Chatper 1. The Pharmakos in Archaic Greece

The Greek ritual scapegoat, referred to as the pharmakos, provides an essential foundation for the study of legendary lives of the archaic Greek poets. The lives of Aesop, Hipponax, and Tyrtaeus are especially close to pharmakos themes and characteristics. The Greek ritual scapegoat is a complex religio-historical phenomenon, and aspects of it have been vigorously debated by scholars. Nevertheless, that the pharmakos complex existed in some form is undoubted.


The pharmakos [1] was a human embodiment of evil who was expelled from the Greek city at moments of crisis and disaster. The name is probably, but problematically, connected with pharmakon, ‘medicine, drug, poison’. [2] Both poison and drug were originally magical; so a pharmakon is a magical dose (Greek dosis ‘gift, dose’, cf. the German Gift ‘poison’) causing destruction or healing. Pharmakos then would be ‘magic man, wizard’ first, though the borderline between magic and religion is not easy to define; the early pharmakos might have been ‘magic man’ or he might have been ‘sacred-man’. Then, presumably, he or she was ‘healer, poisoner’, then later, expiatory sacrifice for the city and rascal, off-scourings, and so on. [3] On the one hand, the pharmakos could be the medicine that heals the city (according to scholia on Aristophanes Knights 1136c, the pharmakos is used in order to obtain a therapeia—‘service, tending, medical treatment’—for the prevailing disaster [4] ); on the other, he could be the poison that had to be expelled from the system (he is often ugly or criminal). Thus these two interpretations are not exclusive. [5]
Sometimes the pharmakos crisis was real (such as a plague or famine), [6] as at Massilia (“for the Massilians, as often as they were suffering from the plague …”) [7] and Colophon (“either famine or plague or another harm”). [8] Sometimes it was a periodic calendrical moment of crisis, as in the Attic Thargelia, when the city had to be cleansed before the first fruits of the harvest could be stored up. [9]
Usually a criminal or a slave or an excessively ugly or deformed man [10] was chosen as pharmakos, a cast-off from society. Strabo wrote that the pharmakos was “one of those who were guilty,” (at Leucas). [11] According to Plutarch, at Chaeronea he was a slave; [12] at Colophon he was excessively ugly, “the most deformed of all” [13] and at Athens, “the most unpleasant and mistreated by nature, maimed and lame man, such sort … they sacrificed.” [14]
At Athens there was a pharmakos for males and one for females. “They would lead out two men to serve as a cleansing [katharsia] for the city in the Thargelia, one on behalf of the men, and one on behalf of the women.” [15] Sometimes he was chosen by public vote. [16] In the case of a pharmakos as criminal, this public council would take the form of a trial, which must lie behind his selection.
He was called pharmakos, katharma (‘that which is thrown away in cleansing: in plural, offscourings, refuse of a sacrifice … in plural, purification’, LSJ), perikatharma (an intensification of katharma from perikathairō, ‘cleanse on all sides, or completely’), peripsēma (from peripsaō, ‘wipe all round, wipe clean’,—so, ‘anything wiped off, offscouring’ [17] ); at Chaeronea, an expelled slave was called boulimos, ‘ravenous hunger’. [18] The whole expulsion process was called katharsis. For example, Callimachus tells us that “at Abdera a bought man (became) the purification [katharsion] of the city.” [19] Pharmakoi were sometimes fed by the state, often for a considerable length of time (at Massilia for a year); sometimes, as at Colophon, they were fed immediately before expulsion. Bremmer notes that being kept by the state was usually reserved only for very important people. [20]
On the day of his departure, the pharmakos was dressed in “holy garments,” vestibus sacris, and adorned with sprigs (at Massilia); [21] at Athens, the two pharmakoi wore black and white figs. [22] The holy garments show the “positive,” sacral side of the scapegoat, which is also suggested by another name for pharmakoi, sumbakkhoi, ‘fellow-possessed’. [23] This suggests that there was an ecstatic, perhaps Dionysiac, aspect of the pharmakos. Ogden writes that the name probably means that “scapegoats were held to be in some sort of divinely possessed, ecstatic and exceptionally powerful state at the point of their expulsion.” [24]
After a procession and circumambulation, an important part of the rite, [25] the pharmakoi were driven from the city, [26] often chased away by stoning, a ritual that provides community solidarity (all who stone participate in the punishment), even as it extrudes its chosen object. [27]
At Colophon, the scapegoat was reportedly beaten around the genitals by figsprays and squills (large onions). [28] Outside the city, according to some accounts, whose reliability has been thoroughly debated, he was killed—by stoning, burning, or by being thrown over a cliff into the ocean. [29] At the very least, the reports of the pharmakos’ death show society’s desire for it; expulsion itself is a kind of symbolic death. There is some evidence, at least, that the death of the pharmakos was seen, ideologically, as a sacrifice, as a number of sources refer to the victim as being “killed” or “sacrificed.” A scholiast writes, victima … inmolatur. “The victim … is sacrificed.” [30] Murray rightly observes that these are late scholia, and that the earliest sources do not speak of killing or sacrificing a pharmakos. Even if this is accepted, it is indisputable that there was a mimēma of a death in the pharmakos pattern; Murray admits that this may show that “a pharmakos-sacrifice was known to have existed at some time somewhere.” Vernant suggests that human sacrifice perhaps did take place, originally, but Bremmer is probably correct when he doubts the presence of actual human sacrifice connected with the pharmakos custom. In the legends connected with the pharmakos, however, execution was almost a requirement.

Pharmakos: Legendary Aitia

The pharmakos custom actually took place, though details of how it was practiced are not always certain. But these ritual occurrences were always tightly bound up with stories serving as aitia for them in Athenian tradition:
ὅτι ἔθος ἦν ἐν Ἀθήναις φαρμακοὺς ἄγειν δύο … τὸ δὲ καθάρσιον τοῦτο λοιμικῶν νόσων ἀποτροπιασμὸς ἦν, λαβὸν τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀπὸ Ἀνδρόγεω τοῦ Κρητός, οὗ τεθνηκότος ἐν ταῖς Ἀθήναις παρανόμως τὴν λοιμικὴν ενόσησαν οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι νόσον, καὶ ἐκράτει τὸ ἔθος ἀεὶ καθαίρειν τὴν πόλιν τοῖς φαρμακοῖς.
Because it was the custom at Athens to lead two pharmakoi … This cleansing served to ward off plagues of disease, and it took its beginning from Androgeus the Cretan [son of King Minos], because the Athenians were afflicted with a plague of disease when he died unjustly in Athens, and this custom began to be in force, to always cleanse the city with pharmakoi.
Helladius, in Photius Bibliotheca 279 [31]
Androgeus is a figure who has not been given the attention he deserves, as pharmakos theorists have tended to focus on the ritual itself. It is significant that he was an athlete who had been victorious in the Panathenaic games: “defeating all the contestants in the games.” [32] He is thus a type of youthful vigor and agonistic victory, rather than the deformed refuse one might expect as background for a pharmakos myth. In one variant of his death legend, he was killed by the men he had defeated. “He was waylaid and murdered by the jealous competitors.” [33] Androgeus subsequently received hero cult at Kerameikos and Phalerum. [34] These data show an identification of the athlete-heroes of Fontenrose’s important article on hero-cult, “The Athlete as Hero,” with Androgeus, and, presumably to the pharmakos. [35] When Androgeus was murdered, he was on his way to Thebes to take part in Laius’ funeral games. [36]
In an important variant, Aegeus, king of Athens, sends Androgeus out to face the bull of Marathon, but the hero is killed by the monster. [37] Thus he fits the champion or therapōn pattern, to a certain extent. Another important variant has him killed in battle. [38]
Most of the sources agree that Androgeus is killed unjustly while in a foreign land. Accordingly to Diodorus, he was “treacherously slain,” edolophonēsen; the Homeric scholiast uses the same verb. Plutarch has him killed by dolos, deceit. Apollodorus describes him being ambushed, enedreuthenta, which suggests the irregularity of his death. Servius has him killed as a result of a plot between the Athenians and Megarians, Atheniensibus et vicinis Megarensibus coniuratis occisus est.
After the Athenians were afflicted with famine, pestilence, and war as a result of the murder of Androgeus, they consulted an oracle to find a means of deliverance. The oracle required satisfaction for Minos; so came about the familiar delivery of youths and maidens to the Minotaur every nine years. [39] Plutarch writes, “Now as to this tribute, most writers agree that because Androgeus was thought to have been treacherously killed within the confines of Attica, not only did Minos harass the inhabitants of that country greatly in war, but divinity [to daimonion] also laid it waste, for a terrible barrenness and pestilence fell upon it, and its rivers dried up.” [40] This is a combination of all three disasters with which the pharmakos was associated. Here, though, instead of the plague before the expulsion of the pharmakos, the plague follows the expulsion/death of the pharmakos, whose athletic victory had created a “plague” of shame for the native Athenian athletes. The seven maids and youths are, as it were, compensatory scapegoats.
The story of Androgeus ends with the rebirth motif, in a list of famous healings in Propertius 2.1.61–62: “And the Epidaurian god [Asclepius] restored Androgeon to his father’s home with Cressian herbs.” [41] That this story is consistent with Cretan saga is shown by the resurrection of Androgeus’ brother Glaucus by Polyidus, or by Asclepius in some variants. [42]
Istros, quoted in Harpocration, offers a different aetiology for the Greek scapegoat, the story of a man named Pharmakos:
ὅτι δὲ ὄνομα κύριόν ἐστιν ὁ Φαρμακός, ἱερὰς δὲ φιάλας τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος κλέψας ἁλοὺς ὑπὸ τῶν περὶ τὸν Ἀχιλλέα κατελεύσθη, καὶ τὰ τοῖς Θαργηλίοις ἀγόμενα τούτων ἀπομιμήματά ἐστιν.
That the proper name is Pharmakos, who, having stolen the holy cups of Apollo, was captured by Achilles’ men and stoned; and the things done at the Thargelia are re-enactments [apomimēmata] of these things… .
Istros FGH 334 F 50 = Harpocration 180, 19, s.v. pharmakos [43]
Thus mythical aition and rite, as always, relate in a subtle interchange. One need not enter the debate on myth/ritual priority here, but it is worth noting in passing that these passages have the rite repeating continually a primary myth.

Legendary scapegoats

There are a number of stories exhibiting a regular scapegoat pattern, involving mythical pharmakoi, which often have no overt connection to cult; but because of their close resemblance to the actual scapegoat customs, they deserve consideration, though they must be differentiated as forming an alternate, parallel pattern. [44] They often have kings or princes or princesses as scapegoats, thus providing a contrast to the polar opposite ritual pharmakoi (though Androgeus, explicitly linked to the pharmakos rite, is a prince). However, as Vernant’s work on the ambiguity of Oedipus has shown, both ends of the pole are closely identified with their opposites. [45] But the legends have a different emphasis.
The story of Codrus, king of Attica, illustrates what is only hinted at in the pharmakos rituals: the identification of the preexpulsion scapegoat with a king or hero. [46] Codrus, when the Dorians are besieging Attica, receives an oracle predicting that the Dorians will never take Attica if they kill him. (The oracle is a common motif in the mythical scapegoat tradition; the logical thing to do in the face of a disaster is to consult an oracle to find a cure for it.) [47] So Codrus dresses as a slave, goes out among the Dorians, and arranges for himself to get killed in a brawl. The Dorians, finding out what has happened, give up their Attic invasion. [48] In one variant, the king dies in battle, [49] which is reminiscent of the variant tradition of Androgeus killed in battle.
Here we have the disaster (invasion); the descent of the greatest man of the land down to the level of the common woodsman, the lowest element in society; his voluntary self-expulsion from his land; and his death, which saves his state from the disaster.
In these legendary patterns, the motif of the death of young maidens or youths, often royal, is common. [50] As Kearns notes, often these saviors of the city-state are marginal, coming from unexpected sources; sometimes they come from the center, the king, as in the case of Codrus. However, often there is a combination of the two social poles, as when princesses (women, thus marginal; of the royal family, thus central) are the saviors. [51] Death is often voluntary, an important theme, as in the case of Aglauros, daughter of Cecrops, the first king of Attica. According to one variant, when Athens is besieged, an oracle states that the only chance of victory is for someone to sacrifice himself or herself on behalf of the city. Aglauros therefore commits suicide by jumping off the Acropolis. She is rewarded with an Aglaureion after death, where male ephebes later took their oath of allegiance in connection with their military service. (She is the first of eleven “gods” called as witnesses in this oath.) Once again, we find the scapegoat theme aligned with the military ethos. [52] The daughters of Erechtheus, sometimes called the Hyacinthides, offer a similar configuration of oracle-engineered self-sacrifice in time of war, hero cult, and use of cult for military purposes. [53]
There are elements of such a story in the actual pharmakos complex; invasion is a typical disaster, like plague or famine; [54] the preexpulsion pharmakos was often treated as an important person, not as the lowest of the low—he was fed well, clothed in holy garments, and adorned with symbols of fertility. According to one report, sometimes the acceptance of the scapegoat role was voluntary. [55] All victims in Greek sacrifice were ideologically voluntary. Bremmer writes, “People pretended the victim went up to the altar of its own accord, and even asked for its consent. Whenever the animal did not shake its head in agreement, wine or milk was poured over its head. When, subsequently, the animal tried to shake this off its head, this was interpreted as a sign of consent! … sometimes it was pretended that the animal had committed a crime …” [56]
As has been noted, even if the pharmakos was not actually killed, the city kills him ideologically. It seems likely that, if the Greeks went to such lengths to make it appear as if ordinary animal sacrifices were voluntary, the pharmakos—who may have been viewed as a sacrifice—might have been always at least symbolically voluntary. Though, as Bremmer notes, these scapegoat myths do not exactly reflect pharmakos ritual, there is an undeniable connection between the myths and the ritual.
Finally, there are examples of the legendary scapegoat receiving hero cult after he or she dies. This is the case with Codrus, who had a shrine in Athens. [57] The legend of Polycrite has close ties to the Thargelia ritual and the pharmakos. She was stoned oddly at the hands of her countrymen by “girdles, wreaths, and shawls” after saving her city from destruction (by being a fatal gift to the enemy), then died outside the city gate. Burkert writes, “The pelting with wreathes and clothes, as used in the parades of Olympic victors and their like, is equivalent to the stoning of the pharmakos and has the same effect. Polycrite must die outside the city.” [58] Her tomb was honored by cult, and she was given sacrifices during the Thargelia festival. [59] The legendary scapegoat, the ritual pharmakos, and hero cult intersect here. [60]


Thus the following themes can be found in the pharmakos tradition (including both the actual custom and the aetiological myths of Pharmakos and Androgeus, as they are closely connected to the rite), listed following the methodology of Fontenrose. [61] This list will outline some important recurring ideas, starting with the background of the pharmakos situation (communal, ritual pollution), then defining the pharmakos himself, then outlining the process of his expulsion, ending with his cult. Miscellaneous related themes from legendary or athletic traditions will follow.
1. Ritual pollution. This may be the first in a series of imbalances that need to be righted in the course of ritual or event. This is often caused by a crime:
1a.Crime of hero, pharmakos, as in the case of Pharmakos, killed by Achilles’ friends.
1a1.Criminal impiety, as in temple robbing.
1a1a.Theft of sacred things, hierosulia, as when Pharmakos steals the sacred vessels of Apollo.
1b1.Inhospitality—the crime is committed against a stranger, unjustly, as in the case of Androgeus.
1b2.Murder—the stranger is murdered.
1b3. Deceit—the stranger is murdered deceitfully (Androgeus is ambushed).
2. Communal disaster. This can be plague, famine, invasion, cyclic period of infertility, or any combination of the above.
2a.This can cause the scapegoat’s expulsion/death (as commonly in the ritual sequence). This can be a psychological “plague,” a “plague of shame”; i.e. Androgeus had defeated the native Athenians in their games; they found this intolerable, so they killed him in retribution.
2a1.Plague. Oedipus.
2a2.Famine. Oedipus.
2a3.War. Codrus. Aglauros.
3. Oracle. Often an oracle can be involved in interpreting and prescribing a remedy for the disaster. Thus, an oracle follows Androgeus’ death and the resulting plague/famine. Oracles are common in the legendary tradition.
4. The Worst. In ritual sources, the pharmakos is a beggar, slave, or criminal—the worst. (In legendary sources, a king may dress as a beggar to enact his role as scapegoat, as in the story of Codrus.)
4a.Poor—often the pharmakos is recruited from among the poor.
4a2.Poor or scanty food.
5. The Best. In ritual sources, he is dressed in beautiful clothes (not like a beggar), and is well fed, as if he were aristocracy. He symbolizes health and abundance before expulsion. In legend, royal victims, such as Androgeus, Codrus, and Aglauros.
5a.Sacred. The pharmakos-hero is often holy. He is dressed in holy clothing in the ritual tradition.
5b.Salvation imagery. The pharmakos is the salvation (sōtēria), the therapeia (service, medical treatment). [63]
5c.Victorious. Androgeus has won the Panathenaic games, and thus is the best.
5d.Athlete. Androgeus once again.
5e.Royal. Androgeus is the son of King Minos. This is rare in the ritual tradition (even here we find it only in the aition for the rite), common in the legendary sources.
6. Peripety. The scapegoat can undergo a peripety from best to worst; the well-fed and clothed pharmakos suddenly finds himself a hated outcast. This theme is defined better in the legendary tradition because there is more emphasis on the best, as in the royal victim. King Codrus must dress in rags to be killed, becoming a beggar overnight.
7. Selection by public meeting. In the case of the criminal pharmakos, this public meeting could be in the nature of a trial.
8. Voluntary. However, the pharmakos is sometimes voluntary. This is attested in the ritual tradition, but is almost de rigueur in the legendary tradition.
8a.Ambivalent volition. The pharmakos’ death was seen as both voluntary and involuntary.
9. Procession.
9a.Blows. Cf. stoning below.
10. Expulsion. The pharmakos is always expelled from the city. (Often after procession.) This is perhaps the key theme.
11. Death. Often the pharmakos dies, if only symbolically, especially by
11a.Stoning, or
11b.Being thrown from cliff into sea. This is almost a physical expression of peripety, falling from best to worst.
11d.By sword or knife, as in the case of Androgeus.
12. Sacrifice.
13. Hero cult. As in the case of Androgeus; furthermore, cult awarded to scapegoat heroes is found in the legendary tales, the stories of Codrus and Polycrite.
13a.Thus, immortality of hero, as a usual concomitant of hero cult. [64]
23. Hero is sacred, superhuman.
23d. Resurrection of hero, as in the case of Androgeus.
Though not every story or rite will have all of these themes, the presence of a number of these themes will show some identification with the pharmakos complex. Especially conclusive are the following: 2, communal disaster, 10, expulsion of hero, 4, “worstness” of hero (ambiguous) because of crime or ugliness, and 11a, stoning or 11b, ejection over a cliff. Through the balance of this study, the ejection of an ambiguously worst hero from a city or country (including historical exiles in the case of Sappho or Ovid), or a more final form of ejection, execution, will be considered the central motif of the complex.
It is true that some rituals or ritual types may share characteristics with this complex. The pharmakos comes under the broad classification of purification and sacrifice. Yet though the pharmakos will intersect with other rituals, it also has important idiosyncratic elements. For instance, sacrifice had a form of pelting with grain, but it was not an actual stoning. Stoning was not regularly used as a form of capital execution; it tended to be an extralegal action of enraged mobs. Thus its use on a selected day of the year, or as a premeditated means of averting a plague, differentiates the pharmakos idea. However, any stoning is a manifestation of communal desire for expulsion; the victim dies or leaves. The theme of expulsion is central; the pharmakos is only a striking example of this, on a ritual level, an important pattern in Greek culture.
In addition, some themes are especially characteristic of the legendary scapegoat. These are related to the ritual pharmakos, but are distinct in some ways. Cult and myth cannot be separated, for the aetiological pharmakos legends are included in the preceding list.
Royal. Often the legendary scapegoats are seen as royal, princes or princesses. See 5e.
Virgin. Often the scapegoat is female, young, sexually pure, voluntary, as in the case of Aglauros.
Evil eye. Often the hero’s extraordinary nature (because he is best or worst) attracts attention or envy, the evil eye. Polycrite’s tomb is called baskanou taphos, the tomb of the evil eye. [65]
Fatal, saving gift. The expelled hero is often a fatal gift to an enemy, salvation to his own people. This theme can appear at various points in the narrative. Codrus and Polycrite, for instance, “give” themselves to the enemy. As has been noted earlier, poison is a magical “gift,” dosis, and the German word for poison is Gift, [66] so this then is closely related to 4f, poison imagery.
Divine persecutor/patron. Often the hero is persecuted, killed, and deified with cult by the same god. [67] Cf. the part played by the oracle in the scapegoat stories; they can require both the expulsion of the scapegoat (as in the case of Codrus) and his immortalization through cult.
The hero-athletes studied by Fontenrose again are related, if distinct in some ways, and their stories add a few important themes. The fact that Androgeus, the aition for the Athenian pharmakos, was a hero athlete, and that many hero athletes were stoned, and that legendary pharmakoi received hero cult, make their consideration here useful. They will be an important comparand for the lives of the poets. Bohringer concludes that these legends were based on preexisting myth and cult and were used or revived when the heroes’ cities faced specific crises. She sees a link between these tormented, violent yet “best” and saving figures and the figure of the warrior in Greek myth—both have a duality between “external action and internal rejection, belonging and marginality, defense of and defiance of the community.” [68]
Madness of the hero, as in the case of Cleomedes of Asypalaia. [69]
Murderer. The hero’s crime is murder (cf. 1b2 above). [70]
Imprisonment (Euthycles of Locri). [71]
To take a prominent legendary pharmakos, we may look at Oedipus. Here the crime of the hero (1a), the murder (1a3, 20) of his father, creates ritual pollution (1). This causes a communal disaster (2, 2a), plague and famine. Oedipus the king (14) sends to the Delphic oracle (3). Though there is no trial per se in the myth, there is a legal investigation (cf. 7), headed up by Oedipus himself, that eventually convicts him of the crime. Oedipus expels himself voluntarily (10, 10a, 8) from Thebes (eventually). He is the king, the best (5), but he turns out to be a patricide, the worst (4), undergoes a peripety (6), and is expelled from the city. [72] In Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus (433–443) he wishes for stoning (11a); he is viewed as a sacrifice (12). He eventually receives hero cult (13), [73] and like Androgeus, becomes a revenant (23d). [74] This is a typical legendary pharmakos pattern, which is characterized by the bestness, the royalty, of the hero, his simultaneous worstness and encapsulation of worstness, the voluntary expulsion, and hero cult. [75]


[ back ] 1. On the pharmakos custom, the treatments I have used the most are Burkert 1979:59–77; Vernant 1981; Bremmer 1983b; and Burkert 1985:82–84. Other useful sources are Nilsson 1967 1:107–110; Gebhard 1926; Höfer 1884; Farnell 1896 4:268–284; Wiechers 1961:31–43; Guépin 1968:81–100; Deubner 1932:179–198; Frazer 1911 vol. IX, especially 252–274; Harrison 1922:95–119; Murray 1934:13–16, 253–258; O’Connor-Visser 1987:211–232; Hughes 1991:139–165 (mainly concerned with the question of whether the pharmakos was killed); Parker 1983:257–280; Ogden 1997:15–23 (even including a few pages on Aesop and “scapegoat-poets,” 38–40, 44–46) and passim; Faraone 1992:96–100. Two influential books that devote much attention to the pharmakos are Girard 1977:9, 94–98, 293–294, 298, 307, and Derrida 1981:128–134. For the literary Nachleben of the pharmakos, see Frye 1957: 41–48, 148–149 and Vickery 1972. Further bibliography can be found in Burkert 1985:379–380, 82–84; Derrida 1981:130n56; Höfer 1884:2276–2277. For Roman “rituals of exclusion,” see Brelich 1949/50. “Pharmakos theory” has begun to be applied to political history, see Ogden 1997; Rosenbloom 2002.
[ back ] 2. Lloyd 1979:44n184; Burkert 1979:65; Derrida 1981:132n59; 131 on the ambiguity of the concept of poison in Greece and Rome, quoting Aulus Gellius Attic Nights 12.9 and others.
[ back ] 3. For pharmakos as a term of abuse in comedy, see Harrison 1922:97; but it is already a term of abuse in our earliest attestation, Hipponax, 5–10W.
[ back ] 4. For pharmakos as therapeia, cf. theraps, therapōn, ‘attendant, servant’, which is probably, but not certainly, cognate with Hittite tarpassa-, tarpa(na)lli-, ‘substitute victim’. Cf. Tischler 1993:27–32. Nagy and others have interpreted Patroclus as Achilles’ substitute victim; see Nagy 1979:292–297; 33 and 1983:193–194; Lowenstam 1981:126–178. However, cf. Greenhalgh 1982:81–90. It is true that therapōn is nowhere found in Greek with the meaning, ‘substitute victim’. But, as the Greek-Hittite cognate (if it is valid) shows, there can be a relationship between the concept of servant and the concept of substitute victim. Cf. the story of Tamun, “the Stump,” in chapter 17.
[ back ] 5. See also Dodds 1951:59n88; Harrison 1922:108. Cf. the principle, “he that wounds shall make whole,” discussed in Fontenrose 1978:78–79; Puhvel 1987:134 and 1976:20–22.
[ back ] 6. Cf. the Aenianes’ myth of stoning their king because of a disastrous drought, Plutarch Greek Questions 297b–c, 294a; Burkert 1979:66; and Apollonius’ stoning of a beggar during an Ephesian plague (Philostratus Life of Apollonius 4.10: “the plague fell upon the Ephesians, and nothing could protect them from it,” ἡ νόσος τοῖς Ἐφησίοις ἐνέπεσε καὶ οὐδὲν ἦν πρὸς αὐτὴν αὔταρκες). For the connection between famine (limos) and plague (loimos), see Bremmer 1983b:301n17.
[ back ] 7. Petronius fragment 1 nam Massilienses quotiens pestilentia laborabant .
[ back ] 8. Tzetzes Chiliades (“Thousands”) 5.728: εἴτ’ οὖν λιμός, εἴτε λοιμός, εἴτε καὶ βλάβος ἄλλο.
[ back ] 9. Harpocration, s.v. pharmakos; also at Abdera, Scholia in Ovid Ibis 467 (La Penna), in uno quoque anno … in Kalendis Ianuarii, “every year … at the Kalends of January”; and at Leucas, Strabo Geography 10.2.9, kat’ eniauton, “every year.” See Burkert 1979:65.
[ back ] 10. Cf. Wiechers 1961:34–35; Bremmer 1983b:303; Garland 1995:23–26. Scholia on Aristophanes Knights 1136c: λίαν ἀγεννεῖς καὶ πένητας καὶ ἀχρήστους, “exceedingly low-born, penniless, and useless,” following text in Koster 1969 ad loc.
[ back ] 11. Geography 10.2.9, τινα τῶν ἐν αἰτίαις ὄντων. See also Ogden 1997:16nn20–21.
[ back ] 12. Convivial Questions 6.8.1 (693f); Burkert 1979:65. The rite at Chaeronea was not technically a pharmakos rite, but it was close to it; cf. Deubner 1932:195; Bremmer 1983b:302, “The Colophonian pharmakos ate slave’s food” (Hipponax 8, 26.6, 115.8W), and Bremmer 1983b:305n41; Deubner 1932:182nn7, 8, 9.
[ back ] 13. Tzetzes Chiliades 5.731, τὸν πάντων ἀμορφότερον.
[ back ] 14. τὸν ἀηδέστατον καὶ παρὰ τῆς φύσεως ἐπιβεβουλευμένον πηρόν, χωλόν, τοὺς τοιούτους … ἔθυον, Scholia in Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes 680, cf. Deubner 1932:184; Scholia in Aristophanes Frogs 742: “vile men and those mistreated by nature,” τοὺς γὰρ φαύλους καὶ παρὰ τῆς φύσεως ἐπιβεβουλευομένους.
[ back ] 15. Harpocration, s.v. pharmakos, δύο ἄνδρας ἐξῆγον καθάρσια ἐσομένους τῆς πόλεως ἐν τοῖς Θαργηλίοις, ἕνα μὲν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνδρῶν, ἕνα δὲ ὑπὲρ τῶν γυναικῶν. Also, Hesychius s.v. pharmakoi: “Pharmakoi: those who cleanse, cleansing the cities thoroughly [perikathairontes], a man and a woman.” φαρμακοί, καθαρτήριοι, περικαθαίροντες τὰς πόλεις, ἀνὴρ καὶ γυνή. This latter reference could be a misunderstanding of the first. Cf. Bremmer 1983b:301n12, Deubner 1932:179–180; Frazer 1911:254; Guépin 1968:89.
[ back ] 16. E.g. Hipponax 128W, psēphidiboulēi dēmosiēi, “stoned [?] … by public decree”; see Wiechers 1961:36. See below, chapter 4 (Hipponax). Cf. the name Polycrite, ‘she who was chosen by many’, or ‘much chosen’ or ‘chosen out of many’, discussed by Bremmer 1983b:305; Burkert 1979:73. Cf. Fontenrose 1968:78 (themes H, I), 92. Ostracism, involving a public vote, has been compared to the pharmakos custom, see Vernant 1981:205n66; Burkert 1985:83; Ranulf 1933:132–141.
[ back ] 17. Cf. Frazer 1911:255n1; 1 Corinthians 4.13.
[ back ] 18. See Bremmer 1983b:302n18, and LSJ s.v.
[ back ] 19. Callimachus Aetia fragment 90 (Pf.), diēgēsis II, Αβδήροις ὠνητὸς ἄνθρωπος καθάρσιον τῆς πόλεως. Also, Harpocration, s.v. pharmakos, quoting Ister: … to be purification [katharsia]of the city” καθάρσια ἐσομένους τῆς πόλεως ; “… pharmakoi, who indeed cleanse [kathairousi] the cities by their deaths”; … φαρμακούς, οἵπερ καθαίρουσι τὰς πόλεις τῷ ἑαυτῶν φόνῳ, Scholia on Aristophanes Knights, at 1136c; Suda, s.v. katharma: “… for the purification [katharmou] of the city they killed a man who was adorned, whom they called katharma.” Ὑπὲρ δὲ καθαρμοῦ πόλεως ἀνῄρουν ἐστολισμένον τινά, ὅν ἐκάλουν κάθαρμα. Also, Lysias 6.53; Tzetzes Chiliades 726, 730, 761. See Else 1957:224–232 and 421–431 for an introduction to the concept of katharsis in Greece; as katharsis is a key element in tragedy, it is not surprising that the pharmakos pattern has been analyzed in a number of Greek tragedies—see especially Vernant 1981:200–205 (Oedipus), Pucci 1990; Foley 1993 (Oedipus, analyzing the problem of the ending), also Segal 1981:141, 46–51 (Antigone, Ajax); Dodds 1953:196, 215 and Seaford 1994:313–318 (Pentheus). Cf. Vickers 1973:609–616; Parker 1983; Schmitt 1921.
[ back ] 20. Bremmer 1983b:305; Burkert 1979:65. Cf. Plato Apology 36d–e, with notes by Dyer 1976:106.
[ back ] 21. Petronius fragment 1, cf. Frazer 1911:253.
[ back ] 22. Helladius ad Photius Bibliotheca 534a (Henry ed.); Bremmer 1983b:301.
[ back ] 23. Helladius ad Photius Bibliotheca 534a (Henry ed.).
[ back ] 24. Ogden 1997:21, cf. Seaford 1994:313–318.
[ back ] 25. Petronius fragment 1; Callimachus fragment 90, diēgēsis, cf. Dio Chrysostom 8.14; Bremmer 1983b:313–314.
[ back ] 26. Callimachus fragment 90, diēgēsis; Ister, in Harpocration, s.v. pharmakos; Murray 1934:326–331; Rotolo 1980. See Rowland’s discussion of expulsion from a community, 1980:91–94.
[ back ] 27. Hirzel 1909:244, cf. Lloyd-Jones 1968:136; Gras 1984:75–88; Steiner 1995. For stoning generally, Lactantius on Statius Thebaid 10.793, saxis occidebatus a populo, “he was killed by the people with stones”; Callimachus fragment 90, diēgēsis II 29–40; Burkert 1979:67; Rowland 1980:95–96; Visser 1982:404–405n5, 408–409; Pease 1918:5–18; Fehling 1974:59–80; Barkan 1979:41–53; Eitrem 1977:282–294; Schadewaldt 1936:29. See below on Hipponax, chapter 4.
[ back ] 28. Hipponax 5–6W; Bremmer 1983b:300, 301; cf. Frazer 1911:257–258. For the importance of beating in the pharmakos rite, see Harrison 1922:100–101.
[ back ] 29. See the following note; Bremmer 1983b:315–317; Murray 1934:326–331; below, app. A. For precipitation over a cliff, often linked with stoning, Steiner 1995, cf. Barkan 1979:54–55. See also Frazer 1913 3:417, at 4.22.7.
[ back ] 30. Scholiast on Ovid Ibis 467, b. Also, Scholia on Aristophanes Knights 1136c: ethuon: “they killed [or “sacrificed”].” Scholia on Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes 680, ethuon “they killed [or “sacrificed”]” as quoted in Wiechers 1961:34. Lactantius on Statius Thebaid X 793: hostia humana “human sacrifice”; Tzetzes Chiliades 5.731: tēn thusian, “the sacrifice.” Murray 1934:328–329, cf. 32–35; Bremmer 1983b:315–318; Vernant 1981:200n41. Barkan notes that while some scholars (e.g. Hirzel) have suggested that stoning outside the city took place so that the victim might escape, the evidence does not support such an idea, 1979:52.
[ back ] 31. Other sources on Androgeus are Scholiast on Plato Minos 321a; Diodorus Siculus 4.60–61; Zenobius 4.6, in Leutsch and Schneidewin 1958–1961 1:85; Scholiast on Homer Iliad XVIII 590; Plutarch Theseus 15; Pausanias 1.27.9–10; Servius on Virgil Aeneid 6.14; and Lactantius on Statius Achilleid 192. For discussion see Gantz 1993:262; Gebhard 1926:18–19; Murray 1934:328; Toepffer 1893; Kerényi 1959:227; Frazer 1921 2:116.
[ back ] 32. Diodorus Siculus 4.60: ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἀγῶσι νικήσας τοὺς ἀθλητὰς ἅπαντας.
[ back ] 33. Apollodorus 3.15.7: πρὸς τῶν ἀγωνιστῶν ἐνεδρευθέντα διὰ φθόνον ἀπολέσθαι. Cf. Gantz 1993:262.
[ back ] 34. Amelesagoras of Athens, FGH 330 F 2 (Kerameikos); Pausanias 1.1.4; Clement of Alexandria Hortatory Address to the Greeks 26A; Callimachus fragment 103 Pfeiffer; Toepffer 1893; Deubner 1932:181n3; Kearns 1989:149, 38–41. For hero cult generally, see Clay 2004; Ekroth 2002; Boehringer 2001; Hägg 1999; Larson 1995; Antonaccio 1995, 1993; Kearns 1989; Burkert 1985:203–208; Nagy 1979; Bremmer 1978; Coldstream 1976; Damon 1974; Fontenrose 1968; Brelich 1958; Hack 1929; Farnell 1921; Pfister 1909–1912.
[ back ] 35. Fontenrose 1968. Heracles was a famous athlete, and exemplifies some of Fontenrose’s crucial motifs (1968:86), cf. below, ch. 16. Fontenrose mentions neither Androgeus nor the pharmakos in his rich paper. See also Bohringer 1979; Kurke 1993. For connections between athletes and war (victorious athletes who became generals), Kurke 1993:136–137.
[ back ] 36. Apollodorus 3.15.7; Diodorus Siculus 4.60.5.
[ back ] 37. Apollodorus 3.15.7.
[ back ] 38. Hyginus Fables 41; Frazer 1921 2:117n1. Cf. the story of Codrus, below, and the death of Archilochus, ch. 3.
[ back ] 39. Apollodorus 3.15.8. γενομένου δὲ τῇ πόλει λιμοῦ τε καὶ λοιμοῦ, “When the city was afflicted by famine and plague …”
[ back ] 40. Plutarch Theseus 15.1, trans. Perrin, modified; ὅτι μὲν οὖν Ἀνδρόγεω περὶ τὴν Ἀττικὴν ἀποθανεῖν δόλῳ δόξαντος, ὅ τε Μίνως πολλὰ κακὰ πολεμῶν εἰργάζετο τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ τὸ δαιμόνιον ἔφθειρε τὴν χώραν (ἀφορία τε γὰρ καὶ νόσος ἐνέσκηψε πολλὴ καὶ ἀνέδυσαν οἱ ποταμοί). For the motif of offering young men and women (who often give themselves up willingly) to allay disasters, see below on mythical scapegoat patterns, and Frazer 1921 2.118n1; 111n2.
[ back ] 41. Et deus exstinctum Cressis Epidaurius herbis / restituit patriis Androgeona focis. Cf. Richardson 1977 ad loc.
[ back ] 42. Apollodorus 3.3, 3.10.3–4, with Frazer’s notes.
[ back ] 43. Cf. Gebhard 1926:16; Jackson 1994. For the theme of stealing temple cups, see on Aesop, chapter 2 below. Pharmakos may have ties to Thersites, whom Achilles also kills (but not for stealing Apollo’s cups, and not by stoning). See chapter 16 below, on Achilles.
[ back ] 44. See Burkert 1979:72–77; Larson 1995, chapters 5 and 6.
[ back ] 45. Vernant 1981.
[ back ] 46. Pherecydes FGH 3 F 154; Hellanicus FGH 323a F 23; Plato Symposium 208d; Lycurgus Against Leocrates 84; a vase dated ca. 430 BC, the name vase of the Codrus painter, Bologna PU 273. For discussion of Codrus, see Pease 1955 2:1083; Fontenrose 1978:374(L49); Burkert 1979:62–63; Robertson 1988:224–230; Kearns 1989:56, 178; Kearns 1990:328–329, 336; Sourvinou-Inwood 1990 (an interpretation of Bologna PU 273). See also the story of Leonidas and the oracle at Thermopylae, Herodotus 7.220.3–4; Fontenrose 1978:77(Q152); Mikalson 2003:64. In Fontenrose’s view, here the oracle is a post eventum element brought into the tale to assimilate Leonidas to Codrus. For a mythical king stoned during a drought, see Plutarch Greek Questions 26 (297 b–c), 13 (294a).
[ back ] 47. Pausanias writes that when Heracles and the Thebans were preparing to engage in battle with the Orchomenians, “an oracle was delivered to them that success in the war would be theirs if their citizen of the most noble descent would consent to die by his own hand,” 9.17.1, trans. W. H. S. Jones, λόγιόν σφισιν ἦλθεν ἔσεσθαι τοῦ πολέμου κράτος ἀποθανεῖν αὐτοχειρίᾳ θελήσαντος, ὃς ἂν τῶν ἀστῶν ἐπιφανέστατος κατὰ γένους ἀξίωμα ᾖ. (The daughters of the most genealogically distinguished man willingly consent to die, then receive hero cult.) In a similar story, a daughter of Heracles, Macaria, in response to an oracle, kills herself to give the Athenians victory in a war against Sparta, Pausanias 1.32.6, Kearns 1989:58; Larson 1995:101. Cf. the daughters of Antipoenus, Pausanias 9.17.1. The story of Oedipus is an obvious example of consulting an oracle in order to alleviate a plague, only to have it require the expulsion of a sinful pollutant from the city. Cf. Bremmer 1983b:305; Fontenrose 1968:92.
[ back ] 48. For the scapegoat and war, see preceding note. In Pausanias 1.32.4–6, those killed in the battle of Marathon receive hero cult, cf. Kearns 1989:55, 183, Ekroth 2002:75–77. The dead at Plataea received similar honors, Thucydides 3.58.4, Plutarch Aristides 21.2–5, cf. Ekroth 2002:77–78, 94–96, 102, 124–126. For cult awarded to “war dead” generally, Ekroth 2002:204, 258–262, 339. See below chapter 11 (Tyrtaeus), and chapter 18. See also Rohde 1925 1:131; Stern 1991; Herodotus 7.134–144, 3.153–163, in which Zopyrus, a Persian noble, mutilates himself, cutting off nose and ears, to bring about Babylon’s fall. How and Wells (1928 1.300) accept the story’s possible historicity; Stern (1991:308n19) rejects this possibility.
[ back ] 49. Cicero Tusculan Disputations 1.48.116. See below, chapter 3, on Archilochus; chapter 11, on Tyrtaeus.
[ back ] 50. Polycrite is an example, see below and above, this chapter; Androgeus is a prince, see above. Cf. Burkert 1979:71n29; Bremmer 1983b:302–305; Loraux 1987a:31–48; Kearns 1989:56–58; Hughes 1991:71–138.
[ back ] 51. Kearns 1990.
[ back ] 52. Philochorus FGH 328 F 105–106; Burkert 1983:67–68; Kearns 1989:139–140, 23–27, 57–63; Kearns 1990:330, 341; Larson 1995:40–41, 102. See also Herodotus 8.53; Demosthenes 19.303. For the more well-known tradition about Aglauros’ death after disobediently opening the box enclosing the snake-guarded Erichthonius, which includes the leap off the cliff, but which gives no context for the ephebes’ oath, or for the three sisters’ subsequent reputation as nurturers of children, see Euripides Ion 270–274; Apollodorus 3.15.6, with Frazer’s notes; Kron 1981 with bibliography; Burkert 1983:150–154; Gantz 1993:234–238. Larson (1995:40–41) concludes that Aglauros did not have close ties to the Erichthonius complex.
[ back ] 53. Euripides Erechtheus fragment 370 K; Apollodorus 3.15.4; Kearns 1989:201–202, 59–63; Larson 1995:102; Ekroth 2002:258. The willing self-sacrifice is ambiguous, as often.
[ back ] 54. In Greece and Rome it is a common legendary theme, see preceding notes. Burkert discusses the “invasion” theme in Hittite ritual, 1979:60–61; ANET 347; Gurney 1977:47–52.
[ back ] 55. According to Petronius, fragment 1, this was the custom in Massilia, though the victim was poor and was fed for a year before expulsion. Other sources temper the willingness of the victim by speaking of rewards, e.g. Lactantius on Statius Thebaid 10.793.
[ back ] 56. Bremmer 1983b:307–308. Cf. Schmitt 1921, O’Connor-Visser 1987, Burkert 1985:56, 1983:4, 1979:71; Girard 1986:63–67; see on Codrus above.
[ back ] 57. IG II2 4258 (tomb at the foot of the Acropolis); IG I3 84 (temenos of Codrus, Neleus, and Basile); Sokolowski 1969 no. 14, 418/417 BC; cf. Hooker 1960:115; Burkert 1979:62n14; Kearns 1989:178.
[ back ] 58. 1979:73, cf. 173n1 for further references and discussion; Bremmer 1983b:303; Larson 1995:136. There is a comparable odd “clothes stoning” in the historical tradition: the death of Draco, see Suda, s.v. Drakon. “Draco, Athenian lawgiver. He came to Aegina to help with their legislation, and when he was acclaimed by the Aeginians in the theater they threw so many hats, coats and garments upon his head that he was smothered, and he was buried in that very theater.” Δράκων, Ἀθηναῖος νομοθέτης. οὗτος εἰς Αἴγιναν ἐπὶ νομοθεσίαις εὐφημούμενος ὑπὸ τῶν Αἰγινητῶν ἐν τῷ θεάτρῳ ἐπιρριψάντων αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν πετάσους πλείονας καὶ χιτῶνας καὶ ἱμάτια ἀπεπνίγη καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐτάφη τῷ θεάτρῷ. Cf. Szegedy-Maszak 1978:207n42. The acclamation is a capital sentence. See below, chapter 7 on ironic, remarkable deaths.
[ back ] 59. Parthenius 9.
[ back ] 60. Cf. the daughters of Erechtheus, who after having died to save Athens from defeat in war, are, with Erechtheus their sacrificer, “reckoned among the gods at Athens,” ιn numero deorum sunt …, Cicero On the Nature of the Gods 3.19.50; cf. Kearns 1989:59–60; van den Bruwaene 1970 3:89–90n175; Pease 1955 2:1084; Frazer 1921 2:111n2. Wineless sacrifices were awarded the daughters in Athens. (Scholia on Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 100.)
[ back ] 61. See Fontenrose 1968 and 1959. Such listings have been used less for ritual than for myth.
[ back ] 63. Sōtēria: Photius, s.v. peripsēma. Therapeia, see above.
[ back ] 64. See e.g. Pausanias 6.6.4–10; Fontenrose 1968:81.
[ back ] 65. Plutarch On the Virtues of Women 17 (254e). Cf. Rowland 1980:45–46; Dundes 1980. Deformed men have been used to ward off the evil eye, Welsford 1936:61.
[ back ] 66. Cf. Antiphon 1.18 (a dosis pharmakou, “dose [or “gift”] of poison”); Dioscorides Medical Treatise 2.171 (a dosis of medicine).
[ back ] 67. Cf. Burkert 1983:77, Burkert 1966:102–104; Nagy 1979:121, 305–307; also Burkert 1983:133, 119, 177 (god/victim equation).
[ back ] 68. Bohringer 1979:18. See especially chapter 18 below.
[ back ] 69. Pausanias 6.9.6–8; discussion and further references in Fontenrose 1968:73. Cf. below, chapter 8, on Sappho.
[ back ] 70. See previous note.
[ back ] 71. Callimachus fragment 84–85 Pf. with diēgēsis; Oenomaus at Eusebius Preparation for the Gospel 5.34, p. 232bc, quoted by Pfeiffer at Callimachus fragment 84–85; Fontenrose 1968:74.
[ back ] 72. Famously, not at the end of the extant Oedipus the King. See Hester 1984.
[ back ] 73. For Oedipus’ legend and cult, see Edmunds 1981; Gantz 1993:492–502 (many variants, including Oedipus dying in battle, Iliad XXIII 677–680).
[ back ] 74. Euripides Phoenician Women 1540–1545; Edmunds 1981:230.
[ back ] 75. See also for Oedipus as scapegoat Vernant 1981:200–205, Pucci 1990; Foley 1993; Seaford 1994:130–133. Griffith 1993 dissents.