Chapter Four. Homer the Classic in the Age of Pheidias

4ⓢ1. Homer as a spokesman for the Athenian empire

4§1 In Chapter 3, my argumentation was limited to showing that Plato’s Homer, as reflected in such virtual dialogues as the Ion and the Hippias Minor, was the Panathenaic Homer of his day, in the fourth century BCE. I used the internal evidence provided by Plato’s precise usage of rhapsodic language to argue that he was actually quoting from the Panathenaic Homer in the stylized dialogues he committed to writing in his own historical setting. But what about the earlier historical setting of Socrates himself, in the fifth century BCE? This era, which I have chosen as the chronological cross-section for Chapter 4, is represented by an earlier form of the Panathenaic Homer, and I call this earlier form the imperial Homer. As I will argue, this Homer was the spokesman for what is commonly known as the Athenian empire. [1]

4§2 Before I explain my use of this new terminology, I need to review some points I made in Chapter 3 about the Panathenaic Homer, which need to be linked to the points I will be making here about the imperial Homer. As we saw in Chapter 3, Plato was bent on discrediting not only Homeric poetry in general but the Panathenaic Homer in particular – as represented by the rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ of rhapsodes like Ion of Ephesus. As we also saw, the new sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ of sophists like Hippias was derived from this same old rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ as practiced by rhapsodes like Ion when they were performing Homer at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. The craft of the sophist was becoming a new alternative to the craft of the rhapsode, and the stakes were high not only for rhapsode and sophist but also for the philosopher who presented himself as {450|451} an alternative to both, Socrates. The dialogues of Plato that we have considered, especially the Ion and the Hippias Minor, dramatize an ongoing struggle to displace the old craft of the rhapsode and the newer craft of the sophist, both of which depended on Homer as a central point of reference, by substituting the newest craft of them all, philosophy. This craft, which is for Plato’s Socrates a non-craft that subsumes all crafts, was meant to be independent of Homer. The philosopher’s struggle to displace the crafts of the rhapsode and the sophist, as we can see from Plato’s own work, began not in the fourth century, in the age of Plato. It began earlier, in the fifth century, in the historical time that corresponds to the dramatic time of these Platonic dialogues.

4§3 The term imperial Homer is apt for the historical period marked by the life and times of Socrates – a period in the fifth century BCE when the Athenian empire was reaching the summit of its prestige as the leading political and cultural force in the ancient Greek-speaking world. Tracing our steps backward in time, we have come to a point in world history when Homer was imagined as a spokesman for the Athenian empire.

4§4 In the title of my chapter, I could have referred to this historical period as the age of Socrates – or even as the age of Pericles, whose name is linked most closely to the Athenian empire at the height of its glory. Instead, I call this period the age of Pheidias. My reason for choosing the sculptor Pheidias and not the philosopher Socrates or the statesman Pericles will be explained as my argumentation proceeds. What cannot wait and needs to be explained without delay, however, is my reason for saying that Homer was a spokesman for the Athenian empire.

4§5 In the Prolegomena, I said I would argue that Homer’s poetry gave meaning not only to Athenian civilization in general but to the Athenian empire in particular. For the Athenian empire in the age of Pheidias, Homer was a classic, an Athenian classic. As I now proceed to make this argument in earnest, I will need to reconsider the Panathenaic standard of Homeric poetry. In the fourth century BCE, as we saw in Chapter 3, this Panathenaic standard was primarily a matter of cultural hegemony. In other words, the performance of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey at the Athenian festival of the Panathenaia reflected the cultural predominance of Athens in the ongoing evolution of poetry and song. In the fifth century BCE, on the other hand, the Panathenaic standard was a matter of political as well as cultural hegemony. In other words, the Panathenaic Homer reflected the political as well as the cultural predominance of Athens as an imperial power. That is what I mean when I say that Homer was a spokesman for the Athenian empire. That is what I mean by using the term imperial Homer. {451|452}

4§6 Already in the Prolegomena, I observed that I could have chosen to describe the historical reality behind the concept of an Athenian empire in a variety of alternative ways, steering clear of the English words empire, imperial, and imperialism. Still, I hope to justify my use of these words precisely because I intend to foreground their Roman source, the Latin word imperium. My usage will help highlight the parallels I see between the Roman empire on the one hand and, on the other, what we call the Athenian empire. Although the political causes of the Roman empire were of course different, its poetic effects were noticeably similar to those of the empire ascribed to the Athenians. As we will see later on, the similarities are most striking when we consider the idea of empire as pictured in the epic poetry of Virgil’s Aeneid. Before we can turn – or rather, return – to Virgil, however, I need to consider the idea of an Athenian empire on its own terms, as pictured by Athenian audiences of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey in the age of Pheidias.

4§7 The basic facts about the Athenian empire can be found in the history of Thucydides, who highlights what gradually happened to Athens as a world power in the period extending from the end of the Persian War, with the establishment of the Delian League in 478 BCE, to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in the year 431: what had started as a xummakhia ‘alliance’ of the city of Athens with various other cities evolved into an arkhē ‘rule’ by Athens over these cities (Thucydides 1.67.4, 1.75.1, etc.). [2] This ‘rule’ is the essence of the Athenian empire. [3]

4§8 Of special interest is the arkhē ‘rule’ by Athens over the Ionian cities of Asia Minor and its outlying islands, as distinct from the non-Ionian cities drawn into the political sphere of the evolving empire. [4] The Ionian connection with Athens – as distinct from Dorian or Aeolian connections – was particularly compelling, since the Delian League was conceived as an alliance of Ionians who shared in a common Ionian kinship (Thucydides 1.95.1; Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 23.4). [5] I add this apt formulation: “The reference to {452|453} Ionian kinship [in Thucydides 1.95.1] is a brief allusion to a major element in fifth-century Athenian propaganda, the projection of Athens as mother-city of the whole empire, irrespective of the colonial realities.” [6] To put it another way: “the concept of xungeneia [kinship] was stretched until it had become almost a metaphor for a relationship of obedience and control.” [7]

4ⓢ2. The imperial Homer of Ion of Ephesus

4§9 This Ionian ideology of the Athenian empire is linked to the Ionian identity of the rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’ Ion of Ephesus in Plato’s Ion. That is because Ion’s identity as an Ionian is in turn linked to his status as a rhapsode who competes with other rhapsodes in performing Homer at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. As a Panathenaic rhapsode, he is an Ionian representative of the imperial Homer, that is, of the Athenian standard of Homeric performance. Even his name is significant: it actually means, appropriately enough, ‘the Ionian’ (Iōn). [8]

4§10 In support of this formulation, I highlight the use of the word arkhein ‘rule’ in Plato’s Ion. Before I quote the relevant wording, I summarize the context. We are about to read a brief exchange between Plato’s Socrates and the rhapsode Ion. Socrates has been questioning the expertise of Ion in the craft of a stratēgos ‘general’ – a craft supposedly derived from Homer’s own expertise in matters of war. In response to this questioning, Ion points out that his home city of Ephesus has no generals of its own, since it is ‘ruled’ (arkhetai, from arkhein) by Athens:

4ⓣ1 Plato Ion 541b-c

ΣΩ. Τί δή ποτ’ οὖν πρὸς τῶν θεῶν, ὦ Ἴων, ἀμφότερα ἄριστος ὢν τῶν Ἑλλήνων, καὶ στρατηγὸς καὶ ῥαψῳδός, ῥαψῳδεῖς μὲν περιιὼν τοῖς Ἕλλησι, στρατηγεῖς δ’ οὔ; ἢ {c} ῥαψῳδοῦ μὲν δοκεῖ σοι χρυσῷ στεφάνῳ ἐστεφανωμένου πολλὴ χρεία εἶναι τοῖς Ἕλλησι, στρατηγοῦ δὲ οὐδεμία;

ΙΩΝ. Ἡ μὲν γὰρ ἡμετέρα, ὦ Σώκρατες, πόλις ἄρχεται ὑπὸ ὑμῶν καὶ στρατηγεῖται καὶ οὐδὲν δεῖται στρατηγοῦ, ἡ δὲ ὑμετέρα καὶ ἡ {453|454} Λακεδαιμονίων οὐκ ἄν με ἕλοιτο στρατηγόν· αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴεσθε ἱκανοὶ εἶναι.

 

SOCRATES: Why, I swear by the gods! Then how is it – if you are both the best general and the best rhapsode among the Hellenes – that you go around performing rhapsodically for the Hellenes but you are not a general for them? Do you think there is a great need among the Hellenes for a rhapsode garlanded with a golden garland but no need for a general?

ION: It is because our city, Socrates, is ruled [arkhein] by you Athenians: it has as its generals your generals, and it has no need of its own generals. As for your city, and the same goes for the city of the Spartans, [9] it would not choose me as a general, since you think you can make do with your own generals.

4§11 What Ion is saying here in the dramatic time of Plato’s Ion matches what was really happening in the corresponding historical time: his native city of Ephesus, like all the other cities on the coast of Asia Minor that came under the control of the Athenian empire between the 460s and 412, had no foreign policy of its own. [10] The dramatic time of this dialogue can be situated in the years immediately preceding the Second Ionian Revolt that started in the year 412, when a number of tributary states revolted from Athens and sided with Sparta. Ephesus is mentioned incidentally by Thucydides in his account of that revolt (8.19.3). [11] The situation before 412 BCE can be described this way: “Ephesus was part of the Delian league, and would have been under Athenian control until the general Ionian uprising against Athens in 412.” [12] From the epigraphical evidence of the Athenian Tribute Lists, we have precise figures for the assessment of tribute to be paid by Ephesus to Athens in given years: in the year 432 BCE, for example, the tribute is 7 talents and 3000 drachmas; [13] to give {454|455} an idea of the scale, I compare the tribute of 9 talents to be paid in the same year by Aeolian Cyme, another major Hellenic city on the coast of Asia Minor. [14]

4§12 In this historical context, it is significant that Plato stages Ion of Ephesus as saying to Socrates of Athens: ‘our city [= Ephesus], Socrates, is ruled [arkhein] by you Athenians: it has as its generals [stratēgoi] your generals, and it has no need of its own generals’ (Ion 541c). Here I add a relevant detail from an Athenian inscription recording payments made for public purposes by the treasurers of Athena in the Panathenaic quadrennium of 418-414 BCE (IG I2 302). [15] In this inscription, at a point that follows the recording of payments in 415/4 to the Athenian forces occupying the island state of Melos (lines 69-72) and other payments involving the Sicilian expedition (lines 73-76), we find the recording of two other payments, in spring 414: one is to an unnamed stratēgos ‘general’ stationed in the Thermaic Gulf (line 78 και στρατεγοι εν τοι Θερμαιοι κολπο[…]) [16] and another is to an unnamed stratēgos ‘general’ stationed in Ephesus (line 79 και στρατεγοι εν Εφ[εσοι …]). [17]

4§13 In responding to the point made by Ion, Socrates says that Athenians do in fact occasionally choose generals who are non-Athenians (Plato Ion 541d). [18] In the same breath Socrates adds that the people of Ephesus are not even really non-Athenians, since Ephesus, as an Ionian city, is after all a daughter city of Athens, which claims to be the metropolis or ‘mother city’ of all Ionians (Ion 541c-d). As Socrates puts it, ‘after all, you Ephesians were Athenians in ancient times, weren’t you?’ (Ion 541d· τί δέ; οὐκ ᾿Αθηναῖοι μέν ἐστε οἱ ᾿Εφέσιοι τὸ ἀρχαῖον;).

4§14 This idea, that Ephesus is a daughter city of Athens, is not an ad hoc invention by Socrates or by Plato. In the late fifth century, the historical period that corresponds to the dramatic date of Plato’s Ion, the idea that Athens was the metropolis or ‘mother city’ of all Ionian cities was generally accepted by {455|456} the Greek-speaking world, whether they were allies or enemies of Athens. This idea, as mythologized in the Ion of Euripides (1575-1588) and as historicized in both Herodotus (1.147.2) and Thucydides (1.2.6, with qualifications), was generally linked to the political reality of the Athenian empire. [19]

4§15 Of particular relevance to the status of Ion as a rhapsodic performer of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia is the fact that Ionian cities were actually obliged to participate in the quadrennial celebration of the Great Panathenaia in Athens: for example, they had to send official delegates to attend this festival, and such attendance was considered “an extension of a general tradition linking colony to mother-city.” [20]

4§16 Here I return to the remark made by Plato’s Socrates when Ion the rhapsode points to the status of his native city of Ephesus as a tributary of Athens. As we have seen, Socrates follows up by remarking that Ephesus is after all a daughter city of Athens. In other words, Ion of Ephesus is a virtual Athenian, since Ion’s identity as an Ionian is not only dominated by the Athenians: it is actually determined by them.

4§17 The picturing of Ion as a virtual Athenian is linked to his role as a professional rhapsode who performs Homer at the Panathenaia. And here I return to Ion’s assertion that a major opportunity had been missed by the two cities contending for supreme imperial power, Athens and Sparta, since neither had the prudence to enlist his services as stratēgos ‘general’ (Ion 541c). Our first impression is that this assertion is absurd, since the rhapsode has no practical knowledge of warfare. On the surface, Plato here is simply undermining the importance of the rhapsode as a public figure. Looking beyond Plato’s philosophical motives, however, we need to consider the implicit political realities here. What is elided by Plato in the Ion is the fact that the craft of the rhapsode who performs at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens is politically as well as culturally important. This craft is in fact all-important for Athens, since Ion specializes in performing Homeric poetry, which is the premier form of poetry as performed at the premier festival of the Athenians, the Panathenaia. Ion may seem unimportant as an Ionian, but he becomes all-important as a virtual Athenian in the act of performing Homer for a receptive audience of some 20,000 celebrants attending the festival of the Panathenaia {456|457} in Athens (Plato Ion 535d). [21] On the occasion of this festival, Athenians are notionally hosting the Ionians of the Delian League in an era marked by the rule of Athens over all Ionians. On this festive occasion, all Ionians are virtual Athenians, assembling in their notional mother city to hear the epics of Homer. On this occasion, Ion the Ionian is re-enacting Homer himself by way of performing Homer.

4§18 By now we see that it is not so absurd for the Athenians, as rivals of the Spartans in their struggle for supreme imperial power, to be competing with their enemy in imagining Ion as their stratēgos ‘general’. Ion is in fact a virtual general for his Athenian audiences. By re-enacting Homer and explaining Homer to them, he becomes their educator about war. [22] He teaches the Athenians every time he performs at the Panathenaia and tells them the story of the one war that surpasses all other wars, the Trojan War. After all, as we see from the wording of Aristophanes, the Athenians considered Homer to be their foremost educator about war (Frogs 1030-1036).

4§19 The fact is, the Athenians considered the figure of Homer to be their universal educator, and Homer’s art of teaching was a craft transmitted by the rhapsodes. A case in point is a passage we have already seen in the Panegyricus of Isocrates, where the orator refers to the tekhnē ‘craft’ of Homeric poetry as a tradition designed for two central applications: (1) Homeric performances by rhapsodes in athloi ‘contests’, implicitly at the Panathenaia, and (2) Homeric paideusis ‘education’ of the young. I quote the passage again:

4ⓣ2 Isocrates (4) Panegyricus 159

οἶμαι δὲ καὶ τὴν ῾Ομήρου ποίησιν μείζω λαβεῖν δόξαν ὅτι καλῶς τοὺς πολεμήσαντας τοῖς βαρβάροις ἐνεκωμίασεν καὶ διὰ τοῦτο βουληθῆναι τοὺς προγόνους ἡμῶν ἔντιμον αὐτοῦ ποιῆσαι τὴν τέχνην ἔν τε τοῖς τῆς μουσικῆς ἄθλοις καὶ τῇ παιδεύσει τῶν νεωτέρων, ἵνα πολλάκις ἀκούοντες τῶν ἐπῶν ἐκμανθάνωμεν τὴν ἔχθραν τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν πρὸς αὐτοὺς καὶ ζηλοῦντες τὰς ἀρετὰς τῶν στρατευσαμένων τῶν αὐτῶν ἔργων ἐκείνοις ἐπιθυμῶμεν. {457|458}

I think that the poetry [poiēsis] of Homer received all the more glory because he celebrated so beautifully those who waged war against the barbarians, and it was because of this that our [Athenian] ancestors wanted to make his craft [tekhnē] a thing to be honored both in the contests [athloi] [of rhapsodes] in mousikē [23] and in the education [paideusis] of the young, so that we, having the chance to hear often his [= Homer’s] verses [epos plural], may learn thoroughly the existing hostility against them [= the barbarians], and so that we may admire the accomplishments of those who have waged war and desire to accomplish the same deeds that they had accomplished.

4§20 Another case in point is a passage from the Republic of Plato where Socrates interrogates the figure of Homer himself about the Poet’s expertise in tekhnai ‘crafts’ that involve matters of the greatest importance and beauty. The pratictioners of these crafts are listed as (1) generals, (2) administrators of cities, and (3) educators:

4ⓣ3 Plato Republic 10.599c-d

μηδ’ αὖ περὶ τὰς ἄλλας τέχνας αὐτοὺς ἐρωτῶμεν, ἀλλ’ ἐῶμεν· περὶ δὲ ὧν μεγίστων τε καὶ καλλίστων ἐπιχειρεῖ λέγειν ῞Ομηρος, πολέμων τε πέρι καὶ στρατηγιῶν καὶ διοικήσεων πόλεων, καὶ {d} παιδείας πέρι ἀνθρώπου, δίκαιόν που ἐρωτᾶν αὐτὸν πυνθανομένους· Ὦ φίλε Ὅμηρε, εἴπερ …

Let’s not interrogate them [= the poets] concerning the other tekhnai. Let’s let those things go. But concerning the greatest and most beautiful things that Homer attempts to speak about – wars and things having to do with generals and administrations of cities and about the education [paideia] of a person, it is I should think a just thing if we, seeking answers, interrogate Homer as follows: [The interrogation begins.] “Dear Homer, if indeed….”

4§21 From what we have seen so far, it is evident that the identity of Ion as rhapsode was defined by the Panathenaic Homer, that is, by Homer as performed at the Panathenaia. Now we are about to see that even the identity of Athens as an imperial power was defined by this Panathenaic Homer. The {458|459} Athenian standard for performing Homer at the Panathenaia was a self-expression of the Athenian empire. The Panathenaic Homer was an imperial Homer.

4§22 What I am calling an Athenian standard was simultaneously an Ionian standard. In other words, the Panathenaic Homer was simultaneously an Ionian Homer. That is because the Athenian empire was at least notionally an Ionian empire. The Delian League, as an earlier form of the Athenian empire, was a clear and most forceful expression of Ionian identity. Moreover, the Ionian identity of the Athenian empire could be maintained and even reaffirmed most consistently by invoking the idea that Athens is the metropolis or ‘mother city’ of all Ionian cities. As we see in Plato’s Ion, this idea explains how a rhapsode like Ion could be pictured as performing for all Ionians by virtue of performing Homer at the festival of the Panathenaia.

4§23 With the passage of time, however, the Ionian identity of the Athenian empire became blurred as it outgrew its identification with the Delian League. Symptomatic is the fact that the Treasury of the Delian League was ultimately transferred from Delos to Athens, sometime around the middle of the fifth century BCE (Plutarch Aristeides 25.2-3). [24] With the blurring of the Ionian identity of the empire, we can expect a concomitant blurring of Homer’s own Ionian identity as the model for epic performance at the Panathenaia in the era of the democracy in Athens.

4§24 There was no blurring, however, of the political reality of the Athenian empire, expressed most explicitly by the Athenians’ usage of the noun arkhē ‘rule’ and the corresponding verb arkhein ‘rule’ (Thucydides 1.76.1, 1.81.2, etc.). In the words of Pericles himself as re-enacted by Thucydides, the burden, as it were, of this arkhē, this empire, had transformed Athens into a turannis ‘tyranny’ over the cities ruled by Athens, even if the city of Athens itself remained a democracy for its own citizens (2.63.1-2). [25]

4§25 A word that most clearly expresses the duality of democracy and empire in Athenian civic discourse is the adjective koinos, in the dual sense of ‘common’ and ‘standard’. To be sure, koinos in the general sense of ‘common’ – that is, ‘common’ to any group of people who have something ‘in common’ – was used in a wide variety of political and social contexts throughout the history of the ancient Greek-speaking world. What I highlight here, however, is the use of koinos in the specific sense of referring to a ‘standard’ way of thinking. As we are about to see, the ‘standard’ Athenian way of thinking {459|460} is that the self-interest of the Athenian empire is the ‘common’ interest of the subject states that are ruled by the Athenian empire. Such usage is clearly attested in the civic discourse of Athenians in the fifth century BCE. The premier example is a passage where Thucydides re-enacts the relevant wording of the statesman Pericles. According to Pericles, it is imperative for the citizens of Athens to promote actively the sōtēria ‘preservation’ of their empire, to which their leader refers simply as to koinon, that is, the thing that is ‘common’ to all (2.60.4, 2.61.4). Ideologically, the Athenian empire is the ‘common good’ not only for the citizens of the democracy that is Athens but also for all Hellenes under the arkhē ‘rule’ of Athens – Ionians and non-Ionians alike. In other words, what is ‘common’ to all is ‘standard’, that is, ‘standardized’ by Athens.

4§26 This ideology of Athenian self-interest as a common good that must be standardized for all is made explicit in the Melian Dialogue of Thucydides, where the historian dramatizes a debate between a delegation representing the elites of the non-Ionian island-state of Melos and a delegation of Athenian military leaders sent by their city to demand the submission of the Melians to the imperial power of the Athenian state. For the Athenians, such a submission is equivalent to the sōtēria or ‘preservation’ of the Melians, since the alternative to submission is the destruction of those who resist, and this sōtēria is equated with the self-interest of the Athenian arkhē or ‘empire’ (5.91.2): ὡς δὲ ἐπ’ ὠφελίᾳ τε πάρεσμεν τῆς ἡμετέρας ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ νῦν τοὺς λόγους ἐροῦμεν τῆς ὑμετέρας πόλεως ‘we will now speak arguments to show that we are here in order to promote the interests of our empire [arkhē] and the preservation [sōtēria] of your city’. In other words, the sōtēria or ‘preservation’ of the island-state of the Melians is being equated with the self-preservation of the Athenian empire. What is driving the Athenian argumentation here is the principle of expediency, not justice, and this principle is meant to apply to both sides in the debate.

4§27 The Melians, on the other hand, while saying that the Athenian demand for their submission violates the principle of justice, likewise invoke the principle of expediency in arguing that the Athenians should not force them to submit, and in so doing they invoke the ideology of the Athenian empire by resorting to the expression to agathon koinon ‘the common good’ (5.90): μὴ καταλύειν ὑμᾶς τὸ κοινὸν ἀγαθόν ‘… that you should not destroy the common [koinon] good’. In effect, they are saying that the Athenians, by forcing the Melians to submit, will be destroying ‘the common good’ by virtue of ultimately destroying themselves in the process of forcing others to submit to their will. {460|461}

4§28 The irony is self-evident: ‘the common good’, which is presumably koinon ‘common’ to Melians and Athenians alike and, by extension, to all Hellenes, is being equated by the Athenians with the special interests of the Athenian empire. The Athenians know it, and the Melians show that they know it, too, since they too resort to the argument of expediency. The problem is, the Athenians in the Melian Dialogue of Thucydides are not really worried about the self-preservation or sōtēria of their empire, despite the warnings of the Melians about its ultimate destruction.

4§29 A spokesman for this ideological world of empire was Homer himself, figured as a universal poet and educator. This Homer was an imperial Homer, ideologized as koinos ‘common’ to all Hellenes – at least, to all Hellenes in the Athenian empire. There is a trace of this ideology to be found in an amalgamated Life of Homer story, mediated in part through an Athenian phase of transmission, known as the Contest of Homer and Hesiod. In the twin book Homer the Preclassic I offer a detailed analysis of this particular “Life” and of other Life of Homer traditions as well. [26] Here I focus only on the wording used in the story to describe the reception of Homer: when Homer goes to the island of Delos to participate in a festival celebrated by all Ionians, he is acclaimed by them as the koinos politēs ‘common citizen’ of all their cities (Contest of Homer and Hesiod [Vita 2] 319-320: οἱ μὲν Ἴωνες πολίτην αὐτὸν κοινὸν ἐποιήσαντο).

4§30 The status of Homer as the koinos politēs ‘common citizen’ of all Ionian cities is linked in this story to his central role in the pan-Ionian festival of the Delia. That festival, as we know independently from Thucydides (3.104.2-3), was reshaped in the late fifth century by the Athenians, who sought to link the myths and rituals of the pan-Ionian Delia with the cultural and political agenda of the Delian League, that is, of the Athenian empire. In the twin book Homer the Preclassic, I examine in some detail what Thucydides has to say about Homer and about the pan-Ionian festival of the Delia. [27] Here I confine myself to highlighting the use of the word koinos to mark the role of Homer as the spokesman for the Delia and, by extension, for the Delian League. Earlier, we saw the imperial Athenian usage of the same word koinos in the sense of ‘standard’ as well as ‘common’ to all. Now we are beginning to see how the role of Homer as the koinos politēs of all Ionians at the Delia conforms to such an imperial usage. Homer is being imagined as a spokesman for the Athenian empire. {461|462}

4ⓢ3. The imperial Koine of Homer

4§31 The imperial Athenian usage of koinos with reference to Homer survives indirectly in the Aristarchean concept of Koine (koinē) – in the double sense of ‘common’ and ‘standard’. The sense of ‘common’, as we saw in the Prolegomena, is appropriate not only to the ‘common’ manuscripts available to Aristarchus in establishing a base text of Homer in the second century BCE but also to the ‘common’ usage of Homer as Aristarchus describes it on the basis of the language reflected in the consensus of ‘common’ manuscripts. As for the sense of ‘standard’, it is appropriate to an earlier Athenian phase of Homeric textual transmission as presupposed by Aristarchus in his reconstruction of his base text. Such an Athenian phase can be equated with what I am calling the Panathenaic Homer. This equation is pertinent to my overall thesis, which is, to argue that the concept of a Homeric Koine applies to the Panathenaic Homer in the fifth century, at which time the word koinos conveyed simultaneously the ideas of democracy and empire. In other words, the reconstructed concept of a Homeric Koine (koinē) in the fifth century can be equated with the ideological appropriation of Homer by the Athenian empire. The Homeric Koine was the poetic lingua franca of the empire.

4§32 The medieval Latin term lingua franca, reflecting the imperial culture of Europe in the days of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, is an apt point of comparison with the ancient Greek term koinē as used by Aristarchus, who applied koinē not only to the text but also to the language of Homer. [28] The language, like the text, is notionally ‘common’ to all and is therefore ‘standard’ for all.

4§33 As we are about to see, Aristarchus imagined the Koine of Homer to be a basic dialect. The Aristarchean idea of the Homeric Koine as an imaginary basic dialect can be traced back to the earlier ideas of Athenians about their actual dialect, Attic. In the fourth century BCE, for example, Isocrates goes on record as saying that the Attic dialect of the Athenians is the universal language of all Greek-speaking people because of its koinotēs ‘communality’ (15.296). In other words, the Attic dialect has a ‘standard’ quality because it is koinē or ‘common’ to all Hellenes.

4§34 The cultural imperialism of the Attic dialect leaves its mark in the postclassical history of the Greek language. The postclassical form of Greek known as the koinē, the language of the Septuagint and the Gospels, was a historical descendant of the Attic dialect as transmitted by the Ionic-speaking {462|463} populations of the former Athenian empire and beyond: in the process of this transmission, the idiosyncrasies of the old Attic dialect were leveled out by the generalities of the Ionic dialects. [29] To restate, the Koine was Attic as generalized by way of Ionic. This new Attic was a regularized Attic, as it were, becoming a frame dialect for all the Ionic dialects. As a regularized dialect, this new Attic was the Koine. As the name Koine indicates, this dialect was a federal language, even an imperial language. It was the lingua franca of the Athenian empire.

4§35 Such a modern linguistic reformulation of the Koine is parallel to the ancient philological formulation that I extrapolate from the commentaries of Aristarchus, for whom the ‘Koine’ patterns found in the Homeric texts represent the sunētheia or ‘customary usage’ of the standard ‘dialect’ that he associated with Homer, while the non-‘Koine’ patterns he also found in the Homeric texts represent relatively unaccustomed usages stemming from other ‘dialects’.

4§36 As I showed in the Prolegomena, Aristarchus tested his descriptions of sunētheia ‘customary usage’ in the language of ‘Homer’ by comparing his descriptions of the sunētheia ‘customary usage’ he found in the Greek language as spoken in his own time. I quote again here a particularly telling example:

4ⓣ4 Scholia A im for Iliad II 135a (Aristonicus)

<καὶ δὴ δοῦρα σέσηπε νεῶν καὶ σπάρτα λέλυνται:> ὅτι κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν στίχον καὶ ἑαυτῷ καὶ ἡμῖν συνήθως ἐξενήνοχε τὸ λέλυνται καὶ σέσηπε.

<καὶ δὴ δοῦρα σέσηπε νεῶν καὶ σπάρτα λέλυνται:> [Aristarchus marks this verse in the margin] because he [= Homer] has produced in the same verse, as is customary [sunēthōs] both for him [= Homer] and for us, the λέλυνται and σέσηπε.

4§37 In terms of this observation derived from Aristarchus, the Homeric verse in question features a coexistence of ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’ usages in the syntax. The syntactical pattern of combining a plural verb with a neuter plural subject is ‘Koine’, whereas the pattern of combining a singular verb with a neuter plural subject is ‘Attic’. In other words, ‘Homer’ could accommodate both the ‘Koine’ and the ‘Attic’ usages: {463|464}

4ⓣ5 Scholia b(BCE3E4)T il for Iliad II 135b (exegetical scholia)

<καὶ δὴ δοῦρα σέσηπε νεῶν καὶ σπάρτα λέλυνται:> ἐν ἑνὶ στίχῳ ἔθηκε τὴν Ἀτθίδα καὶ κοινὴν χρῆσιν.

<καὶ δὴ δοῦρα σέσηπε νεῶν καὶ σπάρτα λέλυνται:> In the same single verse he [= Homer] placed the Attic and the Koine usage [khrēsis].

4§38 According to Aristarchus, what is spoken in the time of Homer sunēthōs heautōi ‘as is customary for him’ can thus include both ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’. Such an observation on the part of Aristarchus stems from his comparing Homeric diction with what is spoken sunēthōs hēmīn ‘as is customary for us’, that is, in his own time, when the distinction between ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’ is evident. Applying the methods of modern linguistics in analyzing what is ‘customary’ in the time of Aristarchus, I repeat my working definition: the Koine is Attic as generalized by way of Ionic.

4§39 This relationship of Koine and Attic is indirectly reflected in later ancient commentaries that happen to be derived from Aristarchus: there too the Koine usage is more generalized, in that it represents what Attic and Ionic have in common, whereas the Attic usage is more specialized, in that it represents what is idiosyncratic about Attic as opposed to the Koine. Here are six examples:

4ⓣ6 Scholia A for Iliad I 216a

χρή: ὀξυτονούμενον καὶ ἐν τῇ συντάξει βαρυνόμενον σημαίνει ἐπίρρημα τὸ δεῖ, … περισπώμενον δὲ ῥῆμα Ἀττικόν· ἀπὸ γὰρ τοῦ χρῶμαι τὸ δεύτερον τῆς κοινῆς διαλέκτου ἐστὶ χρᾷ ᾿Ιωνικῶς, ᾿Αττικὸν δὲ χρῇ

χρή: When it [= ΧΡΗ] is accented with an acute [which is grave when embedded in the syntax], it [= ΧΡΗ] is an impersonal verb meaning δεῖ. … When it [= ΧΡΗ] is accented with a circumflex, it is the Attic personal verb. Here is how. To conjugate from the verb χρῶμαι: the second person singular in the Koine dialect is χρᾷ. That is the way it is said in Ionic. [30] The Attic way is χρῇ. {464|465}

4ⓣ7 Scholia A for Iliad II 115a (Aristonicus)

δυσκλέα Ἄργος: ὅτι κατὰ συστολὴν Ὅμηρος τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐκφέρει, δυσκλέα καὶ ἀκλέα, ᾿Ιωνικῶς. οἱ δὲ ᾿Αττικοὶ ἐκτείνουσιν.

δυσκλέα Ἄργος: [Aristarchus marks this verse in the margin] because Homer produces such forms with a short [final -α], δυσκλέα and ἀκλέα [Odyssey iv 728], which is the Ionic way. But the Attic people produce a long [final -α].

4ⓣ8 Scholia A for Iliad II 532b1

Αὐγειάς: ὡς καλιάς· συνήθης γὰρ ἡ τοιαύτη ἀνάγνωσις παρὰ τῷ ποιητῇ ᾿Ιωνικωτέρα οὖσα.

Αὐγειάς: Like καλιάς. That is because such a reading [anagnōsis] is customary [sunēthēs] in the Poet, since it is more Ionic.

4ⓣ9 Scholia b(BCE3) for Iliad II 532b2

… ὡς παρειάς· ἡ γὰρ τοιαύτη ἀνάγνωσις ᾿Ιωνικωτέρα οὖσα συνήθης ῾Ομήρῳ ἐστίν.

… or like παρειάς [Iliad III 35 etc.]. That is because such a reading [anagnōsis], since it is more Ionic, is customary [sunēthēs] for Homer.

4ⓣ10 Scholia A for Iliad I 85c (Herodian)

{θαρσήσας μάλα} εἰπέ: τρία εἰσὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ κοινῇ ὀξυνόμενα, ἐλθέ, εὑρέ, εἰπέ. ἰδίως δὲ καὶ μακρᾷ παραλήγονται. ᾿Αττικοὶ δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν βραχυπαραλήκτων ὀξύνουσι τὸ ἰδέ καὶ λαβέ.

{θαρσήσας μάλα} εἰπέ: In the Koine there are these three forms that have acute accent on the ultimate syllable: ἐλθέ, εὑρέ, εἰπέ. They share the property of having a long penultimate syllable. But the Attic people produce acute accent on the last syllable even in forms that have a short penultimate syllable, in the case of ἰδέ and λαβέ.

4ⓣ11 Scholia D for Iliad VIII 352

νῶϊ. ἡμεῖς. κοινὴ ἡ διάλεκτος. Δωριεῖς δέ φασιν, ἄμμες. Αἰολεῖς, ἄμμε. ᾿Αττικοὶ δὲ, νῶϊ. ῎Ιωνες, ἡμέες. {465|466}

νῶϊ [is the lemma]. ἡμεῖς. [31] The dialect is Koine. The Dorians say ἄμμες and the Aeolians say ἄμμε. But the Attic people say νῶϊ. And the Ionians say ἡμέες.

4§40 The last statement needs special clarification. The point being made here is that the ‘Koine’ form of Homeric usage would be ἡμεῖς. By implication, the verse-final οὐκέτι νῶϊ as attested at Iliad VIII (352) was matched by a variant οὐκέτι ἡμεῖς, featuring the ‘Koine’ form ἡμεῖς as opposed to the ‘Attic’ form νῶϊ in the dual (the dual usage is supposedly an aspect of the ‘Atticism’ here). As a formulaic parallel for οὐκέτι ἡμεῖς I cite verse-final οὐδέ τοι ἡμεῖς at Iliad XIX (409).

4§41 In later phases of the commentary tradition, the distinctness of ‘Attic’ from ‘Koine’ tends to be forgotten, as we see from this later comment on the same Homeric verse, where ‘Attic’ is actually being equated with ‘Koine’:

4ⓣ12 Scholia (recentiora) for Iliad VIII 352

οὐκέτι νῶϊ] κοινῇ ἡμῖν· Δωριεῖς γάρ φασιν ἄμμες, ᾿Αττικοὶ δὲ νώ, ῎Ιωνες ἡμέας.

οὐκέτι νῶϊ [is the lēmma]. This is the way it is common [koinē] for us. For the Dorians say ἄμμες, the Attic people say νώ, and the Ionians say ἡμέας.

4§42 As I already argued in the Prolegomena, the Aristarchean distinction between ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’ is generally blurred in the post-Aristarchean era, when scholars tend to equate uncritically the ancient usage of Homer with the contemporary usage described by Aristarchus.

4§43 The construction κοινῇ ἡμῖν ‘in the way that is common [koinē] for us’ is comparable to the construction ἡμῖν συνήθως ‘in the way that is customary [sunēthēs] for us’ in the scholia for Iliad II 135. The latter construction, as we saw earlier, comes from a description that goes back to the time of Aristarchus, when the distinction was still being made between ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’.

4§44 From that Aristarchean description in the scholia for Iliad II 135, we saw that ‘Koine’ usage and ‘Attic’ usage supposedly coexist within the overall ‘Homeric’ usage. Despite such coexistence, however, the ‘Koine’ usage is still the overall ‘Homeric’ usage, not the ‘Attic’, as I already showed in the examples {466|467} where the Aristarchean commentary isolates an ‘Attic’ form as a textual variant of a ‘Koine’ form and then proceeds to opt for the ‘Koine’ form.

4§54 To sum up, the Aristarchean commentaries picture a Homer who speaks both ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’, though he mostly defaults to Koine whenever a choice is available between distinct ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’ forms. The presence of Attic forms in Homeric usage fits the overall theory of Aristarchus concerning the origins of Homer himself. Supposedly, Homer was an Athenian who lived in the time of the so-called Ionian Migration, which Aristarchus dated around 1000 BCE (scholia A for Iliad XIII 197). [32] Moreover, the scholiastic tradition stemming ultimately from Aristarchus implies that Homer wrote his poems (scholia A for Iliad XVII 719) and that Hesiod actually had a chance to read them (scholia A for Iliad XII 22a). [33] In Aristarchean terms, then, Homer not only spoke but also wrote a form of Greek that combined ‘Koine’ and ‘Attic’ usage.

4§46 Reading the linguistic standards of Aristarchus as indications of an overall cultural standard, I conclude that the Koine of Homer is a form of imperial discourse. It is a standardized Ionic dialect that speaks to the Ionians of the Athenian empire and that overrides even the local dialect of the Athenians. So, linguistically, the Athenian empire is an Ionian construct. And the imperial Homer, as represented by Ionians like Ion of Ephesus, is likewise an Ionian construct.

4ⓢ4. The imperial Homer of Hippias of Elis

4§47 This imperial Homer is represented not only by Ionians like Ion of Ephesus. An example of a non-Ionian representative is Hippias of Elis, a historical figure who is dramatized in two Platonic dialogues named after him, the Hippias Maior and the Hippias Minor. The dramatic date of these two dialogues, like that of the Ion, highlights the era of the Athenian empire at its apogee. As we will see, both these dialogues make it clear that the Athenian {467|468} standard of Homeric poetry was politically dominant not only within the Athenian empire but even in places beyond the empire’s reach. Among those places was Sparta, the city that figured as the principal enemy of Athens in the Peloponnesian War.

4§48 For background on Hippias of Elis, I look back to the previous chapter, where I compared him directly to Ion the rhapsode. As we saw there, the displays of Homeric performance by the sophist Hippias at the Olympics in Olympia resembled the displays of Homeric performance by the rhapsode Ion at the Panathenaia in Athens. Both kinds of Homeric displays, as we also saw, followed the Panathenaic standard of performing Homer. To that extent, Hippias of Elis rivaled Ion of Ephesus as a performer and interpreter of Homer. Here were two Homeric experts who both considered themselves the absolute best in what they did, immeasurably better, each in his own way, than any of their competitors. Each of the two had worked out his own definition of what exactly it was that they did as Homeric experts. And Homer was for both the absolute measure of perfection.

4§49 The Homeric virtuoso Ion, in terms of his self-definition, is bound both politically and professionally to the Athenian standard of the Panathenaic Homer. He is bound politically as an Ionian and professionally as a rhapsode. By contrast, the Homeric virtuoso Hippias is bound to this standard neither politically, since he is a non-Ionian, nor professionally, since he is a sophist. Rather, the ties that bind Hippias to the Athenian standard of the Panathenaic Homer are simply cultural. Accordingly, Plato’s Socrates uses divergent strategies in undermining his two intellectual adversaries: as we saw in Chapter 3, what undermines Ion in Plato’s Ion is this rhapsode’s inability to think independently of Homer; what undermines Hippias in the Hippias Minor, as we will now see, is this sophist’s inability to think the way Homer really thinks.

4§50 Unlike Plato’s Socrates, who focuses on the divergences between Ion as a rhapsode and Hippias as a sophist, we as independent observers can focus on the convergences in their professional claims, and those convergences bring us back to the concept of the Panathenaic signature, that is, the Athenian standard for performing the Panathenaic Homer. The status of Hippias as grand master of poetry and song is correlated with the keen interest shown by this sophist in the orthotēs ‘correctness’ of grammata ‘letters’ and in other such matters relating to various tekhnai ‘crafts’ of poetry and song (Hippias Minor 368a-e). This interest requires critical judgment, as signaled by the verb dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’ in the description we saw of the sophist seated on a throne and responding to questions as if he were Minos himself (Plato Protagoras 315c διέκρινεν). We may compare the interest {468|469} shown by Ion the rhapsode in making critical judgments concerning questions of Homeric verbal artistry – that is, whether Homer says his epē (= epos plural) ‘verses’ orthōs ‘correctly’ or not (Ion 537b-c τὰ ἔπη εἴτε ὀρθῶς λέγει Ὅμηρος εἴτε μή). In the Ion, when Plato’s Socrates asks Ion to tell him what are the things about which the craft of the rhapsode can enable Ion to ‘make critical judgments’, that is, dia-krinein, the rhapsode replies: ‘all things’ (Ion 539e).

4§51 A related point, made in Chapter 3, bears repeating here. By way of metonymy, the craft of the rhapsodes can subsume other crafts. It is as if the mastery of Homeric poetry were the same thing as a mastery of all crafts. We saw this idea proclaimed by the rhapsode Ion in Plato’s Ion. This stance of Ion the rhapsode is remarkably similar to the stance of Hippias the sophist. Hippias too is a specialist in Homer (Hippias Minor 363b-c). The difference is, Hippias does not consider himself a specialist in rhapsōidikē tekhnē. Rather, he seems to be a generalist in sophistikē tekhnē. The sophist’s mastery of the rhapsode’s craft is merely the primary example of his mastery of all crafts. What makes all the difference is the sophist’s overall mastery of the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (Hippias Minor 368d, 369a).

4§52 Hippias was renowned for his prodigious mental powers of recalling any and all Homeric verses. It is in this context that we see him described as a specialist in ‘mnemonic technique’, mnēmonikon tekhnēma. As I have argued in Chapter 3, the supposedly novel mnemonic technique of Hippias was derived from the same old rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ as practiced by Ion the rhapsode at the Panathenaia. Unlike Ion, however, Hippias was not politically dependent on Athens. Elis, the home city of Hippias, was independent of the Athenian arkhē ‘rule’. And it had to deal on its own with another city whose leaders hoped to possess arkhē on their own terms, that is, with the city of Sparta.

4§53 I cite a most relevant passage from a later source. Philostratus in the Lives of Sophists tells how Hippias, whenever he visited Sparta, made spectacular verbal displays of his mnemonic technique, his mnēmonikon (1.11.2 τὸ … μνημονικόν). I stress the wording that describes the political motive of Hippias when he is performing in Sparta (Lives of Sophists 1.11.3): ἐπειδὴ οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι ἄρχειν τῇ ἰδέᾳ ταύτῃ ἔχαιρον ‘… since the Spartans, through their desire for imperial rule [arkhein], took pleasure in this form [idea]’. [34] Here I translate arkhein in terms of ‘imperial rule’, not just ‘rule’, since the Spartans are described as hoping to possess something that {469|470} the Athenians already have, that is, an empire. In other words, the Spartans do have their own imperial ambitions, but these ambitions are formalized in Athenian terms. I infer, then, that the ‘form’ (in Greek, idea) of public verbal displays performed by Hippias does indeed play a part in realizing the imperial ambitions of the Spartans. And such a ‘form’ derives from the imperial Homer of the Panathenaia.

4§54 In Philostratus’ Lives of Sophists, we are given two examples of various kinds of verbal displays being performed by Hippias as he applies the ‘form’ of his mnemonic technique in Sparta. [35] We also find fuller versions of both examples in Plato. I will consider the two examples one by one.

4§55 The first of the two examples is worded by Philostratus as follows (Lives 1.11.3): γένη τε διήιει πόλεων καὶ ἀποικίας καὶ ἔργα ‘he [= Hippias] would go through [verbally] the genealogies of cities and narratives about how they were founded and about related accomplishments’. Here is Plato’s fuller version of this first example:

4ⓣ13 Plato Hippias Maior 285d-e

ΙΠ. Περὶ τῶν γενῶν, ὦ Σώκρατες, τῶν τε ἡρώων καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ τῶν κατοικίσεων, ὡς τὸ ἀρχαῖον ἐκτίσθησαν αἱ πόλεις, καὶ συλλήβδην πάσης τῆς ἀρχαιολογίας ἥδιστα {e} ἀκροῶνται, ὥστ’ ἔγωγε δι’ αὐτοὺς ἠνάγκασμαι ἐκμεμαθηκέναι τε καὶ ἐκμεμελετηκέναι πάντα τὰ τοιαῦτα.

HIPPIAS: They [= the Spartans] get the greatest pleasure from hearing about the genealogies, Socrates, of both heroes and humans, and about how cities were founded in the past and, taken all together, about all knowledge of the past. So, because of them [= the Spartans], I have been forced to memorize thoroughly and to rehearse thoroughly all such matters.

4§56 The second example of various kinds of verbal displays performed by Hippias in Sparta is related directly to Homeric poetry (Philostratus Lives of Sophists 1.11.4): ἔστιν δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ Τρωικὸς διάλογος, οὗ λόγος· ὁ Νέστωρ ἐν Τροίᾳ ἁλούσῃ ὑποτίθεται Νεοπτολέμῳ τῷ Ἀχιλλέως, ἃ χρὴ ἐπιτηδεύοντα ἄνδρα ἀγαθὸν φαίνεσθαι ‘he [= Hippias] also has a Trojan Dialogue, the plot of which is this: Nestor, in Troy after it is captured, gives instruction to Neoptolemos son {470|471} of Achilles concerning what things one must pursue in order to appear to be a good man’. Here is Plato’s fuller version of this second example:

4ⓣ14 Plato Hippias Maior 286a-c

ΙΠ. Καὶ ναὶ μὰ Δί’, ὦ Σώκρατες, περί γε ἐπιτηδευμάτων καλῶν καὶ ἔναγχος αὐτόθι ηὐδοκίμησα διεξιὼν ἃ χρὴ τὸν νέον ἐπιτηδεύειν. ἔστι γάρ μοι περὶ αὐτῶν παγκάλως λόγος συγκείμενος, καὶ ἄλλως εὖ διακείμενος καὶ τοῖς ὀνόμασι· πρόσχημα δέ μοί ἐστι καὶ ἀρχὴ τοιάδε τις τοῦ λόγου. ἐπειδὴ ἡ Τροία ἥλω, λέγει ὁ λόγος ὅτι Νεοπτόλεμος {b} Νέστορα ἔροιτο ποῖά ἐστι καλὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα, ἃ ἄν τις ἐπιτηδεύσας νέος ὢν εὐδοκιμώτατος γένοιτο· μετὰ ταῦτα δὴ λέγων ἐστὶν ὁ Νέστωρ καὶ ὑποτιθέμενος αὐτῷ πάμπολλα νόμιμα καὶ πάγκαλα. τοῦτον δὴ καὶ ἐκεῖ ἐπεδειξάμην καὶ ἐνθάδε μέλλω ἐπιδεικνύναι εἰς τρίτην ἡμέραν, ἐν τῷ Φειδοστράτου διδασκαλείῳ, καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ καὶ ἄξια ἀκοῆς· ἐδεήθη γάρ μου Εὔδικος ὁ Ἀπημάντου. ἀλλ’ ὅπως παρέσῃ {c} καὶ αὐτὸς καὶ ἄλλους ἄξεις, οἵτινες ἱκανοὶ ἀκούσαντες κρῖναι τὰ λεγόμενα.

HIPPIAS: I tell you, Socrates, and I swear by Zeus: I have just recently achieved the greatest celebrity there [= in Sparta] when I went through [verbally] all the studies of fine arts that a young person there has to study. I have a discourse [logos] already composed about those things, all beautifully put together in every respect – and that includes the ordering of the words. I have an introductory scheme – that is, a beginning [arkhē] – which goes something like this: when Troy was captured, the story [logos] says, Neoptolemos asked Nestor what were the studies of fine arts that a young man should study in order to become a celebrity. So, after this, Nestor starts speaking and goes on to give instructions to him [= Neoptolemos] about all manner of fine and lawful things. Now you see: I made a public display of this thing over there [= in Sparta] and I am about to make a public display of it here [= in Athens], three days from now, at the school of Pheidostratos [36] – along with many other things that are worth hearing. That is because Eudikos son of Apemantos asked me {471|472} to do so. So I do hope you [= Socrates] will be present in person and that you will bring others with you – the kind of people who would be capable of judging the things being said when they hear them.

4§57 Toward the end of this passage, we see Hippias in the Hippias Maior predicting that the Trojan Dialogue he performed in Sparta will be reperformed in Athens. So now we come to a third example of displays performed by Hippias. The mention here in the Hippias Maior of the name of Eudikos (286b), described as the man who invites Hippias the sophist to perform in Athens the same Homeric Trojan Dialogue that he had performed earlier in Sparta, is a signature linking this dialogue with the dramatic setting of the dialogue we know as the Hippias Minor, where the same Eudikos is featured as the intermediary of Hippias and Socrates (363a, 363c, 364b, 373b). [37]

4§58 In Plato’s Hippias Minor, we find three more examples of verbal displays being made by Hippias, and I will now add them to the previous three examples we have just considered in the Hippias Maior. By the time we are finished, we will have six Platonic examples in all. Of these six, we will see that the third and the fourth function as alternatives to each other. Whereas the performance of the Trojan Dialogue by Hippias in Athens is viewed prospectively by the speakers in the third example, which is in the Hippias Maior, it is viewed retrospectively by the same speakers in the fourth example, which is in the Hippias Minor.

4§59 In order to explain my description of the fourth example as an alternative to the third, I need to make a point about the fifth example, which is the actual text of Plato’s Hippias Minor. In this text, considered in its entirety, we see Hippias engaging in a textually simulated display of a Trojan Dialogue with Socrates in Athens, and the textuality of their dialogue is to be contrasted with the performativity of the corresponding dialogue in the fourth example. That fourth example is mentioned only in passing within the overall Hippias Minor. In this passing mention, we see a reference to an earlier display by Hippias of a Trojan Dialogue performed in a public setting in Athens (364b-c) – earlier, that is, than the textually simulated Trojan Dialogue with Socrates that we know as the Hippias Minor. Here is the relevant wording in the Hippias Minor: ἡνίκα μὲν γὰρ πολλοὶ ἔνδον ἦμεν καὶ σὺ τὴν ἐπίδειξιν ἐποιοῦ ‘when there were many of us within that space and you were making your display [epideixis]’ (364b). Plato’s Socrates makes it clear that he had attended that earlier performance {472|473} of Hippias in Athens but had chosen not to engage in dialogue with Hippias in that setting (364b). And it was definitely a public setting, as we see from this wording: ὄχλος τε πολὺς ἔνδον ἦν ‘there was a big crowd within that space’ (364b). That space, if we are to trust Plato’s sense of precision in creating this scene, is the same setting as the one to which Socrates refers when he says at a later point (368b): πάντως δὲ πλείστας τέχνας πάντων σοφώτατος εἶ ἀνθρώπων, ὡς ἐγώ ποτέ σου ἤκουον μεγαλαυχουμένου, πολλὴν σοφίαν καὶ ζηλωτὴν σαυτοῦ διεξιόντος ἐν ἀγορᾷ ἐπὶ ταῖς τραπέζαις. ἔφησθα δὲ ἀφικέσθαι ποτὲ εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν ἃ εἶχες περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἅπαντα σαυτοῦ ἔργα ἔχων· πρῶτον μὲν δακτύλιον – ἐντεῦθεν γὰρ ἤρχου … ‘You [= Hippias] are absolutely the most skilled [sophos] of men in the greatest number of crafts [tekhnai] by far, as I once heard you boast when you were describing your great and enviable skill [sophia]. It was in the agora [= the agora of Athens], near the money-changers’ tables [trapezai]. You were telling how you once upon a time went to Olympia, and everything you wore was your own work: first, your ring [daktulios] – you started with that …’.

4§60 A moment ago, I described this fourth example, taken from the Hippias Minor, as an alternative to the third, that is, to the Trojan Dialogue that Hippias at the beginning of the Hippias Maior says he will perform in Athens on the third day after his dialogue with Socrates there. Whereas that particular Trojan Dialogue as viewed prospectively in the Hippias Maior seems to be a set piece, the alternative Trojan Dialogue as viewed retrospectively in the Hippias Minor seems to be the opposite of a set piece: it is an actual dialogue between Hippias and his audience. I see here a symmetry: the dialogue of Hippias with Socrates in the Hippias Maior is imagined as preceding a scheduled public performance of the Trojan Dialogue by Hippias, which is the set piece, whereas the dialogue of Hippias with Socrates in the Hippias Minor is imagined as following a spontaneous public performance of an alternative to the Trojan Dialogue, which is not a set piece but a dialogue between Hippias and his audience in the agora of Athens.

4§61 I stress that the textually simulated dialogue between Hippias and Socrates in the Hippias Minor writ large – our fifth example – is dramatized as taking place in a setting that seems to have no public to speak of – that is, in comparison to the setting of the fourth example, reporting a public dialogue that took place earlier between Hippias and his audience in the agora of Athens. The absence of a public for Plato’s Hippias Minor may be viewed as a theatrical illusion induced by the genre we know as the Platonic dialogue. The public for a Platonic dialogue is after all a reading public. In the setting of the Hippias Minor, Socrates says, he can feel more confident about asking {473|474} questions of Hippias – and about getting answers – than in the public setting of the earlier dialogue in the agora of Athens (364b-c, 368b). The stage may be smaller, but the rules of the game in staging the questions seem to be analogous: the questions are Homeric questions, debated in a format that corresponds to the ways in which rhapsodes performed and commented on Homer in dialogue with their public.

4§62 Whenever we see Homeric poetry being performed in the format of a dialogue, the poetry takes the exterior form of selected quotations from Homer, interwoven with commentaries that engage with the audience. A simulation of such a dialogue is our text of the encounter between Ion the rhapsode and Socrates in Plato’s Ion. Another simulation is the text of the fifth of our six examples of verbal displays performed by Hippias, that is, the Trojan Dialogue that takes place between Hippias and Socrates in Plato’s Hippias Minor, where the sophist engages in a dialogue with Socrates over moral definitions of what it is to be a ‘good’ man.

4§63 On the basis of the references we have seen so far in Plato’s Ion and in his Hippias Minor I infer that there existed a genre of performance that we may call rhapsodic dialogue – a genre that resembles the Platonic form of philosophical dialogue. The resemblance, I propose, has to do with a metamorphosis of genres. The genre of rhapsodic dialogue is innovatively transformed by sophists like Hippias into the genre of sophistic dialogue, which in turn is transformed by Plato’s Socrates into the genre that we know as the Platonic dialogue. [38]

4§64 We can see the existence of such a genre of rhapsodic dialogue from the internal evidence of the wording used in Plato’s Ion. There we find that the word dialegesthai, which means ‘have a dialogue, engage in dialectic’ in the philosophical terminology of Plato’s Socrates, has a similar meaning in the technical language of rhapsodes in referring to their own craft. [39] For a rhapsode like Ion of Ephesus, the standard of reference for such a process of dialegesthai is Homer (Plato Ion 532b). [40] And, as we can see from Plato’s Hippias Minor, the same goes for a sophist like Hippias of Elis: his dialogues, like the dialogues of rhapsodes, are based on Homer – on the Panathanaic Homer – as the standard of reference. [41] By contrast, the dialogues of a philosopher like Plato’s Socrates, who wishes to distinguish himself from sophists as well as rhapsodes, must be distinguished in their own right from the dialogues {474|475} of sophists like Hippias and of rhapsodes like Ion. For Plato’s Socrates, the distinction is achieved by rejecting Homer as the standard of reference for finding the truth by way of dialogue. [42]

4§65 At this point, it is important to make a distinction between two forms of Homeric performance. On the one hand, there is a specialized form, the rhapsodic dialogue, where a single rhapsode quotes selectively from Homer in dialogue with his audience. On the other hand, there is the general form of rhapsodic performance at the Panathenaia, where a number of rhapsodes (it is not certain how many) compete with each other in performing, by relay, the totality or notional totality of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. As I show in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, this general form must have had a lengthy prehistory, since the traditions of rhapsodic performance at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens can be traced back to earlier such traditions as they evolved at earlier festivals like the Panionia in Asia Minor. [43]

4§66 For the moment, however, the distinction I am making can be formulated most simply in terms of two kinds of Homeric tradition. The general form, standardized in Athens, represents the first kind. We have here a uniform tradition of Homer, and I will continue to refer to this tradition simply as the Panathenaic Homer. To be contrasted is a specialized form, used ad hoc in live exchanges between the rhapsode and his audience in a variety of different settings – even in different cities. For the time being, I will refer to this Homeric tradition as a private Homer – that is, Homer as applied by an individual performer on a case-by-case basis. The private Homer may still be modeled on the Panathenaic Homer, but it is subject to selective variation, fitting a variety of different occasions in different settings. Whereas the Panathenaic Homer is notionally uniform, the private Homer is potentially multiform.

4§67 With this formulation in place, I come to the sixth of our six Platonic examples of verbal displays by Hippias. This one, in Plato’s Hippias Minor, precedes all the other five in its chronological ordering. Most obviously, this sixth example precedes the fifth, which is the actual text of Plato’s Hippias Minor. It also precedes the fourth and the third examples, which are two different views of a Trojan Dialogue that Hippias performs in Athens – a retrospective view in the Hippias Minor, and a prospective view in the Hippias Maior. Moreover, it precedes the two examples of displays performed in Sparta, as mentioned in the Hippias Maior, where we see Hippias applying his {475|476} mnemonic technique as he dazzles his audiences with his knowledge of antiquity in general and with his performance of a Trojan Dialogue in particular (285d-286c). I repeat what Philostratus says about the motive of Hippias in applying his mnemonic technique in Sparta: ἐπειδὴ οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι ἄρχειν τῇ ἰδέᾳ ταύτῃ ἔχαιρον ‘since the Spartans, through their desire for imperial rule [arkhein], took pleasure in this form [idea]’ (Lives of Sophists 1.11.3).

4§68 The sixth Platonic example not only precedes the other five examples in chronology. It also supersedes them in importance and even subsumes them. Further, the actual setting of this sixth example of displays by Hippias subsumes in its own right all the other settings. It takes place neither in Sparta nor in Athens but in Olympia:

4ⓣ15 Plato Hippias Minor 368c-d

ΣΩ. πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ποιήματα ἔχων ἐλθεῖν, καὶ ἔπη καὶ τραγῳδίας {d} καὶ διθυράμβους, καὶ καταλογάδην πολλοὺς λόγους καὶ παντοδαποὺς συγκειμένους· καὶ περὶ τῶν τεχνῶν δὴ ὧν ἄρτι ἐγὼ ἔλεγον ἐπιστήμων ἀφικέσθαι διαφερόντως τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ περὶ ῥυθμῶν καὶ ἁρμονιῶν καὶ γραμμάτων ὀρθότητος, καὶ ἄλλα ἔτι πρὸς τούτοις πάνυ πολλά, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκῶ μνημονεύειν· καίτοι τό γε μνημονικὸν ἐπελαθόμην σου, ὡς ἔοικε, τέχνημα, ἐν ᾧ σὺ οἴει λαμπρότατος εἶναι·

SOCRATES: And on top of all these things, you had come [to Olympia] bringing with you compositions [poiēmata] [44] – that is, epic [epos plural] and tragedies and dithyrambs, and a multitude of discourses [logoi] to be performed in the right sequence [katalogadēn] and all kinds of set pieces. And you arrived there [= at Olympia] as an expert surpassing all others in the knowledge of not only the crafts [tekhnai] I just mentioned, but also of the correctness [orthotēs] of rhythms [rhuthmoi], tunings [harmoniai], and letters [grammata]. And there were many more things in addition, as I seem to remember [mnēmoneuein]. And yet it seems I had almost forgotten [epilanthanesthai] about your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikion tekhnēma], in which you think you are at your most brilliant. {476|477}

4§69 Till now, I have not yet emphasized the relevance of Olympia as the setting for such a display by Hippias. This setting, as we will now see, is also relevant to my ongoing examination of the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ of Hippias.

4§70 In the passage I just quoted, the mnemonic technique of Hippias figures as the culmination of two consecutive catalogues. The first catalogue, which I quoted earlier in Chapter 3 and will not requote at this point, had enumerated the kinds of handicraft mastered by Hippias, starting with the sophist’s ring and going through the other things he wears on his person (Plato Hippias Minor 368b-c). Socrates is referring to that first catalogue of crafts when he says in the passage I just quoted (368d): ‘and you [= Hippias] arrived there [= at Olympia] as an expert surpassing others in the knowledge of not only the crafts [tekhnai] I just mentioned…’. Then follows the second part of the statement (‘but also …’), which begins a second catalogue of crafts. This catalogue, which we saw in the passage I just quoted, enumerates the kinds of poetry and song mastered by Hippias, corresponding to the kinds of dramatic and ‘musical’ performances featured at the two premier festivals of Athens, the City Dionysia and the Panathenaia respectively. [45]

4§71 The cultural orientation of this second catalogue, where the main genres of poetry and song are viewed in terms of Athenian festivals, can be described as Athenocentric. [46] But can we say the same thing about the political orientation? For an answer, we need to take a closer look at the political implications of the actual setting of this sixth Platonic example of displays by Hippias, that is, Olympia. In the context of this setting, we must also review the wording used in the second catalogue to describe the craft of poetry and song.

4§72 For Hippias (Hippias Minor 368c), the first kind of poetry and song mentioned in the second catalogue is epē ‘epic’ (= epos plural). For him, this genre comes to life in the rhapsodic craft of Homeric performance and dialogue, as we see from the sophist’s subsequent displays in performing and interpreting Homer throughout the Hippias Minor. Given the cultural Athenocentrism implied by the kinds of song and poetry listed in the second catalogue, we might have expected the optimal setting for the sixth Platonic example to be Athens. That is, we might have expected Hippias to display his rhapsodic craft of Homeric performance and dialogue in Athens – on the occasion {477|478} of the feast of the Panathenaia. Instead, the ultimate Homeric display of Hippias takes place in Olympia.

4§73 So the sixth example shows the rhapsodic craft of Hippias being displayed in a context that is decidedly non-Panathenaic. Moreover, the craft itself is being described in terms that are likewise decidedly non-Panathenaic. For Hippias the sophist, the rhapsodic craft of performing Homer or engaging in dialogue about Homer is treated as if it were merely an aspect of an overall virtuosity, which is described in the Hippias Minor as a mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (368d, 369a). [47]

4§74 I quote here in its entirety a detailed description of this technique, which also provides a valuable synthesis of the life and times of Hippias himself:

4ⓣ16 Philostratus Lives of Sophists 1.11.1-8 (= Hippias DK 86 A 2)

Ἱππίας δὲ ὁ σοφιστὴς ὁ Ἠλεῖος τὸ μὲν μνημονικὸν οὕτω τι καὶ γηράσκων ἔρρωτο, ὡς καὶ πεντήκοντα ὀνομάτων ἀκούσας ἅπαξ ἀπομνημονεύειν αὐτὰ καθ’ ἣν ἤκουσε τάξιν, ἐσήγετο δὲ ἐς τὰς διαλέξεις γεωμετρίαν, ἀστρονομίαν, μουσικήν, ῥυθμούς· {2} διελέγετο δὲ καὶ περὶ ζωγραφίας καὶ περὶ ἀγαλματοποιίας· {3} ταῦτα ἑτέρωθι· ἐν Λακεδαίμονι δὲ γένη τε διήιει πόλεων καὶ ἀποικίας καὶ ἔργα, ἐπειδὴ οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι ἄρχειν τῇ ἰδέᾳ ταύτῃ ἔχαιρον. {4} ἔστιν δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ Τρωικὸς διάλογος, οὗ λόγος· ὁ Νέστωρ ἐν Τροίᾳ ἁλούσῃ ὑποτίθεται Νεοπτολέμῳ τῷ Ἀχιλλέως, ἃ χρὴ ἐπιτηδεύοντα ἄνδρα ἀγαθὸν φαίνεσθαι. {5} πλεῖστα δὲ Ἑλλήνων πρεσβεύσας ὑπὲρ τῆς Ἤλιδος οὐδαμοῦ κατέλυσε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ δόξαν δημηγορῶν τε καὶ διαλεγόμενος, ἀλλὰ καὶ χρήματα πλεῖστα ἐξέλεξε καὶ φυλαῖς ἐνεγράφη πόλεων μικρῶν τε καὶ μειζόνων. {6} παρῆλθε καὶ εἰς τὴν Ἰνυκὸν ὑπὲρ χρημάτων, τὸ δὲ πολίχνιον τοῦτο Σικελικοί εἰσιν, οὓς ὁ Πλάτων <ἐν> τῷ Γοργίᾳ ἐπισκώπτει. {7} εὐδοκιμῶν δὲ καὶ τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον ἔθελγε τὴν Ἑλλάδα ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ λόγοις ποικίλοις καὶ πεφροντισμένοις εὖ. {8} ἡρμήνευε δὲ οὐκ ἐλλιπῶς ἀλλὰ περιττῶς καὶ κατὰ φύσιν, ἐς ὀλίγα καταφεύγων τῶν ἐκ ποιητικῆς ὀνόματα.

Hippias of Elis, the sophist, had such powers in mnemonics [mnēmonikon] [48] that, even as he was growing old, if he heard fifty {478|479} words all at once, he could recall [apo-mnēmoneuein] them all in the order in which he had heard them. [49] He introduced into his dialogic performances [dialexeis] the following: geometry, [50] astronomy, [51] mousikē, [52] and rhythms. [53] {2} And he performed dialogues [dialegesthai] also about painting [zōgraphia] and sculpture [agalmatopoiia]. [54] {3} He did these things in other places, but in Sparta in particular he did the following: he would go through genealogies of cities and narratives about how they were founded and about related accomplishments, [55] since the Spartans, on account of their desire to achieve supreme power [arkhein], took pleasure in this form [idea]. {4} He also has a Trojan Dialogue, the plot of which is this: Nestor, in Troy after it is captured, gives instruction to Neoptolemos son of Achilles concerning what things one must pursue in order to appear to be a good man. [56] {5} Acting as ambassador more often than anyone else among all Hellenes, on behalf of Elis, he never failed to maintain his own fame [doxa] while speaking in public and performing dialogues [dialegesthai]. Far from failing, he collected the greatest amounts of money and got enrolled in the civic lineages [phulai] of cities – small cities as well as larger ones. {6} He even visited Inykos in his quest for money – this little city is an aggregate of people called Sikeloi (Plato makes fun of the Sikeloi in the Gorgias). [57] {7} Reveling in his glory, he [= Hippias] spent the time he had left over by enchanting the entire Greek world with his discourses [logoi] performed at Olympia, which were patterned [poikiloi] and well thought out. {8} And he made interpretations {479|480} [hermēneuein] [58] not elliptically but in a full-blown and natural way, [59] seldom resorting to words taken from the poetic [poiētikē] craft. [60]

4§75 This remarkable synthesis in Philostratus’ Lives of the Sophists concerning the life and times of Hippias of Elis underlines the political importance of Olympia as a setting for verbal displays by the sophist. That importance is underlined even more forcefully in Plato’s Hippias Minor, where we learn that Hippias performs in Olympia on a sacred occasion. The site of Olympia, where the performances of Hippias take place, can be defined as a notionally neutral space located within the overall political space controlled by Elis, the home city state of Hippias. As we learn from the Hippias Minor, Hippias performs before a Panhellenic public assembled in Olympia in a special place that is specially sacred. That place in Olympia is the hieron ‘sacred precinct’ of Zeus (363c-d, 364a). The performance takes place on a seasonally recurring occasion that is also sacred. That occasion is a festival considered to be the greatest of all Panhellenic festivals, the feast of the Olympics (364a). As the wording makes clear in the Hippias Minor, Hippias seeks to perform at each quadrennially recurring Olympic festival (364a ἑκάστης Ὀλυμπιάδος). The crowd that heard Hippias perform at the Olympics must have been enormous, if we extrapolate from Socrates’ description of a comparable crowd (364b ὄχλος … πολύς), including Socrates, that heard Hippias perform in the agora of Athens (368b). [61] [[Hippias_agora]] Enormous too are the effects of the mass psychology linking the crowd with the performer. Hippias is quoted as saying that he actually competes in the Olympics when he performs there, and in making his point he uses the word agōnizesthai ‘compete’, which designates the ritual act of formally engaging in agōnes ‘competitions’: ἐξ οὗ γὰρ ἦργμαι Ὀλυμπίασιν ἀγωνίζεσθαι, οὐδενὶ πώποτε κρείττονι εἰς οὐδὲν ἐμαυτοῦ ἐνέτυχον ‘ever since I have begun to compete [agōnizesthai] at the Olympics, I have never yet met anyone better than myself in anything’ (364a).

4§76 The subjective experience of Hippias in the act of performing at the festival of the Olympics is comparable to the subjective experience of the rhapsode Ion of Ephesus at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. Here too we see the effects of mass psychology. I have already quoted the words of {480|481} Plato’s Socrates describing the thrill experienced by the rhapsode as he stands there on a bēma ‘platform’ and performs Homer before an enormous crowd of 20,000 assembled at the feast of the Panathenaia (Plato Ion 535d). [62] At that precise moment of Homeric performance, we are in effect witnessing Ion in the act of ‘competing’, agōnizesthai. The actual occasion for the performing of Homer by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia is an agōn ‘competition’ (530a ἀγῶνα) among rhapsodes, and the formal word for ‘compete’ is agōnizesthai (530a ἠγωνίζου … ἠγωνίσω). [63] Plato’s wording makes it explicit that Ion the rhapsode has come to Athens for the express purpose of winning in the competition for first prize at the Panathenaia (530b καὶ τὰ Παναθήναια νικήσομεν ‘and we are going to win the Panathenaia’).

4§77 The form of performances by Hippias within the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia is what I have been calling the rhapsodic dialogue. That is, Hippias can engage in a dialogue with his audience by way of quoting from Homer. In the process, he can also perform a dialogic commentary on Homer, using a mode of delivery that is equated with epideixis or epideictic speechmaking (Hippias Minor 363d and 364b). Homer is explicitly mentioned in the context where Hippias is portrayed as standing ready to answer any questions on any subject from anyone in his audience (363d). [64]

4§78 Although Homer may have been central to the performances of Hippias at Olympia, the sophist has found ways to transcend Homer. We can see signs of this transcendence near the very beginning of Plato’s Hippias Minor, where Socrates tells Eudikos that he needs to address a question to Hippias, who is at this moment already present but has not yet spoken (363a-b). The question asked by Socrates is explicitly about Homer, focusing on Achilles in the Iliad and on Odysseus in the Odyssey (Hippias Minor 363b). We join the dialogue at the moment when Socrates is about to explain why he seeks a response from Hippias to his question:

4ⓣ17 Plato Hippias Minor 363c-364a

… ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ καὶ παντοδαπὰ ἡμῖν ἐπιδέδεικται καὶ περὶ ποιητῶν τε ἄλλων καὶ περὶ Ὁμήρου. {481|482}

ΕΥ. Ἀλλὰ δῆλον ὅτι οὐ φθονήσει Ἱππίας, ἐάν τι αὐτὸν ἐρωτᾷς, ἀποκρίνεσθαι. ἦ γάρ, ὦ Ἱππία, ἐάν τι ἐρωτᾷ σε Σωκράτης, ἀποκρινῇ; ἢ πῶς ποιήσεις;

ΙΠ. Καὶ γὰρ ἂν δεινὰ ποιοίην, ὦ Εὔδικε, εἰ Ὀλυμπίαζε μὲν εἰς τὴν τῶν Ἑλλήνων πανήγυριν, ὅταν τὰ Ὀλύμπια ᾖ, {d} ἀεὶ ἐπανιὼν οἴκοθεν ἐξ Ἤλιδος εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν παρέχω ἐμαυτὸν καὶ λέγοντα ὅτι ἄν τις βούληται ὧν ἄν μοι εἰς ἐπίδειξιν παρεσκευασμένον ᾖ, καὶ ἀποκρινόμενον τῷ βουλομένῳ ὅτι ἄν τις ἐρωτᾷ, νῦν δὲ τὴν Σωκράτους ἐρώτησιν φύγοιμι. {364 a}

ΣΩ. Μακάριόν γε, ὦ Ἱππία, πάθος πέπονθας, εἰ ἑκάστης Ὀλυμπιάδος οὕτως εὔελπις ὢν περὶ τῆς ψυχῆς εἰς σοφίαν ἀφικνῇ εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ θαυμάσαιμ’ ἂν εἴ τις τῶν περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἀθλητῶν οὕτως ἀφόβως τε καὶ πιστευτικῶς ἔχων τῷ σώματι ἔρχεται αὐτόσε ἀγωνιούμενος, ὥσπερ σὺ φῂς τῇ διανοίᾳ.

ΙΠ. Εἰκότως, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἐγὼ τοῦτο πέπονθα· ἐξ οὗ γὰρ ἦργμαι Ὀλυμπίασιν ἀγωνίζεσθαι, οὐδενὶ πώποτε κρείττονι εἰς οὐδὲν ἐμαυτοῦ ἐνέτυχον.

 

SOCRATES: … since he [= Hippias] has displayed [epideiknusthai] so many things about so many poets [poiētai] – and especially about Homer.

EUDIKOS: But it is clear that Hippias will not be ungenerous, if you ask him a question, about giving a response. Isn’t that right, Hippias? If Socrates asks you a question, you will give a response? You will do it, won’t you?

HIPPIAS: I would be doing strange things, Eudikos, if I – as one who always goes to Olympia to the general gathering [panēguris] of all Hellenes when the Olympics take place, and, coming from my house in Elis I go into the sacred precinct [hieron] and I present myself in person, ready to perform [= literally ‘speak’, legein] whatever anyone wishes to choose from among all the things that I have prepared for display [epideixis], [65] and ready to give response to any question that {482|483} anyone wishes to ask [66] – I would be doing strange things indeed if I now avoided the questioning of Socrates.

SOCRATES: Blessed, I would say, is the experience that you have experienced, Hippias, if on the occasion of each Olympic festival you go into the sacred precinct [hieron] with such good expectations in regard to the skillfulness of your mind [psukhē]. And I would be dazzled if any one of those who engage in contests [= athlētai] in regard to the body [sōma] [67] is so fearless and confident about his own body [sōma] when he goes to the same place in order to compete [agōnizesthai] as you say you are fearless and confident about your thinking [dianoia].

HIPPIAS: It is likely, Socrates, that I for one have indeed experienced this. For ever since I have begun to compete [agōnizesthai] at the Olympics, I have never yet met anyone better than myself in anything.

4§79 A close reading of this passage leads me to make two inferences about the performances of Hippias in Olympia:

(1) Hippias engages in two forms of performance in Olympia. On the one hand, he can perform live dialogues, which resemble in form the simulated live dialogues written down in Plato’s Hippias Minor and Ion. On the other hand, he can perform set pieces, such as the Trojan Dialogue of Nestor and Neoptolemos. (We have already seen a reference to this set piece in Plato Hippias Maior 286a-c.) Within the dialogues of Hippias, he can quote set pieces derived from Homer or from other poets.
(2) The content of the performances undertaken by Hippias can be as varied as his areas of expertise are varied. The relationship of Homer to that content depends on the relationship of the dianoia ‘thinking’ of Homer to the dianoia ‘thinking’ of Hippias. {483|484}

4§80 Elaborating on these two inferences, I begin by comparing the performances of Ion the rhapsode. He performs Homer not only on such sacred occasions as the competitions at the Panathenaia in Athens. Like Hippias, Ion too is a performer of rhapsodic dialogue. I recall the quoted words of the rhapsode himself: καὶ οἶμαι κάλλιστα ἀνθρώπων λέγειν περὶ Ὁμήρου, ὡς οὔτε Μητρόδωρος ὁ Λαμψακηνὸς οὔτε Στησίμβροτος ὁ Θάσιος οὔτε Γλαύκων οὔτε ἄλλος οὐδεὶς τῶν πώποτε γενομένων ἔσχεν εἰπεῖν οὕτω πολλὰς καὶ καλὰς διανοίας περὶ Ὁμήρου ὅσας ἐγώ ‘… and I think I speak about Homer more beautifully than all other men – so that neither Metrodoros of Lampsakos nor Stesimbrotos of Thasos nor Glaukon nor anyone else who has ever yet lived can speak so many and so beautiful commentaries [dianoiai] about Homer as I can’ (Plato Ion 530c-d). [68] The technical rhapsodic word that I translate here as ‘commentary’, dianoia, is the same word that I translated a moment ago as ‘thinking’ in the earlier passage referring to the confidence of Hippias in his own dianoia when he performs in competition at the Olympics (Plato Hippias Minor 364a).

4§81 For Ion the rhapsode, his dianoia ‘thinking’ is coextensive with Homer’s own thinking about Homeric poetry (Ion 530b-d). [69] An occasion for speaking such a dianoia – that is, performing such a Homeric ‘commentary’ – is illustrated by Ion’s dialogue with Socrates as dramatized in Plato’s Ion. Here I reapply to the Ion a point I made earlier about the Hippias Minor: the fact that this dialogue seems to have no public can be viewed as a theatrical illusion induced by the genre we know as the Platonic dialogue. The public for a Platonic dialogue is after all a reading public.

4§82 What applies to Ion the rhapsode and to his dianoia ‘thinking’ applies also to Hippias the sophist: he too is speaking such a dianoia – that is, performing such a Homeric ‘commentary’ (Hippias Minor 364a). As with the thinking of Ion, the thinking of Hippias becomes coextensive with the authorial intent of Homer himself whenever the sophist speaks about Homer (Hippias Minor 363b elegen peri Homērou ‘spoke about Homer’).

4§83 Of the five other examples we saw where Hippias makes verbal displays comparable to what we see him doing in Olympia, the most similar is the fourth. It concerns, as we have already seen, a Trojan Dialogue mentioned in the Hippias Minor – a dialogue that supposedly took place between Hippias and his audience in the agora of Athens (364b-c). As we saw, Plato’s Socrates says that he attended that performance but had chosen not to engage in {484|485} dialogue with Hippias (364b). To be contrasted is the fifth example, which is the actual text of Plato’s Hippias Minor and which has no visible public setting. That is, it has no public setting for a live dialogue, because its public is a reading public. The dialogue of Hippias with Socrates in the Hippias Minor closely resembles in format the dialogue of Ion with Socrates in the Ion. Also to be contrasted is the third example, which is the formal Trojan Dialogue that Plato’s Socrates mentions in the passage I quoted earlier from the Hippias Maior: that display is less of a dialogue and more of a set piece composed by the sophist himself, featuring a staged dialogue betweeen Nestor and Neoptolemos (286a-c).

4§84 As we review all six Platonic examples of verbal displays by Hippias, we are left with a question of major importance: can we say that Hippias was performing mainly Homer and engaging in dialogues mainly about Homer on the sacred occasion of the Olympics in Olympia? After all, as we saw from the overview of Philostratus, Hippias used to engage in dialogues not only about Homer but also about practically every other craft. For example, we have read that ‘he performed dialogues also about painting [zōgraphia] and sculpture [agalmatopoiia]’ (Lives of Sophists 1.11.2 διελέγετο δὲ καὶ περὶ ζωγραφίας καὶ περὶ ἀγαλματοποιίας).

4§85 There is an obvious answer to this question. It all depends on how the concept of Homer is understood in the context of saying that Hippias performs Homer or engages in dialogues about Homer. The sophist’s choice of Olympia as the definitive place for his ultimate display of expertise in all tekhnai ‘crafts’ is significant. Also significant is the focusing of Socrates on the ring of Hippias, as we will see later. But the most significant choice made by Hippias of Elis is the definitive time for this display. That time is an ultimately sacred time, when all Hellenes celebrate their ultimate festival, the feast of the Olympics (Plato Hippias Minor 364a). The place too is an ultimately sacred place, where the hieron ‘sacred precinct’ of Zeus himself is situated (363c-d, 364a). In this context, which is an ultimate context, everything can become absolutized. In this context, Hippias absolutizes the first and foremost of all crafts, the craft that mediates epic, that is, the epic of Homer.

4§86 A Homeric display by Hippias at Olympia is designed to show most definitively his absolute claim to mastery of the rhapsodic craft of Homeric performance and dialogue. The absolutism of this claim matches the absoluteness of Homer himself in the age of Pheidias. Just as Homer is seen as the absolute authority in a rhapsode’s performance of Homer or in a rhapsode’s dialogue about Homer, so also the master of the rhapsodic craft becomes the absolute authority on Homer and on everything said by Homer. Just as Homer’s {485|486} craft subsumes all other crafts, so also the rhapsode as the master craftsman of Homeric performance and dialogue subsumes all other craftsmen.

4§87 Here, then, is an essential difference between Hippias and Ion as craftsmen. For Hippias of Elis, his mastery is expressed not in terms of the rhapsodic craft, as it is for Ion of Ephesus, but in terms of a sophistic craft that subsumes even the rhapsodic craft, which in turn subsumes all other crafts. For Hippias, Homeric performance and dialogue are mediated not by the craft of the rhapsode but by the all-subsuming craft of the sophist, as formalized in the all-subsuming sophistic concept of mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (Hippias Minor 368d, 369a).

4§88 The sophist’s vaunted expertise in all crafts, headed by the craft of Homeric poetry, is viewed as the perfecting of a new unified sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’, animated by that supposedly novel creation of his, the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’. As I have been arguing all along, this technique that Hippias the sophist uses as part of his sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ is derived from the same rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ as practiced by Ion the rhapsode. But the ‘sophistic craft’ of Hippias as activated on the occasion of the feast of the Olympics in Olympia has become a rival to the ‘rhapsodic craft’ of the rhapsode as activated on the occasion of the feast of the Panathenaia in Athens.

4§89 Even though the mnemonic technique of Hippias can be derived from a rhapsodic craft centering on the performance of Homeric poetry in a distinctly Athenian setting, that is, at the Panathenaia, the actual applications of this technique are attested primarily in non-Athenian or even anti-Athenian settings. Although Hippias was at least notionally a neutral agent whenever he was sent on missions to other cities from his native city of Elis, he is portrayed as partial to the Spartans instead of the Athenians. He is quoted as saying, at the very beginning of the Hippias Maior (281b), that he prefers his frequent visits to the Spartans over his occasional visits to the Athenians. In Sparta, as we saw, he makes use of his Panathenaic craft in order to win the favor of the Spartans, who have their own imperial ambitions: ἐπειδὴ οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι ἄρχειν τῇ ἰδέᾳ ταύτῃ ἔχαιρον ‘since the Spartans, through their desire for imperial rule [arkhein], took pleasure in this form’ (Philostratus Lives of Sophists 1.11.3). [70]

4§90 Evidently, Hippias is leaning toward the Spartan side in the struggle for world power between Athens and Sparta. I find it noteworthy that Elis, the city that controls the sacred and therefore notionally neutral space that serves {486|487} as the setting of the Olympic Games, sends to Sparta an emissary who gravitates politically toward the Spartan side. [71] To that extent, the Homeric performances and interpretations by Hippias at the hieron ‘sacred precinct’ of Zeus on the occasion of the Olympic agōnes ‘competitions’ in Olympia can be seen as a political counterweight to the Homeric performances and interpretations by rhapsodes like Ion on the occasion of the Panathenaic agōnes ‘competitions’ in Athens. And yet, the actual traditions of performing and interpreting Homer – even in the hostile political space of Sparta and the neutral political space of Olympia – are dominated by the Panathenaic cultural space of Athens. Even in such non-Athenian settings, as we have seen from the parallelisms between Hippias and Ion, there are clear signs of a Panathenaic standard. [72] In Olympia as in Sparta and in Athens, the Homeric performances and dialogues of Hippias stem from a Panathenaic craft – even if the sophist uses this craft primarily to promote the political interests of Sparta.

4§91 Having noted the signs of a Panathenaic standard in the Homeric performances of Hippias at Olympia, I return to the distinction I made earlier between a private Homer and a Panathenaic Homer. The question that arises is whether the Homer of Hippias is one or the other of these two kinds of Homer. From what we have seen so far, the answer must be two-sided. In its applications, the Homer of Hippias is private – that is, Homer is being privatized by a man whose own agenda transcend the political agenda of imperial Athens. Still, even when Hippias performs Homer in Olympia, which is a sacred and therefore notionally neutral space within the political space controlled by Elis, the Homer he performs is a Panathenaic Homer. That is, the Homer of Hippias still conforms to the Panathenaic standard. The statement that I have just made is supported not only by the evidence presented so far. We will see further evidence when we start to examine additional testimony about Hippias. Before we can get to that testimony, however, I need to look more closely at the actual setting for the Homeric performances of Hippias in Olympia.

4§92 The argumentation widens at this point. From here on, I will argue not only that Hippias of Elis conformed to an Athenian standard of performing Homer when he faced his audiences in the sacred precinct of Zeus at Olympia. I will argue also that the Olympian setting for the performance of Homer in this sacred space, removed though it was from the political reach of Athens, {487|488} conformed to Athenian cultural standards in general and to the Athenian standard of performing the Panathenaic Homer in particular. [73] I start by concentrating on the most salient aspect of this Olympian setting.

4ⓢ5. Pheidias and his Homeric statue of Zeus

4§93 The setting for the Homeric performances of Hippias in Olympia was a building inside the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia. The building was a temple of Zeus. Inside the temple was the single most important and prestigious visual attraction of the ancient Greek world. It was a statue of Zeus sculpted by Pheidias of Athens. Retrospectively, I can safely say that this colossal likeness of Zeus, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, was the ultimate center of attention – the metonymic centerpiece – for all Hellenic civilization. As I will argue, the Homeric performances of Hippias in Olympia were linked with this statue made by Pheidias.

4§94 The most vivid description of the statue of Zeus comes from Pausanias. At the very beginning of his self-conscious account, Pausanias conveys most forcefully the foregrounding of the statue against the background of (1) the temple, (2) the sacred precinct of Zeus as a whole, (3) the competition of the Olympics, held within the sacred precinct, and (4) the overall prestige of the Olympics as perceived by all Hellenes:

4ⓣ18 Pausanias 8.10.1-2

πολλὰ μὲν δὴ καὶ ἄλλα ἴδοι τις ἂν ἐν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ καὶ ἀκούσαι θαύματος ἄξια· μάλιστα δὲ τοῖς Ἐλευσῖνι δρωμένοις καὶ ἀγῶνι τῷ ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ μέτεστιν ἐκ θεοῦ φροντίδος. τὸ δὲ ἄλσος τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ Διὸς παραποιήσαντες τὸ ὄνομα Ἄλτιν ἐκ παλαιοῦ καλοῦσι· καὶ δὴ καὶ Πινδάρῳ ποιήσαντι ἐς ἄνδρα ὀλυμπιονίκην ᾆσμα Ἄλτις ἐπωνόμασται {2} τὸ χωρίον. ἐποιήθη δὲ ὁ ναὸς καὶ τὸ ἄγαλμα τῷ Διὶ ἀπὸ λαφύρων, ἡνίκα Πίσαν οἱ Ἠλεῖοι καὶ ὅσον τῶν περιοίκων ἄλλο συναπέστη Πισαίοις πολέμῳ καθεῖλον. <Φειδίαν> δὲ τὸν ἐργασάμενον τὸ ἄγαλμα εἶναι καὶ ἐπίγραμμά ἐστιν ἐς μαρτυρίαν ὑπὸ τοῦ Διὸς γεγραμμένον τοῖς ποσί …

There are many wondrous things to see in the Greek-speaking world and many wondrous things to hear, but the things that are {488|489} absolutely the most closely tied to a divine way of thinking are the rituals [drōmena] in Eleusis and the competition [agōn] in Olympia. The sacred grove [alsos] of Zeus has been called ever since ancient times by its ad hoc name, Altis. That is the way the space is called {2} by Pindar in a song he had made for a man who won a victory in the Olympics. [74] The temple and the statue [agalma] dedicated to Zeus were made from the spoils of war – going back to the time when the people of Elis and the rest of the perioikoi revolted against the people of Pisa and destroyed Pisa in a war. [75] The fact that was the one who made the statue [agalma] is proved by an epigram that is written under the feet of Zeus.

4§95 An essential part of my ongoing argument is that this statue of Zeus in the temple of Zeus at Olympia is a distinctly Homeric Zeus. There are many reasons for me to say this, but they can be summed up in a single anecdote about the making of the statue by the sculptor Pheidias. In this anecdote, the verbal art that went into the making of the Homeric Iliad converges with the visual art that went into the making of the statue of Zeus by Pheidias. At the moment of convergence, we see the supreme god in the act of expressing his divine will:

4ⓣ19 Strabo 8.3.30 C354

πολλὰ δὲ συνέπραξε τῷ Φειδίᾳ Πάναινος ὁ ζωγράφος, ἀδελφιδοῦς ὢν αὐτοῦ καὶ συνεργολάβος, πρὸς τὴν τοῦ ξοάνου διὰ τῶν χρωμάτων κόσμησιν καὶ μάλιστα τῆς ἐσθῆτος. δείκνυνται δὲ καὶ γραφαὶ πολλαί τε καὶ θαυμασταὶ περὶ τὸ ἱερὸν ἐκείνου ἔργα. ἀπομνημονεύουσι δὲ τοῦ Φειδίου, διότι πρὸς τὸν Πάναινον εἶπε πυνθανόμενον πρὸς τί παράδειγμα μέλλοι ποιήσειν τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ Διός, ὅτι πρὸς τὴν Ὁμήρου δι’ ἐπῶν ἐκτεθεῖσαν τούτων

ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων·
ἀμβρόσιαι δ’ ἄρα χαῖται ἐπερρώσαντο ἄνακτος
κρατὸς ἀπ’ ἀθανάτοιο, μέγαν δ’ ἐλέλιξεν ῎Ολυμπον. {489|490}

Iliad I 528-530

Collaborating in many ways with Pheidias was Panainos the painter [zōgraphos]. [76] He was his nephew and his partner in getting the contract [for making the statue]. The collaboration had to do with the adorning [kosmēsis] [77] of the statue [xoanon], particularly of its fabrics, [78] with colors [khrōmata]. And many wondrous paintings [graphai], [79] works of Panainos, are also to be seen all around the temple. There is this recollection about Pheidias: when Panainos asked him after what model [paradeigma] he was going to make the likeness [eikōn] of Zeus, he replied that he was going to make it after the likeness set forth by Homer in these words [epos plural]:

So spoke the son of Kronos, and with his eyebrows of azure he made a reinforcing [= epi-] nod.
Ambrosial were the locks that cascaded from the lord’s
head immortal. And he caused great Olympus to quake.

Iliad I 528-530

4§96 According to this anecdote, the creative impulse that led Pheidias to make the statue of Zeus was a distinctly Homeric impulse. The moment captured by the maker of the statue is a Homeric moment. It is the moment when Zeus nods his head and thus signifies his divine will, that is, the Plan of Zeus, which is coextensive with the plot of the Homeric Iliad.

4§97 The Zeus of the temple of Zeus in Olympia is not only a Homeric Zeus. He is also an Athenian Zeus, conforming to a distinctly Athenian standard. It is not only that Zeus was made by an Athenian, Pheidias the sculptor. It is also that this statue of Zeus in Olympia followed the Athenian standard of the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. [80] It is known for sure that Pheidias made this Athena Parthenos earlier than he {490|491} made the Zeus in the temple of Zeus in Olympia. [81] According to Philochorus (FGH 328 F 121), the statue of Athena Parthenos was inaugurated in 438/7 BCE, and Pericles himself was an epistatēs ‘supervisor’. [82]

4§98 The point that I am making so far, that the statue of Athena Parthenos sets an Athenian standard for the statue of Zeus, is connected to another point I will be making in the paragraphs that follow: this standard is linked to the festival of the Panathenaia. In other words, the statue of Zeus is Panathenaic in inspiration, to the extent that the statue of Athena Parthenos is Panathenaic. Here I find it relevant to adduce an argument made by modern historians about the Parthenon: as the sacred space that housed Athena Parthenos, the Parthenon was built to be “a Panathenaic temple.” [83]

4§99 By contrast with the statue of Zeus, the temple of Zeus, as it was originally built, did not conform to such an Athenian standard. The Athenian standard applies directly only to the statue of Zeus, not to the temple that housed him. Still, the commissioning of Pheidias of Athens to make the colossal statue of Zeus inside the god’s temple led to changes for the temple: in the lengthly process of making the statue, the temple of Zeus was made to conform at least indirectly to the Athenian standard set by the making of his statue. That is to say, the making of the statue of Zeus by Pheidias, which took place in a later era than the making of the statue of Athena, required the remaking of the temple that housed it, since the artistic program of the original builders of the temple stemmed from an earlier era (Pausanias 8.10.1-2). The new statue inside the older temple was enormous – so enormous that it took up the space of one third of the main part of the building, and the fact that the likeness of Zeus was represented as seated and not standing only added to the viewer’s sense of the statue’s spectacular size. [84] There is an Athenian cultural standard at work here.

4ⓢ6. Pheidias and his Homeric statue of Athena Parthenos

4§100 Having made the point that the statue of Athena Parthenos made by Pheidias was distinctly Athenian and even Panathenaic in inspiration, I now {491|492} make the further point that it was also Homeric, like the Zeus sculpted by Pheidias. In the case of this statue of Athena Parthenos, we have no surviving anecdote about a Homeric inspiration as we have in the case of the statue of Zeus. But we do have independent evidence that the Parthenos is a Homeric Athena. Just as the statue of Zeus by Pheidias was marked by a Homeric signature, as it were, so too was the statue of Athena by Pheidias. While the statue of Zeus was inspired by the Homeric moment when Zeus nods his head, the statue of Athena was inspired by the moment when Athena goes to war on behalf of the Achaeans. Like the moment of Zeus, the moment of Athena takes place in the Homeric Iliad:

4ⓣ20 Iliad V 733-747

Αὐτὰρ Ἀθηναίη κούρη Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
πέπλον μὲν κατέχευεν ἑανὸν πατρὸς ἐπ’ οὔδει
735  ποικίλον, ὅν ῥ’ αὐτὴ ποιήσατο καὶ κάμε χερσίν·
ἣ δὲ χιτῶν’ ἐνδῦσα Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο
τεύχεσιν ἐς πόλεμον θωρήσσετο δακρυόεντα.
ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ ὤμοισιν βάλετ’ αἰγίδα θυσσανόεσσαν
δεινήν, ἣν περὶ μὲν πάντῃ Φόβος ἐστεφάνωται,
740  ἐν δ’ Ἔρις, ἐν δ’ Ἀλκή, ἐν δὲ κρυόεσσα Ἰωκή,
ἐν δέ τε Γοργείη κεφαλὴ δεινοῖο πελώρου
δεινή τε σμερδνή τε, Διὸς τέρας αἰγιόχοιο.
κρατὶ δ’ ἐπ' ἀμφίφαλον κυνέην θέτο τετραφάληρον
χρυσείην, ἑκατὸν πολίων πρυλέεσσ’ ἀραρυῖαν·
745  ἐς δ’ ὄχεα φλόγεα ποσὶ βήσετο, λάζετο δ’ ἔγχος
βριθὺ μέγα στιβαρόν, τῷ δάμνησι στίχας ἀνδρῶν
ἡρώων, οἷσίν τε κοτέσσεται ὀβριμοπάτρη. {492|493}

As for Athena, daughter of Zeus who has the aegis, [85]
she took off her woven peplos [peplos] at the threshold of her father,
735  her pattern-woven [poikilos] peplos, the one that she herself made and worked on with her own hands.
And, putting on the khiton [khitōn] of Zeus the gatherer of clouds,
with armor she armed herself to go to war, which brings tears.
Over her shoulders she threw the aegis, with fringes on it,
– terrifying – garlanded all around by Fear personified.
740  On it [= the aegis] are Strife, Resistance, and the chilling Shout [of victorious pursuers].
On it also is the head of the Gorgon, the terrible monster,
a thing of terror and horror, the portent of Zeus who has the aegis.
On her head she put the helmet, [86] with a phalos on each side [87] and with four phalēra, [88]
golden, adorned with the warriors [pruleis] of a hundred cities. [89]
745  Into the fiery chariot with her feet she stepped, and she took hold of the spear, {493|494}
heavy, huge, massive. With it she subdues the battle-rows of men –
heroes [90] against whom she is angry, she of the mighty father.

4§101 I note with interest the coextensiveness of the khiton (khitōn) and the aegis, metonymically shared by the almighty father with her mighty daughter: the khiton worn by Athena as she goes to war is explicitly said to belong to Zeus, and the aegis that she wears at verse 738 belongs primarily to her father, as we see from the epithet of Zeus at verse 741, aigiokhos ‘he who has the aegis’. Moreover, the figure of Medusa the Gorgon is explicitly said here to be a teras ‘portent’ that marks Zeus himself.

4§102 At the moment when the goddess begins arming herself for war, she is shown slipping out of her peplos (peplos) or ‘robe’ and slipping into a khiton (khitōn) or ‘tunic’, which is said to belong to her father, Zeus. I should note from the start that the word peplos is appropriate for designating masterpieces of weaving meant primarily for display, distinguished by the patterns of images woven into them. It is a specialized artistic term having little to do with everyday wear in the ancient Greek world. The terminology focuses on the art of weaving, not on any utilitarian aspect of the fabric being woven. [91]

4§103 The peplos that Athena takes off connects her to her feminine identity as a weaver, while the khiton she puts on for war connects her to her masculine identity as a warrior. Athena Parthenos wears the armor – and the khiton – of her father, Zeus. This male exterior was highlighted by the sculpture of Pheidias. As we see from the eyewitness description of Pausanias, the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon wears a khiton:

4ⓣ21 Pausanias 1.24.5-7

αὐτὸ δὲ ἔκ τε ἐλέφαντος τὸ ἄγαλμα καὶ χρυσοῦ πεποίηται. μέσῳ μὲν οὖν ἐπίκειταί οἱ τῷ κράνει Σφιγγὸς εἰκών […] καθ’ ἑκάτερον δὲ τοῦ κράνους {6} γρῦπές εἰσιν ἐπειργασμένοι. […] καὶ γρυπῶν {7} μὲν πέρι τοσαῦτα εἰρήσθω· τὸ δὲ ἄγαλμα τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς ὀρθόν ἐστιν ἐν χιτῶνι ποδήρει καί οἱ κατὰ τὸ στέρνον ἡ κεφαλὴ Μεδούσης ἐλέφαντός ἐστιν ἐμπεποιημένη· καὶ Νίκην τε ὅσον τεσσάρων πηχῶν, ἐν δὲ τῇ χειρὶ δόρυ ἔχει, καί οἱ πρὸς τοῖς ποσὶν ἀσπίς τε κεῖται καὶ πλησίον τοῦ δόρατος δράκων ἐστίν· εἴη δ’ ἂν Ἐριχθόνιος οὗτος ὁ δράκων. ἔστι δὲ τῷ βάθρῳ τοῦ ἀγάλματος ἐπειργασμένη Πανδώρας {494|495} γένεσις. πεποίηται δὲ Ἡσιόδῳ τε καὶ ἄλλοις ὡς ἡ Πανδώρα γένοιτο αὕτη γυνὴ πρώτη·

The statue [agalma] itself is made of gold and ivory. In the middle of the helmet is placed a likeness of Sphinx. [Pausanias here gives a cross-reference to a later excursus on the Sphinx.] On each side of the helmet there are griffins worked in. [Pausanias here gives an excursus on griffins.] Enough said about griffins. The statue [agalma] of Athena is standing, wearing a khiton [khitōn] that extends to her feet. On her chest is the head of Medusa, made of ivory. She has [in one hand] a [figure of] Nike, around four cubits in height, and she holds in her [other] hand a spear. A shield [aspis] is positioned at her feet. And near the spear is a serpent [drakōn]. [92] Now this serpent [drakōn] would be Erikhthonios. And on the surface of the base of the statue is a relief of the genesis of Pandora. The story of the genesis of this first woman Pandora is told by Hesiod in his poetry as well as by others.

4§104 The wording of Pausanias makes it explicit that Athena Parthenos is wearing not her peplos (peplos) or ‘robe’ but a khiton (khitōn) or ‘tunic’, and over her khiton she wears her armor. This image of Athena wearing her khiton and the armor over it matches what we see in the Homeric description of what the goddess wears when she goes to battle against the Trojans in the Trojan War.

4§105 The khiton of Zeus that Athena wears to war marks the coextensiveness between Zeus the father and Athena the daughter who emerged fully formed and fully armed from the head of Zeus at the moment of her birth, as narrated in the Hesiodic Theogony (verses 886-900, 924-926) and in the Homeric Hymn (28) to Athena (verses 4-6). In the Hymn, Athena herself is described explicitly as Parthenos (verse 3), and the armor she wears is golden (verse 6). As in the Iliad passage I have just quoted, Zeus in this Hymn is described as aigiokhos ‘the one who has the aegis’ (verses 7 and 17). Thus the aegis that the statue of Athena Parthenos wears, along with all the armor, is metonymically centered on Zeus.

4§106 In the visual arts, the coextensiveness between Zeus the father and Athena the daughter is most conventionally expressed by the concept of Nike, who is the divine embodiment of nikē ‘victory’ in war. In the work of Pheidias, {495|496} both the colossal Zeus and the colossal Athena hold a statue of Nike in the palm of the right hand (Pausanias 1.24.7 and 5.11.1 respectively).

4§107 Moreover, as we see even from the pre-Pheidian art that adorns the temple of Zeus in Olympia, the almighty father is recognized by way of his association with Nike and with the figure of Medusa the Gorgon as the centerpiece of the shield that goes with Nike:

4ⓣ22 Pausanias 5.10.4

ἐν δὲ Ὀλυμπίᾳ λέβης ἐπίχρυσος ἐπὶ ἑκάστῳ τοῦ ὀρόφου τῷ πέρατι ἐπίκειται καὶ Νίκη κατὰ μέσον μάλιστα ἕστηκε τὸν ἀετόν, ἐπίχρυσος καὶ αὕτη. ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς Νίκης τὸ ἄγαλμα ἀσπὶς ἀνάκειται χρυσῆ, Μέδουσαν τὴν Γοργόνα ἔχουσα ἐπειργασμένην.

In Olympia a gilded caldron [lebēs] is positioned at each end of the roof [of the temple of Zeus], and a [figure of] Nike, also gilded, stands at the absolute middle of the pediment. Under the statue [agalma] of Nike is a golden shield [aspis], and it has on it Medusa the Gorgon made in relief.

4§108 Pausanias (5.10.4) goes on to describe the inscription on the golden shield of Nike bearing the image of Medusa the Gorgon, which proclaims that this art treasure was made from spoils won ‘from the Argives, Athenians, and Ionians’ (Ἀργείων καὶ Ἀθαναίων καὶ Ἰώνων) as the result of a nikē ‘victory’ of the Spartans over these enemies (νίκας εἵνεκα).

4§109 These associations between Zeus and Nike and between Zeus and Medusa the Gorgon in the pre-Pheidian visual art of the temple of Zeus in Olympia are comparable with associations we find in the verbal art of Homeric poetry. As we saw, the aegis, which features Medusa the Gorgon as its centerpiece, belongs primarily to Zeus and only secondarily to Athena by virtue of her being born directly from the head of Zeus. [93] As for Nike, that is, victory incarnate, I should stress that the Plan of Zeus, which is isofunctional with the plot of the Iliad, is associated with his awarding nikē ‘victory’ to Trojans or Achaeans in the Trojan War. In Homeric poetry, the role of Zeus in awarding nikē is clearly primary, and the role of Athena is just as clearly secondary: {496|497}

Zeus:
Iliad VII 203: Zeus to give nikē to Ajax in the duel of Ajax with Hector – so prays an unnamed Achaean (or, if there is to be no nikē for Ajax, he prays for at least an even draw for Ajax and Hector)
Iliad VIII 171: Zeus gives a sign [sēma] that he will give nikē to the Trojans and not to the Achaeans
Iliad XIII 347: Zeus expresses his plan to give nikē to the Trojans and not to the Achaeans
Iliad XVI 121: Zeus expresses his plan to give nikē to the Trojans and not to the Achaeans – and Ajax recognizes this
Iliad XVI 362: nikē has been given to the Trojans – and Ajax recognizes this; in the battle over the beached ships, Iakhe [personification of the battle-cry] and Phobos [personification of routing the enemy] are compared in a simile to the effects of a storm sent by Zeus (XVI 364-366)
Iliad XVI 844-845: Zeus has given nikē to Hector and not to Patroklos – so says the dying Patroklos
Iliad XVII 176-177: Zeus can cause even a valiant warrior to turn and run (phobeîn), thus depriving him of nikē – so says Hector
Iliad XVII 331-332: Zeus gives nikē to the Trojans and not to the Achaeans – so says Apollo (in the guise of a herald) to Aeneas
Iliad XVII 627: Zeus gives nikē to the Trojans – and Ajax along with Menelaos recognizes this
Iliad XX 101-102: If the ‘god’ (theos) levels the odds, Achilles will not be able to get nikē in his duel with Aeneas, even if Achilles boasts to be ‘all-bronze’ (pan-khalkeos) – says Aeneas
Athena:
Iliad III 439: Menelaos to get nikē with the help of Athena
Iliad IV 389: Tydeus got nikē with the help of Athena, in an athletic contest with the Thebans {497|498}
Iliad VII 26-27: Athena expresses her plan to give nikē to the Achaeans – says the god Apollo, whose plan is to give nikē to the Trojans (VII 21)
Iliad XXIII 767: Odysseus to get nikē with the help of Athena, in an athletic contest – so he prays to her (768-770)
Iliad XXIII 771: Odysseus gets nikē with the help of Athena – she heeds his prayer
Odyssey viii 520: Odysseus got nikē at Troy with the help of Athena
Odyssey xi 544, 548: Ajax in Hades is angry at Odysseus because he got nikē with the direct help of Athena (and with the indirect help of the paides ‘children’ of the Trojans).

4§110 So the Homeric moment of Zeus as sculpted by Pheidias is primary, since the Plan of Zeus is what ultimately achieves victory for the Achaeans over the Trojans in the Trojan War. By contrast, the Homeric moment of Athena Parthenos as sculpted by Pheidias is secondary, since she is only an accessory to the overall Plan of Zeus when she enters the war in her own right.

4§111 As for the pre-Pheidian temple of Zeus at Olympia, it too already bears the markings of a Homeric signature. All the same, the colossal Pheidian statue of Zeus, which holds a statue of Nike in the palm of his hand – and has an aegis – represents the newest and most definitive Homeric signature. And it is a distinctly Athenian version of a Homeric signature, since the colossal Pheidian statue of Athena Parthenos in Athens likewise holds a statue of Nike in the palm of her hand – and has an aegis.

4§112 So, paradoxically, the newer statue of Zeus in Olympia has seniority, as it were, over the older statue of Athena Parthenos in Athens when it comes to the father’s authority over Nike as victory personified. From the standpoint of Homeric poetry, Athena is generally involved in the fluctuations of nikē in war, but Zeus is specifically involved in the ultimate struggle between the Trojan and the Achaean warriors in their quest for nikē in the Trojan War. I repeat, his plan for the Trojan War is in effect the plot of the Homeric Iliad. So the newer statue of Zeus is even more Homeric and more definitive than the older statue of Athena Parthenos. The Homeric signature of the statue of Zeus is even more pronounced than the Homeric signature of the statue of Athena.

4§113 In the light of the parallelism we see between the statue of Zeus in the temple of Zeus at Olympia and the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon at Athens, I am ready to shift the focus of attention from the later {498|499} to the earlier work of Pheidias. What I said a moment ago about the Zeus of Pheidias in Olympia can now become a restatement of what I can say here about the Athena Parthenos of Pheidias in the Parthenon: this colossal statue of Athena was an ultimate center of attention – a metonymic centerpiece – not only for the entire sacred space of Athena in Athens but also for all Hellenic civilization. Unlike the making of the Zeus of Pheidias, however, which required the remaking of the temple that housed it, the making of the Athena of Pheidias was organically integrated from the start with the making of the temple that housed it, the Parthenon. In other words, the artistic program of the sculptor set the standard for the artistic program of the architects of the temple.

4§114 The synergism of Pheidias with the architects of the temple of Athena Parthenos is narrated in Plutarch’s Pericles. As we will see, this synergism extends into a larger synergism linking the master sculptor with everyone involved in what modern historians call the Periclean building program. In other words, the artistic program of the architects of the new buildings, as represented by Pheidias, is linked with the political program of the architects of the Athenian empire, as represented by Pericles. As we will also see, Plutarch’s narrative is not some anachronistic exercise in restating an imperial ideology current in Plutarch’s own day. Rather, the main themes of the narrative go all the way back to the age of Pheidias himself.

4§115 In what follows I offer a close reading of the relevant narrative of Plutarch, concentrating on his description of the relationship between Pheidias as the premier artist and Pericles as the premier statesman of the Athenian empire. In this narrative, Pheidias is portrayed as the grand ‘overseer’ or episkopos who was put in charge of the notional totality of the Periclean building program:

4ⓣ23 Plutarch Pericles 13.6-15 (abridged)

Πάντα δὲ διεῖπε καὶ πάντων ἐπίσκοπος ἦν αὐτῷ Φειδίας, καίτοι μεγάλους ἀρχιτέκτονας ἐχόντων καὶ τεχνίτας {7} τῶν ἔργων. τὸν μὲν γὰρ ἑκατόμπεδον Παρθενῶνα Καλλικράτης εἰργάζετο καὶ Ἰκτῖνος, τὸ δ’ ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι Τελεστήριον ἤρξατο μὲν Κόροιβος οἰκοδομεῖν, καὶ τοὺς ἐπ’ ἐδάφους κίονας ἔθηκεν οὗτος καὶ τοῖς ἐπιστυλίοις ἐπέζευξεν· ἀποθανόντος δὲ τούτου Μεταγένης ὁ Ξυπεταιὼν τὸ διάζωσμα καὶ τοὺς ἄνω κίονας ἐπέστησε, τὸ δ’ ὀπαῖον ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀνακτόρου Ξενοκλῆς ὁ Χολαργεὺς ἐκορύφωσε· τὸ δὲ μακρὸν τεῖχος, περὶ οὗ Σωκράτης ἀκοῦσαί φησιν αὐτὸς εἰσηγουμένου γνώμην Περικλέους, {8} {499|500} ἠργολάβησε Καλλικράτης. … {9} τὸ δ’ ᾿Ωιδεῖον, τῇ μὲν ἐντὸς διαθέσει πολύεδρον καὶ πολύστυλον, τῇ δ’ ἐρέψει περικλινὲς καὶ κάταντες ἐκ μιᾶς κορυφῆς πεποιημένον, εἰκόνα λέγουσι γενέσθαι καὶ μίμημα τῆς βασιλέως σκηνῆς, ἐπιστατοῦντος καὶ τούτῳ {10} Περικλέους. […] {11} φιλοτιμούμενος δ’ ὁ Περικλῆς τότε πρῶτον ἐψηφίσατο μουσικῆςἀγῶνα τοῖς Παναθηναίοις ἄγεσθαι, καὶ διέταξεν αὐτὸς ἀθλοθέτης αἱρεθείς, καθότι χρὴ τοὺς ἀγωνιζομένους αὐλεῖνᾄδεινκιθαρίζειν. ἐθεῶντο δὲ καὶ τότε καὶ τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον ἐν ᾿Ωιδείῳ τοὺς μουσικοὺς ἀγῶνας. {12} Τὰ δὲ Προπύλαια τῆς ἀκροπόλεως ἐξειργάσθη μὲν ἐν πενταετίᾳ Μνησικλέους ἀρχιτεκτονοῦντος, τύχη δὲ θαυμαστὴ συμβᾶσα περὶ τὴν οἰκοδομίαν ἐμήνυσε τὴν θεὸν οὐκ ἀποστατοῦσαν, ἀλλὰ συνεφαπτομένην τοῦ ἔργου καὶ {13} συνεπιτελοῦσαν. … {14} Ὁ δὲ Φειδίας εἰργάζετο μὲν τῆς θεοῦ τὸ χρυσοῦν ἕδος, καὶ τούτου δημιουργὸς ἐν τῇ στήλῃ [εἶναι] γέγραπται· πάντα δ’ ἦν σχεδὸν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ, καὶ πᾶσιν ὡς εἰρήκαμεν {15} ἐπεστάτει τοῖς τεχνίταις διὰ φιλίαν Περικλέους. καὶ τοῦτο τῷ μὲν φθόνον, τῷ δὲ βλασφημίαν ἤνεγκεν, ὡς …

The man who directed [diepein] all the projects for him [= Pericles] and was the overseer [episkopos] of everything [94] involved was Pheidias, although individual works were executed by other great master builders [arkhitektones] [95] and craftsmen [tekhnitai] {7} of the various projects. For the hundred-foot Parthenon was executed by Kallikrates and Iktinos. As for the Telestērion [‘Hall of Initiation’] at Eleusis, it was Koroibos who began the building, and it was this man who had put in place on their foundation the columns and joined them to their architraves. But when he died Metagenes of the deme of Xypete put in place the frieze and the upper columns, while the hearth-opening above the anaktoron [‘royal space’] received its crowning touch from Xenokles of the deme of Kholargos. For the Long Wall, concerning which Socrates [Plato Gorgias 455e] says that he himself heard Pericles make a formal proposal, {8} the contractor was Kallikrates. … {9} As for the Odeum, which was designed to have many seats and columns on the inside, and the roofing of {500|501} which had a steep slope from the peak downward, they say it was a visual imitation of the Great King’s Tent [Skēnē] – and {10} Pericles was supervising [epistateîn] this building project as well. … [96] {11} It was then for the first time that Pericles, ambitious as he was, got a decree passed that there should be a competition [agōn] in mousikē [97] at the Panathenaia, and he set up the rules [diatassein], having been elected as an athlothetēs [= organizer of the athloi ‘contests’] for those who were competing [agōnizesthai] – rules for them to follow about the aulos playing and the singing and the kithara-playing. At that point in time and in other periods of time as well, it was in the Odeum that people used to be spectators [theâsthai] of competitions [agōnes] in mousikē. {12} The Propylaea were built within the space of five years, Mnesikles being the architect, and a wondrous event happened in the course of their building, which indicated that the goddess was not just standing back but actively participating [= sun-, prefixed to both verbs that follow] in lending a hand to [sun-haptesthai] the project and in {13} bringing it to completion [sun-epi-teleîn]. … {14} Pheidias himself worked on the golden statue [hedos] of the goddess, and his name is inscribed as the artist on the stele. Almost everything was dependent on [= epi- plus dative] him, and, as I have said, {15} he was in charge [epistateîn], on account of his friendship with Pericles, of all the other craftsmen [tekhnitai]. This brought envy against one [= Pheidias] and, against the other [= Pericles], defamation, to the effect that …

4§116 I consider the narrative in this passage I just quoted from Plutarch’s Pericles a masterpiece of metonymy. [98] The relationship of Pericles the statesman to Pheidias the craftsman and artist is being narrated here as a perfect complementarity, a perfect artistic totality in its own right. Just as the leading citizen Pericles leads his fellow citizens in political action, the leading craftsman Pheidias leads his fellow craftsmen in the artistic realization of the same action. I say the same action because I see here an overlapping complementarity, not a mutually exclusive one. The political action and the artistic creativity overlap with each other because the statesman and the {501|502} craftsman share with each other the political and the artistic credit for their accomplishments. [99] And the unifying force of sharing in all the credit is the goddess of Athens, Athena. Here in Plutarch’s Pericles (13.13), the goddess is pictured as an active participant in both the art and the politics of the project, and her participation is conveyed in the most physical terms. According to the story, Athena showed her involvement in the overall building program by miraculously ‘lending a hand’ (sun-haptesthai) in the building of the Propylaea, thus ‘keeping in touch’ (-haptesthai) with the craftsmen in their work and making it possible to bring this work to its completion (sun-epi-teleîn). This overall building program, to repeat, featured as its highest achievement the making of the statue of Athena. So there was a synergism linking the work of Athena with the work of the craftsman Pheidias and of all the craftsmen he supervised.

4§117 Here it is relevant for me to add a general observation about a most ancient and fundamental connection that exists between the name of Athena and the name of Athens. The very idea of physical contact offered by the goddess to the leaders of Athens and to those they lead is embedded in the grammatical relationship between the name of Athena and the name of Athens. The singular name of the goddess Athena, Athēnē, is coextensive with the plural name of her city of Athens, Athēnai. This name means, elliptically, ‘Athena and everything / everyone connected to her’. [100] In other words, the name of the city of Athens is itself a most ancient metonym that expresses the divine power of integrating and unifying the diversity of all things and all people.

4§118 In the narrative of the passage I just quoted from Plutarch’s Pericles, there is an inner logic of totality in the sequence of transitions from one highlight to another. Here again are the three phases of the sequence:

(1) the naming of various building projects executed by craftsmen other than Pheidias
(2) the naming of Athena as an active participant and an integrating force in the work to be done {502|503}
(3) the climactic naming of Pheidas as the author of the pièce de résistance, the project of final integration, which is the statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon on the acropolis.

4§119 Modern historians find it near-impossible to accept the idea that Pheidias the sculptor could have been so important in the age of Pericles. Stories about Pheidias as a close advisor to Pericles are generally mistrusted. Even the idea that Pheidias was overseer of the entire building program is viewed with skepticism. [101] Moreover, the stories about the troubled life of Pheidias, featuring trials, exile from Athens, and even his execution at the hands of the Eleans, seem more mythical than historical in content. [102] I will argue, however, that even the myths framed by the Life of Pheidias traditions have a historical value, in that they serve to explain the historical reality of his colossal prestige. That prestige came from his craft as the sculptor of colossal statues like the Zeus in Olympia and the Athena Parthenos in Athens. As we are about to see, the most visible sign of the prestige inherent in these statues – besides their colossal size – was their chryselephantine surface, that is, the gold and the ivory that adorned their exterior appearance.

4§120 One way to test the historical value of the Life of Pheidias traditions is to look at the negative stories concerning the sculptor, alongside the positive stories concerning his colossal prestige. It turns out that even the negative stories concern that same prestige, and that this colossal prestige is directly connected to the colossal prestige of the Athenian empire. There is a metonymy built into all the stories, positive or negative, that connects the monumental art of Pheidias with the wealth, power, and prestige of the Athenian empire as represented primarily by Pericles. In the stories about Pheidias, he not only shares with Pericles the credit for the glories of the Athenian empire: he also has his own share in the dangers that come with empire. We saw this negative side already in the passage I quoted from Plutarch’s Pericles where we read of the phthonos ‘envy’ attracted by Pheidias, matching the blasphēmia ‘slander’ attracted by Pericles (13.9). As Plutarch delves into the grim details of the many instances of ‘slander’, it becomes clear that both the sculptor and the statesman are plagued by it, though Pericles regularly gets the greater share of the blame (13.9-12). Although the statesman gets the negative privilege of a greater share of blame than the sculptor, the negative privilege of causing the greatest political scandal for Pericles goes to {503|504} Pheidias. Not only that, this particular scandal is directly linked to a pièce de résistance that stands out as the supreme achievement of Pheidias in Athens, that is, his colossal statue of Athena Parthenos:

4ⓣ24 Plutarch Pericles 31.2-3

Ἡ δὲ χειρίστη μὲν αἰτία πασῶν, ἔχουσα δὲ πλείστους μάρτυρας, οὕτω πως λέγεται. Φειδίας ὁ πλάστης ἐργολάβος μὲν ἦν τοῦ ἀγάλματος ὥσπερ εἴρηται, φίλος δὲ τῷ Περικλεῖ γενόμενος καὶ μέγιστον παρ’ αὐτῷ δυνηθείς, τοὺς μὲν δι’ αὑτὸν ἔσχεν ἐχθροὺς φθονούμενος, οἱ δὲ τοῦ δήμου ποιούμενοι πεῖραν ἐν ἐκείνῳ ποῖός τις ἔσοιτο τῷ Περικλεῖ κριτής, Μένωνά τινα τῶν Φειδίου συνεργῶν πείσαντες ἱκέτην ἐν ἀγορᾷ καθίζουσιν, αἰτούμενον ἄδειαν ἐπὶ μηνύσει {3} καὶ κατηγορίᾳ τοῦ Φειδίου. προσδεξαμένου δὲ τοῦ δήμου τὸν ἄνθρωπον καὶ γενομένης ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ διώξεως, κλοπαὶ μὲν οὐκ ἠλέγχοντο· τὸ γὰρ χρυσίον οὕτως εὐθὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς τῷ ἀγάλματι προσειργάσατο καὶ περιέθηκεν ὁ Φειδίας γνώμῃ τοῦ Περικλέους, ὥστε πᾶν δυνατὸν εἶναι περιελοῦσιν ἀποδεῖξαι τὸν σταθμόν, ὃ καὶ τότε τοὺς κατηγόρους ἐκέλευσε ποιεῖν ὁ Περικλῆς·

But the worst accusation of them all [against Pericles], and yet the one that had the most witnesses backing it up, is told in a story that goes something like this. Pheidias the sculptor got the contract, as I said earlier, concerning the statue [agalma = of Athena]. Since he had become a friend of Pericles and had the greatest power in his relations with him, he was envied for this and made enemies for himself. Meanwhile, others were using him [= Pheidias] as a test case to see how the people would judge Pericles. So they persuaded someone called Menon, who worked with Pheidias, and they got him to take a seat as a suppliant in the agora. He was asking for immunity in return for reporting on Pheidias {3} and making charges against him. The people accepted the man’s plea, and a formal prosecution took place in the assembly. But the charge of theft could not be proved. From the very start, the gold of the Statue had been worked in and around in such a way by Pheidias, at the suggestion of Pericles, that it could all be detached and publicly weighed. And that was exactly what Pericles at that moment told the accusers to do.

4§121 In the logic of this narrative, the importance of the case against Pheidias is measured in terms of the gold attached to and detachable from the statue of Athena Parthenos. This detail about the detachable gold on the {504|505} statue of Athena Parthenos turns out to be a historical fact. As we learn from Thucydides, the gold that adorned the statue of Athena Parthenos weighed 40 talents, and all of it was detachable in case any of it was needed by the State for an emergency (2.13.5). [103] In order to appreciate the spectacular value of this amount of gold, I provide here the context that frames this piece of information. Thucydides mentions this reserve sum of 40 talents of gold in the general context of paraphrasing a public speech of Pericles to the Athenians in which the statesman lists all the public funds available to the state of Athens in its preparations for war with the Peloponnesian League (2.13.3-5). First on the list given by Pericles is the annual Tribute paid to Athens by the tributary cities of the Athenian empire, the average yearly amount of which is 600 talents of silver (2.13.3); second on the list is the sum of another 600 talents of coined silver stored on the Acropolis – a sum left over from a larger sum of 9,700 talents of silver spent on (a) the Propylaea, which was the current objective of Pericles’ monumental building program, and (b) the current military campaigns in Potidaea (2.13.3); third on the list is a miscellaneous sum of uncoined gold and silver public treasures valued at 500 talents of silver (2.13.4). In the last place on the list, as a last resort for emergency reserves, is the gold that adorns the Athena Parthenos (2.13.5). The climactic mention of the spectacular value of 40 talents of weighed gold, even if we ignore the unreported though doubtless commensurately spectacular value of the ivory that complemented the gold on the statue, is all the more dazzling when we consider the fact that the value of this gold exceeds the value of the 600 talents of silver that were paid as annual Tribute to the Athenian empire. [104] To say it more forcefully, the value of the detachable gold adorning the Athena Parthenos of Pheidias was imperial in its spectacularly colossal dimensions.

4§122 In this reference to the Athena Parthenos of Pheidias, Thucydides is making explicit something that is only implicit in the relevant narrative of Plutarch. That something is the fact that Thucydides represents Pericles himself as saying that the detachable gold of the Athena Parthenos is a visible sign of the wealth, power, and prestige of the Athenian empire. I should add that the narrative of Plutarch’s Pericles connects the whole building program initiated by Pericles and executed by Pheidias in Athens with the ‘income’ {505|506} (prosodoi) of the Athenian empire (Pericles 14.1-2). [105] In this light, I return to the words of Pericles as dramatized by Thucydides: since Pericles is quoted as listing the tribute incoming from the tributary states (2.13.3) as a resource that is parallel to the detachable gold adorning the Athena Parthenos (2.13.5), it is implicit that the statue of Pheidias is at least indirectly financed through the resources of Athens as an empire. And so the statue of Athena by Pheidias in the Parthenon can be seen as the metonymic centerpiece not only for the building program of Pericles in Athens but also for the general operation of the entire Athenian empire. The overpowering spectacle of the building program overseen by Pheidias conveys the colossal vastness of the Athenian empire, and it all comes together in one salient detail, which has its own metonymic power. That is the golden statue of Athena Parthenos, a visible sign of the Athenian empire in action.

4§123 With the added perspective of Thucydides in place, I press on with my exploration of the imperial mentality inherent in the making of the statue of Athena Parthenos in Athens. Comparable to what I just said about the gold that was used to make this statue is what can be said about the ivory. Like gold, the ivory that adorned the statues of gods was proverbially priceless (Pliny the Elder Natural History 8.30-31). And ivory, like gold, was associated with royalty and empire. A case in point is an anecdote reported by Herodotus about the Ethiopians’ tribute of twenty elephant tusks offered to the Great King of Persia (3.97.3).

4§124 The symmetry of gold and ivory as displays of inestimable value is illustrated by the fact that the negative story we read about Pheidias and the gold of the Parthenos is matched by another negative story about Pheidias and the ivory of the Parthenos. In this other story, as reported by Philochorus (FGH 328 F 121), Pheidias is accused of embezzling the ivory instead of the gold. [106] Such stories about the sculptor’s embezzling either gold or ivory in the course of creating the statue of Athena Parthenos are linked with details about the exile of Pheidias and even about his eventual execution. [107] And what {506|507} is reflected in such stories is the colossal prestige that Pheidias derived from the craft of creating colossal statues of inestimable value.

4ⓢ7. The imperial Homer of Pheidias of Athens

4§125 The prestige inherent in the colossal chryselephantine statues of Zeus and Athena by Pheidias is the prestige of the Athenian empire. To that extent, as I will now argue, the craft of Pheidias himself is imperial. A most revealing point of comparison is the craft of a contemporary, Hippias of Elis. I begin the comparison by considering the Platonic Hippias Maior. In the relevant passage I am about to quote, we will see a dramatized description of the chryselephantine art of Pheidias, and the person featured as describing this art will be none other than Hippias himself. We will see Hippias in the act of measuring the greatness of Pheidias in terms of gold and ivory, which he applies as a standard for measuring not just greatness, but absolute greatness. From a historical point of view, Hippias is a most appropriate speaker about the artistry of Pheidias, since the statue of Zeus by Pheidias was the single most important piece of art in his native region of Elis. Contrary to our expectations, however, Hippias will be speaking not about the Zeus of Pheidias in Olympia. Rather, the speaker’s focus of attention is on the sculptor’s Athena Parthenos in Athens.

4§126 Before I quote the relevant passage, I offer a brief outline of the philosophical context in which it is nested. As we join the dialogue of the Hippias Maior in progress, we find three voices in play, as represented by Hippias, Socrates, and a hypothetical third voice, quoted by Socrates, who is questioning or second-guessing Socrates by intruding into the two-voice dialogue between Hippias and Socrates. The three voices are engaged in a freewheeling dialogue about ‘the ideally Beautiful’, to kalon, and how the ‘adding’ (prosgignesthai) of this absolute beauty to something that is imperfect will transform that imperfect something into perfection on its own terms. The three examples that are being adduced are a beautiful girl, a beautiful horse, and a beautiful lyre. In the everyday world, each of the three will be imperfect. But when ‘the ideally Beautiful’ is added to each of them, then each of them will become perfect – whether it is a girl or a horse or a lyre. In the case of the ‘girl’ – the Greek word for which is parthenos, conventionally translated as ‘maiden’ or ‘virgin’ – the ‘adding’ (prosgignesthai) of ‘the ideally Beautiful’ transforms her into an ideal parthenos who is the perfect beauty. The embodiment of this ideal beauty in the dialogue of the three voices turns out to be the Parthenos par excellence, Athena herself – as sculpted by Pheidias. At least, {507|508} that is how Hippias imagines this ideal: when Pheidias applies his technique of chryselephantine sculpture by adding gold or ivory to the form of his sculpted Athena Parthenos, what the sculptor achieves is the perfect Form of the real Athena, the perfect and absolute Parthenos. I hasten to add that this idea of perfection is a far cry from Plato’s own idea of the perfect Form, but it represents here the understanding of Hippias the sophist at this particular point in the three-way dialogue as Plato has staged it. Having given this brief outline of the philosophical context, I proceed to quote the passage:

4ⓣ25 Plato Hippias Maior 289a-290d

ΣΩ. Ἄκουε δή. μετὰ τοῦτο γὰρ εὖ οἶδ’ ὅτι φήσει· “Τί δέ, ὦ Σώκρατες; τὸ τῶν παρθένων γένος θεῶν γένει ἄν τις {b} συμβάλλῃ, οὐ ταὐτὸν πείσεται ὅπερ τὸ τῶν χυτρῶν τῷ τῶν παρθένων συμβαλλόμενον; οὐχ ἡ καλλίστη παρθένος αἰσχρὰ φανεῖται; ἢ οὐ καὶ Ἡράκλειτος αὐτὸ τοῦτο λέγει, ὃν σὺ ἐπάγῃ, ὅτι ‘Ἀνθρώπων ὁ σοφώτατος πρὸς θεὸν πίθηκος φανεῖται καὶ σοφίᾳ καὶ κάλλει καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσιν;’ ὁμολογήσωμεν, Ἱππία, τὴν καλλίστην παρθένον πρὸς θεῶν γένος αἰσχρὰν εἶναι;”

ΙΠ. Τίς γὰρ ἂν ἀντείποι τούτῳ γε, ὦ Σώκρατες; {c}

ΣΩ. Ἂν τοίνυν ταῦτα ὁμολογήσωμεν, γελάσεταί τε καὶ ἐρεῖ· “Ὦ Σώκρατες, μέμνησαι οὖν ὅτι ἠρωτήθης;” Ἔγωγε, φήσω, ὅτι αὐτὸ τὸ καλὸν ὅτι ποτέ ἐστιν. “Ἔπειτα,” φήσει, “ἐρωτηθεὶς τὸ καλὸν ἀποκρίνῃ ὃ τυγχάνει ὄν, ὡς αὐτὸς φῄς, οὐδὲν μᾶλλον καλὸν ἢ αἰσχρόν;” Ἔοικε, φήσω· ἢ τί μοι συμβουλεύεις, ὦ φίλε, φάναι;

ΙΠ. Τοῦτο ἔγωγε· καὶ γὰρ δὴ πρός γε θεοὺς ὅτι οὐ καλὸν τὸ ἀνθρώπειον γένος, ἀληθῆ ἐρεῖ.

ΣΩ. “Εἰ δέ σε ἠρόμην,” φήσει, “ἐξ ἀρχῆς τί ἐστι {d} καλόν τε καὶ αἰσχρόν, εἴ μοι ἅπερ νῦν ἀπεκρίνω, ἆρ’ οὐκ ἂν ὀρθῶς ἀπεκέκρισο; ἔτι δὲ καὶ δοκεῖ σοι αὐτὸ τὸ καλόν, ᾧ καὶ τἆλλα πάντα κοσμεῖται καὶ καλὰ φαίνεται, ἐπειδὰν προσγένηται ἐκεῖνο τὸ εἶδος, τοῦτ’ εἶναι παρθένος ἢ ἵππος ἢ λύρα;”

ΙΠ. Ἀλλὰ μέντοι, ὦ Σώκρατες, εἰ τοῦτό γε ζητεῖ, πάντων ῥᾷστον ἀποκρίνασθαι αὐτῷ τί ἐστι τὸ καλὸν ᾧ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα πάντα κοσμεῖται καὶ προσγενομένου αὐτοῦ καλὰ φαίνεται. {e} εὐηθέστατος οὖν ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐδὲν ἐπαΐει περὶ καλῶν κτημάτων. ἐὰν γὰρ αὐτῷ ἀποκρίνῃ ὅτι τοῦτ’ ἐστὶν ὃ ἐρωτᾷ τὸ καλὸν οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἢ χρυσός, {508|509} ἀπορήσει καὶ οὐκ ἐπιχειρήσει σε ἐλέγχειν. ἴσμεν γάρ που πάντες ὅτι ὅπου ἂν τοῦτο προσγένηται, κἂν πρότερον αἰσχρὸν φαίνηται, καλὸν φανεῖται χρυσῷ γε κοσμηθέν.

ΣΩ. Ἄπειρος εἶ τοῦ ἀνδρός, ὦ Ἱππία, ὡς σχέτλιός ἐστι καὶ οὐδὲν ῥᾳδίως ἀποδεχόμενος.

ΙΠ. Τί οὖν τοῦτο, ὦ Σώκρατες; τὸ γὰρ ὀρθῶς λεγόμενον {290a} ἀνάγκη αὐτῷ ἀποδέχεσθαι, ἢ μὴ ἀποδεχομένῳ καταγελάστῳ εἶναι.

ΣΩ. Καὶ μὲν δὴ ταύτην γε τὴν ἀπόκρισιν, ὦ ἄριστε, οὐ μόνον οὐκ ἀποδέξεται, ἀλλὰ πάνυ με καὶ τωθάσεται, καὶ ἐρεῖ·

“Ὦ τετυφωμένε σύ, Φειδίαν οἴει κακὸν εἶναι δημιουργόν;” καὶ ἐγὼ οἶμαι ἐρῶ ὅτι “Οὐδ’ ὁπωστιοῦν.”

ΙΠ. Καὶ ὀρθῶς γ’ ἐρεῖς, ὦ Σώκρατες.

ΣΩ. Ὀρθῶς μέντοι. τοιγάρτοι ἐκεῖνος, ἐπειδὰν ἐγὼ ὁμολογῶ ἀγαθὸν εἶναι δημιουργὸν τὸν Φειδίαν, “Εἶτα,” {b} φήσει, “οἴει τοῦτο τὸ καλὸν ὃ σὺ λέγεις ἠγνόει Φειδίας;” Καὶ ἐγώ· Τί μάλιστα; φήσω. “῞Οτι,” ἐρεῖ, “τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς οὐ χρυσοῦς ἐποίησεν, οὐδὲ τὸ ἄλλο πρόσωπον οὐδὲ τοὺς πόδας οὐδὲ τὰς χεῖρας, εἴπερ χρυσοῦν γε δὴ ὂν κάλλιστον ἔμελλε φαίνεσθαι, ἀλλ’ ἐλεφάντινον· δῆλον ὅτι τοῦτο ὑπὸ ἀμαθίας ἐξήμαρτεν, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι χρυσὸς ἄρ’ ἐστὶν ὁ πάντα καλὰ ποιῶν, ὅπου ἂν προσγένηται.” ταῦτα οὖν λέγοντι τί ἀποκρινώμεθα, ὦ Ἱππία; {c}

ΙΠ. Οὐδὲν χαλεπόν· ἐροῦμεν γὰρ ὅτι ὀρθῶς ἐποίησε. καὶ γὰρ τὸ ἐλεφάντινον οἶμαι καλόν ἐστιν.

ΣΩ. “Τοῦ οὖν ἕνεκα,” φήσει, “οὐ καὶ τὰ μέσα τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν ἐλεφάντινα ἠργάσατο, ἀλλὰ λίθινα, ὡς οἷόν τ’ ἦν ὁμοιότητα τοῦ λίθου τῷ ἐλέφαντι ἐξευρών; ἢ καὶ ὁ λίθος ὁ καλὸς καλόν ἐστι;” φήσομεν, ὦ Ἱππία;

ΙΠ. Φήσομεν μέντοι, ὅταν γε πρέπων ᾖ.

ΣΩ. “Ὅταν δὲ μὴ πρέπων, αἰσχρόν;” ὁμολογῶ ἢ μή;

ΙΠ. Ὁμολόγει, ὅταν γε μὴ πρέπῃ. {d}

ΣΩ. “Τί δὲ δή; ὁ ἐλέφας καὶ ὁ χρυσός,” φήσει, “ὦ σοφὲ σύ, οὐχ ὅταν μὲν πρέπῃ, καλὰ ποιεῖ φαίνεσθαι, ὅταν δὲ μή, αἰσχρά;” ἔξαρνοι ἐσόμεθα ἢ ὁμολογήσομεν αὐτῷ ὀρθῶς λέγειν αὐτόν; {509|510}

ΙΠ. Ὁμολογήσομεν τοῦτό γε, ὅτι ὃ ἂν πρέπῃ ἑκάστῳ, τοῦτο καλὸν ποιεῖ ἕκαστον.

 

SOCRATES: Listen then. For I know well that he [= the hypothetical third voice who is questioning the voice of Socrates] will next say: “But what about this, Socrates? Suppose someone compares the category of ‘girls’ [parthenoi] with the category of ‘gods’. Won’t the same thing happen to the category of ‘girls’ [parthenoi] that happened to the category of ‘pots’ when it was compared with the category of ‘girls’ [parthenoi]? Won’t the most beautiful girl [parthenos] appear repulsive? Or doesn’t even Heraclitus [B 82 DK], whom you cite, say exactly this, that the most wise [sophos] of men, when compared to a god, will appear to be a monkey, both in wisdom [sophia] and in beauty and in all other things? Shall we agree, Hippias, that the most beautiful girl [parthenos] is repulsive when compared with the category of ‘gods’?”

HIPPIAS: Yes, for who could contradict this, Socrates? [108]

SOCRATES: If, then, we agree with regard to these things, he [= the third voice] will laugh and say: “so, Socrates, do you remember the question you were asked?” “I do,” I will say, “the question was: what on earth is ‘the ideally Beautiful’ [to kalon]?” “Then,” he will say, “the moment you are asked about ‘the ideally Beautiful’ [to kalon], what do you say? Do you give a response that goes like this: it is what happens to be, as you yourself say, no more beautiful than repulsive?” “It seems to be the case,” I will say; or what do you [= Hippias], my friend, advise me to say?

HIPPIAS: Yes, this is what I advise; for, in fact, in saying that the category of ‘humans’ is not beautiful in comparison with gods, you will be saying what is true. [109]

SOCRATES: “But if I had asked you,” he will say, “from the very start what is beautiful and what is repulsive, if you had given in {510|511} response to me the kind of things you are saying now, would you not have responded correctly? But do you still think that ‘the ideally Beautiful’ [auto to kalon], by means of which all other things are adorned [kosmeîn] and appear to be beautiful, when that Form [eidos = ‘the ideally Beautiful’] is added [prosgignesthai] [to the things I mentioned], that this thing [= this thing that results from the addition of ‘the ideally beautiful’] is the same thing as a girl [parthenos] or a horse or a lyre?”

HIPPIAS: But, Socrates, if this is what he [= the third voice] is seeking, then it is the most easy thing in the world to give a response about what is ‘the ideally Beautiful’, by means of which all other things are adorned [kosmeîn] and by the addition [prosgignesthai] of which all other things look beautiful. So I now see that the man is very simple-minded and understands nothing about beautiful possessions. For if you reply to him that “this thing you are asking about, the Beautiful, is nothing other than gold,” he will find himself in perplexity [aporia] and will not attempt to refute you. For we all know, I think, that wherever this thing is added [prosgignesthai], even if earlier it appeared to be repulsive, now it will appear to be beautiful – that is, once it is adorned [kosmeîn] with gold.

SOCRATES: You just have no experience with this man, Hippias, and so you do not know how wretched he is, and how he is not about to accept anything easily.

HIPPIAS: What is this, Socrates? Surely it is a necessity for him to accept what is said correctly, or, if he does not accept, be worthy of ridicule.

SOCRATES: This response, my most distinguished friend, he will not only not accept, but he will make fun of me in the worst way and say: “Tell me this, you benighted person, do you think that Pheidias is a bad craftsman [dēmiourgos]?” And I think I will say: “Not at all.” [110]

HIPPIAS: And you will be speaking correctly, Socrates. {511|512}

SOCRATES: Yes, correctly. So when I agree that Pheidias is a good craftsman [dēmiourgos], “well then,” he will say, “do you think that Pheidias did not know this thing, ‘the ideally Beautiful’ [to kalon] that you speak of?” And I will say: “Why do you say that in particular”? “Because,” he will say, “he did not make the eyes of Athena from gold, nor the rest of her face, nor her feet and hands – if it was really supposed to look most beautiful only if it [= the face] was made of gold, but he made it of ivory; it is clear that he made this mistake through ignorance, not knowing that it is gold which makes all things beautiful, wherever it is added [prosgignesthai].” When he says that, what response shall we give him, Hippias?

HIPPIAS: That is not hard at all. For we will say that he [= Pheidias] did it correctly; for ivory, I think, is an absolutely beautiful thing.

SOCRATES: “Why, then,” he will say, “did he make the middle parts [= pupils] of the eyes not out of ivory as well, but of [precious] stone, devising as great a similarity as possible between the stone and the ivory? Or is even the beautiful stone a thing of beauty? Shall we say that it is, Hippias?

HIPPIAS: Yes, we shall say so, that is, whenever it [= the (precious) stone] is appropriate.

SOCRATES: And when it is not appropriate, then it is repulsive, right? Shall I agree [with him] or not?

HIPPIAS: Yes, go ahead and agree with him: it is repulsive when it is not appropriate.

SOCRATES: “In that case,” he will say, “what about this, you wise [sophos] man: do not gold and ivory, when they are appropriate, make things look beautiful, and, when they are not, make them look repulsive?” Shall we deny this or shall we agree with him [= the third voice] that he is speaking correctly?

HIPPIAS: We will agree to this extent: that whatever is appropriate for each thing makes each thing beautiful.

4§127 In summing up what we have just read, I will adopt the standpoint not of Socrates but of Hippias himself as represented here in the Platonic Hippias Maior: when Pheidias applies his technique of chryselephantine sculpture by adding gold and ivory to the basic form of his sculpted Athena {512|513} Parthenos, what the sculptor achieves is the perfect Form of the real Athena, the perfect and absolute Parthenos. For Hippias, portrayed here as a leading intellectual of his day, such an idea is evidently acceptable and even reasonable, as we see from the line of thinking attributed to him in the Hippias Maior.

4§128 It is clear – not only from the portrayal in the Hippias Maior but also from the historical realities behind this portrayal, that the ideas of Hippias of Elis must have been most highly valued in his own day and that Hippias was thus a most worthy intellectual opponent of Socrates in the historical context that is being dramatized by Plato. From a purely philosophical point of view, of course, the thinking of Hippias about the statue of Athena can easily be rejected, to the extent that it seems to universalize the privileging of the exterior over the interior. It could be argued, for example, that the reality of anything is what you find on the inside, not on the outside – that the exterior of anything will only conceal the reality of its interior. Such a truism is reflected in the wording of Quintilian when he speaks of ‘ornamentation’ (decor) as something that is added to what is real (verum): decorem addiderit supra verum (Institutio oratoria 12.10.8). [111] The truism espoused by Hippias in the Hippias Maior is radically different, however. The gold and ivory exterior of the Athena Parthenos of Pheidias is the essence of the goddess, not the wooden interior that gives her form its backbone, as it were.

4§129 The chryselephantine exterior of the goddess, with all the wealth, power, and prestige that it projects, is the essence of empire, the Athenian empire. For an imperial mentality, the Athena Parthenos of Pheidias is the embodiment of absolute beauty – and absolute greatness. The notionally absolute beauty and absolute greatness of Athena Parthenos go together with the notionally absolute power of empire.

4§130 The Athena Parthenos of Pheidias is the classical example of art as a demonstration of imperial power and absolutism. A most striking earlier example of a statue made by Pheidias was a colossal bronze Athena Promakhos standing in the open air near the entrance to the Acropolis – so overpowering in her height that the tip of her spear and the crest of her helmet could be seen from ships coming to and from Athens as they rounded Cape Sounion (Pausanias 1.28.2). The historical context for the making of this statue is most revealing, since it shows a synergism between the making of the Athenian democracy and the making of the Athenian empire: {513|514}

It may have been at this time [between 461 and 459 BCE] that the Athenians commissioned [Pheidias] to make the great bronze statue of Athena [Promakhos]. It was the first great public monument to be set up since the Persian wars and was to remain the most conspicuous landmark in Athens for those who approached the city by sea. … [T]he credit for commissioning Athens’ greatest sculptor, still a comparatively young man, to attempt the first colossal bronze statue should be given to the radical democrats. The crucial evidence lies in the public accounts which were inscribed on a marble stele [SEG 10.243] when the work was completed and show that it had lasted nine years. … [There] is an entry that recurs in each year’s summary of expenditure; it shows that the work was controlled by a board of public commissioners with a secretary and assistant, and that they were paid by the state. Plato in his Gorgias [515e] tells us that state pay was first introduced by Pericles. … Other sources [Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians 27.3] tell us that it was Pericles who introduced pay for the popular law courts; it is reasonable to believe that it was this step which established the precedent and that it was not till later that it was extended to the Boule, magistrates, and other officers of state. [112]

4§131 The sculpture of Pheidias, as a physical manifestation of Athenian imperial prestige, was exportable: already around the middle of the fifth century, as we read in Pausanias, the Athenians sent a group of statues by Pheidias to Delphi (10.10.1). [113] The statue of Zeus at Olympia in Elis is an extreme example of such an imperial export. In this case the imperial craftsman himself came to Elis in order to execute his imperial art on site.

4ⓢ8. Hippias and the staging of a perfect Homeric moment

4§132 We would expect Hippias the sophist, native of Elis, to be capable of recognizing a standard of absolute greatness and beauty in the statue of Zeus made in Olympia by Pheidias of Athens. After all, Hippias is represented in the Platonic Hippias Maior as someone who is capable of recognizing such a standard of absoluteness in the statue of Athena Parthenos made in Athens by Pheidias. As we will now see, there are two reasons for thinking that Hippias {514|515} actually had in mind the statue of Zeus by Pheidias whenever he performed and interpreted Homer in the sacred precinct of Zeus at Olympia. One of these two reasons can be found in a passage I quoted earlier, which captures the classical moment of such a Homeric performance by Hippias:

4ⓣ26 Plato Hippias Minor 363c-364a (requoted)

… ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ καὶ παντοδαπὰ ἡμῖν ἐπιδέδεικται καὶ περὶ ποιητῶν τε ἄλλων καὶ περὶ Ὁμήρου.

ΕΥ. Ἀλλὰ δῆλον ὅτι οὐ φθονήσει Ἱππίας, ἐάν τι αὐτὸν ἐρωτᾷς, ἀποκρίνεσθαι. ἦ γάρ, ὦ Ἱππία, ἐάν τι ἐρωτᾷ σε Σωκράτης, ἀποκρινῇ; ἢ πῶς ποιήσεις;

ΙΠ. Καὶ γὰρ ἂν δεινὰ ποιοίην, ὦ Εὔδικε, εἰ Ὀλυμπίαζε μὲν εἰς τὴν τῶν Ἑλλήνων πανήγυριν, ὅταν τὰ Ὀλύμπια ᾖ, {d} ἀεὶ ἐπανιὼν οἴκοθεν ἐξ Ἤλιδος εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν παρέχω ἐμαυτὸν καὶ λέγοντα ὅτι ἄν τις βούληται ὧν ἄν μοι εἰς ἐπίδειξιν παρεσκευασμένον ᾖ, καὶ ἀποκρινόμενον τῷ βουλομένῳ ὅτι ἄν τις ἐρωτᾷ, νῦν δὲ τὴν Σωκράτους ἐρώτησιν φύγοιμι. {364 a}

ΣΩ. Μακάριόν γε, ὦ Ἱππία, πάθος πέπονθας, εἰ ἑκάστης Ὀλυμπιάδος οὕτως εὔελπις ὢν περὶ τῆς ψυχῆς εἰς σοφίαν ἀφικνῇ εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ θαυμάσαιμ' ἂν εἴ τις τῶν περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἀθλητῶν οὕτως ἀφόβως τε καὶ πιστευτικῶς ἔχων τῷ σώματι ἔρχεται αὐτόσε ἀγωνιούμενος, ὥσπερ σὺ φῂς τῇ διανοίᾳ.

ΙΠ. Εἰκότως, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἐγὼ τοῦτο πέπονθα· ἐξ οὗ γὰρ ἦργμαι Ὀλυμπίασιν ἀγωνίζεσθαι, οὐδενὶ πώποτε κρείττονι εἰς οὐδὲν ἐμαυτοῦ ἐνέτυχον.

 

SOCRATES: … since he [= Hippias] has displayed [epideiknusthai] so many things about so many poets [poiētai] – and especially about Homer.

EUDIKOS: But it is clear that Hippias will not be ungenerous, if you ask him a question, about giving a response. Isn’t that right, Hippias? If Socrates asks you a question, you will give a response? You will do it, won’t you?

HIPPIAS: I would be doing strange things, Eudikos, if I – as one who always goes to Olympia to the general gathering [panēguris] of all Hellenes when the Olympics take place, and, coming from my house {515|516} in Elis I go into the sacred precinct [hieron] and I present myself in person, ready to perform [= literally ‘speak’, legein] whatever anyone wishes to choose from among all the things that I have prepared for display [epideixis], and ready to give response to any question that anyone wishes to ask – I would be doing strange things indeed if I now avoided the questioning of Socrates.

SOCRATES: Blessed [makarion], I would say, is the experience [pathos] that you have experienced, Hippias, if on the occasion of each Olympic festival you go into the sacred precinct [hieron] with such good expectations in regard to the skillfulness of your mind [psukhē]. And I would be dazzled if any one of those who engage in contests [= athlētai] in regard to the body [sōma] is so fearless and confident about his own body [sōma] when he goes to the same place in order to compete [agōnizesthai] as you say you are fearless and confident about your thinking [dianoia].

HIPPIAS: It is likely, Socrates, that I for one have indeed experienced this. For ever since I have begun to compete [agōnizesthai] at the Olympics, I have never yet met anyone better than myself in anything.

4§133 By now we can better appreciate why Plato’s Socrates uses sacral terminology when he says makarion pathos ‘blessed experience’ in referring to the Olympic performance staged by Hippias in the hieron ‘sacred space’ of Zeus in Olympia. The exhilarating experience of Hippias in these perfect classical moments of Olympic performances is all-encompassing. He feels he is on top of the world: ‘I have never yet met anyone better than myself in anything’.

4§134 Such a perfect classical moment, as staged by Hippias in Olympia, is restaged by Plato in Athens. Plato transfers the performance of Hippias from Olympia to Athens – all for the sake of Plato’s Socrates, who gets to be a member of the audience when Hippias performs in the agora of Athens (Hippias Minor 368b).

4§135 Now I come to the second of my two reasons for thinking that Hippias actually had in mind the statue of Zeus by Pheidias whenever he performed and interpreted Homer in the sacred precinct of Zeus at Olympia. It has to do with another passage where Socrates gets to see with his own eyes an equivalent of the spectacle of Hippias in the act of Olympic performance. I have quoted the passage before, in Chapter 3, while making another argument, but now I quote it again for the sake of the present argument: {516|517}

4ⓣ27 Plato Protagoras 315b-c

τὸν δὲ μετ’ εἰσενόησα, ἔφη ῞Ομηρος, Ἱππίαν τὸν {c} Ἠλεῖον, καθήμενον ἐν τῷ κατ’ ἀντικρὺ προστῴῳ ἐν θρόνῳ· περὶ αὐτὸν δ’ ἐκάθηντο ἐπὶ βάθρων Ἐρυξίμαχός τε ὁ Ἀκουμενοῦ καὶ Φαῖδρος ὁ Μυρρινούσιος καὶ Ἄνδρων ὁ Ἀνδροτίωνος καὶ τῶν ξένων πολῖταί τε αὐτοῦ καὶ ἄλλοι τινές. ἐφαίνοντο δὲ περὶ φύσεώς τε καὶ τῶν μετεώρων ἀστρονομικὰ ἄττα διερωτᾶν τὸν Ἱππίαν, ὁ δ’ ἐν θρόνῳ καθήμενος ἑκάστοις αὐτῶν διέκρινεν καὶ διεξῄει τὰ ἐρωτώμενα.

After him [= Protagoras], the next one I [= Socrates] noted [eis-noeîn], as Homer says, was Hippias of Elis, seated at the portico across [from the portico of Protagoras] on a throne; and seated around him on benches were Eryximachus son of Akoumenos and Phaedrus of Myrrhinous and Andron son of Androtion as well as some non-Athenians. Among them [= the non-Athenians] were some fellow-citizens [of Hippias of Elis] as well as others. It appeared that they were making a systematic inquiry [di-erōtân] in asking Hippias various astronomical questions concerning the nature [phusis] of heavenly bodies while he, seated on his throne, made critical judgments [dia-krinein] for each one of them as he systematically went through the things about which they had just made inquiries.

4§136 What Plato’s Socrates sees here is not only a perfect classical moment: it is a perfect Homeric moment. As I noted in Chapter 3, Plato’s staging here of Hippias in Athens matches the Homeric staging of Minos son of Zeus. I recall once again the Homeric vision of Minos in the Odyssey, where we see the son of Zeus seated in his place of honor, evoking a vision of the god himself as he goes through the motions of acting like Zeus.

4ⓣ28 Odyssey xi 568-571

ἔνθ’ ἦ τοι Μίνωα ἴδον, Διὸς ἀγλαὸν υἱόν,
χρύσεον σκῆπτρον ἔχοντα θεμιστεύοντα νέκυσσιν,
ἥμενον· οἱ δέ μιν ἀμφὶ δίκας εἴροντο ἄνακτα,
ἥμενοι ἑσταότες τε, κατ’ εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄϊδος δῶ.

There I saw Minos, radiant son of Zeus,
who was holding a golden scepter as he dispensed justice [themisteuein] among the dead. {517|518}
He was seated, while they [= the dead] asked the lord for his judgments.
Some of them [= the dead] were seated, and some were standing, throughout the house of Hades, with its wide gates.

4§137 The description in the first three lines of this Homeric passage shows a Minos who matches in appearance the image of a seated Zeus holding a scepter. As I said before, the hero Minos is not only the son of Zeus but also the underworldly surrogate of the god. Like Minos, Zeus himself is conventionally pictured as sitting on a thronos ‘throne’ (Iliad I 536, etc.), and, as the ultimate king, he is the ultimate source of authority for the holding of a skēptron ‘scepter’ (I 234) by kings who uphold themistes ‘judgments’ (I 238-239 οἵ τε θέμιστας | πρὸς Διὸς εἰρύαται). As I also said before, the plural noun themistes designates ‘judgments’ as instantiations of ‘justice’ as designated by the singular noun themis.

4§138 Like the son of Zeus, Hippias is pictured as sitting on a throne (Protagoras 315b καθήμενον … ἐν θρόνῳ / 315c ἐν θρόνῳ καθήμενος), responding to questions (315c διερωτᾶν … ἐρωτώμενα) that call for ‘making critical judgments’, as expressed by the verb dia-krinein (315c διέκρινεν). Further, Hippias is pictured in the act of responding to questions about the natural world, that is, about phusis ‘nature’ in general, and about astronomy in particular (315c ἐφαίνοντο δὲ περὶ φύσεώς τε καὶ τῶν μετεώρων ἀστρονομικὰ ἄττα διερωτᾶν τὸν Ἱππίαν). [114] In Plato’s Hippias Minor, on the other hand, we see the same Hippias actually responding to similar questions posed by Socrates, who challenges the sophist to apply various tekhnai ‘crafts’ for the purpose of distinguishing, as empirically as possible, what is true and what is false. Among these tekhnai, Hippias singles out the tekhnē of astronomy as one of his specialties (Hippias Minor 367e). This detail, as I argued earlier, is an important link between the portraits of Hippias in Plato’s Protagoras and Hippias Minor.

4§139 Plato’s wording suggests that Hippias aspires to an understanding of the cosmos that rivals that of Zeus himself. More than that, Hippias seems to rival Zeus even in his appearance – that is, he rivals the Homeric Zeus of Pheidias. Plato’s wording makes it seem as if Hippias himself were seated on the throne in the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Just as Minos the son of Zeus is {518|519} going through the motions of Zeus, so also Hippias himself is acting like Zeus. His model is not only the Zeus of Homer but also the Zeus of Pheidias.

4§140 From what we have seen so far, I am led to think that Hippias of Elis actually performed his Homeric displays at the entrance to the temple of Zeus in Olympia. Hippias would be facing his audience while seated on a throne situated in front of the open doors of the temple. As the mind’s eye travels up the steps and through the open doors of the temple, it beholds the spectacular vision of Zeus seated on his throne on high. For the audience gathered around the steps leading up to the temple, the line of vision would extend directly from a view of Hippias enthroned outside the temple to a view of Zeus himself enthroned inside the temple. As we saw earlier, the vision of Hippias of Elis sitting on his throne evokes the vision of Minos, son of Zeus, sitting on his own throne: both can be imagined as dispensing responses to all questions addressed to them (Plato Protagoras 315b-c). As we also saw in Plato’s Hippias Minor, Hippias re-enacts in Athens the Homeric displays he had performed at the temple of Zeus in Olympia (363c-d, 364a-b), and it is in this context that Socrates first notices the ring on the sophist’s finger (368b). As we saw in Chapter 3, the Ring of Hippias is relevant to the image of the First Rings in Plato’s Ion, symbols for three First Poets identified as Orpheus, Musaeus, and Homer – in that order (536b). As I show in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, this Ring of Hippias is also relevant to another symbol, the Ring of Minos. [115]

4ⓢ9. Protagoras as a point of comparison for Pheidias and Homer

4§141 So far, I have reconstructed in the works of Plato an implicit link between Homer and Pheidias as masters of the art of picturing Zeus. But Plato himself also makes an explicit link between these two paradigms of artistry. He does it by identifying Homer and Pheidias as craftsmen – professionals who are paid to use the sophia ‘skill’ that makes them experts in whatever tekhnē ‘craft’ they practice. As professionals, Homer and Pheidias are comparable to the most successful of all professionals in the age of Pheidias – to a man who is even more successful than Pheidias himself. That man is Protagoras the sophist. In the passage that follows, I draw special attention to the relevant use of the word sophistēs ‘sophist’: {519|520}

4ⓣ29 Plato Protagoras 311a-e

Μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστάντες εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν περιῇμεν· καὶ ἐγὼ {b} ἀποπειρώμενος τοῦ Ἱπποκράτους τῆς ῥώμης διεσκόπουν αὐτὸν καὶ ἠρώτων, Εἰπέ μοι, ἔφην ἐγώ, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, παρὰ Πρωταγόραν νῦν ἐπιχειρεῖς ἰέναι, ἀργύριον τελῶν ἐκείνῳ μισθὸν ὑπὲρ σεαυτοῦ, ὡς παρὰ τίνα ἀφιξόμενος καὶ τίς γενησόμενος; ὥσπερ ἂν εἰ ἐπενόεις παρὰ τὸν σαυτοῦ ὁμώνυμον ἐλθὼν Ἱπποκράτη τὸν Κῷον, τὸν τῶν Ἀσκληπιαδῶν, ἀργύριον τελεῖν ὑπὲρ σαυτοῦ μισθὸν ἐκείνῳ, εἴ τίς σε ἤρετο· “Εἰπέ μοι, μέλλεις τελεῖν, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, Ἱπποκράτει {c} μισθὸν ὡς τίνι ὄντι;” τί ἂν ἀπεκρίνω; Εἶπον ἄν, ἔφη, ὅτι ὡς ἰατρῷ. “Ὡς τίς γενησόμενος;” Ὡς ἰατρός, ἔφη. Εἰ δὲ παρὰ Πολύκλειτον τὸν Ἀργεῖον ἢ Φειδίαν τὸν ᾿Αθηναῖον ἐπενόεις ἀφικόμενος μισθὸν ὑπὲρ σαυτοῦ τελεῖν ἐκείνοις, εἴ τίς σε ἤρετο· “Τελεῖν τοῦτο τὸ ἀργύριον ὡς τίνι ὄντι ἐν νῷ ἔχεις Πολυκλείτῳ τε καὶ Φειδίᾳ;” τί ἂν ἀπεκρίνω; Εἶπον ἂν ὡς ἀγαλματοποιοῖς. “῾Ως τίς δὲ γενησόμενος αὐτός;” Δῆλον ὅτι ἀγαλματοποιός. Εἶεν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ· {d} παρὰ δὲ δὴ Πρωταγόραν νῦν ἀφικόμενοι ἐγώ τε καὶ σὺ ἀργύριον ἐκείνῳ μισθὸν ἕτοιμοι ἐσόμεθα τελεῖν ὑπὲρ σοῦ, ἂν μὲν ἐξικνῆται τὰ ἡμέτερα χρήματα καὶ τούτοις πείθωμεν αὐτόν, εἰ δὲ μή, καὶ τὰ τῶν φίλων προσαναλίσκοντες. εἰ οὖν τις ἡμᾶς περὶ ταῦτα οὕτω σφόδρα σπουδάζοντας ἔροιτο· “Εἰπέ μοι, ὦ Σώκρατές τε καὶ Ἱππόκρατες, ὡς τίνι ὄντι τῷ Πρωταγόρᾳ ἐν νῷ ἔχετε χρήματα τελεῖν;” τί ἂν αὐτῷ {e} ἀποκριναίμεθα; τί ὄνομα ἄλλο γε λεγόμενον περὶ Πρωταγόρου ἀκούομεν; ὥσπερ περὶ Φειδίουἀγαλματοποιὸν καὶ περὶ ῾Ομήρου ποιητήν, τί τοιοῦτον περὶ Πρωταγόρου ἀκούομεν; – Σοφιστὴν δή τοι ὀνομάζουσί γε, ὦ Σώκρατες, τὸν ἄνδρα εἶναι, ἔφη. – Ὡς σοφιστῇ ἄρα ἐρχόμεθα τελοῦντες τὰ χρήματα; – Μάλιστα.

Afterwards, we got up and walked around the open court. And I [= Socrates], testing the powers of Hippocrates, examined him by asking: Tell me, Hippocrates, I said. Here you are trying to go to Protagoras and give him money as a fee on your behalf. So define who exactly this person is that you are going to and who exactly you will become [as a result of going to him]? For example, suppose you were intending to go to your namesake Hippocrates of Cos, the one who belongs to the lineage of the Asklepiadai, and you paid him money as a fee on your behalf. And suppose someone asked you “Tell me, Hippocrates. You are about to pay a fee to Hippocrates because he is functioning as who exactly?” What would you give as {520|521} a reply? – I would say: because he is a doctor. – “And you are doing this to become who exactly?” – To become likewise a doctor, he said. – Suppose you were intending to go to Polyclitus of Argos or to Pheidias of Athens and you paid them money as a fee on your behalf. And suppose someone asked you “You are intending to pay this money to Polyclitus and to Pheidias because they are functioning as who exactly?” What would you give as a reply? – I would say: because they are sculptors [agalmatopoioi]. – “And you are doing this to become who exactly?” Clearly, to become a sculptor [agalmatopoios]. – All right, then, I said, so here is where we are now: you and I have come to Protagoras and we are just about ready to pay money to him as a fee on your behalf – that is, if our resources are up to it, and, if they are not, we would spend in addition the resources of those who are near and dear to us. Now if someone asked us while we were making all this great effort “Tell me, Socrates and Hippocrates, you are intending to pay money to Protagoras because he is functioning as who exactly?” What answer would we give him? What other name do we hear applied to Protagoras? We hear of Pheidias that he is a sculptor [agalmatopoios] [116] and of Homer that he is a poet [poiētēs]: what name of that kind do we hear of Protagoras? – Why, they call the man a sophist [sophistēs], Socrates, he said. – So we are going to pay him money because he functions as a sophist [sophistēs]? [117] – Yes. [118]

4§142 Here we see Pheidias and Homer being drawn into a single unified category: they are both professionals, like Protagoras. But the profession of Protagoras as sophistēs ‘sophist’ still needs further clarification. First, Socrates establishes that the profession of the sophistēs is a tekhnē ‘craft’. Second, in pursuit of his philosophical agenda, Socrates appeals to the prejudices of his aristocratic listeners. Such aristocrats are repelled by the professionalism of artisans while at the same time feeling attracted to the “gentlemanly” amateurism of a “liberal” education derived from these same artisans: {521|522}

4ⓣ30 Plato Protagoras 311e-312c (this passage immediately follows the passage previously quoted)

Εἰ οὖν καὶ τοῦτό τίς σε προσέροιτο· {312a} “Αὐτὸς δὲ δὴ ὡς τίς γενησόμενος ἔρχῃ παρὰ τὸν Πρωταγόραν;” Καὶ ὃς εἶπεν ἐρυθριάσας – ἤδη γὰρ ὑπέφαινέν τι ἡμέρας, ὥστε καταφανῆ αὐτὸν γενέσθαι – Εἰ μέν τι τοῖς ἔμπροσθεν ἔοικεν, δῆλον ὅτι σοφιστὴς γενησόμενος. Σὺ δέ, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, πρὸς θεῶν, οὐκ ἂν αἰσχύνοιο εἰς τοὺς Ἕλληνας σαυτὸν σοφιστὴν παρέχων; Νὴ τὸν Δία, ὦ Σώκρατες, εἴπερ γε ἃ διανοοῦμαι χρὴ λέγειν. Ἀλλ’ ἄρα, ὦ Ἱππόκρατες, μὴ οὐ τοιαύτην ὑπολαμβάνεις σου τὴν παρὰ Πρωταγόρου {b} μάθησιν ἔσεσθαι, ἀλλ’ οἵαπερ ἡ παρὰ τοῦ γραμματιστοῦ ἐγένετο καὶ κιθαριστοῦ καὶ παιδοτρίβου; τούτων γὰρ σὺ ἑκάστην οὐκ ἐπὶ τέχνῃ ἔμαθες, ὡς δημιουργὸς ἐσόμενος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παιδείᾳ, ὡς τὸν ἰδιώτην καὶ τὸν ἐλεύθερον πρέπει. Πάνυ μὲν οὖν μοι δοκεῖ, ἔφη, τοιαύτη μᾶλλον εἶναι ἡ παρὰ Πρωταγόρου μάθησις. Οἶσθα οὖν ὃ μέλλεις νῦν πράττειν, ἤ σε λανθάνει; ἦν δ’ ἐγώ. Τοῦ πέρι; Ὅτι μέλλεις τὴν ψυχὴν τὴν σαυτοῦ {c} παρασχεῖν θεραπεῦσαι ἀνδρί, ὡς φῄς, σοφιστῇ· ὅτι δέ ποτε ὁ σοφιστής ἐστιν, θαυμάζοιμ’ ἂν εἰ οἶσθα. καίτοι εἰ τοῦτ’ ἀγνοεῖς, οὐδὲ ὅτῳ παραδίδως τὴν ψυχὴν οἶσθα, οὔτ’ εἰ ἀγαθῷ οὔτ’ εἰ κακῷ πράγματι. Οἶμαί γ’, ἔφη, εἰδέναι.

So if someone asked you this further question “So you yourself are going to Protagoras to become who exactly?” He [= Hippocrates] blushed – there was already enough light of day to see it – and said: if it is anything like the previous examples, then clearly the answer is: to become a sophist [sophistēs]. – But then wouldn’t you, I said, – and I swear by the gods when I say this – wouldn’t you be ashamed in front of all the Hellenes that you would be advertising yourself as a sophist [sophistēs]? – Yes, I swear by Zeus I would be, Socrates, if I may say what is really on my mind. – But then you are assuming, Hippocrates, that the course of study that you take from Protagoras will be this kind of course, and not the kinds of courses of study that you had been taught by, say, an expert in letters [grammatistēs] [119] or by a kithara-player [kitharistēs] or by a trainer. But you see, you had taken each one of those courses of study not for the sake of the craft [tekhnē], in order to become an artisan [dēmiourgos], but for the sake {522|523} of your education [paideia], as is fitting for a private citizen and a free man. [120] – So then I think it is rather this kind of course, he said, I will be taking from Protagoras. – So do you know what you are about to end up doing, or is it unclear for you? – I said. – About what? – About the fact that you are about to hand over your own psukhē to be cared for by a man who is, as you say, a sophist [sophistēs]. As for what on earth a sophist [sophistēs] is, I would be surprised if you really knew. But if you are ignorant of this, then you don’t really know to whom you are handing over your psukhē – whether it is to a noble or a base person, or whether it is for a noble or a base purpose. – Well, he said, I think I know. [121]

4§143 Why is Protagoras, as a sophistēs ‘sophist’, such a threat to the philosophical agenda of Socrates? It is at least partly because the things he professes rival the things Socrates professes. Protagoras as a professional sophistēs professes a sophia ‘skill’ that transcends the skills of all other professionals and can best be defined in transcendent terms. To translate the sophia of Protagoras as ‘wisdom’ rather than ‘skill’ is apt. But the problem is, this model of sophia ‘wisdom’ rivals the Socratic model of sophia, which we translate also as ‘wisdom’. In terms of the Socratic model, sophia is the transcendent ‘wisdom’ of philosophia or philosophy as attained through the Socratic method. For Plato, the sophia professed by Socrates transcends all other crafts, and the philosopher rejects the professionalism of these crafts, including the craft of the sophistēs. As for the sophia professed by a sophistēs like Protagoras, it too transcends all other crafts, but Protagoras does not reject professionalism. The wealth, power, and prestige of a professional like Protagoras are all invested in the title of his profession, sophistēs, which for Protagoras designates an expert in the transcendent skill that he calls sophia. The objective of Plato’s Socrates is to discredit this transcendent sophia of the sophistēs. By historical hindsight, we may say that the negative connotations of our modern translation, ‘sophist’, are living proof of Plato’s success in achieving such an objective.

4§144 The discrediting of the sophia professed by Protagoras as sophistēs ‘sophist’ is pursued further by Socrates in the next passage I am about to quote. We are about to see Socrates undermine the usage of the word sopha (neuter plural) in the transcendent ‘sophistic’ sense of ‘things having to do {523|524} with wisdom’, showing that it really means ‘things having to do with technical skill’ when it is used by experts in a specific craft (tekhnē), that is, by craftsmen (tekhnitai) such as zōgraphoi ‘painters’, tektones ‘builders’, and kitharistaikithara-players’:

4ⓣ31 Plato Protagoras 312c-e (this passage immediately follows the passage previously quoted)

Λέγε δή, τί ἡγῇ εἶναι τὸν σοφιστήν; Ἐγὼ μέν, ἦ δ’ ὅς, ὥσπερ τοὔνομα λέγει, τοῦτον εἶναι τὸν τῶν σοφῶν ἐπιστήμονα. Οὐκοῦν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, τοῦτο μὲν ἔξεστι λέγειν καὶ περὶ ζωγράφων καὶ περὶ τεκτόνων, ὅτι οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τῶν σοφῶν ἐπιστήμονες· ἀλλ’ {d} εἴ τις ἔροιτο ἡμᾶς, “Τῶν τί σοφῶν εἰσιν οἱ ζωγράφοι ἐπιστήμονες,” εἴποιμεν ἄν που αὐτῷ ὅτι τῶν πρὸς τὴν ἀπεργασίαν τὴν τῶν εἰκόνων, καὶ τἆλλα οὕτως. εἰ δέ τις ἐκεῖνο ἔροιτο, “Ὁ δὲ σοφιστὴς τῶν τί σοφῶν ἐστιν;” τί ἂν ἀποκρινοίμεθα αὐτῷ; ποίας ἐργασίας ἐπιστάτης; Τί ἂν εἴποιμεν αὐτὸν εἶναι, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἢ ἐπιστάτην τοῦ ποιῆσαι δεινὸν λέγειν; Ἴσως ἄν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ἀληθῆ λέγοιμεν, οὐ μέντοι ἱκανῶς γε· ἐρωτήσεως γὰρ ἔτι ἡ ἀπόκρισις ἡμῖν δεῖται, περὶ ὅτου ὁ σοφιστὴς δεινὸν ποιεῖ λέγειν· ὥσπερ ὁ {e} κιθαριστὴς δεινὸν δήπου ποιεῖ λέγειν περὶ οὗπερ καὶ ἐπιστήμονα, περὶ κιθαρίσεως· ἦ γάρ; Ναί. Εἶεν· ὁ δὲ δὴ σοφιστὴς περὶ τίνος δεινὸν ποιεῖ λέγειν; Δῆλον ὅτι περὶ οὗπερ καὶ ἐπίστασθαι; Εἰκός γε. τί δή ἐστιν τοῦτο περὶ οὗ αὐτός τε ἐπιστήμων ἐστὶν ὁ σοφιστὴς καὶ τὸν μαθητὴν ποιεῖ; Μὰ Δί’, ἔφη, οὐκέτι ἔχω σοι λέγειν.

So, tell me, what do you think a sophist [sophistēs] is. – I think, he said, that he is someone who is an expert in things that have to do with – just as the word says – sopha. – In that case, I said, it is also possible to say this word in connection with painters [zōgraphoi] and builders [tektones], since these people too are experts in things that have to do with sopha. But if someone asked us “What does sopha mean when you say that painters [zōgraphoi] are experts in things that have to do with sopha?” we would I guess say to him that these people are experts in things that have to do with the production [apergasia] of likenesses [eikones], and the same goes for other cases [= other experts in other things]. But if someone asked us the big question “What about the sophist [sophistēs]? What does sopha mean in that case?” what answer would we give him? What kind of a production [ergasia] is he an expert in? – What other thing could {524|525} we say he is, Socrates, other than that he is an expert in making people speak cleverly? – Perhaps we would be saying the truth, but not entirely so, since our answer requires a further question: “About what does the sophist [sophistēs] make people speak cleverly?” Is it like the kithara-player [kitharistēs], who makes people speak cleverly about the thing that he is an expert in, namely, kithara-playing [kitharisis]? Is that it? – Yes. – All right, then, in that case what exactly is this thing about which the sophist [sophistēs] makes people speak cleverly?” – Clearly it must be the thing that he is an expert in. – Yes, most likely. But then what exactly is this thing in which the sophist [sophistēs] himself is an expert and in which he can make his student an expert? – I swear by Zeus, he said, I just don’t have any answer left for me to give you. [122]

4§145 Plato’s Socrates is here seeking to disallow the usage of sopha (neuter plural) in the transcendent sense of ‘wisdom’ – but only to the extent that the word is used by ‘sophists’ like Protagoras. For Socrates, the word sopha is allowed to be transcendent – but only when used in the discourse of true philosophy or philosophia as he understands it. Otherwise, the word is not allowed by Socrates to extend beyond the technical sense of ‘skill’. Correspondingly, Socrates seeks to discredit the sophistēs as an expert in sopha – if the word sopha is allowed to be taken in a transcendent sense. For Socrates, the sopha of the sophist must be non-transcendent. In other words, the ‘wisdom’ of the sophist is not good enough for Socrates. For Socrates, the sophist is a professional who works for pay like other professionals, whether they be painters, builders, or kithara-players. Unlike these professionals, however, who are true craftsmen because they are at least acknowledged experts in their clearly defined crafts, the sophist is not even a true craftsman because his ‘craft’ eludes any clear definition.

4§146 But the word sophistēs ‘sophist’ as applied by a thinker like Protagoras must have been meant in a transcendent sense corresponding to what we mean by ‘wisdom’. Even Plato’s own wording in his dramatization of Protagoras bears out this point. I quote again here the passage in Plato’s Protagoras where the sophistēs himself is describing his sophistikē tekhnē, the craft of the sophistēs: {525|526}

4ⓣ32 Plato Protagoras 316d

ἐγὼ δὲ τὴν σοφιστικὴν τέχνην φημὶ μὲν εἶναι παλαιάν, τοὺς δὲ μεταχειριζομένους αὐτὴν τῶν παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν, φοβουμένους τὸ ἐπαχθὲς αὐτῆς, πρόσχημα ποιεῖσθαι καὶ προκαλύπτεσθαι, τοὺς μὲν ποίησιν, οἷον ῞Ομηρόν τε καὶ ῾Ησίοδον καὶ Σιμωνίδην, τοὺς δὲ αὖ τελετάς τε καὶ χρησμῳδίας, τοὺς ἀμφί τε ᾿Ορφέα καὶ Μουσαῖον·

I [= Protagoras] declare that the sophistic craft [tekhnē] is ancient, but those who had applied it among ancient men were afraid of the opprobrium attaching to it, and disguised and concealed themselves – some in the realm of poetry [poiēsis], like Homer and Hesiod and Simonides, but others in the realm of mysteries [teletai] and oracular songs [khrēsmōidiai], like Orpheus and Musaeus and their followers. [123]

4§147 In the Hellenic world of the fifth century, the prestige of Protagoras as a sophistēs ‘sophist’ was still so dominant that he could freely describe his craft as the prototype of Homer and other classics as he knew them. According to the world view of Protagoras as recreated here by Plato, the sophistēs in the age of poets like Homer had to conceal his true profession in life, but the value of his skill was already in place, just waiting to be confirmed by the later age of Protagoras in the fifth century BCE. In the old days, a poet like Homer would have been a prototypical sophistēs in disguise. In the days of Protagoras, by contrast, the sophistēs could finally reveal himself and claim his full value as the highest-paid professional in the world.

4§148 The prestige of Protagoras as a professional is comparable to the prestige of that prototype of all professionals, Homer himself. So says Plato’s Socrates in a statement I am about to quote. What I find remarkable about this statement is the mention of Pheidias the sculptor as a second point of comparison to Homer – second only to Protagoras:

4ⓣ33 Plato Meno 91b-92b

ἢ δῆλον δὴ κατὰ τὸν ἄρτι λόγον ὅτι παρὰ τούτους τοὺς ὑπισχνουμένους ἀρετῆς διδασκάλους εἶναι καὶ ἀποφήναντας αὑτοὺς κοινοὺς τῶν Ἑλλήνων τῷ βουλομένῳ μανθάνειν, μισθὸν τούτου ταξαμένους τε καὶ πραττομένους;

ΑΝ. Καὶ τίνας λέγεις τούτους, ὦ Σώκρατες; {526|527}

ΣΩ. Οἶσθα δήπου καὶ σὺ ὅτι οὗτοί εἰσιν οὓς οἱ ἄνθρωποι καλοῦσι σοφιστάς. {c}

ΑΝ. Ἡράκλεις, εὐφήμει, ὦ Σώκρατες. μηδένα τῶν γ’ ἐμῶν μήτε οἰκείων μήτε φίλων, μήτε ἀστὸν μήτε ξένον, τοιαύτη μανία λάβοι, ὥστε παρὰ τούτους ἐλθόντα λωβηθῆναι, ἐπεὶ οὗτοί γε φανερά ἐστι λώβη τε καὶ διαφθορὰ τῶν συγγιγνομένων.

ΣΩ. Πῶς λέγεις, ὦ Ἄνυτε; οὗτοι ἄρα μόνοι τῶν ἀντιποιουμένων τι ἐπίστασθαι εὐεργετεῖν τοσοῦτον τῶν ἄλλων διαφέρουσιν, ὅσον οὐ μόνον οὐκ ὠφελοῦσιν, ὥσπερ οἱ ἄλλοι, ὅτι ἄν τις αὐτοῖς παραδῷ, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ ἐναντίον {d} διαφθείρουσιν; καὶ τούτων φανερῶς χρήματα ἀξιοῦσι πράττεσθαι; ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν οὐκ ἔχω ὅπως σοι πιστεύσω· οἶδα γὰρ ἄνδρα ἕνα Πρωταγόραν πλείω χρήματα κτησάμενον ἀπὸ ταύτης τῆς σοφίαςΦειδίαν τε, ὃς οὕτω περιφανῶς καλὰ ἔργα ἠργάζετο, καὶ ἄλλους δέκα τῶν ἀνδριαντοποιῶν. καίτοι τέρας λέγεις εἰ οἱ μὲν τὰ ὑποδήματα ἐργαζόμενοι τὰ παλαιὰ καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια ἐξακούμενοι οὐκ ἂν δύναιντο λαθεῖν τριάκονθ’ {e} ἡμέρας μοχθηρότερα ἀποδιδόντες ἢ παρέλαβον τὰ ἱμάτιά τε καὶ ὑποδήματα, ἀλλ’ εἰ τοιαῦτα ποιοῖεν, ταχὺ ἂν τῷ λιμῷ ἀποθάνοιεν, Πρωταγόρας δὲ ἄρα ὅλην τὴν Ἑλλάδα ἐλάνθανεν διαφθείρων τοὺς συγγιγνομένους καὶ μοχθηροτέρους ἀποπέμπων ἢ παρελάμβανεν πλέον ἢ τετταράκοντα ἔτη – οἶμαι γὰρ αὐτὸν ἀποθανεῖν ἐγγὺς καὶ ἑβδομήκοντα ἔτη γεγονότα, τετταράκοντα δὲ ἐν τῇ τέχνῃ ὄντα – καὶ ἐν ἅπαντι τῷ χρόνῳ τούτῳ ἔτι εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν ταυτηνὶ εὐδοκιμῶν οὐδὲν πέπαυται, καὶ οὐ μόνον Πρωταγόρας, ἀλλὰ καὶ {92 a} ἄλλοι πάμπολλοι, οἱ μὲν πρότερον γεγονότες ἐκείνου, οἱ δὲ καὶ νῦν ἔτι ὄντες. πότερον δὴ οὖν φῶμεν κατὰ τὸν σὸν λόγον εἰδότας αὐτοὺς ἐξαπατᾶν καὶ λωβᾶσθαι τοὺς νέους, ἢ λεληθέναι καὶ ἑαυτούς; καὶ οὕτω μαίνεσθαι ἀξιώσομεν τούτους, οὓς ἔνιοί φασι σοφωτάτους ἀνθρώπων εἶναι;

ΑΝ. Πολλοῦ γε δέουσι μαίνεσθαι, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἀλλὰ πολὺ μᾶλλον οἱ τούτοις διδόντες ἀργύριον τῶν νέων, τούτων {b} δ’ ἔτι μᾶλλον οἱ τούτοις ἐπιτρέποντες, οἱ προσήκοντες, πολὺ δὲ μάλιστα πάντων αἱ πόλεις, ἐῶσαι αὐτοὺς εἰσαφικνεῖσθαι καὶ οὐκ ἐξελαύνουσαι, εἴτε τις ξένος ἐπιχειρεῖ τοιοῦτόν τι ποιεῖν εἴτε ἀστός.

 

SOCRATES: Or is it clear, then, on the basis of what has just been said: [that we should send Meno] to these men who profess to {527|528} be teachers of virtue [aretē] and who proclaim themselves to be [teachers] common [koinoi] to all Hellenes, available to any [Hellene] who wishes to learn from them – that is, available after they set a fee for this and collect the fee?

ANYTUS: And who are these people you are talking about, Socrates?

SOCRATES: Surely you too, like others, are aware that these are the men whom people call sophists [sophist].

ANYTUS: I swear by Herakles! Watch your language, Socrates. I hereby make a solemn wish that none of my relatives or friends, nor any citizen nor even any non-citizen, should experience being seized by such dementia that they should go off to these people and get utterly ruined [lōbân], since these people are the utter ruin [lōbē] and corruption [diaphthora] of those who make contact with them.

SOCRATES: What are you saying, Anytus? Are you really saying that, if you consider all those who strive to understand how to do something good, these are the only ones who are so different from all the rest that they, unlike the rest of them, will not only fail to do any good for anything [= anyone] you hand over to them but will do actually the opposite for it [= whatever you hand over], utterly ruining [diaphtheirein] it? And that, in return for these things, they openly charge payment of fees? Well, all I can say is, I don’t know how I can believe you. For I know that there was one man, Protagoras, who was making even more money from this skill [sophia = being a sophist] than Pheidias [was making from his own sophia ‘skill’], [124] and he [Pheidias] was creating works of art that were so supremely distinguished – and, in addition to him [Pheidias], you could name ten others of the sculptors [andriantopoioi]. And yet, you would be telling me something truly amazing if those who work on old shoes and mend old clothes cannot fool [their customers] and cannot get away with giving back these clothes and shoes to their customers in worse shape than when they got them during the thirty days [of liability for refunding] – since they would soon die of hunger [if they tried to fool their customers] – while, in the meantime, Protagoras {528|529} was fooling all of Hellas by getting away with corrupting [diaphtheirein] those who made contact with him and sending them back in worse shape than when he got them – during his forty years [of “liability” for refunding the payments of his students]. I say forty years because I think he died when he was close to seventy years old. He was practicing his craft [tekhnē] for forty years, and during all that time and even up to this present time he has never in any way stopped having a good reputation. [125] And that goes not only for Protagoras but also for many others, some of whom were born before him while others are still alive today. So what do you say? According to your reasoning, do these people knowingly deceive and ruin [lōbân] the young, or are they fooling even themselves? So, shall we posit that these men are demented – the ones that some say are the most sophoi of people?

ANYTUS: Far from it. They are not the ones who are demented. It is much more the case that those of the young who give money are demented and, even more so, those who are responsible for instructing these young people, that is, their families, and, most of all, the cities [poleis] that allow them [= people like Protagoras] to come in and don’t drive them out, whether it is a non-citizen who tries to do such a thing or a citizen.

4§149 The prominent mention of Pheidias here is most telling. Practicing his craft, he makes more money than any other professional – except for the professional sophistēs ‘sophist’ par excellence, Protagoras. Not only is the wealth of Pheidias comparable to the wealth of Protagoras. The sculptor’s sophia is also comparable. Plato’s contextualization here forces us to understand sophia here as a ‘skill’ in a given craft. We can see that Plato’s Socrates seeks to discredit Protagoras and his sophia ‘wisdom’ by attacking him for being a professional.

4§150 The idea is that professionals like Protagoras are both corrupt and corrupting precisely because they are professionals. Although Protagoras as a sophistēs ‘sophist’ is in theory a man of sophia or ‘wisdom’ par excellence, he is in real life a man of sophia ‘craft’, just like the sculptor Pheidias. From a historical point of view, it is not a question of whether these professionals {529|530} were or were not corrupt. It is enough to say that their status as professionals led to suspicions and accusations of corruption. We have already noted the anecdotes about the corruption of Pheidias as the master sculptor (Plutarch Pericles 31.2-3, Philochorus FGH 328 F 121), and there are comparable anecdotes about other prominent professionals like Simonides in his role as master poet (Aristophanes Peace 698, Callimachus F 222). Despite all the potential for suspicions and accusations, however, even Socrates is forced to acknowledge the outstanding reputation of a professionals like Protagoras and Pheidias in their own time. So the fact remains that a celebrity like Protagoras, or like Pheidias, had an overwhelmingly good reputation as a professional, and everybody knew it.

4§151 Plato’s Socrates makes the sophia ‘wisdom’ of the sophistēs equivalent to the kind of sophia ‘skill’ that comes with the mastery of any and all of the tekhnai ‘crafts’ practiced by professional artisans. The sophia ‘skill’ of these artisans ranges from the most exalted, like the skill of Pheidias the master sculptor, which is rated at the highest level of compensation, to the most humble, like the skill of a leatherworker or shoemaker, which is rated at the correspondingly lowest level of compensation. As we have just seen, Plato’s points of comparison for the professional sophistēs range all the way from sculptor to shoemaker.

4§152 The prestige of a sculptor like Pheidias, as measured by his wealth, is near-supreme. In other contexts, in fact, we have already seen that his prestige is imperial in its dimensions. It follows, then, that the even greater wealth of a sophist like Protagoras makes his prestige seem even more imperial. Here it is relevant to recall the wording of the claim about Protagoras that I have just quoted from Plato’s Meno (91b): it is said that sophists of exalted status like Protagoras are teachers who are koinoi ‘common’ to all Hellenes. Such wording evokes a direct comparison between the craft of Protagoras and the craft of a figure acknowledged as the ultimate teacher of all Hellenes. That teacher is Homer himself, in his evolving role as spokesman of the Athenian empire. As we saw earlier, this idea of an imperial Homer who is koinos ‘common’ to all Hellenes – at least, to all Hellenes in the Athenian empire and beyond – is attested in an amalgamated Life of Homer story, mediated in part through an Athenian phase of transmission, known as the Contest of Homer and Hesiod. Here I highlight again the wording used in the story to describe the reception of Homer: when Homer goes to the island of Delos to participate in a festival celebrated by all Ionians, he is acclaimed by them as the koinos politēs ‘common citizen’ of all their cities (Contest of Homer and Hesiod [Vita 2] 319-320 οἱ μὲν Ἴωνες πολίτην αὐτὸν κοινὸν ἐποιήσαντο). As we noted earlier, this designation {530|531} ideologizes Homer as the spokesman of the Delian League and, by extension, of the Athenian empire.

4§153 Returning to the argument at hand, I focus on the wording of the passage I quoted from Plato’s Meno, where Protagoras and other master sophists are acclaimed as teachers of all Hellenes (91b) by virtue of their tekhnē ‘craft’ as sophists (91d). This idea, I submit, mirrors a more basic idea: Homer himself is such a teacher – because of his own tekhnē. In the passage that I quoted earlier from Plato’s Protagoras (311e), Homer is described as a poiētēs ‘poet’: as such, he is a professional, since he is compared in his professionalism to Pheidias as an agalmatopoios ‘sculptor’ and to Protagoras as a sophistēs ‘sophist’. The professionalism of all three, as we saw in the same context, is a matter of tekhnē (312b).

4ⓢ10. The imperial craft of Homer

4§154 The tekhnē of Homer is highlighted in a most revealing passage I quoted earlier from the Panegyricus of Isocrates (159). Here the speaker is referring to the tekhnē ‘craft’ of Homeric poetry as a tradition designed for two primary applications: (1) Homeric performances by rhapsodes in athloi ‘contests’, implicitly at the Panathenaia, and (2) Homeric paideusis ‘education’ of the young. The second of these two applications of the tekhnē of Homeric poetry concerns the private education provided by the elites for their young while the first application concerns the public education provided by the Athenian state for its citizens – in the form of rhapsodic performances at the Panathenaia. The speaker adds that the art of war is the most important lesson to be learned from Homer. The public and the private functions of Homer as universal educator are indicated in other passages as well (Aristophanes Frogs 1034-1036; Plato Republic 2.376e-398b; 10.599c-d, 606e).

4§155 As we see from this passage in the Panegyricus of Isocrates (159), the tekhnē of Homer is the tekhnē of rhapsodes who perform in competition at the Panathenaia. Thus the tekhnē of Homer is continued metonymically by the rhapsōidikē tekhnē of Panathenaic performers. A case in point is Ion of Ephesus. By virtue of his skill as a specialist in Homer, he is a metonymic continuator of Homer, a teacher shared by all Hellenes. Continuing the role of Homer as universal educator, Ion the rhapsode is parallel to Protagoras the sophist, practitioner of the sophistikē tekhnē. As such a practitioner, Protagoras is a teacher who is koinos ‘common’ to all Hellenes (Plato Meno 91b).

4§156 What I just said about the rhapsōidikē tekhnē of Ion the rhapsode is not obvious from Plato’s Ion. In that dialogue, as I argued in Chapter 3, Plato’s {531|532} Socrates seeks to disconnect the tekhnē of Homer from the tekhnē of Ion. At the earliest stages of his argumentation, Socrates avoids referring to the expertise of the rhapsode in terms of a tekhnē ‘craft’. Instead, he speaks only about the overall craft of the poet, designated as poiētikē tekhnē ‘poetic craft’, and he induces Ion to admit that this poetic craft is a holon, an integral whole, just like other tekhnai (Ion 532c). [126] Among those other tekhnai, he mentions sculpture as a notable example (532e-533b). Plato’s Socrates contrasts the expertise of the poiētēs ‘poet’ with the expertise of (1) the aulos-player, (2) the kithara-player, (3) the kithara-singer, and (4) the rhapsode: each of these four different kinds of performer, representing four different forms of performance at the Panathenaia, can claim expertise in only one part of that integral whole, that poiētikē tekhnē ‘poetic craft’ (Ion 533b-c). Thus Ion the rhapsode is forced to admit that he has expertise only in Homeric poetry (533c). Next, he is forced to accept the idea that the rhapsode’s profession is not even a matter of tekhnē ‘craft’ but rather, a matter of inspiration (Ion 533e). As I also argued in Chapter 3, only after the rhapsode has accepted the idea that he is an inspired performer does Socrates start speaking openly about the ‘rhapsodic craft’, rhapsōidikē tekhnē (538b, 538c, 538d, 539e, 540a, 540d, 541a). Plato has thus undermined the dominant status of the actual craft of rhapsodically performing – and interpreting – Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia. Since Ion has already been discredited as a thinker, he cannot invoke his prestigious rhapsodic craft as a source for independent thinking.

4§157 In his effort to discredit Ion, Plato’s Socrates has in effect disconnected the prestige of Ion as the performer of Homeric poetry from the prestige of Homer as the notional composer of Homeric poetry. Thus the prestige of Homer himself is not directly challenged, just as the prestige of Homeric poetry as the premier poetic event of the Panathenaia cannot be challenged. The idea of Homer as the all-sufficient and all-encompassing poet is a given. It is already a historical reality. Even in the works of Plato, as we saw, Homer is recognized as the master teacher of all Hellenes (Plato Republic 2.376e-398b; 10.599c-d, 606e).

4§158 As I also argued in Chapter 3, the dominant status of Homeric poetry is not the only historical reality relevant to the argument in Plato’s Ion. Another reality is the dominant status of the rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ of performing – and interpreting – Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia. Plato’s Socrates makes it look like a deficiency that Ion the rhapsode performs – {532|533} and interprets – only Homer. Historically, however, the Homeric specialization of Ion is a clear indication of the dominant prestige of performing and interpreting Homer.

4ⓢ11. Dangerous thoughts about the craft of Homer

4§159 So the prestige of the craft represented by Ion the rhapsode is imperial in scope, as is the prestige of the crafts represented by Pheidias the sculptor and Protagoras the sophist. Such prestige can be undermined, however, by juxtaposing the crafts of rhapsodes, sculptors, and sophists with the craft of, say, a shoemaker. Whereas a sophistēs ‘sophist’ like Protagoras is an artisan of the highest imaginable status, the low social status of professional artisans like shoemakers is enough to make an aristocrat like Hippocrates blush at the very idea of becoming a professional sophistēs, as we saw in the passage I quoted earlier from Plato’s Protagoras (312a). Here is where the difference between a sophistēs like Protagoras and a sophistēs like Hippias is most telling. Whereas Protagoras considers his craft of sophistēs transcendent and even mystical by comparison with the practical crafts of artisans, Hippias demystifies his craft of sophistēs by engaging directly in all other crafts. In Plato’s catalogue of skills mastered by Hippias, as I quoted it in Chapter 3, Hippias is an expert not only in the sublime crafts, such as poetry (Hippias Minor 368c-d). He is also an expert in the everyday crafts: pointedly, Hippias says he is is a master of leatherwork – skutotomeîn – in his own right, having hand-made his own shoes (368c). For Plato’s Socrates, either way of thinking about the craft of the sophistēs – the way of Protagoras or the way of Hippias – is dangerous. And, as we are about to see, both ways of thinking can be applied to the craft of Homer as well.

4§160 We already saw in another Platonic passage that the husteroi or ‘later’ thinkers who are experts in supposedly later poets like Homer – rather than earlier poets like Orpheus – tended to demystify the secrets of mysteries, so that even leatherworkers – skutotomoi – may understand these secrets (Plato Theaetetus 180d), to be contrasted with palaioteroi or ‘earlier’ thinkers specializing in supposedly earlier poets like Orpheus, whose mysteries continued to mystify the outsiders (Plato Theaetetus 179e-180d). A most valuable independent confirmation comes from Xenophon’s Memorabilia (4.4.5), where Hippias of Elis is represented as debating with Socrates about the possibilities of teaching even the skuteus ‘leatherworker’ and other specialists (εἰ μέν τις βούλοιτο σκυτέα διδάξασθαί τινα ἢ τέκτονα ἢ χαλκέα ἢ ἱππέα …).

4§161 Here I focus again on Hippias of Elis. In particular, I focus on his role as a practical sophistēs ‘sophist’. Hippias makes a point of mastering each tekhnē {533|534} ‘craft’ – not just transcending them all like Protagoras. With this focal point in mind, I quote again the relevant passage that I quoted already in Chapter 3. There I described this passage, taken from the Hippias Minor (368a-e), as Plato’s catalogue of tekhnai ‘crafts’ mastered by Hippias. Here I draw special attention to Plato’s usage of the words sophos and sophia. We have just seen Plato use these words in the transcendent sense of ‘wise’ and ‘wisdom’, which he associates with Protagoras as a mystical sophistēs ‘sophist’. This time, I note Plato’s usage of these same words sophos and sophia in the practical sense of ‘skilled’ and ‘skill’, which he associates with Hippias as a practical sophistēs ‘sophist’:

4ⓣ34 Plato Hippias Minor 368a-e

ΣΩ. Ἴθι δή, ὦ Ἱππία, ἀνέδην οὑτωσὶ ἐπίσκεψαι κατὰ {b} πασῶν τῶν ἐπιστημῶν, εἴ που ἔστιν ἄλλως ἔχον ἢ οὕτως. πάντως δὲ πλείστας τέχνας πάντων σοφώτατος εἶ ἀνθρώπων, ὡς ἐγώ ποτέ σου ἤκουον μεγαλαυχουμένου, πολλὴν σοφίαν καὶ ζηλωτὴν σαυτοῦ διεξιόντος ἐν ἀγορᾷ ἐπὶ ταῖς τραπέζαις. ἔφησθα δὲ ἀφικέσθαι ποτὲ εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν ἃ εἶχες περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἅπαντα σαυτοῦ ἔργα ἔχων· πρῶτον μὲν δακτύλιον – ἐντεῦθεν γὰρ ἤρχου – ὃν εἶχες σαυτοῦ ἔχειν {c} ἔργον, ὡς ἐπιστάμενος δακτυλίους γλύφειν, καὶ ἄλλην σφραγῖδα σὸν ἔργον, καὶ στλεγγίδα καὶ λήκυθον ἃ αὐτὸς ἠργάσω· ἔπειτα ὑποδήματα ἃ εἶχες ἔφησθα αὐτὸς σκυτοτομῆσαι, καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον ὑφῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτωνίσκον· καὶ ὅ γε πᾶσιν ἔδοξεν ἀτοπώτατον καὶ σοφίας πλείστης ἐπίδειγμα, ἐπειδὴ τὴν ζώνην ἔφησθα τοῦ χιτωνίσκου, ἣν εἶχες, εἶναι μὲν οἷαι αἱ Περσικαὶ τῶν πολυτελῶν, ταύτην δὲ αὐτὸς πλέξαι· πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ποιήματα ἔχων ἐλθεῖν, καὶ ἔπη καὶ τραγῳδίας {d} καὶ διθυράμβους, καὶ καταλογάδην πολλοὺς λόγους καὶ παντοδαποὺς συγκειμένους· καὶ περὶ τῶν τεχνῶν δὴ ὧν ἄρτι ἐγὼ ἔλεγον ἐπιστήμων ἀφικέσθαι διαφερόντως τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ περὶ ῥυθμῶν καὶ ἁρμονιῶν καὶ γραμμάτων ὀρθότητος, καὶ ἄλλα ἔτι πρὸς τούτοις πάνυ πολλά, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκῶ μνημονεύειν· καίτοι τό γε μνημονικὸν ἐπελαθόμην σου, ὡς ἔοικε, τέχνημα, ἐν ᾧ σὺ οἴει λαμπρότατος εἶναι· οἶμαι δὲ καὶ {e} ἄλλα πάμπολλα ἐπιλελῆσθαι. ἀλλ’ ὅπερ ἐγὼ λέγω, καὶ εἰς τὰς σαυτοῦ τέχνας βλέψαςἱκαναὶ δέ – καὶ εἰς τὰς τῶν ἄλλων εἰπέ μοι, ἐάν που εὕρῃς ἐκ τῶν ὡμολογημένων ἐμοί τε καὶ σοί, ὅπου ἐστὶν ὁ μὲν ἀληθής, ὁ δὲ ψευδής, χωρὶς καὶ οὐχ ὁ αὐτός; ἐν ᾗτινι βούλει σοφίᾳ τοῦτο σκέψαι ἢ πανουργίᾳ {369a} ἢ ὁτιοῦν χαίρεις ὀνομάζων· ἀλλ’ οὐχ εὑρήσεις, ὦ ἑταῖρε – οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν – ἐπεὶ σὺ εἰπέ. {534|535}

SOCRATES: Come, then, Hippias. Consider without any further ado whether or not this point [about the false and the true] holds for all kinds of knowledge. You are absolutely the most skilled [sophos] of men in the greatest number of crafts [tekhnai] by far, as I once heard you boast when you were describing your great and enviable skill [sophia]. It was in the agora [= the agora of Athens], near the money-changers’ tables [trapezai]. You were telling how you once upon a time went to Olympia, and everything you wore was your own work: first, your ring [daktulios] – you started with that – was your own work because you knew how to engrave rings [daktulioi] – and the rest of it [= your ring], that is, its seal [sphragis], was your own work, and an athletic scraper, and a lēkuthion you had made yourself. Next, the footwear you had on you – you said you had done the leatherwork [skutotomeîn] yourself, and you had woven [huphainein] your own himation and your own khiton [khitōn]. And it seemed dazzling to everyone – a display [epideigma] of the greatest skill [sophia] [127] when you said that the cincture of the khiton [khitōn] you had on you was made of the costliest Persian kind, and that you had plaited [plekein] it yourself. And on top of all these things, you had come bringing with you compositions [poiēmata] [128] – that is, epic [epos plural] and tragedies and dithyrambs, and a multitude of discourses [logoi] to be performed in the right sequence [katalogadēn] [129] and all kinds of set pieces. And you arrived there as an expert surpassing all others in the knowledge of not only the crafts [tekhnai] I just mentioned, but also of the correctness [orthotēs] of rhythms [rhuthmoi], tunings [harmoniai], and letters [grammata]. [130] And there were many more things in addition, as I seem to remember [mnēmoneuein]. And yet it seems I had almost forgotten [epilanthanesthai] about your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikion tekhnēma], in which you think you are at your most brilliant. And I suppose I have forgotten {535|536} [epilanthanesthai] a great many other things too. But as I say, look [blepein] [131] to your own crafts [tekhnai] – they are certainly sufficient – and those of others, and tell me if you anywhere find the true man and the false separate and not the same, given what we have agreed. Examine this in terms of any kind of skill [sophia] you may want to choose – or in terms of any kind of panourgia whatsoever – or however you would like to call it. You will not find it, my friend, for it does not exist – but you tell me. [132]

4§162 Not only does Hippias master each tekhnē ‘craft’ that is being catalogued here. For him such mastery is a matter of being sophos in the sense of ‘skilled’ and having sophia in the sense of ‘skill’. Plato’s Socrates ridicules this connectedness with the practical aspect of arts as crafts when he playfully uses the word panourgia with reference to the sophia of Hippias. This word panourgia is derived from the concept of ‘the capacity to do any kind of work [ergon]’. In terms of this derivation, the word would be appropriate to Hippias. But in actual usage, panourgia had developed the morally negative sense of ‘the capacity to commit any kind of deed’. Thus Hippias is being implicitly ridiculed as a jack of all trades who supposedly compromises his morals because of his willingness to do just about anything for money. It is the professionalism of Hippias that renders him morally suspect for Plato’s Socrates.

4§163 Even the setting that Plato chooses for the use of this word panourgia is suggestive. Plato’s catalogue of the skills claimed by Hippias is nested in the context of Socratic memories of a most memorable visit by Hippias to Athens. Hippias was speaking in a public space, in the agora of Athens (368b); Socrates was there and heard him speak, and he says that Hippias was telling about an earlier time when he was speaking in a sacred space, in the hieron ‘sacred precinct’ of Zeus in Olympia (363c-d, 364a). As I noted earlier, the impression given by Plato is that the performance of Hippias in the agora of Athens was a “replay” of the performance of Hippias in the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia. In Athens, as the phrasing of Socrates pointedly makes clear, Hippias is performing in a public space where the trapezai are located, that is, the tables of the money-changers. The venue of Hippias oscillates between the most sacral and the most blatantly commercial {536|537} settings. In both settings, the primary visual attraction is the ring that Hippias wears on his finger: ‘you started with that’, says Socrates (368b). That ring is the first thing Hippias says he talked about in the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia and again in the “replay,” in the agora of Athens, near the tables of the money-changers. That ring is the first thing that catches the Socratic eye, sparking dangerous thoughts of those all-attractive First Rings magnetically drawing performers and audiences closer and closer to the ultimate beauty of Homeric poetry in Plato’s Ion (536b).

4§164 Beyond the cultural context of Plato’s own world, such dangerous thoughts of magnetic beauty evoke for me personally the image of the enchanted diamond ring of Dapertutto in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann:

4ⓣ35 From Act 4, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, by Jacques Offenbach, with libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré (Dapertutto sings to the diamond, telling it to gleam or ‘sparkle’) [133]

(Tirant de son doigt une bague où brille un gros diamant et le faisant scintiller)
Tourne, tourne, miroir où se prend l’alouette,
Scintille, diamant! Fascine, attire-la!
Femme, oiseau, le chasseur est là!
Qui vous voit, qui vous guette!
Le chasseur noir!
L’alouette ou la femme
A cet appât vainqueur
Vont de l’aîle ou du cœur,
L’une y laisse la vie | et l’autre y perd son âme.

[He [= Dapertutto] pulls from his finger a ring that has on it a huge shining diamond, and he makes it gleam]
Turn, turn, mirror in which the skylark is captured.
Gleam, diamond, fascinate her, draw her near. {537|538}
Woman or bird! The hunter is there.
The one who sees you, who stalks you.
The black hunter.
Skylark or woman
Toward this irresistible trap
go by wing or by way of the heart.
One loses her life there, and the other loses her soul.

4§165 In the course of rereading Plato’s catalogue of crafts mastered by Hippias, I have argued that the detail about the ring worn by the sophist is relevant to the artful image of the First Rings of poetry and its attractions as pictured in the Ion. I add, in passing, that the image of these rings is relevant to a subject I treat in the twin book Homer the Preclassic: it is an enchanted ring of imperial wealth, power, and prestige in Plato’s Republic – the Ring of Gyges. [134]

4ⓢ12. Sophists, sculptors, and rhapsodes as imperial craftsmen

4§166 Having considered the theme of the daktulios ‘ring’ as a link between Plato’s Hippias Minor and his Ion, I proceed to explore another theme that links these two Platonic dialogues. This theme concerns the craft of the rhapsode, the rhapsōidikē tekhnē, which is explicit in the Ion but only implicit in the Hippias Minor. In Chapter 3, I have already examined what is implied in the Hippias Minor when Socrates enumerates the many skills mastered by Hippias the sophist. In the enumeration of these skills, the climax is reached with the skill of performing and interpreting poetry in general and Homeric poetry in particular. This skill is evidently derived from the tekhnē ‘craft’ of performing and interpreting Homeric poetry as it evolved in the context of rhapsodic competitions at the festival of the Panathenaia. And yet, the tekhnē professed by Hippias in practicing this skill is not rhapsōidikē but sophistikē.

4§167 Although I have already elaborated on this point in Chapter 3, I need to return to it here in order to stress the link between the sophist’s expertise in using the Homeric art of rhapsodes and his expertise in using another art, the art of the master sculptor Pheidias. As I have argued here in Chapter 4, the craft of sculpting as represented by Pheidias is another most highly valued skill to be used by Hippias, rivaling in value the rhapsodic craft {538|539} of Homeric poetry. Besides his celebrated dialogues about Homer, Hippias produced comparable dialogues about painting and sculpting. I quote again the wording of Philostratus: ‘he [Hippias] performed dialogues also about painting [zōgraphia] and sculpture [agalmatopoiia]’ (Lives of Sophists 1.11.2 διελέγετο δὲ καὶ περὶ ζωγραφίας καὶ περὶ ἀγαλματοποιίας). The specially high value of Pheidian sculpture for Hippias is reflected in the Platonic Hippias Maior, which as we saw shows the sophist in the act of equating the statue of Athena Parthenos by Pheidias with the absolute Form of absolute beauty – with the idea of a perfect artistic totality.

4§168 The art of Pheidias has a value that is absolute for Hippias in the Platonic Hippias Maior because it mediates another art that has absolute value for him, the art of Homer. The colossal sculpture of Pheidias the Athenian craftsman, which is featured as the centerpiece of the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia, adds a decisively Homeric touch to the performances there by Hippias, the Elean craftsman of all craftsmen. The absolutism of what I have just called the Homeric touch is best conveyed by two crafts that are rivaled by the craft of Hippias the sophist: they are the imperial craft of a sculptor like Pheidias of Athens and the imperial craft of a rhapsode like Ion of Ephesus.

4§169 For the first time, I have described the rhapsōidikē tekhnē or ‘rhapsodic craft’ of Ion of Ephesus as an imperial craft. To justify this description, I start by observing that the term imperial, as I have been using it to describe the craft of Pheidias the sculptor, applies even more to the craft of Ion the rhapsode. An ideal point of comparison for these two traditional crafts is a rival new craft, the sophistikē tekhnē or ‘sophistic craft’ of sophists like Protagoras of Abdera and Hippias of Elis. As we saw, these two sophists typify two different visualizations of their craft: whereas the craft of Protagoras is transcendent, the craft of Hippias is practical. Here I will concentrate, however, on what these visualizations have in common. I will argue that the craft of Protagoras and Hippias as sophists is comparable to the craft of Pheidias as sculptor – and to the craft of Ion as rhapsode.

4§170 In the case of Protagoras, I need to turn back to a passage I already quoted from Plato’s Meno, where the prestige of Protagoras as sophist is being directly compared to the prestige of Pheidias as an imperial craftsman. As we will see, this comparison involves also the prestige of Homer. As we will also see, the prestige of Homer drives the prestige of Ion the rhapsode as an imperial craftsman in his own right.

4§171 In Plato’s comparison of Protagoras and Pheidias, the relative prestige of all craftsmen is being measured in terms of the amount of wealth they have amassed, and only the prodigious wealth of the imperial craftsman {539|540} Pheidias is said to be worthy of comparison to the supreme amount credited to Protagoras (Plato Meno 91d). The prestige of Protagoras in Plato’s Meno is also being compared, albeit indirectly, with the prestige of Homer. The claim of Protagoras is that sophists of his status are teachers who are koinoi ‘common’ to all Hellenes (Plato Meno 91b). This status evokes a comparison between the craft of Protagoras and the craft of a figure acknowledged as the ultimate teacher of all Hellenes. That teacher is Homer himself, in his evolving role as spokesman of the Athenian empire.

4§172 I had started this phase of the argumentation by saying that the craft of Protagoras and Hippias as sophists is comparable to the craft of Pheidias as sculptor – and to the craft of Ion as rhapsode. In the case of Hippias, I should add, his actual performances of Homer in Olympia are directly comparable to the performances of Homer by the rhapsode Ion in Athens. The Homeric art of Pheidias the sculptor enhances metonymically the setting for the performances of Homer by Hippias in Olympia, conferring on these performances an imperial aura. The metonymy of such enhancement is what I have been calling the Homeric touch.

4ⓢ13. Making an imperial space for performing Homer in Athens

4§ Now we are about to see that the rhapsodic performances of Homer at the Panathenaia in Athens are likewise marked by an imperial aura, and again it is the Homeric art of Pheidias that confers this aura.

4§174 Here I return to Plutarch’s Pericles. In that work, we saw the idea of a perfect artistic totality, that is, the colossal statue of Athena by Pheidias, extended metonymically into an overall idea, that is, the entire building program of Pericles. Now we are about to see that this metonymic extension – from the singularity of the colossal statue to the totality of the buildings all told – involves not only the highlights of the magnificent Athenian building program of Pericles but also some of the major Athenian institutions enhanced by this program. I draw special attention to the details about the building of the new Odeum, which are relevant to the details about the organization of an agōn ‘competition’ at the Panathenaia in the context of the new Odeum as the setting for this competition:

4ⓣ36 Plutarch Pericles 13.6-15 (abridged)

Πάντα δὲ διεῖπε καὶ πάντων ἐπίσκοπος ἦν αὐτῷ Φειδίας, καίτοι {540|541} μεγάλους ἀρχιτέκτονας ἐχόντων καὶ τεχνίτας {7} τῶν ἔργων. τὸν μὲν γὰρ ἑκατόμπεδον Παρθενῶνα Καλλικράτης εἰργάζετο καὶ Ἰκτῖνος, τὸ δ’ ἐν Ἐλευσῖνι Τελεστήριον ἤρξατο μὲν Κόροιβος οἰκοδομεῖν, καὶ τοὺς ἐπ’ ἐδάφους κίονας ἔθηκεν οὗτος καὶ τοῖς ἐπιστυλίοις ἐπέζευξεν· ἀποθανόντος δὲ τούτου Μεταγένης ὁ Ξυπεταιὼν τὸ διάζωσμα καὶ τοὺς ἄνω κίονας ἐπέστησε, τὸ δ’ ὀπαῖον ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀνακτόρου Ξενοκλῆς ὁ Χολαργεὺς ἐκορύφωσε· τὸ δὲ μακρὸν τεῖχος, περὶ οὗ Σωκράτης ἀκοῦσαί φησιν αὐτὸς εἰσηγουμένου γνώμην Περικλέους, {8} ἠργολάβησε Καλλικράτης. … {9} τὸ δ’ ᾿Ωιδεῖον, τῇ μὲν ἐντὸς διαθέσει πολύεδρον καὶ πολύστυλον, τῇ δ’ ἐρέψει περικλινὲς καὶ κάταντες ἐκ μιᾶς κορυφῆς πεποιημένον, εἰκόνα λέγουσι γενέσθαι καὶ μίμημα τῆς βασιλέως σκηνῆς, ἐπιστατοῦντος καὶ τούτῳ {10} Περικλέους. διὸ καὶ πάλιν Κρατῖνος ἐν Θρᾴτταις παίζει πρὸς αὐτόν·

ὁ σχινοκέφαλος Ζεὺς ὅδε
προσέρχεται [Περικλέης] τᾠδεῖον ἐπὶ τοῦ κρανίου
ἔχων, ἐπειδὴ τοὔστρακον παροίχεται.

{11} φιλοτιμούμενος δ’ ὁ Περικλῆς τότε πρῶτον ἐψηφίσατο μουσικῆς ἀγῶνα τοῖς Παναθηναίοις ἄγεσθαι, καὶ διέταξεν αὐτὸς ἀθλοθέτης αἱρεθείς, καθότι χρὴ τοὺς ἀγωνιζομένους αὐλεῖνᾄδεινκιθαρίζειν. ἐθεῶντο δὲ καὶ τότε καὶ τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον ἐν ᾿Ωιδείῳ τοὺς μουσικοὺς ἀγῶνας. Τὰ δὲ Προπύλαια τῆς ἀκροπόλεως ἐξειργάσθη μὲν ἐν πενταετίᾳ Μνησικλέους ἀρχιτεκτονοῦντος, τύχη δὲ θαυμαστὴ συμβᾶσα περὶ τὴν οἰκοδομίαν ἐμήνυσε τὴν θεὸν οὐκ ἀποστατοῦσαν, ἀλλὰ συνεφαπτομένην τοῦ ἔργου καὶ {13} συνεπιτελοῦσαν. … {14} Ὁ δὲ Φειδίας εἰργάζετο μὲν τῆς θεοῦ τὸ χρυσοῦν ἕδος, καὶ τούτου δημιουργὸς ἐν τῇ στήλῃ [εἶναι] γέγραπται· πάντα δ’ ἦν σχεδὸν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ, καὶ πᾶσιν ὡς εἰρήκαμεν {15} ἐπεστάτει τοῖς τεχνίταις διὰ φιλίαν Περικλέους. καὶ τοῦτο τῷ μὲν φθόνον, τῷ δὲ βλασφημίαν ἤνεγκεν, ὡς …

 

The man who directed [diepein] all the projects for him [= Pericles] and was the overseer [episkopos] of everything involved was Pheidias, although individual works were executed by other great master builders [arkhitektones] and craftsmen [tekhnitai] {7} of the various projects. For the hundred-foot Parthenon was executed by {541|542} Kallikrates and Iktinos. As for the Telestērion [‘Hall of Initiation’] [135] at Eleusis, it was Koroibos who began the building, and it was this man who had put in place on their foundation the columns and joined them to their architraves. [136] But when he died Metagenes of the deme of Xypete put in place the frieze and the upper columns, while the hearth-opening above the anaktoron [‘royal space’] received its crowning touch from Xenokles of the deme of Kholargos. For the Long Wall, concerning which Socrates [Plato Gorgias 455e] says that he himself heard Pericles make a formal proposal, {8} the contractor was Kallikrates. … {9} As for the Odeum, [137] which was designed to have many seats and columns on the inside, [138] and the roofing of which had a steep slope from the peak downward, [139] they say it was a visual imitation of the Great King’s [140] Tent [Skēnē] – and {10} Pericles was supervising [epistateîn] this building project as well. [141] That is the point of reference when Cratinus – I quote him again – in his Thracian Women [CAF I 35 F 71] playfully alludes to him:

This pin-head [‘squill-head’] Zeus, {542|543}
this Pericles, is approaching, wearing the Odeum on top of his skull
as his [head-]wear, [142] now that the time for ostracism has come and gone.

{11} It was then for the first time that Pericles, ambitious as he was, got a decree passed that there should be a competition [agōn] in mousikē at the Panathenaia, [143] and he set up the rules [diatassein], having been elected as an athlothetēs [= organizer of the athloi ‘contests’] for those who were competing [agōnizesthai] – rules for them to follow about the aulos-playing and the singing and the kithara-playing. At that point in time and in other periods of time as well, it was in the Odeum that people used to be spectators [theâsthai] of competitions [agōnes] in mousikē. {12} The Propylaea were built within the space of five years, Mnesikles being the architect, and a wondrous event happened in the course of their building, which indicated that the goddess was not just standing back but actively participating [= sun-, prefixed to both verbs that follow] in lending a hand to [sun-haptesthai] the project and in {13} bringing it to completion [sun-epi-teleîn]. … {14} Pheidias himself worked on the golden statue [hedos] of the goddess, and his name is inscribed as the artist on the stele. Almost everything was dependent on [= epi- plus dative] him, and, as I have said, {15} he was in charge [epistateîn], on account of his friendship with Pericles, of all the other craftsmen [tekhnitai]. This brought envy against one [= Pheidias] and, against the other [= Pericles], defamation, to the effect that… {543|544}

4§175 As we see from this passage, it was Pericles in the fifth century BCE who initiated the legislation creating the institution of performing the Panathenaic Homer as I have reconstructed it so far. Plutarch leaves it unspecified whether the agōnes ‘competitions’ included rhapsodic performances, but we do see a specific reference attested in the ancient dictionary ascribed to Hesychius. In this dictionary we read under the entry ōideion ‘Odeum’: ᾠδεῖον· τόπος, ἐν ᾧ πρὶν τὸ θέατρον κατασκευασθῆναι οἱ ῥαψῳδοὶ καὶ οἱ κιθαρῳδοὶ ἠγωνίζοντο ‘Odeum: the place where, before the Theater [of Dionysus] was configured for this purpose, the rhapsodes and the kithara-singers used to engage in competition [agōnizesthai]’. [144] It follows that Plutarch’s elliptic reference to ‘aulos-playing, singing, and kithara-playing’ does in fact include the ‘singing’ of rhapsodes. [145]

4§176 As we saw in Chapter 3, the festival of the Panathenaia was the occasion for ‘musical’ competitions, that is, competitions in the craft of mousikē, subdivided into separate events featuring rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’, of kitharōidoi ‘citharodes’ (= kithara-singers), of aulōidoi ‘aulodes’ (= aulos-singers), of kitharistai ‘citharists’ (= kithara-players), and of aulētai ‘auletes’ (aulos-players). As I argued on the basis of references dated to the age of Plato, the premier event among these Panathenaic ‘musical’ competitions was an agōn ‘competition’ among rhapsodes who competed with each other in performing the Iliad and the Odyssey in their entirety. In Chapter 3, I connected the exclusivity of Ion’s Homeric repertoire to the wording at the beginning of Plato’s Ion, which makes it clear that Ion the rhapsode was set to perform Homeric poetry in the agōn ‘competition’ of mousikē at the Panathenaia (Ion 530a-b). With this review of the basic facts as a background, I return to the passage I just quoted from Plutarch’s Pericles. The first time I had quoted this passage, I emphasized the initiative undertaken by the statesman Pericles in reshaping the premier sacred space of Athens, the acropolis, by way of instituting a new building program showcased by the sculpture of Pheidias as the master craftsman of Athens. Now I emphasize the fact that there was a parallel initiative undertaken by Pericles. It was the reshaping of the premier festival of Athens, the Panathenaia, by way of reforming the program of ‘musical’ competitions showcasing the poetry of Homer as master craftsman of all Hellas. {544|545}

4§177 So we have here a most precious piece of evidence about the Athenian standard of performing the Panathenaic Homer as it existed before the age of Plato, in the age of Pericles – which is seen as coextensive with the age of Pheidias. Further, this piece of evidence indicates that the Panathenaic version of Homer achieved its standard form as a result of the reforms instituted by Pericles concerning the ‘musical’ competitions at the festival of the Panathenaia. Even further, these Panathenaic reforms are connected with the building program of Pericles and, by extension, of Pheidias. In this metonymic sense, even the Panathenaic Homer can be seen as part of the building program of Pericles and Pheidias, in that the building of the Odeum is coextensive with the Panathenaic agōn ‘competition’ that included Homeric performances by rhapsodes.

4§178 The idea of the Odeum as a visual imitation of the Skēnē or ‘Tent’ of the Great King of the Persian empire, as we have just seen it described in Plutarch’s Pericles, is a most fitting expression of imperial prestige. The Odeum, as the ‘Scene’ for the monumental Panathenaic performances of Homer in the age of Pheidias, was monumental in its own right. On the inside, its “forest of columns” matched the spectacular effect achieved at the Telestērion or Great Hall of Initiation at Eleusis. [146] In fact, the Odeum was even more spacious than the Great Hall, and the enormous seating capacity of such a monumental building made it a most fitting venue for spectacular events of state, including juridical and political assemblies. [147]

4§179 The macrocosm of the Odeum is metonymically – and comically – evoked by the microcosm sitting on top of the head of Pericles. On top of his comically pointy head is a perfect fit, which is a pointy ‘hat’. That pointy ‘hat’ is the magnificent Odeum, culiminating in its magnificent peak. As the most public of all public figures in Athens, Pericles the monumental statesman is wearing his ‘hat’ as the primary organizer of the Panathenaia, primarily featuring the Panathenaic performances of Homer. Pheidias the monumental sculptor is the secondary organizer, as the metonymic ‘hatmaker’ of the ultimate venue for the monumental performances of Homeric poetry. {545|546}

4§180 So Pheidias was the notional architect of the setting for Homeric performance at the festival of the Panathenaia. And just as Pheidias was the craftsman primarily responsible for the setting of such performance, Homer was the craftsman primarily responsible for the performance itself.

4ⓢ14. Pheidias and the Peplos of Athena

4§181 So the prestige of Athens and of its premier festival, the Panathenaia, was linked to the prestige of two premier crafts in the age of Pheidias. These crafts were (1) the making of statues by Pheidias himself and (2) the making of poetry by Homer. The prestige of these two crafts was defined by an absolute standard, which was the work of Athena herself as the goddess of all crafts. For Athenians in the age of Pheidias, Athena was the goddess of all work in all crafts. All crafts were notionally derived from her work. As we will see, the work of Athena was primarily visualized as the weaving of her sacred peplos or ‘robe’, and the primary occasion for this weaving was the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens. In this section, I will show how the Panathenaic craft of weaving the peplos of Athena was linked to the craft of Pheidias. Then, in the next section, I will show how this same Panathenaic craft was linked to the craft of Homer.

4§182 Most relevant to the link between the work of Athena and the work of Pheidias is a story in the passage I quoted from Plutarch’s Pericles (13.13). This story, as we have seen, shows how the work done by the goddess Athena was imagined as the ultimate model for all craftsmen working on the building program directed by Pericles and supervised by Pheidias. According to the story, Athena showed her involvement in the overall program by miraculously ‘lending a hand’ (sun-haptesthai) in the building of the Propylaea, thus ‘keeping in touch’ (-haptesthai) with the craftsmen in their work and making it possible to bring this work to its completion (sun-epi-teleîn). The overall building program of Pericles, as we have also seen, featured as its highest achievement the making of the statue of Athena by Pheidias. There is a synergism linking the work of Athena with the work of the master craftsman Pheidias, standing in for all the craftsmen he supervised.

4§183 Viewed of and by itself, the work done by Athena was represented by the peplos she wears when she is not at war – a peplos she made with her own hands. As we will see in what immediately follows, the metaphorical world of making this peplos was a frame of reference for visualizing the work of Pheidias as a sculptor. And, as we will see at a later point, it was also a frame of reference for visualizing the work of Homer as a poet. {546|547}

4§184 I have already quoted the Homeric passage referring to the peplos made by Athena and worn by her when she is not engaged in warfare. In quoting this passage the last time, however, I highlighted not the peplos of the goddess but rather the khiton of Zeus that is worn by his daughter when she goes to war. This time, I highlight the peplos:

4ⓣ37 Iliad V 733-747

Αὐτὰρ Ἀθηναίη κούρη Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
πέπλον μὲν κατέχευεν ἑανὸν πατρὸς ἐπ’ οὔδει
735  ποικίλον, ὅν ῥ’ αὐτὴ ποιήσατο καὶ κάμε χερσίν·
ἣ δὲ χιτῶν’ ἐνδῦσα Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο
τεύχεσιν ἐς πόλεμον θωρήσσετο δακρυόεντα.
ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ ὤμοισιν βάλετ’ αἰγίδα θυσσανόεσσαν
δεινήν, ἣν περὶ μὲν πάντῃ Φόβος ἐστεφάνωται,
740  ἐν δ’ Ἔρις, ἐν δ’ Ἀλκή, ἐν δὲ κρυόεσσα Ἰωκή,
ἐν δέ τε Γοργείη κεφαλὴ δεινοῖο πελώρου
δεινή τε σμερδνή τε, Διὸς τέρας αἰγιόχοιο.
κρατὶ δ’ ἐπ’ ἀμφίφαλον κυνέην θέτο τετραφάληρον
χρυσείην, ἑκατὸν πολίων πρυλέεσσ’ ἀραρυῖαν·
745  ἐς δ’ ὄχεα φλόγεα ποσὶ βήσετο, λάζετο δ’ ἔγχος
βριθὺ μέγα στιβαρόν, τῷ δάμνησι στίχας ἀνδρῶν
ἡρώων, οἷσίν τε κοτέσσεται ὀβριμοπάτρη.

But Athena, daughter of Zeus who has the aegis,
took off her woven peplos [peplos] at the threshold of her father,
735  her pattern-woven [poikilos] peplos, the one that she herself made and worked on with her own hands. [148]
And, putting on the khiton [khitōn] of Zeus the gatherer of clouds,
with armor she armed herself to go to war, which brings tears. {547|548}
Over her shoulders she threw the aegis, with fringes on it,
– terrifying – garlanded all around by Fear personified.
740  On it [= the aegis] are Strife, Resistance, and the chilling Shout [of victorious pursuers].
On it also is the head of the Gorgon, the terrible monster,
a thing of terror and horror, the portent of Zeus who has the aegis.
On her head she put the helmet, with a phalos on each side and with four phalēra,
golden, adorned with the warriors [pruleis] of a hundred cities.
745  Into the fiery chariot with her feet she stepped, and she took hold of the spear,
heavy, huge, massive. With it she subdues the battle-rows of men –
heroes against whom she is angry, she of the mighty father.

4§185 At the moment when the goddess begins arming herself for war, she is shown literally slipping out of her peplos, which she is said to have woven with her own hands. The ostentatious reference here to the idea that Athena wove her own peplos with her own divine hands is full of ritual significance. No human handiwork can match the divine handiwork of the goddess. This mentality is comparable to the Greek Christian Orthodox concept of ἀχειροποίητος ‘not-made-by-hand’. This word applies to sacred objects of veneration that are believed to be heaven-sent, not made by human hands. The difference is, the goddess Athena was explicitly visualized as setting the absolute standard herself by weaving her own peplos with her own divine hands.

4§186 A word vitally relevant to the work of Athena is poikilos, an epithet describing the peplos made by the goddess in the passage I just quoted from Iliad V 735. I interpret this epithet as ‘pattern-woven’ for reasons I will explain as my argumentation proceeds.

4§187 Slipping out of her peplos, the goddess slips into a khiton that belongs to her father Zeus. For a single Homeric moment, there is room for the thought – if not the image – of the goddess in the nude. Some thinkers, like Friedrich Nietzsche, may have held on to that thought. Nietzsche’s “theoretical {548|549} man” is obsessed with “that one nude goddess,” who is truth. [149] Even as the thought flashes by, the Homeric picturing of Athena in motion moves on, without a blink, from a vision of the goddess in a peplos to a vision of the goddess in a khiton. So there is a complementarity in Athena’s wearing a peplos at one moment and in her wearing a khiton at the next moment.

4§188 This complementarity of the peplos and the khiton worn by Athena from one moment to the next is matched by the complementarity of the two primary statues of Athena on the acropolis of Athens in the age of Pheidias. On the one hand, there is the archaic Athena Polias. She is housed in the old temple of the goddess. On the other hand, there is the classical Athena Parthenos sculpted by Pheidias. She is housed in her new temple, that is, in the Parthenon. As we have already seen from the eyewitness description of Pausanias, the statue of Athena Parthenos wears not a peplos but a khiton, and this khiton is sculpted into the statue. It does not follow, however, that Athena should wear a peplos that is likewise sculpted into her own statue. As we are about to see, the peplos to be worn by Athena was not sculpted but woven for her.

4§189 Every year, a new peplos was to be woven for Athena to celebrate the occasion of her birthday, which was the climactic final day of the thusia ‘feast’ of the Panathenaia, marked by a spectacular pompē ‘procession’ that culminated in the presentation of this peplos to her statue. In my earlier work, I studied at length the usage of these words thusia ‘feast’ and pompē ‘procession’ with reference not only to the Panathenaia and the Panathenaic Procession but also to the corresponding festivals and processions of other cities. [150] In other cities, there were comparable rituals of weaving robes for the statues of divinities. [151] In Elis, for example, sixteen women representing the sixteen subdivisions of the population wove a peplos for the goddess Hera (Pausanias 5.16.2, 6.24.10). In the city of Argos, a patos ‘robe’ was woven to {549|550} be presented to the goddess Hera on the occasion of her festival, the Heraia (Callimachus F 66.3, Hesychius s.v.). On this same occasion in Argos, as we see from the scholia for Pindar Olympian 7 (152), athletic contests were held, followed by the awarding of prizes; leading up to the awards was a pompē ‘procession’ climaxing in a hecatomb, that is, in a ritual sacrifice of a hundred cattle (in the scholia, the act of sacrifice is indicated by the verb thuein ‘sacrifice’). The Panathenaic Procession likewise climaxes in a hecatomb, performed on the acropolis of Athens (IG II2 334, dated to 335/4 BCE).

4§190 Here I concentrate on the city of Athens and the Athenian ritual of weaving a peplos for Athena, to be presented to the goddess on the occasion of the Panathenaic Procession. From here on, I will distinguish this Panathenaic peplos from other peploi by treating it as a proper noun, Peplos.

4§191 In my earlier work, I reviewed the basic facts we know about the Peplos of Athena, especially the facts reported in the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians (60.1-3). [152] Here I simply highlight three details most relevant to my current argumentation:

(1) The weaving of the Peplos of Athena was started during the festival of the Khalkeia, nine months before the festival of the Panathenaia.
(2) The last day of the Panathenaia was the 28th day of the month of Hekatombaion, Athena’s birthday. [153] That was the day of the Panathenaic Procession, which culminated in the presentation of the finished Peplos to the goddess in her aspect as Athena Polias, housed in the old temple of Athena on the acropolis. [154]
(3) The period of time required for the weaving of the Peplos from start to finish was nine months, matching symbolically the period of gestation leading up to the birth of the goddess. [155]

4§192 I draw attention to the name of the festival that inaugurated the weaving of the Peplos, Khalkeia, which is derived from the word khalkos ‘bronze’. This festival celebrated the synergism of the divinities Athena and Hephaistos as models for the work of craftsmen. As the synergistic partner of Hephaistos, Athena was worshipped as Erganē, that is, the divinity who {550|551} presides over the work (ergon) of craftsmen. [156] So there was a link between the work of Athena, who practices the craft of weaving her own peplos, and the work of Hephaistos, who practices the craft of metalwork in bronze.

4§193 In the traditions of the city of Argos, there was a comparable link between bronzework and weaving in the context of the festival of Hera, the Heraia. On this occasion, as I noted earlier, a patos ‘robe’ was woven for the goddess Hera (Callimachus F 66.3, Hesychius s.v.). On this same occasion, as we see in the scholia for Pindar (Olympian 7.152), prizes made of bronze metalwork were awarded after a pompē ‘procession’ marked by the ritual climax of a thusia ‘sacrifice’ of a hundred cattle (as indicated by the verb thuein ‘sacrifice’). I consider this festival in more detail in the twin book Homer the Preclassic. [157]

4§194 How are we to visualize the woven Peplos that was presented to Athena Polias at the ritual climax of the Panathenaic Procession? The following description is most telling:

4ⓣ38 Scholia for Aristophanes Birds 827

Τῇ Ἀθηνᾷ πολιάδι οὔσῃ πέπλος ἐγίνετο παμποίκιλος, ὃν ἀνέφερον ἐν τῇ
πομπῇ τῶν Παναθηναίων.

For Athena in the aspect of Polias there was a peplos made. It was completely pattern-woven [pan-poikilos]. And it was ritually carried and presented to her in the procession [pompē] of the Panathenaia.

4§195 I highlight the epithet pan-poikilos, which describes the Peplos presented to Athena Polias. The same epithet occurs in Iliad VI 289 with reference to peploi woven by Phoenician women; the narrative there goes on to say that Hecuba chooses the best and most beautiful of these peploi as an offering to be presented to Athena in the sacred space of the goddess on the acropolis of Troy (VI 293-295). [158] Earlier, I highlighted the epithet poikilos ‘pattern-woven’, which describes the peplos made by Athena herself in the passage I quoted from Iliad V 735. For reasons I will explain in what follows, I intepret pan-poikilos as ‘completely pattern-woven’, just as I interpreted poikilos as ‘pattern-woven’. These words, as we will see, are germane to the identity of the goddess Athena as a model for a special kind of weaving. {551|552}

4§196 In order to understand the model of weaving that is represented by Athena, we have to confront a historical fact. The activity of weaving the Peplos of Athena was not an exclusively female activity. In the age of Pheidias, weaving in general was a female activity only in the domestic world of non-professional weavers; in the public world of professional weavers, by contrast, weaving was a primarily male activity. In this era, as also in other eras, specialized fabric work was the specialty of professional men. [159] Even in classical poetry, we read of male fabric workers – as signaled by words like huphantēres ‘weavers’ (from huphainein ‘weave’) in the Epigonoi of Sophocles (F 771 ed. Radt). [160]

4§197 As I said earlier, the peplos that Athena takes off in Iliad V connects her to her feminine identity as a weaver, while the khiton she puts on for war connects her to her masculine identity as a warrior. But there is more to it. As we are about to see, the identity of Athena as a weaver of the peplos is not only feminine. It is also masculine.

4§198 Just as weaving was not an exclusively female activity, the identity of Athena as a prototypical weaver was not an exclusively feminine identity. As we will see, Athena was a prototypical weaver for professional male weavers, not only for non-professional female weavers.

4§199 Linked to the identity of the goddess as weaver are two words I have already highlighted: they are (1) poikilos ‘pattern-woven’, (2) pan-poikilos ‘completely pattern-woven’. To these words I now add two more: (3) poikillein ‘pattern-weave’ and (4) poikiltēs ‘pattern-weaver’. The word poikiltēs, the plural form of which is poikiltai, refers to professional male fabric workers. As we learn from Plutarch’s Pericles 12.6, the sculptures supervised by Pheidias in the building program of Pericles were influenced by these poikiltai. [161] The noun poikiltēs is derived from the verb poikillein in the sense of ‘pattern-weave, weave patterns [into the fabric]’, which is in this sense a synonym of en-huphainein ‘weave patterns [into the fabric]’. [162] Also related is the adjective poikilos, which means ‘varied, patterned’ in general but ‘pattern-woven’ with specific reference to the Peplos of Athena. {552|553}

4§200 The poikiltai are central to my argument not only because their art as ‘pattern-weavers’ was linked to the art of sculptors in the age of Pheidias. There is an even more important reason for their centrality, which has to do with an all-important ritual in the calendar of the Athenian state – a ritual I highlighted at the start of this argumentation. That ritual is the pattern-weaving of the Peplos of the goddess Athena in her older aspect as Athena Polias, to be contrasted with her newer aspect as Athena Parthenos. As we saw a moment ago, this Peplos was presented to Athena Polias on the occasion of the Panathenaia. As we also saw, this Peplos was pan-poikilos ‘completely pattern-woven’.

4§201 The ‘pattern’ that was woven into this Peplos was the equivalent of a myth I examined in Chapter 1. That myth was the Gigantomachy (Gigantomakhia), which told of a primal conflict between the gods and the giants (gigantes). [163] As I have argued in earlier work, the narrating of this conflict was the equivalent of a charter myth for Athens in the age of Pheidias and beyond. [164] As I will now argue in this work, the ritual of pattern-weaving the Peplos of Athena was the equivalent of narrating this charter myth.

4§202 The charter myth of the Gigantomachy, as a narration, was literally woven into the Peplos of Athena. [165] And there is historical evidence to show that professional male weavers were involved in the weaving – that is, in the performance of this charter ritual. [166] As we are about to see from the wording of Plato, these weavers who wove the story patterns of the Gigantomachy into the Peplos of Athena can be identified as the poikiltai mentioned in Plutarch’s Pericles 12.6. Plato’s use of words derived from poikilos validates this identification: [167]

4ⓣ39 Plato Euthyphro 6b-c (Socrates is speaking to Euthyphro)

Καὶ πόλεμον ἆρα ἡγῇ σὺ εἶναι τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς θεοῖς πρὸς ἀλλήλους, καὶ ἔχθρας γε δεινὰς καὶ μάχας καὶ ἄλλα τοιαῦτα πολλά, οἷα λέγεταί τε ὑπὸ τῶν ποιητῶν, καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν {c} ἀγαθῶν γραφέων τά τε ἄλλα ἱερὰ ἡμῖν καταπεποίκιλται, καὶ δὴ καὶ τοῖς μεγάλοις Παναθηναίοιςπέπλος μεστὸς τῶν τοιούτων ποικιλμάτων ἀνάγεται εἰς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν; ταῦτα ἀληθῆ φῶμεν εἶναι, ὦ Εὐθύφρων; {553|554}

So do you think that there was really a war among the gods with each other, and that there were terrible hostilities and battles and many other such things as are narrated by poets – sacred things that have been patterned [kata-poikillein] for us by noble masters of visual arts [= grapheus plural], in particular the Peplos at the Great [= quadrennial] Panathenaia, which is paraded up to the acropolis, and which is full of such pattern-weavings [ poikilmata]? Shall we say that these things are true?

4§203 It is essential to note the political as well as philosophical significance of this passage. By disparaging the Gigantomachy as a quaint invention that cannot be true for a philosopher, Plato’s Socrates is subverting the charter myth of the Athenians and, by extension, he is subverting the state of Athens itself. [168] The subversion is all the more telling because the wording assigned by Plato to Socrates is most accurate in conveying the central importance of this myth of the Gigantomachy to the Athenians. As Socrates himself admits, the things that happened in the course of the battle of the gods and giants are hiera ‘sacred’. Not only is the content of this myth sacred for the Athenians: so too, by extension, is the form of telling the myth. As we see from Plato’s wording, the primary form of narrating the Gigantomachy was to pattern-weave the myth into the Peplos of Athena, which was carried up to the sacred space of the goddess on the acropolis at the ritual climax of the Panathenaic Procession. And the word that is used here in referring to the Peplos of the goddess is the noun poikilma, derived from the verb poikillein in the specific sense of ‘pattern-weave’. So the noun can be interpreted literally as a ‘patterned web’, that is to say, as a product of pattern-weaving.

4§204 As we also see from Plato’s wording, the more general way of narrating the Gigantomachy was to make use of secondary forms of visual arts – secondary, that is, in comparison to the notionally primary form, which was pattern-weaving. In the same passage I just quoted, the verb poikillein (in a compounded form, kata-poikillein) is used also in the general sense of ‘make a patterned picture’, and the subject of the verb here is grapheus (in the plural, grapheis), to be interpreted in the general sense of ‘master of the visual arts’, not in the specific sense of ‘painter’ (as in Plato Phaedo 110b). There is a relevant {554|555} attestation of (en-)graphein referring to the weaving of patterns into the fabric (scholia for Aristophanes Knights 556). The basic idea of graphein (verb) / graphē (noun) is to fill in a preexisting outline.

4§205 Elsewhere as well in the usage of Plato, the verb poikillein in the sense of ‘pattern-weave’ refers specifically to the act of weaving the narrative of the Gigantomachy into the Peplos of Athena. In Plato’s Republic 2.378c, the expression muthologēteon ‘to be mythologized’ is made parallel to poikilteon ‘to be pattern-woven’, and the subject that is being simultaneously mythologized and pattern-woven is none other than the Gigantomachy (here Plato explicitly uses the noun gigantomakhiai, in the plural: ‘gigantomachies’). [169]

4§206 The professional male weavers known as the poikiltai ‘pattern-weavers’ were evidently hired to weave every four years a spectacularly elaborate and oversized Peplos destined for formal presentation to the statue of the goddess Athena on the occasion of the quadrennial Great Panathenaia. By contrast, on the occasion of the annual Lesser Panathenaia, specially selected young women continued the non-professional ritual custom of weaving a Peplos every year for the statue of Athena; in this case, the fabric was considerably less elaborate in its specifications and perhaps smaller. There is important epigraphical evidence about these young women weavers of the annual Peplos, who were called the Ergastinai, and about their primary representatives, called the Arrhēphoroi. [170] Here I simply note in passing their centrality in the complex of myths and rituals involving the annual Peplos.

4§207 There are various attested references to the quadrennial Peplos as a gigantic web featured as the sail for an official “ship of state” float that highlighted the parade of the Panathenaic Procession (Plutarch Demetrius 10.5, 12.3). [171] To be contrasted are references to the annual Peplos featured as a dress woven for the wooden cult statue (xoanon) of Athena. [172] One expert estimates that “the peplos needed to be roughly 5 [feet] by 6 [feet]” in order to dress (literally) this statue. [173] 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. [174] It may be that there were two different sizes for the Peplos and that the two sizes were {555|556} proportional to the two different scales of the festival for which it served as centerpiece. The proportionality could be formulated this way: the quadrennial Great Panathenaia is to the annual Lesser Panathenaia as the great quadrennial Peplos is to the smaller annual Peplos. Further, the gigantic scale of the quadrennial Peplos in the era of the Athenian empire is comparable to the gigantic scale of the empire itself. [175] This scale puts into perspective “the philosophical magnitude” of the offense committed by Plato’s Socrates in his disparagement of the Gigantomachy:

As we contemplate the grand Athenian State narrative of luminous poikilmata [pattern-weavings] 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. [176]

4§208 The form and the content of the narrative of the gigantomakhiai ‘gigantomachies’ were evidently regulated by elected state officials who supervised the quadrennial Great Panathenaia, the athlothetai, as we see from the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians (60.1-3). As I noted earlier, these athlothetai were directly in charge of 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). [177] Those woven patterns, as I have argued in my previous work, were functional narrations of the “sacred scene” of the Gigantomachy. [178] The 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. [179] The technique of narration by way of weaving such patterns has aptly been described by one expert as a story-frieze style of weaving. [180]

4§209 The question is, why would such important elected state officials be held responsible for the narrative agenda of the story-frieze patterns {556|557} woven into the Peplos of Athena? Evidently, these explicit narrative agenda must have matched in importance the implicit political agenda of the State. [181]

4§210 Some have questioned whether the myth of the Gigantomachy was woven into the smaller web of the Lesser Panathenaia. [182] Such questioning is to my mind unjustified. It reflects a misunderstanding of the relationship between the telling of the myth and the weaving of the Peplos – whether it be the great Peplos of the quadrennial Great Panathenaia or the smaller Peplos of the annual Lesser Panathenaia. As we will see, the very idea of weaving the Peplos of Athena was the ritual equivalent of narrating the Gigantomachy. The myth of the Gigantomachy was intrinsic to and inextricable from the ritual of weaving the Peplos of Athena – both the quadrennial weaving and the annual weaving. To that extent, I agree with those who argue that the pictorial narratives woven into the Peplos of Athena in Athens were variations on one basic theme, the myth of the Gigantomachy. [183]

4ⓢ15. The Peplos of Athena and the sculptures of the Parthenon

4§211 What is narrated by the Peplos of Athena is linked with what is narrated by the various sculptures of the Parthenon. I start with the pièce de résistance, the statue of Athena Parthenos sculpted by Pheidias. Here I need to adjust an observation I made earlier about the passage where Pausanias gives his own eyewitness description of this statue (1.24.5-7). I observed that the Peplos of Athena is missing in the description, since Athena Parthenos is said to be wearing a khiton, not a peplos. But now we will see that the Peplos of Athena was not really missing in the sculptural ensemble of the Athena Parthenos viewed overall.

4§212 Let us take a second look at the armor of the goddess. I said earlier that the male exterior of the goddess is highlighted by her armor. But there is more to it. The female interior of the goddess is likewise highlighted by her armor – specifically, by the interior of her shield. Athena has her shield by her side. The Shield of Athena, like the goddess herself, was made by Pheidias, and the interior of this Shield had something essential to say about the Peplos of Athena. {557|558}

4§213 As we see from the description of Pliny the Elder (Natural History 36.18), the convex exterior of the Shield of Athena featured a pictorial narrative of the Amazonomachy (Amazonomakhia), that is, the primal conflict between the Athenians and the Amazons (Amazones); as for the concave interior, it featured a pictorial narrative of the Gigantomachy (Gigantomakhia), that is, the primal conflict between the gods and the giants (gigantes). [184]

4§214 It has been shown that the pictorial narratives featured on the two sides of the Shield of Athena were not painted by Pheidias, as had once been thought; rather, the Shield was a masterpiece of metalwork. [185] Pliny the Elder (Natural History 36.18) says explicitly that Pheidias ‘chased’, caelavit, the surface of the Shield: that is, he worked it in metal (verb caelare ‘chase’). [186] So the metalwork was in bronze, with a gilded surface. {558|559}

4§215 The exterior narrative of the Shield, about the Amazonomachy, celebrates the dominance of male over female, which corresponds to the dominance of Athena’s male exterior over her female interior. As for the interior narrative, it celebrates the dominance of the Olympian over the earthbound or “chthonic,” which corresponds to the dominance of Athena’s affinities with the Olympians gods over her affinities with the goddess Earth. Besides the mythological text, as it were, of these two narratives, there was also a political subtext: narratives that were worked into the Shield evoked indirectly the prestige of Pericles and even of Pheidias himself (Pericles 31.3-4). Here I concentrate not on that subtext, nor on the narrative of the Amazonomachy, but rather on the myth of the Gigantomachy.

4§216 This myth, as we see from a vase painting I showed already in Chapter 1, narrates the establishment of cosmic order after the defeat of the giants by the gods. I start by showing once more a picture of this vase painting, with its remarkable panorama of the Gigantomachy. The painting has been explained as a copy, as it were, of the masterpiece of metalwork situated inside the concave interior surface of the gigantic Shield of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon of Athens (Figure 13, as Figure 7 above, Chapter 1).

10-Fleming-fig1
Figure 13 (as Figure 7 above, Chapter 1). Gigantomachy krater by the Pronomos Painter.

4§217 As we see from this picture, the myth as painted here and as metalworked by Pheidias narrates how the giants, generated by the primal goddess Earth, rebelled against the gods who live on Mount Olympus. The giants attempted to storm the heavens but were repelled by the Olympians. The Gigantomachy marks the birthday of Athena, that is, the primordial day when the goddess was born fully formed – and armed – from the head of her father Zeus (Hesiod Theogony 886-900, 924-926; Homeric Hymn [28] to Athena 4-6). In other words, Athena’s birthday was conceived in mythological terms as the same day on which she joined Zeus and the other Olympians in defeating the giants. [187] As I have already noted, this primordial day was equated with the climactic last day of the festival of the Panathenaia, which was the occasion of the Panathenaic Procession, culminating in the presentation of a newly woven Peplos to the goddess.

4§218 Besides the Shield of Athena made by Pheidias, there is another most telling link with the Peplos of Athena in the Parthenon. If we imagine ourselves standing in the interior of the temple, we see porch colonnades featuring not the expected metopes but instead a continuous frieze of relief sculpture extending along the entire length of the outer walls of the cella. {559|560} What we are seeing is the Panathenaic Frieze, a visual representation of the Panathenaic Procession sculpted into the interior of the Parthenon under the supervision of Pheidias.

4§219 In my earlier work, I offered this general observation about the Frieze:

The ritual drama of the Panathenaic Procession, as represented on the Parthenon Frieze, is central to the whole Panathenaic 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. [188]

4§220 This relief sculpture actually shows the ritual moment when the woven Peplos of Athena is handed over to a representative of the goddess. [189] The Peplos is shown at the moment of its being ritually folded, and its ribbed edge (or selvedge) is visible (Figure 14). [190]

10-Fleming-fig1
Figure 14. Relief sculpture: presentation of the peplos of Athena. Slab 5, East Frieze of the Parthenon, Athens. British Museum, Elgin Collection.

4§221 This frozen motion picture showing the moment of handing over the Peplos at the moment of its ritual folding is a cross-reference. The reference crosses over from the craft of sculpture to the craft of weaving. As we contemplate the sculpting of the fabric of the Peplos on the Parthenon Frieze, I find it relevant to repeat the term story-frieze, applied to the narrative technique of pattern-weaving the Peplos. [191] This term can be applied also to the narrative technique of sculpting the story, as it were, of the Panathenaic Frieze, to the extent that the making of this relief sculpture is an analogue to the making of the Peplos of Athena.

4§222 The positioning of this ritual moment as sculpted into the Parthenon Frieze is comparable to the narrative of the Gigantomachy as metalworked into the concave interior of the Shield of Athena:

Particularly stressed [in the narrative of the Gigantomachy as sculpted into the Shield] is the presence of Zeus in the centre top {561|562} of the heavenly arch: other gods converge toward him symmetrically from either side. [Pheidias] seems to announce in this way to the spectator that Zeus is not only in the centre of the battle but also at its culminating point. The same conception is found on the Panathenaic frieze where the human procession, starting from the south-west corner, proceeds in two directions along the north and south sides of the temple to converge over the east end where the gods are assembled to witness the culmination of the ceremony. [192]

It is at this point of convergence in the narrative of the Panathenaic Frieze that the presentation of the Peplos takes place.

4§223 By now we have seen two links to the Peplos of Athena in the sculptures of the Parthenon. In one case, the pictorial narrative that is sculpted into the Panathenaic Frieze on the interior of the Parthenon refers to the form of the woven Peplos. In the other case, the pictorial narrative that is metalworked into the interior of the Shield of Athena is a myth that matches the pictorial narrative that is woven into the Peplos of Athena, that is, the myth of the Gigantomachy.

4§224 There is also a third link to the Peplos of Athena in the sculptural narratives of the Parthenon. In this case, we find the link on the exterior of the temple. On the surface of this exterior are the grand relief sculptures of the pediments and the metopes, featuring a set of connected mythical and ritual themes. The east and the west pediment show respectively the birth of Athena and her victory over Poseidon in their struggle over the identity of Athens; the metopes show the battle of the gods and giants on the east side, the battle of the Athenians and Amazons on the west, the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs on the south, and the battle of the Achaeans and Trojans on the north. So once again we see a sculpted narrative that matches the woven narrative of the Peplos of Athena: it is the myth of the Gigantomachy, sculpted into the east metopes, featuring Athena herself battling in the forefront as a promakhos. [193] In this case, the Gigantomachy balances the Amazonomachy that is sculpted into the west metopes. Similarly, as we saw earlier, the Gigantomachy that is metalworked into the concave interior of the Shield of Athena balances the Amazonomachy that is metalworked into the convex exterior. So the contents of the east and the west metopes of the Parthenon’s exterior correspond respectively to the contents of the concave interior and convex exterior of the {562|563} Shield of Athena. Also relevant to the Peplos of Athena, as we will see later, is what we see sculpted into the north metopes of the Parthenon’s exterior. It is the battle of the Achaeans and Trojans, the topical centerpiece of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. [194]

4§225 Finally, there is a fourth link to the Peplos of Athena in the sculptural narratives of the Parthenon. It is the Pandora Frieze, sculpted by Pheidias into the base of the statue of Athena Parthenos. In order to appreciate the significance of this sculpture, we must review the first three links in a fixed order. Let us take the perspective of a viewer standing before the entrance to the temple of Athena Parthenos. Facing the east side of the temple and looking for highlights that catch the eye, starting from the top, we would first of all see the birth of Athena sculpted into the pediment on high; next, looking further below, we would see the battle of the gods and giants sculpted into the metopes; next, looking even further below and into the interior, we would see the presentation of the Peplos of Athena sculpted into the Panathenaic Frieze that wraps around this interior above the columns of the porch. [195] Next, ascending the steps of the temple and entering its open doors, we would see the gigantic figure of Athena Parthenos standing on top of a commensurately gigantic base; and we would see sculpted into the surface of this base the Pandora Frieze.

4§226 As we know from Pliny the Elder (Natural History 36.19), the relief work of the Pandora Frieze was executed in metal – or ‘chased’, that is, caelatum (verb caelare ‘chase’). The bronze metalwork must have had a gilded surface, which is to be inferred from what Pausanias says about the corresponding relief work gracing the base of the statue of Zeus in Olympia (5.11.8). [196] Let us continue to follow the perspective of a viewer who has just entered the interior of the temple. As we enter, we see straight ahead the glittering figure of Pandora at the center of the Frieze, her radiance enhanced by her reflection in the pool at the front of the base; this view gives the viewer “a premonition of what, once he had accustomed himself to the semi-darkness in the cella, he would, on directing his gaze upwards, experience in the statue of the Athena Parthenos herself.” [197] Even before the viewer “could have been alerted to the astonishing height and polychromatic splendour of the chryselephantine {563|564} statue of Athena itself, he would have looked straight ahead and glanced at its base.” [198]

4§227 As Pausanias says, the myth that is narrated by the relief work on the base of the statue of Athena Parthenos is the genesis of Pandora (1.24.7). What Pausanias does not say, however, is that Pandora is the first Athenian woman in the Athenian version of the myth, and that she is represented as wearing the first peplos. The narrative of this myth about Pandora, as worked into the frieze of the base of the statue of Athena Parthenos, can be reconstructed primarily on the basis of vase paintings that narrate this myth. [199] In terms of these narrations, Pandora is represented as wearing the first peplos, given to her by the goddess Athena herself:

This robe, the first peplos, might have been understood in the widest sense of the word as the archetypal peplos, given by Athena to the primordial woman. For that reason its concept was not confined to the bare image of a beautiful garment, but involved women’s ability to weave peploi as well. [200] Thus the peplos of Pandora could have represented the mythical pattern or prototype for all the peploi in the world. [201] {564|565}

4§228 Let us consider in some detail the narratives of two relevant vase paintings. Both paintings are dated to the second quarter of the fifth century BCE; so they predate the Pandora Frieze itself. [202] The first of these paintings shows a frontal view of the newly created Pandora. She is wearing a peplos and is flanked by Athena, who presents her with a garland of flowers (Figure 15). [203]

09-10Fellows
Figure 15. Attic red-figure calyx krater: the Birth of Pandora. Attributed to the Niobid Painter, ca. 475-425 BCE. London, British Museum, GR 1856.12-13.1 (Vase E 467).

10-Fleming-fig1
Figure 16. Attic red-figure cup: the Creation of Pandora. Attributed to the Tarquinia Painter, ca. 475-425 B. C. London, British Museum, 1885.1-28.1.

4§229 The mention here of Athena Erganē is relevant to the Athenian festival that inaugurated the weaving of the Peplos of Athena, the Khalkeia, the name of which is derived from the word khalkos ‘bronze’. This festival, as we saw earlier, celebrated the synergism of the divinities Athena and Hephaistos as models for the work of craftsmen. As the synergistic partner of Hephaistos, Athena was worshipped as Erganē, that is, the divinity who presides over the work (ergon) of craftsmen. [206] Since the weaving of the Peplos was begun at the festival of the Khalkeia, it is relevant that the name for the female weavers of the Peplos was Ergastinai. [207]

4§230 Earlier, I argued for a link between the work of Athena, who practices the craft of weaving her own peplos, and the work of Hephaistos, who practices the craft of metalwork in bronze. On the basis of the additional details we have seen since then concerning the myth of Pandora, I now also argue for a link between the work of the weavers who produced the Peplos of Athena and the work of the metalworkers who produced artifacts made of bronze in the sacred space of Athena. The fact that Athena presides over the craft of weaving the Peplos in conjunction with the craft of bronze metalwork is relevant to the fact that the relief work of the Pandora Frieze, which shows Pandora being dressed in a prototypical peplos given to her by Athena, {566|567} is an artifact of metalwork in bronze. It is also relevant to the fact that the metalworker who sculpted the narrative about Pandora and her peplos was none other than Pheidias himself, who also metalworked the narrative of the Gigantomachy into the concave interior of the Shield of Athena – matching the narrative of the Gigantomachy woven into the Peplos of Athena.

4§231 By now we have seen four links to the Peplos of Athena in the sculptures of the Parthenon. Taken together, all four show that the Peplos was relevant to Athena Parthenos, the occupant of the Parthenon, not only to Athena Polias, who was the official recipient of the Peplos by virtue of being the occupant of the older temple of the goddess on the acropolis. Moreover, these links show that the making of the Peplos of Athena influenced the making of the sculptures of the Parthenon itself.

4§232 Here I stop to note a basic difference. The metalwork of the Gigantomachy on the concave interior of the Shield of Athena, as performed by Pheidas, was of course a singular historic event. To be contrasted is the weaving of the Gigantomachy, which was a seasonally recurring event. There was the weaving of the annual Peplos, as performed by female weavers, and there was the weaving of the quadrennial Peplos, as performed by professional male weavers called poikiltai. Each time the Peplos was woven – or, better, rewoven – it was notionally the same but historically different. So the woven version of the Gigantomachy can be seen as an ongoing classical process in contrast to the metalworked version, which is a single classical moment created by Pheidias.

4§233 The ritual reweaving of Athena’s Peplos every year at the Panathenaia – especially every four years at the Great Panathenaia – is a ritual re-enactment of Athena’s own weaving of her own peplos, which she wears as a ‘robe’. As we saw, Homeric poetry says explicitly, in Iliad V (734-735), that the goddess herself had woven – with her own hands – the peplos she is shown as wearing; when she goes to war, she takes off this peplos (V 734) before she puts on a khiton (V 736), over which she wears her suit of armor (V 737). [208] Because it is a divinity who is doing these things, what Athena does or what she makes is absolute and thus permanent. Female and male weavers keep on repeating the absolute and permanent archetype, and their repetition formalizes the permanence. So, while the sculpting of a statue of the goddess is a single act that achieves notional permanence, the weaving of a web for the goddess is an act that has to be reperformed year after year for ever and ever in order to achieve, in the fullness of time, that same kind of notional permanence. The {567|568} woven web of Athena is a multiple and fluid eternity, ever recycled, whereas the sculpted statue of Athena is a single and static moment of that same eternity, ever the same.

4§234 Here I return one last time to the fact that Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon is not wearing her peplos. If the statue of the goddess is viewed as the goddess herself in arrested motion, then Athena herself becomes an appropriate recipient of the Peplos that is forever being ritually rewoven for her. The ritual reweaving is what makes the weaving permanent. So long as the reweaving goes on forever, which is the ideology of ritual, the Peplos is just as permanent as the statue is notionally permanent. The eternity of reweaving makes the rewoven Peplos the same thing, ritually speaking, as the Peplos that Athena had originally woven. She can receive for eternity that same Peplos she once wove because it is rewoven for her by successive generations of weavers weaving into eternity.

4§235 Conversely, Athena can also give the Peplos once and for all to the first woman, Pandora, as we saw from the evidence about the relief metalwork of Pheidias known as the Pandora Frieze. [209] In terms of Athenian myth as represented in this relief metalwork created by Pheidias, the Peplos given to Pandora by Athena would have been woven once and for all. In terms of Athenian ritual, on the other hand, women will be weaving a new Peplos for Athena on a seasonally recurring basis, year after year for all time to come. The Peplos given by the goddess to the primal woman will be rewoven and given back to the goddess again and again for the rest of time on the seasonally recurring occasion of the feast of the Panathenaia, which celebrates the genesis of Athena.

4§236 In the age of Pheidias, as we have seen, the reweaving of the Peplos of Athena was no longer restricted to women, so that any idea of Pandora as the first weaver by virtue of being the first woman was neutralized. Still, the craft of weaving the Peplos continued to be associated primarily with the nonprofessional work of women.

4ⓢ16. Reweaving the peplos, retelling the epic

4§237 In the light of what we have seen here in Chapter 4 concerning the differentiation of professional male weavers from nonprofessional female weavers in the age of Pheidias, I will now explore the relevance of this differentiation to the metaphorical world of weaving as epic. As we saw in {568|569} Chapter 2, the general process of weaving as a metaphor is applied by epic to the specific activity of performing epic. The prime example I cited was the word oimē, which refers metaphorically to the ‘story-thread’ that begins the epic performance of the singer Demodokos in Odyssey viii 74. Such a beginning of epic, as we saw from the wording of Pindar’s Nemean 2 (line 3), is a prooimion, which is metaphorically the starting point of the threading, of the oimē. Comparable to this Greek prooimion is the Latin exordium ‘proemium’. Both words are applicable to the beginning of a song, a poem, or a speech. Like the Greek prooimion, the Latin equivalent exordium shows a closely comparable etymology: this noun too refers metaphorically to the starting point of the threading, as we see from the meaning of the corresponding verb ordīrī, which refers to the actual process of ‘threading’. [210] Another semantic parallel is Latin prīmordia, which gives us the English word ‘primordial’. As we also saw in Chapter 2, the specific meanings of the Greek nouns oimē and prooimion are related to the general meaning of the noun humnos, which I interpreted etymologically as the overall process of weaving as expressed by the verb huphainein ‘weave’. So the question is, can we say that the performing of epic in the age of Pheidias is visualized metaphorically as the work of male weavers in particular?

4§238 In formulating an answer, I start with the metaphor inherent in the technical poetic term prooimion. In terms of this metaphor, a performance started by a singer is like a web started by a weaver. Performing the prooimion is like weaving the exastis, which is a technical term for the initial phase of the weaving. [211] From the wording of Pindar, we see the application of this metaphor to the start of Homeric performance:

4ⓣ40 Pindar Nemean 2.1-3

῞Οθεν περ καὶ Ὁμηρίδαι | ῥαπτῶν ἐπέων τὰ πόλλ᾿ ἀοιδοί | ἄρχονται, Διὸς ἐκ προοιμίου.

[starting] from the point where [hothen] the Homēridai, singers, most of the time begin [arkhesthai] their stitched-together [rhaptein] words, from the prooimion of Zeus

4§239 The idea of fabric work, implicit in the word prooimion, is made explicit here through the word rhaptein ‘sew, stitch’, which conveys the idea of {569|570} integrating woven fabric into a totality. [212] The metaphorical world of rhaptein ‘sew, stitch’ is specific to the word rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’, which means etymologically ‘stitchers of song’. [213] In the logic of Pindar’s wording, the primary fabric workers of song are the Homēridai, the ‘descendants of Homer’ themselves, and the starting point for their fabric work is the web of song that addresses the primary god, Zeus. [214] So the metaphorical fabric workers of epic are specifically male fabric workers. As such, they are analogous to the poikiltai mentioned in Plutarch’s Pericles (12.6).

4§240 In Pindar’s Nemean 2, Zeus is not only positioned at the starting point of epic: the god is also the starting point himself. That is because Zeus is being celebrated in a notional prooimion that is said to invoke him first and foremost. In classical terms, such a prooimion is tantamount to a Hymn to Zeus. We may compare the wording of Thucydides (3.104.4-5), who uses the word prooimion in referring to what we know in classical terms as the Homeric Hymn (3) to Apollo. To paraphrase in terms of the analogous Latin word prīmordia, Zeus is ‘primordial’ by virtue of being the initial phase of the weaving. With Zeus as the perfect beginning, a humnos to Zeus becomes a perfect web.

4§241 The prooimion that is being performed by the Homēridai in Pindar’s Nemean 2 (line 3) is the metaphorical equivalent of an exastis. As with all matters relating to fabric work, an exastis can be linked generically to the work of female weavers. But the artistic bravura of creating a prooimion can also be linked specifically with professional male fabric workers. In the Pindaric metaphor picturing epic as fabric work, we have just seen that the visual world of weaving as a metaphor includes specialized aspects of fabric work performed by professional male fabric workers, not only the generalized aspect of fabric work performed by women in domestic settings, which remains the standard non-metaphorical poetic visualization. The decisive word in Pindar’s Nemean 2 is rhaptein ‘sew, stitch’ (line 2), which refers to the specialized work of integrating woven fabric into a totality that suits another totality, that is, the body conceived as a whole. [215]

4§242 As we saw in Chapter 2, the overt metaphor of rhapta epea ‘stitched-together words’ in Pindar’s Nemean 2 (line 2) is connected with a latent {570|571} metaphor embedded in the etymology of the word rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’, a compound formation composed of the morphological elements rhaptein ‘stitch together’ and aoidē ‘song’. As Pindar’s wording indicates, the rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ who perform the epic of Homer by ‘stitching together the words’ are comparable to the male fabric workers who create the Peplos of Athena at the quadrennial Great Panathenaia.

4§243 I propose that Pindar’s wording here envisions rhapsodes in the act of performing Homer on the occasion of the quadrennial Great Panathenaia just as the male fabric workers who weave the Peplos of Athena weave it for that particular occasion – and not for the annual Lesser Panathenaia. The spectacular size and elaborateness of the quandrennial Peplos woven by professional male fabric workers suited the grandeur of the quadrennial Great Panathenaia. [216] I see an ongoing connection with the spectacular size and elaborateness of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey in comparison to other epics.

4§244 The artistry of weaving the quadrennial Peplos is comparable to the spectacular artistry of the woven tapestries of medieval Europe. But the difference is, the Peplos was a self-renewing and self-updating masterpiece, seasonally rewoven. And the occasion for the reweaving was also the occasion for the grandest celebration of the Athenian state, that is, for the quadrennial Great Panathenaia. This festival, rich in lavish prizes, was a most potent new rival to the Olympics and the other grand old festivals of the Peloponnese. And the occasion for the quadrennial reweaving was also the occasion for the quadrennial retelling of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey.

4§245 The symmetry of these two Panathenaic insitutions, reweaving the Peplos and retelling the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, is evident in the civic discourse of Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries. For illustration, I have in mind two passages where Athenians happen to be speaking about the feast of the Panathenaia, this most important of all festivals in their city’s calendar. They speak of two essential features of this festival, both of which are described as most precious heirlooms inherited from their ancestors. One passage, in Aristophanes Knights (565-568), concerns the reweaving of Athena’s Peplos. [217] The other passage, which comes from a speech delivered in 330 BCE by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus, Against Leokrates (102), concerns {571|572} the reperforming of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey in their notional entirety on the occasion of the quadrennial festival of the Great Panathenaia. [218]

4§246 Another relevant piece of evidence is the Homeric use of the word humnos, which expresses the notion of a continuous narration in the context of a festival. [219] In terms of this notion, we may visualize the sculptural narrative of the east pediment and of the east metopes of the Parthenon as a figurative Hymn to Athena. Correspondingly, we may visualize the sculptural narrative of the north metopes as a figurative epic of the Trojan War. In other words, these two sculptural narratives approximate respectively a most grand prooimion and the most grand of all epics. In the grand scheme of the sculptural narrative of the Parthenon, prooimion and epic connect with each other to become one single continuous and notionally seamless humnos.

4ⓢ17. The imperial poetics of terror and pity

4§247 Here I focus on the narrative about the battle of the Achaeans and Trojans sculpted into the north metopes of the Parthenon. The central theme of this sculpted narrative is of course parallel to a central theme shared by the spoken narratives of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, that is, the Trojan War. And the parallelism involves not only the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey but also the epic Cycle. Among the epics of the Cycle, one stands out. It is the epic known as ‘The Destruction of Troy’ or Iliou Persis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, the narrative of which focuses on the destruction of Troy. When we compare the ancient plot summary of this epic narrative with what little remains of the sculpted narrative on the north metopes of the Parthenon, we find striking parallels.

4§248 In order to make a comparison with the visual evidence that survives from the reliefs sculpted into the north metopes of the Parthenon, I quote from the work of Gloria Ferrari a summary of this evidence:

On this [= the north] side, as on the east and west, the sculptures were effaced deliberately, leaving only a few figures and traces of others, but enough remains to be sure of the subject and of the structure of the representation, in a broad sense. With few exceptions (metope D, “Iris” in 31, and “Hera” in 32) all figures face or advance towards right, establishing a strong east-west direction for {572|573} the viewer and a starting point at the east end. The frieze is divided into two unequal sections. The sack of the city is framed by the figures of Helios rising on metope 1 and Selene setting on metope 29. The first scene (metope 2) contains the prow of a ship, from which two nude men disembark, carrying objects. [Considered here is metope 3; there is considerable uncertainty about the reading of the representations here.] Of the next twenty metopes only fragments survive, for the most part small and unreadable, whose place in the sequence is uncertain. One (metope A) probably held the representation of a bull led to sacrifice. Metope D shows a man, nude except for a mantle, leading away a female figure in peplos, perhaps Polyxena. The scene of the recovery of Helen by Menelaus stretches over metopes 24 and 25. Helen runs to a shrine, toward an ancient statue, while Aphrodite – a small Eros perched on her shoulder – stands between her and her vengeful former husband. 26 is lost. [Considered here is a suggestion that metope 26 was part of a two-metopes sequence showing the rescue of Aithra and Klymene, who might be the woman following a man on metope 27.] Aeneas’s escape with Ascanius [/ Iulus] is recognizable in metope 28. […] Situated beyond and outside the depiction of the events at Troy, the last three metopes form a self-contained whole. [Considered here is a suggestion that the scene being depicted is a council of the gods, with Zeus and Iris at the center in metope 31.] Although the identity of the goddesses in metope 32 is far from secure, it is possible that the seated one is Hera and the one that is standing is Athena. [220]

4§249 Now I repeat here from Chapter 2 my translation of the ancient plot-summary of the Iliou Persis attributed to Arctinus of Miletus. This time, I highlight with asterisks those details in the summary that correspond or at least seem to correspond to details in the narrative of the north metopes of the Parthenon:

4ⓣ41 Arctinus of Miletus Iliou Persis plot summary by Proclus pp. 107-108 ed. Allen

16   After the preceding [= four scrolls of the Little Iliad, by Lesches of Lesbos] there follow two scrolls of the Iliou Persis, by Arctinus {573|574}
of Miletus, containing the following. With regard to the things concerning the Horse, the
Trojans, being suspicious, stand about wondering what they should
do. Some think it should be pushed off a cliff, while others
20   think it should be burned down, and still others say that it should be dedicated as sacred [hieros] to Athena.
In the end, the opinion of the third group wins out. They turn
to merriment, feasting as if they had been freed from the war.
At this point two serpents appear and
destroy Laocoön* [221] and one of his sons. At the sight of
25   this marvel, Aeneas* [222] and his followers become disquieted, and they withdraw
to Mount Ida. Sinon lights signal fires for the Achaeans.
He had previously entered the city, using a pretext. And they [= the Achaeans], some of them sailing from Tenedos
[toward Troy] and others of them emerging from the Wooden Horse, fall upon
their enemies. They kill many, and the city
is taken by force. Neoptolemos kills
Priam, who has taken refuge at the altar of Zeus Herkeios.
p. 108 Menelaos* [223] finds Helen* [224] and takes her back down to the ships, after
slaughtering Deiphobos. Ajax son of Oileus takes Kassandra by
force, dragging her away from the wooden statue [xoanon] of Athena. At the sight
of this, the Achaeans get angry and decide to stone {574|575}
5    Ajax to death, but he takes refuge at the altar of Athena, and so
is preserved from his impending destruction. Then
the Achaeans put the city to the torch. They slaughter Polyxena* [225] on the
tomb of Achilles. Odysseus kills Astyanax,
and Neoptolemos takes Andromache as his prize. The rest
10   of the spoils are distributed. Demophon and Akamas find Aithra* [226]
and take her with them. Then the Greeks sail off [from Troy],
and Athena* [227] begins to plan destruction for them at sea.

4§250 In analyzing the convergences between these sculptural and epic narratives, I refer to both as Iliou Persis without intending to imply any one-on-one relation between the two. It is important to note that the Iliou Persis narrative of the north metope sculptures, completed in 432 BCE, was preceded by the Iliou Persis narrative of the wall paintings of Polygnotus in the Stoa Poikilē (described by Pausanias 1.15.1-3; Plutarch Kimon 4.5-6), completed sometime between 460 and 450 BCE. [228] Instead of assuming that any single text influenced the painting and the sculpting of the Iliou Persis narratives in the age of Pheidias, I find it more accurate to speak of mutual influence between the visual arts and the verbal arts.

4§251 In the age of Virgil, by contrast, we find evidence that the epic of the Aeneid was directly influenced by the epic of the Iliou Persis attributed to Arctinus of Miletus. As we saw in Chapter 1, Virgil’s Aeneid makes pointed references to this epic Iliou Persis. And, as we are about to see, Virgil’s Aeneid also makes pointed reference to relief sculptures such as the ones we find adorning the north metopes of the Parthenon. It happens when Aeneas, while waiting for an audience with the queen Dido at the temple of Juno in Carthage, looks up and sees the artwork adorning the face of the temple. I propose that this artwork is meant to be understood as relief sculpture. More precisely, it {575|576} is meant to be understood as a poetic allusion to the relief sculptures of the Parthenon, especially to those sculptures that adorn the north face of the building. Aeneas recognizes his own picture inside the picture of the Trojan War as it is narrated on the face of the temple of Juno. There he is, pictured in the midst of the battle of the Achaeans and Trojans:

4ⓣ42 Virgil Aeneid 1.488

se quoque principibuspermixtum agnovit Achivis

Himself, too, all mixed into the thick of battle with the Achaeanprinces, he [= Aeneas] recognized.

4§252 Similarly, as we saw in the description of the north face of the Parthenon, Aeneas is pictured inside the picture of the Trojan War as it is narrated there. Captured by the picture is a moment when Aeneas himself and his son Ascanius (/ Iulus) are still in Troy, about to escape from the city before its ultimate destruction.

4§253 The emotions evoked by this picture narrating the destruction of Troy on the face of the temple of Juno are terror and pity:

4ⓣ43 Virgil Aeneid 1.462

sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.

There are tears that connect with the universe, and things mortal touch the mind.

4ⓣ44 Virgil Aeneid 1.463

solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem.

Dissolve your fears: this fame will bring for you a salvation of some kind.

4§254 As I argued in Chapter 1, the emotions of terror and pity in this scene from Virgil’s Aeneid are being experienced by Aeneas as the heroic prototype of the Roman Empire. The picture of the terror and the pity seen by Aeneas is just a picture, but this picture becomes a reality because there are real emotions that correspond to it – the emotions of terror and pity as experienced by Aeneas himself in the war of the Achaeans and Trojans. The terror and the pity are viewed and projected through the lens of epic – not only the epic of the Aeneid but also the entire epic tradition about the destruction of Troy. {576|577}

4§255 As I also argued in Chapter 1, the poetics of terror and pity can be seen as a hallmark not only of Roman imperial poetry but also of Homeric poetry. Here in Chapter 4, I have been arguing that Homeric poetry too became imperial in its own right. The Athenian empire, in appropriating Homeric poetry, made it imperial. In the process, the poetics of terror and pity became a hallmark of Athenian imperial poetry, and here I mean not only Homeric poetry but also the epic tradition reflected by the Iliou Persis attributed to Arctinus of Miletus. Closely related to this epic tradition was the iconographic tradition of the Iliou Persis as reflected in the north metopes of the Parthenon. Also closely related was the Ilious Persis tradition as reflected in paintings. One example is the picture of the Ilious Persis by the Kleophrades Painter: “The central scene of sacrilege [that is, the killing of Priam by Neoptolemos] is framed on either side by paragons of filial piety: the departure of the Trojan Aeneas from the burning city, carrying Anchises on his shoulder, and the Athenian Demophon and Acamas turning a helping hand to old [Aithra].” [229]

4§256 Obviously, there are significant differences in the imperial poetics of Athens and Rome, conditioned by the many historical differences between the Athenian and the Roman empires. But there is one most significant similarity that stands out. Like the imperial poetics of Rome, which favored the Trojans over the Achaeans in its retrospective on the Trojan War, the imperial poetics of Athens was likewise partial to the Trojans. This partiality is evident in the Iliou Persis narrative sculpted into the north metopes of the Parthenon, as Gloria Ferrari has argued:

The [Iliou Persis] was deployed on the Parthenon precisely because it was the paradigm of wrongful conquest. The images invited comparison with the Persian invasion of Greece, not, however, in the sense that the Trojans prefigure the Persians. Rather, the recent sack of Athens is seen through the image of the epic sack of Troy. The comparison is reinforced and acquires special poignancy by the position of this subject on the north side of the temple, overlooking the site of the old temple of Athena that had been burned by the Persians. [230]

4§257 As we saw already in the description of the representations surviving from the pictorial narrative of the north metopes, a prominent {577|578} figure in that sorrowful narrative was the Trojan hero Aeneas. His prominence there is comparable to his prominence in Virgil’s epic narrative about the equally sorrowful pictorial narrative adorning the temple of Juno. As I argue in Homer the Preclassic, the Athenian appropriation of Aeneas and the Aeneas theme actually started not in the era of the democracy but far earlier, and I make a parallel argument about the Athenian appropriation of Hector and his immediate family. [231]

4§258 So the poetics of terror and pity, centering on the sufferings of the Trojans, suits the cultural and political agenda of both the Roman empire in the age of Virgil and the Athenian empire in the age of Pheidias. I find it striking that this poetics can serve as an expression of imperial power. But I find it even more striking that Homeric poetry can be appropriated by the Athenian empire as a primary form of its own self-expression.

4ⓢ18. The sorrows of Andromache

4§259 In this poetics of terror and pity, two victims of the Trojan War stand out: Hector and Andromache. To make this point, I start by returning to a most revealing passage I already quoted in Chapter 3:

4ⓣ45 Plato Ion 535b-c

ΣΩ. Ἔχε δή μοι τόδε εἰπέ, ὦ Ἴων, καὶ μὴ ἀποκρύψῃ ὅτι ἄν σε ἔρωμαι· ὅταν εὖ εἴπῃς ἔπη καὶ ἐκπλήξῃς μάλιστα τοὺς θεωμένους, ἢ τὸν Ὀδυσσέα ὅταν ἐπὶ τὸν οὐδὸν ἐφαλλόμενον ᾄδῃς, ἐκφανῆ γιγνόμενον τοῖς μνηστῆρσι καὶ ἐκχέοντα τοὺς ὀιστοὺς πρὸ τῶν ποδῶν, ἢ Ἀχιλλέα ἐπὶ τὸν Ἕκτορα ὁρμῶντα, ἢ καὶ τῶν περὶ Ἀνδρομάχην ἐλεινῶν τι ἢ περὶ Ἑκάβην ἢ περὶ Πρίαμον, τότε πότερον ἔμφρων εἶ ἢ ἔξω {c} σαυτοῦ γίγνῃ καὶ παρὰ τοῖς πράγμασιν οἴεταί σου εἶναι ἡ ψυχὴ οἷς λέγεις ἐνθουσιάζουσα, ἢ ἐν Ἰθάκῃ οὖσιν ἢ ἐν Τροίᾳ ἢ ὅπως ἂν καὶ τὰ ἔπη ἔχῃ;

SOCRATES: Hold it right there. Tell me this, Ion – respond to what I ask without concealment. When you recite well the epic verses [epos plural] and induce a feeling of bedazzlement [ekplēxis] for the spectators [theōmenoi] – when you sing of [1] Odysseus leaping onto the threshold and revealing himself to the suitors and pouring out the arrows at his feet, or of [2] Achilles rushing at [2->3a] Hector, or [3] {578|579} something connected to the pitiful things about [3b] Andromache or [3c] Hecuba or [3d] Priam – are you then in your right mind, or outside yourself? Does your psukhē, possessed by the god [enthousiazein], suppose that you are in the midst of the actions you describe in Ithaca or Troy, or wherever the epic verses [epos plural] have it?

4§260 In this passage, Socrates is enumerating some highlights of Homeric poetry as performed by rhapsodes like Ion at the Panathenaia. As we saw in Chapter 3, the enumeration takes the form of a set of accusatives of the rhapsodic subject following the verb āidein ‘sing’ (ᾄδῃς): [1] Odysseus at the epic moment when he leaps upon the threshold, ready to shoot arrows at the suitors; [2] Achilles at the epic moment when he lunges at Hector; or [3] some other highlighted thing, here unspecified (ti, accusative), from epic moments involving Andromache, Hecuba, or Priam.

4§261 As I noted in Chapter 3, there are five epic moments recounted here in ever-increasing compression and non-specificity. The first two moments have to do primarily with the emotion of terror, and they feature the main heroes of the Odyssey and the Iliad respectively, [1] Odysseus and [2] Achilles. The next three moments have to do primarily with the emotion of pity, and they feature the main heroes on the other side of the Trojan War: [3b] Andromache, [3c] Hecuba, and [3d] Priam. The link between the two moments of terror and the three moments of pity is [3a] Hector, who exemplifies the emotion of terror when he is about to be killed by the one who hates him most of all, his enemy Achilles, but who also exemplifies the emotion of pity when he says his last farewell to the one who loves him most of all, that is, [3b] his wife Andromache. In the wording of Plato’s Ion, the pairing of [3a] Hector and [3b] Andromache creates a thematic link for the transition from terror to pity.

4§262 Plato’s reference to ‘something connected to the pitiful things about Andromache’ indicates that the epic character of Andromache is specially connected to the emotion of pity. [232] In the language of epic, this emotion is formally expressed by way of lamentation. In all three of Andromache’s appearances in the Iliad, there is an element of lament. When we hear her speak in Iliad XXIV (725-745), she is performing a formal lament for Hector; when we hear her in Iliad XXII (477-514), much of what she says corresponds morphologically to the words of a formal lament. [233] Already in {579|580} her first appearance, in Iliad VI (407-439), the language of lament is evident in her words as she and Hector part forever, she going back to her weaving at the loom while he goes off to his death. In short, the Homeric character of Andromache displays a distinct virtuosity in the art of lamentation.

4§263 So Plato’s understanding of Andromache as the primary example of the poetics of pity in the Homeric performances of rhapsodes corresponds to an understanding already built into Homeric poetry itself. This poetry actively expresses the emotion of pity by highlighting the lamentations of Andromache. More than that, it highlights the sorrowful occasions that induce these lamentations. To review the three occasions, they are, first, the scene in Iliad VI when Andromache says her final farewell to Hector; second, the scene in Iliad XXII when Andromache is told the news of Hector’s death; and, third, the scene in Iliad XXIV when Andromache sings her formal lament over the dead body of Hector. I refer to these three sorrowful occasions as scenes because all of them are theatrical – virtually operatic, as I noted in Chapter 2. In {580|581} the age of Pheidias, the theatrical power of Andromache’s laments in epic is reflected in corresponding laments staged in theater. As an example, I quoted in Chapter 2 an aria of lamentation composed in elegiac couplets and sung as a monody by the actor who plays Andromache in a tragedy of Euripides called the Andromache. Here I quote from the lines that introduce the aria:

4ⓣ46 Euripides Andromache 91-95

Αν. ἡμεῖς δ’ οἷσπερ ἐγκείμεσθ’ ἀεὶ
θρήνοισι καὶ γόοισι καὶ δακρύμασιν
πρὸς αἰθέρ’ ἐκτενοῦμεν· ἐμπέφυκε γὰρ
γυναιξὶ τέρψις τῶν παρεστώτων κακῶν
95   ἀνὰ στόμ’ αἰεὶ καὶ διὰ γλώσσης ἔχειν.

ANDROMACHE: But I, intent as always on laments [thrēnoi] and wailings [gooi] and outburst of tears,
will direct these toward the aether. For it is natural
for women to take pleasure [terpsis], when sufferings happen to them,
95   in voicing these [sufferings] again and again, maintaining the voice from one mouth to the next, from one tongue to the next.

4§264 We see here a reference to mixed feelings of sadness and erotic pleasure in response to a sorrowful song. [234] Such mixed feelings are also evident in fifth-century Athenian vase paintings that focus on the sorrowful family of Priam, Hecuba, Hector, and Andromache. A case in point is a painting that shows Hector and his parents Priam and Hecuba at the moment of their final parting (Figures 17a, 17b, 17c).

10-Fleming-fig1
Figure 17a. Attic red-figure neck-amphora: Hector parting with Priam and Hecuba. Attributed to the Peleus Painter, ca. 475-425 BCE. Vatican Museums, Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano, 16570.

10-Fleming-fig1
Figure 17b. Amphora, Departure of Hector, detail: Priam in tears.

10-Fleming-fig1
Figure 17c. Amphora, Departure of Hector, detail: Hector, juxtaposed with the inscribed erotic reaction: ΚΑΛΟΣ.

4§265 In the foreground is a profile view of Hector and his mother Hecuba facing each other for the last time, and, next to the figure of Hector, we see an inscription that eroticizes him in this saddest of moments. The inscription reads simply ΚΑΛΟΣ (kalos), meaning ‘beautiful’. In the conventions of vase painting, such an inscription indicates the subjective reaction of the intended {582|583} viewer of the picture. That reaction is meant to be erotic as well as esthetic. Hector is a beautiful object of desire in this sorrowful moment, and that desire is the force of the inscribed word ΚΑΛΟΣ ‘beautiful’. In the background, off to the side, is a frontal view of Priam wiping away a tear. In the conventions of vase painting, a frontal view of a figure evokes the subjective reaction of the viewer, since the viewed figure is notionally making eye contact with the viewer. Whereas a profile view is the equivalent of a narrative in the third person, a frontal view is the equivalent of an eye contact between the viewer and the viewed, whose exchange of looks corresponds to an exchange of words between a first person and a second person. The overt theme of the painting, then, is the sorrow and the pity of the story of Hector. And the latent theme is the pleasure that the story brings to the viewer. That pleasure is both esthetic and erotic.

4§266 Such a combination of estheticism and eroticism in referring to Hector is already built into Homeric poetry. It all comes together in Iliad XXIV, when Hector is lamented at his funeral by the three women closest to him, in descending order of closeness. The lamentation is led off by Andromache, followed by Hecuba and then by Helen. Through their laments, Hector becomes estheticized and eroticized as the ultimate object of desire, the primary beau mort of the Iliad. [235]

4§267 The focus of the Iliad on Hector as the primary beau mort is evident at the conclusion of this epic. The Iliad as we know it ends with the funeral of Hector, not of Achilles. It is Hector, not Achilles, who is lamented at the end. Even the very last word of the Iliad as we have it is a signature for Hector: it is his ornamental epithet hippodamos, the ‘horse-tamer’ (Iliad XXIV 804). [236] So the Panathenaic tradition of the Homeric Iliad evolved in such a way as to highlight Hector as the primary point of interest in the poetics of terror and pity. To be contrasted is an alternative epic like the Aithiopis, attributed to Arctinus of Miletus, where the focus at the end is evidently on Achilles as the primary beau mort. Pindar’s reference to the dead Achilles in Isthmian 8 (56-60) alludes to this alternative epic tradition. [237] In the Iliad, the doomed figure of Hector has been substituted for the equally doomed figure of Achilles, who is the ultimate beau mort of epic. Hector in the Iliad prefigures Achilles as that ultimate beau mort. {583|584}

4§268 This foregrounding of Hector in the Iliad as we know it is a matter of politics as well as esthetics. The beautiful death of Hector, his belle mort, is for Athenians an expression of their empire. The Athenian statesman Lycurgus says it best when he refers to the willingness of Athenian citizens to die in war not only for their own patris ‘fatherland’ but also for all of Hellas as a patris ‘fatherland’ that is koinē ‘common’ to all Hellenes (Against Leokrates 104 οὐ μόνον ὑπὲρ τῆς αὑτῶν πατρίδος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάσης <τῆς> Ἑλλάδος ὡς κοινῆς <πατρίδος> ἤθελον). Lycurgus invokes as his prime example the belle mort of the Athenian citizen-warriors who fought at Marathon and who thereby won for Hellas a freedom from terror, an adeia ‘security’ that is koinē ‘common’ to all Hellenes (104 κοινὴν ἄδειαν ἅπασι τοῖς Ἕλλησι κτώμενοι). The Athenian statesman is making this reference to the imperial interests of Athens in the context of actually quoting the words of Hector in the Iliad, who says that he is willing to die for his fatherland in order to protect it against the Achaeans (Lycurgus Against Leokrates 103 lines 4-9, corresponding to Iliad XV 494-499), and Lycurgus quotes these heroic words in the larger context of saying that the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as performed at the quadrennial Panathenaia, are the ancestral heritage of the Athenians and the primary source of their education as citizen-warriors (Against Leokrates 102). In this invocation of Homeric poetry as the most sublime expression of the Athenian empire, the statesman is quoting the words of a Trojan, not the words of an Achaean. It is the belle mort of Hector that motivates the Athenians to live up to the heroic legacy they learn from Homer.

4§269 This Homeric belle mort of Hector, estheticized and eroticized through the laments of Andromache, was understood by the master artisan Pheidias when he sculpted the statue of Zeus in the temple of Zeus at Olympia. I started this chapter by highlighting Strabo’s anecdote about the creative impulse that led Pheidias to sculpt this statue (8.3.30 C354). According to this anecdote, the creative impulse was a distinctly Homeric impulse. The moment captured by the sculptor is a Homeric moment. It is the moment in Iliad I (528-530) when Zeus nods his head and thus signifies the Plan of Zeus, which is coextensive with the plot of the Homeric Iliad. When I quoted this Iliadic passage, I held off saying that there is also another Iliadic passage where the god nods his head and thus signifies his Plan. This time, the Plan of Zeus is expressed not in terms of the overall plot, as in Iliad I, but in terms of one specific theme that pervades the plot. That theme is a picture of Hector that is animated by the sorrows of Andromache. It is a picture of Hector as a beau mort who takes the place of Achilles as the ultimate beau mort of the Iliad. Like some director of a grand theatrical production, Zeus pictures Andromache waiting {584|585} for Hector to return to her from battle. It is the Plan of Zeus that Andromache will be kept waiting, because Hector will never return to Andromache:

4ⓣ47 Iliad XVII 195-214

ὃ δ’ ἄμβροτα τεύχεα δῦνε
195  Πηλεΐδεω Ἀχιλῆος ἅ οἱ θεοὶ οὐρανίωνες
πατρὶ φίλῳ ἔπορον· ὃ δ’ ἄρα ᾧ παιδὶ ὄπασσε
γηράς· ἀλλ’ οὐχ υἱὸς ἐν ἔντεσι πατρὸς ἐγήρα.
τὸν δ’ ὡς οὖν ἀπάνευθεν ἴδεν νεφεληγερέτα Ζεὺς
τεύχεσι Πηλεΐδαο κορυσσόμενον θείοιο,
200  κινήσας ῥα κάρη προτὶ ὃν μυθήσατο θυμόν·
ἆ δείλ’ οὐδέ τί τοι θάνατος καταθύμιός ἐστιν
ὃς δή τοι σχεδὸν εἶσι· σὺ δ’ ἄμβροτα τεύχεα δύνεις
ἀνδρὸς ἀριστῆος, τόν τε τρομέουσι καὶ ἄλλοι·
τοῦ δὴ ἑταῖρον ἔπεφνες ἐνηέα τε κρατερόν τε,
205  τεύχεα δ’ οὐ κατὰ κόσμον ἀπὸ κρατός τε καὶ ὤμων
εἵλευ· ἀτάρ τοι νῦν γε μέγα κράτος ἐγγυαλίξω,
τῶν ποινὴν ὅ τοι οὔ τι μάχης ἐκνοστήσαντι
δέξεται Ἀνδρομάχη κλυτὰ τεύχεα Πηλεΐωνος.
Ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ’ ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων.
210  Ἕκτορι δ’ ἥρμοσε τεύχε’ ἐπὶ χροΐ, δῦ δέ μιν Ἄρης
δεινὸς ἐνυάλιος, πλῆσθεν δ’ ἄρα οἱ μέλε’ ἐντὸς
ἀλκῆς καὶ σθένεος· μετὰ δὲ κλειτοὺς ἐπικούρους
βῆ ῥα μέγα ἰάχων· ἰνδάλλετο δέ σφισι πᾶσι
τεύχεσι λαμπόμενος μεγαθύμου Πηλεΐωνος.

He [= Hector] put on the immortalizing armor
195  of Achilles son of Peleus, which the skydwelling gods
gave to his father [= Peleus] near and dear. And he had given it to his son [= Achilles]
when he grew old. But the son himself never reached old age wearing the armor of his father.
He [= Hector] was seen from afar by Zeus, gatherer of clouds. {585|586}
There he [= Hector] was, all fitted out in the armor of the godlike son of Peleus.
200  Then he [= Zeus] moved his head and spoke to himself [= to his own thumos]:
“Ah, you [= Hector] are a pitiful wretch. Your own death is not on your mind [thumos] –
a death that is coming near. [238] There you are, putting on the immortalizing armor
of a man who is champion, one who makes all others tremble.
It was his comrade you killed, gentle he was and strong,
205  and his armor, in a way that went against the order [kosmos] of things, from his head and shoulders
you took. All the same, I will for now put in your hands great power [kratos].
As a compensation [poinē] for this, you will never return home from the battle.
Never will you bring home, for Andromache to receive, the famed [kluta] armor of Peleus’ son.”
So spoke the son of Kronos, and with his eyebrows of azure he made a reinforcing [= epi-] nod.
210  He [= Zeus] fitted the armor to Hector’s skin, and he [= Hector] was entered by Ares
the terrifying, the Enyalios. And his [= Hector’s] limbs were all filled inside
with force and strength. Seeking to join up with his famed allies
he went off, making a great war cry. He was quite the picture for them all.
He was shining in the armor of the man with the great heart [thumos], the son of Peleus. {586|587}

4§270 So the sorrows of Andromache are willed by Zeus. The Plan of Zeus prioritizes these sorrows in the plot of the Homeric Iliad, which foregrounds the terrible and pitiful fate of Hector and Andromache. The poetry of terror and pity, brought to life in the lamentations of Andromache over the fate of her husband and over her own fate, is distinctly Homeric. More than that, this poetry is distinctly imperial in the age of Pheidias, an age of Athenian imperial power. For an Athenian master craftsman like Pheidias, this imperial poetry of terror and pity comes to life in the moment when Zeus nods his head to signify what will happen to Hector and Andromache in the Homeric Iliad. It is this Homeric moment that must be captured by the imperial sculptor, to be preserved forever in all its rigid beauty. {587|588}

Footnotes

[ back ] 1. On the concept of the Athenian empire, I follow the model of Meiggs 1972. As for alternative ways of describing the concept, an example is Smarczyk 1990.

[ back ] 2. Meiggs 1972:376.

[ back ] 3. This paragraph and the paragraph that follows are repeated in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, at the beginning of Part I there.

[ back ] 4. Meiggs 1972:294.

[ back ] 5. Most pertinent is the discussion by Meiggs 1972:295 of the horoi ‘boundary stones’ of Samos. See also Barron 1964:39-40, who argues that the Eponymoi to whom the inscriptions on the horoi refer are the four sons of Ion, heroes of the four Ionian civic lineages or phulai. Barron p. 45 concludes that “the headquarters of the cults of Ion and the Ionic Eponymoi must have been at Athens.” Despite the status of Athens as the “headquarters,” the four old phulai of this notional mother city of the Ionians were ultimately replaced by the ten new phulai instituted after the reform of Kleisthenes in 508/7 BCE, as reported by Herodotus 5.66.2.

[ back ] 6. Hornblower 1996:73.

[ back ] 7. Hornblower 1996:73.

[ back ] 8. For more on Ion of Ephesus as a generic ‘Ionian’, see Porter 2001:281n93 (with reference to Callimachus Iamboi 13.30-32; see also the remarks of Hunter 1997:46-47).

[ back ] 9. Here and everywhere, I translate Lakedaimōn ‘Lacedaemon’ and Lakedaimonioi ‘Lacedaemonians’ as ‘Sparta’ and ‘Spartans’ respectively. In ancient Greek usage, the concept of ‘Lacedaemon’ seems to be inclusive of such subject populations as the Messenians, whereas ‘Sparta’ is not. In my own usage, however, ‘Spartan’ is intended as an inclusive cover-term.

[ back ] 10. For a most helpful summary of the extent of the Athenian empire after the battle at the river Eurymedon around 468 BCE, see Stadter 1989:149-151.

[ back ] 11. See Moore 1974:426, 431.

[ back ] 12. Murray 1996:130.

[ back ] 13. Meiggs 1972:541. As Meiggs argues, p. 240, new assessments of the amount to be paid normally coincided with the quadrennial Great Panathenaia in Athens.

[ back ] 14. For more figures, see Meiggs 1972:270: “Miletus was never required to pay more than 10 talents tribute before the war and no other Ionian mainland city paid as much. Phocaea’s assessment was only 3 talents, and Erythrae paid no more than 7 talents in the third and fourth assessment periods […]; Aeolian [Cyme] alone in the Ionian district paid more than 10 talents, but her first-period assessment of 12 talents was reduced to 9 in the second period and thereafter.” As Meiggs notes, the assessments in the Hellespont district are by comparison higher than in the Ionia district, indicating a general trend of “decline” for Ionia in the fifth century BCE.

[ back ] 15. The text of IG I2 302 is shown by Meiggs / Lewis 1988 no. 77. On this inscription, see in general Meiggs / Lewis pp. 229-236.

[ back ] 16. This stratēgos ‘general’ is apparently Euetion, who according to Thucydides 7.9 attacked Amphipolis in the summer of 414 BCE. See Meiggs / Lewis 1988:236.

[ back ] 17. For more on this unnamed stratēgos, see Meiggs / Lewis 1988:236.

[ back ] 18. See Moore 1974:433-438 on the services performed for Athens by Herakleides of Klazomenai as stratēgos ‘general’ (he is mentioned in Plato Ion 541c-d).

[ back ] 19. On the Ion of Euripides, see especially Barron 1964:48.

[ back ] 20. Meiggs 1972:294-295. See also his p. 294, with reference to lines 11-13 of IG I2 45 (Meiggs / Lewis 1988 no. 49), where the wording of the inscription specifies that the people of Brea, as a daughter city of Athens, must send a cow along with a panoply to the quadrennial Great Panathenaia and a phallus to the Dionysia. See also Barron 1964:47.

[ back ] 21. PR 28.

[ back ] 22. A point of comparison is the idea that Hippias of Elis is a virtual general for the Spartans when he educates them about war by way of re-enacting and explaining Homer to them, as we read in Plato (Hippias Maior 286a-c). Philostratus (Lives of Sophists 1.11.3) comments on the political background for the performances of Hippias of Elis in Sparta (Lives of Sophists 1.11.3): διὰ τὸ βούλεσθαι ἄρχειν ‘through their desire for imperial rule [arkhein]’.

[ back ] 23. As we have already seen, the mousikē ‘craft of the Muses’ as practiced at the Panathenaia includes the tekhnē ‘craft’ of rhapsodes, not only of citharodes, citharists, aulodes, and auletes. Supporting evidence comes from Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians (60.1), Plutarch Pericles (13.9-11), and Plato Ion (530a).

[ back ] 24. Thucydides does not mention this transfer at 1.92.2, where we might have expected such a mention, nor anywhere else in his history: see Hornblower 1991:146.

[ back ] 25. Meiggs 1972:378-379.

[ back ] 26. HPC I§§56 and following.

[ back ] 27. HPC I§§24 and following.

[ back ] 28. There is a relevant discussion in PP 184-185.

[ back ] 29. Meillet 1935:266; Nagy 1972:31.

[ back ] 30. The comment Ἰωνικῶς is added after the form as mentioned. Such an adding-style is typical of the abbreviated grammatical discourse we find in the Homeric scholia.

[ back ] 31. At first sight, this form seems to be the definition. On the basis of the comment that follows it, however, I propose that it is an alternative lemma.

[ back ] 32. HTL 11-12. As a supplement to scholia A for Iliad XIII 197 see Proclus περὶ Ὁμήρου 59-62 ed. Severyns 1938: τοῖς δὲ χρόνοις αὐτὸν οἱ μὲν περὶ τὸν Ἀρίσταρχόν φασι γενέσθαι κατὰ τὴν τῆς Ἰωνίας ἀποικίαν, ἥτις ὑστερεῖ τῆς Ἡρακλειδῶν καθόδου ἔτεσιν ἑξήκοντα, τὸ δὲ περὶ τοὺς Ἡρακλείδας λείπεται τῶν Τρωϊκῶν ἔτεσιν ὀγδοήκοντα. οἱ δὲ περὶ Κράτητα ἀνάγουσιν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς Τρωϊκοὺς χρόνους ‘As for the dating, Aristarchus and his school situate Homer at the time of the Ionian Migration, supposedly sixty years after the Return of the Herakleidai, which in turn was supposedly eighty years after the era of the Trojan War; by contrast, Crates and his school date him back to the era of the Trojan War’. On the rivalry of Aristarchus and Crates as editors of Homer: PP 151; also Pfeiffer 1968:228; Janko 1992:32n53, 71; Keaney and Lamberton 1996:67n2.

[ back ] 33. See Porter 1992:83.

[ back ] 34. A fuller version of this compressed account, which I will quote in its entirety later on, is Plato Hippias Maior 284e-286a.

[ back ] 35. On the reception of sophists in Sparta, there is an important reference in Plato Protagoras 342b-e.

[ back ] 36. This description in the Platonic Hippias Maior (286b-c) of the setting for the performance of Hippias in Athens – the didaskaleion ‘school’ of Pheidostratos – leaves it unclear whether this performance should be considered public or private. The wording that follows, however, indicates that anyone interested in hearing Hippias perform is free to come. And the turnout, it is implied, will be huge.

[ back ] 37. For another example of a “signature” linking one Platonic dialogue to another, see PR 56-59 on links between Plato’s Timaeus and Plato’s Republic.

[ back ] 38. PR 31-33.

[ back ] 39. PR 31.

[ back ] 40. PR 31.

[ back ] 41. I refer especially to the analysis in 3§130.

[ back ] 42. PR 31-33.

[ back ] 43. HPC II§§249 and following.

[ back ] 44. I must stress once again what I stressed when I first quoted this wording: as we see from the context here, these ‘compositions’ are the poetic creations not only of Hippias but also of master ‘composers’ or poiētai, including Homer himself as the ‘composer’ or poiētēs par excellence.

[ back ] 45. These “kinds of poetry and song,” as I have just described them, correspond closely to the genres of poetry as named by Aristotle at the beginning of his Poetics (1447a8-18).

[ back ] 46. I refer again to the analysis in 3§130.

[ back ] 47. Hippias is associated with the ‘mnemonic technique’, the mnēmonikon, also in Xenophon Symposium 4.62.

[ back ] 48. See further in Plato Hippias Maior 285e. The usage of the adjective mnēmonikon as a substantive is an elliptic way of saying mnēmnonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’. See the previous note.

[ back ] 49. See further in Plato Hippias Maior 285e. Such a feat of memory, where sequencing is all-important, is relevant to the concept of performing katalogadēn ‘in the right sequence’.

[ back ] 50. See further in Plato Hippias Maior 285c.

[ back ] 51. This detail about the expertise of Hippias in astronomy is noted also elsewhere in Plato: Protagoras (315c, 318d-e); Hippias Minor (367e); Hippias Maior (285c).

[ back ] 52. I stress again that the archaic concept of mousikē tekhnē ‘craft of the Muses’ is not the equivalent of the modern usages of ‘music’. The mousikē as practiced at the Panathenaia includes the tekhnē ‘craft’ of rhapsodes, not only of citharodes, citharists, aulodes, and auletes.

[ back ] 53. For more on Hippias’ specialty in rhythms, see Plato Hippias Maior 285d. See also in general Plato Hippias Minor 369c-d, quoted earlier.

[ back ] 54. The positioning here of the crafts of painting and sculpture is significant.

[ back ] 55. See further in Plato Hippias Maior 285d-e. For more on the close ties between Hippias and the Spartans, see Plato Hippias Maior 281b.

[ back ] 56. The theme of this dialogue corresponds closely to the theme debated by Socrates and Hippias in Plato’s Hippias Minor: what are the true criteria for defining the ‘good man’? For more on this Trojan Dialogue, see Plato Hippias Maior 286a-b.

[ back ] 57. See Plato Gorgias 518b.

[ back ] 58. On the term hermēneus ‘interpreter ’ as used by Plato with reference to the craft of rhapsodes (Ion 530c), see PR 29.

[ back ] 59. In other words, the prose of Hippias of Elis sounded like conversation, not like poetry.

[ back ] 60. I interpret ‘seldom resorting to words taken from the poetic [poiētikē] craft’ as an explanation of ‘in a full-blown and natural way’.

[ back ] 61. I think that the reference to the large crowd (Hippias Minor 364b) is meant as a parallel to the reference to the agora (368b).

[ back ] 62. See also PR 28.

[ back ] 63. PR 40, 48.

[ back ] 64. In the Life of Homer traditions, as I noted earlier, Homer himself is represented as performing dialogic commentaries.

[ back ] 65. Here the wording delineates one of two forms of performance. This form concerns set pieces.

[ back ] 66. Here the wording delineates the other of two forms. This form concerns live dialogues. I have further comments on these two forms in the discussion that follows.

[ back ] 67. The wording makes it clear that athlētai here means ‘those who engage in competitions [athloi]’, where the word athloi ‘competitions’ applies to those who compete in feats of the ‘mind’ as well as to ‘athletes’: only the modern word is limited to those who compete in feats of the ‘body’. In Isocrates Panegyricus 4.159, athloi refers to the ‘competitions’ in mousikē at the Panathenaia, with specific reference to the competitions of rhapsodes in the performing of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. See also Isocrates Antidosis 295, where agōnizesthai is synonymous with gumnazesthai ‘engage in athletics’ in a context that includes any form of competition established by the state of Athens.

[ back ] 68. For more on this passage taken from Plato Ion 530c, see PR 30.

[ back ] 69. PR 29-30.

[ back ] 70. As we have seen, a fuller version of this compressed account is Plato Hippias Maior 284e-286a.

[ back ] 71. This is not to say that Elis was pro-Spartan in its foreign policy. There were open hostilities between Elis and Sparta from 416 BCE onward. Thanks to Douglas Frame on this point.

[ back ] 72. I refer again to the analysis at 3§130.

[ back ] 73. I am deliberately using ‘Olympian’ as the adjective of the place-name ‘Olympia’, even though it could also be understood as the adjective of the place-name ‘Olympus’. In a future project, I hope to explore the mythological connection between the two places, Olympia and Olympus.

[ back ] 74. Pindar Olympian 10.45.

[ back ] 75. The compressed wording makes it appear that the statue of Zeus by Pheidias goes back to the time of this reported war against Pisa, but the rest of what Pausanias has to say about the temple of Zeus makes it clear that the building of the temple happened well before the making of the statue of Zeus by Pheidias. Pausanias must have meant that the precious material for the making of the statue can be dated back to the time of the war.

[ back ] 76. The -graphos is literally someone who performs a ‘filling in’ [graphein] of outlines by way of painting, thereby ‘animating’ or making ‘alive’ [zōi-] what has been filled in.

[ back ] 77. At a later point, I will comment on the idea of ‘adding’ inherent in kosmeîn ‘adorning’.

[ back ] 78. This is a matter of simulating the fabrics by shaping the material that is being sculpted.

[ back ] 79. A graphē is the result of a filling in of outlines by way of painting.

[ back ] 80. Here is my first mention of Athena Parthenos in this section. I stress that Athena Parthenos is a cult figure in her own right, as we see from the evidence gathered by Nick 2002:6. For representations of Athena as a cult statue in vase paintings, I cite the useful analysis of Nick p. 31.

[ back ] 81. On the priority of the Athena at Athens in comparison with the Zeus at Olympia, see Lapatin 2001:62.

[ back ] 82. Stadter 1989:176.

[ back ] 83. So Raubitschek 1984:19, followed by Nick 2002:160n1033. At p. 160n1032, Nick connects the transfer of the Treasury of the Delian League, which she dates to 454 BCE, with the completion of the Parthenon in 433/2 and the completion of the statue of Athena Parthenos in 438. The dates 454 and 438 correspond to years when the festival of the quadrennial Great Panathenaia was celebrated.

[ back ] 84. Lapatin 2001:81.

[ back ] 85. My translation ‘has’ not ‘shakes’ reflects a meaning of -okhos that is secondary: this form is derived from the Indo-European root *wegh- ‘shake’, which becomes ekh- / okh- in Greek, homonymous with ekh- / okh- as in ekhein ‘have’, derived from the distinct Indo-European root *segh- ‘have, hold’. In Greek, the phonological merger of these two distinct roots leads to a semantic shift from ‘aegis-shaking’ to ‘aegis-having’ in the epithet aigiokhos, as we see from the iconographic representations of the aegis as examined at a later point in my analysis.

[ back ] 86. The helmet, as described here in Iliad V 743, is not unique to Athena: the same verse occurs at Iliad XI 41, describing the helmet worn by Agamemnon. The helmet of Athena Parthenos as described by Pausanias, with griffins on each side and a sphinx in the middle, does not contradict, in and of itself, the picture of Athena’s helmet in the Iliad: rather, it shows further elaboration.

[ back ] 87. Related to the forms amphiphălos and tetraphălēros in this Homeric verse is the form tetraphālos. I propose that the lengthening of the second a in tetraphālos is a matter of formulaic variation, and that amphi-phălos and tetra-phālos are related concepts. The sculpture of Pheidias reflects his understanding of such epithets. In LSJ, amphiphălos kuneē is explained as a ‘helmet with double phalos’ (Iliad V 743, XI 41). The phalos is explained as the ‘horn’ of a helmet (Iliad III 362, etc.).

[ back ] 88. The two forms as listed in LSJ seem to be formulaic variants: τετραφάληρος ‘with four bosses (φάλαρα)’ is an epithet of κυνέη ‘helmet’ at Iliad V 743, XI 41, while τετράφᾱλος ‘with four horns’ is an epithet of κυνέη / κόρυς ‘helmet’ at Iliad XII 384, XXII 315.

[ back ] 89. The description of Athena in Iliad V 744 here is parallel to the description of Ares in the Hesiodic Shield of Herakles 193, Ἄρης … πρυλέεσσι κελεύων ‘Ares, commanding the warriors [pruleis]’. This parallelism of Athena and Ares is comparable to the parallelism of Athena and Ares as depicted on the Shield of Achilles in Iliad XVIII 516-519. In that passage as well, the parallelism of these gods is featured in a work of art, the goldsmith’s art. See HPC II§§408-410.

[ back ] 90. The use of hērōes ‘heroes’ here deflects the hearer’s attention from any association with warriors of the here-and-now of Homeric performance.

[ back ] 91. In making this point, I have benefited from the study of Lee 2004.

[ back ] 92. I draw attention to the wording used by Pausanias here concerning the position of the serpent: ‘near the spear’, not ‘near the shield’.

[ back ] 93. For the Aristarcheans, the association of the aegis with Athena, as distinct from Zeus, was a neoteric tradition: see Severyns 1928:34.

[ back ] 94. When I translate πάντων here as ‘of everything’, I mean ‘of everything and everyone’. I base this translation on the context of section 14 here: ‘Almost everything was dependent on [= epi- plus dative] him, and, as I have said, he was in charge [epistateîn], on account of his friendship with Pericles, of all the other craftsmen [tekhnitai]’.

[ back ] 95. On arkhitektōn as ‘master builder’, see Stadter 1989:167. For example, the inscription IG I 3 474 mentions the arkhitektōn as well as the epistatai ‘overseers’ for building the Erekhtheion.

[ back ] 96. At this point, I omit a quotation that Plutarch adduces from Old Comedy to enhance his remarks about the Odeum. I will include the quotation at a later point where I will repeat this passage in its entirety.

[ back ] 97. I emphasize, once again, that the mousikē ‘craft of the Muses’ as practiced at the Panathenaia includes the tekhnē ‘craft’ of rhapsodes, not only of citharodes, citharists, aulodes, and auletes.

[ back ] 98. The expression “masterpieces of metonymy” is the title of a forthcoming work of mine.

[ back ] 99. There is a precedent for this kind of rhetoric that can be dated as far back as the late sixth century: a case in point is the passage in “Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c, where the tyrant Hipparkhos of Athens takes the artistic credit for Homer’s creativity by equating the sophia of Homer with his own sophia.

[ back ] 100. HTL 163-164.

[ back ] 101. For an effective summary of such modern views, see Stadter 1989:166-167.

[ back ] 102. For a collection of Life of Pheidias traditions, including the stories in Plutarch’s Pericles, see Pollitt 1990:53-65.

[ back ] 103. See Lapatin 2001:65 for other reports besides that of Thucydides. Philochorus FGH 328 F 121 gives a more precise accounting of the weight of the gold.

[ back ] 104. The value of 600 silver talents is 16 silver talents less than the value of 40 talents in gold: Lapatin 2001:65.

[ back ] 105. Lapatin 2001:65-66 gives a balanced account. It may be an exaggeration to say, on the basis of what we read in Plutarch Pericles 14, that the building program of Pericles on the acropolis was paid for by all the cities that were ruled by Athens: see Kallet-Marx 1989.

[ back ] 106. The Philochorus passage (FGH 328 F 121) is transmitted in the scholia for Aristophanes Peace 605. This source gives further details about the Life of Pheidias tradition: how he was supposedly exiled from Athens and sought refuge in Elis, where he was commissioned to create the statue of Zeus, and where he was at some later point supposedly killed by the people of Elis. A translation of the relevant text is given by Pollitt 1990:54-54.

[ back ] 107. See the previous note.

[ back ] 108. In what follows, Socrates moves Hippias away from this line of thinking, according to which only one category can be perfect while the other categories are imperfect. Socrates will induce Hippias to admit that each category can have its own kind of perfection – whether it is a girl or a horse or a pot.

[ back ] 109. By now Socrates has induced Hippias to apply a new line of thinking, as summarized in the previous note.

[ back ] 110. It is Socrates, not Hippias, who introduces the topic of Pheidias the sculptor. Tradition has it that Socrates himself was the son of a craftsman whose medium was lithos ‘stone’ (lithourgos: Diogenes Laertius 2.18).

[ back ] 111. Nick 2002:163, with further citations.

[ back ] 112. Meiggs 1972:94.

[ back ] 113. See the commentary of Barron 1964:46.

[ back ] 114. See also Plato Protagoras 318d-e.

[ back ] 115. HPC E§§158 and following.

[ back ] 116. See also Plato Protagoras 311c on Pheidias as agalmatopoios ‘sculptor’.

[ back ] 117. In Plato Protagoras 317b-c, Protagoras makes a point of openly avowing that he is a sophistēs ‘sophist’.

[ back ] 118. My translation follows in some details the version of Allen 1996:171-172.

[ back ] 119. This term grammatistēs ‘expert in letters’ is applied to Maiandrios as ‘scribe’ of the tyrant Polycrates of Samos (Herodotus 3.123.1). On Maiandrios of Samos: PH 11§20n53 (= p. 324), §21n58 (= pp. 324-325).

[ back ] 120. The paideia ‘education’ of the eleutheros ‘free man’ is the aristocratic concept of ‘liberal education’, as opposed to the ‘servile’ status of artisans who are educated to make a living as professionals. See also Nagy 1996d on relevant concepts of aristocracy.

[ back ] 121. Translation after Allen 1996:172-173.

[ back ] 122. Translation after Allen 1996:173.

[ back ] 123. Translation after Allen 1996:177.

[ back ] 124. Here the sophia ‘skill’ of Pheidias is made parallel to the sophia of Protagoras, so that the ‘wisdom’ of the sophist is reinterpreted in the archaic sense of the ‘skill’ or ‘craft’ of a craftsman.

[ back ] 125. The joke is that, if Anytus is right, then Protagoras as a craftsman is immeasurably worse than a bad shoemaker. As we have noted ever since ch. 3, Plato has a running joke of comparing the craft of a shoemaker with the craft of the sophist.

[ back ] 126. Up to now, I have been translating poiētēs as ‘poet’ and poiētikē as ‘poetic craft’, but it is more accurate to render these words in terms of ‘composition’ (in the verbal arts), as we will see.

[ back ] 127. I note again that sophia here conveys a non-transcendent concept, ‘skill’, instead of the transcendent concept of ‘wisdom’.

[ back ] 128. I must stress once again what I stressed when I first quoted this wording: as we see from the context here, these ‘compositions’ are the poetic creations not only of Hippias but also of master ‘composers’ or poiētai, including Homer himself as the ‘composer’ or poiētēs par excellence.

[ back ] 129. The conventions of performing katalogadēn ‘in the right sequence, catalogue-style’, as I noted earlier, are relevant to the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ of Hippias).

[ back ] 130. For another passage that emphasizes these specialties of Hippias, I cite once again Plato Hippias Maior 285d. A relevant term is grammatistēs.

[ back ] 131. This word blepein ‘look’ highlights the visual aspect of indexing the details associated with the tekhnai ‘crafts’ of Hippias. I find it significant that the first detail that catches the eye of Socrates is the daktulios ‘ring’ of Hippias. More on this ring later, as the discussion proceeds. The verb blepein ‘look’, as I noted earlier, is used as an index for the perception of Plato’s Forms.

[ back ] 132. Translation after Allen 1996:36-37.

[ back ] 133. I quote here the wording of the version known as the “Censor’s Libretto” (1881); a facsimile of Acts 4 and 5 has been published by Heinzelmann 1988. The wording in this part of the libretto matches closely the relevant wording in Act 4 Scene 5 of the play by Barbier and Carré, Les Contes fantastiques d’Hoffmann, staged in 1851.

[ back ] 134. HPC E§159.

[ back ] 135. The interior of the Telestērion, which functioned as the Great Hall of Initiation for the Athenian State, can be described as “a forest of columns.” Stadter 1989:169 remarks: “Excavations reveal that an original fifth-century design, requiring a forest of 7 x 7 columns, was replaced by a design for 5 x 4 columns, and finally by a 7 x 6 design.” The interior of the Telestērion at Eleusis, with its capacity for seating enormous crowds, is analogous to the interior of the Odeum of Pericles (mentioned later on in this same passage, at Pericles 13.9) on the south slope of the Acropolis. See Stadter 1989:173.

[ back ] 136. See Stadter 1989:169-170 on the inscription IG I3 32, dated around 450/49, which mentions a board of epistatai ‘supervisors’ appointed for a building project at Eleusis and names Koroibos as the arkhitektōn ‘master builder’.

[ back ] 137. Stadter 1989:172 remarks: “Pericles’ [Odeum] was on the south slope of the Acropolis, east of the theater of Dionysus. [Plutarch] knew only a reconstruction of the building, which had been burned by the Athenians in 86 [BCE], to prevent its wood from being used by Sulla to besiege the Acropolis” (Appian Mithridateios 6.38; see also Vitruvius 5.9.1; Pausanias 1.20.4). As Stadter p. 173 continues: “According to Vitruvius [as cited] the masts and spars of the Persian ships [from Salamis] were used to construct the roof. In his book Trees, Meiggs 1982:474 notes that “the roof beams would have been enormous, more than 70 feet (21.3 meters) long.”

[ back ] 138. Stadter 1989:173: “The forest of columns would have been similar to the [Telestērion] at Eleusis but covered an even larger area.”

[ back ] 139. Stadter 1989:173 remarks: “Apparently the roof was pyramidal, sloping on four sides.”

[ back ] 140. That is, the King of Kings of Persia: see also Plutarch Pericles 10.5.

[ back ] 141. Pericles is called the epistatēs ‘supervisor’ of the Parthenon and of the Telestērion (Strabo 9.1.12 C395) and of the statue of Athena Parthenos (Philochorus FGH 328 F 121) and of the Lyceum (Philochorus F 37 via Harpocration s.v.). See Stadter 1989:174.

[ back ] 142. Stadter 1989:174 remarks: “Pericles seems to be wearing the [Odeum] (or its pointed roof) as he did the helmet in the Cresilaus portrait: perhaps Cratinus thought that the pyramidal roof of the [Odeum], with its sharp peak, would be suitable for Pericles’ head.” So the joke is inspired by the shape of the roof of the Odeum, with its sharp peak, and by the shape of the head of Pericles the ‘pin-head’. The metonymic identification of Pericles with the Odeum – a major source of prestige for the statesman – has been comically turned into a metaphoric identification of the ‘peak’ of Pericles with the ‘peak’ of the Odeum.

[ back ] 143. I take it that τότε πρῶτον ‘at that point for the first time’ refers not to the establishing of an agōn ‘competition’ in mousikē but to the fact that there was a formal decree involved. See Stadter 1989:175 for citations of documentation for earlier phases of competitions in mousikē in Athens. To repeat what I said earlier: the mousikē ‘craft of the Muses’ as practiced at the Panathenaia includes the tekhnē ‘craft’ of rhapsodes, not only of citharodes, citharists, aulodes, and auletes. Supporting evidence comes from Aristotle Constitution of the Athenians (60.1), Plato Ion (530a), and Isocrates Panegyricus (4.159).

[ back ] 144. On the use of the Theater of Dionysus for Homeric performances in the late fourth century BCE, see Athenaeus 14.620b-c and my relevant commentary in PP 158-163.

[ back ] 145. The verb āidein ‘sing’, formant of the derivative nouns kithar-ōidos and rhaps-ōidos, is actually used with reference to the performances of rhapsodes: see Plato Ion 535b and my relevant commentary in PP 26-27.

[ back ] 146. I refer again to the mention of the Telestērion in Plutarch Pericles 13.7, as analyzed in 4§174 above.

[ back ] 147. Stadter 1989:173 cites Aristophanes Wasps 1108-1109 regarding the use of the Odeum as “a court.” Citing the testimony of Xenophon Hellenica 2.4.9, 24, Stadter adds: “The Thirty used it [= the Odeum] as an assembly point when they were defending their rule in winter 404/3,” . Immediately after citing these primary sources, Stadter cites a critical mass of secondary sources.

[ back ] 148. The verses of Iliad V 734-735 were athetized by Zenodotus.

[ back ] 149. Nietzsche (1872), Die Geburt der Tragödie, in Section 15: Es gäbe keine Wissenschaft, wenn ihr nur um jene eine nackte Göttin und um nichts Anderes zu thun wäre. Earlier, in Section 10: Die Philosophie der wilden und nackten Natur schaut die vorübertanzenden Mythen der homerischen Welt mit der unverhüllten Miene der Wahrheit an: sie erbleichen, sie zittern vor dem blitzartigen Auge dieser Göttin – bis sie die mächtige Faust des dionysischen Künstlers in den Dienst der neuen Gottheit zwingt.

[ back ] 150. PR ch. 2.

[ back ] 151. Mansfield 1985:442-487 offers a useful general survey of such rituals. I regret to add that the value of Mansfield’s survey – and of his overall work – is consistently undermined by gratuitous insertions of unsupported assumptions about what is supposedly right or wrong about the work of his predecessors.

[ back ] 152. PR 86-88.

[ back ] 153. Rhodes 1981:693 considers a pattern of fluctuation between the 28th and the 27th of Hekatombaion. He also considers the day of the month for the birthday as celebrated for the annual Lesser Panathenaia. In general, Rhodes is vigilant in noting the differences between the quadrennial Great Panathenaia and the annual Lesser Panathenaia.

[ back ] 154. Rhodes 1981:670 notes that the annual Lesser Panathenaia had a Panathenaic Procession, which is mentioned for the annual Panathenaia in IG II2 334, dated to 335/4 BCE.

[ back ] 155. Scheid/Svenbro 1994:27n43.

[ back ] 156. Parke 1977:92-93.

[ back ] 157. HPC II§§416 and following.

[ back ] 158. According to a variant reading at Iliad VI 289, the epithet pan-poikila describes the erga ‘work’ woven by the Phoenician women, where erga is in apposition with peploi; according to the Koine reading, pan-poikiloi describes directly the peploi.

[ back ] 159. Barber 1991:4, 83, 113, 114 (illustration), 115, 270, 283-284, 286 (illustration), 290-291, 299. For an overview of the craft of male weavers and other professional male fabric workers in the Greek-speaking world, see PR 70-73. See also Robertson 1985:288-289 on an aetiological narrative about the first male weavers of the Peplos.

[ back ] 160. PR 72n7.

[ back ] 161. See also Mansfield 1985:83n8.

[ back ] 162. There is a basic discussion in Barber 1991:359n2, which is more useful than the comments offered by Mansfield 1985:88-89n25.

[ back ] 163. For a most suggestive introduction to the myth of the Gigantomachy, see Barber 1991:380-382.

[ back ] 164. PR 90-93.

[ back ] 165. Barber 1992:114, PR 90-91.

[ back ] 166. Barber 1991:361-364.

[ back ] 167. PR 92-93.

[ back ] 168. PR 92: “Socrates … 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 or Gigantomachy, 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 [quadrennial] Great Panathenaia.”

[ back ] 169. PR 93. On the Peplos and the gigantomakhiai or Gigantomachy woven into it, I find the discussion of Pinney 1988 indispensable (especially p. 471). I interpret the plural of gigantomakhia as designating specific “close-ups” of the overall battle of the gods and giants.

[ back ] 170. Overview by Barber 1991:362, 377. I rely especially on the relevant work of B. Nagy 1972.

[ back ] 171. Barber 1992:114, with further references.

[ back ] 172. Ridgway 1992:120-123.

[ back ] 173. Barber 1992:114.

[ back ] 174. PR 90.

[ back ] 175. Parke 1977:38-41 gives an intuitively appealing formulation.

[ back ] 176. PR 94.

[ back ] 177. Rhodes 1981:671-672. For more on the interpretation of paradeigmata here as referring specifically to the patterns on the fabric, see Rhodes p. 568.

[ back ] 178. PR 91.

[ back ] 179. For these apt descriptions, see Neils 1992b:26.

[ back ] 180. Barber 1992:114-116.

[ back ] 181. There are also some isolated historical occasions when the political agenda must have been featured explicitly, not just implicitly, on the Peplos itself: I cite again Plutarch Demetrius 12.3; also Diodorus 20.46.2.

[ back ] 182. Mansfield 1985.

[ back ] 183. Barber 1992:114.

[ back ] 184. Pliny Natural History 36.18: in scuto eius Amazonum proelium caelavit intumescente ambitu, parmae eiusdem concava parte deorum et Gigantum dimicationes ‘on her [= Athena’s] Shield he [= Pheidias] chased [caelare] the Battle of the Amazons in the convex part, while he chased in the concave part of the same shield the conflicts of gods and giants’.

[ back ] 185. Leipen 1971:49: the interior as well as the exterior of Athena’s Shield was chased, not painted.

[ back ] 186. Thompson 1939:297-298 comments on what Pliny says: “Caelavit means chased and is commonly used for metalwork in relief, certainly not for painting … the shield of the great Athena, being of gold, had no reason whatsoever for being painted inside or out.”

[ back ] 187. As in ch. 1, I stress here again the mythological synchronicity linking the day of Athena’s birth and the day of her defeating the giants.

[ back ] 188. PR 90.

[ back ] 189. There is ongoing debate over whether the Parthenon Frieze depicts the woven robe or Peplos of Athena “realistically.” See Barber 1992:114-115, with further citations.

[ back ] 190. Barber 1992:113; see also Barber 1991:361; see also p. 272, with further illustrations of selvedges as represented in the sculpture of the Parthenon Frieze.

[ back ] 191. Barber 1992:114-116.

[ back ] 192. Leipen 1971:48.

[ back ] 193. On the role of Athena in this myth as the central aetiology of the Panathenaia, see especially Pinney 1988.

[ back ] 194. On which see Ferrari 2000.

[ back ] 195. Berczelly 1992:54.

[ back ] 196. Berczelly 1992:55.

[ back ] 197. Berczelly 1992:55.

[ back ] 198. Berczelly 1992:54-55.

[ back ] 199. Berczelly 1992:61-67.

[ back ] 200. The author refers here to Hesiod Works and Days 63-64.

[ back ] 201. Berczelly 1992:61.

[ back ] 202. Berczelly 1992:61.

[ back ] 203. On the association of Pandora with garlands of flowers, see also Hesiod Theogony 576-580 and Works and Days 74-75. See also Blech 1982:34 and Berczelly 1992:63.

[ back ] 206. Parke 1977:92-93.

[ back ] 207. See 4§206, with reference to the work of B. Nagy 1972.

[ back ] 208. Mansfield 1985:161-162n33.

[ back ] 209. Berczelly 1992; also Nick 2002:6.

[ back ] 210. PR 80.

[ back ] 211. PR 82.

[ back ] 212. For more on the metaphorical world of rhaptein ‘sew, stitch’ in the sense of a virtuoso integration of woven fabric, see PR 71. The sewn fabric may in the end suit a body that is not human but divine.

[ back ] 213. PP 61-76, BA 17§10n5, PH 1§21 (= p. 28), with reference to Schmitt 1967:300-301 and Durante 1976:177-179.

[ back ] 214. PP 62-64.

[ back ] 215. For more on rhaptein with reference to professional male fabric workers, see PR 71.

[ back ] 216. It also suited the divine body, larger than life, of the goddess Athena. I mean suit figuratively, not literally: there is no need to think that the gigantic quadrennial Peplos was literally draped over any statue of Athena.

[ back ] 217. Mansfield 1985:51.

[ back ] 218. PR 10-12. I quoted this passage in ch. 3.

[ back ] 219. PR 70-98.

[ back ] 220. Ferrari 2000:130-131.

[ back ] 221. The north metopes picture the sacrifice of a bull; perhaps this is the bull being sacrificed by Laocoön.

[ back ] 222. The north metopes picture both Aeneas and his son Ascanius, still in Troy.

[ back ] 223. The north metopes picture Menelaos in the act of taking back Helen.

[ back ] 224. See the previous note.

[ back ] 225. The north metopes picture Polyxena being led to her sacrificial slaughter, though this reading is not certain.

[ back ] 226. The north metopes show Aithra at the moment she is found.

[ back ] 227. The north metopes show Athena attending a council of the gods.

[ back ] 228. Ferrari 2000. On the Iliou Persis of the Stoa Poikilē, see Dué 2006:99-102. On the Iliou Persis of the Lesche of the Cnidians, especially the visual details described by Pausanias 10.25.4, 10.25.9-11, and 10.26.1-2, see Dué pp. 102-106.

[ back ] 229. Ferrari 2000.

[ back ] 230. Ferrari 2000. See also Dué 2006:96-97. On the idiosyncratic attitude of Isocrates (as in Panegyricus 159), see Dué p. 98n26.

[ back ] 231. HPC II§§202 and following.

[ back ] 232. For a most intuitive study of the rhetoric of pity, I single out the work of Konstan 2001.

[ back ] 233. In the case of epic as well as tragedy, I agree with the formulation of Dué 2006:112: “the laments of the Trojan women are fundamentally Greek in form and theme” – even if the Trojans are imagined as non-Greeks.

[ back ] 234. I see a reference to such mixed feelings also in Iliad VI 411-413: there Andromache refers to her laments, that is, to the expression of her akhē (plural of akhos) ‘sorrows’, as a thalpōrē ‘comforting warmth’ (on the erotic associations of thalpein ‘make warm’, see for example Aeschylus Prometheus 590). For more on the terpsis ‘pleasure’ of lament in tragedy, see Fantuzzi 2007b.

[ back ] 235. See Vernant 1982 on the heroic concept of le beau mort as a complement to la belle mort. See also Dué 2006:80n66, with further citations.

[ back ] 236. Sacks 1987.

[ back ] 237. PH 7§6 (= pp. 204-206).

[ back ] 238. In the scholia A (Aristonicus) for Iliad XVII 202, we learn that the variant reading ὃς δή τοι σχεδὸν εἶσιν ‘that is coming near’ was preferred by Aristarchus: <ὃς δή τοι σχεδόν ἐστι:> … αἱ δὲ Ἀριστάρχου ὃς δή τοι σχεδὸν εἶσιν. In scholia Aim (Didymus), we read: Ἀρίσταρχος εἶσιν.