. 134.
[ back ] 35. Barber p. 271. See also Barber 1992:109 on the diasma as the warp.
[ back ] 36. Race 1990:104.
[ back ] 37. Koller 1956:197 argues that this rhetorical gambit at H.Apollo 19 / 207, coming as it does after khaire / khairete (14 /166), which is a gesture that bids the god to reciprocate the pleasure that he has experienced from what has been said to him so far, is a substitute for another gambit, that is, the gesture of a metabasis or ‘switch’ to the consequent, to the rest of the song. To repeat the earlier argument: the expression metabēsomai allon es humnon at verse 293 (cf. HH 9.9, 18.11) means not, as is commonly thought, ‘I will switch to another humnos’ but rather ‘I will switch to the rest of the humnos’. I suggest that the aporetic question is intended to lead to a new beginning—as an alternative to a smooth transition to the consequent.
[ back ] 38. Brisson 1982:38.
[ back ] 39. PH 226. In Timaeus 17b–20d, Socrates is challenging his interlocutors to show him the city, the “Republic”—but this time not how it is as an ideal but rather how it degenerates from an ideal in the course of real “history”: see Hadot 1983:115–116.
[ back ] 40. The construction here is analogous to Plato’s rhetorical device of saying, in effect, “one [superlative] example out of many potential examples.”
[ back ] 41. PH 226.
[ back ] 42. PH 215–221.
[ back ] 43. See PP 62.
[ back ] 44. See Ch. 2, where I argue that it is misleading to translate τὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς μουσικῆς in Aristotle Constitution 60.1 as “musical competitions.”
[ back ] 45. Again, Ch. 2.
[ back ] 46. Rhodes 1981:670.
[ back ] 47. Neils 1992:26.
[ back ] 48. See Rhodes 1981:693 on the fluctuation between the 28th and the 27th of Hekatombaion. See also ibid. on the day of the month for the birthday when it was celebrated for the “Lesser” (annual) Panathenaia. Rhodes p. 670 says that the Lesser Panathenaia also had a procession, “but at this time [that is, in the era when the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians was composed] it was only at the Great [= quadrennial] that a new peplos was taken in procession and given to the priestess of Athena to clothe the cult statue.” Rhodes also points out that the procession is mentioned for the Lesser in IG II 334.
[ back ] 49. Scheid/Svenbro 1994:27n43.
[ back ] 50. On the role of Athena in this myth as the central aetiology of the Panathenaia, see especially Pinney 1988.
[ back ] 51. On which see Pinney 2000.
[ back ] 52. Barber 1992:113; see also Barber 1991:272, with illustration and commentary.
[ back ] 53. See Barber 1992:114–115, with bibliography. I am planning to publish further on this subject, suggesting modifications to Barber’s conclusions and offering supplements to her existing bibliography.
[ back ] 54. Barber 1992:114, with further references.
[ back ] 55. Ridgway 1992:120–123.
[ back ] 56. Barber 1992:114.
[ back ] 57. Barber 1992:114. Italics mine.
[ back ] 58. On the Peplos and the gigantomakhiai woven into it, I find the discussion of Pinney 1988 indispensable (especially p. 471).
[ back ] 59. Rhodes 1981:671–672. For bibliography on the interpretation of paradeigmata here as referring specifically to the patterns on the fabric, see Rhodes p. 568.
[ back ] 60. Barber 1992:114–116.
[ back ] 61. See again Neils 1992:26.
[ back ] 62. There are also some isolated historical occasions when the political agenda were featured explicitly, not just implicitly, on the Peplos itself: see again Plutarch Life of Demetrius 12.3; also Diodorus 20.46.2.
[ back ] 63. I note with interest the usage of grapheus here in the general sense of ‘master of the visual arts’, not necessarily a ‘painter’ (as in Plato Phaedo 110b). For the use of (en)graphein to indicate the weaving-in of patterns, see for example the scholia vetera to Aristophanes Knights 556.
[ back ] 64. For reasons that emerge as the discussion proceeds, I translate poikillein as ‘pattern-weave’ rather than ‘embroider’ and poikilmata as ‘pattern-weavings’ rather than ‘embroidery’.
[ back ] 65. Cf. Plutarch Life of Pericles 12.6, with reference to professional pattern-weavers (poikiltaí) employed for Pericles’ building projects.
[ back ] 66. See Scheid/Svenbro 1994:27n47, who adduce the Aristotelian Constitution of Athens 49.3 in this context.
[ back ] 67. Kirk 1990:199, relying especially on Wace 1948.
[ back ] 68. Kirk 1985:280, again relying on Wace 1948.
[ back ] 69. Cf. Kirk 1985:280.
[ back ] 70. PP 101.
[ back ] 71. Aristotle F 637 ed. Rose p. 395, via the scholia to Aristides p. 323 ed. Dindorf.
[ back ] 72. According to one set of scholia to Aristides: Rose p. 395.20.
[ back ] 73. According to another set of scholia: Rose p. 395.5.
[ back ] 74. The wording of the second version is of interest: ἐπὶ Ἀστέρι τῷ γίγαντι ὑπὸ Ἀθηνᾶς ἀναιρεθέντι On the semantics of epi plus dative in contexts of aetiologizing various festivals, see PH 121; also 119n15 and 142n38.
[ back ] 75. Scheid/Svenbro 1994:28n48.
[ back ] 76. I should add that the stars of Plato’s Timaeus are in turn telling their own story.
[ back ] 77. On the interruption of the discourse after it extends from the Timaeus to the Critias of Plato, see Ch. 2.
[ back ] 78. Ch. 2.
[ back ] 79. For background on this narratological framing, see Hadot 1983:126n74.
[ back ] 80. On the related idea that the written text needs as its own ‘reinforcement’ (boēthoos, boētheia) the living voice of the author or extensions of the author, see Plato Phaedrus 275e, 276c8, already discussed in Ch. 1.
[ back ] 81. See Ch. 2.
[ back ] 82. See again Ch. 2.
[ back ] 83. Proclus commentary ed. Festugière 1966 vol. I p. 122.
[ back ] 84. Proclus commentary ed. Festugière 1966 vol. I pp. 182–183.
[ back ] 85. Proclus commentary ed. Festugière 1966 vol. I p. 183; cf. Hadot 1983:129.
[ back ] 86. Hadot 1983:117.
[ back ] 87. On the metaphorical background of Latin textus as ‘weaving’, see PP 65, with further references.
[ back ] 88. I save for another project my discussion of a related theme: the daily re-weaving of Penelope’s web, unwoven the night before (Odyssey ii 104–105, xxiv 139–140).