Stesichorus’ Ἰλιου Περσις and the Epic Tradition [1]

Evanthia Tsitsibakou-Vasalos

To refer to this article, please cite it in this way:
Evanthia Tsitsibakou-Vasalos, "Stesichorus' Ἰλίου Πέρσις and the Epic Tradition," Classics@ Volume 6: Efimia D. Karakantza, ed. The Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University, edition of March 9, 2011.


The fragments of the Oxyrhynchi papyri 2619 and 2803, first published by E. Lobel, [2] are attributed to the Ἰλίου Πέρσις of Stesichorus on account of their meter, language, style and subject matter. [3] Key words scattered in these newly-discovered papyri signify the burning and the destruction of the city, thus being congruous with the ‘matter of Troy’ (Lobel) and functioning as leitmotifs. [4] Hence, they reaffirm the ancient evidence originating from Pausanias and Harpocration, who credit Stesichorus with the composition of a poem entitled Ἰλίου Πέρσις. However, the words Στη [ / ἱππ [, which figure on the verso of the papyrus P. Oxy. 2803 fr. 1 (b) = S133, and are reconstituted as Στη[σιχόρου / ἵππ[ος δούρειος, have given rise to a lively discussion as regards the status of this as-yet-unknown poem and its relation to the well-documented Iliou Persis. On the evidence of the metrical and linguistic correspondences of the two papyri, scholars in their vast majority conjoin two papyric fragments in particular (S105 [a, b] = P.Oxy. 2619 fr.18+P.Oxy. 2803 fr.11), positing the existence of a single poem that handles the same subject, i.e. the Trojan myth, and had circulated since antiquity with the title Ἰλίου Πέρσις; in this case the Ἵππος Δούρειος can be an alternative title of it or an informal designation of part of it. [5] Further possibilities arise as scholars opt either for two different poems with two different titles (Ἰλίου Πέρσις and Ἵππος Δούρειος), since with twenty-six books of poems, ‘it would not be surprising, if a hitherto unattested poem emerged’; [6] or for a single poem whose second part was designated by the subtitle Ἵππος Δούρειος; [7] or finally for one work handed down to us by two manuscripts, as suggested by their extended verbal similarities. [8]
The balance tips in the direction of one poem, circulating with a secondary title which commemorates Greek ingenuity and the monumental wooden horse on which depends the devastation of Troy. [9] This last assumption is sustained firstly by the fact that ancient scholarship is reticent about the composition of an independent poem, entitled ‘Wooden Horse,’ and secondly by the successful conjoining of the two fragments which yields a coherent narrative. [10] Among the arguments voiced against this papyric combination, prominent is the repetition of words and phrases although this is a well-attested stylistic element of the Stesichorean poetry even within the same poem. [11] The combination of fragments S105 (a, b) yields a congruous and coherent text, thus sustaining the theory of a single poem circulating with two alternative titles, Hippos doureios being perhaps a convenient short cut title meant to commemorate a salient mythical element and presumably dinstiguish Stesichorus’ poem from the other widely-recited Iliadic stories of either local or Panhellenic stamp and circulation. Although this Stesichorean poem is based on a traditional and popular mythical story, [12] it bears a distinctive mark, the prominent role of Epeius, an obscure character and of lowly social status. Stesichorus lingers on the technical apprentice of Epeius and the championship of Athena, thus accommodating the local traditions—cultural, political or religious—and the particular special interests of his Western clientele. The performance of a song centering on a traditional tale such as the Iliou Persis and its basic component, the ‘Wooden Horse,’ which is intimately linked with Epeius, would undoubtedly be popular among the Greek colonies of the West. Settlements in Sicily, such as Himera, [13] or in Magna Graecia, were familiar with the traditional Trojan stories; Epeius plays an integral part in them. His migration to Italy is recorded in ancient narratives which highlight him as a foundation and cult figure. He is connected with the establishment of Metapontion or Lagaria, [14] a city of undetermined location. [15] Epeius dedicates the tools he used for the construction of the wooden horse to Athena Myndia, Eilenia (or Hellenia, codd.); the goddess receives another agalma as a real not sham thanksgiving this time, for inspiring Epeius with the design of the fatal horse. Interestingly, Philoctetes is also credited with the edifice of a temple in honor of Athena Eilenia (< εἱλῶ). [16] These two heroes are intimately associated with the sack of Troy, and blending their Aeolian, Ionian and Achaean descent, contribute to the formation of the Achaean identification. [17] Their myths are conflated and recorded in Nostoi stories, in which both men emerge as founders of cults and cities in Italy. [18] Philoctetes, a marginal figure excommunicated from the body of the Achaeans and secluded on Lemnos, donates the arms of Heracles and proves an indispensable figure in the sack of Troy. Epeius is another marginal person, a water-carrier, of bad fame in posterity (Simias Gramm. Fr. 25.6 and Epigr.15.22, 15.22, δυσκλής), who gains technical skill and eternal κλέος for his role in the sack of Troy thanks to divine dispensation—Athena feels pity for him. Epeius’ widespread fame and career on Italian soil naturally attract the attention of Stesichorus, [19] a Western Greek whose poetry exhibits a wide gamut of themes. He draws on mythical cycles and heroic figures of high repute and popularity in both the colonial West and metropolitan Greece. Not unlike the early wandering lyric poets and the guilds of the itinerant rhapsodes, who flourished in Italy and Sicily, Stesichorus adapts his poetic program and his themes to the interests of his patrons and the particular occasion, be it private celebrations or religious gatherings, panegyreis. [20]
In the present study, I intend to focus on selected fragments of this unified Stesichorean Iliou Persis and examine four subjects in particular: one is the role of Epeius (S89 and 90); the other, the relevance of the archaic concept of ἄτη (S89.5) in the textual restoration; the third is the integration of the bird kirkos in this poem, and the fourth and final theme is the womb imagery that subtly yet unmistakably permeates the epic and lyric descriptions of the carved and cavernous wooden horse. My view is that examining these themes is important both for developing our interpretive grasp of our text, but also, as I will suggest, for understanding the relationship between this poem and older narratives, such as the Cyclic and the Homeric epics.

1. Epeius

1.1. Epeius in Stesichorus

Epeius, such an instrumental figure for the destruction of Troy, should naturally make his debut as early as possible in the Stesichorean Iliou Persis. He is in all probability introduced somewhere in columns 1–7, according to the computations of Kazansky. [21] The text printed here is the fruit of long and painstaking restorative work accomplished with high scholarship. A number of conjoined fragments make up the text (PMGF: S89 P.Oxy. 2619 frr.15(b)+ 30+31+S90 P.Oxy. 2619 fr.15(a)+PMGF 200), which reads as follows: [22]
θ[ε]ά, τυ [.]δo[
παρθέν[ε]  ]χρυσ[
ἱμείρει [δ’] ἀείδε[ιν

5   νῦν δ’ α . εν [χα]λεπῶς πα[ρὰ καλλιρόου
δίνα[ς] Σιμόεντος ἀνὴρ [
θ]ε̣ᾶς ἰ[ό]τατι δαεὶς σεμν[ᾶς Ἀθάνας
μ̣έ̣τ [ρ ] τε καὶ σοφίαν τοῦ [— ⏑ ⏑ — ⏑ ⏑ —
ῥηξήνορ]ος ἀντὶ̣ μ̣ά̣χα[ς
10 καὶ] φυ[λόπ]ιδος κλέο̣[ς] . [
εὐρυ]χόρ[ο]υ Τρo<ΐ>ας ἁλώσι̣[μον ἆμαρ
]ν ἔθηκεν
Epode: < ---------- >
]. εσσι πόνοι[
14  ὤικτειρε γὰ]ρ αὐτὸ[ν] ὕ[δωρ αἰεὶ φορέοντα Διὸς
κούρα βασιλεῦσι]ν ἀ[
5. ἆσεν [Barrett apud West 1969: 140 vel ἄ<α>σεν Barrett apud Page 1973: 51, Davies PMGF, vix evites ἄϊεν vel ἆγεν cogitat West 1969: 141 ἄγε … Κazansky [χα]λεπῶς Lobel λ<έγ>ε Führer πῶς Kazansky καλλιρόους West 1969: 140–41; Barrett: καλλιρόου πόκα τις Führer 8. τοῦ [τεκτοσύναι πινυτᾶι, Führer] 10. κλέος ἀ[ρεῖθ’ οὕνεκεν West κλέος α[ἰθέρ’ ἵκετο Führer 11 ἁλώσι̣[μον ἆμαρ ἄτερ | λαῶ]ν ἔθηκεν West ἁλώσιμον ἄστυ Tschernjak apud Kazansky ἁλώσιμον ἀκρόπολιν / αἰπὰ]ν ἔθηκεν Kazansky 14. ἀ[γαυοῖς Barrett Ἀ[θάνα Führer Ἀ[χαιῶν Kazansky. Davies PMGF S89 on the conjoining of PMGF 200 in 14–15: ‘fort. huc pertinet fr. 200… sed confirmari nequit.’ Schade ad 14ff.: cave suppleas fr. 200 PMGF quod vestigiis litterarum in papyro repertis accommodari nullo modo posse indicavit Lobel apud Führer. [23]
Our extant text starts perhaps with the invocation to a golden- (?) goddess, or the Muse, who desires to sing of Epeius and the divine provenance of his art. This passage may be either an initial proem signaling the beginning of the Stesichorean Iliou Persis and reaffirming a practice attested already in the papyric commentary attributed to Chamaeleon (PMGF 193. 9–11), [24] or a medial proem, which marks the transition to a new subject. [25] Immediately thereafter at line 5 there appears a man, who, by divine dispensation and near the swirling, fair-flowing River Simoeis, receives the talent of masonry. His appellation is withheld or lost in the damaged part of the papyrus yet this man constitutes a well-established figure in the literary tradition. He is easily and unanimously identified with the Phocean Epeius, who functions as a proxy of Athena and of Odysseus in some versions, and plays an instrumental role in the construction of the fatal wooden horse. Verses 5–12 narrate the tutorial of Athena and the technical gifts she presents to Epeius perhaps in a dream (?). The poet makes a significant comment which will eventually take us back to the epic tradition. He says: this man, who learned the measures and the skill of masonry from august Athena, won a fame [that reached the aether] for his craft instead of his prowess in the man-breaking (ῥηξήνορο]ς) fight—ἀντί μ̣ά̣χα[ς (S89. 6–10). What is the ultimate origin of the Stesichorean comparative evaluation? Does ἀντί resume an older poetic source, or does it reflect a Stesichorean innovation?

1.2. Epeius in the epic tradition

With the exception of Iliad XXIII, the epic references to Epeius are brief and rather fleeting. According to the Mikra Ilias, Epeius constructed the wooden horse κατ’ Ἀθηνᾶς προαίρεσιν, that is, following her initiative or resolution. [26] The Odyssey (viii 493) simply mentions his collaboration with Athena: with her assistance he fashioned the horse, τὸν [sc. δουράτεον ἵππον] Ἐπειὸς ἐποίησε σὺν Ἀθήνῃ. Apollodorus, on the other hand, splits the responsibilities; he credits Odysseus with the invention and design of the horse, and the architect Epeius with its implementation. [27]
Iliad XXIII sketches the physique and ethos of Epeius the boxer. In the funerary games for Patroclus and the competition in boxing, Achilles sets as a first prize a mule, stout, untamed and hard to break; whoever receives the gift of victory from Apollo, he will take this mule. [28] This animal will crown a victory for ‘stamina’ and ‘patience,’ [29] and as such it has a particular relevance and affinity to the winner. The ancient scholiast draws an explicit parallelism between the prize and the athlete; the mule, ‘patient at work,’ he says, matches the patience of the boxer. [30] Swelling with self-confidence, the strong and big Epeius, expert in boxing (εἰδὼς πυγμαχίης, 665), touches the talaergos mule, and declares his imminent victory. As the ancient scholia argue, here the poet prefigures (προδιατυπῶν) the person’s agonistic ethos and foreshadows his monumental achievement, the construction of the fatal horse. [31] Epeius boasts that he is aristos in boxing, but unabashedly confesses his weakness in fighting: ‘is it not enough that I fall short in fighting?’ he wonders. Being a practical man, he concludes: ‘it is not possible that a man is knowledgeable or experienced in all kinds of works’ (669–671):
ἐπεὶ εὔχομαι εἶναι ἄριστος.
ἦ οὐχ ἅλις ὅττι μάχης ἐπιδεύομαι; οὐδ’ ἄρα πως ἦν
ἐν πάντεσσ’ ἔργοισι δαήμονα φῶτα γενέσθαι.
In Iliad XXIII, or its older epic sources, [32] we should seek, consequently, the origin of the Stesichorean antithesis, the notion underlying his ἀντί, and his verbal parallelisms: the Iliadic Epeius uses the epithet δαήμων (sch D ad loc. δαήμονα: ἔμπειρον), which Stesichorus evokes with the participle δαείς in a similar context (S89.7–8). The passage builds upon behavioral correspondences that include not only Epeius and the mule, his tangible and visible symbol, but extend further to his opponent in boxing. Euryalus, son of Mekisteus and grandson of Talaos, bears certain distinctive genealogical and linguistic insignia that make him Epeius’ real match. He is endowed with a patronymic that suggests size (μῆκος), while his grandfather’s name echoes endurance and daring (<*τλάω, τάλας); in sum, he embodies the very qualities of the first prize and the winner. [33] However, in the contest Euryalus falls short not only of his ancestral expectations, but also of the qualities embedded in his own proper name. In a simile that caps his defeat, Euryalus, a man whose appellation evokes the wide sea (< εὐρύς + ἅλς), subverts and belies his etymological associations, leaping like a fish washed out of the sea onto the sand, that is, out of its natural and nurturing habitat (Il. XXIII 692–694). Euryalus is paralyzed and bereft of his physical and onomastic essence at once. His comrades drag him by the feet out of the arena exactly as Odysseus drags Irus (Od. xviii 1–116, esp. 95–102). Odysseus polytlas, i.e. much-enduring and daring, strikes Irus, the ‘Strong-one,’and reduces him to Ἄ-ιρος, ‘Un-Irus,’ deforming or reversing his name. [34] The Iliadic Epeius, enduring, robust and a braggart, is indifferent to, if not contemptuous of, the high heroic standards and the Homeric code of honor. He stands for sheer and brute strength. Athena, the champion of art and craft, will make him partner in a civilizing process, thus controlling and attenuating his sheer force. Epeius’ new capacities are chanelled into constructive activities which are illustrated mainly by Odysseus πολύτλας, ταλασίφρων and ταλαπείριος. Under the guidance of Athena, Odysseus emerges as an exemplar of cunning, the paragon of intelligence as well as of verbal dexterity and refinement. In the Cyclic epics and the Odyssey Epeius the carpenter turns into a double even if lesser figure of Odysseus, who builds not only the raft of his salvation, but also an elaborate artifact, such as his conjugal bed, a steadfast sêma (σῆμα … ἔμπεδον, λέχος, Od. xxiii 183–204) and embedded seal of his identity as husband and master of the house. Even though Epeius engages in the pursuit of deeds associated with physical might and tectonic capabilities, he lacks the mental and verbal excellences as well as the versatility by which Odysseus is distinguished. Against the epic precedents, either Cyclic or Homeric, Stesichorus sets a dramatized motivation of Epeius’ demiurgic capacity, tracing it back to Athena’s pity and intervention. The brutal might of hands undergoes the transformative effect of art and civilization. [35]
In Iliad XXIII, Epeius throws the solos, a spherical mass, yet fails and becomes a laughing stock among the Achaeans. The Iliadic Epeius may have been ridiculed for his inept twirling of the mass (σόλον … δινήσας, 839–45) and his cowardice, [36] but the Stesichorean Epeius gains eternal fame alongside the eddies of the fair-flowing River Simoeis (παρὰ καλλιρόου / δίνας Σιμόεντος, S89.5–6), where he receives Athena’s artistic gifts; in his hands solos will eventually be assimilated to trochos, the instrument of potters and builders and component of carriages and chariots, not to mention the wheels on which the wooden horse is drawn (S127, ευτροχ-). [37] The wheel as a metaphor for poetry and art emerges in this passage; the mythic tektones provide the poetic matrix for another tektôn this time, the lyric poet. The choice of the locale, moreover, is no accident in view firstly of Epeius’ occupation (he was the hydrophoros of the Achaeans in the Stesichorean version), and secondly of the duality of the major Trojan rivers. Before the war, Xanthus-Scamander and Simoeis were linked with procreational, recreational and life-sustaining activities. But now they witness fierce bloodshed and even take an active part in it; the boundaries between life and death are blurred upon their waters. Significantly, near the Simoeis Ajax kills the son of Anthemion, the Anthemides Simoeisios, who was named after the river on whose banks he was born (Il. IV 473–479). The man, whose patronymic suggests flower and blooming, collapses resembling a black poplar tree felled by a chariot-maker. The tree log withers, lying by the banks of the river, exactly as Anthemides Simoeisios does (482–489), in reversed plant imagery. The Simoeis fails to affirm its nourishing and invigorating properties; birth and death mingle about its stream. [38] Tryphiodorus in his ἅλωσις Ἰλίου manipulates the ambiguity of Simoeis, entertaining a bold personification of the wooden horse: it is from the dewy Simoeis that his Trojans pick the flowers with which they wreathe the locks of their future killer. [39]
Deep-swirling Scamander (XXI 223) collaborates with Simoeis to check the murderous spree of Achilles (XXI 305–310). Scamander sweeps down the sea the carcasses of the Trojans, and operating as a quasi-undertaker, ‘digs a grave for men,’ thus justifying the duality imprinted in his dionymon; his blond and bright qualities as Xanthus contrast with his dark and funereal features as Scamander. [40] Hector, the mainstay and tower of the Trojans, will be killed near the Scamander and his double fountains (XXII 143–156). [41] Were we able to confirm the supplement ἀνθεμό]εντα … Σκ]αμάνδριον (S115+116.6–7, Führer) in a context describing the destruction of Troy (ἀιστ]ώσας πό[λ]ιν … τ]έκος Αἰακιδαν, 1–2), we would have gleaned a precious clue to the Stesichorean reception of Homer, as the ambiguous epithet ἀνθεμόεις qualifies, among other things, the meadow of the Sirens, the flowery locale of death (Od. xii 159 with 45-46). In a distinct liquid metaphor, thousands of Greeks ‘poured forward,’ προχέοντο, in the meadow of flowery Scamander (Il. II 459–468), preparing for a long and deadly war; the contradictory notions of blooming and death are interwoven in ἀνθεμόεις. However, Σκ]αμάνδριος is the private name of a famous but unlucky infant having a public name, Astyanax, given to him in gratitude for his father’s princely status and rescuing efforts (Il. VI 401–403, XXII 499–506). If this Scamandrius is meant here, the poet achieves intense tragedy and pathos, having the infant regain his original and public, yet ambiguous name, at the time of his death as he prepares to join his father in Hades. The ominous onomastic duality of the infant and the river is proven at last, as Astyanax fails to fulfill the expectations of his co-citizens and his auspicious name.
At the banks of such a double river, Simoeis (S89), the Stesichorean Athena once again exhibits her championship of both the Greeks and the builders. Her intervention marks two critical moments in this war, its beginning and finale, which are linked with Phereclus and Epeius, respectively. In the Iliad Phereclus, a scion of a family of tektones, is Athena’s most beloved artisan; he is associated with the original vice, the adulterous liaison of Helen and Paris, since he (or Harmonides?) built the archekakoi nêes, the ships that started the kakon; the identity of the tektôn is ambiguous, ἀμφίβολον (Il. V 59–64): [42]
Μηριόνης δὲ Φέρεκλον ἐνήρατο, τέκτονος υἱὸν
Ἁρμονίδεω, ὃς χερσὶν ἐπίστατο δαίδαλα πάντα
τεύχειν· ἔξοχα γάρ μιν ἐφίλατο Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη·
ὃς καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ τεκτήνατο νῆας ἐΐσας
ἀρχεκάκους, αἳ πᾶσι κακὸν Τρώεσσι γένοντο
οἷ τ᾽ αὐτῷ, ἐπεὶ οὔ τι θεῶν ἐκ θέσφατα ᾔδη.
The two builders are associated with fame. Kleos (or klonos of ships) is embedded in Phereclus’ very name, [43] despite the unhappy outcome of this war and his own death. Treacherous and deadly was Aphrodite, the deity on whose suggestion Paris had commissioned the construction of these ships in the Cypria, Ἀφροδίτης ὑποθεμένης ναυπηγεῖται (Procl. Chrest. 12–13, Davies 31). [44] His lyric doublet, the Stesichorean Epeius, owes his kleos, his reputation, not to his martial prowess (ἀντὶ μάχας … καὶ φυλόπιδος κλέος, S89.9–10), but to the tectonic skill presented to him by Athena. [45] Imbued with the notion of reputation is also the Stesichorean description of the sack of Troy: κλυτα[, δαμε[, θέ]μεθλα, ] .νδρε[ (S108) make clusters of key concepts that encapsulate the subduing of the famous Ilion from its foundation, root-and-all. Τhe Greeks are showered with kleos for sacking the well-built and famous city of Troy, Τ]ρωΐας κλεεννό[ν … (ἐκ) πέ]ρσαντες ἐυκτιμε[ν- (S118.6–7); they gained (?) glory among people, ἀ]νθρώπους κλέο[ς (S118.9). A striking similarity surfaces with Iliad XXI 433, Ἴλιον ἐκπέρσαντες ἐυκτίμενον πτολίεθρον. The adjective ἐυκτίμενος becomes a vehicle for tragic irony and pathos: even though well-built and well-populated, the city was bound to collapse; ἐυκτίμενος qualifies the city on the verge of disaster, signaling the reversal of its fate. This picture anticipates perhaps Bacchylides (11.122): the Achaeans πέρσαν πόλιν ἐυκτιμέναν, [46] while the arrogant Trojan horsemen cherished the illusion that their god-built city, θεόδματον πόλιν, would rejoice at feasting out in the streets; instead they were destined to crimson the eddying Scamander (13.157–67). Bacchylides, combining epic and lyric details, builds here contrasting reflections of darkness and light, of joy and mourning.
The Stesichorean Epeius, a man of humble status and menial work, enjoys the divine grace, receives and dispenses victory and glory. Athenaeus specifies Epeius’ task, striking a jocular analogy: the donkey that carries water for the choruses of Simonides, he says, is named Epeius after the man whom Stesichorus charged with a similar task. [47] In this bizarre naming motivation, the man Epeius, not unlike his animal namesake, the Cean donkey, is yoked to a lowly task, carrying water for the Atreidae. [48] Αthena pities the man, concludes Athenaeus, and cites a distich from Stesichorus (Deipn. 10. 456F = PMGF 200):
Ἐπειὸς ὑδροφορεῖ τοῖς Ἀτρείδαις, ὡς καὶ Στησίχορός φησιν.
ὤικτειρε γὰρ αὐτὸν ὕδωρ
αἰεὶ φορέοντα Διὸς κούρα βασιλεῦσιν
On account of its metrical responsion, the above quotation has been incorporated in the Stesichorean Iliou Persis (S89.14–15) by Barrett and Kazansky [49] so as to yield a continuous and fully motivated narrative: alongside the eddies of the fair-flowing Simoeis, out of pity Athena recompenses the hydrophoros Epeius, bestowing upon him the gift of tectonic craft. The words δαείς, μ̣έ̣τρα καὶ σοφία belong to the semantic field of masonry and signpost Athena’s sphere of influence. [50] A phrase of striking verbal similarity recurs in the sphragis-inscription of the Tabula Iliaca Capitolina (τέχνην, δαείς, μέτρον … σοφίας). [51] In such a context the supplements submitted for verses 8 and 10 gain credibility: τοῦ [τεκτοσύναι πινυτᾶι ... κλέος α[ἰθέρ' ἵκετο (Führer). [52] The Stesichorean Epeius manufactures the fateful horse, bringing about the doomsday of wide-spaced Troy (ἁλώσιμον ἆμαρ ἔθηκεν); this phrase fits the contextual and syntactic requirements of the Stesichorean Iliou Persis. [53] Athena’s enmity for the Trojans and pity for Epeius (ὤικτειρε), in sum her ἰότης, underlies and motivates the story. The noun is ambiguous, usually rendered as ‘will,’ amicable or inimical, and ‘design.’ However, derived as it is from words signifying ‘arrow,’ ‘going’ or ‘shooting,’ it suggests both the benevolence and the malignancy of gods and mortals, [54] allowing Athena to surface once more in the complementary role of both champion and opponent (not differently from Apollo ἑκάεργος). [55] The role of Epeius depends on the reading of fragments S89 and 90, verse 5. This verse is supplemented in two different ways, each with its own underlying logic: [56]
(a) ] νῦν δ’ ἄγε μοι λ<έγ>ε, πῶς παρ[ὰ καλλιρόους πόκα τις
(b) ] νῦν δ’ ἄ<α>σεν [χα]λεπῶς παρ[ὰ καλλιρόου(ς)
These two alternative supplements differ by one or two letters due to ἄ<α>σεν / ἆσεν. The number of letters but also their size and shape, combined with the contextual coherence and verisimilitude, are indispensable factors in the successful restoration of a lacuna extending over a metrical unit in responsion. The textual restoration is vitiated by numerous corruptions and irregular correlations of space and letters, since a given metrical section may comprise the same number of syllables but a different number of letters; [57] hence verse 5 has provoked a heated discussion. It coincides with epode 1 which scans as follows: [58]
(— ?) — ⏑ ⏑ — ⏑ ⏑ — [x] — ⏑ ⏑ — ⏑ ⏑ — —
The difference by one or even two letters does not affect the metrical structure, but may affect the supplement chosen to fill the lacuna and its interpretation. Alternative (a) νῦν δ’ ἄγε μοι λ<έγ>ε πῶς introduces an exhortation to a goddess or the Muse to say / sing how a man (unnamed by chance or design) learned his art and craft. Stesichorus uses ἄγε not only to summon Calliope or the Muse indiscriminately, but also in exhortations. [59] This formulaic expression, νῦν δ’ ἄγε, has a strong precedent in the epos, [60] and functions as a formula of transition in the mature choral lyric exemplified by Pindar and Bacchylides. Alternative (a) introduces an initial (or medial) invocation to a goddess or Muse, and agrees not only with the epic and lyric practices, but also with the paleographical evidence of our text. This reconstruction yields a straightforward and smooth text, and fits into the style of early poetry. But if we accept that ‘the Stesichorean Iliou Persis began with the Epeios episode,’ [61] we must account for the fact that Epeius, a low class hydrophoros and carpenter, makes his debut in the proem, a position of distinction and emphasis, reserved for heroes of the caliber of Achilles (Il. I 1–7) and Odysseus (Od. i 1–11). Such an analogy, though implicit, is question-begging, even with a poet renowned for his innovations, a poet who transformed Geryon, a three-headed, six-legged, six-handed and winged creature, into a heroic and noble figure; a poet who also expunged Helen’s notorious infamy in his Palinode(s). [62] The situation is delicate, especially in view of Odysseus’ role in this stratagem. It requires a closer investigation of the assumed Stesichorean motives for conferring upon Epeius such an exalted status. Are we entitled to evoke political and cultic reasons, granted that Epeius is a foundation hero in Italy, or even redefinition of the heroic and aristocratic values embedded in epic poetry?
Alternative (b) νῦν δ’ ἄ<α>σεν [χα]λεπῶς introduces the notion of mental blindness and/or physical damage (< ἀάω, ἄω) which that specific man inflicts on the Trojans. The verb ἄ<α>σεν / ἆσεν is considered an ‘almost inevitable’ supplement. [63] If so, it exemplifies a rare transitive syntax whose direct object (something of the sort of οὕς or Τρῶας) is no longer retrievable. [64] According to this supplement, a man blinds and harms the Trojans, functioning as a proxy of Athena. However, the adverb χαλεπῶς (with difficulty, hardly) sits rather uncomfortably in the vicinity of ἄ<α>σεν / ἆσεν; we would expect rather the adverb μέγα (Il. IX 537, II 340, ἀάσατο δὲ μέγα θυμῷ). The closest we can get to it is Iliad XX (178–186) which provides a precedent of χαλεπῶς in the vicinity of mental blindness (even if negated) and imminent death. Achilles converses with Aeneas about the futility of his expectations to be lavishly rewarded by Priam, if he kills Achilles; the old man is steadfast in mind, says Achilles, and not ἀεσίφρων, not ‘blown about in mind, flighty of mind.’ [65] In the concluding words of Achilles, χαλεπῶς δέ σ’ ἔολπα τὸ ῥέξειν (186), [66] the adverb χαλεπῶς means not simply ‘hard,’ or ‘with difficulty,’ but issues a deadly forewarning: Aeneas’ actions would be to his detriment and disaster. [67] We may assume, consequently, that in the vicinity of the Stesichorean ἄ<α>σεν, the adverb χαλεπῶς connotes impending death. The rather awkward syntax of the adverb νῦν with an aorist (ἄ<α>σεν) has a precedent in νῦν ἔγημε … ἔκτανε (Od. i 35–36); the divine concilium coincides temporally with the paradigmatic human affairs.
We are evidently at an impasse. In view of the hopeless lacuna, what reading is closest to the original Stesichorean text, the epic formula, or the theme of mental dimness? What can possibly tip the balance toward the alternative of harming and blinding? Finally, what would be the benefit of adopting in the Stesichorean Iliou Persis a supplement based on the concept of ἀάω, ἄω and ἄτη? This question leads me to the second theme of my study in the hope that it will help yield an answer.

2. Ἄτη in the Trojan myth

2.1. Homer and the Cyclic Epics

In Homer ἄτη characterizes unaccountable situations marked by wondrous mis-judgment and darkened mental capacity; this regularly issues from divine authorities, and only exceptionally takes on the meaning of harm and punishment. The god-sent mental blindness characteristically embraces the ruinous love affair of Helen and Paris, and is causally connected with the outbreak of the Trojan war. Paris recollects his erotic desire and the resulting mental obfuscation (Il. III 442–446): never before, not even when he first abducted Helen (ἁρπάξας, 444), did love enfold and darken his mind (ἔρως φρένας ἀμφεκάλυψεν, 442). Paris employs a verb of sinister purport; the fate of Troy and the wooden horse are interwoven with ἀμφικαλύπτω, as we shall see below. The Iliadic Helen, in her self-deprecating speech to Hector, recognizes the grief and toil caused by herself and by the atê of Alexander, and describes herself as a mere bitch, a cold and abhorred woman machinating evil (Il. VI 344, ἐμεῖο κυνὸς κακομηχάνου ὀκρυοέσσης); Zeus sent them an evil destiny and made them subjects of song for posterity (Il. VI 354–358):
δᾶερ, ἐπεί σε μάλιστα πόνος φρένας ἀμφιβέβηκεν
εἵνεκ᾽ ἐμεῖο κυνὸς καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου ἕνεκ᾽ ἄτης,
οἷσιν ἐπὶ Ζεὺς θῆκε κακὸν μόρον, ὡς καὶ ὀπίσσω
ἀνθρώποισι πελώμεθ᾽ ἀοίδιμοι ἐσσομένοισι.
The Iliad closes with a flashback to the original vice, the neikos over beauty, whose exposition is attested also in the Cypria (Procl. Chrest. 7–11, Davies 31): it was Alexander’s atê that ruined Troy ever since he entered a contest with the goddesses and preferred the one who offered him painful lechery, machlosynê (Il. XXIV 28–30):
Ἀλεξάνδρου ἕνεκ᾽ ἄτης,
ὃς νείκεσσε θεὰς ὅτε οἱ μέσσαυλον ἵκοντο,
τὴν δ᾽ ᾔνησ᾽ ἥ οἱ πόρε μαχλοσύνην ἀλεγεινήν.
Following the devastation of Troy, Helen, restored in the royal house and the bed of Menelaus, grieves for the mental blindness she incurred when Aphrodite sent atê to her and drove her away from land, daughter, conjugal chamber, and a husband described as the antithesis of Paris. Aphrodite, the authoress of infatuation and aphrosynê, features embedded in her name and function, [68] looms large (Od. iv 261–264):
ἄτην δὲ μετέστενον, ἣν Ἀφροδίτη
δῶχ᾽, ὅτε μ᾽ ἤγαγε κεῖσε φίλης ἀπὸ πατρίδος αἴης,
παῖδά τ᾽ ἐμὴν νοσφισσαμένην θάλαμόν τε πόσιν τε
οὔ τευ δευόμενον, οὔτ᾽ ἂρ φρένας οὔτε τι εἶδος.
The Odyssey closes with Penelope, the paragon of virtue, drawing an analogy between herself and Helen, the universal paradigm of female credulity and vulnerability vis-à-vis men who deceive and subdue women with cajoling words. Penelope shudders at the prospect. With the verb ἐρρίγει she recalls the coldness of death and the shuddering that enfolds Helen and potentially also herself as subject of illegitimate wooing. [69] Penelope makes apatê and atê contiguous with faltering or perverted knowledge, and emphasizes once more the divine origin of at ê and its mournful aspect. The Homeric double-motivation permeates the passage (xxiii 215–224):
αἰεὶ γάρ μοι θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλοισιν
ἐρρίγει, μή τίς με βροτῶν ἀπάφοιτ᾽ ἐπέεσσιν
ἐλθών· πολλοὶ γὰρ κακὰ κέρδεα βουλεύουσιν.
οὐδέ κεν Ἀργείη Ἑλένη, Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα,
ἀνδρὶ παρ᾽ ἀλλοδαπῷ ἐμίγη φιλότητι καὶ εὐνῇ,
εἰ ᾔδη, ὅ μιν αὖτις ἀρήϊοι υἷες Ἀχαιῶν
ἀξέμεναι οἶκόνδε φίλην ἐς πατρίδ᾽ ἔμελλον.
τὴν δ᾽ ἦ τοι ῥέξαι θεὸς ὤρορεν ἔργον ἀεικές·
τὴν δ᾽ ἄτην οὐ πρόσθεν ἑῷ ἐγκάτθετο θυμῷ
λυγρήν, ἐξ ἧς πρῶτα καὶ ἡμέας ἵκετο πένθος.
The epic preoccupation with atê and its deadly working underlies the Demodocean narration of the sack of Troy in Odyssey viii. The Homeric scholiast (sch. T Od. viii. 494) brings to the foreground the undercurrent notion of atê: it was Athena and destiny that damaged the minds of the Trojans, who first brought in the horse and then sought if there was an ambush inside; they were stupid, he says, as also were those who took the risk and entered the city, that is, the Greeks. [70]
The mist that clouds the minds of the Trojans is a basic narrative component, attested in the Cyclic epics as well. In the Cypria, after the construction of the fateful ships, Helenus and Cassandra deliver their prophecies about the future events (Procl. Chrest. 12–16, Davies 31). The Iliou Persis narrates that on their day of doom the Trojans witness the prodigy of two serpents killing Laocoon and one of his two sons; only Aeneas and his comrades were vexed by the omen and abandoned the city (Procl. Chrest. 10–13, Davies 62). [71] In spite of the multiple forewarnings and ominous signs dispatched to the Trojans, in their delusion they fail to heed the messages, [72] rushing headlong to their ruin. Is the mental blindness of the Trojans an accident? It remains to be seen.

2.2. Atê in Lyric Poetry and Tragedy

In a sophisticated praeteritio that matches the skill of the Μοίσαι σεσοφισμέναι (PMGF 282.1–45), Ibycus, another Western poet, pretends to abandon the epic themes only after he submits a spacious outline of the Trojan myth (1–45). He eventually activates his poetic program and his intention of immortalizing the beauty of male mythic figures and contemporary potentates, such as Polycrates (46–48). Ibycus, in ‘a recurrent intertwining of mythology with praise of beauty,’ [73] exemplifies female detrimental kallos with the person of Helen. She aroused Paris, made him violate the laws of hospitality (ξειναπάτας, 5–7), and triggered the Trojan War; ‘atê ascended woeful Pergamos because of golden-haired Cypris’ (8–9); Aphrodisian infatuation, delusion and punishment mingle in the Ibycean atê.
The role of the Aeschylean atê is pronounced. In a striking oxymoron, the poet reflects on the erotic Peitho, which engulfed Helen’s mind. Peitho is the intolerable child of atê that contrives her plans ahead of time, applies violence contrary to her nature, βιᾶται δ’ ἁ τάλαινα Πειθώ / προβούλου παῖς ἄφερτος ἄτας (Ag. 385–386). The deeds of this atê are deployed in the famous lion parable. Helen, like the lion cub, started her life as a soft, heart-biting flower, a tender object of love, but in time showed her parental ethos (727–736); she returned the favor to those who fed her, μηλοφόνοισι σὺν ἄταις (730). Like the lion, she turned into a priest of atê, ἱερεὺς ἄτας (735–736). In a mixture of celebration and mourning, Helen sailed to Troy as a bride-weeping Erinys (749); unholy is the audacity of dark atê who resembles her parents, θράσος μελαί- / νας μελάθροισιν ἄτας, / εἰδομένας τοκεῦσιν (769–771). Atê, in the combined sense of ruin and retribution, speeds on, ταχεῖα δ’ ἄτα πέλει (1124). Orestes will return to put the coping stone on misguided decisions and woes, κάτεισιν ἄτας τάσδε θριγκώσων φίλοις (1283); the entire genos is stuck with atê, κεκόλληται γένος πρὸς ἄτᾳ (1566). Atê motivates the Trojan war and traverses this blood line.
Euripides similarly broods over the disastrous effects of atê. In her lament, Hecuba calls upon the Muse to sing the undanced calamities for the people, ἄτας ἀχορεύτους (Tro. 120–121). Helen was the cause of the war; she slaughtered the man who sired fifty children; she drove Hecuba to this disaster, ἐμέ τε μελέαν Ἑκάβαν / ἐς τάνδ’ ἐξώκειλ’ ἄταν (136–137). The queen imagines the forthcoming disaster, namely, slavery, οὐκ οἶδ᾽, εἰκάζω δ᾽ ἄταν (163). The chorus members invite the Muse to sing a new, funereal song. They begin from the horse which the Achaeans left in the gates, the horse that contains armed men and whose roar reaches the sky (518–521). In relief and joy for the end of toils, the populace cries aloud that the horse be brought up and dedicated to Athena (522–526). Young girls and old men leave their homes, seized by a guileful atê (529–530). All the children, the genna, of the Phrygians, rush towards the gates to ‘give to the goddess’ or ‘give-bring to sight’ the lochos of the Argives, i.e. the atê of the Dardanian land, doing a favor to the unyoked goddess. Despite the textual uncertainty (θέᾳ or θεᾷ δώσων, 535), it is obvious that the poet draws an analogy between lochos and atê; the Greek horse is the visible sign of the Trojan misjudgement and ruin. In a context marked by words bearing on atê, birth and progeny (genna, lochos), the children of Troy fall victims to their mental obfuscation; they fail to recognize the disclosure, that is, the imminent birth of the horse’s progeny, a lochos carved in a mountainous and bitter pine wood, source of brutality, tears and lamentation (529–535 ΟCT): [74]
κεχαρμένοι δ᾽ ἀοιδαῖς
δόλιον ἔσχον ἄταν.
πᾶσα δὲ γέννα Φρυγῶν
πρὸς πύλας ὡρμάθη,
πεύκᾳ ἐν οὐρεΐᾳ ξεστὸν λόχον Ἀργείων
καὶ Δαρδανίας ἄταν θέᾳ δώσων,
χάριν ἄζυγος ἀμβροτοπώλου
Ares comes out of this lochos, the work of Athena’s hands (560), while the chorus members abandon the house in which they were once conceived and enfolded like a child, ἐμὸν δόμον ἔνθ’ ἐλοχεύθην (602). Hecuba closes her lament invoking Priam, who is bereft of proper burial and friends and cannot see her plight, ἰὼ ἰώ, / Πρίαμε Πρίαμε, σὺ μὲν ὀλόμενος / ἄταφος ἄφιλος ἄτας ἐμᾶς ἄιστος εἶ (1312–1314).

2.3. Later Epics on the Trojan Myth

Later poems on the Iliadic war naturally adopt and exploit the archaic motif of atê. Quintus Smyrnaeus (Posthom. XII 482–488) narrates the evil that befell Laocoon. He and his wife shed tears and mourn above their son’s grave, while the mother wails over the folly of her husband and dreads the divine anger, ἔστενε δ᾽ ἄτην / ἀνέρος ἀφραδίῃ, μακάρων δ᾽ ὑπεδείδιε μῆνιν (487–488). But the Greeks, too, fall victims of atê: Ajax Oileus rapes Cassandra in the temple of Athena, seized by Aphrodite’s lustful delusion and damaged in heart and mind, θυμοῦ τ’ ἠδὲ νόοιο βεβλαμμένος (XIII 423). He did not cease doing reckless deeds ever since Cypris blinded his mind, οὐδ’ ὅ γε λυγρῆς / λῆγεν ἀτασθαλίης, ἐπεὶ ἦ φρένας ἄασε Κύπρις (429).
Tryphiodorus, obviously elaborating on the εὐωχία narrated in the Cyclic epics (Procl. Chrest. Mikra Ilias 30, Davies 53; Iliou Persis 8–9, Davies 62), describes the festivities of the Trojans as they haul the horse onto the acropolis to the accompaniment of flutes, lyres and songs. He caps this joyful scene with an ominous comment bearing on the mental mist and man-destroying atê of the human race; senselessness and mourning are its constant accompaniments (310–315):
σχέτλιον ἀφραδέων μερόπων γένος, οἷσιν ὁμίχλη
ἄσκοπος ἐσσομένων· κενεῷ δ᾽ ὑπὸ χάρματι πολλοὶ
πολλάκις ἀγνώσσουσι περιπταίοντες ὀλέθρῳ.
οἵη καὶ Τρώεσσι τότε φθισίμβροτος ἄτη
ἐς πόλιν αὐτοκέλευθος ἐκώμασεν· οὐδέ τις ἀνδρῶν
ᾔδεεν, οὕνεκα λάβρον ἐφέλκετο πένθος ἄλαστον.
In vain does his Cassandra implore the Trojans to take thought and rid themselves of the cloud of mind-damaging atê, ἀλλ᾽ ἤδη φράζεσθε … καὶ νεφέλην ἀπόθεσθε, φίλοι, βλαψίφρονος ἄτης (410–411). Elsewhere Tryphiodorus (454–461) makes Helen the victim of δολοφρονέουσα πολυφράδμων Ἀφροδίτη, the authoress of deception, guile and atê. The goddess stirs Helen towards the temple of Athena with the purpose of disclosing and thwarting the ruse of the wooden horse. In a scene modeled on Odyssey iv, Tryphiodorus’ Helen, charmed in her heart by guiles (463), mimicks the voices of the Achaean wives and arouses their hidden husbands (Ἀργείους ἐρέθουσα); the provocation is emotional and sexual in accordance with the Aphrodisian motivation. Helen, as a surrogate of Aphrodite, would have wrecked the Greek scheme, seducing another man (καί νυ κεν ἄλλον ἔθελγε γυνὴ δολόμητις, 487), had Athena not driven her away. Athena rebukes Helen for her betrayal and Cyprian atê, which makes the pothos for a foreign lover substitute the pothos for her daughter and the pity for her husband. Athena thwarts Helen’s apatê (491–497): [75]
“δειλαίη, τέο μέχρις ἀλιτροσύναι σε φέρουσι
καὶ πόθος ἀλλοτρίων λεχέων καὶ Κύπριδος ἄτη;
οὔποτε δ᾽ οἰκτείρεις πρότερον πόσιν οὐδὲ θύγατρα
Ἑρμιόνην ποθέεις; ἔτι δὲ Τρώεσσιν ἀρήγεις;
χάζεο καὶ θαλάμων ὑπερώιον εἰσαναβᾶσα
σὺν πυρὶ μειλιχίῳ ποτιδέχνυσο νῆας Ἀχαιῶν.”
ὣς φαμένη κενεὴν ἀπάτην ἐκέδασσε γυναικός.
Tryphiodorus concludes his Sack of Troy, building on atê and reconciling the opposites, fire and water, around its destiny. Troy, devoured by flames, becomes a μέγα σῆμα for its citizens; a great sign, indeed, that marks the ‘death’ and the ‘grave’ of their city. The ambiguous and ominous connotations of σῆμα emerge with great clarity. The funereal aspects of city-destroying atê are conclusive; they are signaled by the all-consuming fire. Xanthus attends the funeral; he laments and bursts into tears; he becomes a source of tears flowing into the sea, tears of no avail, tears mingling with the salty water of the marine expanse (682–684): [76]
αὐτοῦ καὶ μέγα σῆμα φίλοις ἀστοῖσιν ἐτύχθη
Ἴλιος αἰθαλόεσσα· πυρὸς δ᾽ ὀλεσίπτολιν ἄτην
Ξάνθος ἰδὼν ἔκλαυσε γόων ἁλιμυρέι πηγῇ
Tryphiodorus draws elements from ancient sources and genres as variegated as epic, lyric poetry and tragedy. I will dwell for a moment on his dramatization of the famous episode (454–496), originally narrated in Odyssey (iv 274–289). [77] It involves the ruinous and deceptive intervention of Aphrodite and Helen’s thwarted probing of the wooden horse. His touch on the fate of Anticlus (476–486; cf. Od. iv 285–288) is interesting. Tryphiodorus is familiar with archaic poetry; not only does he confer a pronounced role on atê in his Trojan poem, but also he and Ibycus are the only poets to include Cyanippus, the grandson of Adrastus, among the heroes who sailed to Troy (Ib. PMG 282.37 with sch. ad 37–39; Tryph. 159).
Tryphiodorus’ familiarity with Stesichorus, on the other hand, is affirmed on both linguistic and thematic levels in verses 491–497, cited above. His Athena reprimands Helen for indulging in erotic desire, πόθος, for a foreign man and his bed, and in the compass of a rhetorical question, wonders whether she feels any pity at all for her husband or pothos for her daughter, οὐδὲ θύγατρα Ἑρμιόνην ποθέεις (493–494). Pothos and potheô concurrently denote erotic and maternal love as well as their fatal conflict. This passage finds a direct analogy in Stesichorus’ Iliou Persis (S104, P. Oxy. 2619 fr.16) in the treatment of a traditional motif (desertion of country and/or family). The Stesichorean Helen, still in Troy (present tense: ποθέω), dwells on her longing for her daughter; ‘day and night,’ she says in first person singular, ‘I long for Hermione,’ Ἑρμιόναν … ποθέω…αἰγλοπόδαν (S104.10–12), [78] who perhaps resembles the immortals, ἀθανάτοι [ /σιν εἴκε]λον (9–10, suppl. Page). On her wedding day, the Odyssean Hermione looks like golden Aphrodite; [79] maybe another unhappy marriage is hinted at. Helen also speaks of abduction (ὑφαρπάγιμον, 13), roaming over the hill-tops, and a sense of bereavement for a child (κορυφαῖσι ἄπαις, rather than νάπαις? 16; cf. παίδα, 18). Sparse words gleaned from the extant text reaffirm her intention to refurbish her Iliadic image and reestablish her credentials as mother (cf. Od. iv 259–264). Yet the Stesichorean Helen uses a significant adverb, ‘truly,’ ἐτύμως (3)! This word is intimately associated with etymological and semantic accuracy, and ironically echoes the famous Palinodic verse, οὐκ ἔστ’ ἔτυμος λόγος οὗτος (PMGF 192). Applying his favorite and well-documented compositional technique, our lyric poet dramatizes Helen’s assumed emotions, and paints her ethography through a self-referential speech. Tryphiodorus employs these terms of affection (potheô, pothos), but incorporates them into the speech of Athena, who sternly censures Helen for her infidelity and mendacity. On the above evidence, we may recognize in the Stesichorean Iliou Persis the literary work on which Tryphiodorus modeled his narrative (491–496).
At this point we can return to our original question, the probable presence of ἀάω in the Stesichorean Iliou Persis. Nowhere in this or any other Stesichorean poem have we encountered a direct, verbatim reference to ἄτη and/or ἀάω. Scant remains, such as ]ματακα[ ⏑ ⏑ — (S105.4) or ]ματα[ (S110.2), are hopeless for our project, but tempting: could we perhaps discern behind these meager traces of letters a reference to ἄτα, the delusion that clouded the minds of the Trojans upon hearing Cassandra’s prophecy? [80] Does this reticence put the supplement ἄασεν/ ἆσεν (S89.5, Barrett) in jeopardy? Maybe yes, if we expect to find ἄτη expressis verbis. Maybe not, if we are ready to search for ἄτη behind veiled, occluded forms, such as synonyms, paraphrases or narrativizations of the underlying concept. Then we may be luckier than we thought. The ancient scholia (Eur. Or. 249: PMGF 223), for instance, motivate the adultery of the daughters of Tyndareos through the anger of Cypris. Tyndareos forgot to offer sacrifices to her of all gods, and in her anger she, originally the dispenser of ‘soothing gifts,’ made his daughters ‘twice-wed and thrice-wed and husband-deserters’ (Campbell, Greek Lyric III). Such deviating actions openly defy the societal norms or codes for female propriety and decency, and imply loss of self-control along with mental blindness; both fall within the sphere of influence and the authority of Aphodite, the goddess of aphrosynê. Her rancor entails seduction, lechery and sexual licence, no different from the machlosynê she offered to Paris when he praised her, succumbing to atê (Il. XXIV 28–30). The absence of words belonging literally to the linguistic field of ἄτη/ἀάω, either by chance or design, does not necessarily entail the absence of the concept itself and its underlying function.
To conclude: our initial question—is the mental blindness of the Trojans an accident?—receives a negative answer. Faraone verifies this from a different perspective: the Trojans behave as if their ‘state of mind was defective,’ indeed, but ‘one repeated theme of … legends about the ruse of the talismanic statue is the explicit or implicit denigration of the “foolish” enemy who is deceived by the ruse’; such stories focus on the ‘putative idiocy of the victims.’ [81] Returning to the Stesichorean Iliou Persis, we can argue that the overwhelming role of atê in the Trojan myth and archaic thought may not necessarily affirm the supplement ἄασεν/ἆσεν (Barrett), but works in its favor; it provides the challenge of Athena, an intellectual deity, to the Aphrodisian atê. This interpretation may contribute to our comprehension of the Stesichorean kirkos figuring in S88.20–21. I hope to show that atê is relevant to its function.

3. Kirkos: simile or omen?

The kirkos reference caps the exchange of perhaps two speeches comprised in S88 fr.1 col. i and ii, in which the Trojans engage in a passionate debate as regards the treatment of the wooden horse. The first speaker seeks to arouse the martial prowess of his fellow-citizens, counseling them to have confidence in their force and might (S88 fr. I col.i. 6–9), ]ντι βίαι τε καὶ αἰχμᾶι / ]πεποιθότες . ἀλλ’ ἄγε δή … ] ονες ἀγκυλοτόξοι (cf. ῥηξήνορα, 21). Εmploying a formula that signposts exhortation and transition to another subject or course of action, ἀλλ’ ἄγε δή (7), he summons the Trojans to be ready for war; he somehow associates Zeus’ decrees with the end of the war, ] τέλος εὐρύο[πα ] / ]υναις / π]ολέμου [τε]λευτά [ ] (16–18). He appeals to prudence, the wise mind, πυκιν[άς] τε φρ[έ]νας (19), of his countrymen, and mentions someone who excels in wisdom, μετέ]πρεπε καὶ πιν[υ]ται (24).
Words signifying fulfilment (τέλος, [τε]λευτά) and controversy (διάσταν, 11) point to the vital interplay of divine will and human discord; the survival of the city is contingent upon them. The design of Zeus is a traditional motif underlying the Trojan war. The death of heroes is causally interwoven with the fulfilment of Zeus’ boulê (Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή, Cypria: sch.A Il. I 5, F1.6–7, Davies 35). The ruinous nexus of divine telos and human eris recalls the proem of the Iliad (I 5–7):
Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή,
ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε
Ἀτρεΐδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς
This interpretive line [82] does not exclude the possibility of prophecy (μαντοσ]ύναις, 17), delivered not by Calchas, but rather a Trojan seer, either Helenus or Cassandra, who were hostile to the introduction of the horse into the city. [83] This speaker is called ‘first’ for reasons of convenience not of accuracy, since the cluster of words related to agora (S94, ἀγορά, ἀγέρθη, λόγον, ἀναστάς) hint at a heated debate. The bellicose tone of his speech evokes the offensive treatment and the probing of the wooden horse proposed in the Cyclic epics and the Odyssey. [84]
The extant text of S88 col. i is cryptic; the details of the Stesichorean treatment of the horse cannot be safely reconstituted; we are not even confident that there is a thematic connection between the first and the second column. [85] However, the extant ‘second’ speech (S88 fr. I col.ii) allows a more promising comparative study. On thematic grounds, mainly in view of his ruinous proposal, the ‘second’ speaker cannot be identified with the man ‘distinguished for his prudent and wise mind’ (col.i. 22–24). This ‘second’ speaker counterargues the aggressive proposal of the ‘first,’ and advises a respectful treatment of the horse, which ironically causes the ruin of Troy. Good counsel and wisdom are not features of this person, unless we credit the Stesichorean composition with the element of tragic reversal meant to subtly bring forward the notion of atê, and to contrast human fallibility with the designs of gods and aisa (S102.10), [κ]ατ’ αἶσαν. I shall pass over the main body of the second speech and come to the kirkos reference which concludes this particular speech (col. ii).

Stesichorus S88, col. ii. fr. 1+47

15        [ὣς] φά̣[τ]ο το.[
ἵ̣π̣[π]ο̣ν με..[
ω̣.[ ].. (.) [ ] φυ̣λλο̣φ[ορ-
πυκινα̣[ῖ]ς̣ πτερ[ύγεσσι
20        κίρκον τανυσίπ[τερον
[…]ες ἀνέκραγο̣ν̣[
The end of the speech and triad coincide at this point and the new beginning is marked by a regular formula, ὣς] φά[τ]ο; [86] there begins the deliberation and the weighing of proposals as regards the treatment of the horse. In the vicinity of ‘leaf-bearing,’or ‘garlanding,’ φυ̣λλο̣φ[ορ-, the poet inserts the disquieting appearance of a kirkos, a kind of hawk or falcon (LSJ s.v.). The poet fancies the bird’s thick and stretched-out wings and the fearful cries of obscure beings, identified either with the Trojans or with the starlings, another kind of bird. Scholars submit two different supplements for this verse, [Τρῶ]ες or [ψᾶρ]ες ἀνέκραγο̣ν̣[ (21).
The function of the Stesichorean kirkos is open to controversy: does this bird constitute part of a simile or an omen? Both options are well-attested in Homer, where this bird swoops down from the sky, fierce and swift, working as an agent of death and fate. Its work is succinctly encapsulated in the formulaic expression ‘it brings death to small birds,’ κίρκον, ὅ τε σμικρῇσι φόνον φέρει ὀρνίθεσσιν (Ιl. XVII 757). The kirkos performs rather elaborate and cunning attacks (Il. XXII 139–142), and figures often in similes; [87] only once does it appear in a divine omen. [88] Scholars, exploring its function in Stesichorus, vacillate between the two modes of activity, or admit the impasse; ‘Stesichorus was free to adapt Homeric phrases and motifs, with slight alterations …One cannot be more specific.’ [89]

3.1. Simile

Barrett, an exponent of the simile function, reads: ὣ δ’ [ἀ]πὸ in v.18, and ψᾶ]ρ̣ες ἀνέκραγο̣ν̣[. in v. 21, drawing attention to Tryphiodorus (ἅλωσις Ἰλίου 247–249): [90]
οἱ δ᾽ ὅτε τεχνήεντος ἴδον δέμας αἰόλον ἵππου,
θαύμασαν ἀμφιχυθέντες, ἅτ᾽ ἠχήεντες ἰδόντες
αἰετὸν ἀλκήεντα περικλάζουσι κολοιοί.
In favor of the simile alternative, Page argues that ‘they [sc. the Trojans], or some of them, put garlands on the Wooden Horse (φυ̣λλο̣φ[ορ-, ii 18). They, or some of them, flutter and shriek round the Wooden Horse like starlings finding a hawk in their company.’ [91] Page notes that the simile in Tryphiodorus is inept, for the Trojans are not flying from the Wooden Horse, yet one can restore the Stesichorean context in this way.
The elucidation of the specific Stesichorean passage using Tryphiodorus as guide, no matter how convenient this might be, seems to be challenged by the specific lyric passage. We can hardly assume that the Stesichorean Trojans-starlings all of a sudden find the horse among them and are struck with wonderment, especially since they have been debating the horse’s fate for a long time; the two speeches contained in S88 col. i and ii as well as the formula that marks the conclusion of the debate speak against it: in Stesichorus the kirkos scene caps the debate and postdates the first sight of the wondrous horse. Tryphiodorus adopts a different temporal framework. His Trojans are struck with surprise when they first spot the horse and before they engage in ἄκριτος βουλή (250), a phrase that echoes the Odyssean ἄκριτα πολλ’ ἀγόρευον (viii 505). The text of Tryphiodorus cited above bears a transparent logical incongruity, since the likely victims of the horse-eagle would be expected to clamor in confusion and terror, bemused by the horse. The starlings, vulnerable and weak, would naturally flee from the wondrous object instead of closing in about it in admiration. Surprisingly, Tryphiodorus pictures the Trojans-starlings as clamorous and ‘poured around,’ ἀμφιχυθέντες, that is, thronging about the horse-eagle, thus creating a subtle contrast with the Odyssean ἐκχύμενοι (viii 515); they draw nigh, triggering their fate. West correctly observes, ‘the Trojans on finding the horse are oddly said to throng around it.’ [92]
Tryphiodorus seems to construct an incongruous simile: a wooden horse, huge, immobile, stationed in the middle of the agora and encircled by a crowd of people, corresponds to or is likened with a carnivorous bird, flapping its wings; a bird that, against all reason and verisimilitude, attracts its future victims instead of repelling them. This simile defies the laws of nature and reason as portrayed in the Homeric similes, where the weaker birds, doves or jackdaws (peleiai or koloioi) cry in fear and flee in consternation, trying to evade their killer. I wonder what the motives of Tryphiodorus are. Is this twist of logic deliberate, meant to insinuate the intervention of divine authorities and the working of mental affliction, atê? This concept is embedded in the Trojan myth, underlining its causes and consequences, as we saw above, and plays a significant role in Tryphiodorus’ ἅλωσις Ἰλίου as well (310–315, 410–411, 491–497, 682–684). In their delusion, the Trojans fail to recognize in the horse the instrument of their imminent doom. This perverse simile may fit the fancy of Tryphiodorus, a third century AD poet, but not necessarily of Stesichorus, an archaic, ὁμηρικώτατος poet, who invested his characters with dignity derived from their offices and status.

3.2. Omen

With due caution, West reflects on the omen alternative: ‘18ff. perhaps describe a portent.’ He finds a precedent of the bird omen in the Stesichorean PMGF 209, and argues that ‘one is well enough in season when the horse enters Troy.’ West correlates the Stesichorean passage with Quintus (XII 11–20): Calchas summons the best chiefs and shares with them a σῆμα, in which a hawk chases a dove which it eventually catches by stealth. Interpreting the omen, Calchas urges the Greeks to take Troy by a stratagem. ‘The hawk in Quintus (ἴρηξ) hides in a bush: cf. Stes. line 18. Perhaps the [Stesichorean Trojans] (21 Τρῶ]ες?) see the κίρκος suddenly dart out of a bush, and exclaim [ἀνέκραγο̣ν̣[.]; ominous enough, even if it did not attack another bird.’ [93]
The two omens (apud Quintus and, presumably, Stesichorus) are inserted in different temporal frameworks and serve different purposes. The omen of Quintus is pro-Greek, didactic and serves a strategic purpose. By contrast, the assumed Stesichorean omen is pro-Trojan and seems to function as a last-minute warning of the impending ruin. If so, what are the sources of Stesichorus and which god dispatches the kirkos? Homer may prove helpful in this matter.
The sole Homeric example in which a kirkos figures as an omen crowns a cledonomancy (Od. xv 523–536). Telemachus praises the suitor Eurymachus, and concludes his speech with a prophetic condition: only Zeus knows if a bad day comes before the wedding, εἴ κέ σφι πρὸ γάμοιο τελευτήσει κακὸν ἦμαρ (523). As soon as he utters these words, a divine prodigy appears; it is a kirkos, the swift messenger of Apollo, which plucks a dove, thus anticipating the destiny of the suitors (Od. xv 525–528):
ὣς ἄρα οἱ εἰπόντι ἐπέπτατο δεξιὸς ὄρνις,
κίρκος, Ἀπόλλωνος ταχὺς ἄγγελος· ἐν δὲ πόδεσσι
τίλλε πέλειαν ἔχων, κατὰ δὲ πτερὰ χεῦεν ἔραζε
μεσσηγὺς νηός τε καὶ αὐτοῦ Τηλεμάχοιο.
Theoclymenus realizes that this is an omen, οἰωνὸν ἐόντα (532), and divines the end of the suitors (531–534). Telemachus wishes that these words be fulfilled, αἲ γὰρ τοῦτο, ξεῖνε, ἔπος τετελεσμένον εἴη (536). The appearance of the kirkos foreshadows the day of doom of the atasthaloi suitors, and, as with other omens, this one also coincides with the end of speeches, and is accompanied by a distinct vocal reaction expressing awe and consternation. [94] The appeareance of the Apollonian bird is a short version of the majestic omen sent by Zeus in Odyssey ii. Telemachus’ prayer that the suitors may perish inside the house is crowned with the emergence of a pair of eagles, dispatched into the agora by the wide-eyed or wide-shouting Zeus (Od. ii 146–152, 155–156):
ὣς φάτο Τηλέμαχος, τῷ δ᾽ αἰετὼ εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
ὑψόθεν ἐκ κορυφῆς ὄρεος προέηκε πέτεσθαι.
τὼ δ᾽ ἕως μέν ῥ᾽ ἐπέτοντο μετὰ πνοιῇσ᾽ ἀνέμοιο
πλησίω ἀλλήλοισι τιταινομένω πτερύγεσσιν·
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ μέσσην ἀγορὴν πολύφημον ἱκέσθην,
ἔνθ᾽ ἐπιδινηθέντε τιναξάσθην πτερὰ πυκνά
ἐς δ᾽ ἰδέτην πάντων κεφαλάς, ὄσσοντο δ᾽ ὄλεθρον·
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
θάμβησαν δ᾽ ὄρνιθας, ἐπεὶ ἴδον ὀφθαλμοῖσιν·
ὥρμηναν δ᾽ ἀνὰ θυμὸν ἅ περ τελέεσθαι ἔμελλον.
The two eagles swoop down from the mountains, flying as fast as the wind on outstretched wings. When they reach the many-voiced or wordy (πολύφημον, LSJ) gathering place, they circle and shake their wings, with a murderous look. The onlookers are startled, while the seer Halithersis reveals the meaning of the omen: a great calamity is bearing down on the suitors; Odysseus is nearby ‘sowing slaughter and death for these men,’ ἀλλά που ἤδη ἐγγὺς ἐὼν τοῖσδεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φυτεύει (165). Halithersis connects past and present under the umbrella of telos words: all things would be fulfilled for Odysseus as the seer had declared when the Argives departed for Ilion. [95] This passage is studded with a cluster of cognates playing upon ‘flying,’ ‘stretching the wings,’ ‘twirling,’ and ‘thickness of plumage’ (πέτεσθαι, ἐπέτοντο, τιταινομένω πτερύγεσσιν, ἐπιδινηθέντε, τιναξάσθην πτερὰ πυκνά), and foreshadows the impending return of the master who will take revenge and regain his house, property and woman by stealth and might. What a coincidence!
Stesichorus seems to have modelled his kirkos-scene on the Odyssean omens cited above. Even though in condensed form, he attributes to the kirkos the distinct features of the two eagles, namely, their thick and outstretched wings, πυκινα̣[ῖ]ς̣ πτερ[ύγεσσι, κίρκον τανυσίπ[τερον (S88.19–20). The Stesichorean kirkos stands out for its velocity and formidable looks. The circling motion of the Odyssean eagles, ἐπιδινηθέντε, conveys a sinister air; so does the apprenticeship of the Stesichorean Epeius, who mastered his deadly craft alongside the eddies, παρά … δίνας, of the Simoeis, a river of ambiguous function. Not unlike the Odyssean omens, the lyric omen, too, appears in the assembly, marking the end of speeches and the beginning of the crucial deliberation. The Odyssean ἐγγύς proves too literal and imminent; as Odysseus is nearby ready to ‘plant murder and the fate of death’ (Od. ii 165), so do the best of the Achaeans, who lurk in ambush and disguise right in the middle of the agora inside the wooden horse, bringing murder and death, Τρώεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες (Od. iv 273; viii 513), and ready to avenge the stolen bride and riches. This act of revenge was foreshadowed a long time ago, when the Greeks first entered the ships, Τρώεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες; at that time Zeus had nodded in assent and sent his lightning as an auspicious omen, ἐναίσιμα σήματα φαίνων (Il. II 350–353); the analogy of the ships and the wooden horse had subtly emerged already in the Iliad. The Stesichorean Greeks stand for the Homeric kirkos and embody its rapacious nature. Upon seeing the hawk with the long, stretched and thick wings, the lyric Trojans shriek in fear and dismay, [Τρῶ]ες ἀνέκραγο̣ν̣ (S88 col. ii. 21); victims and killers, bird and humans are caught in the grip of the onomatopoeic verb ἀνακράζω. [96] Apollo, the avowed champion of the Trojans, the god who sires Hector and rescues Hecuba (Stes. PMGF 198, 224), [97] dispatches his sacred bird as an ominous sign to alarm the Trojans and restore their mental vision before it is too late. Yet the god of prophecy fails to lend credibility to his symbol. He cannot override the decrees of fate, and avert a devastation meant to be accomplished κατ’ αἶσαν (S102.10). [98] In the course of their disputation, the Trojans are driven by the fallacy of being able to shape their own destiny.
If the above reconstruction has a modicum of truth, Stesichorus manipulates divine symbols, introducing a bird omen which goes unheeded. The rescue efforts of Apollo are aborted, and as soon as the Danaans, eager for the fray, jump out of the horse, Apollo, Artemis and Aphrodite leave the city, thus signaling its collapse (S105). [99] The comportment and the end of the Trojans are no different from that of the Odyssean suitors: both commit atasthaliai, and clouded by atê, fail to decipher the divine omens; finally they succumb to their fate, their aisa, and the will of the gods. The epic and the lyric narratives are interwoven with words signifying end and fulfilment. The recurrent telos-words (τελευτηθῆναι, τελεῖται) in the Odyssean omens cited above as well as the Stesichorean insistence on the end of war and the role of Zeus the Fulfiller (τέλος εὐρύο[πα Ζεύς … πο]λέμου [τε]λευτά, S88 col.i.16,17), recall the language of prophecy and divine working. The telos motif in the Trojan tale, known from the Cypria and the proem of the Iliad, here finds its completion: reason is dimmed and the horse is dragged onto the acropolis, as fated, τῇ περ δὴ καὶ ἔπειτα τελευτήσεσθαι ἔμελλεν / αἶσα γὰρ ἦν (Od. viii 510–511). The gloomy connotations of aisa spread over telos, foreshadowing its negative and inevitable working.

4. Wooden horse, κοιλος λοχος and womb imagery

Stesichorus S88, col. ii. fr. 1+47

5         ]τ̣ονδ[. ] .δ .. υκλ . [ ].μ.ε.[
]πρὸς ναὸν ἐ̣ς̣ ἀκρ[όπο]λ̣[ι]ν̣ σ̣πεύδοντες̣ [
]Τρῶες πολέες̣ τ̣᾽ ἐπίκ̣[ου]ρ̣οι
]ἕλκετε μη̣[δ]ὲ λόγο[ις π]ε̣ι̣θώμεθ᾽ ὅπως π̣[
]τονδεκα. [ ].νι. [ ] …
10      ]ἁ̣γν̣ὸν ἄ[γαλ]μ̣α [.] .. αὐτεῖ καται̣-
σχ]ύ̣ν̣ωμε̣[ν ἀ]ε̣ι̣κ[ελί]ω̣ς̣ [·
[μᾶ]νιν δε̣[ ] ἁ̣ζώμ̣εσ̣θ̣᾽ ἀ̣ν̣ά̣σ̣[σας
[…].η̣σον̣[ ]..[.]ρ [
[. ] [.]..[ ]..α̣[ ].[
In this fragment there appears a speaker, whom I tentatively call the ‘second.’ In contrast to the ‘first,’ he urges his fellow Trojans and their auxiliaries not to be persuaded by arguments, λόγοις, which promote aggressive modes of action. He advises the Trojans to wheel the horse in haste onto the temple and the acropolis, and dedicate the pure monument (or ‘it as a pure monument’) to the queen (Athena). This unidentified speaker advises his fellow-citizens not to treat the horse in a shameful manner right there—αὐτεῖ—but to revere the goddess and dread her wrath. The insistence on haste and local specification (πρὸς ναὸν ἐ̣ς̣ ἀκρ[όπο]λ̣[ι]ν̣ σ̣πεύδοντες̣, 6) suggests that the debate takes place by the seashore, and not on the acropolis as in the Odyssey (viii 502–504) and Apollodorus (Epit. V.16). The traces of ‘wheel’ (S88 col.ii.5, κυκλ; S127, ευτροχ) strengthen the presence of ἕλκω (‘to drag’or ‘haul’); the synonymous ἐρύω [100] regularly describes the transference of the horse up to the citadel (Od. viii 508). The lyric speaker exhorts the Trojans to pull up the well-wheeled horse. [101] The provision of the horse with wheels is corroborated by early art. [102] This reconstruction of the Stesichorean scene supports the plausibility of ἕλκετε over ἔλθετε (8). Even though the fragmentary state of our lyric speech does not allow us to itemize the arguments submitted in it, the appeal to the Trojans to refrain from insulting the presumably sacred object provides some hints of intertextual impact. The speaker, advising respectful treatment and dedication, submits an alternative that corresponds to the third of the Cyclic Iliou Persis. The Trojans, suspicious of the horse, deliberate whether this should be thrown down a precipice, burned, or dedicated to Athena; the last proposal prevails (Procl. Chrest. 3–7, Davies 62):
ὡς τὰ περὶ τὸν ἵππον οἱ Τρῶες ὑπόπτως ἔχοντες περιστάντες βουλεύονται ὅ τι χρὴ ποιεῖν· καὶ τοῖς μὲν δοκεῖ κατακρημνίσαι αὐτόν, τοῖς δὲ καταφλέγειν, οἱ δὲ ἱερὸν αὐτὸν ἔφασαν δεῖν τῇ Ἀθηνᾷ ἀνατεθῆναι· καὶ τέλος νικᾷ ἡ τούτων γνώμη.
Significantly, this also corresponds to the third option submitted in the Odyssey. The Trojans weigh three different alternatives, (a) pierce the wood with pitiless bronze, (b) drag it and throw it down the precipice, or (c) let the big statue be a great joy for the gods (506–509). The last option would be the end, for it was fated that the city would perish when it received the big wooden horse where the best of the Achaeans were sitting within itself, bringing murder and the fate of death to the Trojans (viii 506–513; cf. Apollod. Epit. 5.17):
τρίχα δέ σφισιν ἥνδανε βουλή,
ἠὲ διατμῆξαι κοῖλον δόρυ νηλέϊ χαλκῷ,
ἢ κατὰ πετράων βαλέειν ἐρύσαντας ἐπ᾽ ἄκρης,
ἢ ἐάαν μέγ᾽ ἄγαλμα θεῶν θελκτήριον εἶναι
τῇ περ δὴ καὶ ἔπειτα τελευτήσεσθαι ἔμελλεν·
αἶσα γὰρ ἦν ἀπολέσθαι, ἐπὴν πόλις ἀμφικαλύψῃ
δουράτεον μέγαν ἵππον, ὅθ᾽ εἵατο πάντες ἄριστοι
Ἀργεῖοι Τρώεσσι φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες.
On account of its state of transmission, the lyric text is reticent as regards the number and the content of the Stesichorean alternatives. We discern two opposing views at best, although we cannot specify the literary sources on which our poet draws. It remains unclear whether he models his poem on Arctinus’ Iliou Persis or the Homeric Odyssey. On the evidence of S88 col.i and ii, we may at least point out an instance of deviation. Stesichorus departs from the Odyssean version as he locates the debate by the sea and not on the acropolis; [103] the adverb αὐτεῖ is the precursor of the Vergilian litus (Aen. II 28). Although we ignore the local and temporal setting in which Arctinus situates his debate, the action denoted by κατακρημνίσαι depends on one prerequisite, the transference of the horse first onto a lofty place, the acropolis being a plausible candidate. Hence Stesichorus seems to adhere to this Cyclic version. [104]

4.1. Identity of speakers

The identity of the two Stesichorean speakers (S88 col.i and ii) escapes us, yet we may form a rough idea about their party connexions and nationality. The admonition of the ‘second’ speaker, in particular, formulated in the first person plural, ‘let us not dishonor the horse treating it in a shameful manner,’ suggests that this man is not Sinon, as in Tryphiodorus (ἕλκετε ἐς ἀκρόπολιν, 301–303), but rather a Trojan, although hardly Laocoon. [105] The admonition to respect the wooden horse and dedicate it to Athena is discordant with Laocoon’s well-documented and unswervingly hostile attitude, for which he incurred a miserable fate in the Iliou Persis (Procl. Chrest. 3–12, Davies 62; Apollod. Epit. 5.17): in the belief that they are delivered from the war, the Trojans turn to festivity, during which there emerges a teras: two serpents kill Laocoon and one of his two sons. Laocoon is punished for being the exponent of aggressive actions which threaten to foil Athena’s scheme. [106] The Laocoon story recurs in later epic compositions, with some variations as to the number of sons killed and the divine agent that sent the serpents. [107]

4.2. The Stesichorean lochos and its model(s)

The wooden horse recurs in three badly mutilated Stesichorean fragments. The poet refers to it either as ευτροχ, ‘good-wheeled’ (S127; Quint. Sm. XII 424–425); or as τόνδε λόχο. [ (S103.2), and describes how the Danaans leapt eagerly from the [wooden] horse (S105.9):
( – ?) δουρατέου] Δαναοὶ μεμ[αότε]ς ἐκθόρον ἵ[π]που
This fragment derives from the conjoining of 2619 fr.18 and 2803 fr.11, proposed by West and Führer, [108] and has given rise to controversy with respect firstly to the reading of μεμ[αότες, the final syllable of which fits the sense of the sentence, but not the papyric evidence (μεμ[αότας), and secondly to the reading ἵ[π]που. [109] Scholars sustain the proposed combination and derivation from a single poem, even if with skepticism, on the grounds that the leap of the Danaans out of the horse would thus appear too early in a poem narrating the destruction of Troy, that is, in verses 113–130 (stichometric Ā in S133.9, recto); besides, such a reference would be casual, considering the importance of this artifact. [110] I wonder if we can make an appeal to the well-attested practice of other choral poets as well, such as Pindar and Bacchylides, who occasionally open up their mythic section, narrating first the closure of their paradigm, and then in a ring composition proceed to its initial stages. The proposed combination has the benefit of yielding an important verse, intricately associated with the Trojan myth and functioning as a vehicle of intriguing connotations; λόχος and ἐκθόρον have diachronically picked up complex semantic associations, becoming vehicles of a pervasive imagery on which I focus next.
Homer provides a good start. Odysseus asks Demodocus to sing the story of the wooden horse which Epeius constructed with the help of Athena, [111] and which Odysseus led as dolos to the acropolis, filling it up with the men who sacked Ilion (Od. viii 492–495):
ἀλλ’ ἄγε δὴ μετάβηθι καὶ ἵππου κόσμον ἄεισον
δουρατέου, τὸν Ἐπειὸς ἐποίησεν σὺν Ἀθήνη,
ὅν ποτ’ ἐς ἀκρόπολιν δόλον ἤγαγε δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
ἀνδρῶν ἐμπλήσας, οἵ ῥ’ Ἴλιον ἐξαλάπαξαν
Demodocus begins his enframed song from the apoplous of the Greek ships, and then with a great leap forward, lands in the middle of the Trojan assembly, agora, held on the acropolis. The Trojans have dragged (ἐρύσαντο) the horse onto the citadel, while the Achaeans sit in it around Odysseus, covered by the horse (κεκαλυμμένοι ἵππῳ). The horse is stationed there, while the Trojans, seated around it, deliver many undecided orations (Od. viii 502–506):
Ἀργεῖοι, τοὶ δ’ ἤδη ἀγακλυτὸν ἀμφ’ Ὀδυσῆα
εἵατ’ ἐνὶ Τρώων ἀγορῇ κεκαλυμμένοι ἵππῳ.
αὐτοὶ γάρ μιν Τρῶες ἐς ἀκρόπολιν ἐρύσαντο
ὣς ὁ μὲν ἑστήκει, τοὶ δ᾽ ἄκριτα πόλλ᾽ ἀγόρευον
ἥμενοι ἀμφ᾽ αὐτόν.
Enfolding in its belly the crouching Argive soldiers and enfolded by the bemused and undecided Trojans, the carved and cavernous horse forms the centerpiece of the closely-packed gathering. The enemies on both sides are arranged in a geometrical structure that suggests inescapability, that is, two concentric circles, with Odysseus in its innermost part, in its kernel. The vocal debate of the Trojans, sitting in the open agora with divided views, is counter-mirrored by the silence and concord of the invisible audience sitting in the horse’s dark interior. The activity of debate is counteracted by the strategic inactivity of the Greeks who lie in ambush, arms in hands.
The Odyssean narrative rests on an intriguing use of elements. One is the ambiguous verb (ἀμφι)καλύπτω, which conveys the concept of ‘covering about,’ and is associated with the ruinous effects of Moira, death, eros, pain, and old age; only rarely is it used of divine protection. The implications of kalyptein are visualized in the effacement of the Phaeacian city, enveloped by a huge mountain and punished by Poseidon for offering safe convoy to men, and fulfilling the nostos of Odysseus (Od. viii 569; xiii 152, 158, 177). In the case of the horse which carries in its belly the band of armed soldiers, ἀμφικαλύπτω subtly takes on the connotations of ‘covering about a fetus,’ soon to prove an agent of death and fate. The wooden horse, pregnant and heavy with adult fetuses, will reach its term when embraced by the asty. It was fated that the city should perish upon ‘covering’ the wooden horse along with its human cargo, the best of the Achaeans, who were bringing murder and the fate of death to the Trojans, φόνον καὶ κῆρα φέροντες (513). Functioning as foster-mothers, the Trojans adopt the deceptive artifact and the male fetuses that lurk inside its uterus, waiting to ‘be born’ as perfect, mature soldiers. A double and overlapping impregnation is alluded to here; the horse that gestates adult and sinister fetuses can be imagined to impregnate the city, which receives it within its ‘enclosure.’ This substitute pregnancy and child-birth prefigures the ruin of Troy.
The laws of nature are inverted and the boundaries between life and death are blurred ever since Odysseus filled (ἐμπλήσας, 495) the horse’s belly with armed men. Interestingly, the verbs ἐμπίμπλημι and πίμπλημι, which Aristotle will associate with the pregnancy of females, [112] is linked with νηδύς in a gruesome scene in which Odysseus again plays a leading role. It involves the cannibalistic dinner of a monstrous one-eyed creature, the Cyclops, who fills his huge belly with human flesh and milk, and lies down within his cave, stretched among the sheep (Od. ix 296–298):
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ Κύκλωψ μεγάλην ἐμπλήσατο νηδὺν
ἀνδρόμεα κρέ᾽ ἔδων καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἄκρητον γάλα πίνων,
κεῖτ᾽ ἔντοσθ᾽ ἄντροιο τανυσσάμενος διὰ μήλων.
The Cyclops scene forms the inverted analogy of the wooden horse. The Greeks die in the Cyclops’ cave, a funereal vessel, filling his big cavernous belly with their flesh. By contrast, the Greeks, with whom the wooden horse is filled, wait to be ‘reborn’ and start their massacre. The infernal nuances of the horse, which oscillates between life and death, are subtly hinted at in the Odyssey. During his meeting with Achilles in the Underworld, Odysseus narrates the ruse of the horse and the descent of the Greeks into it using a verb that implies its big size, εἰς ἵππον κατεβαίνομεν (xi 523). [113] The Greeks ‘went down’ into the cavern of the horse, while Odysseus controls this substitute child-birth, opening and closing the thick lochos, ἐμοὶ δ’ ἐπὶ πάντ’ ἐτέταλτο / ἠμὲν ἀνακλῖναι πυκινὸν λόχον ἠδ’ ἐπιθεῖναι (524–525); creation and de-creation mingle intricately in this picture. Tryphiodorus will use the participle ἀνακλίνασα (389) to describe Athena’s midwifery and her role in this delivery.
A second intriguing element is the Odyssean womb imagery, alluded to by words suggesting ‘cavity’. Demodocus sings how the sons of the Achaeans stormed the city, jumping from the horse and leaving their cavernous ambush (Od. viii 514–516):
Ἤειδεν δ᾽ ὡς ἄστυ διέπραθον υἷες Ἀχαιῶν
ἱππόθεν ἐκχύμενοι, κοῖλον λόχον ἐκπρολιπόντες.
Ἄλλον δ᾽ ἄλλῃ ἄειδε πόλιν κεραϊζέμεν αἰπήν…
The Greeks lie in ambush within a hollow wooden artifact significantly called κοῖλον δόρυ (507) or κοῖλος λόχος (515). The adjective κοῖλος also qualifies the ships with which the horse is so often assimilated. It is cognate with κοιλία, means hollow and internal, and is used of the cavities in the body, including the womb of females (νηδύς). The womb imagery is congruous with the semantics of λόχος, which signifies ambush, any armed band or troop, any body of people united for a purpose, and most importantly, child-birth (LSJ). Here we witness a rotten and inverted child-birth of mature men ready to kill. The ambiguity of (ἀμφι)καλύπτω is reaffirmed as it produces the image of double and overlapping gestation. The enclosure of the horse within the city walls signals its due time, and the sons of the Achaeans, reenacting and simulating child-birth, pour out of the wooden womb.The fatal progeny issues in a distinct liquid metaphor by which the process of delivery is visualized. The ancient scholia (Od. viii 513–516) note that by ἐκχύμενοι (< ἐκχέω), the poet produces enargeia (clearness, vivid description, LSJ). [114] Plausible as this might be, I hope to have shown that the Odyssean passage is highly allusive. Homer engineers the image of an ominous pregnancy and child-birth, exploiting the connotations of ἐμπίμπλημι, (ἀμφι)καλύπτω, ἐκχέω and κοῖλος λόχος.
Lochos and the inherent womb imagery is the male answer to the unique female privilege, that is, pregnancy and childbearing. A female goddess, born not from a mother’s womb but from a father’s head, inspires the man ‘who makes’ (Ἐπειός) and an arch-trickster, who stands for hatred and pain (Ὀδυσσεύς < ὀδύσσομαι, ὀϊζύς), with the device of the wooden lochos so as to punish the infringements of the adulterous lechos of a woman who personifies destruction (Ἑλένη < ἑλεῖν). Espousing the precepts of their motherless and childless champion, the Greeks apply dolos, mimic child-birth, and earn their independence from the genos of females; the reversal of gender roles centers on this wooden artifact. The Odyssean Helen emerges as a μῆτις figure, a doublette of Odysseus; she administers drugs that relieve the pain of grieving heroes (νηπενθές, Οd. iv 221) and drugs linked with cunning (μητιόεντα, 227). It is her own husband, Menelaus, who dissolves Helen’s web of deception, and reveals her sinister role at Troy: she went thrice around the horse, touching its hollow lochos, κοῖλον λόχον ἀμφαφόωσα (iv 277). Exploiting her charm and imitating the voices of the Achaean wives, Helen, the mother who abandoned the fruit of her own womb for the sake of a man, touches and tampers with the horse’s belly. She attempts to seduce the hidden Achaeans and ‘induce labor’: the wooden horse, heavy with armed fetuses, is implicitly invited to discharge its human cargo. Odysseus restrains his troop, and silences a man with the significant name Anticlus, the ‘one who goes against glory.’ [115] The covert invitation to sex and the threatened child-birth is foiled in collaboration with Athena. Helen fails to empty the horse’s womb of the best of the Achaeans who ‘filled’ it. Athena and her male protégées reverse the laws of nature by this abnormal conception and procreation.
The Hesiodic lochos is invested with similar connotations: Ouranos incarcerates the offspring he begot by Gaia in her hiding place, Γαίης ἐν κευθμῶνι (Th. 158). Gaia, groaning and bursting with the children thronging in her belly, devises ‘a bad technê’ (156–160). Cronus consents to ‘reap’ his father’s genitals and his mother hides him and sets him in a lochos, εἷσε δε μιν κρύψασα λόχῳ (174). When the ‘harvest’ time comes, Cronus stretches his hand out of his lochos, ἐκ λοχέοιο (178), and with a sickle lops off his father’s genitals. Gaia’s keuthmon and lochos, the places of hiding and ambush, are her very own womb. Cronus is quasi-reborn from his mother’s womb-lochos, and child-birth is symbolically reenacted. [116]
Child delivery and keuthmon unite in Stesichorus (Ger. S7): Erytheia gives birth to Eurytion ἐν κευθμῶνι πέτρας. The imagery of pregnancy and child-birth fleetingly recurs in his Iliou Persis when he mentions λόχος (S103.2), and describes the leap of the Greeks in a telling manner, (-?) δουρατέου[ Δαναοὶ μεμαό]τες ἐκθόρον ἵ[π]που (S105.9). He uses a verb, ἐκθρῴσκω, which means ‘to jump out,’ but is also linked with sexuality and procreation, as proven by its cognates (ἐνθορεῖν, ἔνθορος, θορός, θορή, θοραῖος, LSJ s.v.). Hesiod employs ἐξέθορε to designate the birth of Chrysaor and Pegasus from the neck of decapitated Medusa (Th. 280–281; sch. Lyc. 842.1b–843.4a). In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the verb in the sense of ‘to come from the womb, to be born’ (LSJ), describes the birth of Apollo, ἐκ δ᾽ ἔθορε πρὸ φόως δέ, θεαὶ δ᾽ ὀλόλυξαν ἅπασαι (119). [117] The goddesses attending his birth raise a ritual cry, while the divine son jumps out into the light, a variation of ‘come to light,’ used of child-birth and the work of Eileithyia, the divine midwife. [118] The new-born baby abandons the darkness of an enclosed bodily cavity, his mother’s womb, and enters the sunlight of the external and open world. In Hippocratic medical literature, the verb is linked with child-birth and heredity: wicked ethos, an inherited feature, accompanies man from the moment he jumps out of the impure womb blood of his mother, ὅλος ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ γενετῆς νοῦσος ἐστί … ἐκ μητρῴων γὰρ λύθρων ἐξέθορε τοιοῦτος. [119] Athena’s birth from Zeus’ head is almost exclusively described with forms of ἐκθρώσκω. [120] Unfortunately we cannot tell if the verb ὄρουσεν, attested in the papyric commentary on the Stesichorean birth of Athena (PMGF 233), τε]ύχεσι λαμπομέν[…..] ὄρουσεν ἐπ’ εὐρεῖαν χθ[ό]να, is a genuine citation of the original verse, or a synonym of another verb—why not ἐξέθορε perhaps?—especially in view of the synonymous infinitive ἀναπηδῆσαι (sch. A.R. IV 1310, p.133W.), which renders whatever Stesichorus did write. On the above evidence, we may infer that Stesichorus chose the verb ἐξέθορε in his Iliou Persis on account of its semantic potential, and most significantly, its association with procreation and child-birth.
The birth imagery, vivid and explicit, continues its career in later treatments of the Trojan myth. Famous is the contra naturam birth in the rhesis of Agamemnon in the homonymous tragedy. In a climactic manner, Aeschylus links a series of consecutive anomalous births and transformations of the progeny of this horse. Troy is levelled to the ground by the Argive beast; the nestling of the horse (neossos hippou), the shield-bearing warriors, and the carnivorous lion, which jumps over the tower and licks kings’ blood until it has had its fill (Aes. Ag. 823–828):
καὶ γυναικὸς οὕνεκα
πόλιν διημάθυνεν Ἀργεῖον δάκος,
ἵππου νεοσσός, ἀσπιδηφόρος λεώς,
πήδημ᾽ ὀρούσας ἀμφὶ Πλειάδων δύσιν·
ὑπερθορὼν δὲ πύργον ὠμηστὴς λέων
ἄδην ἔλειξεν αἵματος τυραννικοῦ.
This abnormal child-birth of bloody males cannot be uncoupled from the ambiguous lochos in the parodos of the same tragedy. The reference to lochos crowns the omen of the two eagles which devour a hare, pregnant with many fetuses. These eagles, identified with the two Atreidae, obstruct the hare from completing her last course, λοισθίων δρόμων, i.e. child-birth, λόχος (119–120; Suppl. 677). The ominous connotations of λοίσθιος and λόχος combine as Aeschylus, in a remarkable show of ‘amphibological dexterity,’ [121] employs λόχος to describe both the thwarted child-birth of the cowering animal and Iphigeneia’s sacrifice (Ag. 134–136):
οἴκτωι γὰρ ἐπίφθονος Ἄρτεμις ἁγνὰ
πτανοῖσιν κυσὶ πατρὸς
αὐτότοκον πρὸ λόχου μογερὰν πτάκα θυομένοισιν
In a context studded with sacrificial terms, the twin eagles-Atreidae perform a corrupt sacrifice, be it of the hare and her fetuses before their birth (πρὸ λόχου), and/or of a human child (i.e. αὐτὸν τὸν τόκον) either in front of the army (πρὸ λόχου) or, I would add, before experiencing the nuptial bed and childbearing. [122] The pretext of Iphigeneia’s wedding to Achilles was a Cyclic motif (Procl. Cypria 59–60, Davies 32), probably employed by Stesichorus, hinted at by Aeschylus by means of the ambiguous proteleia (227), and borrowed by Euripides (PMGF 217. 25–27). The Aeschylean omen inverts the epic image of the wooden device, pregnant with adult ‘babies,’ which will make a grand exit from the horse’s womb to kill the ‘children’ of Troy. The deadly contest between males and females permeates the Aeschylean trilogy and centers on a perverse use of bed and birth, of lechos and lochos. The conflict is put to rest by the intervention of masculine, motherless and un-nursed Ἀθηνᾶ (< ἀ-priv. + θάω, EGen. 134.2–5).
Euripides, the tragedian who dwells on the ruin of Troy and the plight of her female residents, resumes the imagery of pregnancy in unequivocal terms, pressing the limits between metaphor and reality with words such as βάρος (see Plotin. Enn. III 8.8.34, βεβαρημένος), which emphasize the physical symptoms of pregnancy (Tro. 9–12):
ὁ γὰρ Παρνάσιος
Φωκεὺς Ἐπειὸς μηχαναῖσι Παλλάδος
ἐγκύμον᾽ ἵππον τευχέων συναρμόσας
πύργων ἔπεμψεν ἐντός, ὀλέθριον βάρος.
Lycophron also builds on the ambiguity of lochos, τὸν ὠδίνοντα μορμωτὸν λόχον (Alex. 342), describing the birth pangs of the wooden horse. [123] Via Greek and Latin literature, [124] the womb imagery reaches later epic. Τryphiodorus (57–64), exploiting the Euripidean simile of the horse and the ship (Tro. 538–539), draws an analogy between the ships of Phereclus and the horse of Epeius, [125] fusing their features: the horse is assimilated to the ships and its sides are likened to a hollow gastêr. Ship and horse reverse the beneficial use of technê, turning into instruments of death (62–64):
ποίει δ᾽ εὐρυτάτῃς μὲν ἐπὶ πλευρῇς ἀραρυῖαν
γαστέρα κοιλήνας, ὁπόσον νεὸς ἀμφιελίσσης
ὀρθὸν ἐπὶ στάθμην μέγεθος τορνώσατο τέκτων.
Pregnancy and child-birth remain at the center of Tryphiodorus’ vision (382–395). The Trojans haul onto the acropolis the horse that was heavy inside, βεβαρημένον ἔνδοθεν ἵππον (357). His Cassandra, in a maenadic ecstasy, speaks of the birth pangs of Hecuba’s dreams, and of the oncoming λόχος of brave and adult men, whom the horse will deliver, τέξεται. The verb θρῴσκω again carries the implicit image of birth: the fighters jump on the ground, ἐπὶ χθόνα δ᾽ ἄρτι θορόντες … ὁρμήσουσι τελειότατοι. With a cluster of words evoking child-birth, Cassandra describes the birth of men from a horse that experiences a hard labor. Eileithyia and Athena assist in the delivery. The virgin goddess, who lays waste to cities, functions as a midwife in a child-birth that causes many tears. In this capacity, Athena opens the horse’s filled womb, and as the goddesses at the birth of Apollo (HHAp. 119), she also emits a cry, ritual perhaps, [126] when the horse gives birth (386–390):
οὐ γὰρ ἐπ᾽ ὠδίνεσσι μογοστόκον ἵππον ἀνεῖσαι
ἀνδράσι τικτομένοισιν ἐπισχήσουσι γυναῖκες,
αὐτὴ δ᾽ Εἰλείθυια γενήσεται, ἥ μιν ἔτευξε·
γαστέρα δὲ πλήθουσαν ἀνακλίνασα βοήσει
μαῖα πολυκλαύτοιο τόκου πτολίπορθος Ἀθήνη.
Tryphiodorus echoes the Odyssean liquid metaphor, ἱππόθεν ἐκχύμενοι, when he describes how the kings flowed from the carved belly, γλαφυρῆς ἀπὸ γαστέρος ἔρρεον ἵππου, like bees ‘poured around,’ ἀμφιχυθεῖσαι (533–537); ship and horse are assimilated through γλαφυρός. It is no accident that he also uses the adverb χύδην, a cognate of χέω, to picture the aborted birth of the Trojan babies, γαστέρος ὠμοτόκοιο χύδην ὠδῖνα μεθεῖσαι (556–557).

4.3. Μεσόνυξ and its origin.

I will conclude my study of the Stesichorean Iliou Persis by exploring μεσόνυξ, a hapax word largely overlooked, to the best of my knowledge. Herodian is our unique source of information. He preserves μεσόνυξ (gen. μεσόνυχος), which he attributes to Stesichorus, and attaches to it an explanation of philosophico-scientific orientation, discerning in it Pythagorean influence: ‘one of the seven planets is named μεσόνυξ by the Pythagoreans; Stesichorus mentions it,’ he declares (PMGF 259): [127]
μεσόνυξ μεσόνυχος
(εἷς τῶν ἑπτὰ πλανήτων παρὰ τοῖς Πυθαγορείοις ὀνομάζεται, μέμνηται Στησίχορος)
It is common knowledge that Stesichorus’ vita has been modified so as to serve the particular interests of various ethnic and religious groups; hence his biographical data are the result of bias; the presumed names and the occupation of the members of Stesichorus’ family testify to the popularity of such a policy within certain circles. Stesichorus was a great asset, indeed! The Pythagoreans play a significant role in this manipulation. [128] This naturalizing process, however, sounds anachronistic, in view of the fact that Pythagoras arrives in Croton around 530 BC, long after Stesichorus’ death. This renders the personal and direct contact of Stesichorus with the author of this movement highly improbable. However, Burkert strikes a compromise, postulating ‘a certain amount of coincidence in place and time,’ ‘though the epoch of Stesichorus is earlier than that of Pythagoras.’ [129] In spite of all this, the occult Pythagorean circles are reticent, and Herodian’s dictum cannot be corroborated. Hence, it is legitimate to search for different interpretations.
It is true that ancient poets were interested in the divisions of time, of the night, in particular (PMGF 268 = sch. Eur. Rhes. 5); they were also fascinated and terrified by the occurrence of unusual physical phenomena such as the eclipse of the sun. Stesichorus and Pindar lamented this, ‘speaking of “the most conspicuous star stolen away” ‘ (Campbell, Greek Lyric III, p. 183), and of the night that fell at mid-day, μέσῳ ἄματι νύκτα γινομέναν (PMGF 271 = Plut. De fac. in orbe lun. 19.931e; Plin. N.H. 2.54). I wonder if μεσόνυξ conveys the visual result of celestial phenomena of this sort, the darkness of eclipse. No matter how attractive this approach is, I think the word finds an equally if not more convincing interpretation in the compass of the Cyclic tradition.
The Cyclic Mikra Ilias proves instructive by offering an interesting temporal indication as regards the sack of Troy. The relevant information originates from the historian Callisthenes, who hands down to us a one-verse quotation from this epic poem: [130]
Καλλισθένης ἐν β’ τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν (FGrHist. 124 F10A) οὕτως γράφει· “ἑάλω μὲν ἡ Τροία Θαργηλιῶνος μηνός, ὡς μέν τινες τῶν ἱστορικῶν, ιβ’ ἱσταμένου, ὡς δὲ ὁ τὴν μικρὰν Ἰλιάδα, φθίνοντος. διορίζει γὰρ αὐτὸς τὴν ἅλωσιν φάσκων συμβῆναι τότε τὴν κατάληψιν, ἡνίκα
νὺξ μὲν ἔην μέσση, λαμπρὰ δ᾽ ἐπέτελλε σελήνη.
μεσονύκτιος δὲ μόνον τῆι ὀγδόηι φθίνοντος ἀνατέλλει, ἐν ἄλληι δ᾽ οὔ.” <ὧι> συμπεφώνηκεν Εὐριπίδης ὡς ὁμολογουμένης τῆς δόξης.
The same quotation recurs in Clemens of Alexandria, who substitutes the word μεσάτα and a detail that subtly points to Athena Skiras in whose honor a festival was celebrated on the twelfth of the month Skirophorion: [131]
… “νὺξ μὲν ἔην,” φησὶν ὁ τὴν μικρὰν Ἰλιάδα πεποιηκώς, “μεσάτα, λαμπρὰ δὲ ἐπέτελλε σελάνα.” ἕτεροι δὲ Σκιροφοριῶνος τῆι αὐτῆι ἡμέραι.
According to the Mikra Ilias, Troy was destroyed when ‘it was the middle of the night and the bright moon was rising’ (West). One cannot help but notice that the phrase νὺξ μέσση and the adjacent epithet μεσονύκτιος anticipate the Stesichorean compound μεσόνυξ. Under these circumstances, I would submit an alternative interpretation for μεσόνυξ: the word does not necessarily derive from any astronomical expertise of Pythagorean provenance, but from a literary account of the Trojan myth, the Cyclic Mikra Ilias, to be more specific. Aechylus posits an imaginative seasonal specification, ἀμφὶ Πλειάδων δύσιν (Ag. 826). Troy’s collapse falls in November, and coincides with the setting of the Pleiades, a constellation that rises in late May-early June, and signals the beginning of agricultural activities, thus proving vital for nourishment and life; their setting marks a gruesome ‘harvest,’ indeed!

4.4. Conclusions

The fragmentary state of the Stesichorean Iliou Persis allows only an approximate restoration of the whole. Our enterprise becomes more difficult as we must rely on flimsy and sparse evidence from the Cyclic epics and a few brief passages from the Homeric epics. The age-long oral circulation of the Cyclic epics and the manner of their transmission mainly through prose epitomes prohibit our access to the older phases of the Trojan myth. It is worth taking into consideration the cautious distinction between texts and stories. [132] These cyclic poems, which seem to stem roughly from the Archaic Age, [133] are no longer retrievable in their entirety or their original form; their occasional thematic overlapping betrays their once independent status, and suggests that Stesichorus did not know them as a kyklos, i.e. as part of a gathered and integrated whole; they did not attain this status before the Hellenistic age. [134] These poems survive in a few direct quotations of disputed antiquity, and epitomes, which aim at supplying the salient points of stories, often glossing over contradictions. Proclus concatenates these epics, curtailing and excising details, so as to produce a coherent and continuous story; [135] this has had a normalizing effect. [136]
For all the above reasons, our task of mapping the provenace of the themes and poetic contribution of Stesichorus is hampered. In spite of this, his familiarity with old legends is well-attested as he rehandles themes preserved in the non-canonical cyclic poems and the canonical or Panhellenic Homeric epics. [137] This brings to the foreground once more the concern with the literary indebtedness of the archaic, seventh-century poets. Direct quotations from Homeric poetry begin at the end of the Archaic Age, it is argued, but the early lyric phrases which appear to be based on ‘Homeric’ passages may belong to an underlying traditional system of epic phraseology. [138] Characterizations such as ‘Homeric’ and ‘traditional,’ however, are not necessarily mutually exclusive or incompatible with the Stesichorean poetic technique. Stesichorus occupies a prominent place in this controversy, as he knows episodes from the Nostoi stories, one of which is told in the Odyssey; his PMGF 209 is numbered among the earliest candidates ‘for “Homeric” literary passages.’ [139] Moreover, the Geryoneis exemplifies his reception of both Homer and Hesiod: our lyric poet reworks Homeric motifs and imagery with great sensitivity, and animates the catalogic Hesiodic narrative (Th. 287–294, 979–983), creating an existential drama out of Geryon’s dilemma over his nature. [140]
As regards the Stesichorean treatment of the Trojan myth, the ancient quotations, combined with the new papyric fragments, allow us to form a rough idea of the subjects he touches on and of the scope of his poem. Words signifying incineration and destruction confirm his adherence to the traditional story. Yet he introduces some new points. He deviates, for instance, from the extant Cyclic legend as regards the number of the Greek soldiers who entered the horse (PMGF 199: hundred); the Apollonian, non-Iliadic parentage of Hector (224), and, most significantly, the death of Astyanax. Τhe infant had already died when the city was taken (PMGF 202 = sch. Eur. Andr. 10; Iliou Persis fr.3, Davies 64). This detail reveals Stesichorus’ sensitive and humane touch: moved by the miserable death of the boy, he suppresses this moment of intolerable cruelty, and subtly mitigates the atrocities of the Achaeans. His subjects, occasionally presented in catalogic style, include the fate of female figures, such as Clymene (PMGF 197, κατηρίθμηκεν ἐν ταῖς αἰχμαλώτοις); Laodice (204, ἐν δὲ ταῖς Πριάμου θυγατράσιν ἀριθμήσαι τις ἂν καὶ ταύτην); Polyxena (S135), and Hecuba, who witnesses the collapse of her family and country before being rescued by Apollo (198). Fragments S103, 104 and 107 contain an elaborate rehabilitation of Helen, echoing the Odyssey (iv 259–264). Contradicting his famous Palinode(s), our poet bows to Helen and allows her to enjoy an impressive home-coming; she escapes death by stoning thanks to her irresistible beauty (PMGF 201; Eur. Tro. 1039).
Stesichorus draws on the Iliad, the Cycle and the Odyssey in fashioning the image of his Epeius, who gains kleos not for his martial excellence but for his outstanding tectonic capacity. The Stesichorean hydrophoros elicits Athena’s pity, and she awards him the gift of technical expertise. Stesichorus' innovations are also worth noting. He does not shrink from introducing variants, such as the relocation, temporal and local, of the Trojan debate, and from investing his kirkos with features borrowed from the Odyssean eagles. But most significantly, he transforms into a drama the fleeting narrative of Odysseus and the enframed song of Demodocus, a song formulated as a brief report, a ‘bullet point’ presentation, I would say. The narrative in Odyssey viii looks like a précis of an extensive and familiar epic story, which supplies the bare outline of the events that usher in the sack of Troy. By contrast, Stesichorus animates and dramatizes what in the Odyssey and the Cyclic Iliou Persis (on account of its epitomic transmission) appears in the form of mere catalogues.
To sum up, Stesichorus is versed in the Trojan legend that underlies the Cyclic and the Homeric epics. [141] Even though he draws on a rather common pool of motifs, he feels free to modify them, obeying either the promptings of his own art and psyche, or those of his clientele. Once more he allows his characters to indulge in engaging speeches, thus revealing their ethos and intensifying the dramatic dimensions of the story. [142] Not only his Jocaste, Callirhoe and Geryon, but also his two unidentified Trojan speakers and his Helen emerge in relief, as he revives the old legends and transforms them into human dramas. The inclusion of his lyric Iliou Persis in the list of ancient sources—the Homeric Ilias, the Aethiopis of Arctinus and the Mikra Ilias of Lesches—inscribed on the Tabula Iliaca, proves the reputation that his Trojan poem enjoyed in posterity. [143] Though meager and mutilated, his extant lyric fragments corroborate to some extent the ancient literary criticism and the dictum of Dion Chrysostomus, notwithstanding his ignorance of the oral poetic traditions and techniques (Or. 2.33 = PMGF 203): Stesichorus emulated Homer and composed the sack of Troy not unworthy of him, καὶ τὴν ἅλωσιν οὐκ ἀναξίως ἐποίησε τῆς Τροίας.


Adrados, F. R. 1978. “Propuestas para una nueva edición y interpretatión de Estesícoro.” Emerita 46:251–299.
Anderson, M. J. 1997. The Fall of Troy in Early Greek Poetry and Art. Oxford.
Auger, D. 1976. “Discours et récit chez Stésichore.” Cahiers de recherches de l’Institute de papyrologie et d’égyptologie de Lille 4:335–337.
Bérard, J. 1957. La colonisation grecque de l’Italie méridionale et de la Sicile dans l’antiquité: l’histoire et la légende. 2nd ed. Paris.
Bernabé, A., ed. 1996. Poetarum Epicorum Graecorum: Testimonia et Fragmenta, Pars I. Stuttgart.
Bornmann, F. 1978. “Note a Stesicoro.” Studi classici e orientali 28:145–151.
Bowie, W. 2009. “Wandering Poets, Archaic Style.” In Hunter and Rutherford 2009:105–135.
Bowra, C. M. 1961. Greek Lyric Poetry from Alcman to Simonides. 2nd ed. Oxford.
Bravi, L. 2007. “Stesicoro, Simonide e la presa di Troia: compresenza o interazione?” L’epos minore, le tradizioni locali e la poesia arcaica: atti dell’incontro di studio. Ed. P. A. Bernardini. 127–132. Biblioteca di Quaderni urbinati di cultura classica 9. Pisa.
Brize, P. 1980. Die Geryoneis des Stesichoros und die frühe griechische Kunst. Beiträge zur Archäologie 12. Würzburg.
Burgess, J. S. 2001. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle. Baltimore.
———. 2005. “The Epic Cycle and Fragments.” In Foley 2005:344–352.
Burkert, W. 1972. Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism. Trans. E. L. Minar, Jr. Cambridge, MA.
———. 1987. “The Making of Homer in the Sixth Century B.C.: Rhapsodes versus Stesichoros.” Papers on the Amasis Painter and his World: colloquium sponsored by the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities and symposium sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Museum. 43–61. Malibu, CA.
Campbell, D. A., ed. and trans. 1991. Greek Lyric III: Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and Others. Loeb Classical Library 476. Cambridge, MA.
Clader, L. L. 1976. Helen: The Evolution from Divine to Heroic in Greek Epic Tradition. Leiden.
Daly, L. W. 1969. Review of E. Lobel, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Part 32. London 1967. American Journal of Philology 90:237–240.
Davies, M., ed. 1988. Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta. Göttingen.
———. 1989. The Greek Epic Cycle. London.
———, ed. 1991. Poetarum Melicorum Graecorum Fragmenta. Oxford.
Debiasi, A. 2004. L’epica perduta: Eumelo, il Ciclo, l’occidente. Hesperia 20. Rome.
Diggle, J. 1970. “Notes on Greek Lyric Poets.” Classical Review n.s. 20:5–6.
Doherty, L. E. 2001. Gender and the Interpretation of Classical Myth. London.
Faraone, C. A. 1992. Talismans and Trojan Horses: Guardian Statues in Ancient Greek Myth and Ritual. New York.
Foley, J. M., ed. 2005. A Companion to Ancient Epic. Malden, MA.
Fowler, R. L. 1987. The Nature of Early Greek Lyric: Three Preliminary Studies. Phoenix, Supplementary Volume = Phoenix, Tome supplémentaire 21. Toronto.
Führer, R. 1970. “Zum ‘Stesichorus Redivivus’.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 5:11–16.
———. 1971a. “Zu P. Oxy. 2803 (Stesichoros).” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 7:265–266.
———. 1971b. “Nachträge zu P. Oxy. 2803 (Stesichoros).” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 8:251–254.
———. 1977. Review of Supplementum Lyricis Graecis, ed. Denys Page, Oxford University Press 1974. Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen 229:1–44.
Gantz, T. 1993. Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources. 2 vols. Baltimore.
Garner, R. 1990. From Homer to Tragedy: the Art of Allusion in Greek Poetry. London.
Gerber, D. E., ed. 1997. A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets. Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classica Batava, Supplementum 173. Leiden.
Gerlaud, B., ed. and trans. 1982. Triphiodore: La prise d’ Ilion. Paris.
Giangiulio, M. 1991. “Filottete tra Sibari e Crotone.” Epéios et Philoctète en Italie: données archéologiques et traditions légendaires; actes du Colloque international du Centre de recherches archéologiques de l'Université de Lille III, Lille, 23–24 novembre 1987. 37–53. Cahiers du Centre Jean Bérard 16. Naples.
Horsfall, N. 1979. “Stesichorus at Bovillae?” Journal of Hellenic Studies 99:26–48.
Hunter, R., and I. Rutherford, eds. 2009. Wandering Poets in Ancient Greek Culture: Travel, Locality and Pan-Hellenism. Cambridge.
Kazansky, N. N. 1997. Principles of the Reconstruction of a Fragmentary Text (New Stesichorean Papyri). Saint Petersburg.
Kowalzig, B. 2007. Singing for the Gods: Performances of Myth and Ritual in Archaic and Classical Greece. Oxford.
Kullmann, W. 1960. Die Quellen der Ilias (Troischer Sagenkreis). Hermes, Einzelschriften 14. Wiesbaden.
La Genière, J. de. 1991. “L’identification de Lagaria et ses problèmes.” Epéios et Philoctète en Italie: données archéologiques et traditions légendaires; actes du Colloque international du Centre de recherches archéologiques de l'Université de Lille III, Lille, 23–24 novembre 1987. 55–66. Cahiers du Centre Jean Bérard 16. Naples.
Lefkowitz, M. R. 1981. The Lives of the Greek Poets. Baltimore.
Lehnus, L. 1972. “Note stesicoree (Pap. Oxy. 2506 e 2619).” Studi classici e orientali 21:52–55.
Lerza, P. 1981. “Osservazioni e congetture alla Gerioneide e alla Ilioupersis di Stesicoro.” Maia 33:19–28.
Lloyd-Jones, H. 1980. “Stesicoro.” L’epos greco in occidente: atti del Diciannovesimo Convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia; Taranto, 7–12 ottobre 1979. 9–28. Taranto.
Lobel, E., ed. 1967. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Vol. 32: Nos. 2617–2653. With ed. contributions by M. L. West and E. G. Turner. London.
———, ed. 1971. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Vol. 37: Nos. 2801–2823. London.
Luppe, W. 1977. “Rückseitentitel auf Papyrusrollen.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 27:89–99.
Maddoli, G. 1980. “Filottete in Italia.” L’epos greco in occidente: atti del Diciannovesimo Convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia; Taranto, 7–12 ottobre 1979. 133–167. Taranto.
Maingon, A. D. 1978. “Stesichorus and the Epic Tradition.” PhD diss., University of British Columbia.
Mueller-Goldingen, C. 2000. “Tradition und Innovation: zu Stesichorus’ Umgang mit dem Mythos.” L’Antiquité classique 69:1–19.
Nagy, G. 1974. Comparative Studies in Greek and Indic Meter. Cambridge, MA.
———. 1990. Pindar’s Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past. Baltimore.
Nifadopoulos, Ch., ed. 2003. Etymologia: Studies in Ancient Etymology; Proceedings of the Cambridge Conference on Ancient Etymology, 25–27 September 2000. Henry Sweet Society Studies in the History of Linguistics 9. Μünster.
Page, D. 1973. “Stesichorus: The ‘Sack of Troy’ and the ‘Wooden Horse’.” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 19:47–65.
Pallantza, E. 2005. Der Troische Krieg in der nachhomerischen Literatur bis zum 5. Jahrhundert v. Chr. Hermes, Einzelschriften 94. Stuttgart.
Pardini, A. 1995. “Sulla natura di P.Oxy. 2803 (Stes. S 133–147 Davies).” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica n.s. 51:63–73.
Reece, S. 1988. “Homeric Influence in Stesichorus’ Nostoi.” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 25:1–8.
Richardson, N. J. 1993. The Iliad: A Commentary, Vol. 6: Books 21–24. Cambridge.
Robbins, E. 1997. “Public Poetry.” In Gerber 1997:223–252.
Sadurska, A. 1964. Les tables iliaques. Warsaw.
Scafoglio, G. 2005. “Virgilio e Stesicoro: una ricerca sulla Tabula Iliaca Capitolina.” Rheinisches Museum 148:113–127.
Schade, G., ed. 2003. Stesichoros: Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2359, 3876, 2619, 2803. Mnemosyne, bibliotheca classical Batava, Supplementum 237. Leiden.
Seeliger, K. 1886. Die Überlieferung der griechischen Heldensage bei Stesichoros. Meissen.
Segal, C. 1998. Aglaia: The Poetry of Alcman, Sappho, Pindar, Bacchylides, and Corinna. Lanham, MD.
Stanford, W. B. 1939. Ambiguity in Greek Literature: Studies in Theory and Practice. Oxford.
Tinnefeld, F. 1980. “Referat über zwei russische Aufsätze.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 38:65–71.
Tsitsibakou-Vasalos, E. 1985. “Stesichorus and his Poetry.” PhD diss., University of Chicago.
———. 1986. “Two Homeric Formulae in the P. Lille Poem: θεoὶ θέσαν and ἄναξ ἑκάεργoς Ἀπόλλων.” Glotta 64:165–184.
———. 1990. “Stesichorus’ Geryoneis, SLG 15 I–II.” Ελληνικά 41:7–31.
———. 1991–1992. “Stesichorus, Geryoneis S 11.5–26: The Dilemma of Geryon.” Ελληνικά 42:245–256.
———. 1993. “Stesichorus: Poet and Thinker.” Επιστημονική επετηρίδα της Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής του Αριστοτελείου Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης, τεύχος τμήματος φιλολογίας 3:27–45.
———. 2000. “Πηλεγών-Σκάμανδρος (Il. 21. 139–383): Etymological Patterns in Homer.” Bulletin of the Institute for Classical Studies 44:1–17.
———. 2003. “Aphrodite in Homer and the Homeric Hymns: Poetic Etymology.” In Nifadopoulos 2003:119–129.
Vernant, J.-P., and P. Vidal-Naquet. 1988. Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece. Trans. J. Lloyd. New York.
Vürtheim, J. 1919. Stesichoros’ Fragmente und Biographie. Leiden.
West, M. L. 1969. “Stesichorus Redivivus.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 4:135–149.
———. 1971. “Further Light on Stesichorus’ Iliu Persis.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 7:262–264.
———. 1982. “Stesichorus’ Horse.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 48:86.
———, ed. and trans. 2003. Greek Epic Fragments from the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries BC. Cambridge, MA.
Willi, A. 2008. Sikelismos: Sprache, Literatur und Gesellschaft im griechischen Sizilien (8.-5. Jh.v. Chr.) Bibliotheca Helvetica Romana 29. Basel.
Zancani Montuoro, P. 1974–1976. “La leggenda di Epeo.” Atti e Memorie della Società Magna Grecia n.s. 15–17:93–106.
Zeruneith, K. 2007. The Wooden Horse: The Liberation of the Western Mind from Odysseus to Socrates. Ed. W. Glyn Jones. Trans. R. L. Dees. New York.


[ back ] 1. This study was presented in the International Conference on The Greek Epic Cycle, held at Ancient Olympia, 9–10 July 2010. I would like to thank Prof. Jenny Strauss Clay, M. Davies, N. Marinatos, and E. Cingano for their constructive comments.
[ back ] 2. editio princeps : Lobel 1967: 34–55; 1971: 3–11.
[ back ] 3. Lobel 1967: 34, hesitates: Ἰλίου πέρσις? He regrets the state of the manuscripts, which ‘makes the attribution of authorship of no present value.’ Cf. 1971: 4, ‘matter of Troy.’ See also West 1971: 264; Schade 2003 passim.
[ back ] 4. Schade 2003: 119 n.7: S103 (P. Oxy. 2619 fr. 14.8–9), δ]αΐῳ πυρὶ καιομέν[-/ ἐμ]πρήσαντας; S111 (P.Oxy. 2619 fr. 23.2), πέρσαντες cf. S118 (P.Oxy. 2619 fr. 32.7), (ἐκ)πέ]ρσαντες ἐϋκτίμε[νον; S116 (P.Oxy. 2619 fr.28.1, and S137 P. Oxy. 2803 fr. 5.6), ἀιστ]ώσας πόλιν.
[ back ] 5. West 1971: 262–264, and 1982: 86 with n.1. Führer 1971a: 265–266, an alternative name or informal for the Iliou Persis. Lloyd-Jones 1980: 21, espouses the conjoining of the two papyri and the theory of one poem with two interchangeable titles; Campbell 1991: 109, either S88–132 should be attributed to the ‘Wooden Horse’ or this was an alternative title for the Sack of Troy; Debiasi 2004: 163 n.252, approves the combination; P.Oxy. 2803 fr.11 probably contains segments of the Iliou Persis.
[ back ] 6. So Lobel 1971: 4. Page 1973: 64–65, challenges the conjoining of the papyri, arguing that Stesichorus composed both a ‘Sack of Troy’ and a ‘Wooden Horse’; ‘P.Oxy 2803 represents the latter, 2619 presumably the former.’ See Schade 2003: 120–121; Pardini 1995: 68–71; Willi 2008: 87 with n. 155.
[ back ] 7. Haslam 1974: 35, ‘2803 an extract from the whole work,’ which ‘achieved the status of an independent poem (with its own title -- ἵππ[ος Τρωϊκός?).’ Cf. Kazansky 1997: 40–41: ἵππ[ represents the original title, Iliou Persis being a later title; these titles were used in the first century BC, and sometimes combined in one: Στη[σιχόρου Ἰλίου Πέρσις ἢ Ἵππ[ος Τρωϊκός. See Bravi 2005: 130, in the first c. AD the work circulated with the title ἵππος δούρειος tout court.
[ back ] 8. On these similarities see Lobel 1971: 7 (P. Oxy. 2803 fr. 5.6 and 2619 fr. 28.1, ]ώσας πόλ[ι]ν); Führer 1971a: 265–266: S88 P. Oxy. 2619 fr.1. 8, μη[δ]ὲ λόγο[ις ]; cf. S94 P.Oxy 2619 fr. 5.6, ]ε λόγον; S143 P. Oxy. 2803 fr.11.5 and S105 (a,b) 2619 fr. 18.10, Ἀπόλλων; Führer 1971b: 253, P.Oxy 2803 fr.1.1, 6 and 2619 fr.18. 4, ]ατα [ ] κασ- / cf. ]ματα Κα[σ-/σανδρ; Pallantza 2005: 94 with n. 16.
[ back ] 9. See Schade 2003: 120.
[ back ] 10. Adrados 1978: 269–270, accepts the conjoining and considers 2803 an extract or an anthology. Cf. Pardini’s objections (1995: 63–73): the repetition of words and the philological quality of 2803 sustain its derivation from the ἔκδοσις of an integral Stesichorean poem, Ἵππος (71–73).
[ back ] 11. Besides the examples cited above, see also PMGF 222A. 176, 228 (Κρονίδας); 188, 206 (νεῖκος); 192, 211, 216, 218 (παίδας); 203, 219 (πρόφαινε, προφαίνω); 118; 212, 274 (μόρσιμόν ἐστι); Ger. S11.19 (θεῶν μακάρων, 25: μακάρεσσι θεοῖσι).
[ back ] 12. On Stesichorus’ professional status as a travelling choral poet and his move from the local to Panhellenic song-making see Lloyd-Jones 1980: 24; Burkert 1987: 51–52; Nagy 1990: 421–422.
[ back ] 13. So Kazansky 1997: 42 with n.31.
[ back ] 14. [Arist.] Mir. 840a.27–34, Περὶ δὲ τὴν Ἰταλίαν τὴν καλουμένην Γαργαρίαν, ἐγγὺς Μεταποντίου, Ἀθηνᾶς ἱερὸν εἶναί φασιν Ἑλληνίας, ἔνθα τὰ τοῦ Ἐπειοῦ λέγουσιν ἀνακεῖσθαι ὄργανα, ἃ εἰς τὸν δούρειον ἵππον ἐποίησεν, ἐκείνου τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν ἐπιθέντος. φανταζομένην γὰρ αὐτῷ τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν κατὰ τὸν ὕπνον ἀξιοῦν ἀναθεῖναι τὰ ὄργανα … ὅθεν Ἑλληνίας Ἀθηνᾶς τὸ ἱερὸν προσαγορεύεσθαι. Sch. Lyc. 930.15–20, Ἐπειός … ἐν τῇ Λαγγαρίᾳ πόλει, τὰ δ᾽ ἐργαλεῖα καθιερώσει τῷ ναῷ τῆς Μυνδίας ἤτοι τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς; ibid. 1261, Μυνδία καὶ Παλληνὶς ἡ Ἀθηνᾶ τιμᾶται. See sch. Theocr. Pel. arg d.1–9. City foundation: Strabo Geog. 6.1.14. 264C, Λαγαρία φρούριον, Ἐπειοῦ καὶ Φωκέων κτίσμα. Velleius Paterculus 1.1.1, , tempestate distractus a duce suo Nestore, Metapontum condidit. Justin XX.2.1: Metapontini quoque in templo Minervae ferramenta quibus Epeus, a quo conditi sunt, equum troianum fabricavit ostentant.
[ back ] 15. On the topography and the archaeological findings at Lagaria see Zancani Montuoro 1974–1976: 94–106; Bérard, 1957: 336–339. La Genière 1991: 55–66, argues that the choice of Epeius of all heroes as its founder is due to the discovery of a store of metallic utentils at S. Nicola’s area during the sixth c. BC.
[ back ] 16. Maddoli 1980: 139, 143, 153–154. See also EM 298.27–30; sch. Lyc. 947.1–4: Philoctetes built the temple of Eilenia. Sch. Lyc. 920.1–7; EGen. 405.1–4; EM 58.5: he also dedicated the bow of Heracles to Apollo Ἀλαῖος (< ἄλη) because there he ceased his wandering.
[ back ] 17. Kowalzig 2007: 301–319, examines the strong presence of the epic Achaeans in Italy and the religious change, or rather reinterpretation or reintegration; significant for these processes are the Nostoi myths.
[ back ] 18. On this conflation see La Genière 1991: 57: both heroes are related with Athena Eilenia. On this myth see Maddoli 1980: 160–161 with n. 32; Giangiulio 1991: 39–40, 52–53.
[ back ] 19. La Genière 1991: 66, the date of the Epeius story goes back to the flowering of Western epic and the Nostoi of Stesichorus.
[ back ] 20. See Maddoli 1980: 164–167; Pallantza 2005: 97 with n. 27.
[ back ] 21. Kazansky 1997: 33.
[ back ] 22. Barrett conjoins P.Oxy 2619 fr.15b+30+31, while P.Oxy 2619 fr.15b+PMGF 200 coniunxit Barrett necnon et Kazansky: so Kazansky, Vestnik Leningradskogo Universiteta 1976: 100–107 = Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 38 (1980) 65–66 = 1997: 37, 43, 90. See Schade 2003: 122–123. Führer 1977: 16 with nn. 170–173 examines the metrical incorporation of PMGF 200. Malcolm Davies informs me that, in the light of new considerations not available when PMGF vol. i was published, he now accepts that age moi lege pôs is the correct reading and that the context is an invocation of the/a Muse at the very beginning of the poem. Full argumentation for this view will be available in the new edition of and commentary on the frr. of Stesichorus which he and Patrick Finglass will shortly be publishing.
[ back ] 23. The apparatus criticus provided here is obviously selective. It focuses on the most important words, and depends on Davies PMGF and Schade 2003: 151–152.
[ back ] 24. On verses 1–5 see West 1969: 140; Kazansky 1997: 39, 42, and Schade 2003: 122–124. In a similar manner Demodocus initiates his song ‘moved by the god’ (Οd. viii 499, ὁ δ’ ὁρμηθεὶς θεοῦ ἤρχετο), or by the Muse (sch. P Od. viii 499, ἀπὸ τῆς μούσης ἐμπνευσθείς· ἢ ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἀρξάμενος).
[ back ] 25. Schade 2003: 199, ‘Zwischenproöm’.
[ back ] 26. Procl. Chrest. Mikra Ilias 17–18, Davies 52, καὶ Ἐπειὸς κατ’ Ἀθηνᾶς προαίρεσιν τὸν δούρειον ἵππον κατασκευάζει.
[ back ] 27. Apollod. Epit. 5.14, F10, Davies 56, ὕστερον δὲ ἐπινοεῖ [sc.Ὀδυσσεύς] δουρείου ἵππου κατασκευὴν καὶ ὑποτίθεται Ἐπειῶι ὃς ἦν ἀρχιτέκτων. οὗτος ἀπὸ τῆς Ἴδης ξύλα τεμὼν ἵππον κατασκευάζει κοῖλον, ἔνδοθεν εἰς τὰς πλευρὰς ἀνεωιγμένον.
[ back ] 28. Il. XXIII 654–655, ἡμίονον ταλαεργόν … ἀδμήτην, ἥ τ’ ἀλγίστη δαμάσασθαι; 659–661, ᾧ δέ κ’ Ἀπόλλων / δώῃ καμμονίην … ἡμίονον ταλαεργὸν ἄγων κλισίηνδε νεέσθω.
[ back ] 29. Sch. A Il. XXIII 661a1. διὰ γὰρ καταμονῆς. This is the gift of Apollo, the champion of boxing ever since he killed Phorbas according to the Cyclic poets: sch. AB Il. XXIII 660 ~ F 3 Davies 74, τῆς πυκτικῆς ἔφορος ἐνομίσθη ὁ θεός. ἡ ἱστορία παρὰ τοῖς Κυκλικοῖς. See Richardson 1993: 242 on vv. 660–661.
[ back ] 30. Sch. bT Il. XXIII 654a. ταλαεργός: πρὸς τὴν ὑπομονὴν τοῦ πύκτου καὶ ὁ ἆθλος.
[ back ] 31. Sch. bT Il. XXIII 666–675, ἥψατο δ᾽ ἡμιόνου <δαμέντα>: πολὺ τὸ ἦθος καὶ ἀγωνιστικόν. πάντας δὲ τοὺς μεγάλους ἡσσῶν τοῦτον στέφει, προδιατυπῶν ἡμῖν τὸ πρόσωπον πρὸς τὴν τοῦ ἵππου κατασκευήν. Confessing his shortcomings, Epeius instills confidence about his victory (sch. AbT Il. XXIII 670). On προδιατυπῶ see LSJ s.v., express by a type beforehand, prefigure.
[ back ] 32. Kullmann 340 with n. 3. Seeliger 1886: 34, finds a hint at Epeius’ martial unfitness in the painting of Polygnotus (Paus.–7): Epeius, unarmed, tries to demolish the walls of Troy with his fists, γέγραπται δὲ καὶ Ἐπειὸς γυμνὸς καταβάλλων ἐς ἔδαφος τῶν Τρώων τὸ τεῖχος.
[ back ] 33. See Hsch. τ 62, ταλαόν· ὑποστατικόν. ἰσχυρόν, βίαιον. Philox. fr. 278; Eust. Il. 3.562.19–563.2; EM 2093: <ταλαόν>· τλῶ … ταλαὸς καὶ ταλαόν.
[ back ] 34. On the technique of reversal of etymology and unnaming see Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2007: 82–89.
[ back ] 35. Zeruneith 2007, passim, emphasizing the role of Odysseus, argues that the conception of the wooden horse establishes resolution through strategic thinking rather than brute physical conflict, and signals the liberation of the modern mind.
[ back ] 36. Apart from his paternal vices, this episode gave posterity the stimuli for ridiculing Epeius as an emblematic δειλός: Pl. Rep. 620c; sch. Theocr. (Pel.arg d.1–9), Simias Epigr.15. 22; sch. Lyc. 930.14–931. 2. Cf. Quint. Sm. Posthom. ΧΙΙ 108, ἀρηιφίλου Ἐπειοῦ.
[ back ] 37. Sch. Od. iv 626: δίσκοισιν] τροχὸς ἦν ὁ δίσκος λίθινος ἢ σιδήρεος ἔχων ἱμάντα ἐν τῷ μέσῳ, ὃν στρέφοντες ἐδίσκευον. Trochos as wheel of carriages: Il. VI 42, etc.; as tool of artisans: Il. XVIII 600-601; as wheel of wax: Od. xii 173; Od. xxi 178, 183. For the traces of ‘good trochos’ (wheel) in Stesichorus see S127 P.Oxy 2619 fr.41.
[ back ] 38. Simoeis is a place of nourishment (Il. V 774–77), and war (Il. VI 4; 20.53). The Simoeisean land is associated with calamity (Eur. Hec. 642–43), κακὸν τᾷ Σιμουντίδι γᾷ / ὀλέθριον ἔμολε συμφορά τ’ ἀπ’ ἄλλων; the chorus bewails their fate and sufferings beside the streams of Simoeis (Tro. 1116–1117).
[ back ] 39. Tryph. ἅλωσις Ἰλίου 316–17, ἄνθεα δὲ δροσόεντος ἀμησάμενοι Σιμόεντος / ἔστεφον αὐχενίους πλοκάμους σφετέροιο φονῆος.
[ back ] 40. See Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2000: 1–17.
[ back ] 41. The Iliadic poet visualizes the sack of Troy and the restoration of harmony (XII 1–35). When the city falls (πέρθετο, 13–15), Poseidon and Apollo level the Achaean wall, pouring all the rivers into it, including the Simoeis and Scamander. The two gods bury the insignia of war, bringing the river streams back into their original channels and functions (32–33). Scamander witnesses the lament of the Trojan women (Eur. Tro. 28–29), and provides the water for the ablution of dead Astyanax (1151–1152).
[ back ] 42. On Phereclus and Tekton/tektôn and Harmonides see sch. A Il. V 60a.1–5 {Ariston.} Ἁρμονίδεω: ὅτι ὀνοματοθετικὸς ὁ ποιητής, καὶ ἐν Ὀδυσσείᾳ παραπλησίως ποιεῖ· οἰκεῖον γὰρ τέκτονος τὸ ἁρμόζειν … καὶ ὅτι ἀμφίβολον, πότερον ὁ Φέρεκλος ἔπηξεν τὰς ναῦς ἢ ὁ Ἁρμονίδης, ἐφ᾽ ἃ καὶ Ἀρίσταρχος φέρεται. See also Ariston. De signis Iliadis V 60.1–8 L., X 68.1–6; Eust. Il. 2. 22.2–5; Plut. fr. 110. 11–13: Harmonides was the builder of Paris’ ships in contrast to Tryph. 60–61 (Phereclus). Anderson 1997: 23 with n. 14, 26, opts for Harmonides. See also Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2007: 44.
[ back ] 43. Sch. bTil Il. V 59, ὁ φέρων κλόνον διὰ τῶν νέων (or νεῶν).
[ back ] 44. Sch. Lyc. 93.15b-19b, ταύτης [Ἀφροδίτης] δὲ ἐπιταγῇ ναυπηγήσαντος αὐτῷ ναῦς Ἁρμονίδου, κατὰ δέ τινας Φερέκλου ἦλθεν εἰς Λακεδαίμονα.
[ back ] 45. For this contrasting analogy see Tryphiodorus 57–64. See Anderson 1997: 20–26.
[ back ] 46. Segal 1998: 256, Bacchylides ‘with his limpid, flowing movement’ was ‘a successor to Stesichorus, with his lyric retelling of epic myths’; he notes (258) that in Bacchylides 3.46–49, the family of Croesus is dragged ἐξ ἐυκτίτων μεγάρων to the wooden house of the pyre, and that ‘the architecture is again evocative of the stateliness of Homeric kings.’ See also Robbins 1997: 242.
[ back ] 47. On the relation of Simonides and Stesichorus with regard to the sack of Troy: Bravi 2005: 127–132.
[ back ] 48. For the Stesichorean provenance of the hydrophorein motif see Eust. Il. 4. 812, τὸν δὲ εἰρημένον Ἐπειὸν ὑδροφορεῖν τοῖς Ἀτρείδαις ἱστορεῖ ὁ Στησίχορος. Eustathius identifies ‘the daughter of Zeus’ with Aphrodite and reads Διὸς κούροις βασιλεῦσιν, alhough the Dioscuri are absent from the war at Troy (sch. Il. III 242).
[ back ] 49. Kazansky 1997: 37, 43, 90; Haslam 1974: 25; Bravi 2005: 129.
[ back ] 50. Pi. Ol. 7. 50–53, ὤπασε τέχναν … Γλαυκῶπις ἀριστοπόνοις χερσὶ κρατεῖν … ἦν δὲ κλέoς βαθύ. δαέντι δὲ καὶ σοφία / μείζων ἄδολος τελέθει. See Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2007: 116–117.
[ back ] 51. See Lehnus 1972: 54–55; Kazansky 1997: 56–58.
[ back ] 52. Führer relies on Quint. Sm. (Posthom. XII 79–83), ἀλλ’ ἄγε … ἵππον τεκταίνωμεν ὑπαὶ παλάμῃσιν Ἐπειοῦ, / ὅς ῥά τε πολλὸν ἄριστος ἐν Ἀργείοισι τέτυκται / εἵνεκα τεκτοσύνης, δέδαεν δέ μιν ἔργον Ἀθήνη. On Athena and technical learning or skill see Maingon 1978: 191–192.
[ back ] 53. See Ib. PMGF 282.14–15, ἁλώσιμον ἆμαρ ἀνώνυμον, ‘unnameable,’ or ‘unspeakable’ (so Gerber). Kazansky 1997: 38, 41, proposes ἁλώσι[μον ἀκρόπολιν / αἰπὰ]ν ἔθηκεν, arguing that ‘this kind of “extended formula” is a feature of Stesichorean poetics.’
[ back ] 54. Hsch. ι 754.1–756.2, ἰότητι· βουλήσει, θελήσει. αἰτίᾳ. ὀργῇ. χάριτι (Ε 874). Sch. T Il. XIX. 9a1. ἰότητι δὲ ὁρμῇ, παρὰ τὸ ἰέναι; sim. a2. b. EM 473.8–9, ἰότης … ἡ βουλὴ καὶ ἡ φροντίς. Ἀπὸ τοῦ ἰοῦ, τοῦ βέλους … ἀπὸ τοῦ ἴεσθαι καὶ εἰς πάντα ἰέναι.
[ back ] 55. See Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 1986: 165–184.
[ back ] 56. Lobel 1967: 44, ‘-εν [χα]λεπῶς seems likely’; in verse 2 he discerns perhaps the right-hand base angle of δ and .[μ or ν. Barrett and West supplement: νῦν δ’ ἆσεν [χα]λεπῶς. Kazansky 1997: 39–40, disagrees because the expected object of the transitive ἀάω is missing, and ‘the lacuna itself is rather small, of only a few letters’ width’ unable to host three large letters (χ, α and half of λ); he posits a verb signifying speaking or singing, or more probably a noun in the vocative, and reads πῶς. Schade 2003: 124, 151, 199–201, combines the supplement of Führer (μοι λέ<γε>) with Kazansky’s (πῶς).
[ back ] 57. So Führer 1977: 10–11. See also Kazansky 1997: 39–40; Schade 2003: 126–128.
[ back ] 58. On the meter of epode 1: (—?) — ⏑ ⏑ — ⏑ ⏑ — [ — ] — ⏑ ⏑ — ⏑ ⏑ — — , see West 1969: 136; West 1971: 263; Page SLG 1974: 25; Führer 1970: 14; Führer 1977: 13 (with n.133: ‘Anfang unsicher’), followed by Pardini 1995: 65 with n. 11. See Haslam 1974: 24; Schade, 2003: 129–130.
[ back ] 59. PMGF 240, δεῦρ’ ἄγε Καλλιόπεια λίγεια; 278, ἄγε Μοῦσα λίγει’ ἄρξον ἀοιδᾶς; S14.6, ἄγ’ ὑποσχέσιο]ς μεμναμένος (suppl. Page), and 222b.218, ἀλλ’ ἄγε παίδες.
[ back ] 60. On νῦν δ’ ἄγε / ἀλλ’ ἄγε νῦν see Ιl. Ι 141; V 226; VI 340, 354, 431; XVIIII 108; Od. i 271, 309, 178; iii 17; iv 587; xii 298; xviii 35, etc.
[ back ] 61. So Kazansky 1997: 39 with n. 24, 90.
[ back ] 62. Geryon is honored as a daemon at Himera; for his cult see Brize 1980: 64–65 with nn. 357, 358. Stesichorus implies this in his Geryoneis, subtly modifying the Homeric δαίμονος αἶσα in a sentence that requires a genitive of possession to govern the ‘flesh’ and ‘bones’: Heracles’ arrow διὰ δ’ ἔσχισε σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα δαίμονος αἴσαι (S15. 8–9). Helen is also worshiped in many parts of the Greek world, but most of all at Sparta; see Clader 1976: 63–80.
[ back ] 63. Page 1973: 51, ‘Barrett suggests ἆσεν or ἄ<α>σεν, and it is doubtful if there is any other possibility suitable to the context.’ Page SLG, S89. 5: ‘inter α et ε fracta superficie tantum punctulum in linea post α; ἆσεν vel ἄ<α>σεν (Barrett) veri sim.’ See Davies, PMGF: ‘vix evites.’ West 1969: 141, renders: ‘(Cassandra warned us,) but now we have been led to grievous folly by a skilled craftsman, [by] whose [devices trickery] instead of fighting [will have fame, that it] brought Troy its day of capture (?).’ Campbell 1991: 111, ‘a man has grievously misled us,’ on the assumption that the speaker is Trojan.
[ back ] 64. On transitive ἀάω and an action issuing from gods and/or mortals, see Il. VIII 236–237, Ζεῦ πάτερ, ἦ ῥά τιν᾽ ἤδη ὑπερμενέων βασιλήων / τῇδ᾽ ἄτῃ ἄασας καί μιν μέγα κῦδος ἀπηύρας; Od x 68–69, ἄασάν μ᾽ ἕταροί τε κακοὶ πρὸς τοῖσί τε ὕπνος / σχέτλιος. Significant is Od. xi 61, ἆσέ με δαίμονος αἶσα κακὴ καὶ ἀθέσφατος οἶνος. The reading of Il. XIX 95, Ζῆν’ / Ζεύς ἀάσατο is uncertain: see ad loc. Edwards 1991: 249.
[ back ] 65. ἀεσίφρων is associated with ἄω and its synonyms, ‘to blow’ (LSJ A), ‘to blind’ (LSJ B). ἀεσίφρων: sch. bT Il. XX 183. κοῦφος καὶ ἀσύνετος τὴν φρένα. Sch. T Il. XXIII 603b1. ἀνεμώλια φρονῶν [< ἄω LSJ A + φρονέω]. ἢ βλαψίφρων [< ἄω LSJ B + φρονέω]. Sch. V Od. xxi 302. ἀεσίφρονι: φρενοβλαβεῖ.
[ back ] 66. These verses are athetized: sch. A Il. XX 180–6a.1–6b.2, ὅτι εὐτελεῖς εἰσι τῇ κατασκευῇ καὶ τοῖς νοήμασι, καὶ οἱ λόγοι οὐ πρέποντες τῷ τοῦ Ἀχιλλέως προσώπῳ. See sch. bT Il. XX 180–6b.
[ back ] 67. Cf. Il. XX 186, ‘Hard, I expect, will you find that deed’ (Murray rev. Wyatt). Cf. Il. XXI 151, δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσι, sharing this formula with Diomedes (Il. VI 127). Cf. Il. XX 187–198.
[ back ] 68. See Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2003 : 119–129.
[ back ] 69. Il. XIX 325, εἵνεκα ῥιγεδανῆς Ἑλένης Τρωσὶν πολεμίζω; VI 344, ἐμεῖο … ὀκρυοέσσης. See sch. bT Il. III 242a.; sch. AaT Il. XIX 325a1.1–3, ῥιγεδανῆς <Ἑλένης>: στυγητῆς· τὰ γὰρ λυπηρὰ ψύχει παραβάλλει. See Hsch. ρ 299; Ap. Soph. 138. 32; EM 703. 55–704.
[ back ] 70. Sch. T Od. viii 494, ἀνόητοι δὲ οἱ Τρῶες εἰσαγαγόντες καὶ τότε ζητοῦντες μὴ ἄρα ἐνέδρα ἐντός. ἡ Ἀθηνᾶ δὲ βλάψασα αὐτῶν τὰς φρένας καὶ ἡ εἱμαρμένη. ἀνόητοι δὲ καὶ οἱ παρακινδυνεύοντες καὶ εἰσελθόντες.
[ back ] 71. Ba. fr. 9. Sn.-M.: Serv. Aen. II 201, sane Bacchylides de Laocoonte et uxore eius vel de serpentibus a Calydnis insulis venientibus atque in homines conversis dicit.
[ back ] 72. Cassandra’s vain prophecies: Verg. Aen. II 246–247; Apollod. Epit. 5.17; Quint. Sm. XII 525–551.
[ back ] 73. Bowie 2009: 124, 126.
[ back ] 74. On the bitterness of the pine-tree and its association with deadly poison see sch. Aim A(D) Il. I 51c. ἐχεπευκής: μεταφορικῶς ἀπὸ τῆς πεύκης. καὶ γὰρ ἡ πεύκη κοπεῖσα οὐκ ἀνίησι βλαστὸν καὶ τὸ δάκρυον αὐτῆς ἐστι πικρόν. See also sch. bT Il. XIV 165. (πευκάλιμος) πευκαλίμῃσι: δριμείαις παρὰ τὴν πεύκην. ἢ πυκναῖς παρὰ τὸ πύκα. Sch. T Il. X 8 and sch. T Od. i 262 (πευκεδανός).
[ back ] 75. On the semantic and etymological connection of atê-apatê see Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2003: 119–129.
[ back ] 76. On this passage (682–84) see Gerlaud 1982: 171.
[ back ] 77. Odyssey iv exhibits common themes (repentance and nostalgia), which recur in lyric poetry (Alc. 283. 3–10; Sapph. 16. 6–11), but also differences in the treatment of the topic and the management of space and time. The poet allows Helen to share with her visitors in the Spartan palace the thoughts she entertained following Odysseus’ stealthy entrance to Troy (iv 263–264).
[ back ] 78. Diggle 1970: 5, proposes the hapax αἰγλοπόδαν; cf. Page: ἀ]ελ<λ>οπόδαν. On Helen’s ethography as mother see PMGF 209. 10–11 with Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 1993: 30–31.
[ back ] 79. Od. iv 12–14, Ἑλένῃ δὲ θεοὶ γόνον οὐκέτ’ ἔφαινον, / ἐπεὶ δὴ τὸ πρῶτον ἐγείνατο παῖδ’ ἐρατεινήν, / Ἑρμιόνην, ἣ εἶδος ἔχε χρυσέης Ἀφροδίτης. See Sapph. 23, Hermione and Helen for measuring female eroticism and beauty.
[ back ] 80. Scholars supplement S105.4 with Κασ[σάνδρα. West 1969: 141, ‘A female in motion’; Führer 1971b: 253, discerns here the departure of Cassandra. See Luppe 1977: 94 with n. 14; Kazansky 1997: 46–47; Schade 2003: 155, esp. 207: Cassandra walks away from the horse after the Trojans remained unimpressed by her forewarnings.
[ back ] 81. See Faraone 1992: 102–106 (‘Marvelous Omens and “Superstitious” Fools’), citation from p. 105.
[ back ] 82. See Page 1973: 50; Schade 2003: 178–179; Pallantza 2005: 95.
[ back ] 83. Lloyd-Jones 1980: 21, identifies the speaker with Cassandra; cf. Schade 2003: 176 ('des Kalchas' ?); for other alternatives see ibid. 177 and app. crit. p. 144.
[ back ] 84. See Procl. Chrest. Iliou Persis 3–7, Davies 62; Od. viii 505–510.
[ back ] 85. See Schade 2003: 169.
[ back ] 86. Führer 1970: 12; id. 1971b: 254 with n. 35.
[ back ] 87. Kirkos in similes: Il. XVII 752–761, ὣς αἰεὶ Αἴαντε μάχην ἀνέεργον ὀπίσσω / Τρώων· οἳ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ἕποντο, δύω δ᾽ ἐν τοῖσι μάλιστα, / Αἰνείας τ᾽ Ἀγχισιάδης καὶ φαίδιμος Ἕκτωρ. / τῶν δ᾽ ὥς τε ψαρῶν νέφος ἔρχεται ἠὲ κολοιῶν / οὖλον κεκλήγοντες, ὅτε προΐδωσιν ἰόντα / κίρκον, ὅ τε σμικρῇσι φόνον φέρει ὀρνίθεσσιν, / ὣς ἄρ᾽ ὑπ᾽ Αἰνείᾳ τε καὶ Ἕκτορι κοῦροι Ἀχαιῶν / οὖλον κεκλήγοντες ἴσαν, λήθοντο δὲ χάρμης. Il. XXII 138–143, Πηλεΐδης δ᾽ ἐπόρουσε ποσὶ κραιπνοῖσι πεποιθώς. / ἠΰτε κίρκος ὄρεσφιν ἐλαφρότατος πετεηνῶν, / ῥηϊδίως οἴμησε μετὰ τρήρωνα πέλειαν, / ἣ δέ θ᾽ ὕπαιθα φοβεῖται, ὃ δ᾽ ἐγγύθεν ὀξὺ λεληκὼς / ταρφέ᾽ ἐπαΐσσει, ἑλέειν τέ ἑ θυμὸς ἀνώγει· / ὣς ἄρ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἐμμεμαὼς ἰθὺς πέτετο. For a variation of the simile see Od. xiii 86–88, ἡ δὲ [sc. the Phaeacian ship] μάλ᾽ ἀσφαλέως θέεν ἔμπεδον· οὐδέ κεν ἴρηξ / κίρκος ὁμαρτήσειεν, ἐλαφρότατος πετεηνῶν· / ὣς ἡ ῥίμφα θέουσα θαλάσσης κύματ᾽ ἔταμνεν. See also Quint. Sm. XIII 103-108, the Trojan women scream in terror like cranes chased by an eagle.
[ back ] 88. Kirkos in omen: Od. xv 525–528.
[ back ] 89. So Maingon 1978: 184–185.
[ back ] 90. See West 1969: 139; Page 1973: 49–50.
[ back ] 91. Page 1973: 49–50, ‘Some wreathed the Wooden Horse with garlands, others shrieked around it with alarm, like starlings which suddenly find a hawk in their midst’; he interprets col. ii.18, φυλλοφορ[ , on the basis of Quint. Sm. (XII 434f.) and Tryph. (316f.) (decoration of the horse). Lerza 1981: 27, relies on Tryph. 247–249, and adds two similes (Il. XVI 581ff. and XVII 755ff.), in which the opponents, resembling ἴρηξ or κίρκος, attack their enemies.
[ back ] 92. West 1969: 139. Kirkos as omen: Lloyd-Jones 1980: 21; Campbell 1991: 109 n.2; Debiasi 2004: 175 with n.161, the hawk functions as a prodigy and evokes the teras of the serpents in Arctinus’ Iliou Persis. Pallantza 2005: 95, the Trojans take the horse perhaps ‘aufgrund eines Vogelszeichens?’
[ back ] 93. So West 1969: 139.
[ back ] 94. Il. XIII 821–823, Ὣς ἄρα οἱ εἰπόντι ἐπέπτατο δεξιὸς ὄρνις, / αἰετὸς ὑψιπέτης· ἐπὶ δ᾽ ἴαχε λαὸς Ἀχαιῶν / θάρσυνος οἰωνῷ. Od. xv 160–163, ὣς ἄρα οἱ εἰπόντι ἐπέπτατο δεξιὸς ὄρνις, / αἰετὸς ἀργὴν χῆνα φέρων ὀνύχεσσι πέλωρον, / ἥμερον ἐξ αὐλῆς. οἱ δ’ ἰύζοντες ἕποντο / ἀνέρες ἠδὲ γυναῖκες.
[ back ] 95. Od. ii 171–176, καὶ γὰρ κείνῳ φημὶ τελευτηθῆναι ἅπαντα, / ὥς οἱ ἐμυθεόμην, ὅτε Ἴλιον εἰσανέβαινον / Ἀργεῖοι … τὰ δὲ δὴ νῦν πάντα τελεῖται.
[ back ] 96. The proponents of simile argue that ἀνέκραγο̣ν̣ applies to a bird rather than humans (the Trojans). This is not convincing, as in the Homeric similes the voices of birds and humans are assimilated. The onomatopoic verbs (λάσκω, λέληκα, κέκληγα) are invariably used of animals and people.
[ back ] 97. See Mueller-Goldingen 2000: 19: the implications of the rescue of Hecuba are moral and political; Stesichorus recognizes the kind of problems that arise from the victory of the Greeks over the Trojans, and employs the myth as an instrument through which he makes indirect statements about such issues.
[ back ] 98. These words are commonly attributed to Sinon. See West 1969: 139; cf. Kazansky 1997: 47.
[ back ] 99. West 1969: 141, suggests a theomachy and an earthquake in Stesichorus as in Quint. Sm. XII 157–213; so 1971: 263, ‘Poseidon made the earth tremble … and the gods of Troy, Apollo, Artemis and Aphrodite, now deserted it.’ See Führer 1971a: 266 with n. 13.
[ back ] 100. ἐρύω and ἕλκω are semantically equivalent; sch. Od. viii. 508, ἐρύσαντες: ἑλκύσαντες. For ἕλκετε: West 1969: 138 (cf. West 1971: 262, ἔλθετε); Lerza 1981: 26; Bornmann 1978: 146–147; Schade 2003: 141.
[ back ] 101. Eur. (Tro. 538–541), assimilating the horse with a ship, κλωστοῦ δ᾽ ἀμφιβόλοις λίνοιο ναὸς ὡσεὶ / σκάφος κελαινὸν εἰς ἕδρανα … θέσαν θεᾶς. Apollod. Epit. 5.16, εἷλκον; Quint. Sm. (XII 422–434), πάντες σειρὴν ἀμφεβάλοντο θοῶς περιμήκεϊ ἵππῳ / δησάμενοι καθύπερθεν, ἐπεί ῥά οἱ ἐσθλὸς Ἐπειὸς / ποσσὶν ὑπὸ βριαροῖσιν ἐύτροχα δούρατ᾽ ἔθηκεν, / ὄφρα … ἕπηται ἑλκόμενoς … oἳ δ᾽ ἅμα πάντες / εἷλκον ... ἠύτε νῆα ἕλκωσι<ν> … ὣς οἵ … ἔργον Ἐπειοῦ … ἀνείρυον. Tryph. 99–102, αὐτὰρ ἐπειδὴ πάντα κάμεν μενεδήιον ἵππον, / κύκλον ἐυκνήμιδα ποδῶν ὑπέθηκεν ἑκάστῳ, / ἑλκόμενος πεδίοισιν; 300–308, σειρῇσι περίπλοκον ἀμφιβαλόντες / ἕλκετ᾽ ἐς ἀκρόπολιν μεγάλην χρυσήνιον ἵππον … καὶ τὸν μὲν … δησάμενοι σειρῇσιν, ἐυπλέκτοισι κάλωσιν / εἷλκον ὑπὲρ πεδίοιο, θοῶν ἐπιβήτορα κύκλων, / ἵππον ἀριστήεσσι βεβυσμένον. 318: γαῖα…περὶ κύκλοις …ὑπεβρυχᾶτο; 323: πολλὴ δ᾽ ἑλκόντων ἐνοπὴ καὶ κόμπος ὀρώρει; 344, ὁλκῷ δουρατέῳ.
[ back ] 102. Archaic art as early as the seventh c. BC portrays the horse on wheels: LIMC s.v Ilioupersis; Gantz 1993: 654: fibula of perhaps 700 BC from Thebes (?) and pithos of Mykonos of the second quarter of the seventh century. See Anderson 1997: 182–189; Schade 2003: 181, 184 with n. 92.
[ back ] 103. So Maingon 1978: 177; Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 1985: 32–35; Mueller-Goldingen 2000: 15–16.
[ back ] 104. On the indebtedness of Stesichorus to Arctinus see Mueller-Goldingen 2000: 14: this cannot be proven; ibid. 17, the issue must stay open; Stesichorus does not draw on Odyssey viii since the Odyssey is content with a summarizing reference to the dramatic moment. Debiasi argues that both Arctinus and Stesichorus were exposed to the traditions of the Western colonies (2004: 155–160), and influenced Theodorus’ Tabula Iliaca Capitolina (161–177). Willi 2008: 109 with n. 46, notes the elaboration of Od. viii 505–510, and claims that Arctinus’ Iliou Persis supplies a corresponding pattern. See also Nagy 1990: 421–422 (n. 137, below).
[ back ] 105. Sinon: Bornmann 1978: 147–148; Kazansky 1997: 44, ‘one of the Trojans.’ See also Schade 2003: 181–185; Debiasi 2004: 175 n. 360; Willi 2008: 110 n. 48. Cf. Campbell 1991: 109 n.1, Thymoetes or Sinon? Relevant to our question is Verg. Aen. II 32–33, Thymoetes duci intra muros hortatur et arce locari, while Capys and others seek to throw the horse into the sea, burn it or test the cavities of its womb, terebrare cavas uteri et temptare latebras (38). Echoing the ἄκριτα πόλλ᾽ ἀγόρευον of the Odyssey (viii 505), Vergil concludes, scinditur incertum studia in contraria uulgus (39).
[ back ] 106. Verg. Aen. II 50–53, (Laocoon) sic fatus … hastam / in latus inque feri curuam compagibus aluum contorsit. stetit illa tremens, uteroque recusso / insonuere cauae gemitumque dedere cauernae. Vergil interlaces the concept of fate and the frivolous or slight mind of men (II 54–56), et, si fata deum, si mens non laeua fuisset… Troiaque nunc staret. See also Petron. Sat. I.19, cuspide… uterum notavit. In Quint. Sm. (XII 393), Laocoon urges the Trojans ἐμπρησέμεν ἵππον, and ἀμαλδῦναι μαλερῷ πυρί (445).
[ back ] 107. The serpents are sent by Athena (on the value of her symbol see Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 2007: 54 with n. 121). Verg. Aen. II 226, petunt Tritonidis arcem. Cf. Apollod. Epit. 5. 18 <Ἀπόλλων αὐτοῖς σημεῖον ἐπιπέμπει>, which West 2003: 144, inserts in the Sack of Troy. Apollodorus contradicts the traditional role of Apollo, which is compatible with Hygin fab. 135. See Quint. Sm. XII 447–456; 478–482; the sêma of the serpents is still visible in the temple of Apollo. Burgess 2005: 347, parallels Apollodorus and Proclus, but cautions against using the former to fill the gaps of the latter.
[ back ] 108. West and Führer 1971a: 262; approved by Campbell 1991: 114–115; Kazansky 1997: 45–46, 92–93. Schade 2003: 128; Debiasi 2004: 163 n. 252. Page 1973: 59–60, objects to it because of the corruptions, the problematic space relations and the untenable supplements which destroy the metrical scheme. See Gentili 1976: 748; Führer 1977: 22–23; Luppe 1977: 95. See also nn. 5 and 6, above.
[ back ] 109. Lobel 1967: 47, Führer 1971a: 266 n.12, and Führer 1977: 22, read -ας at the end of μεμαότ-. Cf. Page 1973: 59, ‘α may remain uncertain, but ε is ruled out’. West 1971: 263, and Barrett (apud Page 1973: 59) propose ἵ[π]που, a reading disapproved by Page 59 with n. 1; he concludes (65 n. 1), ‘μεμαότες is then plainly out of context.’ Cf. Schade 2003: 128, ‘kommt man schwerlich umhin, die Verbindung der Papyrusfragmente 2619. 18 und 2803. 11 aufzugeben.’
[ back ] 110. So Barrett with the approval of Page 1973: 65.
[ back ] 111. On the wordplay Ἐπειὸς ἐποίησεν see Gerlaud 1982: 77 n. 2.
[ back ] 112. LSJ 3. of females, become pregnant, Arist. HA 576b27–30, Ὅταν δὲ τέκῃ ἡ ἵππος, οὐκ εὐθὺς μετὰ τοῦτο πίμπλαται ἀλλὰ διαλείπει χρόνον; 578b31–33, Ἐπειδὰν δὲ πλησθῶσιν αἱ θήλειαι, ἐκκρίνονται οἱ ἄρρενες καθ᾽ ἑαυτούς.
[ back ] 113. Stesichorus uses ἐσκατεβαίνω to describe the descent of Helius into his golden δέπας, a vessel of enormous capacity (S17. 1–7), in which the Sun traverses the Ocean, heading East towards the depths of the holy and dark night and towards his family. At the misty Western boundaries of the world, Helius turns around and starts his quasi-infernal cruise towards the Dawn.
[ back ] 114. Sch. T Od. viii 515.3–516.3, ἱππόθεν ἐκχύμενοι] ἐνάργειαν ἐποίησε διὰ ταύτην τὴν λέξιν· καταλείποντες γὰρ τὸν κοῖλον λόχον καὶ ἐκχυθέντες κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν. καὶ ἄλλος μὲν ἀλλαχοῦ τὴν ὁρμὴν ἐποιήσατο ὡς ἐπὶ νυκτός. Eust. Il. 3. 847.18–26, ἐκχύμενοι: liquid metaphor used of ships and the wooden horse. Tryphon, peri trop. 199.15–20, καὶ πάλιν ἱππόθεν ἐκχυμένοι· τὴν γὰρ ἀθρόαν ὁρμὴν τοῦ πλήθους διὰ μιᾶς ἐσήμανε λέξεως.
[ back ] 115. Cf. Anderson 1997: 84 n.18, ‘the one who "calls back in response".' His career is Cyclic: sch.HQ Od. iv 285, ὁ Ἄντικλος ἐκ τοῦ κύκλου. See Bernabé 83, fr. 26, under incerti operis fragmenta. West 2003: 132 (fr. 13) lists the fragment under the Little Iliad.
[ back ] 116. On theoretical approaches of this myth see Doherty 2001: 63–64.
[ back ] 117. On Apollo θοραῖος, god of fertility and semen-growth, see sch. Lyc. 351.10–13, Θοραῖον τὸν σπερμογόνον καὶ γεννητικόν· ὁ αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστι τῷ ἡλίῳ πάντα δὲ ὁ ἥλιος γεννᾷ καὶ τρέφει καὶ αὔξει, ὡς καὶ Σοφοκλῆς φησι τὴν πάντα γοῦν βόσκουσαν ἡλίου φλόγα (OT 1425).
[ back ] 118. See Il. XIX 103–104; HHAp. 97–101; EGud. β 277.20–23; ε 415.5–8; Hsch. ε 2025; EM 298.40.
[ back ] 119. Hp. Ep. 17. 251–255.
[ back ] 120. On Athena’s birth see Corn. ND 34.20–35.2, λέγεται δὲ ὁ ῞Ηφαιστος μαιώσασθαι τὸν Δία, ὅτε ὤδινεν τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν, καὶ διελὼν αὐτοῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν ἐκθορεῖν ἐκείνην ποιῆσαι; sch. Il. I 195. 9–11, καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ τῷ ὡρισμένῳ τῆς ἀποκυήσεως χρόνῳ, ἐξέθορεν ἡ Θεὸς σὺν ὅπλοις; sch. Lyc. 355.3; Eust. Il. 1.132.8–9, καὶ τὸ ἐγκυμονούμενον ἐξέθορε τελεία κόρη ἔνοπλος; so ibid. 134.23. See also Them. Erotikos 166 d1–2; Ps.-Plut. De fluviis 23.4.3–6, προσεξέθορεν; Clem. Rom. Homiliae (Phanes born from the egg); Greg. Nyss. Contra fatum 44.5 (τῆς μητρῴας νηδύος ἐξέθορεν); Euseb. Praep. Evang.; Did. Caec. De trin. 39.825.36–828.1; Lib. Rhet. Decl. 34. 2.16.1–2; Michael Psell. Encom. in matrem 829–830.
[ back ] 121. Stanford 1939: 143–144; Vernant and Vidal-Naquet 1972: 141–142.
[ back ] 122. Sch. M Ag. 137: αὐτότοκον] σὺν αὐτῷ τῷ τόκῳ; sch. Tr. 137a: ἤτοι σὺν τοῖς αὐτοῦ τόκοις ἤγουν τοῖς τέκνοις; sch. Tr. 137b: πρὸ λόχου] πρὸ τοῦ τεκεῖν. ἐγκύμων γὰρ ἦν.
[ back ] 123. Sch. Lyc. 340.12–16, ὁ δὲ νοῦς τοιοῦτος· ὅταν ὁ Ἀντήνωρ ὁ πορθητὴς τῆς πατρίδος … καὶ τὸν δούρειον ἵππον τὸν ὠδίνοντα τὸν φοβερὸν λόχον παραλύσῃ ἐκ τῆς γαστρὸς αὐτοῦ ἑλκύσας τὰ ζυγά· ὤδινε δὲ ὁ ἵππος τοὺς ἀρίστους τῶν Ἑλλήνων. See Stanford 1939: 144 n. 1.
[ back ] 124. On the uterus of the wooden horse see n. 106, above.
[ back ] 125. On the assimilation of horse-ship in Tryphiodorus (185, 318–322), see Gerlaud 1982: 124, 135, and Anderson 1997: 25–26.
[ back ] 126. Gerlaud: 1982: 141 on 388, noting a surprising antithesis: Eleithyia and Athena; on 389, ritual cry.
[ back ] 127. PMGF 259 = Hdn. Gramm. Graec. [pros. cath.] 3.1. 45. 14; [peri klis. onom.] 3. 2. 743. 22, 38 L.
[ back ] 128. See Vürtheim 1919: 100–104; Burkert 1972: 417 with n. 93; Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 1985: 3–16.
[ back ] 129. Cf. Burkert 1972: 153 with nn. 182, 183, argues that ‘both the Leonymus and the Stesichorus stories … go back to a Pythagorean origin.’ On the fictive lives of poets and Stesichorus in particular, see Lefkowitz 1981: 31–35.
[ back ] 130. F 11A Davies 56 = Bernabé 78 (II): sch. Eur. Hec. 910 [I.71. 25 Schw.]. Eur. Hec. 914, μεσονύκτιος ὠλλύμαν; see sch. ad loc., συμπεφώνηκεν Εὐριπίδης ὡς ὁμολογουμένης τῆς δόξης.
[ back ] 131. Mikra Ilias: F 11B Davies 57 = Bernabé 78 (I): Clem. Alex. Strom. 1.104.1 [1.XXI Stählin, p.67]= Euseb. Praep. Evang. 10.12.1 (1.603 sq. Mras). The twelfth of Skirophorion falls at the end of June, early July (LSJ).
[ back ] 132. Davies 1989: 4.
[ back ] 133. On the date of the Cyclic epics see Davies 1989: 2–6; Burgess 2005: 348.
[ back ] 134. See Davies 1989: 1–2; Burgess 2005: 348.
[ back ] 135. On the thematic overlapping between the Cyclic epics see Davies 1989: 60; Burgess 2005: 346.
[ back ] 136. On the identity and date of Proclus see OCD 3rd ed.; Burgess 2001: 9–12, 33; id. 2005: 346–347, on precis writings, in prose or poetic form, by Apollodorus, Dionysius (the Cyclographos?), and Pisander.
[ back ] 137. Nagy 1990: 421–422, argues that the versions of Stesichorus and the Cycle are comparable as being ‘less complex, less synthetic, than the version of Homer’; hence, ‘the tradition of Stesichorus is parallel to the less Panhellenic traditions of the Cycle.’ Apropos his Iliou Persis, Nagy also notes that Stesichorus’ general organizing subjects coincide with those of the Cycle; his Iliou Persis and his Nostoi (PMGF 209) correspond to the cyclic poems attributed to Arctinus and Agias respectively.
[ back ] 138. See Burgess 2001: 34–35 and 115–116 with 234 n. 242: positive identification of allusion or imitation is difficult. Fowler 1987: 33, a few seventh-century fragments probably reflect the Iliad, but not necessarily its fixed text; we witness different pre-Homeric versions of epic stories. Kazansky 1997: 21 is also skeptical. Cf. however, Nagy 1974: 118–139 (Sappho is influenced by the Iliad); Garner 1990: 1–20 (early lyric allusions to the Homeric poems).
[ back ] 139. So Burgess 2001: 126–127 on PMGF 209; ibid. 116 and 235 nn 246, 247 (departure of Telemachus), ‘this scene originated with the Homeric poem and would not have been part of traditional myth or poetry’; ‘this fragment is an inventive reflection of the Odyssey.’ See Fowler 1987: 35–36,‘clearly inspired by Homer’; Reece 1988: 8 with n.13, ‘Stesichorus used the “Telemachy” as a model for his Nostoi’; ibid. n.14, ‘Stesichorus even refashioned Homeric similes and speeches (Geryoneis)’; see Burkert 1987: 50–51, ‘Stesichorus has thus become the clearest terminus ante quem for the text of Homer as we know it.’ See also Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 1986: 165–184 (P. Lille); 1990: 7–31 (Geryoneis); 1993: 27–31 (PMGF 209); Mueller-Goldingen 2000: 17–18 with n. 38; Willi 2008: 108.
[ back ] 140. On the dilemma of Geryon see Tsitsibakou-Vasalos 1991–1992: 245–256.
[ back ] 141. See Burgess 2001: 47–49, 61–63 and passim.
[ back ] 142. On the preeminence of speeches in Stesichorus see Auger 1976: 335–337. So Burkert 1987: 54, who is tempted to distinguish between voices of characters. See Mueller-Goldingen 2000: 2–3 with n. 7, ‘Stesichorus composes mimetic poems in which the direct speeches and ‘Rollenspiel’ take on a great part and perhaps suggest distribution of choral roles.
[ back ] 143. On the controversial dependence of the sculptor of the Tabula Iliaca on Stesichorus see Bowra 1961:106; Sadurska 1964; Horsfall 1979: 26–48; Kazansky 1997: 55–88; Scafoglio 2005: 113–125.