Chapter 11. Tyrtaeus: The Lame General

Virtually all critics agree that the story of Tyrtaeus, in which the lame Athenian schoolmaster is sent to the Spartans as a joke, only to become their general in the Second Messenian War, is unhistorical—a piece of Attic propaganda, perhaps, to account for the fact that the Spartans even produced a poet. [1] H. J. Rose is typical: “No attention need be paid to the absurd Athenian story … that he was an Athenian, still less to the absurder one … that he was lame Athenian schoolmaster.” [2] But if the deceptively simple and amusing story of Tyrtaeus’ Cinderella-type military career may seem trivial at first glance, we nevertheless find underlying it an almost classic expression of the radical exclusion of the poet—just as the Ionic pharmakos is driven out of the city because he is deformed and despised, so Tyrtaeus is excluded from Athens because he is lame, stupid, of low birth, and mad; he is in fact given to Sparta as a joke. While thus far, Tyrtaeus’ assimilation to the scapegoat repeats an Aesopic, Hipponactian pattern, his assimilation to victorious warrior adds a unique twist to the pattern, linking him somewhat to Archilochus, Alcaeus, and Solon, and reflecting parallel aspects of the poet and warrior in archaic Greece.
The idea that Tyrtaeus was an Athenian was well known by the time of Plato. The kernel of the story is found in the Laws 1 (629a): “Let us cite Tyrtaeus as an authority, who was an Athenian by birth, but who became a citizen of the Lacedaemonians.” [3] Lycurgus, speaking not much later, refers to the Tyrtaeus legend as being widespread among the Greeks: “For who of the Hellenes does not know that they [the Spartans] took Tyrtaeus as general from our city, with whom they conquered their enemies, and they organized the young men in military order, not only for the danger they were facing, but for all time, counseling well?” [4] If the story of Tyrtaeus as Athenianborn Spartan general is known by all the Greeks (not just the Athenians) by the time of Lycurgus, speaking in the fourth century, it obviously had a prehistory as an oral tale in at least the fifth century BC, and probably earlier. [5]
C. M. Bowra’s suggestion that Plato invented the tale (which then was further embellished by Rhianus) thus seems untenable. [6] Even Plato’s Athenian speaks as if the story is already well known. It is much more likely that the story started as an oral tradition which aligned neatly with the tendency for Sparta to import poets. [7]
Pausanias (4.15.6) gives a fuller account of the legend:
Ἐγένετο δὲ καὶ Λακεδαιμονίοις μάντευμα ἐκ Δελφῶν τὸν Ἀθηναῖον ἐπάγεσθαι σύμβουλον. ἀποστέλλουσιν οὖν παρὰ τοὺς Ἀθηναίους τόν τε χρησμὸν ἀπαγγελοῦντας καὶ ἄνδρα αἰτοῦντας παραινέσοντα ἃ χρή σφισιν. Ἀθηναῖοι δὲ οὐδέτερα θέλοντες, οὔτε Λακεδαιμονίους ἄνευ μεγάλων κινδύνων προσλαβεῖν μοῖραν τῶν ἐν Πελοποννήσῳ τὴν ἀρίστην οὔτε αὐτοὶ παρακοῦσαι τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς ταῦτα ἐξευρίσκουσι· καὶ ἦν γὰρ Τυρταῖος διδάσκαλος γραμμάτων νοῦν τε ἥκιστα ἔχειν δοκῶν καὶ τὸν ἕτερον τῶν ποδῶν χωλός, τοῦτον ἀποστέλλουσιν ἐς Σπάρτην. ὁ δὲ ἀφικόμενος ἰδίᾳ τε τοῖς ἐν τέλει καὶ συνάγων ὁπόσους τύχοι καὶ τὰ ἐλεγεῖα καὶ τὰ ἔπη σφίσι τὰ ἀνάπαιστα ᾖδεν.
There was an oracle from Delphi to the Lacedaemonians that they should bring in “the Athenian” as advisor. Therefore they sent messengers to the Athenians announcing the oracle and asking for a man to advise them in what they should do. But the Athenians, not desiring either of these things, that the Lacedaemonians should capture the best part of the lands in the Peloponnese without great dangers, or, on the other hand, that they should disobey the god, in response sought a solution. Since Tyrtaeus was a teacher of letters who seemed to have very little intelligence and was lame in one foot, they sent him to Sparta. He, when he had arrived, gathered together as many as he came upon, both officially and in private, and sang his elegies and anapests to them. [8]
Tyrtaeus is later crucial in persuading (metepeithen) the Spartans not to give up the war after the battle of the Boar’s Tomb, by “reciting his poems” (elegeia aidōn) and bringing helots into the Spartan army (4.16.6).
Most accept Athens as the source of the tale; for instance, Lefkowitz interprets the story as showing that Sparta’s “most important cultural legacy, the elegies of Tyrtaeus, were the result of Athenian talent and training.” [9] On the other hand, the story portrays the Delphic oracle helping the Spartans in their imperialism, and exhibits the Athenians in an uncomplimentary light, furthering the Spartan cause while trying to play a joke on them. When the joke is on the Athenians, finally, it is a fitting punishment for trying to subvert the oracle. The outwitting of those who are trying to persecute the underdog, here the lame poet, is a common folktale motif, [10] another hint that the legend started as an oral story. Schwartz argues that the tale (coming to Athens around 370 BC as part of a book of Tyrtaeus’ poems) had a Spartan origin, serving as propaganda for Sparta’s right to possess Messenia, recently taken from them after Leuctra. [11] But this interpretation would have the Spartans flattering the Athenians, while the story portrays the Athenians as would-be oracle subverters who are outwitted—a theme that would be quite tactless if intended as propaganda—not, in fact, a “klug ausgedachte … Manöver.” [12] Thomas Figueira suggests a complex scenario for the tale, including three original sources and two stages: propaganda by fifth-century Spartans, “self-proclaimed Messenians,” and Attic Laconizers (in which Tyrtaeus is a friendly general from Athens); then this propaganda has to be counteracted by taking the received story and making Tyrtaeus lame and an Athenian mistake. [13] This is attractive, but I continue to be impressed by how germane the lame general is to the story, and how it gives point to an amusing oral tale.
Using all of the ancient variants, we may create a composite account of the lame Tyrtaeus, emphasizing elements of special interest. The poet is by all accounts the worst possible human being, both physically and psychically. He is lame (Pausanias, Suda, Iustinus [claudo pede], Porphyrio [clodum], “Acro” [claudum]). Porphyrio intensifies this: Tyrtaeus is one-eyed (luscum) and “wholly deformed in his limbs” (omni parte membrorum deformis); “Acro” adds that he is frail in body (corpore … debilis). He is of mean birth (eutelēs tēn tukhēn, Platonic Scholiast), and mentally impaired—he has the “least” wits of any Athenian (Pausanias); Diogenes Laertius even speaks of him as “mad” (parakoptein, 2.43). [14] There is perhaps an association of simplemindedness in his profession, schoolteacher (didaskalos grammatōn, Pausanias; grammatistēs, Platonic Scholiast), for the teacher of grammata teaches the simplest lessons, reading and writing, to the youngest children. The stereotype of the simpleminded schoolmaster survived into American folklore in the figure of Irving’s Ichabod Crane. Apparently, the typical Athenian schoolmaster was poorly paid, thus adding poverty to the picture of Tyrtaeus’ degraded state in Athens. Demosthenes taunts Aeschines with his life of utter poverty when his father was a teacher’s assistant. [15]
As a result of these mean origins, deformity, dimwittedness, insanity, and poverty, Tyrtaeus is thoroughly despised by all—kataphronoumenos en Athēnais (Platonic Scholiast). His fellow townsmen mock him for his deformity, quem deformem riderent (Porphyrio). [16] In some sources, Tyrtaeus seems to have been known as a poet already in Athens. [17]
Meanwhile, the Spartans have reached their wits’ end in the Second Messenian War, and are thoroughly demoralized; they apply to Delphi for advice. Apollo (Platonic Scholiast) tells them they must take, as general (stratēgos, Lycurgus, Suda; hēgemona, Diodorus Siculus 8.27.1; 15.66.3; dux, Ampelius, Orosius, “Acro”), ally (summakhian, Themistius; cf. Porphyrio, auxilio), or advisor (sumboulon, Pausanias, Platonic Scholiast), an Athenian, or the Athenian (Pausanias), or perhaps Tyrtaeus was mentioned specifically by the oracle (Platonic Scholiast). Messengers are sent to Athens with the news; the Athenians, not wanting to help Sparta, but not wanting to disobey the oracle, search through their population to find (exeuriskousi, Pausanias) the man least likely to succeed in helping the Spartans. Tyrtaeus is chosen—the worst of the Athenians, as it were. He is “given” to the Spartans as their leader (ἡγεμὼν ἐδόθη τοῖς Σπαρτιάταις, Diodorus Siculus). Thus the worst, the most deformed and insane, is excluded from the community; in effect Tyrtaeus is exiled. He is sent to Sparta as a joke—per ludibrium missus (Ampelius), as an insult to the Spartans, an emblem of hatred, in contemptum Spartanorum (Iustinus), in contumeliam (“Acro”). [18]
But “the oracles did not deceive in what they had promised” (sed oracula, quae promiserant, non frustrata sunt, “Acro”)—perhaps a central theme of this story. [19] In offering Tyrtaeus, the Athenians are not mocking the Spartans alone; they are also mocking Delphi, trying to subvert the response of the oracle. Tyrtaeus is a doubly ambiguous gift. While the Athenians give him to the Spartans as the negative image of what the Lacedaemonians want, a deformed joke in human form, the oracular god will invert this image into an authentic Spartan savior—turning him into something of a joke on the Athenians. The Spartans conquer the Messenians through Tyrtaeus’ influence—either through his military leadership [20] or through his paraenetic poetry, or through a combination of the two. Arriving at Sparta, the poet “becomes inspired” (epipnous genomenos, Platonic Scholiast), and is able to transmit this inspiration to others—Plutarch says of the young men of Sparta that “being filled with divine fury [enthousiasmou] by his poems, they rushed into any danger.” [21] The Spartans are “spurred forward” (protrapentes) by Tyrtaeus, and eagerly turn to military discipline (Diodorus Siculus 8.27). The kings are on the point of reducing the army when Tyrtaeus intervenes, and infuses the soldiers with such great ardor that they think no longer of survival, but of burial. [22] Thus the poet is mad before coming to Sparta, becomes “inspired” when he arrives there, and infuses (martial) inspiration into soldiers. He is involved with heightened emotion bordering on madness on both a poetic and a martial plane; in fact, poetic and martial madness are combined in him. Luginbill describes the paraenetic message in the Tyrtaean corpus (especially poems 12 and 10) as “fame versus shame.” Courageous warfare brings honor; retreat brings dishonor. [23]
We know little else about the legendary Tyrtaeus, after the defeat of the Messenians. Philodemus only tells us that he was preeminently honored by the Spartans for his poetry (προτετιμ[ηκέ]ναι διὰ μουσικὴν). [24]
We might tentatively suggest at this point a possible background for the rise of the Tyrtaeus legend as we have it. If we rule out the idea that Tyrtaeus really was Athenian, then this kernel of the story might come from Athens; but it could also come from a source antagonistic to Sparta which saw Athens as a logical homeland for a poet. The rest of the story—Tyrtaeus as stupid, deformed schoolteacher, sent to Sparta as a joke, to subvert the Delphic oracle—is probably not Athenian, for it portrays the Athenians as irreverent and foolish. If the kernel of the story is Athenian, this is a countertradition, possibly from Sparta, that attached itself to the original idea to subvert it. But the whole tradition could easily come from one anti-Spartan source, which had no great respect for Athens either. So we would have a small, provincial city thumbing its nose amusingly at Greece’s two superpowers through this tale.
Messenia is a logical candidate for such a small state. It is well established that Messenia is the source of much of the legendary history of the Second Messenian War, with its Messenian hero Aristomenes. Messenian legend, with its anti-Spartan bias, was a prime source for Callisthenes, who influenced Ephorus, who influenced later historiographers, including Rhianus, who composed a verse epic on the Second Messenian War. This was summarized in prose, and used by Pausanias. Though this legendary history may have received a powerful impetus from the revived Messenia after Leuctra, it certainly was not concocted at that time. It probably developed and spread as oral tradition through the sixth and fifth centuries till it appeared in the written record.
Thus the Tyrtaeus tale might be whole-cloth anti-Spartan and anti-Athenian, with a Messenian source, though a more complex narrative development (an Athenian tale with anti-Athenian accretions?) cannot be ruled out. At some point, typical heroizing themes attached to Tyrtaeus—his exploits in battle, as general or poet; scapegoat themes. The resulting amusing and striking folk tale gained a wide popularity and currency in Greece, and eventually found its way into Plato, Lycurgus, and the Hellenistic written record.
The first part of Tyrtaeus’ tale is a somewhat typical assimilation of the poet to scapegoat—the poet is revolting and despised, and must be gotten rid of. Aesop, as we have noted, is likewise ugly and misshapen, as was the Ionic pharmakos. Like the pharmakos, Tyrtaeus was of low status and impoverished. Like the pharmakos, he is chosen carefully (exeuriskousi, Pausanias) as the very worst of the community. He is despised by all (kataphroumenos), and the community, after it has singled him out, mocks him with laughter. [25] He is sent out of the city as a joke—the worst when the Spartans had asked for a general, the best.
When Tyrtaeus becomes the best, the Spartan general-counselor, we have a reversal of the Oedipal scapegoat pattern studied by Vernant, [26] in which Oedipus, king and savior of Thebes, is found to be incestuous and a patricide, and therefore must be excluded from the city by decree of Delphi. Tyrtaeus, on the other hand, starts as the least, lame and mad, and, by decree of Delphi, becomes a victorious general and powerful paraenetic poet, the savior of Sparta. Despite the inversion, Oedipus and Tyrtaeus both embody stark contradictions. [27]
One of the poles of contradictions mediated in the person of Tyrtaeus is the warrior; he is deformed, excluded, insane, least; a poet; and a Spartan general. This suggests an important theme, the scapegoat excluded in a context of war—often sent as a fatal gift to the enemy in response to an invasion or hopeless battle. In the case of the Roman devotio, [28] the scapegoat is a warrior, originally the general, whose attack, which must end in the general’s death, spreads panic through the opposing army. The legendary Athenian king, Codrus, when he throws himself, disguised as a beggar (an Oedipus-like peripety), against enemy swords, is a useful comparison. [29]
A similar story contains a close parallel to the Tyrtaeus legend. Cnopus makes war against the “Cretan” Erythrae in Asia Minor. An oracle instructs him to take a Thessalian priestess as his general; when she arrives, she arranges to have a bull adorned and given a drug. This turns the bull mad, and he runs to the enemy, who sacrifice him and are themselves driven mad, thus enabling Cnopus to conquer them easily. [30] Here we have the Tyrtaean theme of oracle selecting an unlikely general (in this case, marginal in her womanhood), who brings the army success. The bull is clearly an extension of the general (the priestess, named Chrysame, covers the bull with gold); [31] and the parallel to the devotio is striking. In both cases, the scapegoat, sent to the enemy forces, causes madness and panic among them.
Thus scapegoat-warrior-savior is a frequent combination in folkloric history, myth, and related ritual and martial practice. The soldier is always, in a way, a scapegoat and a savior, sent by a society to conquer the enemy and sacrifice himself for the society’s good. [32] And, if poets tend to become scapegoats, the poet can also become a warrior-general-savior, as in Tyrtaeus’ case. The poet-warrior conjunction makes sense in some important ways; both figures are ambiguous, dangerous to society, yet prized by society; [33] both figures specialize in a kind of madness. In a paraenetic poet like Tyrtaeus, there is a congruence of lunacies. The poetic exaltation is focused toward instilling martial madness that will bring victory to Sparta.
Solon’s vita has some themes that are directly comparable to the warrior-poet themes that we find in Tyrtaeus’ vita. When the Athenians had given up on fighting the Megarians for Salamis, they passed a law threatening death to anyone who proposed further hostilities. Solon wrote a paraenetic poem, memorized it, pretended sickness and madness, and ran out in his sickclothes to deliver the poem to a large crowd. Fortunately for Solon, this poetry had the desired effect; the war was started again, and, instead of being executed, Solon became general of the Athenian operation. [34] Like Tyrtaeus, Solon comes to the fore in a period when his city is demoralized after persistent defeat in a war carried on for possession of desirable nearby territory. [35] Like Tyrtaeus, he uses paraenetic poetry to stir up his people, and becomes general. He is perceived as mad (mainesthai, Diogenes Laertius 1.46) and this madness is linked with his poetry. The theme of exclusion of the poet-lawgiver is also found in Solon’s vita, as he goes into exile after the seisachtheia. [36] He becomes a “hero at the gate” after death, in one tradition, thus receiving hero cult. [37] The similarities with Tyrtaeus are so close that one wonders if either story was influenced by the other. Thus the Solon story, in some of its aspects, might be as fictitious as is Tyrtaeus’ (probably). If it is historical, it is a surprising witness to the historical feasibility of some aspects, at least, of the Tyrtaeus legend.
The Archilochus legend has a few comparable themes. This poet is condemned by his native community (as a blasphemer), is exiled; like Tyrtaeus writes paraenetic martial poetry, and is so much a soldier that he dies in battle. [38] Thus, once again, we have a paraenetic warrior poet; and his heroic nature has again attracted the expulsion theme. The parallel with Solon is closer; but Archilochus is an exiled poet given adverse trial by society, and he is also a thoroughgoing soldier-poet. The motif of death in battle perhaps links the heroization as poet and the heroization as warrior. [39]
Even closer to the stories of war scapegoats referred to above is the incident from the Aesopic vita in which the Samians are prepared to give up Aesop to ward off destruction from the invading Croesus. “At first the people shouted, ‘Take him. Let the king have Aesop.’” Thus the people are willing to exclude the monstrously ugly fabulist to escape invasion. Aesop goes willingly, and a shrine to him is built where he gives himself up.
Here we have many typical themes: the crisis (military threat); the offering of Aesop as propitiation by the voice of the people; the self-sacrificial volition of Aesop; his saving the city; the hero cult given to the poet at the very place where he had been expelled by the people. (Thus heroization of the poet through his acting as sacrificial warrior.) Tyrtaeus is likewise monstrously ugly, excluded by his people during a military crisis, and the savior of a people. But his story has been adapted so as to make him save a different city than his own.
Tyrtaeus’ poetry attests to the theme of the heroization of the warrior. He writes of the soldier:
τὸν δ’ ὀλυφύρονται μὲν ὁμῶς νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες
ἀργαλέωι δὲ πόθωι πᾶσα κέκηδε πόλις,
καὶ τύμβος καὶ παῖδες ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἀρίσημοι
καὶ παίδων παῖδες καὶ γένος ἐξοπίσω·
οὐδέ ποτε κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἀπόλλυται οὐδ’ ὄνομ’ αὐτοῦ,
ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ γῆς περ ἐὼν γίνεται ἀθάνατος,
ὅντιν’ ἀριστεύοντα μένοντά τε μαρνάμενόν τε
γῆς πέρι καὶ παίδων θοῦρος Ἄρης ὀλέσηι.
They lament him, young and old alike,
and the whole city mourns him with bitter longing,
and his tomb and his children are famous among men,
and his children’s children and his descendants thereafter.
Neither does his noble fame [kleos] or his name ever perish,
but even though he is beneath the earth he becomes immortal [athanatos]—
whoever distinguishes himself in bravery by standing stead-fast and fighting
for the sake of his land and children, and is destroyed by furious Ares.
This passage contains many details that could be easily linked to hero cult: polis-wide lamentation; emphasis on the tomb; immortality “even though he is beneath the earth.” All this because he has sacrificed himself on behalf of his land and children. [40]
Though we do not have overt testimony that Tyrtaeus received cult honors, it is likely that he did, judging from the Philodemus passage cited above, and from the parallels of other poets. However, he is certainly heroized by the legend of his generalship in the Second Messenian War. Thus the Tyrtaeus legend, however unhistorical it may be, still reflects ancient narrative patterns, and offers us valuable insight into how the poet was sometimes perceived in archaic Greek culture—marginal, disabled, [41] yet valued as an adjunct to war in a martial society. It is perhaps appropriate that the poet who heroized death in battle should himself be a paraenetic poet-general, excluded as least, but heroized in legend by martial success. [42]


[ back ] 1. For the Second Messenian War, with its accretions of legend, see now Ogden 2004. For the earliest sources on the war (starting with the received corpus of Tyrtaeus poetry), Ogden 2004:177–189. Much of our information on the war comes from Pausanias, who used historians and poets such as Callisthenes, Aristotle’s nephew, executed by Alexander; Ephorus (ca. 405–330 BC); Philochorus (born before 340 BC); Myron of Priene (mid-third century BC?); and Rhianus (later third century BC?), author of a Messeniaca. The chronology of the war is problematic, but the most generally accepted hypotheses date the war in the mid or later seventh century BC, Ogden 2004:132. Some scholars have attempted to place Tyrtaeus in the fifth century BC, notably, Schwartz 1899. For the failure of such attempts, see Den Boer 1954:70n, cf. Ogden 2004:180. The acmes of the Suda and Jerome both place the poet in the 640–630 BC decade, test. 2–3, Gentili and Prato 1979.
[ back ] 2. Rose 1960a:84n7.
[ back ] 3. Προστησώμεθα γοῦν Τυρταῖον, τὸν φύσει μὲν Ἀθηναῖον, τῶνδε δὲ πολίτην γενόμενον.
[ back ] 4. τίς γὰρ οὐκ οἶδε τῶν Ἑλλήνων ὅτι Τυρταῖον στρατηγὸν ἔλαβον παρὰ τῆς πόλεως, μεθ’ οὗ καὶ τῶν πολεμίων ἐκράτησαν καὶ τὴν περὶ τοὺς νέους ἐπιμέλειαν συνετάξαντο, οὐ μόνον εἰς τὸν παρόντα κίνδυνον ἀλλ’ εἰς ἅπαντα τὸν αἰῶνα βουλευσάμενοι καλῶς; Lycurgus died ca. 323 BC.
[ back ] 5. Cf. Lefkowitz 1981:38.
[ back ] 6. Bowra 1960:41.
[ back ] 7. Aelian Historical Miscellanies 12.50; cf. Herodotus 9.33.3 (a seer imported because of an oracle); Jacoby 1918:10n.; Weil 1900:203; Fontenrose 1978:121.
[ back ] 8. Similar accounts including the oracle and the lame Tyrtaeus can be found in a Platonic scholiast (ap. Laws 1.629a–630d (301s Greene); Suda s.v. Tyrtaeus; “Acro” on Horace Ars Poetica 402; Porphyrio ad ibid.; Justinus/Trogus 3.5.4; Ampelius Memory Book 14 (27 Assman). See testimonia 43–64 in Gentili and Prato 1979, Gerber 1999:24–35. The story of the oracle is found in Callisthenes (FGH 124 F 24 = Strabo 8.4.10). Philochorus holds that Tyrtaeus was an Athenian (FGH 328 F 215 = Strabo 8.4.10), and became the Spartan general (FGH 328 F 216 = Athenaeus 14.630f). See also Isocrates Orations 6.31; Philodemus On Music 17.3 (28 Kemke); Diodorus Siculus 8.27.1; Aelian Historical Miscellanies 12.50; Themistius Orations 15.196c–198a. Cf. Fontenrose 1978:121, Q18; Giarratano 1906; Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 1900:116; Otto 1955:365–398; Blumenthal 1948:1943–1945; Verrall 1896, and 1897; Macan 1897; Bates 1897. The kernel of the Tyrtaeus story can thus be traced back to Plato, Lycurgus, Callisthenes, and Philochorus. How far the elaborated story can be traced back is uncertain. It is possible that if Plato had told the story in more depth he would have told the story of the lame schoolmaster chosen by the oracle; or this story might have been a later development, an elaboration (perhaps Delphic or anti-Attic, see below) on the Attic tale of an Athenian becoming a Spartan poet-general. One might guess, however, that if the idea of such an anomaly became widespread early (as the Lycurgus reference shows), reasons for such an anomaly, a narrative aetiology, would develop either contemporaneously or not long after. Thus it seems likely that the story of Tyrtaeus as lame oracle-called schoolmaster was told in the fifth century BC or earlier. Niese 1891:26 argues that Xenophon would have introduced such a story in Hellenica 6.5.33 if he had known it, but it is possible that the laconizing historian would have simply ignored such an anecdote, with its Athenian general winning a Spartan battle. For Xenophon’s Spartan leanings, see Tigerstedt 1965:159–178, especially 166n517, 167, 169n534; Rawson 1969:33–34. Cf. Higgins 1977:65–76 and Proietti 1987:XIIIn8, whose arguments cannot remove the historian’s pro-Spartan tendencies, though he convincingly show that there were certainly ambiguities in his attitudes toward Sparta.
[ back ] 9. Lefkowitz 1981:38; see also Tigerstedt 1965 I.46n295; Campbell 1967:170; Pearson 1962:400.
[ back ] 10. See Thompson 1955 L400–499, pride brought low; L300–399, triumph of the weak; cf. L100–199, unpromising hero/heroine, L160, success of unpromising hero/heroine. See also the main pattern studied in Ogden 1997.
[ back ] 11. Schwartz 1956:211.
[ back ] 12. Schwartz 1956:211. See also Kroymann 1937:XII.
[ back ] 13. Figueira 1999:230–231.
[ back ] 14. Cf. Visser 1982:415n39; Brelich 1958:264. See above, chapter 3 (Archilochus).
[ back ] 15. On the Crown 258; cf. Flaceliere 1965:95.
[ back ] 16. For deformity as a source of humor, cf. the two chief objects of laughter in the Iliad, Hephaestus and Thersites, both lame, Iliad II 211–277, I 599–600, XVIII 410–411. For Thersites, a specialist in verbal abuse, see below, chapter 17.
[ back ] 17. Iustinus; Themistius; Porphyrio; Orosius History Against the Pagans 1.21.7; Suda.
[ back ] 18. Cf. Themistius, who inverts the Athenians’ motivations: “being wise,” the Athenians knew that a poet to motivate the Spartans would help them more than military aid.
[ back ] 19. Thus Delphi might be considered as a source for this tale.
[ back ] 20. Cf. above in text, numerous references to Tyrtaeus as general; Pausanias shows Tyrtaeus in a battle, urging troops on at the rear of the army (4.16.2). Legend aside, there is some indication that Tyrtaeus was a general—see Strabo 8.4.10 (C 362); Wilamowitz 1900:109–119; Bowra 1960:40–41, cf. Campbell 1967:169; most reject the idea, notably Jaeger 1966:117n; also Jacoby 1918:2–10 and Tigerstedt 1965:346n297.
[ back ] 21. Plutarch Cleomenes 2.3 (805d): ἐμπιπλάμενοι γὰρ ὑπὸ τῶν ποιημάτων ἐνθουσιασμοῦ παρὰ τὰς μάχας ἠφείδουν ἑαυτῶν. On the concept of enthousiasmos in Greek religion, see Democritus B 17, 18 (DK 2:146): “And Democritus in the same way [as Plato]: As much as a poet writes with madness [enthousiasmou] and holy spirit [hierou pneumatos] is wonderfully beautiful” (καὶ ὁ Δημόκριτος ὁμοίως [as Plato Ion 534b] ‘ποιητὴς δὲ ἅσσα μὲν ἂν γράφηι μετ’ ἐνθουσιασμοῦ καὶ ἱεροῦ πνεύματος, καλὰ κάρτα ἐστίν . . .); Plato Phaedrus 245A; Cicero On Oratory 2.46.194; Cicero On Divination 1.38.80; Horace Ars Poetica 295; Mattes 1970:39; Delatte 1934; Burkert 1985:109–111; Cornford 1952:65–73; Tigerstedt 1970 (hyperskeptical). See above, chapter 3 (Archilochus); below, chapter 17, the poet Lugh.
[ back ] 22. Iustinus; the story of the Spartans writing their names on sticks attached to their hands follows (see also Diodorus Siculus 8.27.1; Polyaenus 1.17).
[ back ] 23. Luginbill 2002:410.
[ back ] 24. Actually, Philodemus states (apparently) that this was not recorded, because it did not need to be recorded. The sense is that it was general knowledge. See Gerber 1999:29. For cultic associations of timaō, see above, chapter 3 (Archilochus), and below, this chapter.
[ back ] 25. Girard discusses this theme (1977:254): “Derision of one form or another plays a large part in the negative feelings that find expression in the course of the ritual sacrifice and that are finally purified and purged by it.” This exclusion is a reciprocal reflex of the satirist’s ability to exile others through the power of his mockery. Directly comparable is Bupalus’ and Athenis’ mockery of Hipponax; they ridicule Hipponax’s deformities in a painting. See above, chapter 4.
[ back ] 26. Vernant 1981.
[ back ] 27. For the special power and sacrality of the marginal person, the deformed, the criminal, the exile, the female, the youth, and paradoxically, the king, see Bremmer 1980; on Medon, who was, like Tyrtaeus, lame in one foot, Pausanias 7.2.1. Cf. a sentence that could be applied to the Tyrtaeus legend: “Society seemingly took recourse to its marginals in times of great confusion” (Bremmer 1980:74n45). See also Bremmer 1983b:303–304 and passim; Kearns 1990; Ogden 1997.
[ back ] 28. A famous example is Decius Mus, Livy 8.9f.; cf. Burkert 1979:63.
[ back ] 29. See above, chapter 1.
[ back ] 30. Polyaenus 8.43; Burkert 1979:59–60.
[ back ] 31. See below, chapter 27. Polycrite, like Tyrtaeus, is “given,” excluded, by her native people. Tarpeia inverts this pattern by betraying her people to the invading general whom she was fallen in love with. Burkert 1979:72–73; 76–77.
[ back ] 32. For the concept of warrior as scapegoat, see the Phaedrus fable discussed in chapter 24, below. Oedipus, before he is revealed as the incestuous parricide who must be expelled from Thebes to allay a plague, saves Thebes from the murderous sphinx in single riddle combat with that monster, see Sophocles Oedipus the King 48; 507–511; chapter 1.
[ back ] 33. For the warrior’s ambiguity, see Dumézil 1983, The Stakes of the Warrior. Starkaðr, perhaps the most archaic of the figures Dumézil studies, is a passionate supporter of kingship, yet also a serial regicide. See also Dumézil 1970b:43, 63; below, chapter 18.
[ back ] 34. Plutarch Solon 8.1–3 = 1W, cf. further bibliography there, also Gerber 1999b:106–111. Diogenes Laertius 1.46–56; Cicero On Duties 1.30, 108; Demosthenes 19.252 (and scholia); Philodemus On Music 20.18; Justinus 2.7ff.; Aristides Oration 37, vol. 1, p. 708 Dindorf and Oration 46, vol. 2, p. 361 Dindorf; Polyaenus Strategems 1.20; Pausanias 1.40.5; Porphyrius, ad Iliad II 183. See Linforth 1919:40. For Solon’s poetry, Anhalt 1993.
[ back ] 35. And we thus find, in the poetry of both poets, the theme of geographical praise of the desired territory, Solon 1, 3W; Tyrtaeus 5.2–3W. Cf. Solon 4.23–25W; Tyrtaeus 6W. For a discussion of the historical context of the latter poem, see Den Boer 1954:74. Further parallels in the poetry of the two poets are discussed in Jaeger 1966:120, 131; Tigerstedt 1965:349n331; 345n281; Anhalt 1993:74.
[ back ] 36. See Plutarch Solon 16.3, cf. fragment 34W. For discussion of this, along with similar examples from other legendary lawgivers, see Szegedy-Maszak 1978:205–207; cf. Linforth 1919:93–103.
[ back ] 37. Aelian Historical Miscellanies 16, cf. Kearns 1989:54. In other traditions, his ashes are scattered over Salamis.
[ back ] 38. See above, chapter 3.
[ back ] 39. See below, chapter 18; for Heracles and Achilles as poets, chapter 16.
[ back ] 40. Cf. hero cult awarded to Strategos, the hero general, Kearns 1989:198; and to the Marathon dead, Kearns 1989:183. See also Ekroth 2002:159, 262n232, 338–339; above, chapter 1, on Codrus, Aglauros, and Androgeus; and the tomb of Aeschylus, chapter 12 below.
[ back ] 41. On the theme of the blind poet and prophet, see above on Homer, chapter 5.
[ back ] 42. See Fuqua 1981; Otto 1955:365–398. We find the following themes in Tyrtaeus’ vita: 3, oracle, often prescribing remedy for disaster; 4, worst; 4a, poor; 4d, ugly, deformed; 5, best; 5c, victorious (in war); 10, expulsion; 10a, exile; 13, hero cult? 26, poet as soldier; 26a, martial paraenesis as poetic theme.