Chapter 27. Transformations of Myth: The Poet, Society, and the Sacred

This survey ends with Rome, since in Rome we have entered history, for the most part. All of our Roman poets are certainly historical. Much of the Greek material, on the other hand, is clearly legendary or mythical. [1] Greece and Rome allow us to see a number of stages in the transition from myth to history (or perhaps, to historicized myth).
  • Overt myths telling of conflicts between divine and semidivine figures (for example, Marsyas and Apollo).
  • Vitae of poets who perhaps never existed (Aesop) that are constructed from some of the same mythical themes; gods are still dramatis personae (the Muses; Apollo). However, the poet is definitely human.
  • Vitae of poets who are historical, but whose vitae are embellished with overtly mythical material (Archilochus, meeting the Muses).
  • Vitae of historical figures whose lives are embellished with subtly mythical material (Socrates assimilated to Marsyas and Aesop, still associated with Delphi). Here the divine apparatus has been minimized or expressed in a secondary way.
  • Finally, the historical figure like Alcaeus whose life follows the pattern, expressed previously in myth, of the excluded blame poet. While we meet such figures in Greece, nearly all of the Roman poets in chapters 20–26 fit in this category.
So, as has been noted, we should be skeptical of the historicity of the vitae, but we might also be skeptical of their fictional “mythicality”—seemingly mythical, folkloric elements may not be pure fiction. Perhaps there was an Aesop; perhaps the Delphians refused him room and board; perhaps he made a public nuisance of himself; perhaps he was brought to trial, and goaded his captors into an extreme punishment. A man like Diogenes could easily goad an unsympathetic court into voting an exile. From all accounts, an Aesop (if he existed) or Archilochus might have been equally capable of this.
So we are left with a skepticism that turns back against itself. Was Juvenal exiled, or was that story the creation of enthusiastic scholiasts who had to fit the great satirist to the mythical pattern?—which is certainly a possibility. Or did his actual life fit the mythical pattern because the mythical pattern itself reflects social realities? This seems equally possible. Was Tyrtaeus an obscure, mild-mannered poet who lived an uneventful life, or was he really the lame Athenian given to the Spartans as a joke, who became a successful general? One is skeptical of such a neat folktale, but perhaps a historical figure lies behind the story, and perhaps the story has some validity. We do know that the Spartans “imported” poets. If the neatness was not there, something somehow related to that story may have nevertheless happened.
It is striking that Platonic Socrates versified Aesop and composed a hymn to Apollo while he awaited death; perhaps these are a brilliant student’s inventions, graceful literary mirrorings of the mythical realities inherent in Socrates’ execution. But then one remembers that Seneca apparently modeled his death on Socrates’ (only to have Thrasea copy his own death); perhaps the historical Socrates did think of himself as the new Aesop. Or perhaps the Platonic death of Socrates is largely myth; then a myth has passed into history (Seneca’s death, historical, was modeled on the myth, replicates pure myth). So refractions of myth scatter influentially throughout history.
It is also striking that the Roman versifier of Aesop offended with his didactic, just satire, and was severely punished by an oppressive political leader—perhaps by exile.
This survey, then, would agree with theorists such as Durkheim that myth and folklore often encapsulate historical, social realities. They are not just fanciful neuroses, or a disease of language, or naïve nature speculations. At the same time, of course, myth can supplant history. A great poet’s audience, his or her disciples, later commentators would apply a preexistent standard heroic life to her or him, in whole or in part—poets must be consecrated by the gods, they must be the best, yet they must suffer expulsion, perhaps die unjustly far from home. The myth, minus the explicit divine apparatus, is based on society’s treatment of past poets. History will continue to replicate the myth.
If myth can reflect persistent social patterns, people see their contemporary realities in terms of past history, which, if one goes back far enough, is sacral history. And history does replicate itself. Aesop died once (perhaps only in story) at Delphi; a successor died in 399 BC Athens; and another fabulist suffered again at the hands of Sejanus and Nero.
If we go back even further, we find, behind Aesop and Archilochus and Heracles—warrior-poets tormented by ambivalently inimical gods and helped by others—the archetype formed by Starkaðr and Suibhne, the warrior-poet of Indo-European epic, sacrificing and sacrificed, harried and saved by tutelary and pernicious deities. And behind Starkaðr, the Odinic hero, we have Odin, god of mantic poetic possession and berserker war fury, gaining poetic knowledge by sacrificing himself to himself, suffering a primeval triple death on the world tree to ensure cyclical continuity for the earth.
Aesop, Tyrtaeus, and Archilochus, Starkaðr and Suibhne all combine strong poetic and martial aspects (often they are both the best warriors and best poets in their respective traditions); [2] all are exiled, excluded, or sacrificed; and all are watched over or destroyed by divine, ambivalent patrons (who have given them poetry as a divine gift, a gift that is itself ambivalent).
Thus in the investigation of the meaning of the exiled or executed poet, the satirist excluded from society by king or political leaders, the association with war will often play an important part. It is significant that two of the most influential scapegoat theorists of our generation, Burkert and Girard, have both brought the scenario of military disaster firmly into their interpretations of the pharmakos. The scapegoat, in myth, is often a means of warding off threatening enemies and destruction by war. Yet, though these two theorists have recognized the importance of war in these stories and rituals, still their treatments do not seem to fit the victimized warrior-poets in this study precisely, perhaps because they have underemphasized the tendency of the scapegoat to be the best—the strongest (warrior), the most intelligent (poet), the most possessed, frenzied (both). He can be therapōn, an authentically effective servant, of king and society. A brief look at Burkert and Girard will shed insight on the excluded warriorpoet, but it will also permit an assessment of the strengths and limitations of their perspectives. [3]
In Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual, Burkert closes a masterly examination of the pharmakos with a summary of interpretations; he then adds his own—as is usual for him, a behavioral analogy from prehistory—almost from prehumanoid evolution. [4] He isolates two patterns, one of which has the aggressive community lash out at the outsider, the one who is different. But this pattern is minimized, for group aggression plays little or no part in the rituals Burkert has examined in his chapter. A more prominent pattern is that of the voluntary scapegoat adorned by the people before he or she departs from the community. Here Burkert imagines the “unritualized” behavior behind the ritual: the group (of men or apes) is surrounded by predators. The anxiety of the chased group ceases and turns to relief when a marginal group member—someone who is lame, sick, young, or an outsider—is caught by the predators (though what an outsider is doing with the group, or why it lags behind is not explained, unless the group intentionally sends it to the rear). The lame or outsider member has brought salvation to the group. To relieve traumatic guilt at this injustice, the victim is thought of as the worst, offscourings; or as the best; or as a combination of the two. It is comforting, but not factual, to think that the scapegoat goes voluntarily to death.
This is an attractive, original scenario, and in many points fits our present pattern. In stories of scapegoat poets, the theme of “voluntary” death is often found: the lives of Starkaðr, Aesop, Socrates, Cicero, and Seneca all have a form of it. [5] The theory explains neatly the exclusion of the lame, sick, or young, the deformed pharmakos.
However, other details do not fit quite as well, especially details connected with the “exclusion of the best” theme. In actuality, by Burkert’s account, the best would never be excluded, and the excluded one would never really be willing to die. The guilty, if anxiety-cleansed, group thinks of the scapegoat as “voluntary” and as “the best” to assuage their guilt and trauma.
Yet, while the “voluntary” victim would soothe the guilt of the community, how would the “best” victim lessen it? (Also, if the predator kills the lame and sick, does it not just kill the laggard? There would be no conscious exclusion on the part of the group—no choosing, adorning of victim. The victim is simply slow.)
In the case of Aesop at Delphi, the pattern seems nearly opposite: a morally corrupt group excluding their intellectual better. This is a standard pattern, more like Burkert’s first pattern. Aesop’s exclusion as filth is actually society’s self-exclusion from any kind of justification.
A modification of Burkert’s prehistoric scenario would lessen the problem somewhat: we have the group cornered by a predator or predators. The group chooses its strongest individual or individuals, and sends him or them forth to kill the predators. Sometimes the champion dies; if he survives, he becomes the tribal leader.
And there would be an intellectual aspect to the best also, for the person who is intelligent enough to wield a weapon cleverly or outsmart a predator (by noose, trap, and so on) would survive the confrontation more consistently than even a stronger rival who was less intelligent. However, this champion would still be subjected to considerable danger, and when he came to realize that his role was not safe to perform time after time, he would send a servant, a substitute, a military specialist, the king’s general—to represent him. Thus Starkaðr, Śiśupāla, Suibhne, Aesop, and Phaedrus’ catamite.
Burkert collects a number of stories involving the scapegoat that present the war scenario. Codrus, whose country, Attica, is threatened by the Dorian invasion, saves it by going out to meet the enemy. [6] P. Decius Mus performs the devotio, dedicating himself and the enemy forces to death, then throws himself recklessly into enemy lines; his presence at first spreads panic among the enemy, but when he falls, “from that moment there was no doubt that the Latin cohorts were thrown into complete confusion and had emptied the battlefield to scatter far and wide in flight.” [7] In the devotio, while the general devotes himself in legend, and Macrobius can say, “Dictators and generals only can perform devotio,” [8] in practice the general could, and generally would, call on a lesser soldier to be devoted (Livy 8.10.11). Bremmer observes that Decius and other generals who devoted themselves were legendary, not historical, and that there is a similar contrast between legendary regal scapegoats and practical lowly scapegoats in Greece. [9] This suggests a curious pattern: the general is therapōn of the king; but the general chooses his own therapōn. Thus, Achilles is therapōn of Agamemnon, but in turn sends Patroclus to be his therapōn in battle. In fact, the Iliad might be seen as a drama of therapōn relationships gone perverse. Achilles withdraws from his relationship with Agamemnon; and Patroclus becomes Achilles’ double almost against Achilles’ will; after Patroclus dies, Achilles reassumes his proper therapōn relationship, but at the cost of his eventual death.
In Hittite ritual, a plague is averted by sending an adorned, crowned ram to the enemy. [10] There is a similar ritual in India. [11] Thus, a scapegoat is not just expelled; he is sent to destroy the enemy. Cnopus makes war against the “Cretan” Erythrae in Asia Minor. An oracle instructs him to take a Thessalian priestess as his general; [12] when she arrives, she has a bull adorned and given a drug. This turns the bull mad, [13] and he runs to the enemy, who sacrifice him and are themselves driven mad; so Cnopus can conquer them easily.
When an army from Miletus and Erythrae invades Naxos, Polycrite, left in a sanctuary of Apollo, falls into the enemy’s hands and becomes the lover of the enemy general. She gains military information, passes it on to her people, and averts destruction. The destruction of the invaders takes place during the Thargelia. Polycrite, “chosen out of many” is “stoned” with clothes in her home town when she returns; then she receives hero cult. [14]
An important example that Burkert does not discuss is the Roman scapegoat, Mamurius Veturius, who is in many respects parallel to the Greek pharmakos. On the last day of the year, Mamurius is led in a procession through Rome, beaten by rods, and driven out of the city. His name means “the old Mars,” and he is beaten by the Salii, the dancing priests of Mars; thus he is associated with the Roman god of war. And there apparently was a tradition that the original Mamurius was driven from Rome to the Roman enemies, the Oscans. [15] He was driven out because he, a metalsmith, had kept back the best shield, and the gods had sent misfortune to the people in return. It would be appropriate if the misfortune sent to the people was an Oscan invasion; it is not named. [16]
The pattern that emerges is that one army threatens another, causing anxiety. The scapegoat, the fatal gift, is sent to the enemy, bringing them destruction.
Phaedrus’ fable is comparable. The enemy champion causes great anxiety; the despised and asocial catamite is expelled the third time (after he volunteers to fight), but this time as a champion, perhaps to die. Pompey and his counselors cynically consider him expendable. He returns triumphant, having brought disaster to the enemy, and is crowned. [17] Protesilaus, as he dies, brings about the first step of the destruction of Troy. Though an oracle had proclaimed that the first Greek to touch Trojan land would die, Protesilaus is the first to jump ashore (the voluntary motif again, in some versions of the story) when the Greek ships arrive to wage the Trojan war; he is immediately killed by an unidentified Trojan or by Hector. As a reward for serving as this first victim in the war, he is given an especially high barrow at Elaius and inside it he is honored as in a temple. [18]
Thus society is ambivalent in its attitudes toward warriors; they are considered expendable, and sent to danger; when they return victorious, they are crowned, are accounted the best. Significantly, the warrior volunteers—but such volition does not seem forced, as his type is willing to take risks (the pronounced anti-social tendencies in his personality, as when Phaedrus’ champion steals the general’s property, would seem to fit this type of personality). Thus, Suibhne, Starkaðr, Śiśupāla (and Aesop), general-champions, therapon tes for the king, fit closely into this scenario.
Yet they are primarily regarded as warriors; one must relate their poetic vocations to this phenomenon. As has been shown, satirists especially are specialists in aggression, mechanisms of physical and verbal attack; they are specialists in the madness that unleashes aggression, verbal and physical. But they are also clever, and thus suited for championship of the group against the less intelligent carnivore or enemy champion (one remembers the small David felling the monstrous Goliath with a cast of the sling). Thus Odysseus polutropos, Aesop as cleverest of all, consummate riddlewarrior, will serve well as champions for society and the king.
Such a scenario for poet-warrior as scapegoat may perhaps underemphasize the other aspect of the pharmakos’ ambiguity—his leastness. Yet, the ambiguity of the warrior in society is inescapable—he is seen as least, expendable—Phaedrus’ catamite is a criminal, anti-social. This does not solve the problem completely, for a lame warrior is not fitted for battle (unless his lameness has caused him to develop his wits abnormally to outsmart an opponent).
Vernant’s demand for the essential ambiguity of the scapegoat is worth considering in this connection. The pharmakos is higher than man, divine, and less than man, animalistic, and thus suited for mediation, liminal sacrality. Without leaving the military scenario completely—for the champion is mediator, entering into the middle space, the no man’s land between two armies—we may turn to the Germanic traditions on poet as mediator: between man and god, between different elements of society. His ambiguity, his leastness, suits him for this position, for he can travel from the least to the greatest. Thus the prophet must move between evil man and holy god, equally at home on both levels of communication. The poet must move between the common people, the least, and the king, the greatest, the first and third functions; between king and warrior. The squirrel Ratatosk runs from bottom of the world tree to the top, exchanging invective between root-serpent and tree-top eagle. The poet must be the least, but ascend the heights. [19]
Aglauros is a significant figure, both best (royal, young) and marginal (a woman). [20] Nevertheless, when Athens is at war, she wins the battle for them (by oracle-prescribed symbolic method: she throws herself off the cliff of the Acropolis, a pharmakos death). Afterward, there is a shrine to her where she died, where ephebes take their oath in connection with entering military service, leaving the city to defend Athens on her borders. Her death is a charter for warriors leaving the city to face death.
Girard has been an influential interpreter of the scapegoat; his most widely known book, Violence and the Sacred, [21] is stimulating, enlightening, annoying, and difficult by turns. Yet Girard offers insight into elements of the poet-as-scapegoat complex. His view is that sacrifice, in particular the sacrifice of the scapegoat, came about as a psychic mechanism to stop the violence of vengeful feuding. This symbolic act of violence, which defines the sacred, has the power to deflect destructive impulses onto a harmless object—a marginal member of society, a person who is lame, a slave, an outsider, a criminal; or onto an animal. Thus, when a well-developed law system is instituted in a society, in which a murderer is punished for his own crime and in which the victim’s family will not take the law into their own hands, sacrifice, and the sacred, will become unnecessary and fall into disuse. Thus, our present society lacks sacrifice, and it also lacks an understanding and experience of archaic sacrality. We also have not faced the extent to which the sacred is generated by violence, though in an attempt to stem violence. The sacrifice was then originally a ritual murder, which soon made use of the surrogate victim. A member of a tribe kills a man from another tribe; the other tribe mobilizes for war. The first tribe does not want to give up an important chief in recompense, to satisfy the opposing tribe; so a surrogate, a marginal, entirely innocent man or woman is sacrificed instead. This detail, which at first seems entirely unjust and unlikely, is supported by precise anthropological parallels. The Chukchi Indians, for example, when a member of their tribe has committed a murder against a member of another tribe, kill not the offender, but a member of his family. [22]
To reduce a closely argued book to a paragraph will obviously oversimplify. Nevertheless, one possible objection to Girard’s theory is that it seems to deny the presence of the sacred where a workable law system is present. Though Girard points out the decline of sacrifice in a society that has a comparatively modern law system (Greece, Rome), [23] he does not explain how thoroughly steeped in sacrifice Greek and Roman religion apparently still were. [24] Further, in limiting the sacred to sacrifice, he underemphasizes the multiplicity of religious phenomena, which may be more widely defined as communication between god and man, of which sacrifice is one important aspect. [25] The work of Hubert and Mauss establishes an interpretation of sacrifice as a means of communication between god and man (in which the sacrificer is changed); Detienne and Vernant have pursued an important interpretation of sacrifice as mediation.
However, if Girard’s thesis is seen as a contributing theory rather than an all-encompassing explanation, it offers valuable insights into the nature of sacrifice and the scapegoat. Like Burkert, Girard places the scapegoat in the martial sphere. [26] Thus, Aesop saves Samos from invasion by offering himself as the victim to the overpowering besieger, Croesus. Tamun the fool is sent as representative-victim to face Cuchulainn. [27] The poet as champion for the king in battle is the relevant theme.
In Girard’s description of an African ritual, the scapegoat is a warrior chosen by the king:
At the height of the battle between the warriors and the king, the king withdraws once more to his enclosure. He reemerges armed with a gourd, which he hurls at the shields of his assailants. After this attack, the groups disband. H. Kuper’s native informants told him that in time of war, any warrior struck by the royal gourd would forfeit his life. In the light of this information, the anthropologist suggests that we look upon the warrior whom the king singles out to be struck by the gourd as a sort of national scapegoat. This amounts to seeing him as a double for the king, a man who symbolically dies in his place. [28]
It is significant that the warrior scapegoat is sacrificed only during war.
The Germanic myths of the sacrificed poet offer material very susceptible to a Girardian interpretation. While Kvasir is not killed to effect reconciliation in the war of the Aesir and Vanir, he is nevertheless a poet who is the living emblem of that reconciliation, and his death perpetuates the beneficial effects of that reconciliation in the ability of Odin to rule the totality of society with the requisite omniscience. Furthermore, in a parallel drama of human sacrifice, Kvasir’s blood-mead effects peace between the murderous dwarves who have killed him and the family of the giant they later drown. Here the magical value of the dead poet-being is explicit weregild; by it, peace is effected between enemies. And the death of Kvasir also unites the three levels of society, since Odin’s kingly knowledge comes from it.
In the variant account of the Aesir and Vanir conflict, the figure of Mímir serves the Kvasir function. He is sent, the wisest of the Aesir, as a hostage, with Hoenir, to the Vanir. [29] However, the Vanir feel cheated because Hoenir is apparently not actually intelligent by himself. The logical thing to do would be to kill Hoenir, and perhaps reopen hostilities with the Aesir. But the Vanir kill Mímir instead (no explanation is given) and send the head to the Aesir; Odin uses it as a source of knowledge so he can rule the combined functions. There is no mention of further Aesir–Vanir hostility.
Again, the death of a poet figure produces knowledge that allows the king of the gods to rule all of society. But the story also reminds one vividly of Girard’s insistence on an innocent victim as scapegoat; [30] the person who is guilty of committing the offense is never killed. Hoenir lives; Mímir is sacrificed. Hostilities end. [31]
A number of isolated themes have relevance to Girard. He too looks carefully at the theme of the voluntariness of the scapegoat. [32] He discusses a pattern in which the scapegoat is excluded by derision; [33] it can be killed by words; [34] it can be a sexual transgressor. [35] Prophetic inspiration can often be part of the sacrificial “crisis,” [36] as can madness. [37] There is much in Girard on the ambiguity of the scapegoat, as he is both king and monster; [38] which recalls Aesop as a portent and monstrosity, teras and ainigma. [39]
The oddity of the sacrality of the blame poet whose mockery and abuse is feared has been noted earlier; but Girard shows that a person can be sacred because he or she is violent. [40] The scapegoat embodies violence. One thinks of the Irish poet, Séafra O’Donnchú, who had given up poetry, was satirized, and who responded in a paroxysm of rage-induced satire; or Dubthach Chafertongue, the half-crazed warrior-satirist whose lance drips poison and who is himself poisonous; or Archilochus and Hipponax, attacked unjustly, driving their enemies to death. The combination of poet and warrior has an archaic logic, as does the tendency for the poet-warrior to undergo the mechanism for sacralization. [41]


[ back ] 1. In the context of this discussion I am using a fairly standard definition of myth, as traditional story, often supernatural. In other contexts, one might emphasize other definitions or aspects of myth. A sampling of introductory treatments of myth: Eliade1963a; Detienne1986; Puhvel1987; Edmunds1990; Graf1993; Buxton1994; Bremmer1987; Gantz1993; Calame2003.
[ back ] 2. There is even the interesting tradition, discussed above in ch. 15, of Socrates as “best warrior.”
[ back ] 3. This continues the discussion of Burkert found at the end of ch. 18.
[ back ] 4. Burkert 1979:71.
[ back ] 5. Cf. Kees Bolle’s treatment of freedom in sacrifice (1983:61–63).
[ back ] 6. Burkert 1979:62. Codrus is a king, but also a warrior, see 1979:170n13; see above, ch. 1.
[ back ] 7. Livy 8.9.12 (trans. Radice): inde iam haud dubie consternatae cohortes Latinorum fugam ac uastitatem late fecerunt. Burkert 1979:63. Gehrts begins Das Märchen und das Opfer with an analysis of Decius’ devotio (1967:9–19).
[ back ] 8. Saturnalia 3.9.9: dictatores imperatoresque soli possunt devovere.
[ back ] 9. Bremmer 1983b:304n37.
[ back ] 10. ANET 347; Burkert 1979:60–61. The importance of Asia Minor in the figures we have studied (Hipponax, Aesop, Marsyas) is worth noting. See above, ch. 1, on Codrus; ch. 17, on DoDera and Patroclus.
[ back ] 11. Kausika Sutra 14, 22f.; Oldenberg 1923:496ff.; Frazer 1911 pt. VI, 9:192f.; Burkert 1979:60n7 (further bibliography), 10.
[ back ] 12. For the theme of the oracle demanding an unlikely general in wartime, see above, on Tyrtaeus, ch. 11.
[ back ] 13. Perhaps symbolic of the warrior’s battle fury.
[ back ] 14. Parthenius 9 = Andriscus FGH 500 F 1; Plutarch On the Virtues of Women (254b–f); Aristotle fr. 559; Burkert 1979:72–73. There seems to be a connection with the Roman story of Tarpeia, which however is inverted, see Livy 1.11; Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 2.38–40; Plutarch Romulus 17; Propertius 4.4; Burkert 1979:76–77. Interestingly, there is a variant in which Tarpeia is the enemy’s daughter, captured by Romulus (Plutarch Romulus 17); this would be closer to Polycrite. For another dangerous female war gift, cf. Gullveig (‘Gold Drunk’), “sent by the Vanir to corrupt the Aesir” (Puhvel 1987:211), comparable perhaps both to Tarpeia, but also to Mada, who represents drunkenness and female sexuality (see above, ch. 19, on Kvasir’s mead).
[ back ] 15. See Joannes Lydus On the Months 3.29; 4.36; Roscher 1884–1937 s.v. Mamurius; Frazer 1911 9:229–231. For Mamurius being driven to the Oscans, see Propertius 4.2.61–64, where the expelled Mamurius is in Oscan, enemy, territory; see Roscher and Frazer 1911 9:231n1. If Mamurius is expelled to the inimical Oscans, it would lead us to interpret the ritual as associated with war, not as a fertility rite with the old-year king departing (as Frazer interprets it). Then we would not need to explain Mars as a god of “fertility” in connection with Mamurius, as does Frazer; the god’s connection with the rite as a god of war becomes natural. However, Mamurius’ connection with the calendrical crisis at the end of the year is still present. Perhaps this crisis was seen as a martial crisis. We remember that supposedly, on the first day of the Thargelia, Troy was sacked, the battles of Marathon and Plataea took place, and Alexander defeated Darius; see above, ch. 15 (Socrates).
[ back ] 16. See Gebhard 1926:77–78, with further bibliography.
[ back ] 17. See above, ch. 24. For the use of champions in battle, see the battle of the Horatii and Curiatii in the conflict of Rome and Alba Longa (Livy 1.24–26), cf. Dumézil 1942. It is significant that the surviving Horatius is a classic example of murderous battle fury; he kills his sister in a rage immediately following the battle, and must undergo purification to be reintegrated into Roman society. Cf. above, ch. 17, on warrior-poet Dubthach Chafertongue; ch. 1—Androgeus is sent against the bull of Marathon to be killed.
[ back ] 18. See Iliad II 701; Cypria fr. 17 (Allen 1919 5:123; West 2003b:76); Herodotus 9.116; Palatine Anthology 7.385; Hyginus Fables 103 (here, the oracle is common knowledge); Gantz 1993:592-593. Protesilaus also receives a brief resurrection.
[ back ] 19. However, cf. Starkaðr’s enmity with common people. Still, there is some ambiguity in that relationship, as Starkaðr approves of weapon smiths and honest farmers; Starkaðr also has very ambiguous relations with the king. Yet perhaps the enmity is a crucial element of the poet’s involvement with a person or class; his critique helps and improves (as when his satirical attack reclaims Ingel from decadent kingship).
[ back ] 20. For Aglauros, see ch. 1.
[ back ] 21. Girard 1977, see also 1987b, 1986, and 1987a.
[ back ] 22. Girard 1977:25.
[ back ] 23. Girard 1977:18.
[ back ] 24. Cf. Burkert 1983:9.
[ back ] 25. As a counterbalance, one may compare a good phenomenology of religion, such as van der Leeuw’s Religion in Essence and Manifestation (1967). Cf. also Jensen 1963, who argues that human sacrifice is universally a characteristic of the cults of relatively advanced agricultural peoples.
[ back ] 26. Which again highlights the importance of the warrior-hero studied by Dumézil in his series of treatments of Starkaðr et al.
[ back ] 27. Girard notes the importance of the fool as double of the king (1977:12); cf., for the holy fool, 253. Tamun, though, is killed without effecting a peace between armies, see above, ch. 17.
[ back ] 28. Girard 1977:111. The concept of warrior-victim as double of the king again suggests Gehrts’s work, see Gehrts 1967, Ward 1982b and above ch. 19.
[ back ] 29. One would ordinarily think of Odin as the wisest—thus it is tempting to see Kvasir/Mímir as representatives of Odin. Notice that Odin drinks Kvasir in the previous myth to gain his knowledge.
[ back ] 30. 1977:25, 257.
[ back ] 31. According to Plutarch Cicero 49 (885), when Antony saw Cicero’s head and hands, he cried out that the proscriptions would be terminated immediately.
[ back ] 32. 1977:27, cf. Girard 1986:63ff.; see above, ch. 2, Aesop’s “voluntary” death.
[ back ] 33. 1977:254; cf. 44 (tragedy as stichomythia, protagonists trading insults, until the final violence), 98 (verbal violence is a preface to sacrifice; a ritualization of the conflict that sacrifice ends).
[ back ] 34. 1977:98.
[ back ] 35. 1977:98.
[ back ] 36. 1977:133, 159. “During the sacrificial crisis, all men are endowed with the spirit of prophecy.”
[ back ] 37. 1977:154.
[ back ] 38. See 1977:252.
[ back ] 39. 1977:251; ch. 2.
[ back ] 40. See 1977:257.
[ back ] 41. There is much more in Girard that would repay detailed study, but this short treatment shows the richness of his book, and that the data we have surveyed on the excluded, sacrificed poet have relevance to his theory.