Chapter Three. Homer the Classic in the Age of Plato

3ⓢ1. The Koine of Homer as a model of stability

3§1 The Koine of Homer, as approximated by the base text of Aristarchus in the second century BCE, was more rigid and less fluid than the Homerus Auctus, as approximated by the base text of Zenodotus in the age of Callimachus in the third century BCE. This Koine of Homer, as I will now argue, already existed in the age of Plato in the fourth century BCE.

3§2 In this earlier age that I identify here with Plato, the Homeric tradition was more rigid and less fluid than it was – or became – in the later age of Callimachus. Conversely, the Homeric tradition in the later age of Callimachus was less rigid and more fluid. Then, in the still later age of Aristarchus, the Homeric tradition reverted: it became once again more rigid and less fluid. Moreover, as I argued in the Prolegomena, the Homeric tradition reached its ultimate state of rigidity in the age of Aristarchus.

3§3 To put it another way: the age of Plato was a time when the Homeric tradition was relatively stable, but there followed a time of destabilization in the later age of Callimachus, which in turn was followed by a time of restabilization in the still later age of Aristarchus. My concern now is the earliest of these three eras, the age of Plato.

3ⓢ2. Homer and the Panathenaic standard

3§4 The stability of the Homeric tradition in the age of Plato stems from the localization of this tradition in Athens, at the feast of the Panathenaia, which was the premier festival of this city. At this festival, Homeric poetry was performed on a regular basis, season after season. We have already seen one aspect of Homeric performance at the Panathenaia, the Panathenaic {354|355} Regulation, which had an effect on the form of Homeric poetry. In general, the ultimate shaping of this form needs to be viewed in the historical context of the Panathenaia. Elsewhere, I have explored this historical context in some detail, keeping track of the relevant evidence to be found in the works of Plato. [1] Here I extend the exploration by concentrating on the actual form of Homeric poetry as Plato must have heard it being performed at the Panathenaia in his time. From here on, I will refer to this form as the Panathenaic Homer.

3§5 Restricting the field of vision to the age of Plato, I start by asking a hypothetical question. Suppose we had access to a transcript of such a Panathenaic Homer – exactly as Plato heard Homeric poetry being performed at the Panathenaia in a given year. The question is, what Homeric text would such a transcript resemble most closely? My answer is this: the closest thing would be the quotations from Homer as we find them in the works of Plato himself. The next closest thing would be the Koine of Homer as approximated by the base text constructed by Aristarchus.

3§6 I follow up with a second question: what poetry was considered to be Homeric – and non-Homeric – in the age of Plato? From the standpoint of the Panathenaia, the answer to this second question is most revealing. As we will see, Homer was assumed to be the poet of the Iliad and Odyssey – and of nothing else. As we will also see, the Iliad and Odyssey were the only epics officially performed at the Panathenaia in the age of Plato. From a Panathenaic point of view, Homer was by now the author of only the Iliad and Odyssey. No other epic qualified as Homeric. Further, what was considered to be Homeric or non-Homeric in the age of Plato was determined by a standard of Panathenaic performance. Here I introduce the concept of a Panathenaic standard as the driving force behind the Panathenaic Homer. What I have been calling the Panathenaic Regulation is a central aspect of this standard.

3§7 Things were different in the subsequent age of Callimachus. By that time, the Homeric tradition had broken free of what I am calling the Panathenaic standard. Texts of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey were no longer dominated by the performative norms of the Athenian festival of the Panathenaia. As I started to argue in Chapter 2, texts of Homer in the age of Callimachus accommodated non-Homeric elements – that is, elements differentiated as non-Homeric in other ages. These supposedly non-Homeric elements were recognized in other ages as Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic. What had earlier determined their non-Homeric status was the Panathenaic standard. {355|356}

3§8 Here I return to the model of the Homerus Auctus as I developed it in Chapter 2 – the model of an all-encompassing Homer in the age of Callimachus in the third century BCE, accommodating Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic traditions. Such an augmented Homer served as the base text of Zenodotus in the third century BCE. In Chapter 2, I contrasted this model of the Homerus Auctus with the later model of an unagumented Homer, that is, the Koine, which served as the base text of Aristarchus.

3§9 That same model of the Homerus Auctus in the age of Callimachus will now have to be contrasted also with an earlier model of a non-augmented Homer, which I trace back to the age of Plato. That earlier model of a non-augmented Homer in the age of Plato is comparable to the Homeric Koine, that is, to the later model of a non-augmented Homer in the age of Aristarchus. To put it another way, the Koine reconstructed by Aristarchus as his base text for editing Homer approximated the Panathenaic Homer, which embodied the continuation of the old Panathenaic standard for performing Homer.

3§10 The antithesis to an unstable and fluid Homerus Auctus is the stable and relatively rigid Panathenaic Homer, which I argue was later approximated by the Homeric Koine as reconstructed by Aristarchus. To sum up my argument so far: this Homeric text – or, better, this Homeric textual tradition – most closely approximated the Athenian norms for performing the Iliad and the Odyssey at the feast of the Panathenaia. The Homeric Koine was an Athenian Koine. From here on, I will refer to the Panathenaic Homer simply as the Homeric Koine.

3ⓢ3. The Homerus Auctus as a predecessor of the Homeric Koine

3§11 In Chapter 2, I explored various similarities that linked the Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic traditions embedded in the Homerus Auctus with what we know as the Homeric tradition. Here in Chapter 3 I will concentrate on the dissimilarities. On the basis of these dissimilarities, our first impression is that the Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic augmentations of the Homerus Auctus must come from post-Homeric as well as non-Homeric traditions. In the end, however, I will conclude that they are pre-Homeric – that is, if we define pre-Homeric in terms of earlier periods when the Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic traditions were as yet undifferentiated from what later became the Homeric tradition. In other words, I will conclude that the Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic augmentations predate the Panathenaic standard of performing Homer in the age of Plato. {356|357}

3§12 In Chapter 2, I was using the terms Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic merely as general points of reference to the poetry conventionally attributed in the ancient world to the poets of the epic Cycle, to Hesiod, and to Orpheus. Now I need to refocus on specific points of reference, and I will start with the term Cyclic.

3§13 By Cyclic, I mean the poetry of the epic Cycle as understood by Aristotle, for whom the Cycle was categorically non-Homeric. In his Poetics, Aristotle mentions two of the Cyclic epics he knew – the Cypria and the Little Iliad – and he makes clear his view that the authors of these epics were poets other than Homer; more than that, he chooses not even to name these poets (1459a37-b16). Another source, Proclus, offers specific names and proveniences: for example, the author of the Cypria was supposedly Stasinus of Cyprus; of the Little Iliad, Lesches of Lesbos; of the Aithiopis and the Iliou Persis, Arctinus of Miletus.

3§14 Aristotle viewed Homer as the author of only two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey (again, Poetics 1459a37-b16; cf. 1448b38-1449a1). [2] Plato, as we see in such works as the Ion, evidently held the same view. In general, the verses that Plato quotes from ‘Homer’ are taken from the Iliad and the Odyssey, not from the epic Cycle. {The one exception is not an exception, because the source is specified as not Homer.}

3§15 This way of thinking is relevant to what I have argued from the start of this chapter: that the Iliad and the Odyssey were the only two epics being performed at the Panathenaia in the age of Plato. As I will argue in Chapter 4, the same situation holds in the fifth century BCE, the age that preceded the age of Plato: in that earlier age as well, the Iliad and the Odyssey were the only two epics being performed at the Panathenaia. As we keep moving further back in time to even earlier ages, however, we will need to re-examine the idea of Homer as the author of only two epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Before the age of Plato, and before the earlier age to be surveyed in Chapter 4, there was an even earlier age when Homer could be viewed as the notional author of all epic, as represented by the concept of the epic Cycle before it became historically differentiated from the Iliad and Odyssey. In that earlier age, as I show in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, the traditions represented by what we know as the epic Cycle were not yet excluded from the program, as it were, of the Panathenaia. [3] {357|358}

3§16 In that earlier age, the idea of the epic Cycle was simply the idea of epic as a comprehensive totality: the term ‘Cycle’ or kuklos was sustained by metaphors of artistic completeness. [4] In later ages, however, as exemplified by the age of Plato, we find that Cyclic poetry became clearly differentiated from Homeric poetry, and the epic Cycle no longer represented any kind of totality. Newer ideas of completeness had replaced the older idea.

3§17 These newer ideas were determined by the artistic measure of tragedy. In the days of Plato and Aristotle, epic totality was represented only by the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, and their completeness was measured according to the standards of tragedy. Aristotle says explicitly that only the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey are comparable to tragedy because only these epics show a complete and unified structure, unlike the epics of the Cycle (Poetics 1459a37-b16). In the works of Plato as well, Homer is measured against the standards of tragedy, and Homer is imagined as a proto-tragedian in his own right (Theaetetus 152e; Republic 10.595c, 598d, 605c, 607a). [5] For Plato and Aristotle, the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey measured up to the standards of tragedy, whereas the epics of the Cycle did not.

3§18 The parallelism of Homer and tragedy is evident at the very beginning of the Poetics of Aristotle (1447a13-15). There he lists in the following order the forms of composition in verbal art: epic or epopoiia (which means literally ‘the making of epos’), tragedy, comedy, dithyramb, and compositions involving performance on the aulos ‘reed’ or the kithara ‘lyre’. All these forms listed there at the beginning of Aristotle’s Poetics correspond to forms of composition that were actually performed at the two major festivals of the Athenians:

(1) the Panathenaia, featuring (a) epic accompanied by no musical instrument, (b) lyric accompanied by aulos, (c) lyric accompanied by kithara, (d) instrumental music played on the aulos, without words, (e) instrumental music played on the kithara, without words
(2) the City Dionysia, featuring (a) tragedy, (b) comedy, (c) dithyramb, and (d) satyr drama. [6]
In Aristotle’s listing, he ostentatiously pairs the composition of epic with the composition of tragedy (the wording is
epopoiia … kai hē tēs tragōidias poiēsis
, {358|359} which means literally ‘the making of
epos
and the making of tragedy’).
[7]
Elsewhere, he says that he views these two particular forms of composition, epic and tragedy, as cognates (
Poetics
1449a2-6).
[8]
In the works of Plato as well, epic is viewed as a cognate of tragedy: more than that, Homer is represented as a proto-tragedian (
Theaetetus
152e;
Republic
10.595c, 598d, 605c, 607a).

3§19 This pattern of associating tragedy with epic, and epic with tragedy, reflects an institutional reality. The genre of epic, as performed at the festival of the Panathenaia, actually shaped and was shaped by the genre of tragedy as performed at the festival of the City Dionysia. In Athens, ever since the sixth century BCE, these two genres were “complementary forms, evolving together and thereby undergoing a process of mutual assimilation in the course of their institutional coexistence.” [9]

3§20 By the time of Plato and Aristotle, such a complementarity of epic and tragedy involved only the epics of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, no longer the epics of the Cycle. This differentiation of the epic Cycle from the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, as I show in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, can be linked with the obsolescence of performing the poetry of the epic Cycle at the Panathenaia after the age of the Peisistratidai. [10]

3§21 Besides the Cycle, there are two other poetic traditions that are evidently differentiated from Homer in the age of Plato, namely, the Hesiodic and the Orphic. As I also show in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, the differentiation of Hesiod and Orpheus from Homer can be linked with the obsolescence of performing Hesiodic and Orphic poetry at the Panathenaia after the age of the Peisistratidai. [11]

3§22 In the case of the Hesiodic tradition, its differentiation from the Homeric tradition is explicit, attested by the textual traditions that culminate in the Hesiodic Theogony as well as the Works and Days. In the case of the Orphic tradition, on the other hand, the differentiation is only implicit. In Chapter 2, in fact, I have already emphasized some aspects of non-differentiation, focusing on occasional convergences between Orphic and Homeric traditions. Here in Chapter 3, I focus on the divergences, which will help me highlight what was distinct about the Homeric tradition in the age of Plato. {359|360}

3ⓢ4. The Panathenaic standard as highlighted by Orphic deviations

3§23 For Plato, what was Orphic was non-Homeric, just as Cyclic and Hesiodic poetry were non-Homeric. Now we will see that whatever Plato considers to be Orphic is a foil for whatever he considers to be Homeric.

3§24 As we consider the dissimilarities between Plato’s Orpheus and Plato’s Homer, our first impression is that the poetry of Orpheus stems from a post-Homeric tradition that deviated from Homer. This impression is reinforced by Aristotle’s view that Orpheus is some kind of post-Homeric invention (Historia animalium 563a18, De generatione animalium 734a19). In Chapter 2, however, I already began to explore the idea that the poetry associated with Orpheus stems from a pre-Homeric tradition – that is, if we define pre-Homeric in terms of a prehistoric age when Orphic poetry was not yet differentiated from what later became Homeric poetry. As I observed in Chapter 2, this idea applies to Cyclic and Hesiodic poetry as well as to Orphic poetry: all three of these poetic traditions seem at first sight to be post-Homeric, but various aspects turn out to be pre-Homeric. Here in Chapter 3, I follow up on this observation by arguing that the Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic traditions predate the Panathenaic standard of performing Homer in the age of Plato. I will argue further that the anteriority of these traditions became reinterpreted as a deviation from the Homeric Koine. A figure like Orpheus, from the standpoint of Plato’s Socrates, was not only non-Homeric: he was deviant in being non-Homeric.

3§25 The idea that Orphic poetry is in some ways older than Homeric poetry can be tested by examining conventional views about Orpheus and Homer in the age of Plato. As we will see, Homer was viewed as a generalist in the realm of poetry, while Orpheus was viewed as a specialist. As we will also see, the poetic categories of generalist and specialist are both defined in terms that conform to the Panathenaic standard of the Homeric Koine.

3§26 In a search for examples, it seems to me best to begin with the idea of the humnos. The background has been given in Chapter 2. As we saw there, this word humnos is attested only once in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, that is, at Odyssey viii 429. Elsewhere, Homer is associated with the humnos only to the extent that he is the ‘author’ of the Homeric Hymns, as we saw in Chapters 1 and 2, where I analyzed his role as the notional author of the Homeric Hymn (3) to Apollo. By contrast, Orpheus is specially associated with the humnos, as we saw already in Chapter 2 with reference to the Humnoi of Orpheus as cited in the Derveni Papyrus. Even in the realm of the Homeric Hymns, Orpheus figures as {360|361} a rival of Homer, as in the case of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, where the attribution of authorship vacillates between Homer and Orpheus. [12]

3§27 Now we turn to the testimony of Plato. In his usage, Orpheus figures as a specialist in the singing of humnoi. In Plato’s Laws (8.829d-e), for example, there is talk of interdicting a hypothetical mousa ‘song’ that is being sung, ‘even if it be sweeter than humnoi that are Orphic [Orpheioi] or than [the humnoi] of Thamyras’ (ᾄδειν ἀδόκιμον μοῦσαν μὴ κρινάντων τῶν νομοφυλάκων, μηδ’ ἂν ἡδίων ᾖ τῶν Θαμύρου τε καὶ ᾿Ορφείων ὕμνων). I draw attention to the fact that Orpheus is implicitly being represented here as a master kitharōidos ‘citharode’, that is, one who sings while playing on the kithara, while Thamyras is a master kitharistēs ‘citharist’, that is, one who plays on the kithara without singing. These artistic specialties are made explicit in another Platonic passage, which shows most of the central themes that figure in this chapter:

3ⓣ1 Plato Ion 533b-c

ΣΩ. Ἀλλὰ μήν, ὥς γ’ ἐγὼ οἶμαι, οὐδ’ ἐν αὐλήσει γε οὐδὲ ἐν κιθαρίσει οὐδὲ ἐν κιθαρῳδίᾳ οὐδὲ ἐν ῥαψῳδίᾳ οὐδεπώποτ’ εἶδες ἄνδρα ὅστις περὶ μὲν ᾿Ολύμπου δεινός ἐστιν ἐξηγεῖσθαι ἢ περὶ Θαμύρου ἢ περὶ {c} ᾿Ορφέως ἢ περὶ Φημίου τοῦ Ἰθακησίου ῥαψῳδοῦ, περὶ δὲ Ἴωνος τοῦ Ἐφεσίου [ῥαψῳδοῦ] ἀπορεῖ καὶ οὐκ ἔχει συμβαλέσθαι ἅ τε εὖ ῥαψῳδεῖ καὶ ἃ μή.

SOCRATES: Here is another thing. As far as I can tell, neither in [1] playing on the aulos [= aulēsis] nor in [2] playing on the kithara [= kitharisis] nor in [3] singing and playing on the kithara [= kitharōidia] nor in [4] performing as a rhapsode [= rhapsōidia] have you seen any man who is skilled at explaining about [1] Olympos [13] or about [2] Thamyras [14] or about [3] Orpheus or about [4] Phemiosof Ithaca, the rhapsode [= rhapsōidos] [15] – but who is perplexed about Ion of Ephesus and is unable to formulate what things Ion performs well as a rhapsode [= rhapsōideîn] and what things he does not. {361|362}

3§28 This passage concerns the ability of specialists to form critical opinions about the crafts in which they specialize. Among these specialists is Orpheus, who is explicitly figured as a master kitharōidos ‘citharode’, that is, one who sings while accompanying himself on the kithara; Thamyras is a master kitharistēs ‘citharist’, that is, one who plays on the kithara; Olympos is a master aulētēs ‘aulete’, that is, one who plays on the reed or aulos; and, finally, Phemios is a master rhapsōidos, that is, ‘rhapsode’. The types of performers listed in this passage correspond to the types of performers that actually competed at the Panathenaia in the age of Plato. At the Panathenaia, there were separate competitions of rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’, of kitharōidoi ‘citharodes’ (= kithara-singers), of aulōidoi ‘aulodes’ (= aulos-singers), of kitharistai ‘citharists’ (= kithara-players), and of aulētai ‘auletes’ (aulos-players), as we learn from an Athenian inscription dated at around 380 BCE (IG II2 2311), which records the winners of Panathenaic prizes. [16] We also learn about these categories of competition from Plato’s Laws (6.764d-e), where we read of rhapsodes, citharodes, and auletes – and where the wording makes it clear that the point of reference is the Panathenaia. [17]

3§29 The evidence about these categories of competition at the Panathenaia is supplemented by what we read in the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians (60.1), where the author refers to these same Panathenaic categories of competition and where the overall competition is specified as the ‘competition [agōn] in mousikē’ (τὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς μουσικῆς). We learn further details from this same source: ten magistrates called athlothetai ‘arrangers of the contests [athloi]’ were selected by lot every four years to organize the festival of the Panathenaia, and one of their primary tasks was the management of the ‘competition [agōn] in mousikē’. According to Plutarch’s Pericles (13.9-11), the Athenian statesman Pericles reformed this competition in mousikē when he was elected as one of the athlothetai. [18] What, then, does the author of the Constitution of the Athenians actually mean when he says mousikē? In Aristotelian usage, this word mousikē is a shorthand way of saying mousikē tekhnē, meaning ‘craft of the Muses’, that is, ‘musical craft’. It would be a misreading, however, to think of ancient Greek mousikē simply in the modern sense of music, since the categories of ‘musical’ performers at the Panathenaia included not only kitharōidoikithara-singers’ and kitharistaikithara-players’ {362|363} and aulōidoiaulos-singers’ and aulētaiaulos-players’ but also rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’. The performative medium of rhapsodes in the era of Aristotle was recitative and thus not ‘musical’ in the modern sense of the word. By recitative I mean (1) performed without singing and (2) performed without the instrumental accompaniment of the kithara or the aulos. [19] In this era, the competitive performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia were ‘musical’ only in an etymological sense, and the medium of the rhapsode was actually closer to what we call ‘poetry’ and farther from what we call ‘music’ in the modern sense of the word. Still, the fact remains that the performances of rhapsodes belonged to what is called the ‘competition [agōn] in mousikē’ (τὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς μουσικῆς), just like the performances of citharodes, citharists, aulodes, auletes, and so on.

3§30 We find in Plato’s Ion an explicit reference to such ‘competition [agōn] in mousikē’:

3ⓣ2 Plato Ion 530a-c [20]

ΣΩ. Τὸν Ἴωνα χαίρειν. πόθεν τὰ νῦν ἡμῖν ἐπιδεδήμηκας; ἢ οἴκοθεν ἐξ Ἐφέσου;

ΙΩΝ. Οὐδαμῶς, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἀλλ’ ἐξ Ἐπιδαύρου ἐκ τῶν Ἀσκληπιείων.

ΣΩ. Μῶν καὶ ῥαψῳδῶν ἀγῶνα τιθέασιν τῷ θεῷ οἱ Ἐπιδαύριοι;

ΙΩΝ. Πάνυ γε, καὶ τῆς ἄλλης γε μουσικῆς.

ΣΩ. Τί οὖν; ἠγωνίζου τι ἡμῖν; καὶ πῶς τι ἠγωνίσω; {b}

ΙΩΝ. Τὰ πρῶτα τῶν ἄθλων ἠνεγκάμεθα, ὦ Σώκρατες.

ΣΩ. Εὖ λέγεις· ἄγε δὴ ὅπως καὶ τὰ Παναθήναια νικήσομεν.

ΙΩΝ. Ἀλλ’ ἔσται ταῦτα, ἐὰν θεὸς ἐθέλῃ.

ΣΩ. Καὶ μὴν πολλάκις γε ἐζήλωσα ὑμᾶς τοὺς ῥαψῳδούς, ὦ Ἴων, τῆς τέχνης· τὸ γὰρ ἅμα μὲν τὸ σῶμα κεκοσμῆσθαι ἀεὶ πρέπον ὑμῶν εἶναι τῇ τέχνῃ καὶ ὡς καλλίστοις φαίνεσθαι, ἅμα δὲ ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι ἔν τε ἄλλοις ποιηταῖς διατρίβειν πολλοῖς καὶ ἀγαθοῖς καὶ δὴ καὶ μάλιστα ἐν Ὁμήρῳ, τῷ ἀρίστῳ καὶ θειοτάτῳ τῶν ποιητῶν, καὶ τὴν τούτου διάνοιαν {c} ἐκμανθάνειν, μὴ μόνον τὰ ἔπη, ζηλωτόν ἐστιν. οὐ γὰρ ἂν γένοιτό ποτε ἀγαθὸς ῥαψῳδός, εἰ μὴ συνείη τὰ λεγόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ {363|364} ποιητοῦ. τὸν γὰρ ῥαψῳδὸν ἑρμηνέα δεῖ τοῦ ποιητοῦ τῆς διανοίας γίγνεσθαι τοῖς ἀκούουσι· τοῦτο δὲ καλῶς ποιεῖν μὴ γιγνώσκοντα ὅτι λέγει ὁ ποιητὴς ἀδύνατον. ταῦτα οὖν πάντα ἄξια ζηλοῦσθαι.

 

SOCRATES: Greetings to Ion. Where from, on this occasion of your visiting us here? Are you coming from your home city, Ephesus?

ION: Not at all, Socrates. I’m coming from Epidaurus, from the festival of Asklepios there.

SOCRATES: You don’t mean that the people of Epidaurus also [= like us Athenians] have a custom of holding a competition [agōn] of rhapsodes [rhapsōidoi]?

ION: Oh, but they do in fact. And they also have a custom of holding competitions in other kinds of mousikē.

SOCRATES: Well, how about that! [21] So you participated in some kind of a competition [agōn] for us? [22] And how did such a competition [agōn] of yours turn out?

ION: We [23] won first prize in the contests [athloi], Socrates!

SOCRATES: Well, good for you! So now let’s see if we [24] can win first prize at the Panathenaia as well! [25]

ION: This will happen, if the god wills it.

SOCRATES: You know, Ion, I for one have always envied you rhapsodes [rhapsōidoi] for your craft [tekhnē]. I say this because it is enviable {364|365} that you are always so physically well put together – as is fitting for your craft [tekhnē] – and that you all look so good, so exceptionally good. And it is enviable at the same time that you rhapsodes have to be well versed in all good poets, especially in the best and most divine of poets, Homer. And that you have to learn not only his verses but also his thinking. For there could never be such a thing as a good rhapsode [rhapsōidos] if he did not understand the things said by the Poet. The rhapsode has to be an interpreter of the thinking of the Poet for his listeners. And to do this well if one does not understand what the Poet says is impossible. [26] So all these things are worthy of envy.

3§31 This passage needs to be seen in the light of the dramatic moment that serves as the setting for this Platonic dialogue. Ion, a rhapsode from Ephesus, has just arrived in Athens, intending to compete for first prize at the festival of the Panathenaia (καὶ τὰ Παναθήναια νικήσομεν, Ion 530b). Plato’s wording makes it explicit that the occasion for performances by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia was in effect a competition or contest among rhapsodes, an agōn (ἀγῶνα Ion 530a, picked up by ἠγωνίζου and ἠγωνίσω later on in 530a), and that the agonistic craft of the rhapsodes was included under the general category of mousikē (μουσικῆς 530a). When Ion says that he hopes to win first prize at the Panathenaia, he adds that he has just won first prize in an agōn of rhapsodes at the feast of the Asklepieia in Epidaurus (530a-b). [27]

3§32 At the agōn ‘competition’ in mousikē held at the Panathenaia, the contests of kitharōidoi ‘citharodes’ [= kithara-singers], of aulōidoi ‘aulodes’ [= aulos-singers], of kitharistai ‘citharists’ [= kithara-players], and of aulētai ‘auletes’ [= aulos-players] may have varied in content from one season to the next, but the overall content of what the rhapsōidoi ‘rhapsodes’ had to perform was invariable – at least, it had become an invariable by the time we reach the age of Plato. In terms of my overall argumentation, that invariable was the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, performed season after season at the Panathenaia. This status of Homer at the Panathenaia is indicated by the wording of Plato’s Socrates in the passage I have just quoted. Socrates’ emphasis on Homer as {365|366} the best of poets is parallel to his emphasis on Homer as the featured poet par excellence at the agōnes ‘competitions’ of the Panathenaia.

3§33 Though we know precious little about the actual performances of Homer by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia in the age of Plato, there is sufficient evidence for positing three features: (1) in line with the Panathenaic Regulation, the rhapsodes took turns in performing the narrative sequence of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey; (2) each of these two epics was divided into twenty-four rhapsodic performance-units or rhapsōidiai ‘rhapsodies’; and (3) the rhapsodes were actively competing as well as collaborating with each other in performing the narrative sequence by way of their rhapsodic relay. [28] There is room for debate about the specifics of all three of these posited features, [29] but there is one overall feature, essential to the argument at hand, that seems to me a certainty: in the era of the Athenian democracy, the repertoire of rhapsodes performing at the Panathenaia was confined exclusively to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. [30] There is a reference to this exclusivity in a speech delivered in 330 BCE by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus, Against Leokrates (102), which concerns the reperforming of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey in their notional entirety on the occasion of the quadrennial festival of the Great Panathenaia: [31]

3ⓣ3 Lycurgus Against Leokrates 102

βούλομαι δ᾿ ὑμῖν καὶ τὸν Ὅμηρον παρασχέσθαι ἐπαινῶν. οὕτω γὰρ ὑπέλαβον ὑμῶν οἱ πατέρες σπουδαῖον εἶναι ποιητήν, ὥστε νόμον ἔθεντο καθ᾿ ἑκάστην πενταετηρίδα τῶν Παναθηναίων μόνου τῶν ἄλλων ποιητῶν ῥαψῳδεῖσθαι τὰ ἔπη, ἐπίδειξιν ποιούμενοι πρὸς τοὺς Ἕλληνας ὅτι τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν ἔργων προῃροῦντο. {366|367}

I wish to adduce [32] for you Homer, quoting [epaineîn] him, [33] since the reception [34] that he had from your [Athenian] ancestors made him so important a poet that there was a law enacted by them that requires, every fourth year of the Panathenaia, the rhapsodic performing [rhapsōideîn] of his verses [epos plural] – his alone and no other poet’s. In this way they [= your (Athenian) ancestors] made a demonstration [epideixis], [35] intended for all Hellenes to see, [36] that they made a conscious choice of the most noble of accomplishments. [37]

3§34 To advance the argument further, I adduce three interconnected details. The first two come from the Ion of Plato, while the third comes from the Panegyricus of Isocrates. {367|368}

3§35 The first detail has to do with a boast made by the rhapsode Ion in Plato’s Ion: he claims that he is worthy of being awarded the prize of a golden stephanos ‘garland’ by the Homēridai ‘descendants of Homer’ (530d). The prize that is mentioned here is mentioned again in two later passages of the Ion (535d, 541c). In one of these two passages, the golden garland is associated with the words thusiai ‘feasts’ and heortai ‘festivals’ (535d). These words are appropriate designations of the festival of the Panathenaia. Piecing together what we learn from all three contexts (530d, 535d, 541c), I infer that the awarding of a golden garland to Ion by the Homēridai is connected with the winning of first prize in the competition of rhapsodes at the Panathenaia. [38] An additional piece of evidence is the inscription I mentioned earlier (IG II2 2311) concerning the prizes won at the Panathenaia in Athens for the year 380 BCE: here we read that the first prize in the competition of citharodes is a golden stephanos ‘garland’ valued at 1000 drachmas, which is awarded in addition to a cash prize of silver valued at 500 drachmas. Though the portion of the inscription dealing with the competition of rhapsodes is lost, it is generally agreed that this missing portion indicated that the first prize in the corresponding competition of rhapsodes was likewise a golden stephanos ‘garland’, and that the amount of cash awarded as first prize to the winning rhapsode was comparable to the amount awarded to the winning citharode. [39]

3§36 I infer that Ion is in effect saying: I am not just any rhapsode, I am a tenured Panathenaic rhapsode. The crowning of the rhapsode with a golden garland by the Homēridai is a Panathenaic signature, as it were. The fact that the Homēridai are linked with the performances of Homeric poetry by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia in Athens is relevant to another fact: as I show in the twin book Homer the Preclassic, Homer himself is linked with the performances of the Iliad and the Odyssey in Athens. [40] Evidence for the linkage comes from myths preserved in the Life of Homer traditions, especially in the Herodotean Life of Homer (Vita 1) and in the Certamen or Contest of Homer and Hesiod (Vita 2). [41] According to the Certamen, the people of the island state of Chios claimed that Homer was the ancestor of a genos ‘lineage’ from Chios who called themselves the Homēridai (Vita 2.13-15). According to the Herodotean Life of Homer, Homer composed both the Iliad and the Odyssey in the city of Chios (Vita 1.346-398) {368|369} and planned to perform both epics in Athens (1.483-484), but he died before he reached his destination (1.484-509). The narrative of the Herodotean Life specifies that Homer augments his composition of both the Iliad and the Odyssey by adding verses that center on the glorification of Athens (1.378-398). Only after he finishes his glorification of Athens does Homer finish composing the Iliad and Odyssey: only then does he take leave of Chios and set sail to tour the rest of Hellas (1.400), intending ultimately to reach the city of Athens (1.483-484). In Homer the Preclassic, I draw the conclusion that these references picturing Athens as the ultimate destination for Homer’s would-be performance of his Iliad and Odyssey are a mythological analogue to the ritual presence of the Homēridai at the rhapsodes’ actual performances of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey at the Panathenaia in Athens. [42]

3§37 I now come to a second interconnected detail in Plato’s Ion. It has to do with the dramatized circumstances of Ion’s dialogue with Socrates, which happens on the eve of the day when this rhapsode enters the agōn ‘competition’ in mousikē at the Panathenaia (530a-b). As we saw a moment ago, it is made clear that Ion will be competing with other rhapsodes in the performance of Homeric poetry, and that he expects to win the first prize in that competition. [43] Of special interest here is the term mousikē (tekhnē), which means literally ‘craft (tekhnē) of the Muses’. As we saw earlier, it would be anachronistic to translate this term as ‘music’, since it applies not only to the craft of singing lyric accompanied by the kithara or aulos, as represented by citharodes and aulodes, but also to the craft of reciting epic without any instrumental accompaniment. That particular craft is represented by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia.

3§38 The third and decisive interconnected detail comes from a passage in the Panegyricus of Isocrates, concerning the repertoire of rhapsodes competing with each other in the athloi ‘contests’ in mousikē at the Panathenaia:

3ⓣ4 Isocrates (4) Panegyricus 159

οἶμαι δὲ καὶ τὴν ῾Ομήρουποίησιν μείζω λαβεῖν δόξαν ὅτι καλῶς τοὺς πολεμήσαντας τοῖς βαρβάροις ἐνεκωμίασεν καὶ διὰ τοῦτο βουληθῆναι τοὺς προγόνους ἡμῶν ἔντιμον αὐτοῦ ποιῆσαι τὴν {369|370} τέχνην ἔν τε τοῖς τῆς μουσικῆςἄθλοις καὶ τῇ παιδεύσει τῶν νεωτέρων, ἵνα πολλάκις ἀκούοντες τῶν ἐπῶν ἐκμανθάνωμεν τὴν ἔχθραν τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν πρὸς αὐτοὺς καὶ ζηλοῦντες τὰς ἀρετὰς τῶν στρατευσαμένων τῶν αὐτῶν ἔργων ἐκείνοις ἐπιθυμῶμεν.

I think that the poetry [poiēsis] of Homer received all the more glory because he celebrated so beautifully those who waged war against the barbarians, and it was because of this that our [Athenian] ancestors wanted to make his craft [tekhnē] a thing to be honored both in the contests [athloi] [of rhapsodes] in mousikē and in the education [paideusis] of the young, so that we, having the chance to hear often his [= Homer’s] verses [epos plural], may learn thoroughly the existing hostility against them [= the barbarians], and so that we may admire the accomplishments of those who have waged war and desire to accomplish the same deeds that they had accomplished. [44]

3§39 In the reference that this contemporary of Plato is making here to Homer, the wording assumes that the epics performed at the Panathenaia were totally familiar to all Athenians. Such epics, in the Athens of Isocrates and Plato in the fourth century BCE, can only be the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. Even in the general usage of Isocrates (2.48; 10.65; 12.18, 33, 293; 13.2), we find that the term Homer refers to no poet other than the poet of the Iliad and Odyssey. The same goes for the general usage of Plato himself (a case in point is Ion 539d).

3§40 Also relevant in this passage from Isocrates is the designation of Homeric poiēsis ‘poetic creation’ as a tekhnē ‘craft’. [;45] As we see from his wording, Isocrates links the ‘craft’ of Homer with (1) the Panathenaic athloi ‘contests’ of rhapsodes and (2) the paideusis ‘education’ of the young. In view of the fact that mousikē was an appropriate term for designating not only the craft of, say, citharodes performing lyric poetry at the Panathenaia but also the craft of rhapsodes performing the epic poetry of Homer at the same festival, I stress once again that mousikē cannot be understood as ‘music’ in the modern sense of the word.

3§41 Pursuing this idea of the rhapsode as a master of mousikē, let us return to the passage in Plato’s Ion where we saw a list of mythical prototypes corresponding to the categories of performers who compete in the {370|371} agōn ‘competition’ of mousikē at the Panathenaia (533b-c). The correspondences were anachronistic – and revealing in their anachronisms. There was Orpheus, master kitharōidos ‘citharode’, that is, one who sings while accompanying himself on the kithara. Then there was Thamyras, master kitharistēs ‘citharist’, that is, one who plays on the kithara but does not sing. [46] And then there was Olympos, master aulētēs ‘aulete’ that is, one who plays on the reed or aulos. Finally, there was Phemios, master rhapsōidos, that is, ‘rhapsode’. The key figure in this quartet is Phemios the rhapsode. By contrast with the generic rhapsode who recited Homer in the age of Plato, without instrumental accompaniment, the prototypical rhapsode Phemios matches a singing Homer as envisioned in Homeric poetry: inside the narrative of the Homeric Odyssey, Phemios is not a reciter but an aoidos ‘singer’ (i 325, 346, 347; xxii 330, 345, 376) who literally ‘sings’ (aeidein i 154, 155, 325, 326, 350; xvii 262; xxii 331, 346, 348; noun aoidē i 159, 328, 340, 351) as he performs his epics inside the epic of the Odyssey (at i 326, the epic sung by Phemios is a nostos ‘song of homecoming’), and he even accompanies himself on the equivalent of a kithara, the kitharis (i 153, 159; elsewhere, his instrument is called a phorminx at xvii 262; xxii 332, 340; verb phormizein i 155).

3§42 What, then, is the formal difference in Plato’s Ion between Phemios the ‘rhapsode’ and Orpheus the ‘citharode’ or ‘kithara-singer’? After all, Orpheus – just like Phemios – is imagined as singing and accompanying himself on the kithara. The difference is that Phemios, as a ‘rhapsode’, is a worthy point of comparison for Homer as the ultimate poet, whereas Orpheus, as a ‘citharode’, is not. The ‘music’ of Phemios as a rhapsode is central at the Panathenaia in the days of Plato, whereas the ‘music’ of Orpheus is marginalized. Even as a citharode, Orpheus is mockingly marginalized:

3ⓣ5 Plato Symposium 179d-e

᾿Ορφέα δὲ τὸν Οἰάγρου ἀτελῆ ἀπέπεμψαν ἐξ ᾍδου, φάσμα δείξαντες τῆς γυναικὸς ἐφ’ ἣν ἧκεν, αὐτὴν δὲ οὐ δόντες, ὅτι μαλθακίζεσθαι ἐδόκει, ἅτε ὢν κιθαρῳδός, καὶ οὐ τολμᾶν ἕνεκα τοῦ ἔρωτος ἀποθνῄσκειν ὥσπερ Ἄλκηστις, ἀλλὰ διαμηχανᾶσθαι ζῶν εἰσιέναι εἰς {371|372} ᾍδου. τοιγάρτοι διὰ ταῦτα δίκην αὐτῷ ἐπέθεσαν, καὶ ἐποίησαν τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ ὑπὸ γυναικῶν {e} γενέσθαι

But the gods sent Orpheus the son of Oiagros back from Hades without his having achieved a successful outcome [telos], [47] since they revealed to him a mere phantom [phasma] of the woman for whom he came [to Hades], but the woman herself they did not give back to him, since he seemed to them an unmanly man, a typical citharode [kitharōidos], who did not have the daring to die for love the way Alcestis did but instead contrived a way to enter Hades while holding on to his life. And that is why the gods imposed their just penalty on him by making him die a death at the hands of women.

3§43 We expect a citharode or kithara-singer to be a master of songs about love, but Orpheus here is mocked as a failure in love. Effete and even effeminate, he loses his lady love and then his own life as well. We see him fail here even in his poetic specialty, that is, in his mastery of initiation into the mysteries. [48] Later on, I will have more to say about Orpheus as a specialist in mystical poetry. For now, I merely emphasize that Orpheus in the age of Plato was marginalized by comparison with Homer, who had become centralized as the poet par excellence. By comparison with Homer, Orpheus in the age of Plato seems a deviant.

3§44 The marginalization of Orpheus was in fact well under way before the age of Plato: throughout the era of the Athenian democracy, Orpheus was already being marginalized. He was associated with notionally marginal humans who were not even Hellenes but Thracians. He could even be pictured as a non-Hellene himself, a Thracian in his own right. [49]

3§45 Let us pursue further the idea that Orpheus, the mythical kitharōidos ‘citharode’ of Plato’s Ion, is a specialist in ‘music’ and thus a foil for Homer. The same goes for Thamyras the mythical kitharistēs ‘kithara-player’ and for Olympos the mythical aulētēs ‘aulos-player’: they too are specialists and thus foils for Homer. [50] By contrast, Phemios the mythical rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’ {372|373} is a surrogate for Homer as the ultimate generalist in the ‘music’ of the Panathenaia. Not only the mythical rhapsode but also the contemporary rhapsodes in the days of Plato – as represented by Ion himself – figure as surrogates of Homer in the context of the Panathenaia. As I noted before, the performances of Ion and his colleagues at that festival are restricted to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. As surrogates of Homer, the rhapsodes performing at the Panathenaia must be generalists in ‘music’ just like Homer, who is viewed as the generalized embodiment of poetry par excellence in the days of Plato. That is why Homer is known as the poiētēs ‘Poet’ par excellence and that is why his compositions are known as poiēsis ‘poetry’ or ‘poetic creation’ par excellence.

3§46 Thus the generic rhapsode performing the poetry of Homer at the Panathenaia becomes a generalized representative of poetry as ‘music’: his identity extends from the prototypical singer who sings Homeric song all the way to the contemporary rhapsode who recites Homeric poetry. By extension, Ion the rhapsode may at first seem like a generalized representative of poetry in his own right, for the simple reason that he is a representative of Homeric poetry. To the extent that Homer the poet is considered a generalist, not a specialist, so too the rhapsode who performs Homer may at first seem like a generalist in poetry.

3ⓢ5. Plato’s attempt to discredit the Panathenaic standard

3§47 If Ion the rhapsode is a generalist in poetry, then he can be held responsible by Plato’s Socrates not only for Homeric poetry but also for all poetry. That is Ion’s good fortune, from his own standpoint as the most prestigious rhapsode in his time, ‘the best rhapsode of the Hellenes’ (Plato Ion 541b τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἄριστος ῥαψῳδός). [51] That is also Ion’s misfortune, from the standpoint of the philosophical agenda built into the dialogue named after him. If Plato’s Socrates can succeed in discrediting Ion, he can discredit a man who represents the best of all poetry in the days of Plato. [52] In the process, {373|374} Plato is also discrediting the Panathenaic standard of Homeric poetry, which sets the criteria for what is the best of all poetry.

3§48 One way for Socrates to discredit Ion is to show that the rhapsode who performs Homer, unlike Homer, is in fact no generalist in poetry. Plato’s Socrates forces Ion to admit that he is a specialist: when Socrates asks Ion whether he is an expert in the poetry of Hesiod or Archilochus, the rhapsode replies that he is not, and that his expertise in Homer is hikanon ‘sufficient’ (Ion 531a). [53] Ion is forced to admit that he is an expert in Homer – and Homer only – but he justifies his non-expertise in other poets on the grounds that Homer is superior to all other poets (531a-532c). [54] This formulation suits perfectly a Panathenaic rhapsode, in terms of my argument that Homeric poetry was the only poetry performed by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia in the days of Plato.

3§49 In the context of the Panathenaia, the figure of Homer evolved to the point of becoming the all-sufficient poet, the ultimate generalist in poetry. By the age of Plato, the feast of the Panathenaia could leave no room for any poet other than Homer in the rhapsodic competitions – no Hesiod, no Archilochus – not to mention Orpheus and Musaeus or the poets of the epic Cycle. Only in the citharodic – and the aulodic – competitions at the Panathenaia was there room left for other poets, and these poets had to be non-epic poets, that is, so-called lyric poets like Simonides.

3§50 And yet, all early poets are linked, says Plato’s Socrates, to the single and absolute source of poetic or ‘musical’ inspiration, the Muses. Just as rhapsodes are hermēneis ‘interpreters’ of poets, so also poets are hermēneis ‘interpreters’ {374|375} of the Muses (Ion 535b). I am about to quote a passage from Plato’s Ion (536a-c) where a collectivized concept of the Muses as a single absolute source of all poetry or ‘music’ – in the literal sense of mousikē ‘craft [tekhnē] of the Muses’ – is expressed by Socrates through the metaphor of the Heraclean or Magnesian stone, that is, the magnet (Ion 533d). Poets are imagined as metallic rings directly ‘linked’ to a prototypical magnet of poetic inspiration, the Muses. Poets, as direct links to the magnet, are the prōtoi daktulioi ‘first rings’. As we are about to see, Plato’s Socrates expresses the direct ‘linkage’ of the metallic rings to the prototypical magnet by way of the verb exartân ‘link’, which I will translate as ‘magnetically link’, and he makes it explicit that the poets symbolized by the metallic rings are likewise prototypical, namely, Orpheus, Musaeus, and Homer – in that order:

3ⓣ6 Plato Ion 536a-c

καὶ ὁ μὲν τῶν ποιητῶν ἐξ ἄλλης Μούσης, ὁ δὲ ἐξ ἄλλης ἐξήρτηται. ὀνομάζομεν δὲ αὐτὸκατέχεται, τὸ δέ {b} ἐστι παραπλήσιον· ἔχεται γάρ. ἐκ δὲ τούτων τῶν πρώτωνδακτυλίων, τῶν ποιητῶν, ἄλλοι ἐξ ἄλλου αὖ ἠρτημένοι εἰσὶ καὶ ἐνθουσιάζουσιν, οἱ μὲν ἐξ ᾿Ορφέως, οἱ δὲ ἐκ Μουσαίου· οἱ δὲ πολλοὶ ἐξ ῾Ομήρουκατέχονταί τε καὶ ἔχονται. ὧν σύ, ὦ Ἴων, εἷς εἶ καὶ κατέχῃ ἐξ Ὁμήρου, καὶ ἐπειδὰν μέν τις ἄλλου του ποιητοῦ ᾄδῃ, καθεύδεις τε καὶ ἀπορεῖς ὅτι λέγῃς, ἐπειδὰν δὲ τούτου τοῦ ποιητοῦ φθέγξηταί τις μέλος, εὐθὺς ἐγρήγορας καὶ ὀρχεῖταί σου ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ εὐπορεῖς ὅτι {c} λέγῃς· οὐ γὰρ τέχνῃ οὐδ’ ἐπιστήμῃ περὶ Ὁμήρου λέγεις ἃ λέγεις, ἀλλὰ θείᾳ μοίρᾳ καὶ κατοκωχῇ.

One of the given poets [poiētai] is magnetically linked [exartân] to one Muse, and another poet [poiētēs] to another Muse. [55] And we express this idea [= auto ‘it’ = passive of exartân = ‘is magnetically linked to’] by saying ‘is possessed by’ [= passive of katekhein]. And it [= the idea of ‘is possessed by’] is pretty much the same sort of thing, since he [= the poet] is literally ‘held fast’ [= passive of ekhein] [by the Muse]. Then, from these first rings, that is, from the poets [poiētai], each different person is magnetically linked [artân] to a different poet [poiētēs], becoming divinely possessed [= enthousiazein = becoming entheos]: some persons are magnetically linked {375|376} to Orpheus, some to Musaeus, and the majority, to Homer; they [= these persons] are possessed [= passive of katekhein] [by the poets], and they are literally ‘held fast’ [= passive of ekhein]. [56] You, Ion, are one of these persons, and you are possessed [= passive of katekhein] by Homer. When anyone sings the poetry of any other poet, you are asleep and do not know what to say, but when anyone voices the song of this poet [= Homer], then, right away, you are awake and your spirit is dancing and you know very well what to say. For you say what you say about Homer not by means of a craft [tekhnē] or expertise [epistēmē] but rather by means of a god-given legacy [moira] and a state of possession [katokōkhē].

3§51 Of supreme importance is the image of the First Rings (prōtoi daktulioi) as visualized here in Plato’s Ion (536b). The First Rings are symbols for the three First Poets, named here as Orpheus, Musaeus, and Homer – in that order. It is made clear that the performers of Homer outnumber by far the performers of Orpheus and Musaeus in the era of Socrates. One such performer of Homer is Ion the rhapsode, described as a Middle Ring in comparison to Homer. By implication, performers of Orpheus and Musaeus are likewise Middle Rings in comparison to Orpheus and Musaeus themselves, who are First Rings like Homer. As my argumentation proceeds, the image of the First Rings as symbols for First Poets will become ever more significant.

3§52 A figure like Ion, as a rhapsode, is not a prototypical poet. He is no First Ring. He is not even a poet. As a performer, the rhapsode is merely a Middle Ring linked magnetically to one of the First Rings, in this case, to Homer. Performers of epic and of drama are Middle Rings in relation to the poets of epic and of drama, who are First Rings, whereas the audiences watching rhapsodes performing Homer – and the audiences watching actors performing drama in the theater – are the Last Rings:

3ⓣ7 Plato Ion 535e-536a

ΣΩ. οἶσθα οὖν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ θεατὴς τῶν δακτυλίων ὁ ἔσχατος, ὧν ἐγὼ ἔλεγον ὑπὸ τῆς Ἡρακλειώτιδος λίθου ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων τὴν δύναμιν λαμβάνειν; ὁ δὲ μέσος σὺ ὁ {536 a} ῥαψῳδὸς καὶ ὑποκριτής, ὁ δὲ πρῶτος αὐτὸς ὁ ποιητής. {376|377}

SOCRATES: Of course you know that this person we talked about, the spectator [theatēs] in the audience, is the last of the rings – I mean, the rings that get their power from each other through the force of the Heraclean stone. The middle ring is the rhapsode – that’s you [= Ion] – as well as the actor [hupokritēs]. And the first ring is the Poet [poiētēs] himself.

3§53 In introducing this passage, I deliberately used a visual metaphor when I said that the audiences of epic and of drama were ‘watching’ the performers, not just ‘listening’ to them. The wording in the passage makes it explicit that the audiences are ‘spectators’, that is, theatai. In using the word theatēs ‘spectator’ here in the Ion (535e), Plato’s Socrates makes no distinction between the audiences who attend performances of Homeric epic at the Panathenaia and the audiences who attend performances of drama at the City Dionysia and other dramatic festivals. [57] The audiences of both epic and drama are the ‘last’ ring. Then there is the ‘middle’ ring, and Socrates places Ion the rhapsode into this category, along with the generic hupokritēs ‘actor’ of drama.

3§54 In order to discredit Ion, Plato’s Socrates has in effect disconnected the prestige of Ion as the performer of Homeric poetry from the prestige of Homer as the notional composer of Homeric poetry. This way, the prestige of Homer is not directly challenged, just as the prestige of Homeric poetry as the {377|378} premier poetic event of the Panathenaia cannot be challenged. The idea of Homer as the all-sufficient and all-encompassing Poet is a given. It is already a historical reality.

3§55 The dominant status of Homeric poetry is not the only historical reality relevant to the argument in Plato’s Ion. Another reality is the dominant status of the actual craft of rhapsodically performing – and interpreting – Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia in the dramatic time of Plato’s dialogues. I say craft in view of the explicit designation rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ as we see it applied by Plato’s Socrates at later stages of his argumentation in the Ion (538b, 538c, 538d, 539e, 540a, 540d, 541a). Thus the rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ of the Panathenaic rhapsode is another given. It too is already a historical reality.

3§56 At the earliest stages of his argumentation in the Ion, however, Plato’s Socrates avoids referring to this tekhnē of the rhapsode. Instead, he speaks only about the overall craft of the poet, which is designated as poiētikē tekhnē ‘poetic craft’, and he induces Ion to admit that this craft is a holon, an integral whole, just like other tekhnai (532c). (For the moment, I translate poiētikē as ‘poetic craft’, but it is more accurate to render this word as ‘craft of composition’, since the poiētēs as ‘poet’ is the composer par excellence in the verbal arts.) Then Socrates induces Ion to admit that the craft of painters, graphikē tekhnē, is likewise a holon ‘whole’ (532e), and that craftsmen are like painters – and sculptors, he adds – in that they need to be experts in the totality of their respective crafts (532e-533b). By the time he speaks about the craft of sculptors, Plato’s Socrates has already omitted the word tekhnē. This omission facilitates his transition to the passage I have already quoted about craftsmen such as auletes and citharists and citharodes and rhapsodes (Ion 533b-c). Far from speaking of these craftsmen as representatives of separate crafts, Plato’s Socrates groups them together as representatives of a single craft, to which he had referred earlier as that integral whole, the poiētikē tekhnē. How could it be, asks Socrates, that any one of these craftsmen – auletes and citharists and citharodes and rhapsodes – could fail to be an expert in that integral whole, in that single craft of theirs, that is, in the poiētikē tekhnē? Ion, who has already accepted the premise that the poiētikē tekhnē is an integral whole, a holon, is now forced to admit that he simply cannot claim to be such an expert: instead, Ion is an expert only in one aspect of that craft, that is, in Homeric poetry (533c).

3§57 Next, Plato’s Socrates induces Ion to accept the idea that the rhapsode’s profession is therefore not even a matter of tekhnē but rather, a matter of inspiration (Ion 533e). By implication, the rhapsode is an expert only in the {378|379} craft of mousikē, the craft of the Muse who inspires poets, not in the craft of the poet himself, that is, in the craft of poiētikē. This way, as we have already seen, Ion’s authority as a rhapsode can still be validated as ‘magnetically’ linked to the authority of Homer as poet, which in turn is ‘magnetically’ linked to the authority of his inspiring Muse as the ultimate source – the ultimate inspiration. Once Ion accepts this idea, however, his authority as a thinker is thereby discredited: he has in effect admitted that, as a rhapsode, he has no mind of his own and simply speaks the mind of Homer. Only after the rhapsode has accepted the idea that he is an inspired performer does Socrates start speaking openly about the ‘rhapsodic craft’, rhapsōidikē tekhnē, in his continued dialogue with the rhapsode. By now it is safe for Socrates to speak this way. Since Ion has already been discredited as a thinker, he cannot invoke his prestigious rhapsodic craft as a source for independent thinking. Even the prestige of Homeric knowledge – to the extent that the rhapsode derives it from his rhapsodic craft – has been diminished: by now the rhapsode’s general knowledge seems less impressive than the specialized knowledge that other craftsmen derive from their own specialized crafts.

3§58 From the standpoint of a rhapsode, Ion’s mistake in the Platonic dialogue named after him is that he missed the chance of asserting, from the very start, that there was indeed such a thing as a ‘rhapsodic craft’, a rhapsōidikē tekhnē. He also missed the chance of asserting that the prestige of this distinct craft was superior to the prestige of other distinct crafts such as those represented by auletes and citharists and maybe even citharodes – at least, at the Panathenaia. [58]

3§59 As the craft of rhapsodically performing Homeric poetry evolved in the context of ‘musical’ competitions at the Panathenaia, it had reached a level of prestige that overshadowed other forms of performance as they too evolved in the context of competitions at the same festival. I have already quoted the passage where these other forms are listed alongside the premier form, that is, {379|380} alongside the craft of rhapsodically performing Homeric poetry. Viewing by hindsight the Socratic attempt to shade over the importance of the premier form, I now requote the passage in order to highlight this importance:

3ⓣ8 Plato Ion 533b-c

ΣΩ. Ἀλλὰ μήν, ὥς γ’ ἐγὼ οἶμαι, οὐδ’ ἐν αὐλήσει γε οὐδὲ ἐν κιθαρίσει οὐδὲ ἐν κιθαρῳδίᾳ οὐδὲ ἐν ῥαψῳδίᾳ οὐδεπώποτ’ εἶδες ἄνδρα ὅστις περὶ μὲν ᾿Ολύμπου δεινός ἐστιν ἐξηγεῖσθαι ἢ περὶ Θαμύρου ἢ περὶ ᾿Ορφέως ἢ περὶ Φημίου τοῦ Ἰθακησίου ῥαψῳδοῦ, περὶ δὲ Ἴωνος τοῦ Ἐφεσίου [ῥαψῳδοῦ] ἀπορεῖ καὶ οὐκ ἔχει συμβαλέσθαι ἅ τε εὖ ῥαψῳδεῖ καὶ ἃ μή.

SOCRATES: Here is another thing. As far as I can tell, neither in [1] playing on the aulos [= aulēsis] nor in [2] playing on the kithara [= kitharisis] nor in [3] singing and playing on the kithara [= kitharōidia] nor in [4] performing as a rhapsode [= rhapsōidia] have you seen any man who is skilled at explaining about [1] Olympos or about [2] Thamyras or about [3] Orpheus or about [4] Phemios of Ithaca, the rhapsode – but who is perplexed about Ion of Ephesus and is unable to formulate what things Ion performs well as a rhapsode [= verb of rhapsōidos] and what things he does not.

3§60 In this catalogue of various crafts of performing various kinds of ‘music’ at the Panathenaia, Plato’s Socrates shades over the historical fact that the repertoire of rhapsodes who competed at the Panathenaia was by this time restricted to Homeric poetry, whereas the repertoire of, say, the citharodes or kithara-singers was not restricted to the poetry of any single master of lyric. [59] Plato’s Socrates makes it look like a deficiency that Ion the rhapsode performs – and interprets – Homer and only Homer. Philosophically, this specialization may indeed be a deficiency, but, historically, it is a clear indication of the prestige inherent in the craft of performing the epic of Homer in Athens.

3§61 In the passage I just requoted from Plato’s Ion (533b-c), the wording shows that any rhapsode who competes at the Panathenaia practices the craft of a performer, not the craft of a composer. The same holds for the crafts of the auletes and the citharists and the citharodes. All such craftsmen are being viewed as performers at festivals like the Panathenaia, not as composers. As {380|381} we take a closer look at the same passage, we discover that this view extends also to the prototypes of these craftsmen, that is, to Olympos, Thamyras, Orpheus, and Phemios. All four of these prototypical figures are viewed here as performers in their own right, not as composers per se.

3§62 The specialization of these four prototypes of Panathenaic performance is most striking in the case of Phemios, who is being equated in this passage with the figure of an archetypal ‘rhapsode’. Plato’s Socrates exploits this equation to further his philosophical agenda. We have already seen that the rhapsode can perform and even interpret the content of what he performs at the Panathenaia, that is, the epics of Homer, but he is not the composer of this content. Therefore the rhapsode is not a poet. If Phemios is a rhapsode, then he is not a poiētēs ‘poet’ in the literal sense of this word: he is not the ‘maker’ of the content. Only Homer can be said to poieîn ‘make’ the content of Homeric poetry. [60]

3§63 From what we have already seen about Phemios, we can picture him as a self-representation of Homer in Homer. And yet, the self that is Homer changes over time. When Phemios is equated with a rhapsode in Plato’s Ion, this equation implies that Phemios is no longer a poet like Homer, since the rhapsode who competes at the Panathenaia is no composer like Homer but merely a performer of Homer. To equate the Panathenaic rhapsode with the self-represented Homer that is Phemios is to detract from Homer the Poet. If Phemios in the Homeric Odyssey is merely performing but not composing, like some rhapsode competing at the Panathenaia, then he has no say about determining the content of what he performs. Such a recreated Homer can only say what Homer is saying. And what exactly is it that Homer is saying? According to Plato’s Socrates, Homer in turn can only say what the Muses are saying.

3§64 Thus Plato’s Socrates exploits the equating of Phemios with a rhapsode by using it as proof for his argument that the rhapsode has no mind of his own when he performs Homer. This argument, however, can be used to discredit the rhapsode only if the craft of the rhapsode has already been discredited. Plato’s Socrates has managed to accomplish that by initially eliding the fact that the rhapsode has his own tekhnē ‘craft’, the rhapsōidikē tekhnē. The rhapsode’s understanding of Homer, in terms of this tekhnē, does not need to be separated from the idea that the rhapsode is inspired by the Muses of Homer. In terms of this tekhnē, the professional conceit of the Panathenaic rhapsode is that he reads, as it were, the mind of Homer. The {381|382} rhapsode’s mind has learned the ‘meaning’ or dianoia of Homer (Ion 530b-c). [61] The living proof of this conceit is the rhapsode’s capacity to perform Homer by heart at the Panathenaia and to be the perfect hermēneus ‘interpreter’ of Homer (Ion 530c). [62]

3§65 What, then, is the poetry of Homer for the rhapsode? As we saw in the passage I quoted earlier from Isocrates (Panegyricus 159), Homeric poiēsis ‘poetry’ is a tekhnē ‘craft’ that is activated in two linked contexts: (1) the Panathenaic athloi ‘contests’ of rhapsodes in mousikē ‘musical craft’ and (2) the paideusis ‘education’ of the young. The wording of Isocrates, as quoted above, makes it clear that Homeric poetry is a tekhnē ‘craft’ in its own right, and that it counts as part of the overall mousikē ‘musical craft’ of the Panathenaic athloi ‘contests’ (Panegyricus 159).

3§66 Unlike Isocrates, however, who implicitly identifies the craft of the rhapsode with the craft of Homer, Plato seeks to make a distinction between the two crafts. He does this by implicitly making a distinction between the crafts of mousikē and poiētikē, as if the rhapsode were an expert only in the craft of mousikē, not in the craft of poiētikē.

3§67 Already at the very beginning of the Ion, Plato’s Socrates had drawn Ion’s attention away from Homeric poetry as a tekhnē ‘craft’ in its own right by speaking instead about the more general concept of poiētikētekhnē ‘poetic craft’. Once Socrates induces Ion to admit that the poiētikē tekhnē is a holon ‘whole’ (532c), much like the tekhnai ‘crafts’ of painting and sculpting (532e-533b), he has already succeeded in discrediting the craft of performing and teaching Homeric poiēsis ‘poetry’. Such performing and teaching is in effect the rhapsōidikē tekhnē of Ion. In order to emphasize the universalized importance of Ion’s craft, I repeat once again the formulation of Isocrates: the tekhnē ‘craft’ of Homeric poiēsis ‘poetry’ is coextensive with the paideusis ‘education’ of the young. Ion has unwittingly discredited his own tekhnē once he admits that he is a specialist in Homer. Moreover, in order to validate his specialty, he is forced to deny that his tekhnē is really a tekhnē.

3§68 Plato’s Socrates has forced Ion to make a choice: the rhapsode’s authority comes either from inspiration or from the poiētikē tekhnē, the craft of poetry. Ion is forced to choose inspiration as the source of his ultimate authority, since that inspiration comes ultimately from the Muses of Homer. Ion is not allowed to claim the craft of poetry as his ultimate authority because he is forced to admit that he is a master in only one aspect of that craft, that is, {382|383} in Homeric poetry. Moreover, he is a master in only two of three aspects of that poetry, that is, in performing and interpreting it; he not a master in the third aspect, that is, in composing Homeric poetry.

3§69 Plato’s Ion has to make a choice that a rhapsode need not have had to make, between tekhnē and inspiration. Provided the rhapsode insists that his craft is really a craft, a specialized rhapsōidikē tekhnē instead of the generalized poiētikē tekhnē, he can have his own tekhnē and still claim to be inspired by the Muses of Homer. With his specialized craft, he can lay claim to the generalized and even universalized paideusis ‘education’ represented by the poiēsis ‘poetry’ of Homer, since his rhapsōidikē tekhnē is part of the overall mousikē tekhnē of performing at the Panathenaia.

3§70 The time has come to summarize the distinctions in the meanings of rhapsōidikē, mousikē, and poiētikē as applied to the word tekhnē ‘craft’ in the age of Plato. The rhapsōidikē tekhnē is the craft of performing recitative poetry at agōnes / athloi ‘contests, competitions’, especially at the Panathenaia. The mousikē tekhnē is the craft of performing (1) recitative poetry or (2) song and / or (3) instrumental ‘music’ (in the modern sense of the word) at these same agōnes / athloi ‘contests, competitions’. The poiētikē tekhnē is the craft of composing – but not necessarily performing – in the media of mousikē tekhnē that we have seen so far and in other media as well, including tragedy, comedy, dithyramb, satyr drama, and so on. In the opening of Aristotle’s Poetics, which is, in Greek terms, a discourse about poiētikē tekhnē, we see a definition that validates in many ways the working definition that I have just offered:

3ⓣ9 Aristotle Poetics 1447a8-18

περὶ ποιητικῆς αὐτῆς τε καὶ τῶν εἰδῶν αὐτῆς, ἥν τινα δύναμιν ἕκαστον ἔχει, καὶ πῶς δεῖ συνίστασθαι τοὺς μύθους εἰ μέλλει καλῶς ἕξειν ἡ ποίησις, ἔτι δὲ ἐκ πόσων καὶ ποίων ἐστὶ μορίων, ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὅσα τῆς αὐτῆς ἐστι μεθόδου, λέγωμεν ἀρξάμενοι κατὰ φύσιν πρῶτον ἀπὸ τῶν πρώτων. ἐποποιία δὴ καὶ ἡ τῆς τραγῳδίας ποίησις ἔτι δὲ κωμῳδία καὶ ἡ διθυραμβοποιητικὴ καὶ τῆς αὐλητικῆς ἡ πλείστη καὶ κιθαριστικῆς πᾶσαι τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι μιμήσεις τὸ σύνολον· διαφέρουσι δὲ ἀλλήλων τρισίν, ἢ γὰρ τῷ ἐν ἑτέροις μιμεῖσθαι ἢ τῷ ἕτερα ἢ τῷ ἑτέρως καὶ μὴ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον.

Concerning poetic craft [poiētikē (tekhnē)] in and of itself, and its forms [eidos (plural)], and what potential each form has; and how mythical plots [muthoi] must be put together if the poetic composition [poiēsis] is to be good at doing what it does; and how many parts {383|384} it is made of, and what kinds of parts they are; and, likewise, all other questions that belong to the same line of inquiry – let us speak about all these things by starting, in accordance with the natural order, from first principles. So, the composition of epic [epopoiia = the poiēsis of epos] and the composition [poiēsis] of tragedy, as well as comedy and the poetic craft [poiētikē (tekhnē)] of the dithyramb and most sorts of crafts related to the aulos and the kithara – all of these crafts, as it happens, are instances of re-enactment [mimēsis], [63] taken as a whole. There are three things that make these instances of re-enactment different from each other: [1] re-enacting [mimeîsthai] things in different media, or [2] re-enacting different things, or [3] re-enacting in a mode [tropos] that is different and not the same as the other modes.

3§71 In Aristotle’s catalogue of genres of poiētikē tekhnē ‘poetic craft’ we can see the dimension of performance, not only the dimension of composition. Essentially, his catalogue corresponds to the program of performances that took place at the two greatest festivals of the Athenian state. At the City Dionysia of Athens, there were competitions in the performances of tragedies, comedies, dithyrambs, and satyr dramas. At the Panathenaia of Athens, as we have already seen, there were competitions in the performances of epic, of kithara-singing and / or -playing, and of aulos-singing and / or -playing. From the wording of Aristotle, it is clear that each of these genres is associated with a distinct tekhnē ‘craft’. That is, the overall poiētikē tekhnē ‘poetic craft’ is subdivided into a variety of specialized tekhnai. Among these specialized tekhnai is the composition of epic, which as we know corresponds to the performance of epic by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia. The term that Aristotle uses here for the composing of ‘epic’, epopoiia ‘making of epos’, indicates a most general concept, since the word used to designate ‘epic,’ epē (= epos plural), is simply the general word for any kind of verbal art created by way of poiēsis. [64] And yet, the whole of Aristotle’s Poetics – and in fact the whole of Aristotle’s works in general – operates on the understanding that the only epics of Homer were the Iliad and Odyssey. So epic as a genre is viewed in a specialized way, even though the wording used to express the idea of epic is expressed in a most generalized way. Even the wording of Aristotle indicates, of and by itself, that the composition {384|385} of Homeric poetry had achieved the most generalized status as poetry par excellence.

3§72 By contrast with the composition of Homeric poetry, we have seen in Plato’s Ion that the actual performance of this poetry had achieved a most specialized status as the craft of the rhapsode, rhapsōidikē tekhnē. For Plato’s Socrates, this craft is no craft at all, and only the overall poiētikē tekhnē may be considered as a holon, a ‘whole’, comparable to the categories of painting or sculpting, each of which is likewise a craft that may be considered as a whole. As a category, the generalized craft of composing poetry cannot have as a subcategory the specialized craft of composing Homeric poetry – let alone any specialized craft of performing Homeric poetry. Plato’s thinking here is contradicted by Aristotle’s Poetics, where the generalized craft of composing poetry is a category that can in fact have as a subcategory the specialized craft of composing Homeric poetry – though this specialized craft is expressed in a most generalized way.

3§73 Returning to Plato’s Ion, I conclude that the discrediting of the rhapsode’s craft, the rhapsōidikētekhnē, can be countered by reconsidering this craft in its own historical context. The prestige of the rhapsodic tekhnē is evidently a threat to the philosophical tekhnē of Plato’s Socrates. As we saw, the rhapsode is not only a performer of Homer: he is also the hermēneus ‘interpreter’ of Homer (Ion 530c). To speak ably about Homer, says Ion, is the most important aspect of his tekhnē ‘craft’ (Ion 530c). Homer in turn is recognized as the ultimate source of paideusis ‘education’ for the Hellenes (Plato Republic 2.376e-398b; 10.599c-d, 606e). [65] As an exponent of this paideusis ‘education’, the rhapsode is in effect a significant rival of the philosopher. I will have more to say later about this rivalry.

3§74 How, then, can the rhapsode defend himself against the dialectic of Plato’s Socrates? In order to maintain Homer as a generalist in the poiētikē tekhnē, the rhapsode must insist on being a specialist in the rhapsōidikē tekhnē. That way, he maintains a prestige that is coextensive with the prestige of Homer as a universal educator of Hellenes. Since the rhapsode, as a master of the rhapsōidikē tekhnē, is a specialist performer but not a specialist composer, he cannot be considered a master of the poiētikē tekhnē. Since the rhapsode is a specialist in performing recitative poetry, to the exclusion of other forms of poetry as also of song and ‘music’ (in the modern sense of the word), he cannot be considered a master of the mousikē tekhnē, either. {385|386}

3§75 A qualification is needed here. Though the rhapsode as a master of the rhapsōidikē tekhnē cannot be a master of mousikē tekhnē in the time of Plato, things must have been different in an earlier time. I have in mind a prehistoric time – back when the craft of the rhapsode could still be understood in a less restricted sense that matched the literal meaning of mousikē tekhnē, the ‘craft of the Muses’. If the rhapsode of prehistoric time was truly master of the ‘craft of the Muses’, then surely he was capable of inspiration by the Muses, and, just as surely, he was also capable of composing as well as performing. Even the etymology of the word rhapsōidos, ‘he who sews the songs together’, indicates that the rhapsode of prehistoric time had this capability. [66]

3§76 But Plato has taken away from the rhapsode the tekhnē of mousikē as a true tekhnē or ‘craft’. As far as Plato is concerned, the rhapsode cannot really have a tekhnē or ‘craft’ if he is really inspired by the Muses. That craft belongs only to the poet, who is Homer. For Plato, Homer is the inspired creator or poet, whereas the rhapsode is merely an inspired re-creator. The rhapsode is merely a Second Ring to Homer’s First Ring, just as the actor of drama is merely a Second Ring to the poets of drama, who are First Rings like Homer. The magnetic force of the Magnesian Stone, which is the source of inspiration by the Muses, attracts rhapsodes and actors only as re-creators, not as the creators who are the poets themselves – poets who have mastered the craft of the Muses as a true craft.

Excursus on Plato’s Laws

3§77 This magnetic force emanating from the Magnesian Stone in the Ion of Plato becomes a virtual reality in the Magnesian State that is taking shape in the Laws of Plato. I propose that this ideal state in the making, which is a construct of Plato’s Laws, is literally named after the magnetic force of inspiration from the Muses, which was a construct of Plato’s Ion. That is the essence of Magnesia as Plato’s chosen name for the virtual reality of this new ideal state, built on the foundation of the old ideal state that was his Republic. [67]

3§78 In the old ideal state of Plato’s Republic, Homer needed to be banned as the primary representative of the poiētikē tekhnē, the craft of the Poet. As {386|387} for the new ideal state of Magnesia in Plato’s Laws, would Homer need to be banned from here as well? No, not really – not if we think retrospectively in terms of all the works produced by Plato before his final work, the Laws. In those previous works, especially in the Ion, Homer figured as the primary representative of two crafts – not only the poiētikē tekhnē, the craft of poets, but also the mousikē tekhnē, the craft of the Muses. So why would there be a need to ban from the city of the inspiring Muses someone who is actually inspired by the Muses?

3§79 Still, even if Homer may not need to be banned from Magnesia, the question remains whether he is any longer really needed there. As Richard Martin argues persuasively, there is really no place left for Homer in the world of mousikē that is taking shape in Plato’s Laws. [68] This magnetic world of mousikē, the virtual city of Magnesia, is inspired ultimately by the Muses of philosophy, not by the Muses of poetry and songmaking.

3§80 The mousikē of philosophy is all-pervasive in Plato’s Laws (a shining example is 2.658e-659a). And the pattern has already been set in Plato’s earlier works. In the Phaedrus (259d), for example, the Muses Kalliope and Ourania are explicitly named as the transcendent Muses of this mousikē of philosophy: Plato’s cicadas report to these two Muses the good deeds of philosophers, since it is the mousikē of Kalliope and Ourania that philosophers hold in honor (τῇ δὲ πρεσβυτάτῃ Καλλιόπῃ καὶ τῇ μετ’ αὐτὴν Οὐρανίᾳ τοὺς ἐν φιλοσοφίᾳ διάγοντάς τε καὶ τιμῶντας τὴν ἐκείνων μουσικὴν ἀγγέλλουσιν).

3§81 It is in Plato’s Phaedo 61a-b that we see the most suggestive reference to this mousikē of philosophy. I offer here an analysis of the passage. Plato’s Socrates describes philosophy itself as the greatest form of mousikē (ὡς φιλοσοφίας μὲν οὔσης μεγίστης μουσικῆς), to be contrasted with any given poetic form of mousikē, which is by contrast provincial because it is ‘local’ or ‘popular’, that is, dēmōdēs (ταύτην τὴν δημώδη μουσικὴν ποιεῖν). As Socrates says, he had a dream in which an oracular voice kept telling him to make this poetic kind of mousikē, and he then decided that this mousikē would in fact be quite appropriate for marking the occasion of Apollo’s heortē ‘festival’ – which was also to be the occasion of his own death. So Socrates proceeded to compose two kinds of poetry as his swan song. One kind was a Hymn to Apollo, a form of poetry identified with Homer himself by the Homēridai in the era of Plato. [69] And the other kind of poetry was a set of muthoi ‘myths’ by Aesop that Socrates {387|388} turned into verse. This terminal gesture that Plato’s Socrates makes toward the mousikē of poetry puts Homer in his place. The most exalted representative of poetry, Homer the Poet par excellence, is paired here with his lowlife counterpart Aesop: both are described as exponents of muthos, which Socrates links with the discourse of poetry, contrasting it with logos, which he links with the discourse of philosophy: μετὰ δὲ τὸν θεόν, ἐννοήσας ὅτι τὸν ποιητὴν δέοι, εἴπερ μέλλοι ποιητὴς εἶναι, ποιεῖν μύθους ἀλλ’ οὐ λόγους, καὶ αὐτὸς οὐκ ἦ μυθολογικός, διὰ ταῦτα δὴ οὓς προχείρους εἶχον μύθους καὶ ἠπιστάμην τοὺς Αἰσώπου, τούτων ἐποίησα οἷς πρώτοις ἐνέτυχον ‘then, after finishing with the god [= after I finished composing my Hymn to Apollo in my terminal role as a poet], here is what I did: keeping in mind that the poet must, if he is really going to be a poet, make [poieîn] muthoi and not logoi, and that I was no expert in the discourse of myth [muthologikos], I took some muthoi of Aesop that I knew and had at hand, and I made poetry [poieîn] out of the first few of these that I happened upon’. [70] Once Plato’s Socrates performs this terminal gesture toward the mousikē of poetry, Homer the Poet par excellence will no longer really be needed for the mousikē of philosophy in the works of Plato.

3§82 From the standpoint of the overall philosophical legacy of Plato’s Socrates, the mousikē of philosophy will survive his death in Plato’s Phaedo. It will live on in Plato’s Laws, that is, it will live on in a virtual city named after the magnetic force of inspiration emanating from the Muses of philosophy. And these inspiring Muses of philosophy will surely not need Homer as master of the mousikētekhnē.

3§83 The Cretan setting for the foundation of Magnesia as an ideal city of mousikē tekhnē is relevant here. The Cretan speaker in the dialogue of Plato’s Laws, Kleinias, has already observed that Homer is alien to Crete even before there is any talk about the foundation of Magnesia on that island (Laws 3.680c). Richard Martin has drawn attention to this observation made by the Cretan. [71] He notes that the Cretan’s reference to Homeric poetry as xenika poiēmata ‘unfamiliar poems’ (again, 3.680c) highlights the Athenocentrism of the anonymous Athenian speaker in the Laws, who has just finished making a quotation from Homeric poetry in order to make a point about distinctions between more and less primitive phases of civilization (3.680b). And it also highlights the Athenocentrism of Homer himself, whose poetry is owned by {388|389} the Athenians on the occasion of their premier festival, the Panathenaia. Such a sense of Athenian ownership, as we have seen, is quite evident in Plato’s Ion.

3§84 In this light, I focus on the adjective used by the Cretan in condescendingly complimenting the poetic abilities of Homer: the Poet, he says, is kharieis ‘graceful’ (Laws 3.680c). This term, I argue, is a technical expression used by Athenian intellectuals in the fourth century and thereafter in referring to those poetic qualities of Homer that make him truly Homeric: as we will see later, there is an example of such usage in Isocrates (12) Panathenaicus 17-19. [72] How, then, are we to interpret the use of such a term by the Cretan in the Laws? I would say that Plato here is playing on a theme of feigned ignorance, which is a proverbial characteristic of Cretans. At the very moment when the Cretan is claiming that Cretans are generally unfamiliar with Homer, he is using a term that demonstrates his own familiarity with Athenian ways of thinking about Homer.

3§85 In Magnesia as their own city of inspiration, the Muses of philosophy will reorganize their craft as the new mousikētekhnē of philosophy. There will now be new poets who will be masters of this new craft (Laws 7.801d5). Plato’s ideal poet of the future, who is to be synchronically vetted by all, is like the ideal poet of the past, Homer, who has been diachronically vetted by all in the history and prehistory of the mousikoi agōnes ‘competitions in the craft of mousikē’ at the Panathenaia.

3§86 Even the genres of song and poetry as represented by the old mousikē tekhnē will now be reorganized in terms of the new mousikē tekhnē. So the genres of song and poetry will now be reorganized in terms of Plato’s philosophical agenda.

3§87 Here I come to a most suggestive passage in Plato’s Laws dealing with mousikoi agōnes ‘competitions in the craft of mousikē’ as reorganized at Magnesia. As we are about to see, the genres of song and dance to be performed at the festivals of Magnesia are recognizable as the same genres of song and dance performed at the festivals of the Panathenaia and the City Dionysia in Athens:

3ⓣ10 Plato Laws 6.764c-765a

Μουσικῆς δὲ τὸ μετὰ τοῦτο καὶ γυμναστικῆς ἄρχοντας καθίστασθαι πρέπον ἂν εἴη, διττοὺς ἑκατέρων, τοὺς μὲν παιδείας αὐτῶν ἕνεκα, τοὺς δὲ ἀγωνιστικῆς. παιδείας μὲν βούλεται λέγειν ὁ νόμος γυμνασίων καὶ διδασκαλείων {d} ἐπιμελητὰς κόσμου καὶ {389|390} παιδεύσεως ἅμα καὶ τῆς περὶ ταῦτα ἐπιμελείας τῶν φοιτήσεών τε πέρι καὶ οἰκήσεων ἀρρένων καὶ θηλειῶν κορῶν, ἀγωνίας δέ, ἔν τε τοῖς γυμνικοῖς καὶ περὶ τὴν μουσικὴν ἀθλοθέτας ἀθληταῖς, διττοὺς αὖ τούτους, περὶ μουσικὴν μὲν ἑτέρους, περὶ ἀγωνίαν δ’ ἄλλους. ἀγωνιστικῆς μὲν οὖν ἀνθρώπων τε καὶ ἵππων τοὺς αὐτούς, μουσικῆς δὲ ἑτέρους μὲν τοὺς περὶ μονῳδίαν τε καὶ μιμητικήν, οἷον {e} ῥαψῳδῶν καὶ κιθαρῳδῶν καὶ αὐλητῶν καὶ πάντων τῶν τοιούτων ἀθλοθέτας ἑτέρους πρέπον ἂν εἴη γίγνεσθαι, τῶν δὲ περὶ χορῳδίαν ἄλλους. πρῶτον δὴ περὶ τὴν τῶν χορῶν παιδιὰν παίδων τε καὶ ἀνδρῶν καὶ θηλειῶν κορῶν ἐν ὀρχήσεσι καὶ τῇ τάξει τῇ ἁπάσῃ γιγνομένῃ μουσικῇ τοὺς ἄρχοντας αἱρεῖσθαί που χρεών· ἱκανὸς δὲ εἷς ἄρχων αὐτοῖς, {765a} μὴ ἔλαττον τετταράκοντα γεγονὼς ἐτῶν. ἱκανὸς δὲ καὶ περὶ μονῳδίαν εἷς, μὴ ἔλαττον ἢ τριάκοντα γεγονὼς ἐτῶν, εἰσαγωγεύς τε εἶναι καὶ τοῖς ἁμιλλωμένοις τὴν διάκρισιν ἱκανῶς ἀποδιδούς.

Next, it would be fitting to institute directors [arkhontes] of mousikē and of athletics, two kinds of each. For one kind, their task is to be education [paideia], and, for the other, it is to be the supervision of competitive events [agōnistikē]. In connection with education [paideia], the law specifies a body of officials who supervise general order [kosmos] and the task of teaching in gymnasia and in schools, while at the same time supervising related matters such as going to and from school for boys and girls as well as the maintenance of their school buildings. In connection with competitive activity [agōnia], the law specifies two kinds of athlothetai, one kind for contestants [athlētai] in athletics and another kind for contestants in mousikē; once again there is to be a division into two kinds, the one having to do with mousikē, the other with agōnia in general [= competition in athletics]. The same ones who set up the athletic contests of men are to set up the contests involving horses; but in mousikē it would be fitting that there be one set of athlothetai for solo singing [monōidia] and mimēsis – as for example in the case of rhapsodes, citharodes, auletes, and the like – and another set for choral singing [khorōidia]. First and foremost, the arkhontes should be chosen for the choruses of boys and men and girls with a view to supervise the playful spontaneity of their dancing and its overall arrangement in terms of mousikē. One arkhōn will be adequate for the choruses. He should be not less than forty years of age. One arkhōn will also be adequate for {390|391} the induction of the solo singers and for rendering adequate judgment in selecting from among the competitors. He should be not less than thirty years of age.

3§88 In this passage, I draw special attention to Plato’s use of the word athlothetai, which I have translated earlier as ‘arrangers of the athloi’, that is, of the contests or competitions. As we have already seen, this term applies to officials at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens who organized the athloi ‘contests’ among rhapsodes, citharodes, auletes, and so on. Whereas the competitive events at the Panathenaia involved only solo performances of epic or lyric compositions, the competitive events at the City Dionysia involved mostly choral performances of lyric compositions. So the distinction between monōidia ‘solo singing’ and khorōidia ‘choral singing’ in what I have just quoted from the Laws replicates an institutional reality grounded in Athens.

3§89 But this reality, as well as other institutional realities grounded in Athens, becomes merely a refraction of reality in the ideal state of Magnesia. The idealized festivals in this ideal state do not match the real festivals of the Panathenaia and the City Dionysia in the real state of Athens. The Olympian gods who are celebrated at those Athenian festivals, Athena and Dionysus, will have to find new places in a new system of idealized festivals that will be redistributed among all twelve Olympian gods. The ideal city of Magnesia will have twelve heortai ‘festivals’, each of them featuring both khoroi and mousikoi agōnes (as well as athletic events) and each of them celebrating one of the twelve Olympians (Laws 8.828b-c; also 7.834d-e). So the existing differentiations between, say, the Panathenaia and the City Dionysia will be undone. If one old festival had only monōidia while the other had only khorōidia, these two media will now have to coexist in any given new festival. Even if Athens had mousikoiagōnes only at the Panathenaia but not at the City Dionysia, or choral competitions only at the City Dionysia but not at the Panathenaia, Magnesia will have both kinds of competition at each one of its twelve festivals. That is why the athlothetai of Magnesia, unlike the athlothetai of Athens, will supervise the more generalized medium of khorōidia as well as the more specialized medium of monōidia. And both of these media will now be subsumed under the most general of all media in Magnesia, the medium of mousikē.

3§90 In effect, then, Plato has succeeded in diachronically reconstructing the most primal and therefore most undifferentiated sense of mousikē as the ‘craft of the Muses’, but he has reassigned this primal sense by taking it away {391|392} from poetry and songmaking in general and giving it instead to philosophy. In Magnesia, the magnetic force emanating as inspiration from the Muses is the mousikē of philosophy, not the mousikē of poetry.

3§91 In the mousikē of Magnesia, we can still recognize traces of the ancient poetic craft as preserved in such institutions as the Athenian mousikoi agōnes ‘competitions in mousikē’ at the Panathenaia. A prime example is the passage I quoted about the performances of rhapsodes, citharodes, and auletes (Laws 6.764c5-e10). But such performances in Magnesia are no longer linked to the old mousikē of poetry, since that craft has been replaced by the new mousikē of philosophy. True, the medium of the rhapsode can still be associated with Homer in the new world of this new mousikē (as in Laws 2.658b). But the point is, Homer can no longer be the ultimate standard that he had been once upon a time, back in the old world of the old mousikē of poetry.

3§92 The mousikē of Plato’s Laws, even though it is new in terms of its function, is old in terms of its form. As I have just argued, Plato’s model of mousikē amounts to a diachronic reconstruction of a primal time when the more specialized medium of monōidia ‘solo singing’ and the more general medium of khorōidia ‘choral singing’ were as yet undifferentiated (such a reconstruction is most evident in Laws 3.700a-701b and 7.816c-d). Whereas the competitions in mousikē at the Panathenaia in Athens centered on the more specialized medium of monōidia ‘solo singing’, the corresponding competitions envisioned for the new state of Magnesia could accommodate the more general medium of khorōidia as well. Such khorōidia corresponds to what we see in the competitions at the City Dionysia in Athens.

3§93 In Plato’s Magnesia, then, the basic idea of khorōidia is merged with the even more basic idea of mousikē. We see another example of this merger in Plato’s vision of khorōidia in Egyptian civilization. The Egyptian khorōidia is seen as a primal form of mousikē (Laws 2.656e-657b).

3§94 Such a primal form of mousikē is meant to be revived in Magnesia, where monōidia and khorōidia are to remain undifferentiated. This ideal of undifferentiation avoids the reality of the differentiations we see attested in Athens. We can see only a refraction of that reality in Plato’s Laws.

3ⓢ6. Orpheus and Homer

3§95 As a specialist in performance, the Panathenaic rhapsode is made to seem closer to Orpheus than to Homer in Plato’s Ion. As we have already seen, Orpheus himself is envisioned as a specialist in performance, to be contrasted with Homer as the generalist in composition, that is, in poiēsis ‘poetry’. One {392|393} aspect of this contrast, as we have also already seen, is the specialization of Orpheus in his association with the humnos, whereas Homer’s association with this form is general rather than specific. As we are now about to see, there is another dimension in the contrast between Homer the generalist and Orpheus the specialist. It involves the mysticism of Orphic poetry, to be contrasted with the general non-mysticism of Homeric poetry.

3§96 A traditional characteristic of Orpheus is that his language was understood to be mystical, delving into mysteries of initiation, whereas no such special characteristics applied to the language of Homer. In Chapter 2, I already quoted a passage from Plato’s Theaetetus that illustrates this point (179e-180d). Here I requote only the most relevant portion of that passage:

3ⓣ11 Plato Theaetetus 180c-d

ΣΩ. Καὶ μετρίως γε λέγεις. τὸ δὲ δὴ πρόβλημα ἄλλο τι παρειλήφαμεν παρὰ μὲν τῶν ἀρχαίων μετὰ ποιήσεως {d} ἐπικρυπτομένων τοὺς πολλούς, ὡς ἡ γένεσις τῶν ἄλλων πάντων ᾿Ωκεανός τε καὶ Τηθὺςῥεύματα <ὄντα> τυγχάνει καὶ οὐδὲν ἕστηκε, παρὰ δὲ τῶν ὑστέρων ἅτε σοφωτέρων ἀναφανδὸν ἀποδεικνυμένων, ἵνα καὶ οἱ σκυτοτόμοι αὐτῶν τὴν σοφίαν μάθωσιν ἀκούσαντες καὶ παύσωνται ἠλιθίως οἰόμενοι τὰ μὲν ἑστάναι, τὰ δὲ κινεῖσθαι τῶν ὄντων, μαθόντες δὲ ὅτι πάντα κινεῖται τιμῶσιν αὐτούς;

SOCRATES: What you say is quite reasonable. As for the problem, isn’t it that we have on the one hand a tradition [paralambanein] that derives from the ancient ones [arkhaioi], who hid their meaning [73] from the hoi polloi by way of poetry [poiēsis] – a tradition that says that the genesis [genesis] of all things, Ōkeanos and Tethys, happen to be flowing streams [rheumata] and that nothing is static [hestanai]? [74] And that we have, on the other hand, a tradition that derives from the ones who came after [the ancient ones], that is, from the later ones [husteroi], who are more wise [sophoi] [than the ancient ones] and who make their explanations quite openly, in order that even leatherworkers [skutotomoi] may hear and understand their wisdom [sophia] and, abandoning their simple understanding that some things are static [hestanai] while other things {393|394} are in motion [kineîsthai], may hold in respect those who teach them that all things are in motion [kineîsthai]?

3§97 In this passage, as I argued in Chapter 2, the mystical idea that everything is fluid signals a ‘tradition’ (as expressed by the wording παρειλήφαμεν at 180c) derived from the arkhaioi ‘ancient ones’, who convey by way of poetry their mystical ideas for the initiated few (180c-d παρὰ μὲν τῶν ἀρχαίων μετὰ ποιήσεως ἐπικρυπτομένων τοὺς πολλούς), to be contrasted with the husteroi ‘later ones’, who express their ideas about fluidity and rigidity for all to hear, without any mystery (180d). Even skutotomoi ‘leatherworkers’ can understand these ideas. [75]

3§98 As I also argued in Chapter 2, the contrast here is between earlier thinkers who depend on mystical sources and later thinkers who depend on non-mystical sources. In contexts where Orpheus and Homer are left undifferentiated, Homer belongs to the earlier mystical sources. In contexts where they are differentiated, however, Homer can be seen as a later non-mystical source, and those thinkers who are Homer’s followers can be seen as the husteroi ‘later ones’. Earlier in Plato’s Theaetetus, it is made explicit that there are thinkers who are palaioteroi ‘more ancient’ than the thinkers who specialize in Homer (179e Ὁμηρείων καὶ ἔτι παλαιοτέρων). [76] The primary source of such relatively ‘more ancient’ thinkers, as I argue on the basis of all the relevant Platonic contexts taken together, was supposed to be Orpheus, whose poetry was conventionally ranked as older than the poetry of Homer.

3§99 In the works of Plato, we find that the most ancient poets of the Hellenes are often ranked in chronological order. The sequence proceeds from earlier to later times: Orpheus, Musaeus, Hesiod, and, finally, Homer. In Plato’s Apology (41a), for example, where Plato’s Socrates speaks in mock-mystical style about the prospect of his encountering these four poets in some kind of afterlife after he dies, he mentions them in precisely that order. [77] Such an {394|395} ordering is evidently canonical, as we see from the wording of Hippias of Elis, quoted directly by Clement of Alexandria:

3ⓣ12 Hippias FGH 6 F 4 = DK B 6 via Clement of Alexandria Stromateis 6.15 (II pp. 434-435 Stählin)

Ἱππίαν τὸν σοφιστὴν τὸν Ἠλεῖον … παραστησώμεθα ὧδέ πως λέγοντα· “τούτων ἴσως εἴρηται τὰ μὲν ᾿Ορφεῖ, τὰ δὲ Μουσαίῳ κατὰ βραχὺ ἄλλῳ ἀλλαχοῦ, τὰ δὲ ῾Ησιόδῳ, τὰ δὲ ῾Ομήρῳ, τὰ δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις τῶν ποιητῶν, τὰ δὲ ἐν συγγραφαῖς, τὰ μὲν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ βαρβάροις· ἐγὼ δὲ ἐκ πάντων τούτων τὰ μέγιστα καὶ ὁμόφυλα συνθεὶς τοῦτον καινὸν καὶ πολυειδῆ τὸν λόγον ποιήσομαι.”

I will adduce Hippias of Elis, the sophist [sophistēs], [78] who said something like the following: “Some of these things may have been said by Orpheus, some by Musaeus – some things briefly by one of them in one place, other things by the other in another place – and some other things were said by Hesiod, some other things by Homer, and still other things were said by others of the poets [poiētai], and still other things were said in prose writings – some of those things said by Hellenes and others by barbarians; but of all these things I have combined those that are the greatest and are similar to each other among the classifications [= phula] of humanity, and I will now make from all these things the present discourse [logos], which is novel and multiform.” [79]

3§100 The same sequence of canonical ordering is evident in a passage from the Frogs of Aristophanes, where the stage-Aeschylus is speaking in mock-mystical style about the social benefits conferred by the poetry of the four most ancient poets of the Hellenes:

3ⓣ13 Aristophanes Frogs 1030-1036

1030 ΑΙ.  Ταῦτα γὰρ ἄνδρας χρὴ ποιητὰς ἀσκεῖν. σκέψαι γὰρ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς
ὡς ὠφέλιμοι τῶν ποιητῶν οἱ γενναῖοι γεγένηνται. {395|396}
᾿Ορφεὺς μὲν γὰρ τελετάς θ’ ἡμῖν κατέδειξε φόνων τ’ ἀπέχεσθαι,
Μουσαῖος δ’ ἐξακέσεις τε νόσων καὶ χρησμούς, ῾Ησίοδος δὲ
γῆς ἐργασίας, καρπῶν ὥρας, ἀρότους· ὁ δὲ θεῖος ῞Ομηρος
1035  ἀπὸ τοῦ τιμὴν καὶ κλέος ἔσχεν πλὴν τοῦδ’ ὅτι χρήστ’ ἐδίδαξεν,
τάξεις, ἀρετάς, ὁπλίσεις ἀνδρῶν;

AESCHYLUS:
Yes, for these are the things that men who are poets should cultivate. Consider how, from the beginning [arkhē],
those of the poets [poiētai] who are noble have become by nature useful to society.
Orpheus showed us the mystic rites [teletai] and how to abstain from acts of killing.
Musaeus showed us the cures for diseases and oracular words [khrēsmoi], while Hesiod
showed us the ways to work the land, and the seasons for harvesting. As for the godlike [theios] Homer,
I want you to tell me what was the source of the honor [timē] and the fame [kleos] that he had if it was not this, that he taught us things that were useful for society,
namely, the marshalling of the battle ranks, outstanding deeds of valor, and the ways that men arm themselves?

3§101 In this extract from Aristophanes, we see that the rationale implicit in the sequencing of these four poets is not only chronological, starting ‘from the beginning’ (ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς). The rationale is also qualitative, centering on a contrast between the mystical nature of an earlier Orpheus and the non-mystical nature of a later Homer. Such a contrast is evident elsewhere as well, as we see in a passage from Plato’s Protagoras where Protagoras of Abdera describes Orpheus and Musaeus as exponents of teletai ‘mysteries’ and khrēsmōidiai ‘oracular songs’, whereas Hesiod and Homer – along with the lyric poet Simonides – are described simply in terms of poiēsis ‘poetry’: {396|397}

3ⓣ14 Plato Protagoras 316c-d

ὀρθῶς, ἔφη, προμηθῇ, ὦ Σώκρατες, ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ. ξένον γὰρ ἄνδρα καὶ ἰόντα εἰς πόλεις μεγάλας, καὶ ἐν ταύταις πείθοντα τῶν νέων τοὺς βελτίστους ἀπολείποντας τὰς τῶν ἄλλων συνουσίας, καὶ οἰκείων καὶ ὀθνείων, καὶ πρεσβυτέρων καὶ νεωτέρων, ἑαυτῷ συνεῖναι ὡς βελτίους ἐσομένους διὰ {d} τὴν ἑαυτοῦ συνουσίαν, χρὴ εὐλαβεῖσθαι τὸν ταῦτα πράττοντα· οὐ γὰρ σμικροὶ περὶ αὐτὰ φθόνοι τε γίγνονται καὶ ἄλλαι δυσμένειαί τε καὶ ἐπιβουλαί. ἐγὼ δὲ τὴν σοφιστικὴντέχνην φημὶ μὲν εἶναι παλαιάν, τοὺς δὲ μεταχειριζομένους αὐτὴν τῶν παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν, φοβουμένους τὸ ἐπαχθὲς αὐτῆς, πρόσχημα ποιεῖσθαι καὶ προκαλύπτεσθαι, τοὺς μὲν ποίησιν, οἷον ῞Ομηρόν τε καὶ ῾Ησίοδον καὶ Σιμωνίδην, τοὺς δὲ αὖ τελετάς τε καὶ χρησμῳδίας, τοὺς ἀμφί τε ᾿Ορφέα καὶ Μουσαῖον·

You are thinking ahead correctly, Socrates, on my behalf. For when a man goes as a stranger to great cities, and in them persuades the best of the young men to leave their other associations, relatives, and acquaintances old and young, and associate with him, so that they will be as good as possible through their association with himself, he who does these things must beware. For all kinds of not inconsiderable envy come about concerning these things, and other kinds of ill will, and plots.

I [= Protagoras] declare that the sophisticcraft [sophistikē tekhnē] is ancient, but those who had applied it among ancient men were afraid of the opprobrium attaching to it, and disguised and concealed themselves – some in the realm of poetry [poiēsis], like Homer and Hesiod and Simonides, but others in the realm of mysteries [teletai] and oracular songs [khrēsmōidiai], like Orpheus and Musaeus and their followers. [80]

3§102 According to this scheme, Homer and Hesiod – along with Simonides – are generalists in poiēsis ‘poetry’, whereas Orpheus and Musaeus are specialists, that is, experts in mysteries and in specialized poetry concerned with mysteries. This distinction, as it plays out in the Protagoras of {397|398} Plato, evidently extends to the portrayal of Protagoras himself, who claims mastery of a special kind of tekhnē ‘craft’ that aims to conceal and to mystify. He calls it the sophistikē tekhnē, the craft of the sophist.

3§103 Before I proceed to explore the distinction being made here between the general poetry of Homer, Hesiod, and Simonides on one hand and the mystical poetry of Orpheus and Musaeus on the other, I pause to comment on the meaning of sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ and sophistēs ‘sophist’ as applied to Protagoras of Abdera and to other ‘sophistic’ characters in Plato’s dialogues. From the very start, the figure of Socrates in Plato’s Protagoras works at discrediting the words sophos and sophia as used by ‘sophists’ in the transcendent sense of what we ordinarily translate as ‘wise’ and ‘wisdom’ respectively. By transcendent I mean simply a sense that transcends the practical sense of ‘skillful’ and ‘skill’ respectively. As I will argue at a later point, the works of Plato reveal both the transcendent and the practical senses of the words sophos, sophia, and even sophistēs; moreover, some sophists – like Protagoras himself – are represented as preferring the transcendent sense, while others evidently chose the practical sense. [81] Until I reach the point where I follow through on this argument, however, I will postpone making any distinction between transcendent and practical sophists. For the time being, then, I simply translate sophistēs and sophistikē tekhnē as ‘sophist’ and ‘sophistic craft’.

3§104 Having made this comment on the ‘sophistic craft’ as applied to Protagoras, I return to the problem at hand, that is, the distinction being made in Plato’s Protagoras between the general poetry of Homer, Hesiod, and Simonides on one hand and the mystical poetry of Orpheus and Musaeus on the other. As I was saying, this distinction in the Protagoras of Plato extends to the portrayal of Protagoras himself, who claims mastery of a special kind of tekhnē ‘craft’ that has the power to conceal and to mystify. As I was also saying, that craft is the craft of the sophist, the sophistikē tekhnē.

3§105 Plato’s wording pictures Protagoras attended by an ensemble of enthralled followers, devotees recruited from the various cities he visited, who are imagined as a choral ensemble of singers / dancers enchanted by Orpheus himself:

3ⓣ15 Plato Protagoras 314e-315b

ἐπειδὴ δὲ εἰσήλθομεν, κατελάβομεν Πρωταγόραν ἐν τῷ προστῴῳ περιπατοῦντα, ἑξῆς δ’ αὐτῷ συμπεριεπάτουν ἐκ μὲν τοῦ ἐπὶ θάτερα {398|399} Καλλίας ὁ Ἱππονίκου καὶ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ {315a} ὁ ὁμομήτριος, Πάραλος ὁ Περικλέους, καὶ Χαρμίδης ὁ Γλαύκωνος, ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ἐπὶ θάτερα ὁ ἕτερος τῶν Περικλέους Ξάνθιππος, καὶ Φιλιππίδης ὁ Φιλομήλου καὶ Ἀντίμοιρος ὁ Μενδαῖος, ὅσπερ εὐδοκιμεῖ μάλιστα τῶν Πρωταγόρου μαθητῶν καὶ ἐπὶ τέχνῃ μανθάνει, ὡς σοφιστὴς ἐσόμενος. τούτων δὲ οἳ ὄπισθεν ἠκολούθουν ἐπακούοντες τῶν λεγομένων τὸ μὲν πολὺ ξένοι ἐφαίνοντο οὓς ἄγει ἐξ ἑκάστων τῶν πόλεων ὁ Πρωταγόρας, δι’ ὧν διεξέρχεται, κηλῶν τῇ φωνῇ ὥσπερ {b} ᾿Ορφεύς, οἱ δὲ κατὰ τὴν φωνὴν ἕπονται κεκηλημένοι ἦσαν δέ τινες καὶ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων ἐν τῷ χορῷ.

When we entered, we found Protagoras walking around at the portico. Walking around with him in sequence there were, on one side, Callias son of Hipponikos, and his stepbrother Paralos son of Pericles, and Charmides son of Glaucon; on the other side, there were Pericles’ other son, Xanthippos, and Philippides son of Philomelos, and Antimoiros of Mende, the one who is the most highly regarded of the disciples of Protagoras and who is learning the craft [tekhnē] with the purpose of becoming a sophist [sophistēs] himself. Others followed along behind to hear the things that were being said [legesthai]. For the most part they appeared to be non-Athenians whom Protagoras had drawn from every city through which he had passed, enthralling them with his voice like Orpheus while they, enthralled, followed along wherever the voice may lead. And there were also some local people [= fellow Athenians] in the chorus.

3§106 Immediately after this description of Protagoras of Abdera and his enthralled followers, we read a description of another sophist, Hippias of Elis, attended by his own followers. This description presents Hippias as the diametrical opposite of Protagoras. Whereas Protagoras the sophist is mystical and in that sense ‘Orphic’, Hippias the sophist is non-mystical and in that sense ‘Homeric’. Here I proceed to examine the Homeric evocations in the Platonic description applied to Hippias, as spoken by Plato’s Socrates:

3ⓣ16 Plato Protagoras 315b-c

τὸν δὲ μετ’ εἰσενόησα, ἔφη ῞Ομηρος, Ἱππίαν τὸν {c} Ἠλεῖον, καθήμενον ἐν τῷ κατ’ ἀντικρὺ προστῴῳ ἐν θρόνῳ· περὶ αὐτὸν δ’ ἐκάθηντο ἐπὶ βάθρων Ἐρυξίμαχός τε ὁ Ἀκουμενοῦ καὶ Φαῖδρος ὁ Μυρρινούσιος καὶ Ἄνδρων ὁ Ἀνδροτίωνος καὶ τῶν ξένων πολῖταί {399|400} τε αὐτοῦ καὶ ἄλλοι τινές. ἐφαίνοντο δὲ περὶ φύσεώς τε καὶ τῶν μετεώρων ἀστρονομικὰ ἄττα διερωτᾶν τὸν Ἱππίαν, ὁ δ’ ἐν θρόνῳκαθήμενος ἑκάστοις αὐτῶν διέκρινεν καὶ διεξῄει τὰ ἐρωτώμενα.

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

3§107 The wording τὸν δὲ μετ’ εἰσενόησα ‘the next one I noted was …’ in this Platonic passage, referring to the image of Hippias, evokes a Homeric verse that we know as Odyssey xi 601, where Odysseus sees the eidōlon ‘image’ of Herakles in Hades. [82] After Plato’s Socrates finishes with his description of Hippias, we find a further Platonic evocation of Homer. Plato’s Socrates goes on to say: καὶ μὲν δὴ καὶ Τάνταλόν γε εἰσεῖδον ‘the next thing I knew, I saw Tantalos …’ (Protagoras 315c). This time, Plato’s wording evokes the Homeric verse at Odyssey xi 582, where Odysseus sees Tantalos in Hades. Now the referent is Prodicus of Keos. Plato’s pictorial diptych featuring Protagoras and Hippias has now been turned into a triptych featuring Prodicus as the third of three great sophists described by Plato’s Socrates (Protagoras 315c-316a). The triptych playfully connects all three sophists with mock-mystical visions of great figures from the heroic past. Whereas Protagoras is being compared to Orpheus, Plato’s wording links Hippias and Prodicus directly with Homeric poetry, conjuring images seen by Odysseus in his descent to Hades, that is, in the catabasis scene of Odyssey xi. [83] {400|401}

3§108 In the passage I just quoted from Plato’s Protagoras, the opposition between the sophist Hippias of Elis and the sophist Protagoras of Abdera is introduced in spatial terms: Hippias occupies a prostōion ‘portico’ (more literally, ‘front part of the stoa’) that is positioned right across from a corresponding prostōion occupied by Protagoras (Protagoras 315b-c). This spatial opposition between the positions occupied by these two sophists prefigures the ideological opposition between the positions they will take concerning poetry: as I have already indicated, Hippias is being associated with the direct wording of Homer, while his counterpart, Protagoras, is compared directly to Orpheus. [84]

3§109 There are further Homeric evocations to be found in the description of Hippias the sophist. Unlike Protagoras, who is mystical, Hippias is decidedly non-mystical. Hippias is described as a straightforward speaker of his own judgments, and the wording of this description in Plato’s Protagoras matches the Homeric vision of Minos the king of Crete, who is described as the absolute judge in the heroic otherworld of Odyssey xi:

3ⓣ17 Odyssey xi 568-571

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

There I saw Minos, radiant son of Zeus,
who was holding a golden scepter as he dispensed justice among the dead.
He was seated, while they [= the dead] asked the lord for his judgments.
Some of them [= the dead] were seated, and some were standing, throughout the house of Hades, with its wide gates. {401|402}

3§110 From the passage in Plato’s Protagoras that I quoted just before this Homeric passage, we can see clearly that Plato’s vision of Hippias matches the Homeric vision of Minos. Indirectly, it also matches the Homeric vision of Zeus. Minos is not only the son of Zeus but also the underworldly surrogate of the god. Like Minos, Zeus himself is conventionally pictured as sitting on a thronos ‘throne’ (Iliad I 536. etc.), and, as the ultimate king, he is the ultimate source of authority for the holding of a skēptron ‘scepter’ (I 234) by kings who dispense themistes ‘judgments’ (I 238-239 οἵ τε θέμιστας | πρὸς Διὸς εἰρύαται). The plural noun themistes designates ‘judgments’ as instantiations of ‘justice’ as designated by the singular noun themis. Like Zeus, Minos is conventionally pictured as sitting on a throne, holding his scepter, and dispensing themis or ‘divine justice’ (Odyssey xi 568-571).

3§111 Like the hero Minos, the sophist Hippias is pictured as sitting on a throne (315b καθήμενον … ἐν θρόνῳ, 315c ἐν θρόνῳ καθήμενος), responding to questions (315c διερωτᾶν … ἐρωτώμενα) that call for critical judgments, as expressed by the verb dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’ (315c διέκρινεν). Further, in the Protagoras, Hippias is pictured in the act of responding to questions about the natural world, that is, about phusis ‘nature’ in general, and about astronomy in particular (315c ἐφαίνοντο δὲ περὶ φύσεώς τε καὶ τῶν μετεώρων ἀστρονομικὰ ἄττα διερωτᾶν τὸν Ἱππίαν). [85] In Plato’s Hippias Minor, we see the same Hippias actually responding to questions posed by Socrates, who challenges the sophist to apply various tekhnai ‘crafts’ for the purpose of distinguishing, as empirically as possible, what is true and what is false. [86] Among these tekhnai, Hippias singles out the tekhnē of astronomy as one of his specialties (Hippias Minor 367e). [87] I see in this detail an important link between the portraits of Hippias in Plato’s Protagoras and Hippias Minor.

3§112 As the dialogue in the Hippias Minor proceeds, it becomes clear that the expertise of Hippias extends to all tekhnai or ‘crafts’, not just the craft of astronomy, and that these crafts culminate in the craft of poetry and song. As we will see from my upcoming analysis of Plato’s Hippias Minor as a whole, this dialogue highlights the idea that Hippias the sophist has mastered the craft of poetry in general. In fact, already at the very beginning of the Hippias Minor, Hippias is described as an expert in the craft of Homeric poetry in particular: {402|403}

3ⓣ18 Plato Hippias Minor 363a-c

ΣΩ. Καὶ μήν, ὦ Εὔδικε, ἔστι γε ἃ ἡδέως ἂν πυθοίμην {b} Ἱππίου ὧν νυνδὴ ἔλεγεν περὶ Ὁμήρου. καὶ γὰρ τοῦ σοῦ πατρὸς Ἀπημάντου ἤκουον ὅτι ἡ Ἰλιὰς κάλλιον εἴη ποίημα τῷ Ὁμήρῳ ἢ ἡ Ὀδύσσεια, τοσούτῳ δὲ κάλλιον, ὅσῳ ἀμείνων Ἀχιλλεὺς Ὀδυσσέως εἴη· ἑκάτερον γὰρ τούτων τὸ μὲν εἰς Ὀδυσσέα ἔφη πεποιῆσθαι, τὸ δ’ εἰς Ἀχιλλέα. περὶ ἐκείνου οὖν ἡδέως ἄν, εἰ βουλομένῳ ἐστὶν Ἱππίᾳ, ἀναπυθοίμην ὅπως αὐτῷ δοκεῖ περὶ τοῖν ἀνδροῖν τούτοιν, πότερον {c} ἀμείνω φησὶν εἶναι, ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ καὶ παντοδαπὰ ἡμῖν ἐπιδέδεικται καὶ περὶ ποιητῶν τε ἄλλων καὶ περὶ Ὁμήρου.

SOCRATES: Now then, Eudikos, there are some things I would like to learn from Hippias. They concern what he was just saying about [legein peri] Homer. I used to hear from your father Apemantos that Homer’s Iliad is a better composition [poiēma] than the Odyssey, to the extent that Achilles is better than Odysseus. For he said that one of the compositions was composed [poieîn] with reference to Odysseus, and the other, with reference to Achilles. If Hippias is willing, I would like to ask what he thinks of these two men, [88] and which of them he says is better, since he has made a display [epideixis] of so many other various things to us about other poets, and especially about Homer.

3§113 The expertise of Hippias in the craft of poetry in general is evident not only from an overall reading of Plato’s Hippias Minor but also from his own words, which I have already quoted and will now quote again here:

3ⓣ19 Hippias FGH 6 F 4 = F 6 DK via Clement of Alexandria Stromateis 6.15 (II p. 434 Stählin)

Ἱππίαν τὸν σοφιστὴν τὸν Ἠλεῖον … παραστησώμεθα ὧδέ πως λέγοντα· “τούτων ἴσως εἴρηται τὰ μὲν ᾿Ορφεῖ, τὰ δὲ Μουσαίῳ κατὰ βραχὺ ἄλλῳ ἀλλαχοῦ, τὰ δὲ ῾Ησιόδῳ, τὰ δὲ ῾Ομήρῳ, τὰ δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις τῶν ποιητῶν, τὰ δὲ ἐν συγγραφαῖς, τὰ μὲν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ βαρβάροις· ἐγὼ δὲ ἐκ πάντων τούτων τὰ μέγιστα καὶ ὁμόφυλα συνθεὶς τοῦτον καινὸν καὶ πολυειδῆ τὸν λόγον ποιήσομαι.” {403|404}

I will adduce Hippias of Elis, the sophist [sophistēs], who said something like the following: “Some of these things may have been said by Orpheus, some by Musaeus – some things briefly by one of them in one place, other things by the other in another place – and some other things were said by Hesiod, some other things by Homer, and still other things were said by others of the poets [poiētai], and still other things were said in prose writings – some of those things said by Hellenes and others by barbarians; but of all these things I have combined those that are the greatest and are similar to each other among the classifications [= phula] of humanity, and I will now make from all these things the present discourse [logos], which is novel and multiform.”

3§114 For Hippias, as we will see in what follows, a logos is a ‘discourse’ that includes not only the ‘logic’ of his discourse but also the actual ‘wording’ – literally, logos – of the poetry or prose that he performs as the basis of this discourse.

3§115 The expertise of Hippias in the craft of poetry in general is evident in Plato’s Protagoras. I draw attention to a passage where Hippias is represented as claiming expertise in the poetry of Simonides. [89] This expertise of Hippias turns out to be relevant to his expertise in the poetry of Homer. As we have already seen, Plato’s Protagoras is represented as saying that Simonides is parallel to Homer and Hesiod as exponents of what is called poiēsis, which Protagoras distinguishes from the mystical discourse that he associates with himself (Protagoras 316c-d). In Plato’s Protagoras, the wording attributed to Hippias in expressing his own expertise is relevant to such an understanding of poiēsis:

3ⓣ20 Plato Protagoras 347a-b

καὶ ὁ Ἱππίας, Εὖ μέν μοι δοκεῖς, ἔφη, ὦ Σώκρατες, καὶ σὺ περὶ τοῦ ᾄσματος διεληλυθέναι· ἔστιν μέντοι, ἔφη, καὶ {b} ἐμοὶ λόγος περὶ αὐτοῦ εὖ ἔχων, ὃν ὑμῖν ἐπιδείξω, ἂν βούλησθε.

And Hippias said: “I think you have gone through the song [of Simonides] very well, Socrates. But I too have a discourse [logos] about it that holds up very well, and I will make a public display [epideixis] of it, if you-all wish.” {404|405}

3§116 Hippias is represented here as offering to make a ‘display’ (epideixis) – that is, to perform – a logos ‘discourse’ about a song of Simonides for all the intellectuals assembled in the dramatic setting of Plato’s Protagoras. That song is what we know as “Poetae Melici Graeci (or PMG) fragment 542” in Denys Page’s collection of archaic Greek lyric fragments. For Hippias, the logos ‘discourse’ that he offers to display about this song includes not only the ‘logic’ of his own discourse but also the actual ‘wording’ – literally, logos – of the song. In other words, Hippias is ready to perform the song of Simonides while making an argument on the basis of what he performs. The discourse that Hippias offers to perform about “PMG 542” would have supposedly rivaled the discourse already performed by Socrates himself about the same song of Simonides. In the preceding section of Plato’s Protagoras, Socrates is shown in the act of actually performing parts of this song of Simonides in making his own argument (Protagoras 342a through 347a).

3§117 It all started when Protagoras challenged Socrates by starting to perform and interpret the initial sequence of that song of Simonides (Protagoras 339a-b). Socrates will respond to the challenge by following through on the performing and the interpreting of that song.

3§118 The expertise of Protagoras himself in performing and interpreting Simonides – as opposed to the expertise of Hippias and of Socrates – is shaded over in Plato’s Protagoras. Although Plato’s Protagoras offers to perform the whole song of Simonides for Socrates after adducing the initial sequence from the song, Socrates declines the offer, saying that he knows the song by heart (Protagoras 339b). Protagoras gets to perform only the initial sequence of the song (PMG 542 lines 1-3 at 339b) and then one more sequence after that (PMG 542 lines 11-13 at 339c) before Socrates himself proceeds to perform his own discourse on the whole song, quoting several further sequences from the song as living proof of his claim that he knows it all by heart (PMG 542 lines 14-16 at 344c, lines 17-18 at 344e, lines 20-26 at 345c, lines 27-30 at 345d, lines 34-40 at 346c).

3§119 After Socrates is finished with his display of expertise, Hippias gets his chance. But before Hippias can demonstrate his own expertise in poetry by performing a discourse on the song of Simonides in Plato’s Protagoras, Alcibiades cuts him off, saying that any such performance of a discourse by Hippias on the poetry of Simonides should be postponed for another occasion (Protagoras 347a-b). For the present occasion, says Alcibiades, the assembled group is more interested in hearing whether Protagoras has any further question to ask of Socrates or whether he is ready to respond to questions asked by Socrates. By implication, further questioning of Socrates by Protagoras would {405|406} involve challenges to the interpretation of Simonides by Socrates. Instead of such questioning, Plato’s Socrates induces Protagoras to stop any further debating of questions in terms of interpreting poetry and song (Protagoras 348a-c). [90]

3§120 So we have just missed a chance to hear Plato’s Hippias displaying his expertise in poetry. That is, we have missed such a chance in Plato’s Protagoras. In Plato’s Hippias Minor, on the other hand, we do in fact have such a chance, and I will return to that dialogue presently in order to explore at length the implications of the dramatized display of Hippias in that other context. For the moment, though, I need to follow through on the implications of what exactly it was that Hippias would have displayed in the context of Plato’s Protagoras – that is, if he had been allowed by Plato to make such a dramatized display in that dialogue. Let me anticipate my conclusions: the display of Hippias concerning the poetry of Simonides – or concerning the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, for that matter – would have been non-mystifying, non-mystical, as opposed to the stance of Protagoras, which is ostentatiously mystifying, mystical. Correspondingly, the display of Socrates in Plato’s Protagoras concerning the poetry of Simonides – and concerning the poetry of Homer and Hesiod as well – turns out to be non-mystifying, non-mystical.

3§121 Even before Socrates performs his discourse on the passage adduced for him by Protagoras from the song of Simonides (PMG 542), he himself voluntarily adduces passages from Homer and Hesiod (Iliad XXI 308-309 at Protagoras 340a and Works and Days 289-292 at Protagoras 340c-d). The motive of Plato’s Protagoras had been to test Socrates’ general expertise in poetry when he started questioning him about the authorial intent of Simonides, and Socrates remarks that he understands this motive (Protagoras 341e-342a). Even after Socrates finishes his discourse about the song of Simonides (Protagoras 342a through 347a) and even after he induces Protagoras to move beyond the debating of questions in terms of interpreting poetry and song, he still manages to demonstrate his expertise one last time, adducing yet another passage from Homer (Iliad II 224 at Protagoras 348c-d).

3§122 In short, what we see in Plato’s Protagoras is a replacement of Hippias by Socrates as a representative of the craft of performing and interpreting poetry. If Alcibiades had not cut him off, Hippias would have made his own display of this craft. {406|407}

3§123 The replacement of Hippias by Socrates in the Protagoras is relevant to the dichotomy between Hippias and Protagoras in their attitudes toward the craft of performing and interpreting poetry. I have already quoted the passage in Plato’s Protagoras where Protagoras specifies Homer, Hesiod, and Simonides as prototypes of sophists who are non-mystical, to be contrasted with Orpheus and Musaeus as prototypes of sophists who are mystical. I quote again here a part of that passage, because the wording it contains turns out to be essential for my further argumentation:

3ⓣ21 Plato Protagoras 316d

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

I [= Protagoras] declare that the sophisticcraft [tekhnē] is ancient, but those who had applied it among ancient men were afraid of the opprobrium attaching to it, and disguised and concealed themselves – some in the realm of poetry [poiēsis], like Homer and Hesiod and Simonides, but others in the realm of mysteries [teletai] and oracular songs [khrēsmōidiai], like Orpheus and Musaeus and their followers. [91]

3§124 In terms of such a dichotomy between mystical and non-mystical sophists, Socrates is aligned with the non-mystical. That is, Socrates is aligned with Hippias and non-aligned with Protagoras. Like Hippias, Socrates speaks as an expert in poetry when he performs and interprets the poetry of Simonides. By contrast, Plato’s Protagoras speaks as an expert in sophistic mysticism. Protagoras looks for hidden meanings, which can elude even great poets like Simonides. Protagoras is saying that the basis of education is not only the understanding of poetry but also the understanding of whatever it is that the poets themselves do not and cannot fully control in their poetry (Protagoras 338e-339a). When Protagoras performs two passages from the song of Simonides (PMG 542 lines 1-3 at 339b and lines 11-13 at 339c), his intent is to show that a sophist like himself can understand things that even a poet like Simonides fails to understand. {407|408}

3§125 In response to the interpretation claimed by Protagoras concerning the poetry of Simonides, Plato’s Socrates playfully confesses a feeling of panic because he too – so he says – fails to understand the hidden meaning that the sophist Protagoras supposedly understands – a hidden meaning that even the poet Simonides himself supposedly fails to understand (Protagoras 339d-e). Moments later, having collected his wits, Socrates declares that he will in the end pass the test set by Protagoras. That is, Socrates will now prove his expertise in poetry by attempting to explain fully the meaning of the song of Simonides (Protagoras 342a). He then proceeds to present his discourse about the entire song (Protagoras 342a through 347a).

3§126 The poetic expertise that Plato’s Socrates displays in the Protagoras can be used as a model for understanding the kind of poetic expertise that Hippias himself could have displayed and had actually offered to display. Such expertise involves not only the poetry of Simonides but other forms of non-mystical poetry as well, especially Homer.

3§127 To sum up, the divergences between the sophists Hippias and Protagoras as respectively non-mystical and mystical interpreters of Homer and other poets correspond to the divergences between the poetic figures of Homer and Orpheus as respectively non-mystical and mystical poets. Having noted this correspondence, I conclude my consideration of the divergences between Homeric and Orphic poetry in the age of Plato. Before leaving the subject, however, I should note that the alignment of Plato’s Socrates with non-mystical interpreters of Homer and other poets, as displayed in Plato’s Protagoras, is only ad hoc, matching the context of the Socratic line of argumentation in that dialogue. In other contexts, Plato’s Socrates can align himself with the mystical interpreters of poets, focusing on the ultimate mystical poet, Orpheus. A case in point is Plato’s Phaedo, where Plato’s Socrates explores a variety of mystical models in the quest for initiation into the ultimate mystery that is meant to transcend all other mysteries, the Platonic theory of Forms.

3ⓢ7. Hippias the sophist as master of the Panathenaic standard

3§128 Leaving behind for the moment the mysticism of Protagoras and delving further into the non-mysticism of Hippias in his interpretation of Homer, I turn to the question of describing the overall expertise of Hippias the sophist in the performing and interpreting of Homer. This expertise, I will now argue, corresponds closely to the expertise of Ion the rhapsode in the {408|409} performing and interpreting of Homer. I propose to describe this expertise in terms of the Panathenaic standard. That is to say, I propose that the Homer of Ion and Hippias was essentially the same Homer that was being performed on a seasonally recurring basis at the feast of the Panathenaia in the time of Plato and, by extension, in the earlier time of Ion and Hippias as dramatized by Plato.

3§129 In the Ion of Plato, the rhapsode’s act of performing at the Panathenaia is directly associated with the act of performing Homer, to the exclusion of other poets. Correspondingly, in the Protagoras of Plato, we saw Hippias associated with Homer, while his counterpart, Protagoras, is associated with Orpheus. We also saw that the Socratic vision of Hippias matches the Homeric vision of Minos, and I find it essential at this point to repeat the Homeric details. Hippias too is pictured as seated on a throne (Protagoras 315b καθήμενον … ἐν θρόνῳ, 315c ἐν θρόνῳ καθήμενος), responding to questions (315c διερωτᾶν … ἐρωτώμενα) that call for critical judgment, as expressed by the verb dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’ (315c διέκρινεν). In the Protagoras, Hippias is pictured in the act of responding to questions about the natural world, that is, about phusis ‘nature’ in general, and about astronomy in particular (315c ἐφαίνοντο δὲ περὶ φύσεώς τε καὶ τῶν μετεώρων ἀστρονομικὰ ἄττα διερωτᾶν τὸν Ἱππίαν). In Plato’s Hippias Minor, we see the same Hippias actually responding to questions posed by Socrates, who challenges the sophist to apply various tekhnai ‘crafts’ for the purpose of distinguishing, as empirically as possible, what is true and what is false. Among these tekhnai, Hippias singles out the tekhnē of astronomy as one of his specialties (Hippias Minor 367e). As the dialogue proceeds, it becomes clear that Hippias claims to be master of all tekhnai, culminating in all the tekhnai that relate to poetry and song:

3ⓣ22 Plato Hippias Minor 368a-369a

ΣΩ. Ἴθι δή, ὦ Ἱππία, ἀνέδην οὑτωσὶ ἐπίσκεψαι κατὰ {b} πασῶν τῶν ἐπιστημῶν, εἴ που ἔστιν ἄλλως ἔχον ἢ οὕτως. πάντως δὲ πλείστας τέχνας πάντων σοφώτατος εἶ ἀνθρώπων, ὡς ἐγώ ποτέ σου ἤκουον μεγαλαυχουμένου, πολλὴν σοφίαν καὶ ζηλωτὴν σαυτοῦ διεξιόντος ἐν ἀγορᾷ ἐπὶ ταῖς τραπέζαις. ἔφησθα δὲ ἀφικέσθαι ποτὲ εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν ἃ εἶχες περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἅπαντα σαυτοῦ ἔργα ἔχων· πρῶτον μὲν δακτύλιον – ἐντεῦθεν γὰρ ἤρχου – ὃν εἶχες σαυτοῦ ἔχειν {c} ἔργον, ὡς ἐπιστάμενος δακτυλίουςγλύφειν, καὶ ἄλλην σφραγῖδα σὸν ἔργον, καὶ στλεγγίδα καὶ λήκυθον ἃ αὐτὸς ἠργάσω· ἔπειτα ὑποδήματα ἃ {409|410} εἶχες ἔφησθα αὐτὸς σκυτοτομῆσαι, καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον ὑφῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτωνίσκον· καὶ ὅ γε πᾶσιν ἔδοξεν ἀτοπώτατον καὶ σοφίας πλείστης ἐπίδειγμα, ἐπειδὴ τὴν ζώνην ἔφησθα τοῦ χιτωνίσκου, ἣν εἶχες, εἶναι μὲν οἷαι αἱ Περσικαὶ τῶν πολυτελῶν, ταύτην δὲ αὐτὸς πλέξαι· πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ποιήματα ἔχων ἐλθεῖν, καὶ ἔπη καὶ τραγῳδίας {d} καὶ διθυράμβους, καὶ καταλογάδην πολλοὺς λόγους καὶ παντοδαποὺς συγκειμένους· καὶ περὶ τῶν τεχνῶν δὴ ὧν ἄρτι ἐγὼ ἔλεγον ἐπιστήμων ἀφικέσθαι διαφερόντως τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ περὶ ῥυθμῶν καὶ ἁρμονιῶν καὶ γραμμάτωνὀρθότητος, καὶ ἄλλα ἔτι πρὸς τούτοις πάνυ πολλά, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκῶ μνημονεύειν· καίτοι τό γε μνημονικὸνἐπελαθόμην σου, ὡς ἔοικε, τέχνημα, ἐν ᾧ σὺ οἴει λαμπρότατος εἶναι· οἶμαι δὲ καὶ {e} ἄλλα πάμπολλα ἐπιλελῆσθαι. ἀλλ’ ὅπερ ἐγὼ λέγω, καὶ εἰς τὰς σαυτοῦ τέχναςβλέψαςἱκαναὶ δέ – καὶ εἰς τὰς τῶν ἄλλων εἰπέ μοι, ἐάν που εὕρῃς ἐκ τῶν ὡμολογημένων ἐμοί τε καὶ σοί, ὅπου ἐστὶν ὁ μὲν ἀληθής, ὁ δὲ ψευδής, χωρὶς καὶ οὐχ ὁ αὐτός; ἐν ᾗτινι βούλει σοφίᾳ τοῦτο σκέψαι ἢ πανουργίᾳ {369a} ἢ ὁτιοῦν χαίρεις ὀνομάζων· ἀλλ’ οὐχ εὑρήσεις, ὦ ἑταῖρε – οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν – ἐπεὶ σὺ εἰπέ.

SOCRATES: Come, then, Hippias. Consider without any further ado whether or not this point [about the false and the true] holds for all kinds of knowledge. You are absolutely the most skilled [sophos] of men in the greatest number of crafts [tekhnai] by far, as I once heard you boast when you were describing your great and enviable skill [sophia]. [92] It was in the agora [= the agora of Athens], near the money-changers’ tables [trapezai]. [93] You were telling how you once upon a time went to Olympia, and everything you wore was your own work: first, your ring [daktulios] – you started with that – was your own work because you knew how to engrave rings [daktulioi] – and the rest of it [= your ring], that is, its seal [sphragis], was your own work, [94] and an athletic scraper, and a lēkuthion you had made yourself. Next, the {410|411} footwear you had on you – you said you had done the leatherwork [skutotomeîn] yourself, and you had woven [huphainein] your own himation and your own khiton [khitōn]. And it seemed dazzling to everyone – a display [epideigma] of the greatest skill [sophia] [95] when you said that the cincture of the khiton [khitōn] you had on you was made of the costliest Persian kind, and that you had plaited [plekein] it yourself. And, on top of all these things, you had come bringing with you compositions [poiēmata] [96] – that is, epic [epos plural] and tragedies and dithyrambs, and a multitude of discourses [logoi] to be performed in the right sequence [katalogadēn] [97] and all kinds of set pieces. And you arrived there as an expert surpassing all others in the knowledge of not only the crafts [tekhnai] I just mentioned, but also of the correctness [orthotēs] of rhythms [rhuthmoi], tunings [harmoniai], and letters [grammata]. [98] And there were many more things in addition, as I seem to remember [mnēmoneuein]. And yet it seems I had almost forgotten [epilanthanesthai] about your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikion tekhnēma], in which you think you are at your most brilliant. And I suppose I have forgotten [epilanthanesthai] a great many other things too. But, as I say, look [blepein] [99] to your own crafts [tekhnai] – they are certainly sufficient – and those of others, and tell me if you anywhere find the true man and the false separate and not the same, given what we have agreed. Examine this in terms of any kind of skill [sophia] you may want to choose – or in terms of any kind of panourgia [100] whatsoever – {411|412} or however you would like to call it. You will not find it, my friend, for it does not exist – but you tell me. [101]

3§130 I now focus on Plato’s catalogue of skills that are claimed by Hippias in the passage I just quoted, without yet commenting on Plato’s usage of sophos and sophia in referring to these skills. [102] As we examine more closely the structure of this catalogue, we can see that the sophist’s skill as an expert in poetry and song takes pride of place. That highlighting can be seen more clearly if we think of Plato’s catalogue of skills in terms of two sections. The first section enumerates various kinds of handicraft that Hippias has mastered as a craftsman in his own right, starting with the making of the sophist’s ring and going through everything else he wears on his person. Everything is hand-made by him. The second section enumerates various kinds of poetry and song that the sophist likewise masters as crafts in their own right. The kinds of poetry and song that the catalogue describes as crafts mastered by Hippias correspond to the kinds of dramatic and ‘musical’ performance featured at the two premier festivals of Athens, the City Dionysia and the Panathenaia respectively. [103] Among the dramatic performances of the City Dionysia, it is tragedy and dithyramb that are highlighted; among the ‘musical’ events of the Panathenaia, it is epic. Of all these kinds of poetry and song, epic is mentioned first of all – evidently the epic of Homer. Moreover, as we saw in a passage I quoted earlier from the very beginning of the Hippias Minor, Hippias has a special skill in one particular kind of poetry and song: that is, he specializes in the performing and the interpreting of Homer (363b). Relevant to this special skill of Hippias is a term introduced toward the very end of the passage I have just quoted: it is mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (368d).

3§131 In this same passage, the status of Hippias as grand master of poetry and song is correlated with the keen interest shown by this sophist in the orthotēs ‘correctness’ of grammata ‘letters’ and in other such matters relating to various tekhnai ‘crafts’ of poetry and song (Hippias Minor 368a-e). This interest requires the ability to make critical judgments, as signaled by the verb dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’ in the description we saw earlier of the sophist seated on a throne and responding to questions (Protagoras 315c διέκρινεν). We may compare the interest shown by Ion the rhapsode in making correct critical judgments concerning questions of Homeric verbal artistry – {412|413} that is, whether Homer says his epos (plural) ‘poetic utterances’ orthōs ‘correctly’ or not (τὰ ἔπη εἴτε ὀρθῶς λέγει Ὅμηρος εἴτε μή Ion 537b-c). In the Ion, when Plato’s Socrates asks Ion to tell him what are the things about which the craft of the rhapsode can enable Ion to make critical judgments, that is, dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’, the rhapsode replies: ‘all things’:

3ⓣ23 Plato Ion 539d-e

ΣΩ. Καὶ σύ γε, ὦ Ἴων, ἀληθῆ ταῦτα λέγεις. ἴθι δὴ καὶ σὺ ἐμοί, ὥσπερ ἐγὼ σοὶ ἐξέλεξα καὶ ἐξ Ὀδυσσείας καὶ ἐξ Ἰλιάδος ὁποῖα τοῦ μάντεώς ἐστι καὶ ὁποῖα τοῦ ἰατροῦ καὶ {e} ὁποῖα τοῦ ἁλιέως, οὕτω καὶ σὺ ἐμοὶ ἔκλεξον, ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἐμπειρότερος εἶ ἐμοῦ τῶν ῾Ομήρου, ὁποῖα τοῦ ῥαψῳδοῦ ἐστιν, ὦ Ἴων, καὶ τῆς τέχνης τῆς ῥαψῳδικῆς, ἃ τῷ ῥαψῳδῷ προσήκει καὶ σκοπεῖσθαι καὶ διακρίνειν παρὰ τοὺς ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους.

ΙΩΝ. Ἐγὼ μέν φημι, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἅπαντα.

 

SOCRATES: These things that you say, Ion, are true. But come now and do as I did. I picked out from the Odyssey and the Iliad [104] what sorts of things concern the seer [mantis], and the physician, and the fisherman. Since you are so much more experienced than I am about Homer, Ion, will you in this way also pick out for me what sorts of things belong to the rhapsode and to the rhapsodic craft [rhapsōidikē tekhnē]? What sorts of things are fitting for the rhapsode to consider and to make critical judgments about [dia-krinein], beyond all other humans?

ION: I say it’s all things, Socrates.

3§132 Thus the critical judgment of the sophist Hippias in interpreting Homer, as signaled by the verb dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’, is matched by the critical judgment of the rhapsode Ion, which is likewise signaled by this same verb dia-krinein. The concept of this kind of critical judgment, I argue, is related to concepts derived from the simple form of this verb, krinein ‘decide’, as represented most prominently by the designation kritikos ‘critic’, self-applied by experts of literature in the Hellenistic period. [105] {413|414}

3§133 I propose to contrast this match between the sophist and the rhapsode with a mismatch deliberately set up by Plato in the Hippias Minor and the Ion. This mismatch has to do with the different strategies of argumentation used by Plato’s Socrates in arguing with the sophist and with the rhapsode. Despite the differentiation between sophist and rhapsode as set up by Plato, I will argue that the actual concept of critical judgment, as signaled by dia-krinein ‘decide [between X and Y]’ and by the simple form krinein ‘decide’ and its derivative kritikos ‘critic’, is in fact not all that different in the craft of the sophist, despite its rivalry with the craft of the rhapsode. A similar argument will apply to other compound formations involving the verb krinein, especially hupokrinesthai and the noun derived from it, hupokritēs.

3§134 As an expert in Homer, Ion the rhapsode is compared by Plato’s Socrates to an oracular poet who is inspired, that is, to a mantis ‘seer’ (Ion 531b). Hippias the sophist in Plato’s Hippias Minor is likewise an expert in Homer, but in Plato’s terms he would be comparable not to a mantis but to a prophētēs. In making this point, I have in mind an exceptional passage where Plato’s Socrates makes a distinction between two kinds of ‘seer’, the mantis who is inspired and the prophētēs who is supposedly uninspired:

3ⓣ24 Plato Timaeus 72a-b

τοῦ δὲ μανέντος … οὐκ ἔργον τὰ φανέντα καὶ φωνηθέντα ὑφ᾿ ἑαυτοῦ κρίνειν, … ὅθεν δὴ καὶ τὸ τῶν προφητῶν γένος ἐπὶ ταῖς ἐνθέοιςμαντείαιςκριτὰς ἐπικαθιστάναι νόμος· οὓς μάντεις αὐτοὺς ὀνομάζουσίν τινες, τὸ πᾶν ἠγνοηκότες ὅτι τῆς δι᾿ αἰνιγμῶν οὗτοι φήμης καὶ φαντάσεως ὑποκριταί, καὶ οὔτι μάντεις, προφῆται δὲ μαντευομένων δικαιότατα ὀνομάζοιντ᾿ ἄν

But when some person is in a state of mental possession [manēnai] … it is not that person’s task to make decisions [krinein] about the visions that are made visible [phanēnai] to him or about the words that are voiced by him. … For this reason it is customary to put in charge the class of prophētai as decision-makers [kritai] presiding over oracular utterances [manteiai] that had been made [by others] that are entheoi [= in the state of being mentally possessed by the god]. They [= the prophētai] are called by some, in ignorance, manteis. This is to ignore completely the fact that they [= the prophētai] are hupokritai, by ways of riddles [ainigmoi], of oracular utterance [phēmē] and oracular vision [phantasis]. So they would be {414|415} most justly called not manteis but the prophētai of things that are uttered by those who function as manteis.

3§135 I need to stress that the context here reflects Plato’s ad hoc philosophical agenda, and that only in this Platonic context is the prophētēs assumed to be uninspired. [106] In other Platonic contexts, the prophētēs is assumed to be inspired and is synonymous with the mantis ‘seer’ (Plato Charmides 173c, etc.). In non-Platonic contexts as well, the prophētēs is explicitly inspired (Pindar Nemean 1.60, Herodotus 3.37.2, etc.). [107] Generally, if we view the words mantis and prophētēs outside of Plato’s sphere of argumentation, the distinction between them is not a question of being inspired or not inspired. Rather, it is more a question of different degrees of formalization: whereas the words of a mantis may or may not be poetic, those of a prophētēs are predictably so: a salient example is the wording of Bacchylides (Epinician 8.3), who pictures the generic poet as the prophētēs of the Muses. [108]

3§136 In the same passage from Plato’s Timaeus that we have just examined, the ad hoc usage of prophētēs as an uninspired performer of oracular poetry is matched by the ad hoc usage of the agent noun of the verb hupokrinesthai, that is, hupokritēs. Like prophētes, this word hupokritēs is used here in the ad hoc sense of designating a performer who is not possessed, not inspired by the god. As we have already seen, however, Plato’s Socrates elsewhere actually speaks of the hupokritēs as an inspired performer, parallel to the rhapsōidos:

3ⓣ25 Plato Ion 535e-536a

ΣΩ. οἶσθα οὖν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ θεατὴς τῶν δακτυλίων ὁ ἔσχατος, ὧν ἐγὼ ἔλεγον ὑπὸ τῆς Ἡρακλειώτιδος λίθου ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων τὴν δύναμιν λαμβάνειν; ὁ δὲ μέσος σὺ ὁ {536a} ῥαψῳδὸς καὶ ὑποκριτής, ὁ δὲ πρῶτος αὐτὸς ὁ ποιητής.

SOCRATES: Of course you know that this person we talked about, the spectator [theatēs] in the audience, is the last of the rings – I mean, the rings that get their power from each other through the force of the Heraclean stone. The middle ring is the rhapsode – that’s you {415|416} [= Ion] – as well as the actor [hupokritēs]. And the first ring is the composer [poiētēs] himself. [109]

3§137 As is the case with the word prophētēs, so also with hupokritēs: we see from the passage just quoted that this word too may be used in the sense of a performer who is possessed, inspired. Plato’s wording, as we saw in the Timaeus (72a-b), describes hupokritēs as one who interprets, by way of performing, the utterance [phēmē] and the vision [phantasis] of a given oracle. There is no need to follow Plato, however, in assuming that such a hupokritēs must be disconnected from the visualization and the verbalization of the oracular vision. Just as the verb hupokrinesthai is predicated on the idea of a preexisting vision, so also the noun hupokritēs.

3§138 The very act of performing can be considered an act of interpretation, as we see from such modern usages as French interpréter in the sense of ‘sing’ or ‘play’ a given musical composition. In this light, let us consider the idea inherent in usages of krinein [‘make decisions’], from which the compound form hupokrinesthai is derived. This verb krinein, in the active voice, can be translated as ‘interpret’ when combined with the noun opsis ‘vision’ as its object (Herodotus 7.19.12) or with enupnion ‘dream’ as its object (Herodotus 1.120.1). [110] It is a question of interpreting-in-performance. In the middle voice, hupo-krinesthai suggests that the performer is interpreting for himself as well as for others. [111] The basic idea of hupokrinesthai, then, is to see the real meaning of what others see, and to quote what this vision is really saying to them.

3§139 Whereas the art of the rhapsode, as conveyed by the word hupokrinesthai and related forms, is associated with the idea of responsiveness, Plato seems to associate this art with the idea of unresponsiveness. We may consider in this regard another compound of krinein, that is, anakrinein, which means ‘interrogate [judicially]’, as in the usage of Thucydides (1.95). In Plato’s Phaedrus (277e), we read of logoi that are rhapsōidoumenoi ‘performed rhapsodically’ and are exempt from anakrisis ‘interrogation’ (οἱ ῥαψῳδούμενοι ἄνευ ἀνακρίσεως). [112]

3§140 In the case of hupokrinesthai, as we saw in Chapter 1, the idea of an oracular vision is evident from the word’s conventional associations with such other words as theōros, meaning literally ‘he who sees [root hor-] a vision {416|417} [thea]’. In the case of hupokritēs, as we also saw, the word is associated with theatron ‘theater’, meaning literally ‘the vehicle for achieving vision [thea]’.

3§141 As I stressed already in Chapter 1, hupokrinesthai and hupokritēs become the words for ‘act’ and ‘actor’ in the language of Athenian State Theater. A case in point is this expression in the usage of Demosthenes (19.246): τὴν Ἀντιγόνην Σοφοκλέους ὑποκέκριται as ‘he has performed [hupokrinesthai] the Antigone of Sophocles’. The definition of hupokrinesthai in the dictionary of Liddell and Scott (LSJ s.v., B II) is suggestive: “speak in dialogue, hence play a part on the stage, the part played being put in [accusative].” By metonymy, the part can become the whole (as reflected in the title-style highlighting that I used here for Antigone), so that the part being played stands for the whole play. [113] Another relevant example comes from Aristotle (Rhetoric 3.1403b23): ὑπεκρίνοντο γὰρ αὐτοὶ τὰς τραγῳδίας οἱ ποιηταὶ τὸ πρῶτον ‘in the beginning the poets themselves used to perform [hupokrinesthai] their tragedies’. [114] As for the noun hupokritēs, it is the standard word for ‘performer in theater’, ‘actor’ in the usage of Plato (Republic 2.373b, Symposium 194b, etc.). [115]

3§142 In the light of the meaning of hupokritēs as ‘actor’ in the usage of Plato, let us return to the context of Ion 536a, where Plato’s Socrates pictures the generic hupokritēs as parallel to the generic rhapsōidos in his role as a supposedly inspired performer. This parallelism, though we can justify it from the standpoint of earlier stages in the evolving performance traditions of actors as well as rhapsodes, is anachronistic from the standpoint of these same traditions in the age of Plato. By this time, the idea that actors are inspired performers makes no sense: far from being inspired, they simply learn the words composed by poets. Further, the idea that rhapsodes are inspired performers makes no sense, either, if indeed they are parallel to actors. Thus the parallelism drawn between actors and rhapsodes serves to discredit rhapsodes: it makes them seem to be uninspired. [116] Even further, the idea that actors and rhapsodes are inspired performers suits only the ad hoc argumentation of Plato’s Socrates in Ion 536a – and only to the extent that it serves to discredit the idea that rhapsodes can think for themselves about what they perform. Beyond that, there is no need for Plato’s Socrates to maintain the idea that the rhapsode is truly inspired.

3§143 In the end, Plato’s portrayal of Ion implies that the rhapsode, like an actor, is simply acting out the words once composed by Homer. The {417|418} moment of truth arrives when Socrates questions Ion whether the rhapsode feels the same emotions felt by the characters in his Homeric performances, such as Andromache, Hector, Hecuba, and Priam:

3ⓣ26 Plato Ion 535b-c

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

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

3§144 Ion begins his response to the questioning of Socrates by claiming he feels the same emotions of terror and pity that are felt by his audiences in reaction to the actions of his characters (Ion 533c). But then, Ion continues his extended response to the question by implying that he is merely acting the words of and about these Homeric characters – and not necessarily experiencing their emotions. If words about sad things composed by Homer make Ion’s audiences genuinely sad, then Ion himself can be genuinely happy, he says (Ion 535e). Thus Plato’s portrait of the rhapsode has ultimately turned this supposedly inspired mouthpiece of the Muses into an uninspired and cynical manipulator of the audience’s emotions. While Ion leaves his audiences crying over the grief of Andromache and other such heroic characters, he is “laughing all the way to the bank.” {418|419}

3§145 The parallelism of the rhapsōidos and the hupokritēs can be taken further. Whereas the hupokritēs performs the poetry and songs of drama, primarily at the City Dionysia, the rhapsōidos performs the poetry of Homer, primarily at the Panathenaia. Just as the hupokritēs acts out his given role in the dramatic performances of the City Dionysia, so too the rhapsōidos acts out his given role as the master narrator of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey in the epic performances of the Panathenaia. When a rhapsode like Plato’s Ion performs Homeric poetry, he is not only quoting the words of heroes and gods, thereby acting both their words and their personalities: he is also quoting the words of Homer, which are the narrative frame of heroic song. That is, the rhapsode is also acting both the words and the persona of Homer himself. [117]

3§146 Whereas the actor represents only the characters made by the poet of drama, the rhapsode represents the poet Homer himself as well as the characters made by Homer. Moreover, when the rhapsode explains the poetry of Homer, he claims to speak for the poet Homer, and he derives his authority from Homer. The actor of drama has no such claim or authority. The actor of drama at the City Dionysia in Athens wears a mask to project the character he represents, whereas the rhapsode of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaia in Athens wears no mask to project the characters that he in turn represents when he quotes their speeches within his narrative. The rhapsode cannot wear the mask of a character because he changes characters in the course of performance. As Aristotle observes in the Poetics (1448a22), the representation of a character in Homeric poetry can happen either by narrating about that character or by quoting the character directly. For example, when the words of the priest of Apollo are quoted in Iliad I, then Homer assumes the character of the priest. When the priest is answered by Agamemnon, then Homer assumes the character of Agamemnon. Going beyond Aristotle, I add that not only Homer but also the rhapsode himself assumes the character of the priest and then the character of Agamemnon when he quotes Homer who quotes the priest and then Agamemnon. In other words, the rhapsode assumes the character of Homer himself as the master narrator who quotes the voices of the epic past and who thereby assumes the characters that go with the voices. An actor too can assume different characters, but only by way of wearing different masks at different times, and the switching of masks cannot happen within the continuum of performance. For the rhapsode, by contrast, the assuming of different characters must happen within the continuum of performance. And {419|420} that continuum is made possible by the rhapsode’s assuming the character of Homer himself. Within that continuum, the rhapsode represents both the poet and his poetry. That is why poetry, as a prime target of Plato’s Socrates, is primarily represented by the rhapsode, not by the actor. [118]

3§147 I conclude that the authority of the rhapsode is derived from the authority of Homer as the poet par excellence – as the one to whom even Plato’s Socrates refers as ho poiētēs ‘the Poet’ (Plato Ion 530c, etc.). [119] That is why Socrates must separate the poiētikē tekhnē ‘craft of the poet’ from the rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘craft of the rhapsode’ in the Ion. If the authority of the poetry performed by Ion is merely something derived from the inspiration of and by Homer, then the authority of Ion as a master of the rhapsodic craft can be discredited as insignificant.

3ⓢ8. Sophistic powers of total recall

3§148 The very idea of inspiration or divine ‘possession’ by the Muses can help Plato undermine the credibility of rhapsodes as representatives of song and poetry. On the other hand, Plato needs different ideas to undermine the credibility of Hippias. As a sophist, Hippias does not represent song and poetry per se.

3§149 Unlike Ion the rhapsode, Hippias the sophist is not overtly inspired or ‘possessed’ – either by Homer or, ultimately, by the Muses. When Hippias needs to consult Homer, what he needs is not inspiration or possession but memory. As we saw earlier, there is a technical term for this kind of memory, that is, mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (Hippias Minor 368d). This term is used again in a later passage where Socrates is challenging Hippias to display his all-encompassing knowledge of Homer by responding to the central question of distinguishing between the true and the false man, and the sophist is induced to admit that he will have to use his memory: {420|421}

3ⓣ27 Plato Hippias Minor 368e-369b

ἀλλ’ ὅπερ ἐγὼ λέγω, καὶ εἰς τὰς σαυτοῦ τέχνας βλέψας – ἱκαναὶ δέ – καὶ εἰς τὰς τῶν ἄλλων εἰπέ μοι, ἐάν που εὕρῃς ἐκ τῶν ὡμολογημένων ἐμοί τε καὶ σοί, ὅπου ἐστὶν ὁ μὲν ἀληθής, ὁ δὲ ψευδής, χωρὶς καὶ οὐχ ὁ αὐτός; ἐν ᾗτινι βούλει σοφίᾳ τοῦτο σκέψαι ἢ πανουργίᾳ {369a} ἢ ὁτιοῦν χαίρεις ὀνομάζων· ἀλλ’ οὐχ εὑρήσεις, ὦ ἑταῖρε – οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν – ἐπεὶ σὺ εἰπέ.

ΙΠ. Ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἔχω, ὦ Σώκρατες, νῦν γε οὕτως.

ΣΩ. Οὐδέ γε ἕξεις, ὡς ἐγὼ οἶμαι· εἰ δ’ ἐγὼ ἀληθῆ λέγω, μέμνησαι ὃ ἡμῖν συμβαίνει ἐκ τοῦ λόγου, ὦ Ἱππία.

ΙΠ. Οὐ πάνυ τι ἐννοῶ, ὦ Σώκρατες, ὃ λέγεις.

ΣΩ. Νυνὶ γὰρ ἴσως οὐ χρῇ τῷ μνημονικῷτεχνήματι – δῆλον γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ οἴει δεῖν – ἀλλὰ ἐγώ σε ὑπομνήσω. οἶσθα ὅτι τὸν μὲν Ἀχιλλέα ἔφησθα ἀληθῆ εἶναι, τὸν δὲ ᾿Οδυσσέα {b} ψευδῆ καὶ πολύτροπον;

ΙΠ. Ναί.

 

SOCRATES (to Hippias): But as I say, look [blepein] to your own crafts [tekhnai] – they are certainly sufficient – and those of others, and tell me if you anywhere find the true man and the false separate and not the same, given what we have agreed. Examine this in terms of any sort of skill [sophia] you may want to choose – or in terms of any kind of panourgia [120] whatsoever – or however you would like to call it. You will not find it, my friend, for it does not exist – but you tell me.

HIPPIAS: But I am not able to do so, Socrates, at least not in the present circumstances.

SOCRATES: Nor will you be able, I think. But if I am right, you remember [memnēsthai] what follows from the argument, Hippias.

HIPPIAS: I just don’t understand what you mean, Socrates, not at all.

SOCRATES: Maybe you are not using your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikon tekhnēma] right now – clearly you don’t think you need to – but I will give you mnemonic support [hupo-mnē-]. You know {421|422} you were saying that Achilles is true but Odysseus false and multiform [polutropos]?

HIPPIAS: Yes. [121]

3§150 In this passage we see again the term mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (Hippias Minor 369a), which I have already highlighted in the previous passage I quoted (368d). This term is relevant to the notion that the presence of Homer is to be ignored in the dialogue between Hippias and Socrates, and that Hippias is to ‘respond’ jointly for Homer as well as for himself:

3ⓣ28 Plato Hippias Minor 365c-d

ΣΩ. Τὸν μὲν ῞Ομηρον τοίνυν ἐάσωμεν, ἐπειδὴ καὶ {d} ἀδύνατον ἐπανερέσθαι τί ποτε νοῶν ταῦτα ἐποίησεν τὰ ἔπη· σὺ δ’ ἐπειδὴ φαίνῃ ἀναδεχόμενος τὴν αἰτίαν, καὶ σοὶ συνδοκεῖ ταῦτα ἅπερ φῂς Ὅμηρον λέγειν, ἀπόκριναικοινῇ ὑπὲρ Ὁμήρου τε καὶ σαυτοῦ.

SOCRATES: Then let us dismiss Homer, since it is impossible to ask him what he intended [noeîn] when he made [poieîn] these verses [epos plural]. But since you are clearly taking up [anadekhesthai] his cause [aitia] [122] and agree with these things you say he is saying [legein], I ask you to respond [apokrinesthai] in common [koinēi] on behalf of Homer and yourself. [123]

3§151 The wording here makes it clear that Plato’s Hippias, as a sophist, needs to make no overt claim to the inspiration of and by Homer – unlike Plato’s Ion, as a rhapsode. In the case of Hippias, his mastery of Homeric poetry comes from a craft, just as Ion’s mastery comes from a craft, but the craft of the sophist is one that transcends the rhapsōidikē tekhnē. It transcends even the poiētikē tekhnē writ large. I propose that the craft of Hippias the sophist was imagined as a form of sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’, which was derived from the rhapsōidikē tekhnē but became differentiated from it. Such a transcendent craft, the sophistikē tekhnē, was the rival of another transcendent craft, the philosophical dialectic of Socrates himself. {422|423}

3§152 We have already seen this term sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ in a passage that I quoted from Plato’s Protagoras. Here I requote the part of that passage that features this transcendent tekhnē of the sophists:

3ⓣ29 Plato Protagoras 316d

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

I [= Protagoras] declare that the sophistic craft [tekhnē] is ancient, but those who had applied it among ancient men were afraid of the opprobrium attaching to it, and disguised and concealed themselves – some in the realm of poetry [poiēsis], [124] like Homer and Hesiod and Simonides, but others in the realm of mysteries [teletai] and oracular songs [khrēsmōidiai], like Orpheus and Musaeus and their followers. [125]

3§153 As we see from what I just quoted, the sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ can be mystical, as represented by Protagoras himself. As we can also see in an earlier passage I already quoted from Plato’s Protagoras, the sophist Protagoras is compared to Orpheus himself (315a-b). Orpheus in the present passage is associated with teletai ‘mysteries’ and khrēsmōidiai ‘oracular songs’ (316d).

3§154 By contrast with Orpheus, Homer in the present passage is associated simply with poiēsis ‘poetry’ (316d). In the earlier passage, the description of Protagoras as Orpheus is being contrasted with the description of the rival sophist Hippias in wording that suits Homer (315b-c). If we apply the term sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ to this sophist, we need to specify that his version of the craft is not mystical, by contrast with the craft of Protagoras.

3§155 The sophistic craft of Hippias the sophist is so non-mystical as to be practical. His craft subsumes various practical crafts. As a living embodiment of his sophistikē tekhnē, Hippias the sophist claims personal mastery of practical crafts. In the passage I quoted earlier from the Hippias Minor, Socrates tells of Hippias speaking about this mastery. Socrates recalls one particular {423|424} time when Hippias came to Athens and spoke in public, in the agora (Hippias Minor 368b). Socrates was there and heard him speak, and he tells about Hippias in Athens telling about an earlier time when Hippias spoke in Olympia, in the hieron ‘sacred precinct’ of Zeus (363c-d, 364a). The impression given by Plato is that the performance of Hippias in the agora of Athens is a “replay” of the performance of Hippias in the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia. [126] As we saw, Hippias is being pictured in the act of speaking about himself and all his crafts, displaying his mastery of each of those crafts. As we also saw, his catalogue of crafts culminates in the craft of poetry and song, and for Hippias the key to the mastery of that craft is his mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (368d, 369a). As I will now argue, that same technique is what differentiates the sophistic craft of Hippias from the rhapsodic craft of Ion.

3§156 Here I need to concentrate on the precise moment when the mnemonic technique of Hippias the sophist is first mentioned in the Hippias Minor. In the context of the sophist’s display of all the crafts that he has mastered, he starts by highlighting his mastery of the jeweller’s craft as a prime example, saying that he himself had hand-made the daktulios ‘ring’ that he wears on his finger – and on that ring is a sphragis ‘seal’ that he himself had specially carved (Hippias Minor 368b-c). That ring is the first thing about Hippias that attracts the attention of Plato’s Socrates in the Hippias Minor. Socrates thinks back to that ring that Hippias was wearing, and he thinks back further: he now remembers that it was Hippias himself who had first drawn attention to the ring. ‘You started with that’, Socrates says about the ring (Plato Hippias Minor 368b).

3§157 So the daktulios ‘ring’ was the first thing that Hippias talked about in the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia and, by implication, also later in the agora in Athens. What about that ‘first ring’? That all-attractive ‘first ring’ evokes the image of the magnetic First Rings (prōtoi daktulioi) that magnetize performers and their audiences in Plato’s Ion (536b). This connection between the First Rings in Plato’s Ion (536b) and the Ring of Hippias in the Hippias Minor (368b) will be most relevant in later phases of my argumentation.

3§158 The daktulios ‘ring’ hand-made by the sophist is just the beginning. Hippias then goes on to say that he also hand-made the himation and the khiton (khitōn) that he is wearing, having woven these fabrics himself. Moreover, Hippias is a master of leatherwork – skutotomeîn – in his own right, having hand-made his own shoes. We saw already in another Platonic passage {424|425} that the husteroi or ‘later’ thinkers who are experts in supposedly later poets like Homer – rather than earlier poets like Orpheus – tended to demystify the mysteries, so that even leatherworkers – skutotomoi – may understand (Plato Theaetetus 180d), to be contrasted with palaioteroi or ‘earlier’ thinkers specializing in supposedly earlier poets like Orpheus, whose mysteries continued to mystify the outsiders (Plato Theaetetus 179e-180d). A most valuable independent confirmation comes from Xenophon’s Memorabilia (4.4.5), where Hippias of Elis is represented as debating with Socrates about the possibilities of teaching even the skuteus ‘leatherworker’ and other specialists (εἰ μέν τις βούλοιτο σκυτέα διδάξασθαί τινα ἢ τέκτονα ἢ χαλκέα ἢ ἱππέα …).

3§159 Returning to the point I already made about the sophistikē tekhnē ‘sophistic craft’ as mentioned in the Protagoras of Plato, I stress again that this concept is hardly monolithic. The craft of sophists can be either mystical, as represented by Protagoras himself, or decidedly non-mystical, as represented by his rival, Hippias. Also, this craft can subsume other crafts. Among the crafts subsumed by the sophistikē tekhnē of Hippias the sophist, the most prominent is the rhapsōidikē tekhnē – specifically, the rhapsodic craft of performing and interpreting Homer. That is the craft displayed to the fullest by Hippias the sophist in Plato’s Hippias Minor.

3§160 By metonymy, this one single craft of the rhapsodes can subsume other crafts. By metonymy, the mastery of Homeric poetry is the mastery of all crafts. We saw this idea proclaimed by the rhapsode Ion in Plato’s Ion. This stance of Ion the rhapsode is remarkably similar to the stance of Hippias the sophist. The difference is, Hippias does not consider himself a specialist in rhapsōidikē tekhnē. Rather, he seems to be a generalist in sophistikē tekhnē. The sophist’s mastery of the rhapsode’s craft is merely the primary example of his mastery of all crafts. Here I return to my argument: what makes all the difference is the sophist’s overall mastery of the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’.

3§161 In order to show the decisive role of this mnemonic technique, I need to review the two consecutive sections in the catalogue of crafts attributed to Hippias in Plato’s Hippias Minor. As we saw, the first section enumerated various kinds of handicraft mastered by Hippias, starting with the sophist’s ring and going through everything else he wears on his person (368b-c). The second section enumerated the kinds of poetry and song that the sophist has likewise mastered, corresponding to the kinds of dramatic and ‘musical’ performance featured at the two premier festivals of Athens, the City Dionysia and the Panathenaia respectively (368c-d). It is in this particular context that the mnemonic technique of Hippias is highlighted: {425|426}

3ⓣ30 Plato Hippias Minor 368a-d

ΣΩ. Ἴθι δή, ὦ Ἱππία, ἀνέδην οὑτωσὶ ἐπίσκεψαι κατὰ {b} πασῶν τῶν ἐπιστημῶν, εἴ που ἔστιν ἄλλως ἔχον ἢ οὕτως. πάντως δὲ πλείστας τέχνας πάντων σοφώτατος εἶ ἀνθρώπων, ὡς ἐγώ ποτέ σου ἤκουον μεγαλαυχουμένου, πολλὴν σοφίαν καὶ ζηλωτὴν σαυτοῦ διεξιόντος ἐν ἀγορᾷ ἐπὶ ταῖς τραπέζαις. ἔφησθα δὲ ἀφικέσθαι ποτὲ εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν ἃ εἶχες περὶ τὸ σῶμα ἅπαντα σαυτοῦ ἔργα ἔχων· πρῶτον μὲν δακτύλιον – ἐντεῦθεν γὰρ ἤρχου – ὃν εἶχες σαυτοῦ ἔχειν {c} ἔργον, ὡς ἐπιστάμενος δακτυλίουςγλύφειν, καὶ ἄλλην σφραγῖδα σὸν ἔργον, καὶ στλεγγίδα καὶ λήκυθον ἃ αὐτὸς ἠργάσω· ἔπειτα ὑποδήματα ἃ εἶχες ἔφησθα αὐτὸς σκυτοτομῆσαι, καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον ὑφῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτωνίσκον· καὶ ὅ γε πᾶσιν ἔδοξεν ἀτοπώτατον καὶ σοφίας πλείστης ἐπίδειγμα, ἐπειδὴ τὴν ζώνην ἔφησθα τοῦ χιτωνίσκου, ἣν εἶχες, εἶναι μὲν οἷαι αἱ Περσικαὶ τῶν πολυτελῶν, ταύτην δὲ αὐτὸς πλέξαι· πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ποιήματα ἔχων ἐλθεῖν, καὶ ἔπη καὶ τραγῳδίας {d} καὶ διθυράμβους, καὶ καταλογάδην πολλοὺς λόγους καὶ παντοδαποὺς συγκειμένους· καὶ περὶ τῶν τεχνῶν δὴ ὧν ἄρτι ἐγὼ ἔλεγον ἐπιστήμων ἀφικέσθαι διαφερόντως τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ περὶ ῥυθμῶν καὶ ἁρμονιῶν καὶ γραμμάτωνὀρθότητος, καὶ ἄλλα ἔτι πρὸς τούτοις πάνυ πολλά, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκῶ μνημονεύειν· καίτοι τό γε μνημονικὸνἐπελαθόμην σου, ὡς ἔοικε, τέχνημα, ἐν ᾧ σὺ οἴει λαμπρότατος εἶναι·

SOCRATES: Come, then, Hippias. Consider without any further ado whether or not this point [about the false and the true] holds for all kinds of knowledge. You are absolutely the most skilled [sophos] of men in the greatest number of crafts [tekhnai] by far, as I once heard you boast when you were describing your great and enviable skill [sophia]. It was in the agora [= the agora of Athens], near the money-changers’ tables [trapezai]. You were telling how you once upon a time went to Olympia, and everything you wore was your own work: first, your ring [daktulios] – you started with that – was your own work because you knew how to engrave rings [daktulioi] – and the rest of it [= your ring], that is, its seal [sphragis], was your own work, and an athletic scraper, and a lēkuthion you had made yourself. Next, the footwear you had on you – you said you had done the leatherwork [skutotomeîn] yourself, and you had woven [huphainein] your own himation and your own khiton [khitōn]. And it seemed dazzling to everyone – a display [epideigma] of the greatest skill [sophia] when you said that the cincture of the khiton [khitōn] you had on you was {426|427} made of the costliest Persian kind, and that you had plaited [plekein] it yourself. And on top of all these things, you had come bringing with you compositions [poiēmata] [127] – that is, epic [epos plural] and tragedies and dithyrambs, and a multitude of discourses [logoi] performed in the right sequence [katalogadēn] and all kinds of set pieces. And you arrived there as an expert surpassing others in the knowledge of not only the crafts [tekhnai] I just mentioned, but also of the correctness [orthotēs] of rhythms [rhuthmoi], tunings [harmoniai], and letters [grammata]. And there were many more things in addition, as I seem to remember [mnēmoneuein]. And yet it seems I had almost forgotten [epilanthanesthai] about your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikon tekhnēma], in which you think you are at your most brilliant. [128]

3§162 As we see in this passage, the catalogue of crafts in poetry and song is headed by epic, which is mediated by the craft of the rhapsode. Nevertheless, this same passage shows that the sophist’s own rhapsodic virtuosity is formulated not in terms of rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’. The terms have been reformulated. For Hippias the sophist, rhapsodic virtuosity is treated as an aspect of an overall skill, described here in the Hippias Minor as a mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ (368d). I have already drawn attention to this attestation of the term in the Hippias Minor, noting also another attestation (369a). Moreover, there is a valuable independent confirmation of this same term in Xenophon’s Symposium (4.62), where Hippias is associated with what is called to mnēmonikon ‘the mnemonic thing’. It is relevant here to note the disparaging reference to the craft of the rhapsodes in Xenophon’s Symposium (3.6). Such references indicate a distancing on the part of intellectuals who mastered that craft for their own purposes: these intellectuals, as sophists, could consider themselves more sophisticated in their mastery of Homer than the rhapsodes themselves. [129]

3§163 Whenever Hippias of Elis displays his total control of the rhapsodic craft by quoting verses of Homer that are most relevant to his ongoing live dialogues with his interlocutors, it is implied that the credit goes not to the old craft of the rhapsode but to the supposedly new mnemonic technique of {427|428} the sophist. Nevertheless, as we see in Plato’s Hippias Minor, the rules of the game continue to be set in terms of the old craft. The questions continue to be Homeric questions, debated in a format that corresponds to the ways in which rhapsodes performed and commented on Homer at the Panathenaia.

3§164 I now turn to a passage that shows a remarkable convergence of details we have been considering so far. The context is the feast of the Panathenaia in the age of Plato. The speaker is Isocrates, and the work in question is the last oration that he composed, the Panathenaicus or “Panathenaic” speech, issued in 339 BCE, when the author was ninety-seven years old. [130] As the author makes clear, an illness had prevented him from finishing the work earlier (Panathenaicus 267-270), and it seems that he had originally intended to issue the work on the occasion of the Great Panathenaia of 342 BCE (Panathenaicus 7). [131] We are about to see Isocrates referring negatively to some so-called ‘sophists in the Lyceum’. [132] These sophists are described as (1) ‘performing rhapsodically’ [rhapsōideîn] the poetry of Homer, Hesiod, or others and (2) ‘mentioning’ [mnēmoneuein] things concerning this poetry:

3ⓣ31 Isocrates (12) Panathenaicus 33

περὶ μὲν οὖν τῶν πεπαιδευμένων τυγχάνω ταῦτα γιγνώσκων. περὶ δὲ τῆς Ὁμήρου καὶ τῆς Ἡσιόδου καὶ τῆς τῶν ἄλλων ποιήσεως ἐπιθυμῶ μὲν εἰπεῖν, οἶμαι γὰρ ἂν παῦσαι τοὺς ἐν τῷ Λυκείῳ ῥαψῳδοῦντας τἀκείνων καὶ ληροῦντας περὶ αὐτῶν, αἰσθάνομαι δ᾿ ἐμαυτὸν ἔξω φερόμενον τῆς συμμετρίας τῆς συντεταγμένης τοῖς προοιμίοις.

Such, then, are my opinions about educated men. As for the poetry [poiēsis] of Homer and Hesiod and the others, I [= Isocrates] do have the desire to speak about it, since I think I could silence those who rhapsodically perform [rhapsōideîn] their poems in the Lyceum and speak idly about them, [133] but I sense that I am being carried along beyond the proportion set for the introductory remarks. {428|429}

3ⓣ32 Isocrates (12) Panathenaicus 18-19

μικρὸν δὲ πρὸ τῶν Παναθηναίων τῶν μεγάλων ἠχθέσθην δι᾿ αὐτούς. ἀπαντήσαντες γάρ τινές μοι τῶν ἐπιτηδείων ἔλεγον ὡς ἐν τῷ Λυκείῳ συγκαθεζόμενοι τρεῖς ἢ τέτταρες τῶν ἀγελαίων σοφιστῶν καὶ πάντα φασκόντων εἰδέναι καὶ ταχέως πανταχοῦ γιγνομένων διαλέγοιντοπερί τε τῶν ἄλλων ποιητῶν καὶ τῆς Ἡσιόδου καὶ τῆς Ὁμήρου ποιήσεως, οὐδὲν μὲν παρ᾿ αὑτῶν λέγοντες, τὰ δ᾿ ἐκείνων ῥαψῳδοῦντες καὶ τῶν πρότερον ἄλλοις τισὶν εἰρημένων τὰ χαριέσταταμνημονεύοντες· ἀποδεξαμένων δὲ τῶν περιεστώτων τὴν διατριβὴν αὐτῶν ἕνα τὸν τολμηρότατον ἐπιχειρῆσαί με διαβάλλειν, λέγονθ᾿ ὡς …

But, a short time before the Great Panathenaia, I [= Isocrates] got very annoyed at them [= Isocrates’ detractors]. For, according to what was reported to me by some friends that I happened to meet, there were these run-of-the-mill sophists [sophistai], sitting together in the Lyceum, three or four of them, the kind who tell you that they know everything, the kind who quickly turn up at every occasion, and here they were discussing various poets [poiētai], and especially the poetry [poiēsis] of Hesiod and Homer, saying on their own part nothing about them but rather performing rhapsodically [rhapsōideîn] their poems [that is, the poems of Homer, Hesiod, and other poets] and mentioning [mnēmoneuein] things having the most kharis [khariestata] taken from what has previously been said [about the poems] by others. Then, when the bystanders showed their approval [apodekhesthai] of their [= the sophists’] performance [diatribē], the most audacious one of them [= the sophists] started trying to slander me, saying that …

3§165 Isocrates is being sarcastic in speaking of these sophists in the act of mnēmoneuein ‘mentioning’ things that are khariestata ‘having the most kharis’ about Homer, Hesiod, and other poets – that is, things marked by the greatest beauty and pleasure. There are technical meanings here underneath the surface of the literal meanings. The term mnēmoneuein ‘mention’ is related to the term hupomnēmata ‘commentary’, which as we have seen refers to the discourse of later scholars like Aristarchus in analyzing the text of Homer. [134] And, as we have also seen, the term khariestata is actually applied as a criterion {429|430} by the followers of Aristarchus in describing textual variants that are deemed to be most Homeric in appearance. This specialized term khariestata, representing the elitist terminology of sophists, is to be contrasted with the general term koina, representing the ‘standard’ or ‘common’ usage of rhapsodes. [135] Examples of such standard usage in the Homeric quotations of Plato are αἲ αἴ instead of ὤ μοι for exclamations (as in Iliad XVI 433 via Republic 3.388c-d) [136] and infinitive -ειν instead of -εμεν before bucolic diaeresis (Iliad VIII 107 via Laches 191a-b, Iliad XIV 97 via Laws 4.706e-707a). [137]

3§166 In elitist circles, by contrast, the more refined usages of sophists would be preferred to the more common usages of rhapsodes who actually competed at the Panathenaia. Such preferences are indicated in the works of Xenophon (Symposium 3.5-6). [138] In the passage I just quoted from Isocrates, the fact that the sophists are described as including in their repertoire the poet Hesiod and other poets left unnamed is a sign of transcending the Panathenaic standard, which as we have seen was restricted to Homer. In effect, then, Isocrates is portraying the sophists of the Lyceum in the act of second-guessing the Homeric agenda of the Panathenaia on the occasion of that festival. The figure of Hippias himself seems to me an earlier example of such sophists.

3ⓢ9. Rhapsodic powers of total recall

3§167 Hippias seems ideally suited for a rhapsodic debate with Socrates in the Hippias Minor. With his rhapsodic powers of total recall, he can not only quote all of Homer, performing relevant Homeric verses to suit relevant debating points in dialogue with his interlocutors: he can also perform dialogic commentaries on Homer, in a mode of delivery equated with epideictic speechmaking (epideixis, 363d and 364b). He is portrayed as ready to respond to any question on any subject from anyone in his audience (363d). [139]

3§168 Given that Hippias applies the rhapsōidikē tekhnē ‘rhapsodic craft’ whenever he performs quotations from Homer in his dialogue with Socrates, I {430|431} now propose to test his rhapsodic powers of total recall by comparing the text of his Homeric quotations with the text of Homer as we know it.

3§169 Let us begin at the very beginning of the Hippias Minor, where Socrates addresses a most central Homeric question to Hippias: was Achilles really ameinōn ‘better’ than Odysseus (363b)? This question, as we will see presently, has to do with the complementarity of Achilles and Odysseus as the aristos ‘best’ hero of the Achaeans in respectively the Iliad and the Odyssey. In the Hippias Minor, Socrates starts by alluding to this question:

3ⓣ33 Plato Hippias Minor 364b-c

ἀτὰρ τί δὴ λέγεις ἡμῖν περὶ τοῦ Ἀχιλλέως τε καὶ τοῦ Ὀδυσσέως; πότερον ἀμείνω καὶ κατὰ τί φῂς εἶναι; ἡνίκα μὲν γὰρ πολλοὶ ἔνδον ἦμεν καὶ σὺ τὴν ἐπίδειξιν ἐποιοῦ, ἀπελείφθην σου τῶν λεγομένων – ὤκνουν γὰρ ἐπανερέσθαι, διότι ὄχλος τε πολὺς ἔνδον ἦν, καὶ μή σοι ἐμποδὼν εἴην ἐρωτῶν τῇ ἐπιδείξει – νυνὶ δὲ ἐπειδὴ ἐλάττους τέ ἐσμεν καὶ Εὔδικος ὅδε κελεύει ἐρέσθαι, εἰπέ τε καὶ {c} δίδαξον ἡμᾶς σαφῶς, τί ἔλεγεςπερὶ τούτοιν τοῖν ἀνδροῖν; πῶς διέκρινες αὐτούς;

ΙΠ. Ἀλλ’ ἐγώ σοι, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἐθέλω ἔτι σαφέστερον ἢ τότε διελθεῖν ἃ λέγω καὶ περὶ τούτων καὶ ἄλλων. φημὶ γὰρ Ὅμηρον πεποιηκέναιἄριστον μὲν ἄνδρα Ἀχιλλέα τῶν εἰς Τροίαν ἀφικομένων, σοφώτατον δὲ Νέστορα, πολυτροπώτατον δὲ Ὀδυσσέα.

 

[SOCRATES:] But what, then, are you saying about [legein + peri] [140] Achilles and Odysseus? Which one of the two do you say is the better [ameinōn] one and on what grounds? For when there were many of us inside [= inside an unspecified enclosure, in Athens], and you [= Hippias] were making [poieîn] your display [epideixis], I could not keep up with what you were saying: for I hesitated to ask questions, because there was a great crowd [okhlos … polus] inside [= inside the enclosure], also for fear of hindering your display [epideixis] by doing so; but now, since we are fewer and Eudikos here urges me to question you, speak and tell us clearly what you said about [legein + peri] [141] these two men [toutoin toin androin]. How did you make critical judgments [dia-krinein] about them? {431|432}

HIPPIAS: Why, I am glad, Socrates, to go through for you still more clearly what I say about [legein peri] these and others also. For I say that Homer has made [poieîn] Achilles the best [aristos] man of those who went to Troy, and Nestor the most wise [sophōtatos], and Odysseus the most multiform [polutropos].

3§170 As Socrates proceeds to question Hippias about this formulation, it becomes evident that he also questions Homer:

3ⓣ34 Plato Hippias Minor 364e

ἐπειδὴ δὲ τὸν Ὀδυσσέα εἶπες ὅτι πεποιηκὼς εἴη ὁ ποιητὴς πολυτροπώτατον, τοῦτο δ’, ὥς γε πρὸς σὲ τἀληθῆ εἰρῆσθαι, παντάπασιν οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅτι λέγεις. καί μοι εἰπέ, ἄν τι ἐνθένδε μᾶλλον μάθω· ὁ Ἀχιλλεὺς οὐ πολύτροπος τῷ Ὁμήρῳ πεποίηται;

[SOCRATES:] But when you said that the poet [= Homer] made Odysseus the most multiform [polutropos], to tell you the truth, I do not in the least know what you mean by that. Now tell me, and perhaps it may result in my understanding better. Has not Homer made [poieîn] Achilles multiform [polutropos]?

3§171 This question posed by Socrates undermines a central theme in the Homeric Iliad. As I argued in my previous work, the narrative contrasts the latent and dissembling multiformity of Odysseus with the overt and straightforward uniformity of Achilles. In Iliad IX, this contrast has to do with a latent and even dissembling multiformity in the actual Homeric narrative that frames the contrast between the dissembling Odysseus and the straightforward Achilles, since the dissembling of Odysseus is not made overt and thus seems to be straightforward on the surface. [142] In Plato’s Hippias Minor, the strategy of Socrates is to associate this latent and dissembling multiformity of the Homeric framing narrative with the straightforward discourse of Achilles, thus making this hero seem to be a dissembling character; conversely, Socrates pretends to accept the dissembling discourse of Odysseus at face value, as if Odysseus were a straightforward character. In this way, the latent and dissembling multiformity of Socrates undermines the overt and straightforward uniformity of Hippias himself in representing the overt and straightforward uniformity of Achilles. The mistake of Hippias, in terms of the Hippias Minor as constructed by Plato, is his failure to perceive the latent and even dissembling {432|433} multiformity of the narrative – that is, of ‘Homer’, whose dianoia or ‘meaning’ he claims to represent. [143]

3§172 In the course of their debate over this central Homeric question of the Iliad, Hippias and Socrates quote extensively from Iliad IX. The first Homeric quotation comes from Hippias:

3ⓣ35 Plato Hippias Minor 364e

[ΙΠ.] Ἥκιστά γε, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἀλλ’ ἁπλούστατος καὶ ἀληθέστατος, ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐν Λιταῖς, ἡνίκα πρὸς ἀλλήλους ποιεῖ αὐτοὺς διαλεγομένους, λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἀχιλλεὺς πρὸς τὸν Ὀδυσσέα -

διογενὲς Λαερτιάδη, πολυμήχαν’ Ὀδυσσεῦ,
χρὴ μὲν δὴ τὸν μῦθον ἀπηλεγέως ἀποειπεῖν,
ὥσπερ δὴ κρανέω τε καὶ ὡς τελέεσθαι ὀίω·
ἐχθρὸς γάρ μοι κεῖνος ὁμῶς Ἀΐδαο πύλῃσιν,
ὅς χ’ ἕτερον μὲν κεύθῃ ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἄλλο δὲ εἴπῃ.
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἐρέω ὡς καὶ τετελεσμένον ἔσται

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 308-314

 

HIPPIAS: Not at all, Socrates; he [= Homer] made [poieîn] him [= Achilles] most simple [haploûs] [144] and most true [alēthēs]; for in “The Litai” [= the Embassy Scene of Iliad IX] when he makes [poieîn] them in the act of talking with one another [dialegesthai], Achilles says to him, that is, to Odysseus:

Descended from Zeus, son of Laertes, you of many resources, Odysseus:
I see that I must say what I say back to you without mincing words,
just the way I determine, and the way I think it will reach an outcome [teleîn].
Here is why. Hateful is that man to me, as hateful as the gates of Hades, {433|434}
the man who hides one thing in his thinking and says another thing.
As for me, I will say it the way it will be when the outcome has been reached [teleîn ].

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 308-314

3§173 These verses as quoted from Plato’s text of Homer must be contrasted with the corresponding verses that have come down to us through the medieval manuscript tradition:

3ⓣ36 Iliad IX 308-314

διογενὲς Λαερτιάδη πολυμήχαν’ Ὀδυσσεῦ
χρὴ μὲν δὴ τὸν μῦθον ἀπηλεγέως ἀποειπεῖν,
ᾗ περ δὴ φρονέω τε καὶ ὡς τετελεσμένον ἔσται,
ὡς μή μοι τρύζητε παρήμενοι ἄλλοθεν ἄλλος.
ἐχθρὸς γάρ μοι κεῖνος ὁμῶς Ἀΐδαο πύλῃσιν
ὅς χ’ ἕτερον μὲν κεύθῃ ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἄλλο δὲ εἴπῃ.
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἐρέω ὥς μοι δοκεῖ εἶναι ἄριστα

Descended from Zeus, son of Laertes, you of many resources, Odysseus:
I see that I must say what I say back to you without mincing words,
just the way I think, and the way it will be that the outcome has been reached [teleîn]. [145]
So do not try to cajole me, taking turns sitting down next to me.
Here is why. Hateful is that man to me, as hateful as the gates of Hades, {434|435}
the man who hides one thing in his thinking and says another thing.
As for me, I will say it the way it seems best to me.

3§174 The differences that we see between the wording of this passage as transmitted in Plato’s dialogue and the wording as transmitted in the medieval manuscript tradition can be explained as variations in the formulaic system that typifies Homeric poetry in general. That is to say, the wording as performed by Hippias in this re-enactment by Plato can be considered just as “Homeric” as the wording that has come down to us through the medieval manuscript tradition. That said, I am ready to argue that this wording matches the traditional wording of Homer as he was understood in Plato’s time.

3§175 This argument is supported by the internal logic of the whole dialogue that we know as the Hippias Minor. That is because the argument of Socrates in this dialogue is actually based on the recognized authority of Hippias as a most accurate transmitter of Homer’s ipsissima verba. For Socrates to win the argument with Hippias, he has to show that his opponent is trapped and even defeated by these ipsissima verba. That is why Socrates has to recognize the sophist’s mastery of the same ipsissima verba.

3§176 Throughout this dialogue named after him, Hippias makes a dialogic commentary on the Homeric verses that he performs. [146] And this commentary is the essence of the sophist’s argumentation:

3ⓣ37 Plato Hippias Minor 365b

ἐν τούτοις δηλοῖ τοῖς ἔπεσιν τὸν τρόπον ἑκατέρου τοῦ ἀνδρός, ὡς ὁ μὲν Ἀχιλλεὺς εἴη ἀληθής τε καὶ ἁπλοῦς, ὁ δὲ Ὀδυσσεὺς πολύτροπός τε καὶ ψευδής· ποιεῖ γὰρ τὸν Ἀχιλλέα εἰς τὸν Ὀδυσσέα λέγοντα ταῦτα τὰ ἔπη.

[HIPPIAS:] In these verses he [= Homer] makes plain the character of each of the men, that Achilles is true [alēthēs] and simple [haploûs], and Odysseus multiform [polutropos] and false [pseudēs], for he figures [poieîn] Achilles in the act of saying [legein] these verses [epos plural] to Odysseus.

3§177 This dialogic commentary of Hippias is countered by the dialogic commentary of Socrates himself, who consistently undermines the words of {435|436} Homer as faithfully remembered by Hippias. Since Hippias refuses to accept the idea that Homer presents Achilles in an unfavorable light, Socrates challenges Hippias to defend the meaning of these words independently of whatever Homer meant:

3ⓣ38 Plato Hippias Minor 365c-d

[ΣΩ.] Τὸν μὲν Ὅμηρον τοίνυν ἐάσωμεν, ἐπειδὴ καὶ {d} ἀδύνατον ἐπανερέσθαι τί ποτε νοῶν ταῦτα ἐποίησεν τὰ ἔπη· σὺ δ’ ἐπειδὴ φαίνῃ ἀναδεχόμενος τὴν αἰτίαν, καὶ σοὶ συνδοκεῖ ταῦτα ἅπερ φῂς Ὅμηρον λέγειν, ἀπόκριναικοινῇ ὑπὲρ Ὁμήρου τε καὶ σαυτοῦ.

[SOCRATES:] Then let us dismiss Homer, since it is impossible to ask him what he intended [noeîn] when he made [poieîn] these verses [epos plural]. But since you are clearly taking up his cause and agree with these things you say he is saying [legein], I ask you to respond [apokrinesthai] in common [koinēi] on behalf of Homer and yourself. [147]

3§178 Socrates bases his argumentation on the premise that Hippias has an exact memory of Homer’s exact words – a memory connected with the sophist’s expertise in poetry. When Hippias came to Athens to display his many prodigious skills, what impressed Socrates the most was this expertise:

3ⓣ39 Plato Hippias Minor 368d-e

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

SOCRATES: And, on top of all these things [= your displays of other skills], you [= Hippias] had come bringing with you compositions [poiēmata] [148] – epics as well as tragedies as well as dithyrambs – {436|437} and a multitude of discourses [logoi] to be performed in the right sequence [katalogadēn] [149] and all kinds of set pieces. And you arrived there as an expert surpassing all others in the knowledge of not only the crafts [tekhnai] I just mentioned, but also of the correctness [orthotēs] of rhythms [rhuthmoi], tunings [harmoniai], and letters [grammata]. [150] And there were many more things in addition, as I seem to remember. And yet it seems I had almost forgotten [epilanthanesthai] about your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikon tekhnēma], in which you think you are at your most brilliant. And I suppose I have forgotten [epilanthanesthai] about a great many other things too. [151]

3§179 It is precisely because Hippias is known for his perfect memory of Homer that Socrates can undermine Homer through Hippias. So when Socrates pretends to be forgetful in the presence of this master of mnemonics, he is ironically accentuating the effectiveness of his own argument against Homer. This effectiveness is all the more accentuated when Socrates proceeds to demonstrate that he too, like Hippias, is a master of mnemonics, and that he too has a perfect memory of Homer. Socrates starts by provoking Hippias, questioning whether the sophist is making use of his vaunted techniques of mnemonics:

3ⓣ40 Plato Hippias Minor 369a-369b

[ΣΩ.] Νυνὶ γὰρ ἴσως οὐ χρῇ τῷ μνημονικῷτεχνήματι – δῆλον γὰρ ὅτι οὐκ οἴει δεῖν – ἀλλὰ ἐγώ σε ὑπομνήσω. οἶσθα ὅτι τὸν μὲν Ἀχιλλέα ἔφησθα ἀληθῆ εἶναι, τὸν δὲ Ὀδυσσέα {360b} ψευδῆ καὶ πολύτροπον;

[ΙΠ.] Ναί.

[ΣΩ.] Νῦν οὖν αἰσθάνῃ ὅτι ἀναπέφανται ὁ αὐτὸς ὢν ψευδής τε καὶ ἀληθής, ὥστε εἰ ψευδὴς ὁ Ὀδυσσεὺς ἦν, καὶ 
ἀληθὴς γίγνεται, καὶ εἰ ἀληθὴς ὁ Ἀχιλλεύς, καὶ ψευδής, καὶ οὐ διάφοροι ἀλλήλων οἱ ἄνδρες οὐδ’ ἐναντίοι, ἀλλ’ ὅμοιοι; {437|438}

 

SOCRATES: Maybe you are not using your mnemonic technique [mnēmonikon tekhnēma] right now – clearly you don’t think you need to – but I will give you mnemonic support [hupo-mnē-]. You know you were saying that Achilles is true but Odysseus false and multiform [polutropos]?

HIPPIAS: Yes.

SOCRATES: Do you now, then, perceive that the same man has been found to be false and true, so that if Odysseus was false, he becomes also true, and if Achilles was true, he becomes also false, and the two men are not different from one another, nor opposites, but alike?

3§180 Hippias responds to the provocation of Socrates by challenging him to a duel in mnemonics. The two duelists must argue their cases not only by opposing each other’s arguments. They must also quote verses from Homer to back up those arguments:

3ⓣ41 Plato Hippias Minor 369c

ἐπεὶ καὶ νῦν, ἐὰν βούλῃ, ἐπὶ πολλῶν τεκμηρίων ἀποδείξω σοι ἱκανῷ λόγῳ Ὅμηρον Ἀχιλλέα πεποιηκέναι ἀμείνω Ὀδυσσέως καὶ ἀψευδῆ, τὸν δὲ δολερόν τε καὶ πολλὰ ψευδόμενον καὶ χείρω Ἀχιλλέως. εἰ δὲ βούλει, σὺ αὖ ἀντιπαράβαλλελόγον παρὰ λόγον, ὡς ὁ ἕτερος ἀμείνων ἐστί· καὶ μᾶλλον εἴσονται οὗτοι ὁπότερος ἄμεινον λέγει.

[HIPPIAS:] Right now, if you want, on the basis of many different pieces of evidence, I will demonstrate to you, using a discourse [logos] that is self-sufficient, that Homer has made [poieîn] Achilles better than Odysseus and free from falsehood, and [that he has made] Odysseus crafty and a teller of many falsehoods and inferior to Achilles. And, if you want, you should compete by matching discourse [logos] against discourse [logos], maintaining that one of them is better than the other; and these men here will determine which of us speaks [legein] better.

3§181 In the wording of Hippias as re-enacted by Plato, the act of performing Homer’s words is expressed not only by the verb legein ‘speak’ but also by the noun logos in the general sense of ‘speech’ or ‘discourse’, which overlaps with the specific sense of ‘argument’ in his sophistic discourse. For Hippias, as we are about to see, a logos is a ‘discourse’ that includes not only the {438|439} ‘logic’ of his argumentation but also the actual ‘wording’ – literally, logos – of Homer himself. Just as Homer ‘speaks’ (legein), so also Hippias ‘speaks’ (legein) when he performs Homer.

3§182 Socrates responds to the challenge of Hippias by becoming a Homeric performer in his own right. Only, he outdoes Hippias by managing to quote four separate sets of verses from the Iliad, not just a single set. The wording that introduces the first set includes numerous instances of legein in the sense of ‘speaking’ the words of Homer as well as ‘speaking’ the words of the argument supposedly represented by Homer:

3ⓣ42 Plato Hippias Minor 369d-370a

καὶ γνώσῃ τούτῳ οὓς ἂν ἐγὼ ἡγῶμαι 
σοφοὺς εἶναι· εὑρήσεις γάρ με λιπαρῆ ὄντα περὶ τὰ {369e} λεγόμενα ὑπὸ τούτου καὶ πυνθανόμενον παρ’ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα μαθών τι ὠφεληθῶ. ἐπεὶ καὶ νῦν ἐννενόηκα σοῦ λέγοντος, ὅτι ἐν τοῖς ἔπεσιν οἷς σὺ ἄρτι ἔλεγες, ἐνδεικνύμενος τὸν Ἀχιλλέα εἰς τὸν Ὀδυσσέα λέγειν ὡς ἀλαζόνα ὄντα, ἄτοπόν μοι δοκεῖ εἶναι, εἰ σὺ ἀληθῆ λέγεις, ὅτι ὁ μὲν Ὀδυσσεὺς οὐδαμοῦ {370a} φαίνεται ψευσάμενος, ὁ πολύτροπος, ὁ δὲ Ἀχιλλεὺς πολύτροπός τις φαίνεται κατὰ τὸν σὸν λόγον· ψεύδεται γοῦν. προειπὼν γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ ἔπη, ἅπερ καὶ σὺ εἶπες ἄρτι –

ἐχθρὸς γάρ μοι κεῖνος ὁμῶς Ἀίδαο πύλῃσιν,
ὅς χ’ ἕτερον μὲν κεύθῃ ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἄλλο δὲ εἴπῃ

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 312-313

 

SOCRATES: […] And by this you [= Hippias] will recognize whom I regard as wise; for you will find me persistently asking such a man questions about what he says [legein], in order that I may benefit by learning something. Just now I noticed when you were speaking [legein] that in the verses [epos plural] that you spoke [legein] just now to show that Achilles speaks [legein] to Odysseus as to a deceiver, it seems to me very strange, if what you say [legein] is true, that Odysseus the multiform is nowhere found to have uttered falsehoods [pseudesthai], but Achilles is found to be a multiform [polutropos] sort of person, according to your own discourse [logos]; at any rate, he utters falsehoods [pseudesthai]. For he begins by speaking [legein / eipeîn] these verses [epos plural] which you just spoke [legein / eipeîn]: {439|440}

Hateful is that man to me, as hateful as the gates of Hades,
the man who hides one thing in his thinking and says another thing.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 312-313

3§183 Socrates now proceeds to argue, in opposition to Hippias, that Achilles himself hides one thing in his thinking and says another thing. To back up this argument, he quotes this second set of Homeric verses:

3ⓣ43 Plato Hippias Minor 370b-c

ὀλίγον ὕστερον λέγει ὡς οὔτ’ ἂν ἀναπεισθείη ὑπὸ τοῦ Ὀδυσσέως τε καὶ τοῦ Ἀγαμέμνονος οὔτε μένοι τὸ παράπαν ἐν τῇ Τροίᾳ, ἀλλ’ –

αὔριον ἱρὰ Διὶ ῥέξας, φησί, καὶ πᾶσι θεοῖσιν,
νηήσας εὖ νῆας, ἐπὴν ἅλαδε προερύσσω,
ὄψεαι, αἴ κ’ ἐθέλῃσθα καὶ αἴ κέν τοι τὰ μεμήλῃ,
ἦρι μάλ’ Ἑλλήσποντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα πλεούσας
νῆας ἐμάς, ἐν δ’ ἄνδρας ἐρεσσέμεναι μεμαῶτας·
εἰ δέ κεν εὐπλοΐην δώῃ κλυτὸς Ἐννοσίγαιος,
ἤματί κεν τριτάτῳ Φθίην ἐρίβωλον ἱκοίμην.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 357-363

 

[…] and a little later he [= Achilles] says [legein] that he would not be persuaded by Odysseus and Agamemnon and would not stay at Troy at all, but …

Tomorrow, when I have sacrificed to Zeus and to all gods,
and loaded well my ships, and rowed out on to the salt water,
you will see, if you have a mind to it and if it concerns you,
my ships in the dawn at sea on the Hellespont where the fish swarm
and my men manning them with good will to row. If the famed
shaker of the earth should grant us a favoring passage
on the third day thereafter I might reach fertile Phthia.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 357-363 {440|441}

3§184 Socrates pursues his argument by quoting a third set of Homeric verses:

3ⓣ44 Plato Hippias Minor 370c-d

ἔτι δὲ πρότερον τούτων πρὸς τὸν Ἀγαμέμνονα λοιδορούμενος εἶπεν

νῦν δ’ εἶμι Φθίηνδ’, ἐπεὶ ἦ πολὺ λώϊόν ἐστιν
οἴκαδ’ ἴμεν σὺν νηυσὶ κορωνίσιν, οὐδέ σ’ ὀίω
ἐνθάδ’ ἄτιμος ἐὼν ἄφενος καὶ πλοῦτον ἀφύξειν.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 169-171

 

And even before that, when he [= Achilles] was reviling Agamemnon, he said [legein / eipeîn]:

Now I am going to Phthia, since it is much better [152]
to go home again with my curved ships, and I have no thought of helping you
by staying here without getting any honor for it as I augment your property and wealth.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 169-171

3§185 On the basis of these Homeric verses, Socrates claims that Achilles too, like Odysseus, is capable of falsehoods, even though both heroes are aristō, the ‘best’ of the Achaeans who came to fight at Troy (Plato Hippias Minor 370e). [153] He argues this point even further by quoting a fourth set of Homeric verses:

3ⓣ45 Plato Hippias Minor 371b-c

[ΣΩ.] Οὐκ οἶσθα ὅτι λέγων ὕστερον ἢ ὡς πρὸς τὸν Ὀδυσσέα ἔφη ἅμα τῇ ἠοῖ ἀποπλευσεῖσθαι, πρὸς τὸν Αἴαντα οὐκ αὖ φησιν ἀποπλευσεῖσθαι, ἀλλὰ ἄλλα λέγει; {441|442}

[ΙΠ.] Ποῦ δή;

[ΣΩ.] Ἐν οἷς λέγει

οὐ γὰρ πρὶν πολέμοιο μεδήσομαι αἱματόεντος, {371c}
πρίν γ’ υἱὸν Πριάμοιο δαΐφρονος, Ἕκτορα δῖον,
Μυρμιδόνων ἐπί τε κλισίας καὶ νῆας ἱκέσθαι
κτείνοντ’ Ἀργείους, κατά τε φλέξαι πυρὶ νῆας·
ἀμφὶ δέ μιν τῇ ’μῇ κλισίῃ καὶ νηῒ μελαίνῃ
Ἕκτορα καὶ μεμαῶτα μάχης σχήσεσθαι ὀίω.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 650-655

 

SOCRATES: Don't you know that he [= Achilles], speaking [legein] at a later point after he declared to Odysseus that he was going to sail away at daybreak, does not in addressing Ajax declare that he [= Achilles] is going to sail away but says [legein] different things?

HIPPIAS: Where is that?

SOCRATES: It is where he [= Achilles] says [legein]:

For I will not care about the bloody war
until such time as the son of sharp-thinking Priam, Hector the radiant,
has reached all the way to the shelters and the ships of the Myrmidons,
killing the Argives, and until he sets on fire [kata-phlegein] [154] the ships.
But around my own shelter and beside my black ship
Hector will be held back, no matter how eager he is to fight. That is what I think.

Plato’s text of Iliad IX 650-655

3§186 In the case of this Homeric quotation, Plato’s text matches the text that has come down to us in the medieval manuscript tradition, except for this variation: {442|443}

3ⓣ46 Iliad IX 653

κτείνοντ’ Ἀργείους, κατά τε σμῦξαι πυρὶ νῆας.

killing the Argives, and until he darkens with fire [ kata-smukhein ] [155] our vessels.

3§187 Having made his argument against Hippias by performing the words of Homer as part of the argument, Socrates goes out of his way to reaffirm the authority of Hippias as an expert in Homer:

3ⓣ47 Plato Hippias Minor 372a-c

[ΣΩ.] Ὁρᾷς, ὦ Ἱππία, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀληθῆ λέγω, λέγων ὡς {272b} λιπαρής εἰμι πρὸς τὰς ἐρωτήσεις τῶν σοφῶν; καὶ κινδυνεύω ἓν μόνον ἔχειν τοῦτο ἀγαθόν, τἆλλα ἔχων πάνυ φαῦλα· τῶν μὲν γὰρ πραγμάτων ᾗ ἔχει ἔσφαλμαι, καὶ οὐκ οἶδ’ ὅπῃ ἐστί. τεκμήριον δέ μοι τούτου ἱκανόν, ὅτι ἐπειδὰν συγγένωμαί τῳ ὑμῶν τῶν εὐδοκιμούντων ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ καὶ οἷς οἱ Ἕλληνες πάντες μάρτυρές εἰσι τῆς σοφίας, φαίνομαι οὐδὲν εἰδώς· οὐδὲν γάρ μοι δοκεῖ τῶν αὐτῶν καὶ ὑμῖν, ὡς ἔπος {372c} εἰπεῖν. καίτοι τί μεῖζον ἀμαθίας τεκμήριον ἢ ἐπειδάν τις σοφοῖς ἀνδράσι διαφέρηται; ἓν δὲ τοῦτο θαυμάσιον ἔχω ἀγαθόν, ὅ με σῴζει· οὐ γὰρ αἰσχύνομαι μανθάνων, ἀλλὰ πυνθάνομαι καὶ ἐρωτῶ καὶ χάριν πολλὴν ἔχω τῷ ἀποκρινομένῳ, καὶ οὐδένα πώποτε ἀπεστέρησα χάριτος. οὐ γὰρ πώποτε ἔξαρνος ἐγενόμην μαθών τι, ἐμαυτοῦ ποιούμενος τὸ μάθημα εἶναι ὡς εὕρημα· ἀλλ’ ἐγκωμιάζω τὸν διδάξαντά με ὡς σοφὸν ὄντα, ἀποφαίνων ἃ ἔμαθον παρ’ αὐτοῦ.

SOCRATES: Do you see, Hippias, that I say [legein] the truth when I say [legein] that I am persistent in questioning wise men? And this is probably the only good thing I have, since the other things I have are undistinguished; for I am unstable about facts, and do not know what is where. And I have sufficient proof of this in the fact that, whenever I come into contact with one of you who are famous for some expertise, and to whose expertise all the Hellenes bear witness, I show myself to be an expert in nothing; for there is nothing about which you and I have the same opinion; and yet what greater proof {443|444} of non-expertise is there than when one disagrees with men who are experts? But I have this one wondrous good quality, which is my salvation; for I am not afraid to learn, but I inquire and ask questions and I show much gratitude [kharis] to the person who responds, and I have never deprived anyone of reciprocation [kharis]; [156] for when I have learned anything I have never denied it, pretending that the thing I learned was a discovery of my own; but I praise as an expert the person who taught me what I learned, making clear the things I learned from him.

3§188 What Socrates ostensibly learns from Hippias is an expertise in a craft that is most highly respected by all Hellenes, that is, the craft of the rhapsode. By ostensibly giving it due respect, Socrates makes that craft a foil for something that demands even more respect, that is, the craft that is not a craft because it transcends all crafts. That non-craft is philosophy, the love of sophia as ‘wisdom’, which transcends sophia as ‘craft’.

3§189 I have reached the end of my survey of Homeric quotations performed by Hippias – answered by Homeric quotations performed by Socrates himself – in Plato’s Hippias Minor. We have seen that both Hippias and Socrates are applying the craft of rhapsodes, the rhapsōidikē tekhnē, in their dialogue with each other. We have also seen that both of them are in effect performing like rhapsodes, not only in their quotations of Homer but also in their dialogic commentaries about Homer. [157] Finally, we have seen that both the philosopher and the sophist must be reliable sources, given what is at stake in their dialogue with each other. For the philosopher to compete with the sophist, he must apply the same standard of total Homeric recall that the sophist must apply in his own efforts to supersede rhapsodes like Ion who perform Homer at the Panathenaia. That absolute standard of total Homeric recall is a Panathenaic standard. That ideal of Homer is the Panathenaic Homer.

3ⓢ10. Panathenaic Homer and the Koine of Aristarchus

3§190 Here I return once more to the question I asked at the beginning of this chapter: if we had access to a transcript of Homer exactly as Plato heard Homeric poetry being performed at the Panathenaia in a given year, what {444|445} Homeric text would such a transcript resemble most closely? My answer was that the closest thing would be the Koine of Homer as represented by the base text of Aristarchus – and by the Homeric quotations of Plato himself. As we saw from the Homeric quotations by Plato’s Hippias and Plato’s Socrates in Plato’s Hippias Minor, the Homeric tradition revealed by these quotations does indeed correspond closely – though not exactly – to the Koine of Homer. [158]

3§191 This is not to say that the textual tradition of Homer was monolithic in the age of Plato. We cannot rule out the possibility that non-Koine versions of Homeric poetry were extant. A case in point is a lengthy quotation and exegesis of verses taken from Homer in an oration composed by Aeschines, Against Timarchus (133, 141-143, 145-146, 150). In this context, we find verses that are missing in the medieval manuscripts (Iliad XXIII 83a and 83b). [159] The motive of the orator in this case may have been to display his learning by quoting a “deluxe” version that transcended the standard version. For Plato’s Socrates, on the other hand, the standard version would have been the preferred point of reference. He was after all competing with personalities like Ion and Hippias, who prided themselves on their mastery of the standard Panathenaic Homer.

3§192 It would be going too far, however, to think that Plato’s Panathenaic Homer was the same thing as the base text of the Homeric Koine as reconstructed by Aristarchus. That reconstruction was just that, a reconstruction. It could only point toward the reality of the Koine, without ever fully capturing it.

3§193 It may be that Aristarchus himself had access to a copy of Plato’s Homer. In the Homeric scholia, we learn that Ammonius, the successor of Aristarchus at the Library of Alexandria, produced a monograph concerning Homeric verses used by Plato. Didymus (via the scholia A for Iliad IX 540a1) mentions the title of this monograph, Περὶ τῶν ὑπὸ Πλάτωνος μετενηνεγμένων ἐξ Ὁμήρου ‘About the things derived from Homer by Plato’. In this monograph, according to Didymus, Ammonius mentions a variant that Aristarchus found in Plato’s Homer for a verse in Iliad IX (540): in Plato’s Homer, this verse shows the variant ἔρεξεν ἔθων in place of ἔρδεσκεν ἔθων (<ἔρδεσκεν ἔθων>: Ἀμμώνιος ἐν τῷ Περὶ τῶν ὑπὸ Πλάτωνος μετενηνεγμένων ἐξ Ὁμήρου διὰ τοῦ <ξ> προφέρεται, ἔρεξεν). This variant reading from Plato’s Homer, ἔρεξεν ἔθων, is attested nowhere in the medieval manuscript tradition {445|446} of Homer. Nor is this verse from Iliad IX (540) attested anywhere among the verses that Plato actually quotes in his extant works. So it may be that Ammonius inherited from Aristarchus a Homeric text that was used by Plato himself.

3§194 A moment ago, I said that the base text of Homer as edited by Aristarchus was merely his reconstruction of the Homeric Koine, not the Homeric Koine itself. Perhaps it is not too obvious for me to add that Aristarchus could never have fully succeeded in reconstructing what he attempted to reconstruct. Still, the reality of the Homeric Koine came into sharper focus thanks to his efforts in collating Homeric manuscripts, though it became blurred again in the post-Aristarchean age of Didymus, that is, in the age of Virgil, just as it had been blurred earlier in the pre-Aristarchean age of Callimachus.

3§195 To sum up, we can expect to see some differences between “our” Koine and “their” Koine – and by “their” Koine I mean Plato’s Homer. These differences are important to the extent that they show not just textual but also formulaic variations, as we saw in Plato’s quotations from Iliad IX. So Homeric poetry shows some degree of fluidity, however limited, even in the age of Plato.

3§196 Still, as far as differences go, such formulaic variations are relatively minimal – that is, they will seem minimal to us once we compare them to the differences between the Homer quoted by Plato and the Homer that I have been calling the Homerus Auctus. By comparison to the Homerus Auctus, with its Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic accretions, Plato’s Homer will seem to be mostly the same as the Homeric Koine, which is “our” Homer. I have more to say about this aspect of the Homerus Auctus in the twin book, Homer the Preclassic. For now, however, I focus on the Homeric Koine and on the Panathenaic standard that maintained it. The Homer quoted by Plato is this Homeric Koine.

3§197 I would give anything to hear Homer as quoted by Plato or, even better, to hear the Homeric Koine as performed by rhapsodes heard by Plato at the Panathenaia. I would give anything to hear directly from the rhapsodes their answers to the questions of Socrates – or even their answers to the questions of Plato himself. I would give anything just to overhear their rhapsodic talk, at whatever time and whatever place. Failing that, I need to reconstruct such talk, and I have to go to Plato in order to do it. Even Plato might be sympathetic to such a need. After all, even Plato could not have imagined a world without a Panathenaic festival. Nor could Plato have imagined a world that is truly without a City Dionysia. Granted, he may have wished to ban such a thing from any ideal Republic, but the idea that there would ever {446|447} be a time when no such thing existed would have seemed unthinkable to him. How to imagine life without a Festival of Dionysus? We who live in such a world need to hear the language of rhapsodes and actors, however indirectly. So we have to reconstruct what it was like to hear the Homeric Koine performed at the Panathenaia. We need the help of witnesses, and the best we can do is to listen to the words of Socrates, as brought back to life each time we read Plato’s dialogues. This Socrates is of course Plato’s Socrates, and we are in a way fortunate that Plato is the mediator for us, because he has such a good ear for dialogue. This time I don’t just mean Socratic dialogue. True, I am sure Plato picked up on Socrates’ dialogue and even on Socrates’ speech-habits in general, so much so that the real personality of Socrates comes back each time we read Plato. But here I am not talking about Socrates the person. I am talking about Plato the historical person who had a good ear and who listened carefully to the discourse of people in general, and of people of tekhnē in particular, such as rhapsodes. We need help in reconstructing the discourse of these rhapsodes. And, like it or not, Plato seems to be the only person who can help us.

3ⓢ11. The sorrows of Andromache

3§198 In Plato’s Ion, as we saw earlier, Socrates enumerates some highlights of Homeric poetry as performed by a rhapsode like Ion at the Panathenaia (535b-c). The enumeration takes the form of a set of ‘accusatives of the rhapsodic subject’ following āidein ‘sing’ (ᾄδῃς): [160] (1) Odysseus at the epic moment when he leaps upon the threshold, ready to shoot arrows at the suitors; (2) Achilles at the epic moment when he lunges at Hector; or (3) some other highlighted thing, here unspecified (ti, accusative), from epic moments involving Andromache, Hecuba, or Priam. As we are about to see, Plato’s precise wording recaptures the precision of the rhapsode’s craft in performing Homer.

3§199 Ion, responding to this enumeration by Socrates of highlights from Panathenaic performances of Homer by rhapsodes, says he feels the same emotions of terror and pity felt by the spectators at the Panathenaia as they react to the actions and words of his Homeric characters (Ion 533c). As Socrates himself describes it, the rhapsode dazzles his Panathenaic spectators, numbered at 20,000 (Ion 535c-d), inducing an overall sense of ekplēxis {447|448} ‘bedazzlement’. [161] This ekplēxis centers on the emotions of terror and pity. We are to imagine 20,000 spectators feeling terrified at one moment of the epic performance and then feeling sorrowful at the next moment (again, Ion 535c-d). Socrates recounts five such epic moments of ekplēxis as examples, enumerating them in ever-increasing compression and non-specificity:

3ⓣ48 Plato Ion 535b-c

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

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

3§200 The first two moments have to do primarily with the emotion of terror, and they feature the main heroes of the Odyssey and the Iliad respectively, [1] Odysseus and [2] Achilles. The next three moments have to do primarily with the emotion of pity, and they feature the main heroes on the other side of the Trojan War: [3b] Andromache, [3c] Hecuba, and [3d] Priam. As I will argue in Chapter 4, the link between the two moments of terror and the three moments of pity is [3a] Hector, who exemplifies the emotion of terror when he is about to be killed by Achilles but who also exemplifies the {448|449} emotion of pity through the lamentations of [3b] his wife Andromache. In the wording of Plato’s Ion, the pairing of [3a] Hector and [3b] Andromache creates a thematic link for the transition from terror to pity.

3§201 The Homeric portrayal of Andromache’s lamentations is high theater. As we saw earlier in this dialogue, the rhapsōidos who performs such moments at the Panathenaia is parallel to a hupokritēs ‘actor’ who performs similar moments at the City Dionysia. In Chapter 2, I quoted an exquisite example from tragedy: it is an aria sung as a monody by the actor who plays Andromache in the Andromache of Euripides (91-117).

3§202 There is an overall parallelism, then, between the scenes of terror and pity in the epic of the Panathenaia and in the drama of the City Dionysia, especially tragedy. Such scenes in tragedy cannot be viewed independently of epic, as if they were intrinsic only to tragedy. Aristotle’s formulation about terror and pity as essential ingredients of tragedy extends to epic as well. And his formulation corresponds closely to Plato’s earlier formulation about terror and pity as essential ingredients of the epic performed by rhapsodes like Ion at the Panathenaia. There is a tragic way of “reading” Homer. {449|450}

Footnotes

[ back ] 1. PR.

[ back ] 2. Aristotle makes one theory-driven exception. In the Poetics (1448b30), he theorizes that the author of the mock-epic Margites was Homer.

[ back ] 3. HPC I§§169 and following.

[ back ] 4. HQ 38, 89.

[ back ] 5. In Plato Republic 10.595c (also 598d), Homer is described as the hēgemōn ‘leader’ of tragedy. See also the commentary of Murray 1996:188-189.

[ back ] 6. EH §33 (Nagy 2005a:27); also PP 81-82; more recently, Rotstein 2004.

[ back ] 7. EH §33 (Nagy 2005a:26-27).

[ back ] 8. BA 14§§1-5 (= pp. 253-255).

[ back ] 9. PP 81.

[ back ] 10. HPC I§§169 and following.

[ back ] 11. HPC I§§178 and following.

[ back ] 12. See Orphic Fragment 49 ed. Kern and the remarks of Richardson 1974:12.

[ back ] 13. The figure of Olympos is a prototypical master of the aulos; sources and commentary in PH 3§§7 (= p. 86), 16-17 (= pp. 90-91), 36 (= pp. 100-101), 39 (= pp. 102-103).

[ back ] 14. The figure of Thamyras / Thamyris is a prototypical master of the kithara in Iliad II 594-600; commentary in PH 12§71n199 (= p. 376).

[ back ] 15. The figure of Phemios is a prototypical singer of epic in Odyssey i, xvii, and xxii. I will have more to say about him later. On Phemios as a rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’, see Graziosi 2002:25, 39-40; her interpretation is different from the one I offer in what follows.

[ back ] 16. Further discussion in PR 38-39, 42n16, 51. The portion of the inscription that deals with rhapsodes is lost, but it is generally accepted that rhapsodic competitions were mentioned in this missing portion. I will return to this inscription at a later point.

[ back ] 17. PR 38, 40, 42.

[ back ] 18. Background in Rhodes 1981:670-671.

[ back ] 19. PR 36, 41-42.

[ back ] 20. I have analyzed this passage in earlier work, PR 22, 37-38, 99.

[ back ] 21. Socrates’ patronizing tone here implies that there is no reason for Athenians to know whether the people of Epidaurus even have contests of rhapsodes, let alone what the repertoire of these rhapsodes might be. It is also implied that different cities have different agōnes ‘competitions’ in mousikē, and that competitions in rhapsodic performance are expected to be included. In PR 39-40, I study the agōnes ‘competitions’ in mousikē held at the city of Eretria, as recorded in an inscription (IG XII ix 189) dated around 341/0 BCE.

[ back ] 22. The ethical dative here (‘for us’) accentuates how indifferent an Athenian would be toward an agōn ‘competition’ that took place elsewhere.

[ back ] 23. By ‘we’ Ion means ‘I’ of course, but this ‘we’ has a way of potentially including Socrates and all other Athenians.

[ back ] 24. Socrates patronizingly uses ‘we’ here to include himself and all Athenians in the potentially inclusive ‘we’ of Ion. The patronizing use of the first-person plural here matches his earlier patronizing use of the first-person plural pronoun as ethical dative.

[ back ] 25. For an Athenian, the stakes would be low when the rhapsode competes in an agōn ‘competition’ elsewhere – as compared to the agōnes of the Panathenaia in Athens.

[ back ] 26. The wording of Plato’s Socrates assumes that the performance of the poetry of Homer as the Poet par excellence is specially featured at the agōnes ‘competitions’ of the Panathenaia. It seems also assumed, however, that other poems of other poets could be featured at other rhapsodic competitions at other festivals.

[ back ] 27. PR 22, 37-38, 99.

[ back ] 28. PR 36-69. For a comparative perspective on the concept of competition-in-collaboration, see PP 18.

[ back ] 29. Burgess 2004, with citations.

[ back ] 30. HTL 28-30.

[ back ] 31. This passage in Lycurgus Against Leokrates (102) is analyzed in PR 10-12; I analyze it further in HPC I§§43-46. I disagree with Graziosi 2002:196 when she says that “this passage does not define Homer as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey.”

[ back ] 32. The orator Lycurgus, in ‘adducing’ the various classical authors that he quotes, is doing so in his role as a statesman.

[ back ] 33. To make his arguments here in Against Leokrates 102, Lycurgus is about to adduce a quotation from Homer, the equivalent of what we know as Iliad XV verses 494-499. My reasons for translating epaineîn as ‘quote’ will become evident in the analysis that follows. Adducing a Homeric quotation is presented here as if it were a matter of adducing Homer himself. In the same speech, at an earlier point, Lycurgus (Against Leokrates 100) had quoted 55 verses from Euripides’ Erekhtheus (F 50 ed. Austin). At a later point (Against Leokrates 107), he quotes 32 verses from Tyrtaeus (F 10 ed. West), whom he identifies as an Athenian (so also does Plato in Laws 1.629a). On the politics and poetics of the Athenian appropriation of Tyrtaeus and of his poetry, see GM 272-273. I suggest that the Ionism of poetic diction in the poetry of Tyrtaeus can be explained along the lines of an evolutionary model of transmission at Ionian festivals: see PH 2§3 (= pp. 52-53), 14§41 (= pp. 433-434) and HQ 111. See also PH 1§13n27 (= p. 23) on Lycurgus Against Leokrates 106-107, where the orator mentions a customary law at Sparta concerning the performance of the poetry of Tyrtaeus. For more on epaineîn, see now Elmer 2005.

[ back ] 34. I deliberately translate hupolambanein ‘receive’ here in terms of reception theory. In terms of rhapsodic vocabulary, as we see in “Plato” Hipparkhos 228b-c, hupolēpsis is not just ‘reception’ but also ‘continuation’ in the sense of reception by way of relay (PR 11n8). Further analysis in HPC I§43.

[ back ] 35. Comparable is the context of epideigma ‘display, demonstration’ in “Plato” Hipparkhos 228d, as discussed in PH 6§30 (= pp. 160-161); see also PH 8§4 (= pp. 217-218) on apodeixis ‘presentation, demonstration’. The basic idea is this: what is being ‘demonstrated’ is a model for performance. Further observations in HPC I§43.

[ back ] 36. By implication, the Panhellenic impulse of the ‘ancestors’ of the Athenians in making Homer a “Classic” is mirrored by the impulse of Lycurgus, statesman that he is, to quote extensively from such Classics as Homer, Tyrtaeus, and Euripides. See also “Plutarch” Lives of the Ten Orators 841f on the initiatives taken by Lycurgus to produce a State Script of the dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (commentary in PP 174-175, 189n6, 204).

[ back ] 37. I infer that the erga ‘accomplishments’ include poetic accomplishments: on the mentality of seeing a reciprocity between a noble deed and noble poetry that celebrates the noble deed and thereby becomes a noble deed in its own right, see PH 2§35n95 (= p. 70), 8§5 (= pp. 218-219).

[ back ] 38. In one of these contexts (Plato Ion 535d), it is specified that Ion already wears a golden garland while he is performing Homer. Perhaps Ion had already won first prize at the Panathenaia on a previous occasion.

[ back ] 39. PR 51; see also PR 99 on the golden garland.

[ back ] 40. HPC I§§55 and following.

[ back ] 41. My citations from Vita 1 and Vita 2 follow the line-numbers in the edition of Allen 1912.

[ back ] 42. HPC I§141.

[ back ] 43. By implication, Ion was performing Homeric poetry also at the agōn ‘competition’ of rhapsodes at the festival of the Asklepieia in Epidaurus, where it is said that he likewise won the first prize (Ion 530a).

[ back ] 44. More on this passage in PP 111n24.

[ back ] 45. I translate poiēsis for now as ‘poetic creation’, but it is more accurate to render it as ‘composition’ (in the verbal arts).

[ back ] 46. The non-singing role of the kitharistēs ‘citharist’ may be aetiologically connected with a myth about a primal ‘musical’ competition between Thamyras / Thamyris and the Muses (Iliad II 594-600). When Thamyris (as he is called in the Iliad) challenges the Muses to a duel in singing to the lyre, he is punished for his arrogance by being stuck dumb in the course of the contest (II 599-600). So this proto-citharist is pictured as a citharode who became a citharist by losing his singing voice. In the Iliad, Thamyris even forgets how to play the kitharis (II 600). So this proto-citharist is prevented even from continuing as a citharist.

[ back ] 47. There is a double meaning to the adjective atelēs ‘without a telos’ in this context. On the surface, the idea is that Orpheus failed to achieve the telos ‘outcome’ of rescuing his wife from Hades by bringing her back to the realm of light and life. Underneath the surface, however, Orpheus failed to achieve the telos ‘outcome’ of a successful ‘initiation’ into the mysteries.

[ back ] 48. See the previous note.

[ back ] 49. HPC E§117.

[ back ] 50. In the case of Thamyras, he is presented by Homeric poetry itself as an implicit foil for Homer.

[ back ] 51. I accept as a historical fact the preeminent status of Ion in the historical time that corresponds to the dramatized time of his encounter with Socrates. I will have more to say about this in ch. 4. In general, it is important to keep in mind that Plato chooses most worthy opponents for Socrates. When Plato’s Socrates predicts that Ion will win first prize in the Panathenaic competitions that follow the day of their encounter with each other (Ion 530b), I have no reason to doubt that this detail amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that the whole dialogue is predicated on the general success of Ion as a rhapsode.

[ back ] 52. For more on this idea, see PR 9-35.

[ back ] 53. To paraphrase more closely: in Plato Ion 531a-532b, when the rhapsode Ion says that he can perform and interpret the poetry of Homer but not the poetry of Hesiod and Archilochus, it is implied that other rhapsodes do indeed perform and interpret the poetry of Hesiod and Archilochus. For further evidence about the rhapsodic performance of Hesiod and Archilochus, see Athenaeus 14.620b-c and the commentary in PP (159, 162-163). In the first edition of PR , however, I fear I have misled my readers with this phrasing (55): “the rhapsode Ion, who is about to compete in the Panathenaia ([Plato Ion] 530b), is represented as a grand master in performing the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, as also of Archilochus (531a).” In the digital edition of PR, I rephrase as follows: “the rhapsode Ion, who is about to compete in the Panathenaia (530b), is potentially a grand master in performing Hesiod and even Archilochus, not just Homer (531a); he tells Socrates that he specializes in Homer only because Homer is the best poet and, by implication, the only poet whose poetry is performed by rhapsodes at the Panathenaia (531a-532c).” Then, in the next sentence, I rephrase “The rhapsode is …” to read: “As we know from the Ion and elsewhere, the generic rhapsode is … .”

[ back ] 54. According to Ion, even where Homer and Hesiod overlap in content, they are different in quality (Plato Ion 532a). By contrast, Plato’s Socrates is represented as an expert in non-Homeric poetry as well. His expertise in Hesiodic and Orphic traditions is especially to be noted. This expertise, as we will see, shows the mystical side of Socrates, as represented by Protagoras, to be contrasted with his non-mystical side, as represented by Hippias of Elis.

[ back ] 55. I translate poiētēs as ‘poet’ for now, but it is more accurate to render it as ‘composer’ (in the verbal arts). On poiētēs as ‘composer’, I offer an analysis in HPC I§62.

[ back ] 56. Plato’s image of three First Rings as three First Poets Orpheus, Musaeus, and Homer (in that order) is relevant, as we will see at a later point, to his image of the Ring of Hippias.

[ back ] 57. The theatrical mentality of the Athenians is ostentatiously deplored by Kleon in a speech recreated by Thucydides 3.38.4: in this speech, Kleon criticizes the Athenians as theatai men tōn logōn … akroatai de tōn ergōn ‘spectators of words, audiences of deeds’. The speaker’s point here is that theater is so much a part of the lives of Athenians that they treat the real things that people say about real things that people do as if all these things were theatrical spectacles. Thus the Athenians become theatai ‘spectators’ of real things being said as if these things were theatrical lines being delivered by professional performers, and they imagine things done off stage, as it were, by merely hearing these things instead of seeing them for themselves. Significantly, the speaker in this passage from Thucydides (3.38.4) starts the wording of his criticism by saying that the Athenians are acting like perverted agōnothetai ‘arrangers of the competitions [agōnes]’ (kakōs agōnothetoûntes). As we saw earlier from the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians (60.1), ten magistrates called athlothetai ‘arrangers of the contests [athloi]’ were elected every four years to organize the festival of the Panathenaia, and one of their primary tasks was the management of ‘the ‘agōn in mousikē’. According to Plutarch’s Pericles (13.9-11), as we also saw earlier, the Athenian statesman Pericles reformed this competition in mousikē when he was elected as one of the athlothetai. At a later point in the same speech of Kleon as recreated by Thucydides (3.38.7), there is talk about theatai ‘spectators’ of sophistai ‘sophists’ (σοφιστῶν θεαταῖς). This is the only attestation of sophistēs in Thucydides. I am reminded of the scene in Isocrates Panathenaicus (12.33) where sophistai ‘sophists’ are pictured as performing and commenting in the Lyceum on the poetry of Homer, Hesiod and others. For more on the passage from Thucydides (3.38.4), I await the forthcoming publication of José González.

[ back ] 58. I mentioned earlier a fourth-century inscription from Eretria that records the awarding of prizes at a festival of Artemis featuring competitions in mousikē (IG XII ix 189, 341/340 BCE). In this inscription, we find that the first prize awarded to the winner of the competition among citharodes is greater in monetary value than the first prize awarded to the winner of the competition among rhapsodes. (Commentary in PR 39-53.) I conjecture that the situation would be different in Athens (and probably only in Athens) in the same era. In Athens, as I have argued, the rhapsodic competition was paramount because it was restricted to Homer – and to the performance of the complete Homer. Here I refer back to my earlier discussion of a fourth-century inscription from Athens that records the awarding of prizes at the Panathenaia (IG II2 2311, 380 BCE). As we saw, the part of the inscription that records the awarding of prizes to the winners of the competition among the rhapsodes is unfortunately missing.

[ back ] 59. In HPC I§I§47 and following, I consider two lyric masters whose repertoires were sung at the Panathenaia, Anacreon and Simonides.

[ back ] 60. This word poieîn ‘make’ can be used in the sense of ‘compose’ (in the verbal arts).

[ back ] 61. PR 29-30.

[ back ] 62. PR 29.

[ back ] 63. Here the word is in the plural, and I render it as ‘instances of re-enactment’.

[ back ] 64. BA 2§5n2 (= p. 30), 12§15n3 (= p. 236), 12§17 (= p. 237), 14§14n5(= p. 264), 15§§6-8 (= pp. 270-272), 18§4n3 (= p. 304), 20§8n5 (= p. 325).

[ back ] 65. See also the commentary of Murray 1996:205.

[ back ] 66. PP 61-74.

[ back ] 67. The status of Magnesia as a virtual reality is indicated by the mystical references in Plato’s Laws to ‘the city of the Magnetes’ as a new place that is to be ‘resurrected’ – by way of being relocated in western Crete from an old place that is to exist no more (11.919d Μαγνήτων, οὓς ὁ θεὸς ἀνορθῶν πάλιν κατοικίζει, 12.946b Μαγνήτων ἡ κατὰ θεὸν πάλιν τυχοῦσα σωτηρίας πόλις). Plato’s choice of a name for this ideal city is made to seem arbitrary (12.969a σὺ γὰρ τὴν Μαγνήτων πόλιν, ἢ ᾧ ἂν θεὸς ἐπώνυμον αὐτὴν ποιήσῃ, and also at 4.704a).

[ back ] 68. Martin (forthcoming).

[ back ] 69. In the twin book Homer the Preclassic, I argue that the HomericHymn to Apollo was for the Homēridai the authentic signature, as it were, of Homer himself, and that this link between the Hymn and the Homēridai was well understood in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE.

[ back ] 70. Instead of ‘I took some muthoi of Aesop that I knew and had at hand’, I was tempted to translate ‘I took some muthoi of Aesop that I knew and had at my fingertips’.

[ back ] 71. Martin (forthcoming).

[ back ] 72. This passage will be quoted at 3§165 below.

[ back ] 73. Note the mystical language: epi-kruptesthai is to ‘hide the meaning’.

[ back ] 74. What is fluid is not rigid or ‘static’.

[ back ] 75. This reference in Plato Theaetetus 180d to skutotomoi ‘leatherworkers’ as notionally lowly craftsmen is evidently an allusion to Hippias of Elis, as I will argue later.

[ back ] 76. The morphology of Homēreioi here is analogous to that of Kreophuleioi. On the Kreophuleioi see PP 179, 226-227.

[ back ] 77. I should add that, in contexts where Homer and Hesiod are paired, Hesiod tends to be mentioned before Homer, as happens consistently for example in Plato Republic 2.363a, 2.377d, 10.612b. In Plato Cratylus 402b-c, the lore about Ōkeanos and Tethys is cited from Homer, Hesiod, and Orpheus, in ascending order of antiquity. According to one tradition, Homer is descended from Orpheus: Pherecydes FGH 3 F 167, Hellanicus FGH 4 F 5, Damastes 5 FGH F 11; according to another, he is traced back to Musaeus: Gorgias 82 B 25 DK.

[ back ] 78. At a later point, I will explore the meaning of the word sophistēs ‘sophist’. Already at this point, however, I must cite a pathfinding new book by Håkan Tell on Hippias of Elis as sophistēs and on the sophistai in general.

[ back ] 79. Compare Xenophon Memorabilia 4.4.7, where Hippias is represented as saying: πειρῶμαι καινόν τι λέγειν ἀεί ‘I am always trying to say something novel’.

[ back ] 80. Translation after Allen 1996:177.

[ back ] 81. I will reach this later point in ch. 4.

[ back ] 82. The link between Hippias and Herakles may be relevant to the detail about the ring of Hippias in Plato Hippias Minor 368b and to the detail about the ‘Heraclean’ or ‘Magnesian’ stone in Plato Ion 533d.

[ back ] 83. As Martin 2001 argues, there was a poetic tradition that featured a narrative about the catabasis or descent of Orpheus into the underworld where the first-person narrator was Orpheus himself. See also West 1983.

[ back ] 84. We may compare the themes featured in the gigantic picture of the underworld as painted by Polygnotus in the Lesche of the Cnidians at Delphi, dated to the mid-fifth century BCE. From the eyewitness description of Pausanias (10.30.8), we know that this painting pictured Thamyris, sitting blind and dejected after his divine punishment, and Orpheus playing his kithara and surrounded by an attentive audience. See Martin 2001 for details and further citations.

[ back ] 85. See also Plato Protagoras 318d-e.

[ back ] 86. Aristotle Metaphysics 4.1025a2-13 refers to the Hippias Minor, criticizing the logic of Plato’s argumentation. See Allen 1996:26.

[ back ] 87. This description of Hippias as a specialist in astronomy in Plato Hippias Minor 367e and, as I noted earlier, in Protagoras 315c and 318d-e, recurs in other contexts as well. See Plato Hippias Maior 285c.

[ back ] 88. The ostentatious use of the dual number here accentuates the complementarity of Achilles and Odysseus as respectively the main heroes of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey.

[ back ] 89. See Allen 1996:26.

[ back ] 90. Allen 1996:118: “Having practiced on Simonides an exegetical technique which out-sophists the sophists, Socrates proceeds to dismiss literary criticism as worthless: poets cannot be questioned about what they mean, and the Many, in discussing them, argue about something they cannot test.”

[ back ] 91. Translation after Allen 1996:177.

[ back ] 92. I will have more to say in ch. 4 about the usage of sophos and sophia here in the practical sense of ‘skilled’ and ‘skill’.

[ back ] 93. Earlier in the Hippias Minor, Socrates says that he attended a display by Hippias in Athens that took place within a space that is not yet specified, as we see from the wording ἡνίκα μὲν γὰρ πολλοὶ ἔνδον ἦμεν καὶ σὺ τὴν ἐπίδειξιν ἐποιοῦ ‘when there were many of us within that space and you were making your display [epideixis]’ and ὄχλος τε πολὺς ἔνδον ἦν ‘there was a big crowd within that space’ (364b). That space, if we are to trust Plato’s sense of precision in creating this scene, is the same setting as the one to which Socrates refers here (368b).

[ back ] 94. The making of this ring, I infer, involved metalwork in general and engraving in particular, and the focus of attention is on the engraved seal of the ring.

[ back ] 95. I note that sophia here conveys a non-transcendent concept, ‘skill’, instead of the transcendent concept of ‘wisdom’. More on this point in the discussion that follows.

[ back ] 96. As we see from the context here as we read on, these ‘compositions’ are the poetic creations not only of Hippias but also of master ‘composers’ or poiētai, including Homer himself as the ‘composer’ or poiētēs par excellence. The concepts of poiēma as ‘composition’ and of poiētēs as ‘composer’ (in the verbal arts) are analyzed in HPC I§62.

[ back ] 97. The conventions of performing katalogadēn ‘in the right sequence, catalogue-style’ are relevant to the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ of Hippias, a key concept that Plato’s Socrates is about to introduce in this same passage (Plato Hippias Minor 368d).

[ back ] 98. For another passage that emphasizes these specialties of Hippias, see Plato Hippias Maior 285d. A relevant term is grammatistēs.

[ back ] 99. This word blepein ‘look’ highlights the visual aspect of indexing the details associated with the tekhnai ‘crafts’ of Hippias. This same word blepein ‘look’ is used as an index for the perception of Plato’s Forms.

[ back ] 100. I postpone till ch. 4 my analysis of the playful insult implicit in Socrates’ use of the word panourgia with reference to the sophia of Hippias.

[ back ] 101. Translation after Allen 1996:36-37.

[ back ] 102. That commentary is postponed till ch. 4.

[ back ] 103. When I say musical here, I am referring once again to the competitions in mousikē at the Panathenaia.

[ back ] 104. Here in Plato Ion 539d the wording makes it explict that that the expertise of Ion in ‘Homer’ is equated with his expertise in the Iliad and Odyssey. So the term Homer here stands for the Iliad and Odyssey. For a similar context, see Xenophon Symposium 3.5.

[ back ] 105. PH 2§24 (= pp. 61-62), 13§44 (= pp. 402-403).

[ back ] 106. HR 34-36.

[ back ] 107. PH 6§§33-35 (= pp. 162-164).

[ back ] 108. Further examples in PH 6§34 (= p. 163).

[ back ] 109. On poiētēs as ‘composer’, I refer to the analysis in HPC I§62.

[ back ] 110. Koller 1957:101.

[ back ] 111. Koller 1957:102.

[ back ] 112. The last two paragraphs are based on what I already said in HR 37-38.

[ back ] 113. HR 36.

[ back ] 114. HR 36.

[ back ] 115. HR 35, 37.

[ back ] 116. Besides Plato Ion 535e, see also 532d.

[ back ] 117. This whole paragraph is based on what I said in HR 37.

[ back ] 118. There is more to be said about the basic difference between the rhapsōidos ‘rhapsode’ and the hupokritēs ‘actor’ as performers. When the actor performs, he is a dramatized character inside the composition of a composer and thus cannot claim any inspiration by the Muses. Only the composer can make such a claim. By contrast, the rhapsode as performer actually represents the composer and can thus claim to be inspired by the Muses. In the case of the rhapsodic craft, the ancient concept of mousikē as the ‘craft of the Muses’ applies to performers as well as composers. That is another reason why rhapsodes, unlike actors, do not wear masks.

[ back ] 119. On Homer as ho poiētēs ‘the poet’ in Plato Ion 530c, see PR 29. On Homer as the poiētēs ‘composer’ par excellence, I offer an analysis in HPC I§61.

[ back ] 120. To repeat, I postpone till ch. 4 my analysis of the playful insult implicit in Socrates’ use of the word panourgia with reference to the sophia of Hippias.

[ back ] 121. Translation after Allen 1996:37.

[ back ] 122. The use of the word aitia ‘cause’ implies that Hippias must understand the plot of the Iliad as a chain of cause-and-effect narrative.

[ back ] 123. Translation after Allen 1996:33.

[ back ] 124. Here again I translate poiēsis as ‘poetry’. But poiēsis is more accurately rendered as ‘composition’ (in the verbal arts).

[ back ] 125. Translation after Allen 1996:177.

[ back ] 126. For more on Plato’s reference to the public display by Hippias in the agora of Athens, see ch. 4.

[ back ] 127. I must stress again what I stressed when I first quoted this wording: as we see from the context here, these ‘compositions’ are the poetic creations not only of Hippias but also of master ‘composers’ or poiētai, including Homer himself as the ‘composer’ or poiētēs par excellence.

[ back ] 128. Translation after Allen 1996:36-37.

[ back ] 129. Graziosi 2002:22.

[ back ] 130. For Isocrates, as I note in PP 122n75, the writing of a speech, expressed by way of graphein ‘write’ (see his Panathenaicus 1), is tantamount to the composing and even the notional delivering of a speech. On graphein ‘write’ as a notional speech-act, see PH 8§27n86 (= p. 233).

[ back ] 131. Jebb 1893 II 113.

[ back ] 132. Although the Lyceum cannot be identified specifically with the school of Aristotle until a later period (after the philosopher’s death, when his successor Theophrastus institutionalized the school in the Lyceum), the place was known as a sort of forum for philosophers even before the era of Isocrates (Plato Lysis 203a).

[ back ] 133. We see here a negative version of an idiom derived from rhapsodic discourse: PR 29-30.

[ back ] 134. See PP 126 on the meaning of hupomnēma. See also PP 121 on Aristotle as an early user of the term diorthōsis.

[ back ] 135. See PP 124, where I speak of sophistic discourse about the khariestata as a precursor of the Aristarchean criteria that privilege those Homeric variants that are supposedly khariestata.

[ back ] 136. Labarbe 1949:183-186.

[ back ] 137. Labarbe 1949:212-213 and 243 respectively.

[ back ] 138. Labarbe 1949:422; see also Graziosi 2002:22n23, 45, 224.

[ back ] 139. In the Life of Homer traditions, Homer himself is represented as performing dialogic commentaries. See HPC I§120.

[ back ] 140. The combination of the verb legein ‘speak’ with the preposition peri ‘about’ is an idiom typical of the discourse of rhapsodes: see PR 29-30 on Plato Ion 530c-d.

[ back ] 141. See the previous note.

[ back ] 142. BA ch. 3 (= pp. 42-58), HQ 138-145.

[ back ] 143. On the dianoia ‘thinking’ of Homer as a model of authorial intentionality in the discourse of rhapsodes, see Plato Ion 530b-c. Commentary in PR 29-30.

[ back ] 144. The etymology of haploûs ‘simple, simplex’, is analyzed in HPC II§386.

[ back ] 145. In this version, as transmitted in the medieval manuscript tradition, the use of the perfect of teleîn at verse 310 of Iliad IX indicates that Achilles understands the outcome of the plot as already a fait accompli. It is such an understanding that leads to the inference expressed at verse 311: ‘so do not try to undo what is already a fait accompli’. By contrast, in the version as quoted by Plato, the expression of a fait accompli takes place only at the verse that corresponds to verse 312 in “our” Homer. So the equivalent of verse 311 is not needed in the version quoted by Plato, since the equivalent of verse 310 shows not the perfect of teleîn, only an imperfective of teleîn.

[ back ] 146. In the Life of Homer traditions, as I noted earlier, with reference to HPC, Homer himself is represented as performing dialogic commentaries.

[ back ] 147. Translation after Allen 1996:33.

[ back ] 148. I must stress once again what I stressed when I first quoted this wording: as we see from the context here, these ‘compositions’ are the poetic creations not only of Hippias but also of master ‘composers’ or poiētai, including Homer himself as the ‘composer’ or poiētēs par excellence.

[ back ] 149. To repeat, the conventions of performing katalogadēn ‘in the right sequence, catalogue-style’ are relevant to the mnēmonikon tekhnēma ‘mnemonic technique’ of Hippias, a key concept that Plato’s Socrates is about to introduce in this same passage (Plato Hippias Minor 368d).

[ back ] 150. For another passage that emphasizes these specialties of Hippias, I cite again Plato Hippias Maior 285d. A relevant term is grammatistēs.

[ back ] 151. Translation after Allen 1996:36-37.

[ back ] 152. In Plato’s quotation, the wording here is different from what we read in the medieval manuscript tradition.

[ back ] 153. This way, Plato’s Socrates undercuts the complementarity of Achilles and Odysseus as the very best of the Achaeans in the Iliad and Odyssey respectively, since he seeks to show that these two heroes are undifferentiated in their virtues. The complementarity of Achilles and Odysseus depends on their differentiation in virtues, as I argued at length in BA ch. 3 (= pp. 42-58).

[ back ] 154. In Plato’s quotation, the wording here is different from what we read in the medieval manuscript tradition, on which see the next note.

[ back ] 155. This variant, as attested in the medieval manuscript tradition, is explicitly supported by Aristarchus, but he also attests -φλέξαι as a variant of -σμῦξαι. See scholia Aim for Iliad IX 653a (Didymus): oὕτως <σμῦξαι> Ἀρίσταρχος. οἶδε <δὲ> καὶ τὴν φλέξαι γραφήν. Also scholia Aint (Aristonicus): ὅτι γράφεται καὶ κατά τε φλέξαι. In the scholia for Odyssey iii 195, another variant is reported for Iliad IX 653: … ἐπισμύξαι πυρὶ νῆας.

[ back ] 156. The word implies a pleasurable beauty in the act of reciprocation.

[ back ] 157. In the Life of Homer traditions, as I noted earlier, Homer himself is represented as performing dialogic commentaries.

[ back ] 158. Besides the evidence from the Homeric quotations in Plato’s Hippias Minor, I cite the further evidence of other quotations in other dialogues of Plato, as surveyed by Labarbe 1949. The quotations in other works of Plato do not affect the overall picture that emerges.

[ back ] 159. Dué 2001a.

[ back ] 160. PR 26-27.

[ back ] 161. The number 20,000 seems to be a notional approximation of the size of the Athenian “body politic” (there is a comparable figure of 30,000 in Herodotus 5.97.2).