3: The Cretan Epistomia in Context

The Corpus of the Epistomia: Nature and Classification

The engraved lamellae are objects sui generis [1] and appear to defy categorization. In order to expedite the study and understanding of these artifacts, Zuntz attempted to set standards for the classification, which have changed as more texts have been published since 1971. [2] More importantly, however, Zuntz contributed decisively to the clearing-up of a number of misconceptions. He argued that the gold lamellae are neither curse-tablets (defixiones), nor phylacteries, nor amulets—all of these are incised in metals, curse-tablets usually in lead, and phylacteries and amulets in virtually any available metal or precious stone. [3] These items, he contended, are similar to lamellae in their symbolic writing but not in their function and aim. Zuntz also suggested tentatively that the gold leaves may have “afforded the model” for the phylacteries, as is shown by the Petelia lamella (B1): the lamella was recovered at a later period from the grave in which it had been placed, and it was then put in a gold case with a chain attached, apparently in order that it might be worn as an amulet. [4] This finding, of course, may or may not imply that the person wearing it was also an initiate and that s/he understood what was written on it. At any rate, Cretan epistomia nos. 5–6 above (B7–8), which, according to the seller, were found rolled up inside cylindrical gold cases, cannot be a paradigm case (even though Verdelis accepts the seller’s report) because of the circumstances of their acquisition. These epistomia do not come from systematic excavations, and it is very likely that the seller would have also presented the gold cylinders (had there been ones) in order to increase the price. [5]
The two lamellae (A4 and C1) from Timpone Grande, excavated systematically, and five lamellae bearing the chaire formula (E1–5) suggest instead that these small engraved objects served as an epistula. [6] According to Zuntz, [7] the envelope-like lamella (C1) is nonsensical and cannot be associated with the text on the lamella found inside it. From his own transcription, however, this “Triballian rather than Greek” text, as he calls it, appears to have some relevance to the other, more ‘public Orphic’ texts that have survived. As Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal have shown convincingly, [8] the envelope-like lamella is comparable to other texts of this sort, the Gurob and Derveni Papyri, and the bone tablets of Olbia, texts which perhaps should be included within the same group C. In fact, by virtue of its being ‘more public,’ it may have been used as an ‘envelope’ in order to protect (because of its ‘value’ [?] or ‘secrets’ [?]) the ‘less public’ but much more crucial text.
Five lamellae with short texts (E1–5) appear to be employing or implying the standard opening of a letter, which consisted of the name of the sender in the nominative, the addressee in the dative, and the infinitive χαίρειν. [9] Either as an infinitive of command or as object of an understood λέγω, χαίρειν must “mean something like ‘Tell Persephone’ or ‘This is for Persephone’s attention’”;  [10] or “greetings (or I say greetings) to Persephone (and Plouton/Despotes),” this being the most natural form of address by the deceased upon meeting the Lords of the Dead. [11] Moreover, Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood has convincingly argued that chaire is employed in addresses only to ‘the living,’ i.e. living humans, the gods, and the heroes, and, if addressed to the deceased (especially before the fourth century BCE), the deceased must have been seen as heroized/deified dead, because chaire “was felt to include the wish ‘be well/rejoice’.” [12]
The five incised lamellae and the envelope-like lamella of Thourioi may have used the typical beginning of an epistula as a model. The lamellae were found variously at the mouth, the chest, and the hand. In the cases where these gold lamellae were used as epistomia, the mouth of the deceased was, as it were, ‘uttering’ the appropriate words;  [13] the lamellae found on the chest or near the hand of the deceased probably performed the duty of an epistula to be read by the deceased and/or the Underworld power, or even by an intercessor on his/her behalf. In the case of the lamellae, the epistula-style address would be delivered in person by the deceased; the message itself, perhaps because it would be easily understood, is not spelled out in detail on the majority of the lamellae. Marisa Tortorelli Ghidini has discussed the character of these lamellae and has also addressed the beginning and end of the few long texts (B1, B10–11) and their symbolic nature as “passports for the afterlife.” She suggested that these objects are simply carriers of the non-material words, which when incised on gold materialize literally as well as figuratively as gold signs/words (χρύσεα γράμματα). [14] Although there is ample information that the use of books was important in mystery cults, [15] it is generally agreed that the long texts show signs of oral transmission of the mystic doctrine, [16] and that the engraving was done from memory. Nevertheless, the incision itself, and the choice of what (and how much of the) text to engrave on the lamella required some level of literacy, especially if one assumes that the lamellae incised with the long texts in clumsy and careless lettering may have been engraved by an amateur scribe privy to the mysteries, still learning and still making orthographical mistakes. The fact that some lamellae were folded or rolled up, and some texts were abbreviated may also have been one way to preserve a certain secrecy, a secrecy very successfully guarded in antiquity. [17]
These and other practical problems further imply that the texts themselves on these gold lamellae (and especially on the epistomia [18] ) need not carry as much significance as modern commentators would like to impute to them—perhaps the unincised lamellae were just as able as the incised to accomplish their function effectively. If so, all of the unincised gold lamellae in the shape of the mouth, rhombus, oblong, or the leaves of ivy, myrtle, and olive (whose presence in a grave cannot be explained in any other way, e.g. as dress-ornaments, and which were found near the cranium or on the chest and therefore were used as epistomia), all of these may in fact have been employed as tokens for the Underworld deities to recognize the mystai, but they were left unincised either because of secrecy or for other reasons and practical problems, or perhaps because the letters on them did not matter much (at least not as much as they matter to us). [19] John Bodel has best articulated the aims of symbolic epigraphy:  [20]
The purpose of this sort of inscribed writing was not to preserve or to convey information but to effect an action through its physical presence; its function was not descriptive or commemorative but, in the useful information of the anthropologist Stanley Tambiah, persuasive and performative: the ritual of inscribing was meant to encourage the result it described. Sometimes words were of secondary importance to the delivery of the objects that carried them (21) … The material on which the text was inscribed or the place in which the object was located or the way in which the inscription was displayed had nothing to do with its legibility but was dictated instead by some extra-textual function it was meant to serve (24) (my emphasis).
All of the lamellae, regardless of shape, placement, and text, are σύμβολα, or συνθήματα, the word employed in two of the lamellae in reference to their own texts (D3, B11). [21] This self-definition as “signs or tokens by which one infers a thing” (LSJ) is by far the most apt one to start making some sense of these objects. These performative and metaphorical signifiers challenge interpretations and defy classification and they will continue to do so for as long as the non-material signifieds/referents, the ritual teletai, fail to appear in the archaeological record.
Either in spite of or because of these constraints imposed by the nature of the evidence, attempts have been made to group these texts, in order to facilitate discussion about the objects and their texts. Günther Zuntz classified the lamellae according to their content into three groups under the letters A, B, and C; he excluded, however, all lamellae with short texts, like Eleutherna’s no. 7 above (E1). [22] After the publication of the texts from Hipponion (B10) and especially those from Pelinna (D2), it became clear that Zuntz’s groups A and B were not as airtight as Zuntz himself thought. But, as the classification was convenient and facilitated discussion of the texts, scholars continued to use it, while the Pelinna texts were placed in a separate group under the initial letter of their provenance, P[elinna]. Christoph Riedweg (1998:Anhang; 2002) accepted Zuntz’s (and Graf’s 1993) groups and presented the texts on the lamellae as those already published (A), those published in preliminary form (B), and the short texts not taken into serious consideration in previous discussions of the lamellae (C). [23] Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli (2001) employed a different set of criteria and divided the long texts (excluding the short ones except one) into three groups and subcategories within each group: the first includes texts with the symbola “I am the child of Earth and Starry Sky” (B10, B1, B2, B11; B3–8, B9; A5); the second texts where divinities are invoked (A2, A3; A1, A4, D2; E1, D3); and the third texts of uncertain character (magical?) (C1). Alberto Bernabé and Ana Jiménez San Cristóbal (2001) treat the entire corpus as a more or less homogeneous set of texts and attempt to arrange all the pieces of the puzzle into one ‘original’ from which derive the abbreviated texts on the lamellae; thus, they number the texts on the lamellae continuously (1–16) and in a descending order from the longer one (B10) to those with only one word (the texts in groups F, E, and D1). Spiros Rangos (2003) reverses Zuntz’s classification: group A becomes the lamellae of mnemosyne; B the lamellae of purity; A4 the lamella of the blessed pathema (group C); the two Pelinna texts the lamellae of nun (group D); and the short texts E2, and F4–F5 in their own separate groups, the latter comprising the mystai category. Susan Cole (2003) kept Zuntz’s groups, and she placed all the brief texts in group D, and the fragmentary or unincised lamellae in group E. Finally, Fritz Graf and Sarah Iles Johnston (2007; and Graf forthcoming-1) present the texts according to their geographical distribution, a classification choice that has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. In their discussion, however, they group them into purity, mnemosyne, and proxy texts, the latter being the short texts (here groups E, F, and G).
The geographical criterion is essential and is the golden rule of epigraphy, expounded constantly and most eloquently by Louis Robert: inscriptions, before all else, belong to and should be understood within their local context first and foremost, and then within wider contexts of similar texts from other areas—an approach that will be evident in the next chapter. [24] Nonetheless, and without denying the fact that all these texts, long and short, are interrelated but at the same time exhibit certain differences, and local divergences, the texts of this small corpus are classified here into seven groups, according to their content. The first three groups are those identified by Zuntz, to which four more are added in order to accommodate old, new, and perhaps forthcoming texts. [25] These comprise (Table 1):
A: five texts; the so-called ‘purity’ texts, because purity is singled out; this does not imply in any way that the other mystai buried with an incised or unincised lamella or epistomion were not ‘pure’;
B: twelve texts; the so-called ‘mnemosyne’- or Underworld-topography-texts;
C: one text; the so-called Orphic texts; this group should perhaps also include all related texts: the Olbia bone tablets, Bacchic inscriptions from Olbia, PGurob, Edict of Ptolemy IV Philopator;  [26] and also PDerveni, PAntinoopolis I 18 (= MP3 2466), PChicago Pack 2 1620;  [27] a few of Poseidippos’ epigrams (Dignas 2004); the Orphic Hymns, and other related Orphica, among which epigrams of mystai (West 1983 and Bernabé 2005);
D: texts in which Dionysos and/or Persephone (and/or Demeter), or other deities are present by name or by epithet (D1–5; Cole 2003:202–205 groups P1/2 and B12);
E: texts in which the chaire-formula is employed or implied in addressing the Underworld deities, either Plouton or Persephone by name or epithet, or both (E1–5; Cole 2003:202–205 group D);
F: all remaining lamellae with brief texts, i.e. the deceased’s name, the word μύστης, or a combination thereof (F1–12; Cole 2003:202–205 group D);
G: four unincised lamellae: one from Pella whose letters might have been in ink, hence now lost; and nos. 10–12 above from Sfakaki (G1–4; Cole 2003:202–205 group E). These four lamellae were dubbed epistomia by the excavators who suggested that, for all intents and purposes, they served as tokens of initiates for the Underworld, just as the engraved ones did. In light of the discussion above (sections “Shape—Burial Context” and “Usage”), it is almost impossible to determine when an epistomion, if unincised, is also a token/passage to the Underworld and should therefore be included in discussions of the engraved texts. This is the reason for not including in this group, at present, a great number of epistomia, mainly from graves in Macedonia, but a few also from Crete (see the section “A Cretan Context”), most of which have been published in preliminary reports. There must have existed some reason for placing these items on the mouth of the deceased, but before we claim that these unincised lamellae or epistomia functioned in a manner similar to the incised ones, more evidence is needed, and the aforementioned issue of the presence of gold or gilt wreaths and/or coins and other grave-goods in Macedonian graves, and elsewhere, should be accounted for. Both the Pella and the Sfakaki epistomia, however, present strong indications that they were employed in the same way and toward the same end as the engraved ones, i.e. as tokens for the initiates’ passage to the Underworld.
Be that as it may, it cannot be stressed enough that these categories should not be understood as airtight, as their texts are interrelated and complement one another. The above classification constitutes one important objective in the study of these texts, which is based primarily on their strong similarities (the stemmatological approach). Another objective, equally worth the effort as the next chapter (“The Cretan Context”) will show, is to shift the emphasis from similarities to divergences, and, instead of one central document behind these texts, to entertain the possibility that within the same Bacchic-Orphic discourse on afterlife and even within the same group of texts existed simultaneously dominant and peripheral ideas and texts (in Crete, twelve texts that belong to three different groups), for which local or even individual cultic and religious considerations may be accountable.
Table 1 also provides information regarding: provenance, date, the deceased’s gender, shape, accompanying coin(s), manner of burial and other goods recovered from the grave. This information may be found in the excavators’ preliminary reports and editiones principes; more detailed information about these sources is listed below each Group’s respective Table. The texts printed follow the orthography of the engraver (with very few editorial corrections), and are based on the editions by Riedweg (1998:389–398 and 2002); Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal (2001:257–281); Bernabé (2005:indicated by a B following the number in parenthesis); Graf and Johnston 2007:4–49; and Edmonds forthcoming-2.
In Table 2, all forty–four lamellae and epistomia are grouped in descending chronological order according to two different criteria: the text’s size, and their provenance. These groups comprise: 1) twenty–three lamellae and epistomia with short or no texts, of which eight leaves, two coins, and one a pseudo-coin; 2) twenty–one lamellae and epistomia with long texts, of which one is two leaves; and 3) all of the lamellae and epistomia according to their provenance: ten from Italy, twelve from Crete, five from the Peloponnese, five from Thessaly, and twelve from Macedonia.

The Cretan Texts in the Context of a Ritual and a Hieros Logos

Following the proposed classification, the nine incised and the three unincised Cretan epistomia recovered from graves of Eleutherna’s wider region fall into three different groups: B comprises the seven long texts; E the two brief ones; and group G the unincised epistomia. [28] It seems that, within approximately the same area and during a relatively short period of time, people sharing more or less the same beliefs and ritual practices acted in divergent, more individual ways, a behavior that remains a mystery.
In terms of content, the three unincised epistomia nos. 10–12 above (G2–4), provided they fulfill the same function, may be understood as implying a content analogous to the texts in groups B and E, or even perhaps analogous to the texts of the other groups. Their being left blank need not present a problem, as this would be a perfect, if extreme, example of symbolic epigraphy.
The two short texts (E1, E4) address Plouton and/or Persephone with the verb χαίρειν, incised or understood. On account of Plouton’s presence, these epistomia have not traditionally been classed with the other incised lamellae and epistomia B3–8, B12 (nos. 1–6 and 9 above). According to Guarducci, the appearance of Plouton here may have been due to a conflation of Orphic beliefs, as expounded in the gold epistomia with the long texts, with some sort of local cult and ritual in Eleutherna, chief among them the mystery cult of Cretan Zeus in the Idaean Cave. Zuntz accepted this explanation with the modification that the conflation of Orphic beliefs was not with a local, but with a general tradition;  [29] Graf, on the other hand, drew attention to this inscription as one of the “signals that the classification [sc. of the lamellae by Zuntz in groups A and B] was not watertight.” [30] It is hard to deny that Plouton’s role is kept very much in the background in the long texts of group B (in the texts of group A he is addressed euphemistically) but, at the same time, his presence is always implied as the husband of Persephone and Lord of the Underworld. Zuntz, as it turns out, was right. Plouton’s presence is due not to a local but to a general tradition, as more pieces of evidence that have since appeared (E4, E5) testify.
Until recently, the known examples from Macedonia addressed only Persephone (E2 and E3), but a new lamella (E5) contains a text where Plouton alone is addressed as despotes. [31] Moreover, the Apulian volute-krater, attributed to the workshop of the Darius painter whose themes and motifs are usually inspired from dramatic works, presents a unique narrative scene (Figures 41a–c [pages 104–105]): Hades with sceptre in his left hand is seated upon a throne inside his palace and extends his right hand to Dionysos, who, coming from the right side, ‘grasps’ it with his right hand; to Hades’ left side, Persephone is standing with a torch in her hands, and Hermes is holding a caduceus and resting against one of the columns of the palace. This central scene is surrounded by Dionysiac figures: the maenads Acheta and Persis, a Paniskos approaching Cerberus, and Actaeon, Pentheus and Agaue. On the back side are portrayed: a young male nude inside a naiskos holding a stick and a phiale in his hands and a drapery over his arm; a seated youth with branch and fillet; a woman approaching with a bunch of grapes and a phiale; a seated woman with fan and cista; and a nude youth running up with wreath and phiale. The connection with Euripides’ Bacchae, noted by Trendall and Cambitoglou, and the scene’s eschatology are evident enough. [32] The dominant role of Plouton, previously attested only in two Cretan texts (E1 and E4), is corroborated by E5 from Macedonia, and is also evident on the main narrative scene of the Apulian krater. Plouton’s prominence here does not jibe well with the tradition in which Persephone was the key-figure, but it accords perhaps with another, final (?) stage of the initiate’s Underworld journey, in which final approval and consent depended ultimately on the Lord of the Dead.
The crucial element of the scene, however, is Dionysos’ intercession on behalf of his initiate, as it presents visually what the texts D2–5 and B10 only hinted at: the god himself served as the initiate’s guide to the place reserved for mystai, and as the advocate that perhaps actually uttered the deceased’s words incised on the gold lamellae (D2). With this in mind, the manner in which the ‘grasping’ of hands between Hades and Dionysos takes place is unusual, to say the least. [33] The gesture has been understood as a handshake, but has also been interpreted as a means of “alerting the audience.” [34] In a normal handshake, however, the thumb is visible in the iconography. Furthermore, Hades is not a god in the habit of shaking hands. The gesture as portrayed in the Toledo krater looks as if something is being given by Dionysos to Hades, but for such a gesture there are no parallels. Eurydice Kefalidou has studied katabaseis and anodoi of Dionysos and has concluded that, in the iconography, even when objects are exchanged secretly, these objects are portrayed, so that the viewer would not misunderstand the message. She does, however, refer to two other parallel cases of unusual ‘handshakes’: Dionysos and Apollo, and Hades and Amphiaraos. According to Kefalidou, these scenes present variants of the normally expected ‘handshake,’ the dexiosis scene implying welcome and mutual recognition of power. It is very difficult to determine whether the gesture meant anything more than this. What complicates the situation even further is the strong possibility that the deceased in whose grave the Toledo krater was found may not have been a mystes in a manner comparable to those buried with a gold lamella or epistomion. [35]
Turning to the longer texts, all seven Cretan epistomia in group B present two motifs: a) a deadly thirst that is quenched by drinking from a specific, revitalizing spring whose location appears to be an important factor; and b) the recognition of the deceased’s identity through certain questions and answers. Taken by themselves, these texts are not readily comprehensible; they must be placed within the context of the other long texts in group B, and must also be understood relative to those in groups A and D from Italy and Thessaly, as they appear to present a synopsis of these texts.
Figure 42. Apulian volute-krater by the Darius Painter. Toledo, OH, Toledo Museum of Art, 1994.19. (a. obverse, Underworld scene with Dionysiac figures; b. obverse, detail, Hades and Persephone in their palace; c. reverse, youth in nai skos)
Regarding the synoptic character of the Cretan texts (nos. 1–6 above; and the similar one from Thessaly B9; Figure 41 [page 91]), Zuntz commented:  [36]
[The Cretan lamellae] are inscribed in the local dialect and spelling [and] contain extracts from originals in the traditional epic Kunstsprache which luckily are preserved; the transposition into the local dialect, then, is a secondary feature. And what happened at Eleutherna could have happened also at Thourioi.
Zuntz further proposed that the Cretan texts contain the absolute minimum form (what he termed “the cardinal words”) of the longer, expanded versions, but concluded:  [37]
The Cretan text, however solid and primordial its substance, cannot be taken for the original of the expanded versions. First, because of its informal imperfections. This combination of perfect poetry with completely unmetrical prose cannot possibly represent the primitive form of conveying this eschatological vision; nor obviously, is it in the least likely to have been done, originally, in a local Cretan dialect. The obvious vehicle would have been the traditional epic Kunstsprache, retranslation into which indeed can afford a cure for the most striking irregularity: namely the question in prose (‘v. 3’); but not for all (unless indeed one were to rewrite the whole ad lib.).
And yet, only a few pages earlier, in his discussion of the ‘rhythmical prose’ in the announcement of the deceased’s deification (a quality he denied line 3 of the Cretan texts), he adduces two analogies: Philostratos’ narrative of the visit of Apollonius of Tyana in Diktynna’s temple in Crete, and Lucian’s legend about the suicide of Peregrinus Proteus during the Olympic games of 166 CE. In drawing these analogies, Zuntz awards the dialect a distinct importance: “The Doric dialect in both these legends is remarkable. It seems to have conveyed, in this late period, an aura of archaic sanctity.” [38]
It is impossible to find a reasonable explanation for the synoptic character of some of the texts in the B series, the seven from Crete, and B9 from Thessaly (the only one, so far, outside the island; Figure 41 [page 91]). [39] For that matter, it is just as difficult to find any suitable explanation in this regard for all of the lamellae with brief texts. We find an analogous situation in the modern period surrounding the expression “I await for the resurrection of the dead” (προσδοκῶ ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν), which is inscribed on grave plaques in modern Greek cemeteries. This sentence is taken from the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Creed which is heard during the Divine Liturgy and sums up in three words all the Christian teachings and dogmas. The faithful, who know the whole Creed, will have little trouble understanding the sentence’s context, its implications, and the ritual during which it is uttered; to non-believers, on the other hand, it is incomprehensible, if not absurd (see the section “Afterword”). The identical repetition of the same formulae and motifs (except for the two questions in rhythmical prose) proves beyond doubt that these lamellae belonged to the same tradition which was responsible for the four long texts in the same group: B1, B2, B10, B11. Both Martin West and Richard Janko, in their very useful attempts at reconstructing an archetype from the texts in group B, have assumed that this archetype was probably composed orally in Homeric diction and hexameters and that it gradually was transformed, region by region, in successive centuries. [40] Similarly, Charles Segal has demonstrated the repetitive, rhythmic, and formulaic qualities of these texts and their suitability for oral performance during a funerary ritual, without excluding the possibility of a performance during an initiation rite. [41] He also emphasized that the texts’ similarity implies not ad hoc compositions, but copies of preexisting poetic texts. Dirk Obbink, however, argued that the authors of these texts are not “producing at best a derivative hodgepodge of formulae pirated from the language of earlier, canonized poems. The texts of the gold leaves are poetry, but they are neither arbitrarily, nor affectedly, nor derivatively so … [S]ome type of ritual (probably funerary or initiation) is closely connected with the performance and ritual context of [this] poetry …” [42] Such a ritual, as Watkins argues, constitutes, “in a word, liturgy.”
What exactly this ritual pertained to has recently been a subject of inquiry, especially by Christoph Riedweg, who has shown convincingly how the different pieces (the texts, in whatever way one chooses to classify them) may fit together in a sacred discourse on the afterlife. Cogently employing the tools of narratology, Riedweg matched context and content and presented a reconstruction of a ritual and its sacred text and hieros logos in six stages, a reconstruction which comprises all of the texts (2002:470–471; the texts are referred to below by letter group and number in Tables 1–2):  [43]
I) The death of the mystes and the katabasis of the soul to the Underworld (the subjects of these texts, as indicated in A4 line 1; B1 lines 13–14; B10 lines 1–2; and B11 lines 1 and 3).
II) The topography in Hades, the motif of thirst, and the encounter with the guards of the spring, all mainly exhibited in detail only in the texts of group B (A5 lines 3–4 may be an allusion to the spring); we may also add to this stage D3 and D5, and the texts of groups E, F, and G.
III) The meeting with Persephone and the other gods, which may take different forms: a) the elaborate address in the texts of group A; b) D2A lines 5–7, D2B lines 6–8, and D4–5; c) the question and answer (which may also be asked by Persephone and Plouton when the deceased greets them in the group E-texts) of B3–9, B12, D3, D5; and the texts of groups E, F, and G.
IV) Mystic symbola for entrance in the reserved place: A1 lines 15–16; A4 lines 5–6; the answers in the B series, B11 line 19; D2A lines 7–13; D2B lines 9–15; D3, D4, D5; and (?) the texts of groups E, F, and G; these small ‘cryptic’ phrases, some of which are reminiscent of PGurob, may have been part of the hieros logos proper, the holy and therefore secret discourse.
V) The place that awaits the deceased mystes and her/his new status (makarismos and ‘deification/heroization’): A1 lines 14–15; A2 lines 10–11; A3 lines 12–13; A4 lines 4–8; A5 lines 5–6; B1 lines 10–11; B2 line 8 (the name Asterios); B9 line 6; B10 lines 15–16; B11 line 2 and 15; D2AB lines 1–4 and 11–15, D5.
VI) The final exhortation of the mystes in A4 lines 2–3.
This is a conceivable reconstruction of a ritual which may lie behind the texts of all groups, and which implies a hieros logos. The ritual may have been either an initiation rite during which the mystes’ Underworld journey was reenacted, the persona loquens thereby being the hierophant; or the ritual may have been a rite following the mystes’ death over the grave, in which case the speaker is an ‘omniscient author’ directing the deceased mystes in order to effect his passage into the Underworld. Either ritual may have re-enacted and rehearsed the actual journey the mystes would make when in the Underworld.
We should remember, however, that the synoptic Cretan epistomia seem to suggest that these initiation stages need not be spelled out in great detail (nos. 1–9 above; and E- and F-texts) or even spelled out at all. The unincised epistomia (nos. 10–12 above and group G) perhaps present the absolute minimum a mystes would need for the Underworld journey, what Graf and Johnston call the “proxy tablets”:  [44] a gold, paper-thin, ‘mouth’-shaped lamella (which might be placed at or inside the mouth, the chest, or the hand). This is symbolic epigraphy par excellence, especially if secrecy were crucial, as those not privy to the ritual and initiation would hardly have a clue as to what these ‘symbols’/‘tokens’ meant, implied, and brought about.
The engraved epistomia of Crete can be placed within this six-stage ritual: nos. 1–6 and 9 of group B in stage II (the topography of Hades and the encounter with the guards protecting the spring) and also in stage III (the question and answer dialogue, which is a symbolon both for drinking from the spring and also for the mystes’ recognition by Persephone and Plouton). Nos. 7–8 above (E1 and E4) belong to stage III (the encounter of the deceased with Persephone and the other gods whom they address with chaire and receive the reply: “who are you?”), but they should also be understood as tokens recognized by the guards of the spring from which the deceased had to drink before addressing Persephone and the other gods. All of the engraved epistomia of Crete, except B12 and B6, present the deceased talking and describing his extreme and deadly thirst and his request to drink from the ever-flowing (ἀέναος or ἀείροος) spring to the right. The request is granted after the question by the guards: “who are you? where are you from?” is answered by the deceased with the symbolon: “I am the son of Earth and starry Sky.” [45]
This dramatic narrative is changed in the new text B12 (no. 9 above). It begins with the third person verb and changes in line 2 to the first person, not unlike A5, where lines 1–3 belong to an intermediary introducing the deceased to Persephone and Plouton. In this case, then, the following parties seem to be present: the omniscient hierophant/deceased, the guards, an intermediary, Persephone (who initiates the dialogue by describing the deceased’s condition: “because of thirst you (are) parched”), and some sort of audience (as the statement: “s/he is perishing” cannot be an address to the deceased who replies: “but (give) me to drink”). Thus, the new text seems to explicate line 13 of B10: “they (i.e. the guards of the spring) will tell for you (on your behalf) to the queen of the Underworld (that you are the son of Earth and starry Sky,” etc.); this symbolon, the deceased’s identification, is to be found in B10 lines 10–12. The guards cannot act on their own accord before Persephone is notified and grants permission to the deceased to drink from the spring. Moreover, this same exchange, which in the long texts of group B is taking place between the deceased and the guards, may also take place when the deceased meets Persephone and Plouton. If μάτηρ in line 5 of B12 is understood as a vocative addressing Persephone, and if accordingly the reading of B6 line 4 may also be emended to: <μ>ά̣τηρ (a palaeographically sound emendation), then stages II and III may have included:
Guards: “Who are you? Where are you from?”
Deceased: “I am (the son) of Earth and starry Sky.”
The mystes, after the guards get permission from Persephone, drinks from the spring, and moves on to encounter Persephone and Plouton:
Deceased: “Greetings to Persephone and Plouton” (E1, E4, and the other texts of the group).
Persephone/Plouton: “Who are you? Where are you from?” (B3–8);
Deceased: “Earth is my mother, and (starry) Sky” (B6 lines 3-5, B12 lines 4–6); or, “I am of Earth, mother, and starry Sky” (B6 lines 3–5, B12 lines 4–6), and
“I have this everlasting gift of Mnemosyne” (A5 lines 3–5).
If lines 5–7 of B12 are not mistakes by the engraver, it is possible that the dialogue between Persephone and the deceased was longer (see also the texts in group D which present a variety of responses):
Deceased: “of Earth I am, mother.”
Persephone/Plouton: “Where are you from? What …?”
Deceased: “And (starry) Sky.”
Persephone/Plouton: “Who? Thirst … you?” (perhaps something like A5 lines 3–5).
These deviant readings in the symbola of B6 and B12 do not create any serious obstacles in understanding the gist of what was intended. They may present different choices of text for incision on the epistomia of the kind we encounter in Macedonia, Thessaly, the Peloponnese, and Rome, where only the name, or the word mystes anonymously, or a few words are chosen to be incised.
Most intriguing and challenging is the reading in lines 2–4 of the new text B12 (no. 9 above), because, when compared to the other Cretan texts (B3–5 and B7–8), it appears to contradict the topography in Hades. [46] The spring is named as the spring of Sauros/Auros, a name instead of the epithets ἀ(ι)είροος (B3–4 and B7), ἀ(ι)έναος (B5 and B8), and the curious ΑΙΓΙΔΔΩ (B6 line 2); and the fountain’s location in B12 is noted as being to the left of the cypress, something so far unique in all the texts of group B. In all other Cretan texts (B3–8), the location of the spring and the cypress is clearer: the spring is to the right, and the cypress is disassociated from it (κράνας … ἐπὶ δεξιά· τῆ, κυφάριζος, “from the … spring to the right; there! the cypress”; or, if a comma is placed after δεξιά, and τῇ is understood as the locative relative pronoun: “from the … spring to the right, where the cypress”). Guarducci’s easiest solution for B6 was to emend the problematic reading ΑΙΓΙΔΔΩ to αἰ<ε>ι<ρό>ω, one of the two epithets of the spring attested in B3–4, B7. This emendation may likewise be accepted for the problematic reading in the new text B12: <Σ>αύρου or Aὔρου into ἀ<ει>ρό<ω>. If emended, these deviations in the texts of B12 and B6 may be eliminated, and thus the two texts may be made to conform to the other long texts especially from Crete, but also from Thessaly and Italy. But perhaps before emendation of both divergent texts is considered final, other plausible options should also be entertained, in particular the possibility that these divergences may have been influenced by local (or individual) cultic and religious considerations. It may not be a coincidence, or the engravers’ mistake, that both texts present divergent readings in the same places: the symbolon, and the location of the cypress and the spring. The process by which a minor detail was allowed to creep into the dominant version, if such a text was ever in circulation, can only be guessed at (see the section “The Cretan Context of the Cretan Epistomia”).
Turning to the longer texts of group B for clarification, the matter becomes more confused. B2 lines 1–3, B10 lines 2–5, and B11 lines 4–7 all concur: the spring to the right near which there is a white/bright  [47] cypress is not to be approached by the mystes, because there come down/plunge the souls of the deceased to become cold (ἔνθα κατερχόμεναι ψυχαὶ νεκύων ψύχονται) [48] —whether or not this plunging also implies drinking is not certain. The deceased is advised to move ahead (πρόσθεν in B10 line 6; restored in B11 line 8; πρόσσω in B2 line 3) in order to find the lake of Mnemosyne whose cold water, after the recognition scene, the mystes will have to drink for his/her rebirth. The motif of thirst is not unique in these texts. As Emily Vermeule aptly put it, “the dead in many cultures are rumored to be thirsty, and our communication with them is more commonly by toast and libation than by food.” [49] In the Homeric epics, Tantalus’ thirst is one of the worst forms of punishment after death (Odyssey 11.582–592). Viewed in this light, the lamellae and epistomia seem to be offering an alternative for the initiates: thirst can be quenched and Tantalus’ predicament can be avoided. [50] B1 and B9 are different: in B1 lines 1–4, the spring and the white cypress near it are to the left, whereas the direction towards the second spring is vague: “you will find another one, the lake of,” etc. (εὑρήσεις δ’ ἑτέραν …); in B9 lines 2–3, the mystes asks for permission to drink from “the ever-flowing spring to the right (near? where?) a white/bright cypress,” associating the correct spring with the wrong tree. Thus, the syntax in B12 is so far unique: the cypress in the genitive is governed by the adverbial expression of place. The spring and the cypress are connected and seem to serve as nothing more than marks or signs for the mystes in his way through the Underworld, at least in the Cretan texts.
The Underworld topography presented by the texts, especially the choice of the cypress (not a chthonic tree in literature), its epithet leuké, and the location of the spring to the left- or right-hand side, has always been a puzzle. In Homeric epic, the cypress appears only once, on the island of Calypso, Ogygia (Odyssey 5.64), and its eschatological symbolism there is ambiguous. Calypso’s island is a kind of paradise, an isle of the blessed, which threatens Odysseus’ kleos. [51] The hero, near the end of his wanderings, is presented with two ways to gain immortality: Calypso’s unepic and therefore misleading way, and the one he chooses, which leads to his death but ensures his epic kleos. The texts on the lamellae appear to invest the cypress with a new(?) and distinct symbolism that becomes one of their central themes and trademarks. Calypso’s island in the Odyssey and the texts on the lamellae share the cypress, but the idea expressed by this tree is different in the two contexts: in the lamellae it is a tree in the Underworld, and symbolizes, together with the motif of thirst, the choice the mystes faces; in the Odyssey it is an ambivalent symbol on the island of Calypso. The tree in the texts of the lamellae is explicitly the limen not only of the Underworld, but of the special place within the confines of the Underworld, reserved for the mystai, and it is intimately connected with the motif of thirst. This distinct symbolism may have influenced the later or contemporary practice of making coffins of cypress-wood (a practice Thucydides noted in Athens 2.34.3: larnakas kyparissinas). [52] After death, the mystes faces choices which will determine her/his condition in Hades. S/he must choose the proper direction, wherever that may be (although the deictic τῆ emphatically points to a direction [53] ), and s/he must drink from the appropriate spring.
The deviations in the texts of group B do not portray a neat topography of Hades and many attempts have been made to accommodate the differences. [54] If the directions in the texts mattered, then a few of the deceased carrying these texts would have certainly been in for a surprise. [55] The cypress (and also the (black) poplar) and the spring are mythic stock-elements, which, as Edmonds has argued, do not illustrate a clear-cut operative dichotomy of left and right, but they can signify different things in particular texts, “first and second, or near and far.” [56] This accounts well for the divergent readings in the B group texts, but the deviant readings particularly in B12 and B6 may have been due also to local cultic and ritual considerations (see the section “The Cretan Context of the Cretan Epistomia”).
Be that as it may, even if this ritual context for understanding the Cretan epistomia (incised and unincised) is plausible enough to be accepted, the fact remains that, within the same area and within a period of four centuries—and therefore one may assume within the same group of people—the evidence points not toward homogeneity, as is expected, but toward diversity. A comparison of the texts in Table 2 grouped according to provenance is impressive. Three different methods are in operation amongst the deceased buried in the Sfakaki cemetery (representing groups B, E, and G), all with the same purpose in mind, thus demonstrating that apparently not all initiates felt the same way on the matter. Is this evidence for what Sourvinou-Inwood (1995) has called an ‘individualization,’ a more personal attitude toward death? Is this evidence for more than one ritual and its implied hieros logos expounded by traveling priests? Is each deceased or family member picking and choosing what s/he remembers from the ritual and the hieros logos, as they were perhaps allowed to do, because there were no strict prohibitions? Is this what s/he understands as most important for the final journey? Alternatively, is this evidence that the deceased or family member bought the engraved lamella without being able, or did they not care, to check the text? These issues must perforce remain open.

In Search of a Context: Rhapsodizing and ‘Prophesying’ the Afterlife

In light of the foregoing discussion, it is evident that the corpus of the forty–four lamellae and epistomia (incised and unincised) presents a ritual and a hieros logos, in parte or in toto, but exactly what kind of ritual and hieros logos is still a matter of debate. The opinio communis concurs only in one thing: these texts relate a ritual and/or mystery cult whose emphasis is on afterlife. Despite scrutiny, the texts’ origin and context remain elusive, because of the nature of the evidence. Interpretations abound, however, and the study of these texts has generated arguments relating the engraved lamellae to Orphica, Pythagorica, Eleusiniaca, Bacchica, and even Orphicodionysiaca. [57] Although few scholars today, if any, would maintain the exclusively Eleusinian or Pythagorean character of these texts, consensus is, expectedly, not within reach.
As Walter Burkert has shown definitively, mystery cults appeared in Greece as early as the sixth century BCE, if not earlier, and shared many common characteristics that make it difficult to distinguish clearly among them. [58] Their interaction influenced both their discourse and practical matters. Without discrimination regarding religious convictions, gender, age, social or economic status, or nationality (only those who committed murder were discriminated against), initiation was open and tolerant. The mystes could decide at will to be initiated into as many mysteries as s/he wished to, in the hope of personally receiving rewards in this life or after death. In many mysteries, secrecy was enforced and revelation of the arrheta and aporrheta was severely punished. As it turns out, the oral and apparently written teachings concentrated on a hieros logos and involved both legomena and dromena, [59] but evidence for the procedure is scanty or totally absent, except for one thing which was allowed to be revealed: the impact the mysteries had on the initiates (hence the allusions in literary texts). Through initiation, the mystes acquired a special relationship with the divine, what Burkert calls “the extraordinary experience.” This experience transformed her/his views on matters of life and death, as is shown by the epithets ὄλβιος, εὐδαίμων, μάκαρ, and ὅσιος employed for mystai, [60] epithets otherwise reserved only for gods and heroes.
The common ground shared by all mystery cults is the main obstacle in the search for a religious context regarding the lamellae’s texts. The texts on the lamellae are consistently referred to as Orphic or Bacchic with Pythagorean influences (often between inverted commas or with the qualification ‘so-called’), despite facts which seem to militate against these epithets: Orpheus is found nowhere in these texts; the deceased’s regeneration does not necessarily entail metempsychosis (or at least the metempsychosis Pythagoras and Empedokles meant);  [61] evidence for Orphic rites depends more or less on the lamellae’s texts, which thus portray Orphism as interested primarily if not exclusively in eschatology. Marcel Detienne has described Orphism, Dionysiac cult(s) and ritual(s), and Pythagoreanism as chemins de déviance, pieces of one and the same system that refused or protested against the main sociopolitical religious practice of the polis. [62] Yet, as Edmonds rightly pointed out, déviance is rather relative, in that many or all of the deceased with the incised lamellae could have followed traditional social and religious practices within their poleis. [63] Noel Robertson has even suggested that the Orphic ideas and rites originated from the public cults and rituals of the Mother and Dionysos already performed in various Greek cities. [64] Although it remains uncertain whether rituals and stories of the Mother and Dionysos, which unfold together, predate the Orphic ones, or whether their genesis can be assigned to the people’s concern for vine’s and grain’s fertility in nature alone, Robertson correctly points out the common ground shared by these rituals and the traditional character of the Orphic practices.
Jan Bremmer may eventually be proved correct in his formulation of the dynamic interaction between these mystery cults: “Orphism was the product of Pythagorean influence on Bacchic mysteries in the first quarter of the fifth century, but despite their similarities both movements also displayed many differences.” [65] Until more evidence comes to light, we might follow Susan Cole’s succinct and sensible advice: “it seems safe to assume that the texts on the tablets—short, contradictory, heterogeneous, and unpredictable—are more likely the product of independent groups supervised by inspired leaders than the result of a particular philosophical movement” (my emphasis). [66] As it is, these groups’ interaction and interdependence are best explained by Burkert:  [67]
Bacchic, Orphic, and Pythagorean are circles each of which has its own centre, and while these circles have areas that coincide, each preserves its own special sphere. The nomenclature is based on different principles: mystery ritual, literature marked by the name of an author, and a historically fixed group with their master; Dionysos is a god, Orpheus a mythical singer and prophet, and Pythagoras a Samian of the sixth century. Within the sphere of Orphica, two schools may perhaps be distinguished, an Athenian-Eleusinian school which concentrated on the bestowal of culture allegedly to be found in the Demeter myth and the Eleusinian mysteries, and an Italian, Pythagorean school which took a more original path with the doctrine of the transmigration of the souls. Orphic and Bacchic coincide in their concern for burial and the afterlife and probably also in the special myth of Dionysos Zagreus, while Orphic and Pythagorean coincide in the doctrine of metempsychosis and asceticism. However that may be, the difficulties of precise demarcation should not lead to a denial of the phenomena themselves.
Orphic literature, Pythagorean philosophy, and Dionysiac cult(s) and ritual(s) are different contexts in which the texts on the lamellae may be placed (in some more readily than in others). Much depends on whether we emphasize the similarities or the differences among the texts. [68] Even Burkert’s careful formulation of the interactive yet independent nature of these contexts needs modification. For example, the ‘Athenian-Eleusinian school’ has not as yet produced an incised gold lamella, unless the initiates were employing perishable material, and some certainly did, like the deceased of grave A at Derveni. [69] Italy, [70] Crete, the northwest Peloponnese, [71] Thessaly, and Macedonia also appear as other ‘schools’ which partake one way or another in Orphic, Pythagorean, and Bacchic ideas about personal needs in this life and in the hereafter, but with distinct characteristics. [72] If the northwest Peloponnese, and to some extent also Crete (see the section “A Cretan Context”), presents a rather homogeneous picture, at least so far, the five texts on Thessalian lamellae are astonishing in their diversity (B2, B9, D2, D3, D5). Likewise, the twelve Macedonian lamellae are not the only evidence concerning views on the afterlife in Macedonia, [73] as testify a number of discoveries: the theo-/cosmogonic commentary on PDerveni;  [74] the outstanding paintings in the Judgment Tomb at Leukadia, [75] and at the Tomb of Persephone at Vergina;  [76] the cist-tomb at Agios Athanassios, in which there was discovered a silver-plated cypress-larnax with the pregnant mother’s bones wrapped in purple gold inside, as well as ivory fragments from the bier’s decoration (a bier which, at least in one of its zones, was of a Dionysiac character), and a painting on one of the walls portraying a wooden box with two scrolls of papyri on top;  [77] the discovery of a number of clay figurines in rooms of a house in Pella, dated to the second century BCE, representing snakes, grapes, eggs, and a horseman, and finally, fragments of clay statuettes of Dionysos, Persephone, Aphrodite, and the Mother of Gods, all probably associated with the cult(s) of Dionysos, aimed at both the living and dead. [78] All of these discoveries offer yet more examples of other ‘schools’ within Macedonia, independent or interrelated with the ‘school(s)’ manifest in the texts on the lamellae and epistomia. Lastly, Olbia, the only area that has offered concrete evidence for the existence of a group of people calling themselves Orphics, is probably yet another, different ‘school’: the famous bone-plaques were not found inside a grave, but in the area of the eastern temenos, and their graffiti imply views on the afterlife (even if the graffiti are not connected stricto sensu with the afterlife). [79]
And yet, even if the texts on these lamellae are labeled as Bacchic with Orphic and Pythagorean influences and are thus securely placed within this religious-philosophical-literary context, it is by no means certain that all of those interred with the lamellae and epistomia (engraved or not) shared all or some of the views expressed in the Bacchic ritual, the ‘Orphic rites,’ and the Pythagorean teachings. Understanding and appreciation of the Homeric Hymns, for example, is not enhanced and intensified because of their label Homeric, nor will our understanding or appreciation of the Orphic rhapsodies or the incised lamellae ever increase merely because they are entitled Orphic or Bacchic. As Edmonds has argued, Orphic may have been nothing more than a descriptive title for quickly and easily distinguishing between Homer/Homeric/Hesiod/lyric poetry/drama on the one hand, and everything else on the other. [80] The search for a context for these texts is helpful and illuminating if only because it brings to light the complicated and dynamic interaction of ideas on matters of life and death. We must keep in mind, however, that this context search is not the only fruitful approach for the study of these texts, especially when the evidence is inadequate. [81] Both the Homeric Hymns and the lamellae’s texts appear to have been anonymous products of approximately the same era, the archaic and early classical periods in Greece, during which, with the emergence of the polis, many crucial developments took place in art and literature and in the political, social, and economic spheres. This was a period full of exciting and provocative ideas, but a period also poorly documented. [82]
What the texts on the lamellae and epistomia present is an outlook on and prospect of an afterlife very much different from the one presented in the texts of Homer, Hesiod, and the archaic poets. At the same time, however, the texts on the lamellae present a narrative of the afterlife very well versed in the traditional mythic elements and compositional techniques. [83] Edmonds has recently studied the Underworld journey as a mythic narrative. These “roadmaps of déviance,” as he calls the lamellae’s mythic narratives, if viewed from the “locative order of Greek polis religion,” show that “these marginal, countercultural figures appeal to a different standard to evaluate themselves and their society, one centered not on the existing pattern, but on an ideal pattern located elsewhere in space or time.” [84] Although Edmonds readily admits the problems in “defining countercultural religion in the context of a religious system like the ancient Greek, which had no real orthodoxy as it is understood in the Judaeo-Christian tradition,” [85] it is not only the term countercultural religion that is problematic. Equally problematic are terms like polis religion (behind which usually lies Athens) and marginal. [86] Admittedly, mainstream or everyday life in a Greek polis vis à vis the bios Orphikos or Pythagorikos was different than the ordinary way of life within a Greek polis. It is not at all certain, however, if in the case of the latter the difference should be understood as protesting against and countering the polis religion and the cultural system it entailed. [87]
Solon’s famous reply to Kroisos’ question concerning who is the most olbios (a word not associated with mystery cults in the Herodotean context) helps clarify the different perspectives from which polis-religion and private initiation were approached (at least by the time of Herodotus) (1.30–31). As Seth Benardete has argued cogently, the Athenian case of Tellos excludes the divine and its criteria are highly political, as the individual is perceived first and foremost as a member of the polis; the Argive example of Kleobis and Biton concentrates on the oikos and the divine and ignores political criteria to the point of becoming non- or even antipolitical, as the individual is a member not of the polis but of the human race. [88]
The two Herodotean examples of olbiotes are incompatible because they are based on different premises. And yet, as neither Athens stopped worshipping gods nor Argos ceased to exist as a city-state, these examples suggest that a polis could not, or did not care to, enforce a homogeneous religious system; hence these “varying forms, trends, or options within the one disparate yet continuous conglomerate of ancient religion.” [89] Graf and Johnston rightly argue against the categorization of these groups as marginal; they replace the idea of marginality with a concept of supplementarity. Even this notion of supplementarity, however, provides only partial answers, because, as Graf and Johnston point out, the evidence is scanty and perplexing at best. [90] Initiation that promises a blissful afterlife is indeed supplementary to the ‘mainstream’ attitude about the afterlife. The new lamella from Pherai (D5), however, strongly suggests that the rule was the more the better, as some mystai apparently needed additional assurances while alive and their initiation into a second mystery cult supplemented the first. It appears that the ‘deviant’ ideas expressed in the texts of the lamellae laid emphasis on the individual rather than on the community (whichever community that may have been). Each and every incised lamella and epistomion should not be viewed as a representative expression, the mouthpiece of that community, because, in spite of similarities, the texts’ divergences also point towards individuation. These individuals expressing ideas such as those in the texts of the lamellae and epistomia are on the margins or the periphery of the polis-religion, in the same way as the Sophists, Socrates, Euripides, Plato, and others: their views are ‘peripheral’ to but at the same time interactive with the ‘polis ideological system.’  [91]
The ideas on the afterlife expressed in the corpus of the lamellae and epistomia may therefore be viewed as part and parcel of the religious ideas within the polis where they compete in order to attract the individual’s attention. They aim at offering a more personal rather than collective identity as far as one’s postmortem state is concerned. Although one might imagine that this clash between personal and collective identities may sometimes result in conflict, this supplementary arrangement promoted by the corpus of the lamellae and epistomia is not perforce mutually exclusive or nullifying. This ‘dual identity’ may easily explain the fact that a number of texts from the archaic period onwards betray, in various degrees, influences of Orphic ideas, ideas that seem to permeate everything in these periods as if by osmosis. The ideas of the Underworld presented in the texts of the lamellae are not alien to Greek thinking; they refer to an illo tempore, a golden age when humans and gods lived together before their subsequent estrangement, [92] a utopian ideal located in another permanent world, that of the dead. For this other world the texts on the lamellae offer hope, and they promote endurance for the hardships of the present life on earth.
Two contemporary but conflicting discourses on the afterlife may be distinguished in the archaic period. One comprises views on afterlife as expressed in the works of Homer, Hesiod, and in lyric and dramatic poetry; the other comprises the Orphic, Pythagorean, Bacchic, and Eleusinian views, which may be found in the mystery cult(s). We might call these discourses the Homeric and the Orphic, although it is important to remember that the distinction is somewhat arbitrary, because within each discourse, an array of differing and sometimes opposing views and approaches is evident. [93]
The Homeric view of the afterlife in the Iliad and the Odyssey is rather gloomy and pessimistic, as the Underworld is portrayed in unflattering terms. Odysseas Tsagarakis revisited the issues concerning the Homeric Nekyia and concluded that, in the so-called ‘Review of Hades,’ two themes are conflated, a nekyomanteion and a katabasis. [94] The two differing views about the fate of the psyche after death may be explained in parallel to the two ways of burial within the epic, inhumation and cremation: the latter, favored by the poet, may have supported the idea of a “bodiless psyche in Hades, a mere eidolon of its former self”; the former supports the idea rather of the psyche’s ‘physical’ existence in Hades, an arrangement which allows the activities of one’s earthly life to be paired with appropriate punishments in the Underworld. Even the Elysian and the Asphodel Meadows, places for heroes, the privileged deceased of epic, are somewhat vague and do not have a well-defined topography; at least not yet, because epic poetry would have compromised its very existence. In that respect, it is no surprise that the epithet μακάρτατος is employed by Odysseus in order to characterize a person’s excellence among all humans alive or dead. [95]
Likewise, Hesiod attempts in the Theogony (lines 717–819) to throw light on the shadowy Underworld, Tartaros. In the final act of Zeus’ consolidation of power and his making a kosmos of all parts of the universe, Tartaros acquires a geography. This geography, however, is articulated by its monstrous inhabitants, those dangerous to Zeus’ reign. Among them, humans cannot as yet have a place. [96] It seems that epic poetry bypasses consciously the issue of life after death. The description of Tartaros is followed by the catalogue of Zeus’, Poseidon’s, and Ares’ divine marriages, some of which have a happy end for the humans involved (Semele, Ariadne, Dionysos, and Herakles are deified, for instance). The next catalogue of heroes married to goddesses does not present an example of deification, but interestingly it begins with Demeter and Iasion in Crete and ends with Odysseus’ offspring by Circe and Calypso, [97] choices that Odysseus and the poet faced and rejected in the Odyssey. [98]
In Hesiod’s Works and Days (lines 106–201), on the other hand, the manner of death/mode of existence in the afterlife is one of the key criteria (alongside the living condition) in explaining the gradual deterioration and worsening progression of the five races of humans (symbolized as metals) over time. [99] The first golden race (lines 109–126) consists of humans living as gods, and their death is like sleep overcoming them after which: “they become daimones upon the earth, guardians of mortals” (δαίμονες ἐσθλοί, ἐπιχθόνιοι, φύλακες θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων, Most 2006). The humans of the silver race (lines 127–142) are babies that never reach adulthood; hybris and violence reigns, but when these humans die they are called: “makares mortals beneath the earth” (ὑποχθόνιοι μάκαρες θνητοί, Most 2006). The bronze race (lines 143–155) is ruthless and horrible and is therefore self-destroyed by hybris and war; once annihilated by black death, its members, nameless, enter the house of Hades (Hesiod’s reference to this house here is the first of its kind). The fourth race of heroes and demigods (lines 156–173) is bellicose like the bronze race, but it is also more just, and so when they die: “they become olbioi heroes and dwell with a spirit free of care in the islands of the Makares beside deep-eddying Ocean” (καὶ τοὶ μὲν ναίουσιν ἀκηδέα θυμὸν ἔχοντες | ἐν μακάρων νήσοισι παρ᾽ Ὠκεανὸν βαθυδίνην, | ὄλβιοι ἥρωες, Most 2006). Lastly, the race of iron (lines 174–201), the poet’s and ‘our’ race, is described as a constant and continuous mixture of good and evil, by which is effected the abolition of rules and attitudes (the fundamental ingredients for instituting a family, a polis, or a society). The extinction of this race is forthcoming, but the poet does not even speculate on how this extinction will come about, nor does he venture to imagine the condition of its members in the afterlife.
This schematic summary of the five Hesiodic races suggests two contradictory views on the afterlife: a favorable and desirable one, symbolized by gold and silver, whose human members become gods above the earth and makares under the earth; the other, an unfavorable and undesirable one, symbolized by bronze and iron, introduces Hades and anonymity. The heroes and demigods stand in between, as they share characteristics with the gold/silver races and the bronze/iron races. They are called olbioi and reside in the islands of the makares, a status attained through a ‘bronze and iron’ living condition and manner of death. The gold and silver races bear characteristics not unlike those of the initiates in the lamellae’s texts. It appears that Hesiod integrates the Orphic view only to reject it: as the gold and silver races are removed to the remotest past, the efficacy of contemporary mystery cults is denied. Within the narrative of the five races, Hesiod eliminates the contradiction between the two views on afterlife by presenting them not as contemporary but in a chronological sequence. He relegates the most desirable race(s) in illo tempore, when distinctions were blurred, and, as the condition of successive human races gradually worsens, he places the least desirable at hic et nunc. The mystery cults and their golden promises, as the race of the heroes implies, did exist once upon a time, but no more; only epic poetry can assure kleos aphthiton. [100]
That these two views seriously concerned people from the archaic period onwards is also attested by Herodotus. In addition to Solon’s reply to Kroisos mentioned above, the historian also incorporates the human races into the second half of book one, but he employs a different narrative strategy. Seth Benardete has argued convincingly that by changing the Hesiodic criterion of chronological sequence and succession, Herodotus presents the human races as co-existing hic et nunc on the surface of the earth, and not as bygone races, except that of iron, distinguished also by their postmortem condition:  [101]
The surface of the earth presents together all the Hesiodic ages, which are not distinguished so much by what metals they use as by their customs … Herodotus is not unaware of the changes time brings in human happiness as well as in customs and inventions, but he sees in customs something more permanent than he could find in empires and wars. Customs form the horizon within which these historical events occur, and without which they could not be understood.
Herodotus employs geographical criteria and the various metals in order to imply that the Hesiodic races, distinguished by their use of metals and presented by Hesiod in chronological succession, actually exist synchronically in different parts of the known world. In Herodotus, the metals are symbolic vehicles reflecting the various races’ customs and habits, which, according to the historian, are the actual differentiating factors, but which betray characteristics similar to the Hesiodic races. Hesiod opts for one of the two views on afterlife: he removes the golden race from the hic et nunc and relegates it to a time forever lost, allowing no possibility of the golden period’s return, not even in the Underworld. Herodotus opts for none or for both views on afterlife (in book 2 Egypt presents a different challenge): he ‘harmonizes’ them by changing Hesiod’s criteria of chronological succession and genealogy into those of geographical distribution and recontextualizes in his narrative all the human races as existing contemporaneously in different parts of the known world.
And yet, although there is no way of ascertaining if Hesiod was consciously responding to ‘unepic’ ideas, it is safe to assume (as the narrative of the Works and Days and Herodotus’ Book 1 certainly indicate) that, in the archaic period, two views on the afterlife competed for attention. The ‘Homeric/Hesiodic’ one presented a gloomy and pessimistic outlook on the hereafter. The ‘Orphic’ one, which Homer ignored but Hesiod could not and therefore integrated in the manner discussed above, proposed to alleviate the fear of death and to offer endurance for the daily hardships. [102] This ‘Orphic’ view also promised a differentiated status of the individual after death—that of a hero and god, as if s/he were a member of the Hesiodic golden, silver, or heroic races. The difference between the two discourses and the Orphic opposition to Homeric kleos may be seen in the semantic shift of the otherwise innocent Homeric/Hesiodic epithet ἀστερόεις. In Homer, it is regularly an attribute of the sky, with two exceptions:  [103] the thorax of Achilles’ first panoply (16.134); and Hephaistos’ abode when Thetis visits to ask for the second panoply (18.370). The epithet’s cosmological associations emphasize the limitations of Achilles’ and Hephaistos’ status which in their case may be overcome through art (the panoply and the palace), a metaphor for epic poetry itself. [104] These two exceptions of the epithet in Homer reflect the epic perception of kleos and immortality.
In Hesiod, there are no surprises, except that the first occurrence of the epithet matches the formula which (in a modified form) becomes the symbolon in the group B texts:  [105]
Theogony 106: οἳ Γῆς ἐξεγένοντο καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος,
B1, B3–12: “I am of Earth and starry Sky,”
B2: “my name is Asterios.”
Whereas in epic the epithet’s symbolism of immortality conforms to the overall strategy for kleos, in the group B-texts, the epithet evokes the epic immortality but rejects the human limits set in the epic. The heroization/divinization process of humans does not require the subtlety of epic poetry and its kleos. The same formula that Hesiod employs for the divine genealogy becomes in the group B-texts the mortal initiate’s symbolon for attaining immortality the ‘Orphic’ way: through Eukles (‘beautiful kleos’), Hades’ euphemistic epithet, and through Eubouleus (‘beautiful boule’), a euphemism for Zeus/Dionysos (and perhaps also Hades), [106] a way which transforms the epic symbols of immortal kleos into a more concrete immortality: the mystes is reborn and acquires the status of a hero/god in the afterlife.
This ‘unepic’ view, contemporary with the Homeric one, was not only an opinion held by the nascent mystery cults of the archaic period. If, as Richard Martin has argued cogently, [107] epic and Orphic material shared the medium by which they became known, that being performance, and if, as will be argued, they also shared the epic techniques of composition, then much that is explained in discussions of literary texts as an interpolation or influence of Homer or Orpheus and vice versa may be nothing more than the mutual and dynamic interaction of competitive discourses on the afterlife. One performer of Homeric rhapsodies might allude to or even quote from other contemporary versions, versions which would become more and more well known and widely circulated upon performance. [108] In this manner, a rhapsode of Homeric material would respond to the ‘competitive pressure’ of other rhapsodes performing Orphic ‘unepic’ material. [109] Thus, the Nekyia, in which ‘Orphic traces’ have been detected, [110] may be viewed as an attempt by the Odyssey poet/performer to appropriate motifs and themes that became popular through a performance of an Orphic katabasis or another, less Homeric Nekyia. Although evidence for this scenario is only circumstantial, as Martin admits, one must concede that things become much easier to explain and understand if placed within the tradition of epic poetry.
Two prominent examples may serve to highlight such a process, the golden amphora for Achilles’ bones (Iliad 83a, 83b; Odyssey 24.73–75), and Telemachos’ trip to Crete (Odyssey 1.93a and 285a). Casey Dué has argued convincingly that the presence or absence of the gold amphora is not simply a matter of interpolation, but a signaling of alternative poetic performances which may affect the outlook of the whole poem and its focus on Achilles’ mortality. The amphora “points to a critical dichotomy in how the Achilles story ends …, whether he will achieve immortality through cult or pass into obscurity in the underworld.” [111] This may serve as a prolepsis of events in the Aethiopis, [112] but one wonders if this is not also an allusion to the alternative conception of the afterlife, the one evident in the texts of the gold lamellae and epistomia, particularly because the amphora is made of gold and serves as a gift from Dionysos to Thetis, a gift touted by Thetis because of Hephaistos’ craftsmanship (Odyssey 24.73–75). [113]
An analogous case is that of the athetized verse which complicates Telemachos’ information-gathering journey concerning his father’s nostos. Nestor in Pylos, Menelaos and Helen in Sparta, and Idomeneus in Crete, all three appear to have been traditional destinations, but at some point Crete was eliminated. [114] The reasons for this are not self-evident. And yet, one wonders if the Athenian propaganda was not compounded by what Crete represented in the geometric and archaic period. [115] Gregory Nagy (2001 and 2004a) has presented compelling arguments, even though the evidence remains tenuous, for the two ancient theories of Homeric composition and performance, articulated by Aristarchos in Alexandria and Krates in Pergamon. In the editions produced, Aristarchos favored Peisistratid and Athenian recension, and the Pergamene Krates favored the Ionian recension with Orphic elements. In this light, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey constitute only one of the forms of epic poetry, the Homeric, as Nagy argues, with which interacted and competed the Hesiodic, Cyclic, and Orphic forms. [116] Such a scenario is not completely out of the question, in spite of the lack of evidence. As Richard Hunter has shown convincingly, a similar interaction and competition is embedded in the Orphic Argonautica. Orpheus is presented as an Odyssean figure wandering from didactic to traditional epic and thus exhibits a generic consciousness and tension between Homer and Hesiod, which creates a new literary space. [117]
Epic as “super-genre” betrays both expansiveness and pervasiveness, as Martin has argued, [118] and the performance of rhapsodies is only one factor, albeit a crucial factor because it provides the context. The Homeric and the Orphic views on afterlife competed through mutual and dynamic interaction, a process that eventually led to two distinct discourses on death and the afterlife, but not without discordant voices within them. If Homeric rhapsodizing provided a context, ‘prophesying’ and oracular poetry influenced the technique and composition of the texts on the lamellae and epistomia. [119] This is not to suggest (or even imply) that the texts on the gold lamellae should be viewed as oracles or oracular poetry, although Orpheus (i.e. his head after his death on Lesbos and his xoanon made of cypress-wood in Leibethra) sung oracles among other things, [120] and Dionysos was himself not completely devoid of oracular powers. [121] Both oracular texts and the texts on the lamellae belong to the same sub-literary genre of religious texts that have an emphasis on the written word; nevertheless, oral transmission and ritual performance also played a significant part, and all of these parameters may have been engaged by the same individual, as the cases of Pharnabazos in Olbia, Timarete in Pella, and the author of PDerveni imply. [122] Since Homer, oracles and oracular poetry constituted another kind of written religious document, a text not necessarily attached to any mystery cult, but certainly involving a ritual. These oracles, whatever their specific role and relation, were seen as something very important, as can be surmised from testimonies about oracle collections. To name only one example, [123] the Athenian Onomakritos was involved with the Peisistratids at the end of the sixth century BCE, and according to the scholia, he was an interpolator of Homer’s Nekyia. According to Christian writers, Onomakritos purportedly had in his possession books of oracles by Musaios and chresmoi by Orpheus, along with prophecies and ritual directives he had composed himself. This information has led Martin to suggest that he probably was a rhapsode employing Orphic material in his compositions. [124]
The texts on the gold lamellae and the surviving oracles, when compared and contrasted in terms of form, structure, and compositional technique, show affinities, although each presents its own distinct ‘prophetic/mantic’ vision. The main characteristics of the texts on the lamellae may be summarized as follows (Tables 1–2):
1) The meter in the majority of the texts is the dactylic hexameter (although not without problems), or the rhythmic prose which, according to Watkins, [125] may go as far back as the Hittite texts, especially the enigmatic formulas in the texts from Thourioi and Pelinna (A1–3, A4, D2, and perhaps D3).
2) The language is basically that of epic poetry, if not Homeric, then at least “sub-Homeric as seen in Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns.” [126] The Doric elements observed are statistically negligible and may have been due to the dialect of the mystes and/or the itinerant priest.
3) The verbs employed in all texts are either in the future or the present tense. The former, as Riedweg proposed, may imply that, when spoken during the initiation-ritual, the text referred to the future time, when the mystes will have began the journey (A1–3, B1, B2, B10); the latter, according to Janko, serves as praesens propheticum. [127]
4) The structure in some of the texts follows the pattern “when X, then Y” (Fontenrose’s “condition precedent”) (A4, B10), [128] and includes prohibitions (B1, B2, B10), commands (B1, B2, B10, D1–2), enigmatic formulas (A1–3, A4, D1/2, D3), and a makarismos (in all except B2, B3–9).
Similar characteristics may also be observed in some of the oracles that have survived from antiquity, all of which have been collected and examined on strict methodological grounds by Joseph Fontenrose, who concluded that none of them can be accepted as genuine. Six oracles have been chosen (four of which come from Herodotus’ narrative [129] ) which may illustrate their conventional techniques of composition. The reference to Fontenrose’s collection includes page and oracle numbers with capital letters indicating the category of the oracle: H for Historical and Q for Quasi-historical. [130] The expressions underlined betray the points of contact between the oracles and the texts on the lamellae and epistomia mentioned above:
1. Herodotus 1.55.2, Fontenrose 302 Q101, 185 (Parke and Wormell 2004, no. 54).
ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν ἡμίονος βασιλεὺς Μήδοισι γένηται,
καὶ τότε, Λυδὲ ποδαβρέ, πολυψήφιδα παρ᾽ Ἕρμον
φεύγειν μηδὲ μένειν, μηδ᾽ αἰδεῖσθαι κακὸς εἶναι.
But when the Medes have a mule as king,
just then, tender-footed Lydian, by the stone-strewn Hermus
flee and do not stay, and do not be ashamed to be a coward.
trans. Godley 1920–1925
2. Herodotus 1.67.4, Fontenrose 298 Q90, 173 (Parke and Wormell 2004, no. 33).
ἔστι τις Ἀρκαδίης Τεγέη λευρῷ ἐνὶ χώρῳ,
ἔνθ’ ἄνεμοι πνείουσι δύω κρατερῆς ὑπ᾽ ἀνάγκης,
καὶ τύπος ἀντίτυπος, καὶ πῆμ᾽ ἐπὶ πήματι κεῖται.
ἔνθ’ Ἀγαμεμνονίδην κατέχει φυσίζοος αἶα·
τὸν σὺ κομισσάμενος Τεγέης ἐπιτάρροθος ἔσσῃ.
There is a place Tegea in the smooth plain of Arcadia,
where two winds blow under strong compulsion;
blow lies upon blow, woe upon woe.
There the life-giving earth covers the son of Agamemnon;
bring him back, and you shall be lord of Tegea.
trans. Godley 1920–1925
3. Herodotus 5.92.2, Fontenrose 288 Q61, 183 (Parke and Wormell 2004, no. 8).
ὄλβιος οὗτος ἀνὴρ ὃς ἐμὸν δόμον ἐσκαταβαίνει,
Κύψελος Ἠετίδης, βασιλεὺς κλειτοῖο Κορίνθου,
αὐτὸς καὶ παῖδες, παίδων γε μὲν οὐκέτι παῖδες.
That man is fortunate who steps into my house,
Cypselus, son of Eetion, the king of noble Corinth,
he himself and his children, but not the sons of his sons.
trans. Godley 1920–1925
4. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 6.3.29, Fontenrose 317 Q148, 193 (Parke and Wormell 2004, no. 96).
ὦ Δελφοί, λίσσεσθ᾽ ἀνέμους καὶ λώιον ἔσται.
Delphians, pray to the winds, and it will be/become better.
Herodotus 7.178.1 (prose version):
Δελφοὶ δ᾽ ἐν τούτῳ τῷ χρόνῳ ἐχρηστηριάζοντο τῷ θεῷ ὑπὲρ ἑωυτῶν καὶ τῆς Ἑλλάδος καταρρωδηκότες, καί σφι ἐχρήσθη ἀνέμοισι εὔχεσθαι· μεγάλους γὰρ τούτους ἔσεσθαι τῇ Ἑλλάδι συμμάχους.
In the meantime, the Delphians, who were afraid for themselves and for Hellas, consulted the god. They were advised to pray to the winds, for these would be potent allies for Hellas.
trans. Godley 1920–1925
5. IG II2 5006ab, CE 117–138, Fontenrose 264 H66, 189 (Parke and Wormell 2004, no. 466).
Φοῖβος Ἀθηναίοις Δελφοὺς ναίων τάδε [εἶπεν]·
ἔστιν σοὶ παρ᾽ ἄκρας πόλεως παρὰ [τὸν Προπύλαιον],
οὗ λαὸς σύμπας κλήιζει γλαυκώ[πιδα Ἀθήνην],
Δήμητρος Χλοίης ἱερὸν Κούρη[ς τε μακαίρας],
οὗ πρῶτον στάχυς εὔξη[ται - - - - - -]
ς πρότεροι πατ[έρες - - - - - - - - -]
ἱδρυσα[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -]
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -]ν
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -] ἀπαρχάς
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -]ς ἁγνοῦ
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - τ]έχναισιν
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ] ἀνιούσης
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - θ]ρεπτά
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - λώι]ον ἔσται
[- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -].
Phoibos, who dwells in Delphi, said to the Athenians the following:
by the Propylaia on the Akropolis, where all the Athenians celebrate in song [Athena] with gleaming–eyes, there is the sanctuary of Demeter Chloia and Kore [Makaira], … it will be [better].
6. Demosthenes Against Meidias (21.51–52), Fontenrose 253 H28, 187 (Parke and Wormell 2004, no. 282).
ἴστε γὰρ δήπου τοῦθ᾽ ὅτι τοὺς χοροὺς ὑμεῖς ἅπαντας τούτους καὶ τοὺς ὕμνους τῷ θεῷ ποιεῖτε, οὐ μόνον κατὰ τοὺς νόμους τοὺς περὶ τῶν Διονυσίων, ἀλλὰ καὶ κατὰ τὰς μαντείας, ἐν αἷς ἁπάσαις ἀνῃρημένον εὑρήσετε τῇ πόλει, ὁμοίως ἐκ Δελφῶν καὶ ἐκ Δωδώνης, χοροὺς ἱστάναι κατὰ τὰ πάτρια καὶ κνισᾶν ἀγυιὰς καὶ στεφανηφορεῖν. ἀνάγνωθι δέ μοι λαβὼν αὐτὰς τὰς μαντείας.
αὐδῶ Ἐρεχθείδῃσιν, ὅσοι Πανδίονος ἄστυ
ναίετε καὶ πατρίοισι νόμοις ἰθύνεθ᾽ ἑορτάς,
μεμνῆσθαι Βάκχοιο, καὶ εὐρυχόρους κατ᾽ ἀγυιὰς
ἱστάναι ὡραίων Βρομίῳ χάριν ἄμμιγα πάντας,
καὶ κνισᾶν βωμοῖσι κάρη στεφάνοις πυκάσαντας.
περὶ ὑγιείας θύειν καὶ εὔχεσθαι Διὶ ὑπάτῳ, Ἡρακλεῖ, Ἀπόλλωνι προστατηρίῳ· περὶ τύχας ἀγαθᾶς Ἀπόλλωνι ἀγυιεῖ, Λατοῖ, Ἀρτέμιδι, καὶ κατ᾽ ἀγυιὰς κρατῆρας ἱστάμεν καὶ χοροὺς καὶ στεφαναφορεῖν καττὰ πάτρια θεοῖς Ὀλυμπίοις πάντεσσι καὶ πάσαις, †ἰδίας? δεξιὰς καὶ ἀριστερὰς ἀνίσχοντας, καὶ μνασιδωρεῖν.
If, men of Athens, I had not been a chorus-producer when Meidias treated me in this way, one would have condemned his actions only for insolence. As it is, I think it would be proper to condemn them for impiety too. You know of course that you hold all these performances of choruses and hymns for the god, not only in accordance with the laws about the Dionysia, but also in accordance with the oracles, in all of which you will find it ordained for the city, from Delphi and from Dodona alike, to establish choruses in accordance with tradition, to make streets smell of sacrifice, and to wear crowns. Please take and read the actual oracles.
I declare to the sons of Erekhtheus, all you who dwell in Pandion’s town and direct festivals by inherited laws, to remember Bakkhos, and all together to establish a thanksgiving to Bromios for ripe crops along the broad-spaced streets, and to make a smell of sacrifice on the altars, covering your heads with crowns.
For health, sacrifice and pray to Zeus the highest, Heracles, and Apollo the protector; for good fortune, to Apollo of streets, Leto, and Artemis. Along the streets establish bowls of wine and choruses, and wear crowns, and in accordance with tradition raise your right and left hands to all the Olympian gods and goddesses and remember their gifts.
trans. MacDowell 2002
The structure and composition of these six oracles is mainly based on five themes, themes which are presented either independently or in combination:  [131]
1) salutation, either honorific or deprecatory (in 1, 3, 6 above);
2) assertion of mantic authority (in 3, 5, 6 above);
3) the formula “when X then Y,” or condition precedent (in 1, 2, 5 above);
4) the message, which may include a prediction in the indicative ‘prophetic’ present or in the future tense, or a command, recommendation, prohibition in the iussive, (in all except 3 above, where it is implied);
5) explication, i.e. statements intended to justify, elaborate, clarify, or expand the message or some other theme of the oracle (in all except 4 above).
According to Fontenrose (1981):
Oracular poetry has conventions of content and poetic expression, patterns and formulae both flexible and fixed. These are due in part to the genre itself, in part due to the meter employed. Since the dactylic hexameter was the epic meter, we may expect to find epic echoes in verse oracles (186) … Authentic verse oracles differ in style and content from the traditional oracles of folk narrative, poetry, chresmologues’ compositions, and oracle collections. They are simple in structure, short, mainly confined to the message, not much embellished with formulae … and not strongly epic in diction or manner. But traditional oracles are a genre of poetry. The original composition of this kind purported to be the pronouncements of seers, who were also poets (195).
The similarities in form, structure, and compositional technique between the texts of the six oracles and the texts on the lamellae are obvious enough. [132] That the majority of oracles were composed in verse (more specifically, in dactylic hexameter, with a few in iambic trimeter) does not bear on the issue of their authenticity, nor does it imply that they were poetic compositions from the beginning, since there were many responses in prose as well. On this issue, Fontenrose is following Plutarch, who devoted a treatise on The Oracles at Delphi No Longer Given in Verse (402d–e):
But they established the cult of the Muses as associates and guardians of the prophetic art (τὰς δὲ Μούσας ἱδρύσαντο παρέδρους τῆς μαντικῆς καὶ φύλακας) in this very place beside the stream and the shrine of Earth, to whom it is said that the oracle used to belong because of the responses being given in poetic and musical measures. And some assert that it was here that the heroic verse was heard for the first time (ἔνιοι δὲ καὶ πρῶτον ἐνταῦθά φασιν ἡρῷον μέτρον ἀκουσθῆναι): “Birds, contribute your feathers, and bees, bring wax as your portion.” Later Earth became inferior to the god and lost her august position.
trans. Babbitt 1936
If the Chaironeian is to be trusted, [133] then the poetic composition of oracles was due to the shrine of the Muses and to their cult established near the spring. Hypothesis A to Pindar’s Pythians (Drachmann, page 2, see below, pages 141–142) adds further that Dionysos was responsible for the dactylic meter in the Delphic nomos. Thus, the Greek perception that the Pythia spoke in verses, or that the hexameter was an invention by the Pythia is only that, a perception. [134] The Greeks thought that the hexameter was the meter of oracles and oracular poetry, and this conception must have been cultivated through Delphic propaganda. It may have been only natural to follow in the path of Homer, Hesiod, and epic poetry and to adopt their well-established techniques and methods of structure and composition. More importantly, Homer’s and Hesiod’s precedents would have been more than influential, as the case of the Presocratic philosophers (who employed the same medium for their works in terms of form) amply illustrates. The dactylic hexameter, once sanctioned by Delphi as the oracular medium which led to the oracles’ wide circulation and prestige, was, so it seems, also adopted by the composers of the texts on the lamellae and epistomia, together with the techniques and methods of structure and composition, found in oracular poetry.
In addition to metrics and form, the texts on the lamellae show further similarities with the oracles: in their (sub)epic diction; in their formula “when X then Y” (Fontenrose’s “condition precedent”); in their prohibitions and commands in the present or future indicative or in the iussive; in their salutation or makarismos; in their assertion of authority by the deity; and in their explication or expansion or contraction of the text. These similarities are certainly conventional, but at the same time they constitute a convenient medium of structural and technical methods that proved successful in transmitting a divine message. Thus, the oracles and the texts on the lamellae and epistomia, as they employ the same medium and techniques of composition, represent different groups of the same (sub)literary genre of religious texts.
Beyond form and technique, however, there is another more crucial element shared by these two groups of oracular and mystic texts, the terms mantis, prophetes, and mania. The equation of Dionysos with prophecy [135] and of Apollo with ecstasy might seem disturbing and paradoxical, especially after Friedrich Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy. Macrobius, in the Saturnalia (1.18.6), contending that Euripides considered Apollo and Dionysos one and the same god, quotes a fragment from Euripides’ Likymnios (fr. 477 N): δέσποτα φιλόδαφνε Βάκχε, παιὰν Ἄπολλον εὔλυρε (Lord, lover of laurel, Bacchus, paean Apollo with the fair lyre); and, in order to show that Aeschylus also held the same view, he adds a line from Aeschylus’ Bassarai (fr. 86 Mette): ὁ κισσεὺς Ἀπόλλων, ὁ βακχ<ε>ιοσόμαντις (Apollo of the ivy [crowned with ivy], the Bacchic mantis, or the mantis inspired by Baccheios). [136] Likewise, on a second–third-century-CE papyrus (an anthology of hymns to Aphrodite, Artemis-Hekate, Apollo, and Dionysos) there is a number of astonishing but fragmentary elements which seem to juxtapose again, presumably in a complementary way, Apollo and Dionysos (PChicago Pack2 1620, column X): line 5 μύσσται, line 8 μαντικὸν προφήτην, line 13 μαντικὲ παιάν, line 14 Διόνυσε. [137] The surviving evidence is not always as clear-cut as we would like it to be. These fragments apparently call into question the polar conflict between a prophecy-associated Apollo and an ecstasy-associated Dionysos which, since Nietzsche, [138] has systematically dominated western thought.
The two fragments Macrobius quotes, however, are not the only evidence regarding this matter. Plutarch, an authority on Delphic matters, testifies to Dionysos’ presence at Apollo’s prophetic shrine during the winter (The E at Delphi 388e–389c):
If, then, anyone asks, ‘What has this to do with Apollo?’, we shall say that it concerns not only him, but also Dionysos, whose share in Delphi is no less than that of Apollo (ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον, ᾧ τῶν Δελφῶν οὐδὲν ἧττον ἢ τῷ Ἀπόλλωνι μέτεστιν). Now we hear the theologians affirming and reciting, sometimes in verse and sometimes in prose … And as for his turning into winds and water, earth and stars, and into the generations of plants and animals, and his adoption of such guises, they speak in a deceptive way of what he undergoes in his transformation as a tearing apart, as it were, and a dismemberment (τὸ μὲν πάθημα καὶ τὴν μεταβολὴν διασπασμόν τινα καὶ διαμελισμὸν αἰνίττονται). They give him the names of Dionysos, Zagreus, Nyctelios, and Isodaites; they construct destructions and disappearances, followed by returns to life and regenerations—riddles and fabulous tales quite in keeping with the aforesaid transformations (Διόνυσον δὲ καὶ Ζαγρέα καὶ Νυκτέλιον καὶ Ἰσοδαίτην αὐτὸν ὀνομάζουσι καὶ φθοράς τινας καὶ ἀφανισμούς, εἶτα δ᾽ ἀναβιώσεις καὶ παλιγγενεσίας οἰκεῖα ταῖς εἰρημέναις μεταβολαῖς αἰνίγματα καὶ μυθεύματα περαίνουσι). To this god also sing the dithyrambic strains laden with emotion and with a transformation that includes a certain wandering and dispersion (ᾄδουσι τῷ μὲν διθυραμβικὰ μέλη παθῶν μεστὰ καὶ μεταβολῆς πλάνην τινὰ καὶ διαφόρησιν ἐχούσης). Aeschylus, in fact, says (fr. 355 N): “Fitting it is that the dithyramb with its fitful notes should attend Dionysos in revel rout (μιξοβόαν … πρέπει διθύραμβον ὁμαρτεῖν σύγκωμον Διονύσῳ).” But to Apollo they sing the paean, music regulated and chaste …, but to Dionysos a certain variability combined with playfulness, wantoness, seriousness, and frenzy (τῷ δὲ μεμιγμένην τινὰ παιδιᾷ καὶ ὕβρει [καὶ σπουδῇ] καὶ μανίᾳ προσφέροντες ἀνωμαλίαν). They call upon him (ἀνακαλοῦσιν): “Euoe Bacchus who incites womankind, Dionysos who delights ’mid his honours fraught with frenzy” (fr. Lyr. Adesp. 131: εὔιον ὀρσιγύναικα μαινομέναις Διόνυσον ἀνθέοντα τιμαῖς), not inappositely apprehending the peculiar character of each transformation. But since the time of the cycles in these transformations is not equal, but that of the one which they call ‘Satiety’ (κόρον) is longer, and that of ‘Dearth’ (χρησμοσύνης) shorter, they observe the ratio, and use the paean at their sacrifices for a large part of the year (τὸν μὲν ἄλλον ἐνιαυτὸν παιᾶνι χρῶνται περὶ τὰς θυσίας); but at the beginning of winter they awake the dithyramb and, laying the paean to rest, they use the dithyramb instead of it in their invocations of the god (ἀρχομένου δὲ χειμῶνος ἐπεγείραντες τὸν διθύραμβον τὸν δὲ παιᾶνα καταπαύσαντες τρεῖς μῆνας ἀντ᾽ ἐκείνου τοῦτον κατακαλοῦνται τὸν θεόν).
trans. Babbitt 1936
Hypothesis A to Pindar’s Pythians (Drachmann, page 2) relates an interesting version of the successive occupants at Delphi, not very different from the catalogue of the gods of Delphi the Pythia presents in the parodos of Aeschylus’ Eumenides (lines 1–29): before Apollo, Nyx, Themis, Dionysos, and then Pytho gave oracles at the site. [139] There seems to be an orderly transfer of prophetic power from Nyx, to Themis [140] (who sang oracles), and then to Dionysos, who began giving themistes (according to Themis?) from the tripod, although no reason is given for the necessity of this succession. Python took over the tripod from Dionysos violently, and in turn, the serpentine prophet was killed by Apollo who celebrated the Pythian Games and restored the order. The new Apolline order, according to Hypothesis A, took into consideration all previous occupants and created epithets and nouns which recalled the oracle’s history: iambos, because of Python’s abuse of Apollo; daktylon, because Dionysos is believed to have prophesied from the tripod first; Cretan from Zeus; and Metroon, because Delphi is Earth’s oracle.
At any rate, the Delphians themselves were so proud of their ‘odd couple’ that they had Dionysos and the Thyiads sculpted on the west pediment of Apollo’s temple, and on the east pediment, Apollo’s arrival at the site with his entourage: Leto, Artemis, and the Muses. It may also be safely assumed that the Delphians were instrumental in the composition by Philodamos of Skarpheia of the Paean in honor of Dionysos, in the middle of the fourth century BCE. In it, the god is summoned as Paean Soter and in the ephymnion, quite unexpectedly, we hear both the Bacchic cry euhoi and the Apolline ie Paian:  [141] εὐοῖ ὦ ἰὸ Βάκχ᾽, ὦ ἰὲ Παιάν.
These fragmentary pieces of evidence present not a polar conflict between Apollo and Dionysos, or between prophesy and ecstasy, but a sort of fusion of the two at Delphi, [142] an Apollo masked as Dionysos and/or a Dionysos masked as Apollo. [143] The complementarity of the two is obvious enough, and their common ground seems to have been mania:  [144] Apollo prophesied through the manic/mantic Pythia, and Dionysos’ initiates became bacchoi through mania and teletai. The Apolline cult and the Dionysiac ritual appear to have had an equal share in ecstasy through the manic possession of the individual, be it the Pythia or Dionysos’ manteis and prophetai.
The semantic interrelation of the terms mantis, prophetes, chresmologos, and mania is best elaborated by Euripides in the Bacchae and by Plato in his Timaeus. [145] In the Bacchae , Teiresias, Apollo’s seer and an expert in distinguishing between mantis and prophetes, promotes the new cult of the Stranger/Dionysos. He is the only one employing the word mantis and mantike to describe Dionysos and the god’s art, as well as his own art. This implies—and this is an argumentum ex silentio—that Teiresias cannot be a mantis of Dionysos, but only his prophetes (Bacchae 298–301, 367–368):  [146]
ΤΕI.  μάντις δ᾽ ὁ δαίμων ὅδε· τὸ γὰρ βακχεύσιμον
καὶ τὸ μανιῶδες μαντικὴν πολλὴν ἔχει·
ὅταν γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἐς τὸ σῶμ᾽ ἔλθηι πολύς,
λέγειν τὸ μέλλον τοὺς μεμηνότας ποιεῖ.
This god is also a prophet: for the bacchic and the manic have much mantic power: for when the god enters abundantly into the body, he makes the maddened speak the future.
Seaford 1996
ΤΕI.  Πενθεὺς δ᾽ ὅπως μὴ πένθος εἰσοίσει δόμοις
τοῖς σοῖσι, Κάδμε· μαντικῆι μὲν οὐ λέγω,
τοῖς πράγμασι δέ.
May Pentheus not bring grief to your house, Kadmos. It is not prophecy that I say this, but by the facts.
Seaford 1996
Kadmos, in order to characterize himself, and the Chorus, referring to the promoters or preachers of Dionysos’ teletai, both employ the term prophetes (Bacchae 210–211, 550–552):
ΚΑ.  ἐπεὶ σὺ φέγγος, Τειρεσία, τόδ᾽ οὐχ ὁρᾶις,
ἐγὼ προφήτης σοι λόγων γενήσομαι.
Since you cannot see this light, Teiresias, I will become interpreter to you with words.
Seaford 1996
ΧΟ.  ἐσορᾶις τάδ᾽, ὦ Διὸς παῖ
Διόνυσε, σοὺς προφήτας
ἐν ἁμίλλαισιν ἀνάγκας;
Do you see these things, O son of Zeus, Dionysos, your proclaimers in struggles against constraint?
Seaford 1996
In the discourse of the Bacchae, it appears that mantis is the god-inspired person and prophetes the interpreter, the intermediary, the preacher of what the god is divining through the mantis. [147]
This distinction between mantis and prophetes is also evident in Plato’s Timaeus. [148] The philosopher explains the placement of the liver near the soul’s part for the natural appetites (epithymetikon) and its function as the body’s oracle, through which gods can send messages to the body. In discussing this, he broaches the subjects of prophesy, ecstasy, and divination (Timaeus 71e–72b):  [149]
And that God gave unto man’s foolishness the gift of divination (μαντικήν) a sufficient token is this: no man achieves true and inspired divination (μαντικῆς ἐνθέου καὶ ἀληθοῦς) when in his rational mind, but only when the power of his intelligence is fettered in sleep or when it is distraught by disease or by reason of some divine inspiration (ἐνθουσιασμόν). But it belongs to a man when in his right mind to recollect and ponder both the things spoken in dream or waking vision by the divining and inspired nature (μαντικῆς τε καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικῆς φύσεως), and all the visionary forms that were seen, and by means of reasoning to discern about them all wherein they are significant and for whom they portend evil or good in the future, the past, or the present. But it is not the task of him who has been in a state of frenzy, and still continues therein, to judge the apparitions and voices seen or uttered by himself; for it was well said of old that to do and to know one’s own and oneself belongs only to him who is sound of mind. Wherefore also it is customary to set the tribe of prophets to pass judgment upon these inspired divinations (τὸ τῶν προφητῶν γένος ἐπὶ ταῖς ἐνθέοις μαντείαις κριτὰς ἐπικαθιστάναι νόμος); and they, indeed, themselves are named “diviners” (μάντεις) by certain who are wholly ignorant of the truth that they are not diviners but interpreters of the mysterious voice and apparition (τῆς δι᾽ αἰνιγμῶν οὗτοι φήμης καὶ φαντάσεως ὑποκριταί), for whom the most fitting name would be “prophets of things divined” (προφῆται δὲ μαντευομένων δικαιότατα ὀνομάζοιντ᾽ ἄν). For these reasons, then, the nature of the liver is such as we have stated and situated in the region we have described, for the sake of divination. Moreover, when the individual creature is alive this organ affords signs that are fairly manifest, but when deprived of life it becomes blind and the divinations it presents are too much obscured to have any clear significance.
trans. Bury 1929
According to Plato’s discussion, a mantis is someone possessed by god, who has god inside, and therefore speaks from an altered or special mental state, a state of mania, which explains the mantis’ failure to remember his own words. The prophetes and the chresmologos on the other hand, is an interpreter, a preacher, a judge of the divinely inspired mantic pronouncements. Yet divine mania is not of one kind, but rather, as Plato explains, there are four types: mantic, telestic, poetic, and erotic, represented by Apollo, Dionysos, the Muses, and Aphrodite/Eros respectively (Phaedrus 265b; compare also 244a–245a). This clear definition of the semantics of the two words has led Gregory Nagy to infer that, at Delphi, the mantis-Pythia would have been in control of the content, the sacred medium, whereas the prophetai would turn the divinely inspired content of the Pythia into the oracular medium of poetic form, as described above. [150] Although this “division of labour” is not evident in the sources, as Lisa Maurizio has argued, [151] the role of the male priests at Delphi cannot have been very different from the picture Plato presents, that is, as interpreters of the cryptic and enigmatic divine language of the Pythia. To what extent (if any) this process of interpreting involved tampering with the form, is anybody’s guess.
This procedure, mutatis mutandis, should also be envisioned for the composers of the texts on the lamellae and epistomia, who have been called bricoleurs. [152] The mantic pronouncements (ascribed to Orpheus and Musaios), circulating in written form and through performances since at least the fifth century BCE, would have been the object of interpretation and preaching by manteis and prophetai, both of whom people trusted. Among them there were also fakes, agyrtai, who tried to earn a living by playing on people’s superstitions and fears, and orpheotelestai, a group criticized and ridiculed by Theophrastos and Plutarch. [153] Plato had already set the standard for this in his harsh critique and reprobation of false manteis and prophetai in the Republic (364b–365a):
But the strangest of all these speeches are the things they say about the gods and virtue, how so it is that the gods themselves assign to many good men misfortunes and an evil life, but to their opposites a contrary lot; and agyrtai and manteis go to rich men’s doors and make them believe that they by means of sacrifices (θυσίαις) and incantations (ἐπῳδαῖς) have accumulated a treasure of power from the gods that can expiate and cure with pleasurable festivals any misdeed of a man or his ancestors, and that if a man wishes to harm an enemy, at slight cost (μετὰ σμικρῶν δαπανῶν) he will be enabled to injure just and unjust alike, since they are masters of spells and enchantments (ἐπαγωγαῖς τισιν καὶ καταδέσμοις) that constrain the gods to serve their end. And for all these sayings they cite the poets as witnesses (μάρτυρας ποιητάς), with regard to the ease and plentifulness of vice … And others cite Homer as a witness to the beguiling of gods by men … And they produce a bushel of books of Musaios and Orpheus (βίβλων δὲ ὅμαδον παρέχονται Μουσαίου καὶ Ὀρφέως), the offspring of the Moon and of the Muses, as they affirm, and these books they use in their ritual (καθ’ ἃς θυηπολοῦσιν), and make not only ordinary men but states believe that there really are remissions (λύσεις) of sins and purifications (καθαρμοί) for deeds of injustice, by means of sacrifice and pleasant sport (διὰ θυσιῶν καὶ παιδιᾶς ἡδονῶν) for the living, and that there are also special rites for the defunct, which they call teletai, that deliver us from evils in that other world (αἳ τῶν ἐκεῖ κακῶν ἀπολύουσιν ἡμᾶς), while terrible things await those who have neglected to sacrifice (μὴ θύσαντας δὲ δεινὰ περιμένει).
trans. Shorey 1937, modified
This passage is usually read as representing a negative critique against itinerant priests, or charismatics, [154] be they magoi, agyrtai, orpheotelestai, manteis, chresmologoi, or prophetai (some of whom may indeed have been local or Panhellenic jokes). The distinctions usually drawn among these religious practitioners are abolished by Plato so as to emphasize the message. Interestingly, however, Plato refers to two kinds of needs that peoples and cities have, and then addresses the way in which these false religious practitioners accommodate their preaching to suit those needs. The first need involves an interest in this life: people want assurances and blessings during their lifetime. The second need of people is what happens to them after death. This kind of itinerant preaching by self-appointed magoi, agyrtai, orpheotelestai, manteis, prophetai is not difficult to imagine, regardless of the validity of their teachings. At least this much is evident also in PDerveni whose author presents a critical attitude similar to Plato’s. In PDerveni columns V–VII, XI and XIII, the subject also appears to be eschatology, but its interpretation is far from certain due to the fragmentary preservation. The didactic posture of the person speaking is evident, but the attitude towards the magoi, whether positive or negative, is not. However one understands the author of PDerveni, a telestes, mantis, or philosopher-poet, [155] what needs to be emphasized is that mantike, as everything else, had both true and false interpreters and practitioners, who catered people’s needs. Perceptions are difficult to grasp, but a bad poet does not make poetry bad, just as a bad mantis, prophetes, orpheotelestes, agyrtes, magos does not make these arts bad by definition. Both Plato and the PDerveni author, although their views cannot be taken as representative or mainstream, try to distinguish between true and false religious practitioners. [156] Graf and Johnston propose that the authors of the texts on the lamellae and epistomia may have been local or itinerant orpheotelestai, a term which combines all (or almost all) the religious activities mentioned by Plato. According to Andrei Lebedev’s hypothesis, Pharnabazos, the diviner of Hermes, and Aristoteles were two such individuals, both magicians and orpheotelestai, at work in Olbia, and, because of competition, they were writing curse-tablets against one another. In a parallel case, Emmanuel Voutiras has proposed that Timarete from Corinth most probably was an itinerant female magician active in fourth century BCE Pella. [157]
Be that as it may, at least as far as the Bacchica are concerned, the two kinds of human needs, illuminated by Plato, are evident in the sources. The Dionysos of Euripides’ Bacchae preaches Bacchic teletai, which concentrate on maenadism and Bacchic blessings during this life. [158] As Susan Cole has shown convincingly, the epitaphs of Bacchic initiates from Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, Boeotia, the Peloponnese, Rhodes and Rome, dated from the third century BCE to the third century CE, present the expected Dionysiac motifs: the vine, the wine, and the symposium; children dying young and parents at a loss by the death of their children; people despairing at the prospect of death. [159] These initiates ask Dionysos to help and save them now, while they are alive on earth and not after death, and they even accuse and chastise the god for having failed to protect their children or themselves from death.
The Dionysos of the texts on the lamellae and epistomia promises to remove the fear of death from those initiated in another(?) Bacchic mystery cult which promised life after death. The texts on the lamellae and epistomia may be thought of as ‘prophetic or oracular’ texts, in that their content, the divine message, taught during initiation, will materialize only after the mystes crosses the threshold of Hades. In that sense, Dionysos masked as Apollo or Hades, or Apollo and Hades masked as Dionysos, are not paradoxes, as Dionysos is one of the few gods that defies categorization and definition and partakes in more than one clearly defined sphere of human activity and human needs.
At Delphi, Dionysos is a chthonian lover of laurel and paean Apollo, and Apollo becomes the Bacchic mantis of the ivy. The divine mania of Euripides’ Bacchae, with its positive and negative consequences, is transformed at Delphi through Dionysos into the mantic mania of Pythia and Apollo. [160] Both gods purportedly know what the future holds, but Apollo’s knowledge of the afterlife is very limited, if not non-existent. He was asked only once, in 262 CE or a little later, by the neoplatonist Amelios to reply to the question: “where has the soul of Plotinos gone?” [161] Apollo, through his manic/mantic Pythia and through his oracles, accommodates those who simply want to know what the future holds, while they are alive. This is also true of the Dionysos in the Bacchae and the inscriptions of his initiates above the grave. But Dionysos also accommodates those who want to know the future of their existence after death and who care very much about it. These initiates take with them into the grave the gold lamellae and epistomia (incised or unincised). Masked as a Hades, or being one and the same with Hades (Herakleitos fr. 15: ὡυτὸς δὲ Ἀΐδης καὶ Διόνυσος, ὅτεωι μαίνονται καὶ ληναΐζουσιν), or masked as an Apollo (according to Aeschylus, Euripides, and Philodamos of Skarpheia), Dionysos ensures the hopes of this group of initiates for a special postmortem treatment and promises their transformation after death into a hero and even a god.
Dionysos as bacchos; Dionysos as mantis and prophet; Dionysos as transformer of humans after death into heroes and gods; Dionysos as telestes and poet; Dionysos as initiator of rituals and poetics—these are but a few of the many personae this god had in Greece (at least as many as Orpheus had: the Argonaut, the foreigner, the singer, the magician, the initiator, the husband of Eurydice). [162] Trying to make sense out of this complex divinity with the fragmentary information which has survived is not an easy task, as the interpretative tools at our disposal are still too Apolline to deal with matters Bacchic.


[ back ] 1. Zuntz 1971:285.
[ back ] 2. Cole 1980; and Graf 1993.
[ back ] 3. Zuntz 1971:278–286. For magic, defixiones, and amulets, see the collection of essays in Faraone and Obbink 1991, Christidis and Jordan 1997, and Mirecki and Meyer 2002; see also Gager 1992; Kotansky 1991 and 1994; Graf 1997; Jordan 1997a; Johnston 1999:71–80; Dickie 2001; Collins 2003; Johnston 2004b. For a small number of phylacteries on lead, see Giannobile and Jordan 2006. For updates of new editions, see Jordan 1985b, 1997b, 2000; to which add Grammatikaki and Litinas 2000; and Maltomini 2006. For later exorcisms and defixiones in Cretan manuscripts, see Spyridakis 1941–1942. See also 120n79 and 132n122.
[ back ] 4. Zuntz 1971:284 and 355–356; and Guarducci 1974a:8–11. Kotansky (1991:114–116 and 122) in his discussion of the lamellae notes: “the fact that the tablet had once been rolled up or folded suggests that at some point an ‘Orphic’ tablet could have been used, like the Phalasarna tablet, as a personal amulet. One might speculate, then, that the widespread use of the gold and silver phylacteries was indeed patterned after the ‘Orphic’ lamellae, that is, that the protection of the recently dead from the dangers of the Underworld may have been, or gradually became, a desideratum for the living folk as well” (115). Although Zuntz (1971:353) may have overdone it with the analogy of Catholicism and has been rightly criticized (Kotansky 1991:114–116; Kingsley 1995:308–316; Edmonds 2004, 40), and although there may have been “a blurring of the distinction between protection in the present life and in the hereafter” (Kotansky 1991:116), nevertheless, the texts engraved on the gold lamellae and epistomia suggest otherwise, as their usage, function, and purpose is in no way similar or comparable to the phylacteries, amulets, and curse tablets, so far discovered, (compare the prescriptions for the living in the lex sacra from Selinous; SEG 43.630 and Jameson, Jordan, and Kotansky 1993); they do not aim at protection for staying alive or for averting evil spirits in this life above the earth, but they provide knowledge and serve as memory-tags for the proper road in the afterlife when in the Underworld. This distinction need not, in fact should not, as Kotansky rightly argues, imply a degeneration of an original ‘pure’ prototype religion into the alleged secondary and ‘magical’ creations, as Zuntz’s discussion implies. Bernand (2003:415–432) concludes his discussion of Greek magicians with the gold engraved lamellae as specimens of magic; Rangos (2003:143–145) calls them phylacteries; for Robert Fowler (2000:320) they are a special instance of favorable reception in the other world, although he stresses the difficulty in discussing ancient Greek magic and religion separately.
[ back ] 5. Guarducci 1974a:13, and the sections “Shape-Burial Context” and “Usage.”
[ back ] 6. Guarducci 1974a:12.
[ back ] 7. Zuntz 1971:344–354.
[ back ] 8. Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:183–200; Bernabé 2005:492F; and Betegh forthcoming.
[ back ] 9. LSJ s.v. III1c: “inf [initive] alone at the beginning of letters, Κῦρος Κυαξάρῃ χαίρειν (sc. λέγω).” For this epistolary formula, see Gerhard 1905:27–65; the examples from a variety of epistolary papyri of the third century BCE to the third century AD (familial, business, and official letters, petitions, complaints, applications) collected by Exler 1976:23–68; and the remarks by Llewelyn 1998:122–128. For addresses in Greek prose in general, see Dickey 1996; for the origins of the chaire salutation, see Wachter 1998; for chaire in hymns and inscriptions Rossi 1999, Day 2000, and Depew 2000; for its use in the New Testament, see Konis 2006.
[ back ] 10. Dickie 1995a:82.
[ back ] 11. As proposed by Guarducci 1985:385–397. Gallavotti (1978–79:348n16; 1988:28–31) has argued instead that this brief text is not a salute to the gods of the Underworld, but an exhortation to the deceased to “rejoice either in the divine presence of Plouton and Persephone, or in some divine favor,” a plausible, but unlikely interpretation, in light of the longer texts which present a dialogue between the deceased and the Underworld deities. The expression Greetings also includes a wish for “joy and well-being,” as Sourvinou-Inwood (1995:180–216) cogently demonstrated.
[ back ] 12. Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:207 and especially 195–197 where she comments on A4; Rossi 1999; Day 2000:47; and Depew 2000:62–63. García (2002) has shown that the chaire formula in the Homeric Hymns belongs to symbolic action, the moment of its utterance being the moment of god’s epiphany. Martin (2007) adds that chaire anticipates the transformation of the deceased from anthrôpos to theos, before we are told so explicitly later in the texts on the lamellae.
[ back ] 13. Dickie 1995a:83; Gallavotti 1988:28–31; Guarducci 1974a:15–17; Zuntz 1971:335–336n2.
[ back ] 14. Tortorelli Ghidini 1995a:468–482.
[ back ] 15. Burkert 1985:286–301, 296–297; Parker 1996:43–55, especially 54–55; and Henrichs 2003a and 2003b.
[ back ] 16. Dickie 1995a:82; Segal 1990:413; Janko 1984:89–91; Riedweg 2002:478–479; Henrichs 2003a and 2003b.
[ back ] 17. Johnston (2004a:108–109) distinguishes between absolute and relative secrecy, the latter of which is applicable to the mysteries.
[ back ] 18. Compare, however, Zuntz 1971:353.
[ back ] 19. E.g. see Keramaris, Protopsalti and Tsolakis (2002:234, 239 no. 4) for an unincised epistomion in a fifth century BCE grave whose goods suggest a Dionysiac context: decoration of ivy-leaves on the neck of the attic krater, and a Dionysiac depiction on a small black-figure lekythos.
[ back ] 20. Bodel 2001:19–24; see further Skouteri-Didaskalou 1997; Chatzitaki-Kapsomenou 1997; Frankfurter 2004; and Graf and Johnston 2007:134–136 (the proxy-texts). The performative aspect is the only one shared by curse-tablets, amulets, phylacteries, and the gold lamellae for which see Obbink forthcoming; Calame forthcoming; and 93–94nn3–4.
[ back ] 21. See also PGurob (Hordern 2000); and Riedweg 2002.
[ back ] 22. Zuntz 1971:281–305, 328–329, 333, 344–364.
[ back ] 23. Edmonds 2004; and Parker and Stamatopoulou 2004.
[ back ] 24. For an interesting discussion of the lamellae’s geographical distribution, see Cole forthcoming.
[ back ] 25. In Archaeological Reports (1988–1989:93) it was reported that from a Hellenistic cist-grave in Sourada, Lesbos were recovered: “a gold diadem with Heracles’ knot flanked by stylized Aeolic capitals; parts of a gold pendant of semiprecious stones; gold olive leaves; an incised gold sheet with an Orphic text; a pendant with gold beads; silver coins; and a series of statuettes of young men.” This unpublished text has been included provisionally in the corpus of the lamellae’s texts (Gavrilaki and Tzifopoulos 1998:348 n20; Graf and Johnston 2007:28). Although the grave-goods present a very interesting case in relation to the above discussion, the text incised on the gold lamella is not a ‘Bacchic-Orphic’ text, as Angelos Matthaiou (who is going to publish the text) informs me.
[ back ] 26. These four are included in the Appendices of Graf and Johnston (2007:185–190), as Additional Bacchic Texts, related to the discussion of the texts on the gold lamellae.
[ back ] 27. For the curious text of a column of this papyrus, see Niafas 1997.
[ back ] 28. For a preliminary discussion, see Tzifopoulos 1998b and 2002.
[ back ] 29. Zuntz 1971:384.
[ back ] 30. Graf 1993:250–251.
[ back ] 31. Petsas 1967a, 1967b; Hatzopoulos 2002, 2006, and 2008.
[ back ] 32. The krater was found in Tomb 33 at Timmari (Basilicata) and was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art (1994.19). Since its publication by Trendall and Cambitoglou (1992:508 no. 41a1), it has attracted much attention and rightly so: Graf 1993:256; Johnston and McNiven 1996:25–36, pl. 1; Avagianou 2002 in relation to Thessalian inscriptions to Hermes Chthonios. Kefalidou (2005–2006) discusses afresh the iconography and she tentatively suggests for the painter’s inspiration some dramatic work like the Minyas or Nostoi or even another painting such as Polygnotos’ in the Knidian Lesche at Delphi. Chicoteau (1997; SEG 47.1509; EBGR 1997.76) discusses a similar interaction with and/or influence of Orphic-Dionysiac beliefs on a fresco in a Roman catacomb. For depictions of the Underworld in Apulian vases, see Schmidt (1991, 1996, and 2000, the Toledo scene in pages 96–97); and Carpenter forthcoming. For Bacchic themes, see Rauch 1999; for Dionysos’ depictions on coin-legends, see Franke and Marathaki 1999; and Ruotolo 2005; for Dionysos’ depictions on seals and gems Overbeck and Overbeck 2005.
[ back ] 33. I owe this observation to Charalambos Kritzas’ discerning eye.
[ back ] 34. For the former, Trendall and Cambitoglou 1992:508; and Johnson and McNiven 1996; for the latter, Boegehold 1999:25–26; and compare Carpenter forthcoming.
[ back ] 35. Kefalidou 2005–2006.
[ back ] 36. Zuntz 1971:339–340n1.
[ back ] 37. Zuntz 1971:381–382.
[ back ] 38. Philostratos Apollonius of Tyana 8.30; Lucian The Passing of Peregrinos; Zuntz 1971:341–342, the quotation from 342n1.
[ back ] 39. As John Papadopoulos, at the time Associate Curator at the Getty Museum, informed me, the Thessalian provenance of this lamella is not completely secure.
[ back ] 40. West 1975; and Janko 1984 and forthcoming.
[ back ] 41. Segal 1990:413–414.
[ back ] 42. Apud Watkins 1995:281; and for these texts as “non-parasitic ritual utterances,” Obbink forthcoming, and 2n4.
[ back ] 43. Riedweg 1998, 2002: 470–471. Bernabé’s and Jiménez San Cristóbal’s (2001), Graf’s and Johnston’s (2007), and Graf’s (forthcoming-2) extremely helpful commentaries present a more or less similar set of stages. For hieroi logoi, see 2n2. For the symbiosis of myth and ritual Buxton 1994:145–165; for the tension between ritual and myth, see Calame 1995:186–201; Waldner 2000; Bremmer 2004; Graf 2004b; for both myth and ritual as manifestations of symbolic processes, see Calame 1996. For the emotional experience of the mourner’s physical contact with the deceased and for the tension in funerary rituals, see Chaniotis 2006b:219–226.
[ back ] 44. Graf and Johnston 2007:134–136.
[ back ] 45. Betz forthcoming. According to Bremmer (1999:81), “traditionally an impossible statement for a human,” who, however, relates it with “probably the final stage of the process of reincarnation.” It is worth noting that the expression usually employed in the Homeric epics, εὔχoμαι εἶναι (for which see Muellner 1974) is absent from the texts of the lamellae (Herrero de Jáuregui forthcoming-2; and the sections “In Search of a Context” and “The Cretan Context of the Cretan Epistomia”). Kingsley (1995:250–277) sees Herakles as the model behind these texts, concentrated around Thourioi, and those of Empedokles: the only human who attained divine status after death, an alias Dionysos. Herakles’ heroization/deification, however, is of a different scale, as he went to Olympos and not the Underworld, and Thourioi cannot serve as an example for Crete, Macedonia, and Thessaly; see also 204n177.
[ back ] 46. Cole 2003:193–217.
[ back ] 47. Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal (2001:45, 44–49) correctly point out that the epithet bears both meanings at the same time. Comparetti (1910:34) understood the leuké cypress as identical to the white poplar (in Greek leúke), because of its chthonic associations (Harpokration 192: … οἱ τὰ Βακχικὰ τελούμενοι τῇ λεύκῃ στέφονται διὰ τὸ χθόνιον μὲν εἶναι τὸ φυτόν, χθόνιον δὲ καὶ τὸν τῆς Περσεφόνης Διόνυσον …); but Guthrie (1993:182 and 192n16) was skeptical; see further Guarducci 1972; Pugliese Carratelli 2001:57–58; Graf and Johnston 2007:108–109.
[ back ] 48. Dieterich 1969:95-100; Guthrie 1993:177–178; Nagy 1979:167–171; Tortorelli Ghidini 1992 (her suggestion to read ψυχοῦνται, i.e. the souls receive a psyche and become alive, requires to understand differently the drinking from a specific spring); Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:49–58.
[ back ] 49. Vermeule 1979:57–58 (the quotation in 57).
[ back ] 50. I am indebted to Maria Sarinaki for drawing this to my attention.
[ back ] 51. For the cypress tree and its ambivalent symbolism, see Crane 1988:16 and 25 with nn13–14. Although the presence of cypress in the Underworld is uncommon or non-existent (Olck 1901; compare Graf and Johnston 2007:108–109), poplars are not (112n47); in the Odyssey, they are present in Calypso’s island (5.238-240), in Scheria in the grove of Athena (6.291–294, compare 7.105–106), in the island of the Cyclops (9.140–142), at the entrance to the Underworld, in the grove of Persephone (10.509–510); and on Ithaca (17.208–210); for Scheria as a kind of Elysium and the Phaeacians as ferrymen see Cook 1992; for ‘katabatic’ associations, see Martin 2007:15–17 and passim; and the section “The Cretan Context of the Cretan Epistomia.” Generally both Circe and Calypso have “strong associations with the Underworld,” and both endanger Odysseus’ kleos (Tracy 1990b:57–58 and 9n5; Slatkin 2005); on Circe’s Near Eastern parallels, see Marinatos 2000:32–44. Nagler (1996, especially 142-149) argues that Circe and Calypso, both with prophetic powers, live close to the axis mundi; Bakker (2001:345–346) notes that, through the symbol of the tall-as-the-sky trees and that of the axis, the “domestic paradise (of Penelope) feeds on (the) mythic paradise (of Calypso and Circe);” see further Nakassis 2004:221–223.
[ back ] 52. For such a larnax covered with silver-plates from Macedonia, see Tsimbidou-Avloniti 2000. Plato (Laws 741c–d) proposes to write down in detail laws and regulations for the priestesses’ future reference to the “memories of cypress” (kyparittinas mnemas); compare the comments in FGrHist IV A 3 F22 (1026: Hermippos of Smyrna), pages 249–252 on the symbolism of the cypress and its ‘Pythagorean’ associations; and see further the section “Afterword.”
[ back ] 53. On deictics in the Homeric epics, see Bakker 1997:71–91; 2005:71–91; on time, temporality, and deixis in epic, see Bakker 2005:92–113. The process of composition of the texts on the lamellae is reversed, in comparison to Bakker’s arguments for the Homeric epics, as the afterlife is revealed in the present, but remains to be materialized in the future.
[ back ] 54. Zuntz (1971:368–393) and Guarducci (1974a:18–21) have commented extensively on the variant readings and have presented parallels from Egypt and the Near East; Delia (1992) relates the motif of thirst with sepulchral texts inscribed: δοί σοι ὁ Ὄσειρις τὸ ψυχρὸν ὕδωρ, and concludes that “the ‘B’ texts, which are indisputably Pythagorean, reflect this philosopher’s debt to Egypt.” Merkelbach (1995:34–36 and 477–478, and 1999) and Burkert (2004b:71–98) also find Egyptian parallel motifs in the texts, as does Assmann (2005: especially 206–208), but the symbolism behind these motifs is not the same, as in the lamellae the water of the two springs stands for lethe and mnemosyne respectively (I follow Mourelatos’ [2002:12–13] distinction between motif and theme borrowed from the visual arts: the former connotes the ‘form’ a topic takes in literature, the latter the ‘idea’ expressed by this ‘form’). For convergences and divergences, see especially the balanced discussion by Dousa (forthcoming). For the Egyptian gods in Greece Bommas 2005. For Crete and Egypt in particular, see Karetsou 2000; and Karetsou, Andreadaki-Vlazaki, and Papadakis 2000; Haider 2001 for the Keftiu on a papyrus; and 154n3, 190n129. For Hittite analogies and differences, see Bernabé forthcoming. Chaniotis (2000) rightly emphasizes that the Underworld is not portrayed as antithetical to the world above earth (Gegenwelt), but rather as an imaginary other-world, with familiar topography (Jenseits). Graf (1974:79–94) discusses the Place of the Reverend, the Elysium, and the Isles of the Blessed, for which see also Nagy 1979:189–190; Griffith 2001; Assmann 2005:232–234 and 389–392; Janda 2005; Santamaria Álvarez 2006. Cairon (2006) discusses a rather detailed description of Elysion in a 3rd century CE epigram, reminiscent of the Christian paradise. For the mythic narratives of Underworld journeys, see further Schmidt 1991; Cole 2003; and Edmonds 2004:46–52; for the journey as being primarily, but not exclusively, by boat, see Kritzas 2004:especially 1096–1102 with the previous bibliography. Instructions for the dead are also a motif in present-day laments of Mordovia for which see Jordan 2001.
[ back ] 55. Cole 2003:209.
[ back ] 56. Edmonds 2004:46–55, 50, and 51–52. According to Edmonds, this implies an askēsis practiced in life that helps the deceased to make the right decision in the Underworld, “practices characteristic of the Pythagoreans and other countercultural groups,” as the Pythagoreans and Plato’s myth of Er in the Republic indicate. Seaford (2004a:263–264) sees an adaptation by Parmenides of the distinction between the right and the wrong road to express the difference between himself and the ignorant; see further 175n86.
[ back ] 57. The best concise and cogent exposition on this is Parker 1995:483–510 with earlier bibliography; and Bremmer 1994b:84–97. See further Picard 1961; Nilsson 1985; Graf 1993; Brisson 1995; Burkert 1993 and 1998; Riedweg 1998 and 2002; Cole 1980, 1993, 2003; Bremmer 1991, and 2002:11–26; Sorel 2002; Rangos 2003; Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001 and forthcoming; Calame 2002; the new and updated edition of the Orphica by Bernabé 2005 (see also Bernabé 2000); Edmonds 2004; Parker and Stamatopoulou 2004; and Graf and Johnston 2007. For a historiographical approach to Orpheus and Orphism, Pythagoras and Dionysos, see Cosi 2000. For the literary presence and exploitation of Orpheus’ myth, see Segal 1989. The influence exerted by ‘Orphic literature’ is even evident in a Jewish-Hellenistic imitation (Riedweg 1993).
[ back ] 58. Burkert 1985:276–304; and 1987:passim; Pakannen 1996:13–21 and 65–71; the essays in Cosmopoulos 2003; and Johnston 2004a. For telete, myesis, and mystagogos, see Simms 1990. Price (1999:108–125) rightly calls them “elective cults,” as does Mikalson in his chapter on Greek religion and the individual (2005:180–197, 180), but his discussion of the Eleusinian mysteries is grouped together with four other major (but less elective) cults (Athena Polias at Athens, Zeus Olympios at Olympia, Apollo Pythios at Delphi, Dionysos Kadmeios at Thebes), because Eleusis gradually acquired Panhellenic prominence (68–132), as opposed to Dionysiac mysteries which could be performed anywhere. Arnaoutoglou (2003:19–30 and 159–163) discusses the private religious associations in Hellenistic Athens and their ‘marginality,’ for which see also Parker 1996:328–342.
[ back ] 59. Henrichs 1998 and 2000 (where he demonstrates that in rituals the dromena are more prominent than the legomena, unlike in tragedies where the latter are more prominent than the former); Graf and Johnston 2007:94–164; Riedweg 1998; Faraone forthcoming-1.
[ back ] 60. For these epithets, see de Heer 1969 and McDonald 1978:10-36. On views of death and the afterlife around the Mediterranean, see the essays in Bremer, van den Hout, and Peters 1994.
[ back ] 61. For Pythagoras, see Kahn 2001 and Riedweg 2005 with previous bibliography. For Empedokles, see Kingsley 1995, Riedweg 1995, and Casertano 2000. On early Pythagoreanism, see also Pierris 1992.
[ back ] 62. Detienne 1975, 2001, and 2003:155–157.
[ back ] 63. Edmonds 2004:43.
[ back ] 64. Robertson 2003:218–240; on Mother Earth and some misconceptions, see Georgoudi 2002.
[ back ] 65. Bremmer 2002:24.
[ back ] 66. Cole 2003:207.
[ back ] 67. Burkert 1985:300; Graf and Johnston 2007:especially 137–164.
[ back ] 68. Tortorelli Ghidini (2000a) attempts such a comparison and suggests that the texts’ basic couples are: mother/son, Persephone/Bacchios, and Mnemosyne/bacchoi, the last being deified under Pythagorean influence.
[ back ] 69. This absence in Athens presents an anomaly and a puzzle, according to Parker (2005:368).
[ back ] 70. For Dionysos in Italy, see Casadio 1995; for Italian mysteries, influenced by Bacchic and Orphic cults and those of Demeter and Persephone, see Poccetti 1995 and 2000; Maddoli 1996; and Hinz 1998; for eschatologies in Magna Graecia, Tortorelli Ghidini 1995b and Dettori 1996; for Thourioi in particular, Burkert 1975; for the archaeology of eschatology in Magna Graecia, Bottini 2000.
[ back ] 71. For Dionysos in Argos, Corinth, Sicyon, and Troezen, see Casadio 1994 and 1999; for Dionysos in Sparta, Stibbe 1991.
[ back ] 72. Oikonomou (2004:102–105) entertains the possibility that the incised epistomia from the northern Peloponnese and Crete may be associated with the Macedonian presence in these areas, and Macedonian direct or indirect influence, a less probable possibility for Crete which presents a case more complicated than the cities in the northern Peloponnese.
[ back ] 73. On cults and rites of passage in Macedonia, see Hatzopoulos 1994 and 2006. Rizakis and Touratsoglou (2000) discuss only monuments above the grave; for altars as grave markers, see also Adam-Veleni 2002:161–197 and 219–256. Lioutas (1997:636–637; SEG 49.814) publishes a fragmentary stele from Thessaloniki, probably a catalogue of the members of a Dionysiac thiasos, dated to the second half of the second or the third century CE; the left column records the male and the right the female members.
[ back ] 74. Betegh (2004:56–68 and passim) argues in favor of the papyrus’ function in a funerary ritual, not unlike the one implied for the gold lamellae. See also Bernabé 2005 (and 2002b, where he argues that the theogony is Orphic); and compare Most 1997a; Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou 2006:2–4, who suggest that the deceased may have been (a soldier) from Thessaly.
[ back ] 75. Petsas 1966; Miller 1992; Rhomiopoulou 1997; Brécoulaki 2006; and Kottaridou 2006.
[ back ] 76. Andronikos 1994:especially 129–134 for a comparison of wall paintings in Macedonian tombs; Brécoulaki 2006; and Kottaridou 2006.
[ back ] 77. Tsimbidou-Avloniti (2000:553) wonders if this may allude to the woman’s musical activity; for another painted tomb in this area, see Tsimbidou-Avloniti 2006.
[ back ] 78. Chryssostomou 1996–1997; Chryssostomou argues that these artifacts are evidence for the everyday life and popular ritual(s) in second-century BCE Pella. For Dionysos in the city of Drama, see Koukouli-Chryssanthaki 1992; for Dionysos’ sanctuary in Aphytis, near a spring and a cave, see Voutiras 2000; for thiasoi of the cult of Egyptian gods in Philippoi, see Tsochos 2002; for Dionysos’ various identities and associations in Macedonia, see Hatzopoulos 1994.
[ back ] 79. Bernabé 2004:463–465 F; Vinogradov 1991; Burkert 1994a; Vinogradov and Kryžickij 1995:116–117; Dubois 1996:154–155 no. 94a–c; Lévèque 2000; Seaford 2004:108–109. Lebedev (1996a:271, 275) argues convincingly that the bone-plaques were kleromantic and were probably owned by Pharnabazos (see also Lebedev 1996b for the Demetreion in Olbia and the gods worshipped therein; and 132n122, 149n157). For Orpheus and his cult in Thrace, see Theodossiev 1994–1995, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2002; and Fol 2004. Three individuals bear the name Orpheus in Odessos, the most recent of whom dedicates an inscribed wheel to Herakles kallinikos (Sharankov 2001:176nn23–24). Mastrocinque (1993; SEG 43.677, 45.1488) studies a hematite ear-ring of unknown provenance inscribed: Ὀρφεός | Βακκι|κός on either side of a man hanging on a cross surrounded by the moon and seven stars (of which there are three more examples).
[ back ] 80. Edmonds 2004:102–104; and 4n10. For the Orphic rhapsodies the standard is West 1983, and Bernabé 2005; see also Albinus 2000:101–152; Betegh 2004:138–152. Rudhardt (1991, and especially 2002) presents compelling arguments on the attempt in Orphic Hymns to combine the Homeric and Orphic views of Dionysos through the use of multiple epithets for the god’s double identity, a son of both Semele and Persephone (also 129n106). For neoplatonic and neopythagorean allegorical developments of ‘Homer’ and ‘Orpheus’ and their philosophical and religious importance in late antiquity, see Lamberton 1986; Brisson 1995 and 2002; Athanassiadi 2005:33–34. The author of PDerveni (column VII) is also involved in explaining the riddling works (ainigmata) of Orpheus, for which see Tsantsanoglou 1997:121–122; Most 1997b; Betegh 2004:362–364; and Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou 2006:75, 172–173. Yunis (2003:195–198) compares the PDerveni author and the rhapsode Ion in Plato, both of whom are distinguishing between poetic experience in performance and poetic interpretation through critical reading.
[ back ] 81. Particularly relevant are Clay’s (1989:88) remarks in relation to the study of the Homeric Hymns: “classical philology has always regarded itself primarily as a historical discipline. The question a classicist initially asks of a text is not what does it mean, but when was it composed and by whom. In dealing with anonymous texts of unknown date, these questions become the focus of inquiry. Clues are sought everywhere, and lack of evidence becomes a goad to ingenuity.”
[ back ] 82. For a persuasive discussion of the emerging cults from the protogeometric period onwards and their instrumental role in the social and political formation and redefinition, see de Polignac (2000). Papachatzis (1990) distinguishes, in a somewhat oversimplistic way, between public and popular religion: the former being more of a literary creation which the polis adopted; the latter being addressed to individuals stressed religious purification, which allowed initiation into mystery cults, thus alleviating fear of death and securing a blessed afterlife. For developments in Athenian religion in particular, see Parker 1996.
[ back ] 83. Cole 2003; Albinus 2000; and di Benedetto 2004 for the Petelia and Hipponion texts.
[ back ] 84. Edmonds 2004:41–43 and 108–109.
[ back ] 85. Edmonds 2004:41. Detienne 2003:155–157 on Orphics as renouncers and as fleeing civic institutions and values such as sacrifice and meat-eating. Compare Henrichs 2003a, 2003b, 2004a; and Graf and Johnston 2007:137–184.
[ back ] 86. On the problems raised by these terms, and the ramifications entailed, see Cole 1995; Burkert 1995, 2001a, and 2001d; for Crete in particular, see Chaniotis 2001a; for an instructive discussion of sacred and profane, see Bremmer 1998. Sourvinou-Inwood’s (2000a and 2000b) discussion of polis religion provides the groundwork at least for Athens, but I am not so certain if “non-institutionalized sectarian discourse of the Orphic type … may have been perceived as lying outside the authority of the polis discourse” (2000b:55); for private initiations in Athens alongside public cults of Dionysos, and Athenian beliefs in afterlife, see Parker 2005:325, 363–368. Redfield (1991) has shown that certain doctrines about death and the afterlife may go hand in hand with polis religion, as the examples of Sparta and Lokroi in South Italy demonstrate. De Polignac (1996) argues that the two kinds of social expression, i.e. self-identity and status, are complementary and at times competitive. Frankfurter (1998 and 2002) suggests that in terms of the spatial model center/periphery the dynamics of ritual expertise are fluid and are negotiated constantly between local and peripheral ritual experts, between ritual experts inside and outside the community, between literati and less so ritual experts, and so on. Johnston (2002) examines sacrifice mentioned in magical papyri and concludes that the experts followed traditional patterns of ritual in a creative, and perhaps individualistic way. Cole (2004) discusses in detail the evidence for distinguishing between human and divine space for different uses, a process in which gender as articulated in ritual is significant.
[ back ] 87. This is not to deny that such cases existed, at least in Athens, as Parker (1996:161–163) has demonstrated, but Athens need not, in fact should not, be the model for other cities and other parts of the Greek world.
[ back ] 88. Benardete 1969:133–134.
[ back ] 89. Burkert 1987:4.
[ back ] 90. Graf and Johnston 2007:178–184.
[ back ] 91. Sally Humphreys (2004) provides a challenging argument, with much of which I am in agreement, of the competitive interaction, development, and rearticulation of rational and irrational discourses of thought, of public and private attitudes towards intellectuals and religion, of ritual showing resilience to accommodate new needs and developments (especially 51–76, and 223–275 on the metamorphoses of the Athenian Anthesteria).
[ back ] 92. Edmonds 2004:43–44.
[ back ] 93. For these two (and more) discourses on afterlife, see Graf and Johnston (2007:94–136), who point out that according to the sources the souls in the Underworld are judged as the bad, the good, and the good-plus; although I do not differentiate between the good and the good-plus, the three groups show clearly the differences encountered within the same discourse on death, either the Homeric or the Orphic. See further Rhode 1987; Farnell 1995:373-402; Guthrie 1993:148–171; Calame 1991; Redfield 1991; Pierris 1996:3–68, 113–192; and Albinus 2000. West (1983) illustrates the divergences of the hubbub of books within Orphic poetry (his stemma on page 264 gives an idea of how things may have worked between Homeric and Orphic). Johnston (1999:3–35, 36–81) provides a critical overview of the relation between the living and the dead in narrative and non-narrative sources respectively, and she doubts if Homer was aware of other views about the dead, except those he presented. Seaford (2004:219–230) proposes to view this distinction as a split in cosmogonic accounts of the archaic period: “on the one hand impersonal ‘philosophy’, and on the other hand the bizarrely personal Orphic cosmogony and anthropogony that reflect to some degree the re-creation of the self in mystic initiation” (225). Papagiorgis (1995:93–106) rightly emphasizes that the Homeric epics do not identify the sacred with the gods who cannot save humans from death. For the texts on the lamellae in relation to Pindar, Lloyd-Jones 1990 is the place to start; for the complexities of kleos in Pindar, Currie 2005:71–84; in particular for Olympian 2, see Iakov 2005; for Isthmian 6, Faraone 2002 (Pindar’s praise poetry can provide a special kind of happiness that can persist even in the Underworld); for Pindar’s fr. 133, Edmonds forthcoming-4; and Herrero de Jáuregui forthcoming-1 (Pindar as bridging the two discourses). For afterlife in Pindar, Simonides, and archaic poetry, Bremmer 1994a; Bremer 1994; Brown 1998.
[ back ] 94. Crane 1988:93–96; Tsagarakis 2000:105–119 (and also 1995a, 1995b, and 1997).
[ back ] 95. Tsagarakis 2000:25–26, 97, 117 (and 1995a, 1995b, and 1997); Albinus 2000:86–89; and compare Bremmer 1994a and 2002. For makartatos, see the convincing discussion in Dova 2000. For Polygnotos’ Nekyia at Delphi, its relation to the Homeric one, and its association with mysteries, see Manoledakis 2003:186–187 (Orpheus), 189–190 (Thamyris), 196–202 (the uninitiated into Orphic mysteries, according to the author), 208–220 (mysteries in general); Polygnotos’ work seems thus to combine in visual terms a synthesis of the Homeric and Orphic discourses. For the different and problematic interpretative approaches to pictorial narratives, see Stansbury-O’Donnell 1999 and Ferrari 2003.
[ back ] 96. West 1983; Guthrie 1993:82–86; and Clay 2003:12–30.
[ back ] 97. See 113n51.
[ back ] 98. On the inclusion of the Cretan heroine Ariadne and of Demeter’s union with Iasion on Crete in the section of the Theogony following the description of Tartaros, see Sarinaki forthcoming.
[ back ] 99. The bibliography on the races of men is immense; see the discussion by Bezantakos 2006:114–134, and Tsagalis 2006:193–209, both with previous bibliography. West (1978; 1997b:312–319) discusses Anatolian influences. Fontenrose (1974) examines the criteria of work and dike in distinguishing the races, which may bring to mortals a golden life and a place in the Isles of the Blessed. Vernant (1976:29–91) proposes a synchronic and diachronic dimension of the ages. Nagy (1979:151–172) focuses on the heroes whose afterlife resembles the one narrated in the Aethiopis but not the Iliad. Sourvinou-Inwood (1997) sees the myth through the ancients’ cultural perceptions as a simultaneous movement up- and downward. Most (1997a) reconstructs the passage within Greek epic tradition, fully adapted to the didactic message of the Works and Days to Perses, as Edwards (2004) also stresses. Clay (2003:81–99) underlines Hesiod’s emphasis on mortality in the creation of the successive races, which are experiments by trial and error. Calame (2004) argues for the temporal and spatial structure of the races and for Hesiod’s utopian proposition, evident especially in Aristophanes, which cannot materialize through the social institutions, but only through rituals for an afterlife. Instead of the parallels Calame adduces from Daniel (2, 1–3, 7), I would argue that Hesiod portrays the gold, silver, and heroic races with characteristics found in the Orphic beliefs, which he rejects in favor of Olympos: what the mysteries profess is a hoax, because a golden age can no longer be attained; see further Brown (1998) who views the golden age as an ‘other world,’ utopian or eschatological, well attested in archaic poetry as a whole, but particularly in Pindar and Simonides.
[ back ] 100. Nagy 1979:151–210; 2005; and Herrero de Jáuregui (forthcoming-1) on kleos and mnemosyne in the living and the dead as expounded in epic poetry and the texts on the lamellae.
[ back ] 101. Benardete 1969:27–30 (the quotation from 29): in Herodotus’ narrative the Hesiodic races partly correspond to the ‘golden’ Massagetai, the ‘silver’ Persians, the ‘heroic’ Spartans, the ‘bronze’ Karians, the ‘iron’ Lydians. This correspondence is of course schematic, in order to drive home the argument, as these people also reveal other shared characteristics in the historian’s narrative. For the eschata and the golden age having the same limits and betraying similar if not identical characteristics (gold, automatic growth, and counter-hypo-hyper-civilization), see Romm 1992:especially 9–81; and Nakassis 2004. For the political and cultural potential of utopias in Rome, see Evans 2003.
[ back ] 102. Gera (2003:53) notes the Homeric and Hesiodic distinction between the language of gods and men, which, not only in Orphic writings, as Gera argues, but in mysteries in general “becomes a distinction between common language and mystical speech.” See also Maurizio 1995 and 1997. For the language criterion in the narrative of Herodotus, see Munson 2005.
[ back ] 103. Nine times in the Iliad (4.44, 5.769, 6.108, 8.46, 15.371, 16.134, 18.370, 19.128, 19.130), and four times in the Odyssey (9.527, 11.17, 12.380, 20.113).
[ back ] 104. For the discussion of this epithet I am indebted to Maria Sarinaki. For the comparison of heroes to heavenly bodies and their association with divinity, see Hardie 1985; for Achilles and Hephaistos, see Hubbard 1992, where he argues for the self-referential character of the shield.
[ back ] 105. For this line, see Obbink forthcoming. The epithet occurs nine times in the Theogony (106, 127, 414, 463, 470, 685, 737, 808, 891), and one in the Works and Days (548).
[ back ] 106. For the divinities in the texts of the lamellae, see Graf and Johnston 2007:123; and Bremmer forthcoming. For the linguistic play of epithets in Orphic Hymns, see Hopman-Govers 2001; and 120n80.
[ back ] 107. Martin 2001, to whom I owe the ‘rhapsodizing’ of this section. For competitive rhapsodic performances, see also Collins 2004:167–222; Burgess 2004; and Skafte Jensen 2005.
[ back ] 108. Martin 2001:25; and 2007.
[ back ] 109. Martin 2001:29; and 2007.
[ back ] 110. Diodorus 1.96.2; Crane 1988:87 and 110n15–17; Tsagarakis 2000:25n72.
[ back ] 111. Dué 2001:45 and passim. Nagy (1979:208–209) correctly in my view sees the Dionysiac model of regeneration applied to the immortalization of Achilles, but I would argue that the hero-cult is not the only kind of immortality, even within the confines of epic tradition, that was known to the poet/performer.
[ back ] 112. Rengakos 2006:17–30 with previous bibliography.
[ back ] 113. Christos Tsagalis (2002) has explained the very few allusions to Dionysos in the Iliad as indications of the Theban epic tradition and its appropriation, adaptation, and assimilation by the Homeric poet; his suggestion that the Theban epic tradition was older than the Iliad does not affect my argument, as both traditions could very well have enjoyed contemporary and antagonistic performances mutually interacting.
[ back ] 114. On the Cretan tales, see further 155n9.
[ back ] 115. See the section “A Literary Cretan Context.”
[ back ] 116. Nagy 2005:80–81 and 2004b:3–128; Finkelberg (2006) discusses the regional centers of learning and book production, influenced by the social and historical context. Böhme (1992) argues that the poet/composer of the Iliad and the Odyssey in their present form may have been a member of the γένος Λυκομιδῶν in Phlya, Attica, who traditionally were associated with Orpheus, Demeter, and hymnic poetry.
[ back ] 117. Hunter 2005. Collins (forthcoming) studies the B-texts and the poetry of Theocritus for models and copies. For Apollonius Rhodius’, Valerius Flaccus’, Silius Italicus’, and the Orphic Argonautica, Nelis (2005) postulates a pre-Apollonian theogony and cosmogony; for Apollonius Rhodius and Crete, Nikolidaki 2003.
[ back ] 118. Martin 2005b:17–18 and passim. Martin (2007) and Herrero de Jáuregui (forthcoming-1 and 2) present cogent discussions of the texts on the lamellae and epic poetry. For the epic Cycle, see Burgess 2005. For epic and other genres, Dalby 1998; Garner 2005. Rengakos (2006:17–30, 158–180) discusses the dynamic interaction of various traditions within Homeric epic in terms of narratology and poetics. For the Hellenistic developments, see Fantuzzi and Hunter 2005; and Rengakos 2006:181–204.
[ back ] 119. Edmonds (forthcoming-3) also compares the lamellae’s texts and surviving oracles and argues for traditional compositional techniques; I had not seen his discussion, when working on this aspect of the texts, but I discovered that our approaches and conclusions are basically in agreement. For prophetic speech, see Christidis 1996. Maurizio (1997) argues convincingly that the corpus of oracles and their narratives may be viewed as oral performances, not unlike Homeric poetry.
[ back ] 120. On Orpheus as prophet after death, see Graf 1987; on the Thracian and Macedonian versions of Orpheus’ death and prophecy, Papachatzis 1986 and Gartziou-Tatti 1999; and on oracular heads, see Faraone 2004 and 2005, who suggests a necromantic ritual behind these stories.
[ back ] 121. On Dionysos and prophecy, see Chirassi Colombo 1991: the prophecy of Apollo is controlled by, and is integrated in the polis, that of Dionysos concerns the individual and extends beyond the limits of the polis, a statement partly true for Athens where most of Dionysos’ cults and rituals were integrated. For Dionysos’ presence at Delphi, see also Fontenrose 1980:374–394; West 1983:150–154; and Dietrich 1992.
[ back ] 122. For Pharnabazos as magician, diviner of Hermes, and orpheotelestes, who may also have been the owner of the bone-plaques in Olbia, see Lebedev 1996a; for Timarete, see Voutiras 1998; and 93–94nn3–4, 120n79, 149n157. In PDerveni column V reference is made to oracles, but also to dreams, both of which are not misunderstood in what they say about Hades’ deina (Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou 2006:70–71 and 161–166). Betegh (2004:364–370) correctly in my view understands the interpretative method followed by the PDerveni author as similar to that of interpreting oracles, but this need not be different from allegorical interpretations (see also 120n80).
[ back ] 123. For names and oracle collections, one of them reportedly by Epimenides, see Rosenberger 2001:166–172; and Bowden 2003:264–265.
[ back ] 124. Martin 2001; Fontenrose 1981:157 and 162; Nagy 2004a; Graf and Johnston 2007:70; Edmonds forthcoming-3. Martínez Nieto (2001) concludes that the fragments of Musaios’ cosmo-/theogony present an Orphic-Eleusinian version of Thracian origin, introduced by Musaios in sixth-century BCE Athens.
[ back ] 125. Watkins 1995:279.
[ back ] 126. Janko 1984:98.
[ back ] 127. Janko 1984:96.
[ back ] 128. Fonterose’s (1981) term condition precedent is employed by Edmonds (forthcoming-3).
[ back ] 129. For a concise overview of oracles, see Johnston 2004c. On different forms of divination in Herodotus, see Harrison (2000:122–157), who correctly emphasizes Herodotus’ religious beliefs and concerns as central in the Histories; Harrison (2003) even suggests that the Histories may be thought of as ‘prophecy in reverse’; for Herodotus as manipulator of signs, see Hollmann 2005; for the historiographical uses of oracles especially in book 1, see Kindt 2006 and Barker 2006. Bowden (2005:67–73) argues convincingly that Delphi and its oracles, genuine or not, played a very important role in Herodotus (if excessive), and especially in Athenian politics (40–64 and 88–133). For the political role of oracles and divination in Aeschylus’ Persae, Athanassaki 1996; for their gradual decline in matters political Parker (2000a) suggests that it may be in part due to new skills developed and secular modes of divination, like rhetoric.
[ back ] 130. The other two categories of Fontenrose (1981) are L(egendary) and F(ictional) oracles. This classification and the distinction between authentic and non-authentic oracles (Parke and Wormell 2004) are not vital for the present discussion, and both are rightly questioned and criticized by Maurizio (1997).
[ back ] 131. Fontenrose’s (1981:177–180) sixth theme, “restatement of the question asked,” which is not found in the texts of the lamellae, is excluded.
[ back ] 132. Versnel 2002 presents an eloquent account of the magical texts’ poetics, “the art of making poetry and the art of creation.”
[ back ] 133. Rosenberger 2001:172–176; and especially Bowden’s (2005:33–38) discussion.
[ back ] 134. Bowden 2005:33–38. On an etymology for the dactylic hexameter, see Nagy 2004b:144–156.
[ back ] 135. For Dionysos, a perplexing divinized human or humanized divinity, also called Bacchos just like his followers, see in general Otto 1991; Jeanmaire 1951; Detienne 1979, 1989, 2001, 2003; Burkert 1985:161–167, 293–304; Seaford 2006; Lekatsas 1985:189–192 for the relation of Apollo and Dionysos, and Lekatsas 1996 for the divine infant, to which compare Carpenter 1993 for depictions of Dionysos beardless. Daraki (1997) somewhat exaggerates the relation between Dionysos and Mother Earth, for which compare Henrichs 1990, and Sourvinou-Inwood 2005.
[ back ] 136. Seaford (2005) discusses the mystic light, a symbol of both Apollo and Dionysos, which Orpheus saw when in the Underworld, and concludes that “Orpheus as author of mystic discourse was claimed by groups who were (or were imagined as) in opposition: adherents of Dionysos and Pythagorean adherents of Apollo” (606).
[ back ] 137. Niafas (1997) has suggested an epiphany and a mystic initiation ritual as the context for this fragment, particularly because of Dionysos’ presence which is felt and experienced through earthquake, thunder, and lightning (mainly in Euripides’ Bacchae). Barbantani (2005) comments on columns I–IV, the hymn to Aphrodite-Arsinoë.
[ back ] 138. Dietrich (1992) and Clay (1996 and 1997) discuss the complementary role of Apollo and Dionysos at Delphi; see also Guthrie 1993:41–48. On Orpheus and Dionysos in the Aeschylean lost tetralogy, see Jouan 1992; di Marco 1993; in Euripides’ Rhesos, see 228n264; on the complementary nature of the therapeutic aspects of the couple, see Terzakis (1997:169–214). On a number of modern misconceptions about Dionysos stemming from Nietzsche, among others, see especially Henrichs 1993a; Obbink 1993; Jameson 1993; Detienne 2001 and 2003 (who is preparing a study of the Delphic odd couple); Sourvinou-Inwood 2005; and Edmonds forthcoming-3.
[ back ] 139. For Aeschylus’ Eumenides, see Sommerstein 1989. On the Delphic myths and Apollo’s predecessors, see Dempsey 1918:1–37; Allen, Halliday, and Sikes 1936:197–200; Fontenrose 1980; Lloyd-Jones 1976; Clay 1989:61–74, 1996, and 1997; Sourvinou-Inwood 1987 and especially 2005:162–168 (who argues that the myth of Apollo’s absence and Dionysos’ presence during the winter was a later invention, probably after the oracle had gone into radical decline); Avagianou 2000 (on Ephorus’ version of the foundation of the oracle); Suárez de la Torre 2002; and Chappell 2006:339–341.
[ back ] 140. On Themis and her prophetic powers, see Berti 2002.
[ back ] 141. Furley and Bremer 2001:vol. 1:121–128, vol. 2:52–84, with previous bibliography; and add Schröder 1999. On the earliest epigraphical attestation of euhoi (ca. 510 BCE), see Anderson 2005; euhai and eiau were incised on the mirror of Demonassa, daughter of Lenaios, at sixth-century BCE Olbia (West 1983:156).
[ back ] 142. According to Clay (1996 and 1997) the fusion of the two gods may be due to the influence the Dionysiac Technitai exerted on the Delphic priesthood, which led to the incorporation of the most threatening god Dionysos into the Apolline oracle; I am not so sure, however, that this fusion is a product of the fourth century BCE and not an earlier one (see also Dietrich 1992; Guthrie 1993:238–240; Calame 1996:364–369; and Loraux 2002:54–80). Stewart (1982) discusses the sculptural representation of Dionysus in pseudo-Apolline, and Apollo in pseudo-Dionysiac manner. Detienne (2001; 2003:125–136, 152–164) has proposed Orpheus as the intermediary for the Apollonian Dionysos and/or Dionysiac Apollo, who appears to have been associated both with Apollo, as a musician and poet with lyre in hand, and with Dionysos, as his victim and later as creator of initiatory teletai. Detienne offers a number of brilliant and thought-provoking ideas, but his overall reconstruction of Orpheus and Orphism is only partially supported by the sources presently known.
[ back ] 143. To borrow from the title of Carpenter and Faraone (1993); Detienne 2003:164.
[ back ] 144. What Stewart (1982:214) has called μανία σώφρων.
[ back ] 145. Interestingly the verb Thucydides employs twice for chresmologoi is ἀείδω (2.8.2 and 2.21.3), but in 8.1.1 he lumps manteis and chresmologoi together. For a succinct distinction between mantis and chresmologos, see Fontenrose 1981:152–158; Bowden 2003; Dillery 2005; for the role and history of seers, see Bremmer 1996; for their presence in Athens Parker 2005:116–135.
[ back ] 146. Roth (1984) discusses the ‘sophistic’ Teiresias in the Bacchae and emphasizes that the gulf between seers and intellectuals is a modern view, influenced by our distinction between secular and religious activities.
[ back ] 147. Papadopoulou (2001) argues convincingly that Teiresias and the Stranger present two different forms of prophecy: Teiresias rationalizes in order to define the nature of the new god, as when he used to interpret signs and oracles, although I am not certain that this should indicate that the prophet “speaks not through his prophetic knowledge, but through his human reasoning” (31); the Stranger does not rely on oracles and signs; he is a prophet of a ‘new’ kind, knowing full well the essence of the Bacchic rites; he is simultaneously human and divine, as the mystai believe after initiation. Segal (1986:304-305) sees a similar process at work in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus (412–414), where Teiresias reveals Oedipus’ hidden identity.
[ back ] 148. For the following discussion I am indebted to Dodds (1951:64–101), and especially Nagy (1990a; 1990b:162–168). For a general overview of oracles and prophesies in the Eastern Mediterranean, see the essays in Heintz 1997.
[ back ] 149. Kalfas 1995; and Pierris 1996:195–214. For Plato’s pronouncements in the Republic as prophetic Virvidakis 1996. On the complex issue of Orphism and the Presocratics, see Burkert 1968 and Bernabé 2002a; for the Orphic and anti-Orphic Plato, see Kingsley 1995:112–132; Cosi 2000:146–150; and for the terminology of the mysteries employed by the philosopher Riedweg 1987.
[ back ] 150. Nagy 1990a:61; 1990b:166.
[ back ] 151. Maurizio (1995:70 and passim) proposes to view the Pythia’s mantike similar to Cassandra’s; see also Connelly 2007:72–81. Maurizio (1997) argues convincingly that the Delphic oracles and their framing narratives are best understood as oral performances, the first consultation being the first oral performance, after which followed the second in the city, and also more, each time reformulating and recomposing appropriately the original. Mazzoldi (2002) has proposed that Aeschylus’ Cassandra in the Agamemnon combines the dual nature of mantis and prophetes, as two distinct phases may be detected respectively: the ecstatic and visionary in contact with the divinity, during which ritual cries and invocations are heard and clairvoyance takes place without mediation; and the conscious in contact with the humans, during which clairvoyance takes place with mediation and rational prophetic utterances are issued. On how Delphi worked, see further Bowden 2005:12–39.
[ back ] 152. Edmonds 2004:4; Graf and Johnston 2007:70–95.
[ back ] 153. Theophrastos Characters 16.11 (translation Rusten and Cunningham 1993): “he goes to the Initiators of Orpheus every month to be inducted with his wife—if she has no time, he takes his children and their wet-nurse” (καὶ τελεσθησόμενος πρὸς τοὺς Ὀρφεοτελεστὰς κατὰ μῆνα πορεύεσθαι μετὰ τῆς γυναικός—ἐὰν δὲ μὴ σχολάζῃ ἡ γυνή, μετὰ τῆς τίτθης—καὶ τῶν παιδίων). Plutarch Sayings of Spartans 224e (translation Babbitt 1931): “this is his retort to Philip, the priest of the Orphic mysteries, who was in the direst straits of poverty, but used to assert that those who were initiated under his rites were happy after the conclusion of this life; to him Leotychidas said, ‘You idiot! Why then don’t you die as speedily as possible so that you may with that cease from bewailing your unhappiness and poverty?’” (πρὸς δὲ Φίλιππον τὸν ὀρφεοτελεστὴν παντελῶς πτωχὸν ὄντα, λέγοντα δ᾽ ὅτι οἱ παρ᾽ αὐτῷ μυηθέντες μετὰ τὴν τοῦ βίου τελευτὴν εὐδαιμονοῦσι, ‘τί οὖν, ὦ ἀνόητε’ εἶπεν, ‘οὐ τὴν ταχίστην ἀποθνῄσκεις, ἵν᾽ ἅμα παύσῃ κακοδαιμονίαν καὶ πενίαν κλαίων;’) For this group, see Graf and Johnston 2007:178–184.
[ back ] 154. Burkert 1987:30–53.
[ back ] 155. For discussion of these columns and the problematic identity of their author, orpheotelestes or physikos, see Obbink 1997; Kahn 1997; West 1997a; Tsantsanoglou 1997; Janko 2001:18–24; Betegh 2004:74–91; and Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou 2006:45–59, 70–75, 82–83, 86–87, 161–174, 186–189, 193–197. Torjussen (2005) argues that Dionysos was most probably absent from the commentary whose author used Orpheus as an authority. For the reference to Herakleitos’ poetry by the PDerveni author and the interaction between the philosopher and ‘Orphism,’ see Sider 1997; for Herakleitos and the mysteries, see also Schefer 2000 and Drozdek 2001. Granger (2000) convincingly argues that the foolish and ignorant are portrayed by Herakleitos as living a life like the Homeric dead souls. Seaford (2003b) discusses the unity of opposites in mystic initiation, Presocratic thought, archaic poetry, and in Aeschylus’ tragedies, particularly the Oresteia.
[ back ] 156. Betegh (2004:80) understands Plato’s attitude as negative and that of the PDerveni author as positive; for a discussion of this passage and the one in Laws 909a-b, see also Voutiras 1998:123–127 and Kouremenos, Parássoglou, and Tsantsanoglou 2006:45–59; for the νυκτερινός σύλλογος, Larivée 2003.
[ back ] 157. Graf and Johnston 2007:90–96, 158–164, 178–184; Lebedev 1996a; Voutiras 1998:90–111; and 120n79, 132n122.
[ back ] 158. Dodds 1960; Bierl 1991:177–218, and compare Iakov 2004; Thomson 1999. Seaford (1996:35–44 with earlier bibliography; and 2004:305–311) suggests that in the Bacchae Euripides dramatizes maenadism, polis-festivals of Dionysos, and the Dionysiac mysteries, among which the gold lamellae, the Derveni papyrus, and the bone plaques from Olbia. Segal (1982) also sees the possibility that the sparagmos of Pentheus may recall that of Dionysos/Zagreus (48–49), or later that of Orpheus (74–76). On the differing views of Dodds and Seaford, see the convincing arguments by Henrichs (1984a and 1993a). On maenadism in particular, see Dodds 1951:64–101 and 270–282; 1960:xi–xx; and compare Henrichs’ redress (1978, 1984a, 1984b, 1995), and Bremmer 1984. On sparagmos as a fertility rite, see Halm-Tisserant 2004. On Bacchic teletai and Dionysos’ multiple associations with other divinities, see Nilsson 1985; Merkelbach 1988:7–134; Burkert 1993; Bierl 1991; and Ricciardelli 2000.
[ back ] 159. Cole 1993. For prayers in facing death in which a gradual development of ideas of immortality is evident, see Intrieri 2002; and also 198–200n162, 206n185. For epitaphic epigrams of initiates into a mystery cult, see also Avagianou 2002 (Pherae = Bernabé 2004, 466 F); Karadima-Matsa and Dimitrova 2003; and Dignas 2004.
[ back ] 160. For positive mania in a Christian context (First Epistle to the Corinthians 14.23), see Chester 2005.
[ back ] 161. Fontenrose 1981:164–165. Questions concerning the dead were of course numerous (in all 54 oracles), but they were related to: appeasing the dead, establishing a cult to the dead, and proper burial, as Johnston (2005) has shown. Yet, they never addressed the afterlife, except in the case of Amelios.
[ back ] 162. Graf and Johnston 2007:165–174.