V. Ritual and Initiatory Itineraries toward the Afterlife: Time, Space, and Pragmatics in the Gold Lamellae

Western postmodernism, moving now toward hyper- or meta-modernism, has been characterized both by the desire for immediate profit and by the development of means of communication and multi-media. These two phenomena are brought together by the omnipresence of advertising in all the new technical means of communication, an advertising designed to drive consumption and thus immediate gain; they have brought about an acceleration of social and individual time, coupled with a explosion of knowledge. On television and on the internet, perhaps a bit more interactively on the internet, theoretical and practical knowledge are fragmented and constantly reassembled to respond to the needs of an individualism which must be constantly sought and revived.
From a spatial-temporal point of view, this accelerated production of a knowledge which is more and more fragmented has brought about a fragmenting both of our history and of the space in which that history is broadcast. This vast space-time is focused on the immediate and on what is intended to shock and to provoke, throughout the entire world: an isolated “presentism” with no thought for coherent continuity, for relating rationally, or even for long-term perspective. [1] This geographic explosion in an economic and ideological “globalization” prohibits any construction of spatial-temporal configurations designed to serve social, reflexive, and critical observation.
The competitive market of hypermodernity and its spatial-temporal regime are very far from the preoccupations of Greek citizens, concerned with the spatial-temporal line ensured by destiny and guaranteed by the different deities of the pantheon appropriate to each city. The memory of the community, with its heroic models often ritually active in the present, with its epic traditions and its local and pan-Hellenic genealogies, with its poetic and plastic creativity, with its specific places of religious celebration, nurtures the collective past of individual human itineraries—as has already been said often enough. The future of these women and men, deeply conscious of the ephemeral and finite nature of their destiny, was essentially driven by their desire for immortality. As a brief comparative study will demonstrate, there is a strong contrast between this representation of a linear mortality, the object of many points of reference in space and in time, and the spatial-temporal paradigm founded on the labile network of post-, hyper-, and metamodernism. The ideology of adolescence and concern for permanent youth in this world that were mentioned in the introduction have largely replaced the preoccupation with a generally collective form of survival, both in the community of mortal men and in the afterlife. Many fantasies of permanence are maintained by the illusory prospects of genetic “engineering,” from purely technical manipulations of the human genome to the possibilities of identical reproduction offered by cloning! [2]

1. Neo-mystical aspirations

It would be wrong to think that belonging to a present and to a space both constantly renewed, and thus largely fragmented, keeps the representatives of a neocapitalist, postindustrial mediated society from aspiring to another world. But these other worlds are syncretic and easily re-created by computerized virtual reality; they are worlds which root themselves in the past, fabricated as they are from heterogeneous historical materials: prehistoric men confronting monstrous Paleolithic animals, heroic characters with super-human powers drawn from Greco-Roman antiquity, feudal lords defending their stern and impregnable keeps, all taking off occasionally on unlikely interstellar shuttles. Worlds of science fiction feeding paradoxically on the great historic moments of a western civilization universally set up as human civilization—as globalization demands...; syncretic worlds which owe more to the vaguely historical and vaguely mystical makeshift than they do to any historical cross-fertilization or thoughtful multicultural synthesis; worlds where the immutable moral qualities of heroes always young, strong, and triumphant can be displayed; worlds generally accessed in ways resembling the initiatory itinerary: “Myth is real. And like real life, you die every five minutes. In fact you probably won’t die at all (...). Pay attention to detail and collect information, because those are the pieces of the puzzle you’ll use to uncover the secrets of Myst,” says the advertising for the electronic game Myst, in encouraging an initiatory “rational” trip into a true fictional world. [3]
But beyond the fictional games of a world-wide computerization, directed by a few powerful North American multi-media and technology companies allied with the major European press groups, technological hypermodernism proves to be driven (paradoxically) by a vague mysticism. More than just creating “new religious movements” and filling our classrooms with students of the history and science of religion, as they do, these indistinct mystical aspirations seem designed to make up for the worries and pressures which spring from the necessities of a youth-oriented present, subject to the necessities of constant innovation. [4] This diffuse neo-mystical fascination is no doubt involved in the increase in the number of interpretive studies brought about by the recent publication of several new gold lamellae; these precious gold tablets are part of the (limited) corpus of funerary documents traditionally classed under the composite label “Orphico-Dionysiac,” and are a godsend for advocates of an interpretation whose very name indicates its mystical tendencies.
Whether their text is a simple graffito or an effort at epigraphic calligraphy, whether they were found near buried remains or on them, whether they were to accompany a man or a woman on the journey toward Hades, the funerary lamellae which have been unearthed by archaeologists in the most diverse sites throughout the Greek world show an interesting variety in their representations of time and space. These temporal configurations generally converge toward the same goal: a near future which coincides spatially with the afterlife. And so, after studying the depth of a heroic past touching on the time of the gods in order to base human mortality in civic justice, after studying the poetic transformation of sexual relationships in a legendary narrative to legitimize religious and territorial policy, and after studying the reconstitution of a founding oracular past for ritual reaffirmation of civic identity based on a communal memory, this fourth temporal model establishes forms of discourse where time and space overlap to ensure an individual future of a collective sort; this in relationship to the funerary ritual on which the lamellae offer a sort of commentary, but a performative commentary!
While representing the ritual which they enunciate, the generally poetic texts aim to integrate an individual identity into a community identity by means of a specific spatial-temporal configuration. Unlike all the texts addressed so far, the corpus of the so-called “Orphico-Dionysiac” lamellae covers a wide swath of time; the documents extend from the beginning of the fourth century BC to the middle of the third century of our era. And the publication of the lamellae, which started in 1836, extends down to our own days, depending as it does on chance archaeological discovery; [5] the commentaries and revisions brought on by each new epiphany of a gold lamellae sketch and punctuate a time in research marked by the epistemological paradigms of the moment, a time which the vicissitudes of discovery and publication also open to the hopes of the future.
The generally poetic nature of these texts which consecrate a funeral ritual suggests an approach based on discourse analysis, and sensitive to their pragmatic elements; but the plurality of voices which can express the utterances once again requires attention to enunciative phenomena. While we remain sensitive to the pragmatic (not to say performative) dimension of the words written on the lamellae, the discursive coherence of these texts makes us contest any too-rapid application of convenient labels. This widely-practiced attribution is nothing more than a classification, based on ad hoc ideas and composite categories such as “Orphico-Dionysian”; but it also leads to the projection of mystico-metaphysical concepts of time and space, especially as it relates to the transmigration of souls and reincarnation. Finally, on a comparative level, comparison to the contemporary iconography geographically near to the most numerous lamellae will help us to trace the outlines of these spatial-temporal representations, of a discursive sort and with a ritual purpose.

2. The spatial-temporal itinerary of a dead woman at Hipponion

Choosing the oldest text as the introductory and privileged example obviously runs the double risk of making the arkh é, the beginning of one’s own research, coincide with a model given as both prototype and as stereotype: a first diachronic model in a coincidence between the chronology of poetic production of the anonymous texts and the time of research, but also an abstract synchronous model serving as normative reference for all other texts of the same type. Found in a tomb dating from the end of the fifth century or the beginning of the fourth century, the gold lamella from the necropolis of Hipponion, in the Gulf of Sant’Eufemia in Calabria, nonetheless has the advantage of a particularly well-developed text. Quite apart from any historical quest for the Ur- and thus for a textual “archetype” which would constitute the point of origin of a very philological stemma codicorum, quite apart as well from any reconstruction of an Idealtyp on the synchronic level, the Hipponion text must be placed in a series of versions linked together by a narrative plot of the same sort. [6]
This plot does not seem to be organized along the lines of the semio-narrative scheme offered by the “canonic schema” in the reading grid used in Chapter III, to help understand the narrative development of the Theseus legend offered by Bacchylides in his Dithyramb 17; on the other hand, its formal organization does show some similarities to the no less canonic tripartite schema proposed in analyzing rites of passage. This is probably not surprising in a text whose act of narration is to be understood not as a narrative, but rather as fulfillment of a ritual. [7] From a figurative point of view, this textual plot will thus propose a spatial-temporal itinerary of a ritual sort.

2.1. Narration and enunciation

Of Mnemosyne is this tomb; on the point of death
you will go into the well-built dwelling of Hades: to the right there is a spring,
alongside it stands a glowing cypress;
it is there that the souls of the dead descend and there they refresh themselves.
To this spring you must not draw near.
But farther on, you will find cold water which flows
from the lake of Mnemosyne; above it stand guards.
They will ask you, in certain judgment,
why you explore the shadows of dark Hades.
Say: “I am a son of the Earth and the starry Heavens.
I burn with thirst and my strength fails me; give me quickly
a drink of the cold water which comes from the lake of Mnemosyne.”
And they will question you, as the king of the Underworld wishes.
And you, when you have drunk, you will travel the sacred way
on which the other mystai and bacchoi also advance in glory.
(English version from the French translation by A.-Ph.Segonds and C. Lunda, slightly modified by Claude Calame)
The text carefully incised on the Hipponion lamella is thus expressed in the future. To the extent that the corresponding verbs assume various forms not in the first person, but rather in the second, the text does not show the enunciative auto-referentiality that one often finds in a lyric poem. Which is to say that the discursive subject does not describe the (verbal) action in which he is engaged. So the future forms presented in the Hipponion text have none of the “performative” value (in the strict sense of the term) that they assume in a metrical poem, when the poem becomes a religious act. [8] In the absence of any allusion to a sung “performance,” as was the case indirectly at the end of Bacchylides Dithyramb 17, the series of actions which makes up the narrative fabric of the Hipponion text is presented as a sequence of injunctions. These are addressed by an anonymous speaker and narrator to an interlocutor (Benveniste would say an “allocuté” or an “allocutaire”) who is equally anonymous; he becomes the grammatical “you” as subject of the actions recommended. One might propose “The Underworld: A User’s Guide,” if asked to give a title to these injunctive texts.
So the temporal line which organizes the sequence of suggested actions can be followed, along with the spatial itinerary sketched by it. This series of spatial-temporal directions is intended for interlocutor-you, no doubt corresponding to the deceased person carrying the lamella. But to speak of narrative development of an itinerary is also to speak of constructing a space-time with obvious practical aims. The coherence of stages in the discursive and enunciative development of the space-time in the Hipponion text will require comparison with the two texts from somewhat later, found in tombs located in Petelia (a colony of Croton in Calabria) and in Pharsalus (in Thessaly) respectively; comparison will then continue with the incomplete text (published provisionally for now) which probably comes from Entella in western Sicily. [9]
2.1.1. An incipit in the form of a sphragís
The poetic text of the Hipponion lamella opens initially with a sphragís, which more closely resembles the signature opening the text of Herodotus Histories, for example, than it resembles the indirect procedure concluding Bacchylides’ poem. As in Herodotus, and by its mode of internal reference, the inaugural deictic tóde (line 1) designates the text which follows. But in its general content it names the text not as a Herodotean “demonstration” (apódeixis) but as a “tomb” by the addition of the Homeric term ēríon. From the intra-discursive reference of the deictic tóde, we thus pass on to its possibility of external reference. Through the play of the deixis, it is the lamella itself which becomes a metaphoric tumulus whose author seems to be Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses and incarnation of Memory. Indeed, in its syntactic structure, the expression “here is the tomb of Memory” is based on a genitive which is not objective, but subjective. [10] And so, from the concrete situation in which the deceased bearer of the lamella finds himself, the metaphoric usage of the term ēríon returns us to the memorial aspect assumed by the tomb in ancient Greece: an equivalent in this particular case to mnêma rather than sêma. [11]
Thus signed, the text is placed under the authority of Mnemosyne. From the very start, it integrates the “you”-addressee to whom it speaks at a precise moment in time: the moment of death. This instant is modalized both by a verb which situates it in the very near future and the syntactic indicator of eventuality (epeì ám méllēisi thaneîsthai, “since you are / when you will be at the point of death”). From the point of view of the time of the uttered enunciation, the text is supposed to be pronounced just before the death of the deceased addressee. This temporal situation is itself coupled with a spatial indication: “you will go into the well-built dwelling of Hades.” [12] At least, this is the way the form eis, which introduces the second period, should be understood, in a first form of the injunctive future which corresponds to the performative futures of the first person: eîs from the verb eîmi, “to go” (with a future meaning!) which takes a simple accusative, and not the preposition eis. [13] Because of the enunciative modalities of this “narrative,” the time of the uttered enunciation coincides from the start with the time of narration (and with the beginning of recounted time).
2.1.2. The two springs
The mention of the dwelling of Hades introduces a distinctly descriptive passage. Syntactically, this insertion is added to a procedure of asyndeton; such an absence of any connector is no doubt expected in a observational utterance, and purely assertoric, it begins with the verbal form of existence ésti “there is” (line 2) – and not “there once was.” The very usage of the present with a third person indicates that we have passed from the “discourse,” not to the “narrative” (or to the “story,” as Benveniste would have said, in a distinction already mentioned and still disputed [14] ), but rather to a descriptive procedure. Not time, but rather space enunciated or recounted; space marked by a spring situated on the right, from the perspective of the narrator-speaker and of his interlocutor.
This implicit enunciative intervention related to the speaker’s point of view, in a sequence of seemingly assertoric utterances, has tested readers of this text. Indeed, two lamellae from a bit later insert the same information directly into the itinerary prepared for the “you” of the addressee, but one of them places the spring to the left “of the dwelling of Hades.” [15] This divergent location of the spring in a generally negative position could be attributed to the fact that the expression used is referenced from the outside of the Underworld, and not from the internal perspective which determines the spatial orientation of the utterance in the other texts.
Whatever the location of the spring, the different versions of the text agree that the site is marked by the presence of a “white” cypress. This whiteness has given rise to the most fantastic interpretations, some going as far as making the cypress thus described into a tree of life comparable to that mentioned in Genesis, or even the symbol of the cyclical rebirth of the soul. The cypress is actually often associated with death and with Hades in Greek representations of funerals. [16] In this funerary context, it is most likely the first meaning of leukós which is realized. The adjective designates the luminous brightness of a tree which serves as a point of reference in a place filled with darkness. This reference point could be one indication of an itinerary leading the deceased toward the eternal light of an Elysian dwelling which we have yet to describe.
In one of those word plays which the Greeks liked so well, and which is explicitly repeated in that collection of ontologizing etymologies which is Plato’s Cratylus, the next descriptive utterance attributes a function to the spring: it is there so that the souls of the dead, souls traveling downward, may refresh themselves (psukhaì . . . psúkhontai, line 4). For Plato, the double meaning of psúkhō (“to breathe” and “to refresh”) allows us to associate the soul with the breath of life which animates the body through (humid?) coolness. [17] Water from the spring in Hades, marked by the glowing cypress, thus seems to hold the power to resuscitate the souls of the dead entering the kingdom below.
How surprising it is, then, to read the following recommendation, relayed by assertive description through discourse! “To the spring you must not draw near to” – the return of direct address to the anonymous “you” turns the interlocutor away from this spring, and in a new future injunctive (heurḗseis) directs him instead toward the cold water flowing from the marshes of Mnemosyne: from the speaker’s perspective, this lake of Memory is located farther into Hades; and above the water stand guards.
Of all the parallels mentioned in various interpretations of this passage, and intended to account for the contrast between the spring with its glowing cypress and the marshes of Mnemosyne, none is really pertinent. It is true that in the description Pausanias gives of a consultation of the oracle of Trophonios in Boeotia, the purified supplicant is led to two neighboring springs; at the first he drinks the waters “of Forgetfulness” to be liberated from his former thoughts while at the second the “waters of Memory” will allow him to remember what he has seen in his oracular descent. [18] But the first spring described in the Hipponion text is not related to forgetfulness in any way, and the person consulting the oracle of Trophonios is invited to drink from both springs, not to avoid the first one!
Similarly, in the famous narrative of Er which concludes Plato’s Republic, souls follow the path crossing the arid plains of Forgetfulness, seeing no trees at all, and drink from the river of Unmindfulness, following an itinerary which is the exact opposite of the one proposed in the gold lamella. [19] After the choice of a new mortal life, with a new destiny woven by the Moirai and marked with the seal of Necessity, Plato’s souls forget the past and return toward the surface of the earth! Which leaves only the parallel which might be furnished by comparison with the Semitic Middle East, through the cosmo-theogony of the Enuma Eliš. But while the Assyrian texts repeatedly mention the gods of the Underworld, six hundred Anunnaki who were banished to Hell by the will of Anu, the spring which they guard is nothing more than the effect of an interpretive reading of the cosmo-theogonic poem. [20]
Comparison with Semitic texts is not particularly informative in specifically defining the guardians of the lake of Mnemosyne, except in very general terms. On the other hand, from Hesiod to Heraclitus and to Plato, many poets and philosophers in Greece took up the native belief in the existence of anonymous divinities, daímones who assume roles as guardians, especially in the Underworld. In Hesiod’s narrative of the succession of human species studied in the first chapter, the blessed mortals who came from the silver species seem to take on in the Underworld the same role of phúlakes assumed on earth by their fellow creatures, the demons of the gold family. As for Heraclitus, he mentions in his enigmatic way the awakening of guardians assigned to the living as well as to the dead. Elsewhere, Socrates calls on popular tradition (légetai) in the Phaedo to explain the process which allows the soul of the deceased to purify itself of its earthly past, assigning to each individual a daímōn charged with guiding him in Hades and with helping him make his way in a place of numerous paths, forks, and crossroads. [21]
So there is really no surprise in finding that the domain of Hades created by the poetic Hipponion text is peopled with generically named guardians; they take on the role of guides and ferrymen in a nebulous space where points of reference are rare and difficult to interpret.
2.1.3. Declaration of identity
In a new form of the future destined to happen, the interlocutor-you is forewarned of the question which the guardians of the Underworld will ask him: “These (i.e., the guardians) will ask you in their prudent spirit what you could possibly be seeking in the darkness of Hades” (lines 8-9). A question to the one who arrives in the dark domain of Hades, about the object of his quest; a question introduced in “free” indirect discourse in a patchwork of Homeric expressions and of formulae which are also found in other lamellae. While the “prudent spirit” of the demons of the Underworld recalls the form of intelligence which Athena attributes to herself in the Iliad, the phrasing of the question asked, along with the verb which introduces it, calls to mind both the parallel text from Pharsalus and the reconstructed text from Entella. [22] For anyone who must describe those responsible for giving information about the itinerary, there is nothing surprising in attributing to the guardians below, serving as guides and interpreters, the prudent wisdom of the gods of technical intelligence, by means of Homeric formulae. Finally, the exercise in formulaic composition leads to the injunction which constitutes the very center of the text: “speak,” “say” (eîpon, line 10). [23]
The invitation to the bearer of the lamella to express himself leads to a true declaration of identity. In this central act of discourse, as in Petelia and in Pharsalus, the deceased speaks directly and declares himself, here and now, a “son of the Earth and the starry Heavens.” This has been rightly interpreted both as a “password” and as a “passport.” In specifying the current identity of the deceased by attributing to him an Ouranian ancestry, the Petelia text does not simply link his identity to a divine origin: the declaration of identity evokes the divine couple who engender all things in Hesiod’s Theogony, among them gods such as Kronos, the father of Zeus. So it is not surprising that the Pharsalus lamella establishes this original ancestry in the proper name of Asterios, a name which recalls an epiclesis of Zeus as well as the name of the human father of Minos. [24] Like all the other deceased who enter the realm of Hades, this son of Gaia and Ouranos is parched with thirst. As if threatened by a second death (apóllumai, line 11), he asks the guardians to give him access to the cool water which flows from the lake of Mnemosyne.
2.1.4. The four elements
Were it not for fear of the overused systematization to which badly understood structural analysis has often led, one might see in the deceased’s password the presence of all four elements that make up the cosmos: in the Theogony, Hesiod seems to reprise a representation of Tartarus at whose exit were the “roots” of the earth and the sea, then of both the springs and the ends of the earth, of Tartarus itself, and of the sea and the sky. Since Tartarus itself is described with the adjective ēeróeis, which brings to mind opaque humidity of the air, and since the sky is described as asteróeis, referring to the light of the stars, some have seen in this image of the origins and ends of the cosmos the presence of the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. [25]
The same could be said of the famous Empedokles fragment, where the descriptions of the four divinities who represent the four “roots” of all things also make the gods correspond to the four elements: Zeus the resplendent for fire, Hera who holds the bíos and gives life for earth, Nestis the tearful for water, and Aidoneus-Hades (by inference) for air—such, at least, is the interpretation of the passage given by Diogenes Laertius. And the Iliad could also show an echo of this four-part concept, especially in the formulation of oaths; in the famous scene where the pact is concluded in Iliad 3, Agamemnon invokes not only Zeus, but also the Sun (fire?), the Rivers (water), Gaia (the earth), and the gods below (air?). [26] And so in his speech act, which takes the form of a declaration of identity when confronting the guardians of the Underworld, the bearer of the lamella lays claim through his ancestry to the earth and to the fire of the sky, before speaking of his thirst (which is perhaps brought on by the dark air of Hades as it was on the arid plain of the Er narrative) which he wishes to quench with the water of the lake of Memory.
In this context, we would like to be able to read at the end of the line preceding the utterance of the declaration of identity the qualifier ēeróentos, “misty,” “dark” (or eurṓentos, “humid,” “moldy”); but at the end of line 9 the legible traces on the lamella only allow us to guess the form o[ro]eentos (“mountainous?”), which makes no sense for a description of Hades in the genitive. Once again, in the Iliad it is the first qualifier used for Tartarus, as well as for the shades of the deceased whose lot is Hades, probably a reference to the dark (or misty) density of the air. [27] Also, in the text of the lamella itself, ēeróentos appears at the end of the period in the same metrical position as the form asteróentos in the following line. This coincidence would seem to underline the strong contrast between the shadowy darkness of Hades and the luminous filiation from Sky, which the deceased claims for himself in his “password.” The case is even stronger, since in Iliadic poetry the term skótos, describing the shadows of Hades, refers metaphorically to death itself, and since Hesiod in his Theogony contrasts dark Tartarus to the starry sky three times. [28]
2.1.5. Access to the realm of the blessed
The reaction of the guardians of Hades to the deceased’s declaration of identity is given in a description which returns to the forms of the near future used in earlier statements: they will address the one for whom the lamella is meant, and will allow him to quench his thirst in the lake of Mnemosyne. In the Hipponion text (as well as the one from Petelia), the reappearance in the form dṓsousi (“they will give,” line 14) of the request made by the deceased, dóte (“give,” line 11), underscores the perlocutionary and pragmatic nature of the declaration of identity: it has an immediate effect. In this context, there is no reason to correct to eleoûsin (“they will take pity”) the reading ereoûsin (“they will speak,” line 13), given in the text and attested in Homeric poetry, from the future erô. [29] Similarly, at the end of this period, we must keep the reading given in the text, basilei, which should be read as basilêï (in the dative) by reference not to Persephone, queen of the Underworld, but to its king Hades, already mentioned in line 9. The guardians will address the deceased, under the influence (hupó, line 13) of a sovereign who is called khthónios, like many other underworld deities in archaic and classical poetry. [30]
This new geographic indication moves the text, as well as the one for whom it is meant and who carries it, toward its temporal and spatial conclusion. Time and space merge when the interlocutor-you of the gold text is led to the present through yet another Homeric from of a verb of movement (érkheai an, line 15). Having drunk the waters of Memory, the “you” can continue, in the present, on the same sacred path followed by other “initiates and bacchants filled with glory.” Widely diffused throughout Greek literature, the image of the path appears especially in funerary contexts, used to designate the journey which leads the chosen deceased toward the realm of immortality, the Elysian Fields or Isles of the Blessed—as we shall see. [31]
Assuming in its verbal form the Homeric idea of immortalizing heroization through glory represented by kléos, the qualifier kleinoí confers the status of hero on those privileged to follow this itinerary. Placed between gods and men, heroes can attain the happiness experienced by immortals through the brilliance of kléos. Such is the case for Io, the spouse of Zeus in Aeschylus, of Herakles the son of Zeus in Sophocles, and of the heroic founder of the city of Etna in Pindar; and such especially is the case for the interlocutor and addressee of the Petelia lamella, brought to reign “among the heroes” in a world vastly different from the Homeric Hades where souls wander like shadows. [32]
But even more significant is the association of the interlocutor-you found in the Hipponion text with other “initiates and bacchants” (mústai kaì bákkhoi, line 16); after tasting the waters of Memory, they are called upon to follow the spatial-temporal itinerary shown to them: it leads toward what appears an eternal dwelling. A godsend for those who love initiatory interpretations and who see, in an epigraphic document from the end of the fifth century, the occurrence of technical terms capable of sustaining any number of mystical fantasies. So what about this?

2.2. Enunciative pragmatics: the funerary context

Following the purely intra-discursive reading of the text in its spatial-temporal aspect, we must move on to the extra-discursive. Considering what we know of conditions surrounding the putting-into-discourse and the communication of the Hipponion text is all the more important since it provides us a major surprise, from the enunciative point of view.
2.2.1. The poetic workings of gender
While the indices of enunciated utterance given in the text refer us to an interlocutor (and a locutor in the declaration of identity) of the male sex (huòs gâs, probably in line 10; aûos, certainly in line 11, piṓn, probably in line 15 – all masculine forms), the body that carried the lamella in the Hipponion tomb was that of a young woman. The burial objects dating from the end of the fifth century and found in this relatively modest tomb probably mean the deceased young woman was an average citizen in the context of a small colonial city founded by another colony, Epizephyrian Locris. Folded four times vertically and once horizontally, the lamella had either been placed in the mouth of the deceased, like the passport that the obol for Charon represents, or more probably (as in Pelinna, for example) on the sternum of the body. In her left hand had been placed a small terra-cotta lamp, no doubt intended to help guide the young woman during her travels in the darkness of Hades described in the text itself. [33]
This correspondence between the ritual funeral arrangements made for the corpse and the spatial indications given by the text of the lamella makes that enunciative discrepancy even more surprising. In this regard, parallels offered by other lamellae are unfortunately of no use. While it is true that the Pharsalus text of the declaration of identity is also enunciated in the masculine, the lamella corresponds to was placed on an urn, and the incinerated remains give no clue about the sex of the deceased. As for the Petelia text, while it does present one promising feminine form (aúē, line 8), the archaeological circumstances of its exhumation, and thus its ritual placement, are unknown to us! [34] Faced with this double aporia, one might cite the Thourioi lamellae, which present the opposite scenario from Hipponion: enunciative forms in the feminine, but pronounced by deceased individuals whose buried remains prove them to be of the male sex. It is true that the feminine form kathará given in these texts could refer to the soul of the deceased. There remain only the Pelinna lamellae, placed on the chest of the corpse of a woman when a gold coin was also placed in her mouth, to furnish a possible parallel to the enunciative situation of the poetic text from Hipponion, but that text compares the interlocutor to masculine animals, the bull and the ram! [35]
But any specialist in archaic and classical Greek poetry knows that funerary lamellae are not the only texts to pose the problem of a surprising enunciative “gender” discrepancy. Alkman and Pindar, masculine poets, composed poems to be sung and danced by choral groups of girls, who take up the singing of the poem in the first person; and through the intermediary of the mask to which the Dionysiac ritual gave authority, actors of classical tragedy acted feminine roles in plots which gave rise to the poetic expression of the most passionate feelings. [36] As for a dead woman assuming a voice which expresses itself in the masculine, we must take into account the traditional and poetic character of a language which distinguishes itself for us through the lexical, dialectical, and rhythmic color appropriate to the diction of epic poetry: we have merely pointed out a few of its elements in passing. From a militant feminist point of view, Greek poetry has the disadvantage of not bending to the requirements of a linguistic usage which should appear “politically correct … ”
2.2.2. A few intertextual echoes
Again from an enunciative point of view, the six lamellae found at Eleutherna in Crete and dating from the end of the third century, as well as the fourth-century lamella probably from Thessaly, bear only the text of the declaration of identity, enunciated in the first person; with a significant modification, however, since, independently of variations in details, the state of thirst and the desire to drink expressed by the speaker’s voice come before the declaration of identity, which is enunciated in terms practically identical to those of the poetic text from Hipponion. [37]
I am burning with thirst and I am dying:
give me water to drink from the spring which flows constantly
there where the cypress is.
“Who are you? Where do you come from?”
“I am a son of the Earth and the starry Heavens.”
(English version from the French translation by A.-Ph. Segonds and C. Luna)
In this text from Crete, anticipation of the declaration of identity is caused by the absence of the other instructions which surround the password itself in the Hipponion document: thus it is caused by the disappearance of the scenario which presents the first-person declaration as an address to the guardians of the Underworld. Substituted for it are, first, the priority given to the thirst of the speaking subject, which constitutes the expected state of narrative “Lack” and begins the micro-plot assumed and spoken by the speaker-I; and, second, the insertion of a question in direct discourse on his own identity, which rather than being auto-referential could be assumed by the guardians of Hades: “who are you? where are you?” (tís d’ essí; pô d’ essí; line 3). A similar procedure calling for a declaration of identity can be found in the famous Egyptian pharaonic Book of the Dead. [38]
Just as in the texts from Hipponion and Petelia (and probably in the one from Entella), the state of dehydration suffered by the locutor-I is associated with his death (kaì appóllumai, line 1): it is as if the state of death continued into Hades. But in contrast to the more developed texts, the locutor himself uses an infinitive with an optative value (piém moi, line 1) to express his wish to drink from the spring “of eternal flowing,” on the right and indicated by the cypress, the very same spring that the longer texts recommend avoiding! [39] This paradox must be understood within the framework of reversed enunciative order, in the text from Crete. The declaration of identity here is assumed directly by the voice of the one carrying the lamella, while the question to which it responds is assumed indirectly, probably by the guardians of Hades. We add that, just as in the Petelia text and probably in the one from Entella, the lamella from Thessaly specifies maternal ancestry of the Earth and paternal ancestry of Heaven by indicating the celestial origins of the deceased (autàr emoì génos oránion, line 5); while it evokes the same meaning, this indication substitutes for the proper name Asterios which recalls this celestial identity in the Pharsalus lamella. [40]
While any possible reference to the four elements is less obvious in the briefer texts, where there is only implicit allusion to Hades and the darkness of the humid, saturated air, the double ancestry claimed by the locutor (and thus by the deceased) is echoed in a funerary inscription from Pherae in Thessaly. The deceased who pronounces the text inscribed on that funerary stele gives his civic identity, but says that he was born seemingly of the “root” of great Zeus, but really of immortal fire. Through an identity-related utterance phrased as a chiasmus, he associates this identity, divided between appearance and truth, to a double ancestry: the Earth on the mother’s side, the stars of the sky on the father’s side. The (mortal: sôma) body is attached to the mother-earth, while actual life (, in the present), which is to say eternity, is attached to the light of paternal fire. This igneous element recalls the fire in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter through which Demeter plans to immortalize little Demophoon, offspring of the legendary sovereigns of Eleusis; and according to Euripides, fire consumed the mortal shell of Herakles before transforming the deified hero and his spouse Hebe into bright stars. [41]
With the Thessalian inscription, the double ancestry of the deceased is no longer confined just to the folds of a gold lamella buried along with human remains in the infernal darkness of the sepulcher. This terrestrial and celestial identity reminds us of the destiny Sophocles gives to Oedipus in the Athenian market town of Colonus, when he places the Theban hero both on Olympus, in an assumption announced by a thunderbolt from Zeus, and in the bowels of the earth of Attica. [42] But beyond these common traits, the widespread representations of double identity among Greek heroic figures, divided between terrestrial and mortal nature on the one hand and celestial immortality on the other, offer no reference to the deceased’s thirst, nor any reference to water during the funerary journey in the darkness of Hades.

2.3. Initiatory itinerary under the aegis of Dionysus

In the end, the spatial and temporal configurations suggested by the gold lamella from Hipponion are addressed to the group with which the interlocutor and addressee of the text is associated, the group composed of “initiates and bacchants” (mústai kaì bákkhoi, line 16). The usual and generic translation of initiate is well suited to the meaning of mústēs in that, from the fifth century on, this term means any person participating or having participated in an initiatory rite. Especially in classical Athens, a mustēs is anyone initiated into the official Eleusinian Mysteries, and in a well-known passage Heraclitus anathematizes initiates whom he associates, by an etymologizing reference to mysteries and to mueîsthai (“to be initiated”) with charlatans of the night, with magi, with maenads, and with bacchants! [43] Three funerary lamellae from the Hellenistic period, all found in a necropolis at Aigion in Achaia, describe the deceased (identified with his own name) as mústēs, while in Pella in Macedonia a gold lamella shaped like a laurel or myrtle leaf, probably dating from the end of the fourth century, describes a man named Poseidippos (the Alexandrian author of epigrams?) as a devoted mústēs (eusebḗs), and addressed by the text to Persephone. [44]
But while the dead woman who carried the gold lamella of Hipponion was associated with a group of mystai, directing us essentially toward Eleusinian mysteries, the parallel designation of initiates as “bacchants” sends us back toward initiatory rites dedicated to Dionysus: Dionysus Bacchus himself, known within the cult as Lúsios, the “Liberator,” and under this double identity venerated on the Mount Kithairon frequented by Theban women, as well as near the theater in the city of Sikyon. [45]
In a more decidedly funerary context, an inscription from Cumae and dating from the fifth century warns the passerby: “It is not permitted that anyone lie here who has not been seized by Bacchus (bebakkheuménon).” [46] Even if Euripides speaks of an Apollo Bacchus, and even if, in the second drama that the tragic poet devoted to Hippolytus, Theseus waxes ironic on the exclusive love that the young man expressed for Artemis, accusing the likely initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries of also being a bacchant under Orpheus’ direction, the term bákkhos and its derivatives recall Dionysiac possession, whether metaphoric or not. [47]
2.3.1. Initiates’ shortcuts in Hades
And so the relationship seems inevitable between the integration of the addressee of the poetic text of Hipponion with a group of initiates, and the two possible itineraries offered at the beginning of the text. It is as an initiate, no doubt, that the young deceased woman is led to avoid the spring on the right, marked by the glowing cypress, and goes instead toward the Lake of Memory.
We must remember that not only is the Hipponion discourse-tomb placed from the beginning under the authority of Mnemosyne, but in its metrical correspondence to a paroemiac, the formula mentioning the presence of the water of memory punctuates the text three times (lines 6, 12, and 14). In this regard, it seems proper to wonder if the short texts of the lamellae of Eleutherna from Crete are not addressed to common mortals; their souls are destined to drink from the eternally-flowing spring on the right, the one that the addressees of the longer texts are advised to avoid! By contrast, the male or female initiates of Hipponion, Petelia, Pharsalus, and probably Entella are invited to drink water with specific qualities; this cool water is capable (through an intervening play on words, psukhaí – psúkhontai – psukhrón in Hipponion and Entella) of giving a vital force to their parched souls, but is also capable of reviving the (initiatory?) memory, which will allow them to take the path which will lead them among the “glorious” in Hipponion, among the “heroes” in Petelia. [48]
If the short texts seem to be addressed to mortals in general while the long texts are meant for initiates, the identity shared by their respective addressees is what brings the two groups together. They are associated into the movement of communitas which anthropologists find characteristic of any group of initiands: all are sons of the Earth and the starry Heavens. [49] This identity, integrated into the password, comes before being faced with the Underworld. It is threatened by thirst, which may destroy the deceased. In all of the texts (with the exception of Pharsalus) this feeling of thirst is accompanied by the “performative” declaration apóllumai, “I am dying.” But only the short texts attribute to the spring on the right a flow whose eternity (aieiróō, line 2) seems able to supply a palliative to the threat of death which weighs on the soul there. [50] The water on the right thus seems to fulfill the same purpose for the addressees of the short texts that the water of Mnemosyne fulfills for the addressees of the long texts. But whether one is advised to avoid it or to drink from it, the right-hand spring is never associated with Lethe, antiphrastic (in forgetfulness) to Mnemosyne!
So it is as if the bearers of the long texts had additional information allowing them to follow an itinerary reserved for them alone, beyond the source on the right at which the general run of souls are called to drink. We mentioned above that the Odyssey gives a double image of the afterlife, related to two different realms. On the one hand, “the wide-doored house of Hades,” where the souls and shades of heroines and heroes stay, answering the sacrificial call of Odysseus, he himself stands at the mouth of Erebos, on the edge of the Ocean River, in the country of Kimmerians wrapped in mists and fog (ēéri kaì nephélēi); among the heroic figures reduced to this state of eídōla are Epikaste, Leda, Phaedra, Agamemnon, Achilles, and even Minos the son of Zeus, who “renders justice to the dead.” On the other hand, the Old Man of the Sea when consulted by Menelaus in Egypt predicted that the king of Sparta, “raised by Zeus” and his son-in-law, would escape death; he will be sent by the immortal gods to the Elysian Fields, at the ends of the earth, where he will meet Rhadamanthys, the brother of Minos, to enjoy life in a golden age, without seasons but soothed by the breezes of the Zephyr which “refreshes (anapsúkhein) men.” [51]
Remember that in the narrative of the five generations told in his Works, Hesiod situates this funerary realm at the ends of the earth, in the “Isles of the Blessed”; the climate of this far-off region is so favorable that it ensures frequent harvests enjoyed not only by Menelaus, but also by some of the blessed heroes (ólbioi hḗrōes) who fell before the gates of Thebes fighting for Oedipus’ inheritance or on the plains of Troy in Helen’s name. We saw that Hesiod’s poem stresses that this life of carefree abundance is granted those “set apart from men” by Zeus. [52] Despite the difficulties presented by literal translation of the text, Pindar in his second Olympic Ode offers a representation of the afterlife with the same underlying dichotomy. In this epinician composed and performed for Theron of Agrigentum, the realm where men “with nothing” are judged for their crimes is clearly set off from the Isle of the Blessed, whose favorable breezes guarantee constant blossoms. Following the “way of Zeus,” those who have kept their souls from unjust acts through several lives can enter this realm; there they share the company of Rhadamanthys, under the control of Kronos, master of the golden age. Among those blessed who have joined the gods, Peleus and Kadmos, but also Achilles, the hero par excellence, are examples given to the tyrant of Agrigentum, to whom the ode is addressed, and who for his generosity is promised the same immortal destiny. [53]
The common trait among these different representations seems clear: unlike the souls of mortals (like those of certain protagonists of the Iliad) wandering unhappily in Hades, the heroes of legend, and humans of the present day distinguished by their ancestry and by their exceptional values, may attain a special place and status. This final and privileged state is secured in a sort of return to the golden age, by association with the Blessed in their Isles or in the Elysian Fields. It is well known that mákar designates the status of eternal happiness enjoyed by the gods, set apart from any productive labor.
2.3.2 Mystēs and bacchant: A preliminary status
In two (perhaps even three) of the long texts studied thus far, and in sharp contrast to the short texts, this privileged status at the end of the itinerary is described meaningfully: “hero” in Petelia and perhaps in Entella; “glorious” (with all that the kléos implies about sharing in immortality) in Hipponion. [54] Attached to the power exercised by the gods (anáxeis, “you will reign,” line 11 of the Petelia text), this group status comes after the status designated by being descended from Earth and Heaven, which is also stated in the short texts. We must remember that this latter status is associated with the state of dehydration and mortality experienced by the soul before it can taste the waters of Mnemosyne and continue with the other mústai and bacchants on its way toward the place ruled by the immortalized heroes. This coincidence between space traversed and time traversed is well marked in the Petelia text which ends, “and it is then later, among the other heroes, that you will reign” (line1). Through the intermediary of the poetic discourse, Memory relates the past of the initiate with the future of a quasi-divine identity.
The nearly-divine collective identity acquired by drinking the waters of Memory thus seems reserved for those mústai who will know to turn away from the spring on the right, reserved for more common sons of Gaia and Ouranos, in order to reach the specific and exclusive realm of godlike heroes. In this context, it is easy to understand why the speaker in the Petelia text places himself in the perspective of a future hero, situating the spring marked by the white cypress negatively, on the left.
We can, then, grasp the meaning of the term súmbola which appears at the end of the incomplete Entella text. Generally designating recognition signs, the term súmbola serves as a title for a gold lamella from the end of the fourth century, found near Pherai in Thessaly: Súmbola. Andrikepaidóthurson – Andrikepaidóthurson. Brímō – Brímō. Eísthi hieròn leimôna. Ápoinos gàr ho mústēs. T. ápedon†. [55] The lamella’s text begins by dramatizing, in a way, the meaning of its title. The exact repetition of the first two expressions in the vocative correspond to a putting-into-discourse and a textualization of both the practice and the literal meaning of “symbol”: a gesture of identification and recognition by means of two matching elements.
The Pherai text is introduced by a double call to an addressee, described as an “adult adolescent,” who corresponds either to the one carrying the lamella or to Dionysus himself, to take up his thyrsos. It is followed by a repeated and symmetrical invocation to Brimo, an avatar of Hecate, sometimes assimilated to Demeter in an Eleusinian context, or to Persephone in an Orphic context. [56] Following these two repeated calls, the receiver, whom we can now identify with the addressee and bearer of the lamella, is invited to enter a “sacred meadow” easily identified with the leimṓn of the Isles of the Blessed. [57] Before the brief conclusion, unfortunately indecipherable, the incitement to privileged access is justified: the addressee is presented as a mústēs who, as such, is exempt or freed of any penalty (ápoinos). The injunctive utterance of the Pherai súmbola thus ensures access to the sacred meadow of the afterlife in a spatial-temporal itinerary which speaks of two ways of proceeding: on the one hand, the voyage toward the world of the Blessed proposed by the two Thourioi lamellae for the soul who has “expiated his penalty for unjust acts”; and on the other hand the destiny of the “unjust,” paying “right here” in the Underworld the penalty (poinán) for their unjust acts in contrast with mortals allowed, for instance, by the second Olympian Ode to access the Isles of the Blessed. [58] Decidedly different from the concept of the súnthēma of Eleusis, where the initiand describes performatively and in the first person the ritual acts which he or she has just performed, [59] the súmbola procedure gives access to a new realm through repeating the invocation formulae. Its injunctive formulation in the second person recalls the long informative invitations from Hipponion, Petelia, or Pharsalus.
While it brings confirmation to the Dionysiac identity of the mústai and bacchants of Hipponion, this detour through Pherai also casts light on their role. It would be even more difficult to try to deprive the poetic Hipponion text of an interpretation in initiatory terms that the narrative is about ritual gestures. In the logic of ritual, the physical death and descent into Hades through inhumation could represent the phase of separation from the previous order as in the ternary structure of any rite of passage; in this ritual logic, the thirst and sense of loss (apóllumai) expressed by the protagonist of the “initiation” could correspond to the symbolic death which is its center; through drinking the waters of the Lake of Memory, access to the realm of the “glorious” with the complementary and community identity attached to that access could in turn be interpreted as the final phase of aggregation for those whose identity, divided between Earth and Heaven, is known to the guardians of Hades. [60]
It is a widely held belief in classical Greece that privileged access to a realm of paradise close to that of the gods is reserved to those who, on earth, have undergone initiatory rites controlled by Dionysus. “Whoever reaches Hades without having known initiatory completion uninitiated and unsanctified (amúētos kaì atélestos) will be placed in the mire; he who arrives there purified and initiated (kekatharménos te kaì tetelesménos) will dwell with the gods,” says the Socrates of the Phaedo, who is at the point of death, referring to an ancient gnome. And he specifies that by initiation he means the Dionysian rites, where “those who carry the thyrsos are many, but the bacchants (bákkhoi) are few.” [61] The initiation which confers the state of purity required to belong to the small number of the elect who will share the life of the gods in Hades is thus inspired by Dionysus, even if for Socrates it represents a metaphor which finally refers to philosophic activity. And it has been noted that in the Hellenistic epigram of Poseidippos of Pella, perhaps the very same mústēs of that name on a lamella mentioned earlier, the speaker expresses his hope that thanks to the “mystic path,” he will be near Rhadamanthys and dwell there after death. [62] In Hipponion, in Petelia, in Pharsalus, even in Entella, both the course through Hades promised only to mústai, and the privileged destiny which awaits them, imply a preceding Dionysiac type of initiation and rite of passage. As the knowledge of the epic Muse is about the past, present, and future, Mnemosyne warrants the transition from the status of a mortal initiate to a divine status promised to the deceased. We find traces of such a double initiatory progression, completed by poetic memory, in other gold lamellae.

3. Modalities of funerary initiation

From an enunciative point of view, the discourse of the long poetic texts like the Hipponion lamella consists of a series of injunctive and performative indications, expressed in the second person and consequently addressed to the man or woman who carries the lamella. At the center of the text, the deceased appears in the first person in a declaration of identity which approximately corresponds to the utterance in the short texts.
That means that these “I” statements are supposed to be spoken directly to the wearer of the lamella; the “you” statements framing the “I” declaration offer in some way the context of enunciation of the statements assumed by the “I”. One could imagine that the text was spoken by an officiant (he or she) during the funeral, or the on the enunciative level—the statement as a password, supposed to be spoken at the moment in which the soul would find out its way through Hades.
The very same alternation between second person and first person is shown in texts revealed by the well-known lamellae found in two funerary tumuli in the Lucanian colony of Thourioi. With a few important variations, the three texts buried in the tomb called “the Timpone piccolo” and placed in the right hands of the three bodies (whose sex could not be determined), are in the first person, thus from the perspective of a speaker who corresponds to the deceased. On the other hand, the text of the lamella placed beside the head of a cremated body in the “Timpone grande” contains second-person forms referring to an officiant who seems to speak to the deceased. [63]

3.1. Thourioi: Purity and divine felicity

Without going into the details of texts which would require as thorough a commentary as the one presented here, we shall address only the spatial and temporal aspects of the itinerary traced out in the longest putting-into-discourse among those found in the “Timpone piccolo.” Enunciated in the first person and dating from about the middle of the fourth century, this text sketches a route organized into three phrases.
Pure, I come from among the pure, o sovereign of the Underworld,
Eukles and Eubouleus and all of you, immortal gods;
for I declare that I belong to your blessed race.
But the Moira overwhelms me, and other immortal gods
[ . . . ] and lightning from the stars.
From the grievous circle, hard to endure, I have flown
And on my swift feet I have dashed toward the desired crown,
into the lap of the sovereign, of the queen of the Underworld, I have sunk.
“O fortunate one, o blessed one, rather than dead, you shall be a god.”
A kid, I have fallen into milk.
(English version from the French translation by L. Brisson, slightly modified by C. Calame)
Enunciated at the beginning of the discourse, the central phase of the proposed spatial-temporal itinerary corresponds to the present of the enunciation. Arriving in Hades (érkhomai, line 1) in a state of exceptional purity, the speaker resorts to a feminine form, probably referring to the soul, to present himself to the gods of the Underworld: the queen of the chthonian world, easily identified as Persephone, Eukles (an avatar of Hades), and finally Eubouleus, identified by different parallels sometimes with Dionysus, and sometimes with Pluto. [64] Invoked in the vocative in the two shorter but similar texts also found in the “Timpone piccolo,” these three deities are combined with “other immortal gods.” Before this divine constellation, the speaker-soul declares himself in a well-marked speech act (eúkhomai, line 3) which refers both to the utterance which he is making and to the extra-discursive. He solemnly declares that he belongs to the same blessed race (ólbion génos, line 3) as the deities invoked. The soul thus seems to have direct access to the privileged domain reserved in Hades for those who can claim divine ancestry.
Described in aorist forms, the preceding initial moment is the moment of death: the locutor-I says that he was vanquished by the fulfillment of that part of destiny which falls to each mortal, in accordance with the idea of moîra which makes up the destiny of heroes in the Homeric poems. In a perspective familiar to us from the epic world, where the power of Zeus contributes to fulfill the destiny assigned to each individual, but in a syntactic anacoluthon the meaning of which evades us, the fulfillment of the moîra is accompanied by the lightning bolt of his celestial brilliance (asteroblêta keraunón, line 4); not that the dead was really struck down by lightning, as one might think, but because the intervention of Zeus’ fire thus marks a death whose moment is determined in advance. This divine fire seems to be part of the very ancestry claimed by the various addressees of the long texts already read, as well as by the speakers of the brief texts also mentioned: they are all sons of celestial Ouranos (asteróentos), and, as previously mentioned, one of them is named Asterios. [65]
Still in the aorist, and thus in the past, the course after death is imagined first as a flight from the “circle of grievous and difficult sufferings,” then as access to a desired crown which some have characterized as mystic, but which could well be symposiac, and last as a refuge in the lap of Persephone, the “chthonian queen.” Far from referring to any cycle of reincarnation or any concept of metempsychosis (maybe inspired by Pythagorism) the circle of afflictions no doubt refers much more simply to the “cycle of human affairs” spoken of by Herodotus; this sinusoidal concept of human time—already mentioned in Hesiod as seen in Chapter II—makes the lives of mortals an alternating sequence of happiness and misfortune. [66] And sinking into the lap of the queen of the Underworld recalls the legendary kourotrophos of Demophoon in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, as well as the nurse-like qualities attributed both to Demeter herself and to Persephone in Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus. [67]
The ring-structured evocation of the queen of the dead leads the utterance back to the present. This present-tense wording is also found in the two other lamellae which came from the “Timpone piccolo”: through this self-referential means, the speaker describes his arrival as a suppliant (nûn d’hikétēs hḗkō) of respectable Persephone. [68] In the longer text, this performative indication is replaced by a direct intervention in the second person, and it is undoubtedly spoken by the voice of Persephone herself. In the promise made in her speech act, the goddess opens the text to the future, and thus to the third spatial-temporal stage in the course set out here: simultaneously happy as men may be (ólbioi) and blessed like the gods (makáriste), the deceased (or his soul) will pass from being a mortal to the status of a god (theòs ésēi antì brótoio).
Such, then, is the course set out, again like a rite of passage, organized into three spatial-temporal stages: death and departure from the hazards of mortal life (past)—descent to the bosom of Persephone and the gods who surround her (present)—metamorphosis of the deceased into a deity (near future). It is as if the key to this text were given at its end, in a formula that rhythmically signs this poetic text in the dactylic meter. [69] In a final first-person utterance, the locutor-I indicates that this ternary movement is possible only because “A kid, I have fallen into milk.”
From the spatial-temporal point of view, the course proposed by the text from the “Timpone grande” and enunciated in the second person is based on a similar ternary structure. At the moment of enunciation of the partially dactylic text, the soul of the deceased is in an intermediate situation. Through the triple invocatory repetition of khaîre typical of the hymnic tradition, the deceased is called upon to rejoice. On the one hand, he has left behind the light of the sun “after undergoing (pathṓn) an ordeal (páthēma) he had never before suffered (epepóntheis).” [70] On the other hand he is invited to take the “right-hand path” which must lead him to the holy meadows and sacred woods of Persephone!
Composed in simple rhythmic prose much like the conclusion of the “Timpone piccolo” text, the central part of the short text takes up the formula “A kid, you have fallen into milk” in the second person, relating this enigmatic plunge either to the moment of death itself, or more likely to the ordeal (páthēma) which has just been mentioned: the moment when “from a man, you have become a god.” No matter which prior moment is meant in the ritual reference (to which we shall return very soon), the spatial-temporal itinerary proposed to the deceased at the moment when his soul leaves the light of sun seems, by its rejoicing in the present, to follow again the ternary sequence “separation—marginal period—aggregation” of the rite of passage, and thus access to a new status, that of immortal, anticipated by the first ritual gesture.

3.2. Pelinna: Falling into milk and metaphor

The enigmatic utterance about falling into milk has lost at least some of its mystery since the 1987 publication of the two lamellae from Pelinna. Placed on the chest of a woman buried in that small city in Thessaly, the two gold lamellae were found with a coin slipped into the mouth of the body and intended to ensure the passage of its psukh into the afterlife. These two fine lamellae shaped like ivy leaves present symmetric texts, in some ways giving “conditions of enunciation” much like those of the funerary passports mentioned earlier. [71]
In an earlier study I tried to follow the spatial-temporal course proposed in these homologous texts dating from the end of the fourth century, through the phenomena of their la mise en discours. Here is the translation of the more complete text:
Now, you are dead, now you are born, thrice blessed, on this day.
Say to Persephone that it is Bakkhios himself who delivered you.
A bull, you have fallen into milk;
immediately in the milk you sprang out:
a ram, you have fallen into milk.
Wine is your privilege, o blessed one,
and below the earth the initiatory rites of the other blessed await you.
In an anonymous address to the lamella’s bearer, the double text from Pelinna contains utterances composed in the third person and in dactylic meter. Immediately related to the past moment of death and to the “becoming” linked to it (in forms of the aorist), the text insists heavily on the present of its enunciation, “now” (nûn, line 1), “on this day” (hámati tôide, line 1). The present moment is linked not just to the possession of wine, but especially to an introduction to Persephone. Brought about by a liberating movement linked to intervention by Bakkhios, whom we can identify with Dionysus, the invitation to speak to Persephone is enunciated in the injunctive infinitive (eipeîn, line 2), just as in Petelia and in Pharsalus. The text of the direct address itself takes up the formula which closes the longer text from Thourioi and repeats it two or three times in rhythmic prose. In this incantatory movement of repetition with variations, the ram is substituted for the kid: “a ram, you have fallen into milk.” This ritual utterance is preceded by “bull, you have sprung into milk”; doubled on one of the two lamellae, its wording evokes not only incantatory procedure, but also a springing forth which is found in other initiatory texts. [72]
Presented in the past (éthores, line 3 and 4; épeses, line 5), the immersion in milk corresponds both temporally and causally (hóti . . . éluse, line 2) with liberation by a Bakkhios evoking Dionysus Lysius. [73] So the temporal outline of the lamella alludes to a ritual preceding death. Just as in the text from the “Timpone grande,” the moment of earthly death coincides practically with the present moment, this correspondence brings about a sort of temporal oxymoron in the introductory expression: “now you died” (nûn éthanes, line 1). The present moment of enunciation of the gold text also coincides with the address directed to the deceased as “thrice blessed” (trisólbie, line 1). While evoking the double makarismos found, for example, at the end of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, this description already announces the future reserved for the interlocutor-you of the text: initiatory rites (télea, line 7) will ensure him “below earth” the same destiny enjoyed by the other “blessed” (ólbioi, line 7), as in the Thourioi lamellae. [74] Its ring structure gives textual confirmation to the temporal relationship woven in this way between the introduction to Persephone and the near future reserved for the deceased. At the very center of the discursive circle are references to a past initiation through Bacchic immersion in milk. Composed and pronounced in rhythmic prose, this reference takes on the role of a súnthēma, such as the password proffered by those initiated into the mysteries of Eleusis.
Even though the double text from Pelinna is unfortunately sparing with precise spatial indications, the funeral course sketched out by it presupposes a previous initiatory passage, as in the Thourioi texts. This rite of passage takes place during the life of the man or woman who has now passed into the other world; in the case of the Pelinna lamellae, it is explicitly attached to religious practices controlled by Dionysus the bacchant. Through association of the deceased with the other blessed who have also been liberated by Bakkhios, probably by drinking wine, the end of the initiation route traced by the poetic and declarative text from Pelinna evokes for us, through a previous rite of passage, the group of mústai and bacchants into which the deceased from Hipponion is integrated, after she has quenched her funerary thirst with the waters of Mnemosyne’s lake. In the Petelia text, too, Bacchic initiation prior to death is required for a ritual and the initiatory access to the privileged realm of the “glorious” and it’s corresponding status.

4. From Bacchus to Orpheus: Comparisons and contrasts

So what about Orpheus? And Orphic death? If neither the figure of Orpheus nor Orphic practices have been mentioned thus far, it is purely intentional. Certainly, from the moment of their publication in 1879, then in 1880, the texts revealed by the funerary lamellae from Thourioi have enjoyed quasi-automatic inclusion within the Orphic circle. The mention in two of the texts from the “Timpone piccolo” of a “penalty” to be paid because of injustices committed, along with the description in the text from the “Timpone grande” of a “passion” to undergo induced the first interpreter of these lamellae to read in them an allusion to the famous narrative of Orphic anthropogony: humans born from the ashes of Titans, struck down by Zeus after they dismembered and ate the raw flesh of the young Dionysus. [75] Similarly, the gold text from Petelia, first mentioned in 1836, was subject to a similar interpretation since the end of the 19th century; some claimed that in the one who declares himself a son of the Earth and the starry Heaven they could recognize the double Titanesque and Dionysiac nature of the first men, born in the sixth and final phase of Orphic cosmo-theogony!

4.1. Original sin and Christian expiation

Not even taking into account the methodological abuse involved in seeing a ritual practice as the simple reflection of a “mythic” narrative, the narrative of Orphic anthropogony has itself often been interpreted in the Christian meaning of original sin. In its “Orphic” version, man’s sin is inscribed in the twofold nature of men, born from the badly digested remains of a god and the ashes of mortals guilty of a first transgression. With its truly dogmatic effect and its wide diffusion, this Christianizing hermeneutic attitude is able to skip over the controversial question of the date of an anthropogony which is supposed to serve as a conclusive phase of Orphic cosmo-theogony, but which is not attested before the neo-Platonic philosophers. [76] Consequently, the deceased from Thourioi who admit sins which must be ritually expiated seem capable of accepting responsibility for the original sin, committed on the child Dionysus by the Titans in the late Orphic “myth.”
Through the works of the great historians of Greek religion in the twentieth century, and those of champions of the Hellenic concepts of the soul’s destiny, divided among Christian and Puritan asceticism, oriental mysticisms, and platonically-inspired philosophical eschatologies, a dóxa was quickly established. In this perspective, any new document written on gold which saw the light of day could only be placed within the Orphic sphere of influence. The Hipponion lamella itself was first offered to learned readers as the gift of a new “Orphic text.” As a result, among the roughly forty studies devoted to this document since its publication in 1974, the titles of more than a third contain the term Orphic, rarely placed between quotation marks, as the most basic interpretive caution would seem to demand. [77] Needless to say, the single appearance of the letters orphik[with what seems to be a mention of Dionysus (dio[) on a bone lamella found at Olbia fed new speculations from the very moment of its publication in 1978. The inscription of these few letters provided the Orphic dóxa with what was considered irrefutable proof. [78] But in using these few crudely engraved words as “parallels” to the connected poetic texts of the gold lamellae, we forget that these bone lamellae, found in a sanctuary north of the Olbia Agora, have nothing funerary about them; indeed, we know nothing of the use of these graffiti, and consequently nothing of the nature of their pragmatic dimension.

4.2. Iconographic representations of the Underworld

If we limit it just to the terms used in the lamellae-passports which come from cities of Magna Graecia and from the continent, it is definitely the figure of Bacchus which can best provide a common denominator among all these ritually-related texts, and among the spatial-temporal itineraries they propose to the deceased.
The comparative method, applied in different ways in the three preceding chapters, could as an additional attestation lead us not toward cultural manifestations distant in time and space, not to texts belonging to some far-off historical paradigm, but rather to a different sort of semiotic manifestation—Apulian iconography. Not only do they offer a large number of representations of the Underworld, but these iconographic configurations also offer interesting temporal and spatial coincidences with the lamellae from Hipponion, Petelia, and Entella. Indeed, in the inventory of forty-one representations of the Underworld on Apulian vases dated from the beginning to the end of the fourth century, a dozen offer an image of Orpheus. [79]
In most of these representations, the young Orpheus appears with the traits and in the posture of an Apollo with a lyre; he is usually to the left of the aedicule which forms the center of the image and which shelters Persephone and Hades. That is the case, for example, in the image on one of the two faces of a volute crater in Naples which lists the proper names of most of the actors and actresses of the scene represented (Figure 6a). [80] At the center of the image, the young Persephone offers a phiale to a mature Pluto. To the left of the naískos, on three superimposed frames, Megara faces two Heraclids portrayed as adolescents; then, in the middle position, are two Erinyes designated as Poinaí (Punishments), called that because they are goddesses of vengeance and expiation; finally on the lower register Sisyphus is easily recognized, rolling his rock under the eye of a Fury, recognizable from the branch and the whip she carries, and a young Hermes whose gaze connects him to the scene painted “below” the naískos. To the right of the little aedicule, whose roof is supported by two Ionic columns and two caryatids, and symmetric to the left part, the young Pelops faces the charioteer Myrtilos, leaning against one of the wheels of his broken chariot, while a girl (perhaps Hippodameia) tries to attract his attention; below, in the middle level, one can identify Aeacus and Rhadamanthys, both duly named; finally the right part of the lower register is once again taken up by three figures, this time all female, of water bearers generally identified with the Danaids. Once again in the lower register, but in a central position and below the aedicule, Herakles is shown; framed on the one side by the triad with Sisyphus in its center and on the other side by the group of three hydrophoroi, the hero is fighting a three-headed Cerberus and a girl riding a hippocamp. Finally, in the middle level, the relationship among the various scenes with the divine couple sheltered by the naískos is ensured both by an Orpheus in oriental dress playing the kithara (Figure 6b) and by a Triptolemos with a scepter, whose seat faces the aedicule while his gaze is turned toward Rhadamanthys, who carries a scepter topped by a bird.
calame-memory fig6a
Figure 6a. Apulian red-figure volute crater; side A: underworld scene with Hades and Persephone seated in their palace. Circle of the Lycurgus Painter, ca. 350–340 BC.
Figure 6b. Side A: detail, Orpheus in the underworld.
Without necessarily being as rich in the number of heroic figures offered to the eye, several other Apulian representations of the afterlife present the same sort of composition in scenes connected around the naískos which shelters Persephone and Hades, masters of the Underworld. That is the case for the volute crater in Karlsruhe, contemporary to the Naples crater. [81] With the exception of Theseus and Pirithous who are substituted for Pelops and Mirtylos, and without the triad formed by Triptolemos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthys (replaced by a young man crowned with laurel and two anonymous girls), the same groups of characters are present. Once again dressed in rich oriental clothing and wearing a tiara, the kithara player easily identified as Orpheus, alone, faces the aedicule; he is illuminated by a torch carried by Hecate, who in this case relates the outside of the Underworld and the naískos itself. A fragment from Ruvo, now lost, shows Orpheus marching to the sound of his kithara toward the same aedicule where he is received by the same Hecate: both are clearly identified by name (Figure 7). [82]
Figure 7. Apulian red-figure vase fragment: Orpheus in the underworld. Unattributed, ca. 350 BC.
In forty-one of the representations of the Underworld indexed today, Orpheus appears (with more or less certainty) about fifteen times, sometimes with more Apollo-like traits and usually alone. In only one of these images, Orpheus, moved by a young winged Eros, holds Eurydice by the hand, but in a gesture where the hero seems to be leading his spouse toward Persephone and Hades rather than taking her away! [83] Among those who interpret these different representations, consensus on the role to attribute to the hero with the lyre is far from being reached. In this, another large Apulian volute crater offers a particularly interesting example, in that for the young Orpheus with the lyre, and in the same position, it substitutes a seated girl, her right hand holding a hydria and her left hand holding a mirror; turned toward the mirror and toward the central naískos, the girl’s gaze does what Orpheus’ gaze does in the images already mentioned, in relating the outside of the Underworld and the aedicule where Hades and Persephone are seated, along with a Hermes who is probably psychopomp. [84] Above the young hydrophoros are a young couple, a youth carrying a laurel crown and a maiden depicted with an animal skin; the adolescent traits of both lead us to identify them as Apollo and Artemis.
But the same scene can be completely transposed into the Dionysiac domain, as it is in the Apulian volute crater acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art (Figure 8a-b). [85] Figures familiar from Apulian scenes of the Underworld, such as Herakles, Sisyphus, the Erinyes, hydrophoroi identified with the Danaids or the judges of the Underworld, all surrounding the naískos which shelters Hades and Persephone with their usual attributes, are replaced by characters who belong to the circle of Dionysus. The couple on the left in the upper register, formed by the son of Dionysus Oinops and a maiden carrying a torch and identified as Persis, matches the couple on the right, Actaeon and Pentheus, both heroes victims of their own disrespect for the god of the manía. In the middle frame, a Maenad identified as Acheta symmetrically reflects Agave, whose gaze is directed toward the central aedicule, just as is the gaze of the young woman with the tambourine and thyrsos. It is no longer Herakles in the lower register, but rather a little Pan playing with the usual three-headed Cerberus. Instead of Orpheus, it is Dionysus on the left approaching the naískos and looking toward Hades while on the right is the young Hermes, whose gaze directed toward Persephone completes the careful symmetrical composition of the image.
Figure 8a. Apulian red-figure volute crater; side A: underworld scene, Hades and Persephone in their palace, with Dionysus at left. The Darius Painter, ca. 340–330 BC.
Figure 8b. Side B: youth in naískos, surrounded by youths and women.

4.3. Orpheus and Dionysus as musicians

All of the scenes cited so far represent either permanent guests or occasional visitors to the Underworld: residents of Hades’ realm, not of the Elysian Fields or of the Isles of the Blessed! To see in these iconographic representations a confirmation of the spatial itinerary suggested in the texts of the gold lamellae would be to give in to the constant abuse of the comparative method, retaining only similarities and ignoring their differences and uniqueness. When Orpheus is represented, he is acting in precisely that domain that the deceased souls of Hipponion, Petelia, and Pharsalus seek to avoid. In addition, both by his place within the composition and by his appearance, Orpheus is found in a situation strongly related to Hades and Persephone, the couple under the naískos, either directly or as in the Karlsruhe crater and especially in the Ruvo fragment, mediated through Hecate, who lights the step (danced?) of the singer playing his kithara as he moves toward the aedicule: Orpheus accompanies no hypothetical mústai or disciples, but he does make the most of his qualities as a poet of divine origin and as the hero who founded the basic forms of song attributed to him in that classical tradition which sometimes makes him the son of Calliope. Orpheus communicates with Persephone and her spouse, sometimes with Hades alone, through the art of the Muses, as on an Apulian amphora in the Hermitage Museum in what was formerly Leningrad (Figure 9). [86] Without the actors and actresses of the scene being named, and without any edifice which might evoke an Underworld dwelling, Orpheus wearing a tiara and once again dressed in a rich oriental mantle sings and accompanies himself on the kithara, facing Hades seated on a throne and with a scepter in his hand, while two women witness the scene, one holding a fan and the other holding a parasol and a phiale.
Figure 9. Apulian red-figure amphora; side A: underworld scene; detail, Orpheus before Hades. Attributed to the Patera Painter, ca. 330 BC.
And when the scene becomes more specifically Dionysiac, when the god of wine and manía takes the place of Orpheus confronting the master and mistress of the Underworld, it is as if a handshake, sometimes interpreted as marking the arrival of the hero or god in Hades and sometimes his departure, substitutes for the art of the Muses as a means of communicating with Hades and Persephone. [87] In comparison, both the way Orpheus’ step is portrayed and the direction of his musical gesture indicate the moment when he addresses the god of the Underworld, who in other scenes confirms his welcome with a legitimizing gesture of recognition. As we have seen, the introduction and welcoming into Hades is often characterized by the presence of Hermes: he plays the role of guide for an Orpheus or a Dionysus who are simply protagonists passing through. Significantly, this god of transitions (not necessarily initiatory ones) is completely absent from the itineraries described in those passports for the afterlife which have been too quickly labeled as Orphic.
Whether they show Orpheus or Dionysus confronting Hades and Persephone, the Underworld scenes from Apulian ceramics are related to the epic narrative; they paint characters who belong to heroic legend. Whatever the role that either Orpheus or Dionysus assumes in them, they are foreign to any description of a ritual addressed to mortals. They offer a “mythological” representation of the Underworld which does not correspond in any way with the image governing the initiatory itinerary suggested by the gold funerary lamellae.

4.4. Dionysus, excluding Orpheus

And so from iconography we must return to the texts. In so doing, we return from “mythological” and narrative scenes involving gods and heroes to the performative description ritual practices involving mortals.
From this point of view, there is one document (despite its lacunae) which allows us to glimpse two things: the wording of a Dionysiac initiation prior to entering the privileged realm reserved for heroicized mortals and controlled by Persephone, and the Orphic over-interpretation to which this text is constantly subjected, just as is iconography. Dating from the end of the third century BC and included from the very beginning among collections of Orphica, the Papyrus Gurôb, like the gold lamellae, offers a liturgical sort of text. [88] Formulated in the third-person imperative and then in the first person, the instructions given concern the completion of an initiatory rite (teletḗ). Despite the very large lacunae in the text, we can see that it is about gathering raw meat, eating the remains of sacrifice (probably a ram), consecrating an unknown object (probably by hiding it from view), affirming the uniqueness and divinity of Dionysus probably through signs of recognition which constitute súmbola, while an I affirms that he has drunk wine as a donkey and as a cowherd; after having pronounced a password (súnthēma), this locutor seems to consume food, then finally throws into a basket (kálathos) a top, a bull-roarer, some knucklebones, and a mirror.
This sequence of ritual acts, whose reconstruction and interpretation should at the very least be taken with caution, is interrupted several times by the text of two prayers (eukhḗ). The first is a request for individual and collective salvation addressed to Brimo, Demeter, Rhea, and the armed Curetai, in exchange for ritual offerings; among the offerings are the sacrifice of a ram and a billy goat cited in the liturgical text itself. The second, also characterized enunciatively by its collective we, is a ritual and incantatory call to Eubouleus; the god is asked to intervene “for us” (after a time of parching and thirst?) alongside Demeter and Pallas, once again to ensure the salvation of the man or woman who prays. The name Eubouleús is apparently linked to the epiclesis Ērikepaîos, “of Springtime”—which sometimes describes the god in the Orphic Hymns; this name must refer to Dionysus just as it does on different lamellae from the “Timpone piccolo” in Thourioi, where it appears alongside Eukles-Hades. [89] The sacrifice of both the ram and the billy goat of course calls to mind the password mentioning immersion in milk, followed by possession of wine, in the Pelinna lamella. [90]
The objects placed in the ritual basket have of course been associated with the legend of the toys the Titans offered little Dionysus, who was amused as well by the choral dances of the armed Curetai, just before the sons of Ouranos tore the child apart. A top, a bull-roarer, dolls, and apples from the “soft-voiced” Hesperides are mentioned in the two dactylic hexameters attributed by Clement of Alexandria to Orpheus of Thrace, the poet of initiation; for this Father of the Church, these objects (to which he adds knucklebones and a mirror) are the súmbola of the Orphic initiation ritual. [91] So it is only very late that the narrative (itself quite late) of the Titans dismembering young Dionysus-Zagreus and his reassembly by Apollo is placed in relationship with the apparently ritual and initiatory objects whose enumeration is attributed to the founding poet Orpheus. While it brings together Demeter and Dionysus in a collaboration which, through the intervention of Eubouleus himself, recalls the collaboration of Persephone and Hades in certain ritual texts given by the funerary lamellae, the papyrus of Gurôb sets forth religious prescriptions where Orpheus, at least in the current state of the document, plays no role at all! On the other hand, we must remember the presence in the text of Gurôb of Rhea, the mother of Demeter and Zeus’ ambassador to the goddess in the corresponding Homeric Hymn, or the role attributed to Eubouleus, a native and inhabitant of Eleusis who, according to the inscriptions, receives the offerings along with Demeter, as well as the use of a password (súnthēma), and the use of a ritual basket (kálathos) in a ritual context where sight and vision seem to play a central role; these four ritual instructions call to mind the sparse information we have on how the Mysteries devoted to Demeter and Persephone were conducted on the borders of Attica. [92]
In contrast to the recognized consensus on this, neither the Underworld scene from the Apulian crater in Toledo nor the text of the Gurôb papyrus ever refers to the founding hero, nor to the protagonists, nor to the time and space of an initiatory ritual reserved for followers of Orpheus. [93] Quite the opposite: both documents, one from the point of view of “mythological” scenography, the other in the functionality of ritual gestures, and both with the semiotic means appropriate to their specific “discourse,” carry indications of the role Dionysus plays in initiatory practices which could ease mortals’ access either to Hades, or to the realm governed by Persephone beyond Hades. [94] If integration into a specific temporality and territory proposed in the gold lamellae does indeed presuppose a previous initiation, probably under the aegis of Dionysus-Bacchus, there is every reason to suppose that this initiatory preparation corresponded to the practice of an official mystery cult along the lines of Eleusis, as attested in several cities, especially in Magna Graecia. [95]
In this, the well-known double makarismos formula which concludes the Homeric Hymn to Demeter is highly meaningful. To the man or woman who has had the vision of the órgia instituted by Demeter herself, this call promises not only prosperity for his or her household in this life, but also a more favorable share in the afterlife than that reserved for common mortals in the world down below. A similar formula, taken up both by Pindar and by Sophocles and explicitly related to Eleusis, also offers a new life in Hades limited just to initiates. [96] In the Sophocles fragment, they are thrice blessed (trisólbioi) who “go into Hades after having seen the mysteries (telḗ),” just as in the Pelinna lamella she is trisólbios who, liberated by Bakkhios and received by Persephone, can expect down below the télea enjoyed by the other blessed. [97] These lexical correspondences are striking, to say the least, in very similar representations of ritualized time and space.

5. Passwords for a collective funerary identity

Through the orientation of their spatial-temporal configuration, the texts of most of the gold lamellae ensure ritual passage to a final condition and status. The axial point of this regime of temporality is found in a glorious future which will take place in eternity, concomitantly with the space constituted by the Elysian Fields. And so, no transmigration of souls, and no “Orphic” reincarnation! But rather a very prosaic eschatological course, promised through the rhythm of a rite of passage to male and female citizens, the bourgeois of small cities, and that at the conclusion of an initiatory itinerary, as prerequisite probably within a mystery cult.
The aspiration here is essentially heroic, nourished by the post mortem destinies of protagonists in the great epic poems still sung in Panhellenic religious celebrations. Beginning perhaps with Herakles, whose death, according to the Catalogue of Women attributed to Hesiod, means transfer into the realm of Hades. But at the moment of the poem’s enunciation (nûn!), the hero has become a god (theós); having escaped all the ills of mortal life and set apart from any cyclical concept, he enjoys the same Olympian dwelling as other deities; immortal and eternally young, he lives alongside his wife, Hebe, who incarnates this youth, and Hera’s hatred for him is now finally transformed into love (pephílēke, in the perfect)! [98]
But a bit closer to the eschatological hopes that the average citizen might nourish, the “song of Harmodios,” mentioned by Aristophanes himself, was also sung in the symposiac meetings of fifth-century Athens. Like Achilles and probably Diomedes as well, the young hero of the struggle against the tyrants sons of Pisistratos did not really die; but rather at the end of a process of heroization like that experienced by the most courageous heroes of the Trojan War, he lives in the Isles of the Blessed, in the company of heroes of the Trojan war, the heroes whom Pindar also places in this golden age realm, in his Second Olympian Ode. [99] Initiation before death into a mystery cult apparently could indeed nourish such hopes of heroization, since Plutarch, in the dialogue he devotes to love, can promise disciples and mústai of Eros (orgiastaîs kaì mústais) the same happy destiny (beltíona moîran) in Hades as those who have participated in the Eleusis initiation. [100]
In ending this trip through concepts and spatio-temporal configurations related to a “pleasant” eschatology, we must stress the central ritual role played by these texts which present practical instructions in a poetic form, placed under the sign of Memory, these poetic speeches, ensure a status of practical regime of truth to the spatial-temporal regime thus configured. In the Hipponion gold lamella, for example, not only is the bearer’s declaration of identity situated in the present, where enunciated time, time of narration, and time of enunciation (which coincides with the moment of physical death) coincide, but this present also corresponds to the intermediate stage of the course proposed, itself divided into three spatial and temporal phases. This means that in the constant tension between past and near future already discussed concerning other practical Greek spatial-temporal regimes, the chanted recitation of the inscribed words, because of its “performative” nature, is capable of accomplishing the ritual transformation. With its rhapsodic rhythm, poetic composition can thus realize the eschatological expectations of citizens who are initiates and who carry the lamellae, quite separate from any Orphic mysticism which our contemporary paradigm of mystical recomposition proposes to the modern interpreter of these texts.
A hermeneutic response based on such aspirations is all the more ill-suited and even less pertinent in that the new identity proposed by the recitation of the gold lamellae texts is a collective identity. In Calabria and in Thessaly, in Sicily and in Crete, at least from the end of the fifth century to the third century, the deceased who are to recite the gold texts exhumed with them all claim the same ancestry: through their declaration of identity which works as a password, they all declare themselves descendants of Earth and Heaven. And those who will have the privilege of drinking from the cool spring of Memory will be taken into a group of glorious and blessed heroes in a specific Adamic space. Borrowing from the philosopher Ricoeur his distinction between “mêmeté” and “ipséité,” the regime of temporality (and of spatiality) configured in Hipponion-type poetic texts can be seen as a means discursive and ritual for a mortal to allow his ipse-identity to accede to an idem-identity. [101] With their rhythm which is both narrative and initiatory, these configurations of time and space help to insert through the action of a ritual and poetic memory new and collective individual destinies into a collective status.
But this enunciative transformation from an individual ipse to a collective idem through the powers of poetic discourse can come about only through a prior initiatory temporal path. Inserted into the calendar time of a Dionysiac mystery cult, the initiatory course is intended to confer on the time of the individual life and on its unstable ipséité a collective dimension capable of establishing it in a community mêmeté, with a spatial-temporal dimension brought about by the eschatological promise. A collective idem-identity, since male and female initiates will be admitted to the same group of heroes, the glorious, and the blessed, through words of identity pronounced at the moment of death under the sign of Memory; and this is permanent, a form of immortalization realized in a specific time and space, separated from any idea of metempsychosis, reincarnation, or resurrection, and thus separated from any return to the world of mortals...The mystical perspective opened up by pronouncing the texts of the gold lamellae leads to a spatial-temporal configuration whose axial point and geographic anchor is no longer in the past, but in a practical future, set in immortalizing eternity of a poetic memory.
This testing of Greek funerary texts thus leads us to reformulate Ricoeur’s investigation of the hermeneutic composition of the “I” and of the self; it invites us to reorient this study toward the spatial and temporal configuration of an idem shared by several individuals. No doubt this need for community can be attributed to the aspirations and nostalgia found within this study, which still leans heavily on the paradigm of social thought from the 1960s, and on the implementation, most often chaotic and repressive, of a Maoism which was socially generous in its priniciples.
The hermeneutic and enunciative complexion conferred on scholarly discourse through paradigms, preoccupations of the moment, and the scholar’s own sensitivities, is perhaps best illustrated by the image which Benjamin Constant gave us at the beginning of the nineteenth century, of a Greek Underworld divided into two distinct spaces and two distinct temporalities. [102]
On one of the Fortunate Isles, gently cooled by Ocean’s winds and ornamented with beautiful flowers, under eternal sunshine and free from trials and worries, live the thrice-blessed who rejected the temptations of crime and injustice in this life. Their days, free from tears, are spent in the company of those favored by the immortals. Their occupations are songs, hymns, races, concerts, games, or else they sit in a shade perfumed by offerings made to the gods by those on earth, and retrace their memories of the past in their conversations with one another. Saturn governs them, helped by Rhadamanthys and perhaps by Aeacus, who once ruled on the disputes of the gods themselves. In Erebos, on the other hand, where perpetual night reigns, criminals condemned to eternal oblivion are prey to the torments of worry which will never cease. Ancient Greece, in its eschatological hopes is apparently not the land of the eternal return...
Who could mistake the progression of ideas here? In Homer, the entire realm of shadows is a place of suffering. Pleasures and pains are purely physical. There are no judges for the actions of this life. Aeacus is not named, Rhadamanthys dwells in Elysium, not in the realm of the dead, and Minos’ jurisdiction is only accidental arbitration over those passing through. Pluto punishes murders when he is told of them, but his purpose is not to punish crime: he merely gives in to the invocations of those who implore him, and gives them what they ask, not dealing out justice but rather granting this prayer as he would any other. He does not simply await humans in the Underworld, but rather sends the Furies against the living on earth, just as Jupiter and Juno send Iris and Mercury down to pursue their enemies.
In Pindar, the Underworld is different, a place of deserved punishment and reward; punishments and pleasures are intellectual and moral. There is a tribunal presided by Saturn, the same Saturn whom Homer shows us deposed by Jupiter and covered in chains.


[ back ] 1. The neologism is taken from Hartog 2003:28; cf also 119-127..
[ back ] 2. The old fantasies of immortality and reincarnation which have been fed by the magical reproductive perspectives of enucleation of the ovum and genomic transplant are discussed by Atlan 1999:30-37; these fantasies are maintained by such organizations as the American group Life Extension Foundation.
[ back ] 3. Miller and Miller 1996:3.
[ back ] 4. In this regard, two collections published by Moreau (ed.) 1992 and by Padilla (ed.) 1999, are significant, as they offer the entire gamut of uses and abuses of the semi-formal category of “initiation rite” as an interpretive key less for ritual practices than for narratives in the Greek tradition; on how this vague operative idea was formed and on its application to various manifestations of Greek culture, see remarks I prepared in two volumes: 1992 (II):103-118 and 1999:278-312).
[ back ] 5. Found in Petelia, near Croton, and dating from the first half of the fourth century BC, the first gold lamella (B 1 Zuntz = 476 F Bernabé) was reported in 1834; see Pugliese Carratelli 2001:67-71, bibliography in Bernabé 1999:61n14. The various texts have just been catalogued and collected in the provisional edition by Riedweg 1998:389-398. Here I follow the numbering proposed by my colleague from Zurich, adding the order number which will be that adopted by A. Bernabé in his edition of the Poetae epici Graeci. Testimonia et fragmenta, Pars II. Orphicorum et Orphicis similium testimonia et fragmenta, Munich (K. G. Saur) 2004 and 2005, vol.2; for now, see the edition of these different texts given by Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:257-281(for an exhaustive bibliography see 343-371).
[ back ] 6. Efforts to organize the various reconstructed texts of the so-called Orphic lamellae into a stemma going back to an archetype were presented by West 1975:229-230 and 235-236, as well as by Janko 1984:98-100; most recently, Riedweg 2002:468-477, proposed a reconstitution of the Hieròs Lógos allegedly at the origin of the most narrative texts. From the point of view of historical time, the arkhḗ for us would be the Hipponion lamella which will serve as the foundation for the analysis proposed here: B 10 Graf = 474 F Bernabé; bibliography in Bernabé 1999:60n13 and commentary in Pugliese Carratelli 2001:39-68, with an updated bibliography in the French translation of 2003:33-58.
[ back ] 7. See chapter III, section 2.1 above, with n9.
[ back ] 8. On this “performative” aspect of the expression of the lyric I, see references given in chapter III, nn3 and 41.
[ back ] 9. B 1 Zuntz = 476 F Bernabé (see n5 above); B 2 Zuntz = 477 F Bernabé (bibliography: Bernabé 1999:61n15); B 11 Riedweg = 475 F Bernabé; texts and references in Riedweg 1998:394-397, as well as Bernabé 1999:54-55, for B 11; see also the synthesis table developed by Graf 1993:257-258.
[ back ] 10. Herodotus, Proem: Herodótou ( . . .) historíēs apódeixis hḗde; on the process of sphragís, see chapter III, n41 above, and on deixis, chapter I, n33 above. It is Achilles who imagines for Patroclus (and for himself) a “high burial mound” (Iliad 23.126). The document allows no reading other than ērion. A number of ways have been tried to correct this expression, among them the thrîon correction proposed by West 1975:231, which could make sense by reference to the physical form of the lamella, which is indeed that of a leaf, though not necessarily a fig leaf. One should read commentary proposed by Pugliese Carratelli 1976:458-459 on these various corrections, but without necessarily following it in its suggestion that ēríon be understood as a bad interpretation of an original sêma (sign and not tomb), which would make of the lamella a sphragís, a “signature” (Pugliese Carratelli 1975: 228-229); returning to the reading, the Italian scholar proposed in 1993:23-24, the correction tóde ierón. By referring to the thread of Memory, the reading e(í)rion conceived by Musti 1984:79-83, goes along with the meaning proposed here, on which see also Baumgarten 1998:92 with n94. Philological and metrical analysis of the text in Tessier 1987.
[ back ] 11. To good effect, Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:127-128, bases his argument on a passage from the Constitution of the Athenians (55.2-3) attributed to Aristotle, to show that eríon takes on the meaning of “grave” as memorial. Arguments in favor of reading érgon (see Guarducci 1985:387-389) seem weaker to me, a correction which hardly represents a lectio facilior.
[ back ] 12. In line 2, I retain the reading euḗreas, and do not go along with the correction to heurḗseis proposed, for example, by West 1975:232.
[ back ] 13. For the construction of eîmi without a preposition, see Odyssey 1.176, 188, and 194; and for the form eîs, see Hesiod Works and Days 208; see Pugliese Carratelli 1974:11 and 2001a:47(2003:41).
[ back ] 14. See chapter I, n21 above.
[ back ] 15. B 1, 1 Zuntz = 476 F, 1 Bernabé in contrast with B 2, 1 Zuntz = 477 F, 1 Bernabé, but also B 3-8, 2 Zuntz = 478-483 F, 2 Bernabé, B 9, 2 Graf = 484 F, 2 Bernabé, and B 11, 4 Riedweg = 475 F, 4 Bernabé (text conjectural). On the favorable values attributed to the right, see the numerous references given by Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:56-57(2003:49-51), following the distinction pointed out by Aristotle fr. 200 Rose, and attributed to the Pythagoreans; see also Metaphysics 986a22-30 where the Pythagorean right is associated with light, while the left has characteristics of darkness.
[ back ] 16. Interpretations mentioned by Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:44-49; see especially Guarducci 1974:18-21. See also Edmonds 2004:46-52. In several Indo-European cultures, paradise is illuminated by eternal light: cf. Lincoln 1991:24-29.
[ back ] 17. Plato Cratylus 399de; on this, see study by Jouanna 1987, along with additional information given by Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:58-61 (2003:51-54), and for Homeric poetry, Clarke 1999:140-148. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, it falls to Osiris, whom Herodotus already likens to Dionysus, to give to the deceased the cool water which will revive them: cf. Merkelbach 1999:2-7.
[ back ] 18. Pausanias 9.39.5-9; also the parody of a consultation given in Aristophanes Clouds 483-508 in an oracular katabasis already mentioned by Herodotus 8.134.1; cf. Bonnechère 1998:445-447 and 457-459, along with a series of bibliographic references on the oracle of Trophonios.
[ back ] 19. Plato Republic 620d-621b (see also Aristophanes Frogs 185-187); the differences between the itinerary which Plato imagines and the one proposed in the Hipponion lamella are well defined by Bernabé 1991:226-231.
[ back ] 20. See especially the cosmogonic poem VAT 8917/KAR 307, re-edited by Livingstone 1989:99-102. The parallel was proposed by Pugliese Carratelli, 2001a:59(2003:52).
[ back ] 21. Hesiod Works 122-126 and 140-142; Heraclitus fr. 22 B 63 Diels-Kranz; Plato Phaedo 107d-108c; see also Plutarch fr. 178 Sandbach; see above chapter II, n19 above, and West 1978:186-187.
[ back ] 22. Iliad 8.366 (see also 14.165 for Zeus, or 20.35 for Hermes); B 2, 6 Zuntz = 477 F, 2 Bernabé and B 11, 10-11 Riedweg = 475 F, 10-11 Bernabé.
[ back ] 23. Eîpon, as an imperative form of aorist éeipa (see Pindar Olympian 6.92) compared to the infinitive as imperative eipeîn which initiates the same declaration in B 1, 6 Zuntz = 476 F, 6 Bernabé as well as B 2, 8 Zuntz = 477 F, 2 Bernabé (see also B 11, 12 Riedweg = 475 F, 12 Bernabé).
[ back ] 24. Hesiod Theogony 126-128 and 132-138 (cf. 685 and Works 548), who describes Ouranos as asteróeis; on Asterios or Asterion, see Hesiod fr. 140 Merkelbach-West and Pseudo-Apollodorus Library 3.1.1-3, along with remarks by Calame 1996b:194-195, 210-211, and 220; see also Morand 2001:222-223.
[ back ] 25. Hesiod Theogony 726-728 and 736-739 = 807-810: the structure of this passage on the imprisonment of the Titans in Tartarus is explained by West 1966:356-359, who considers lines 807-810 authentic and in their proper place (see also West 1966:363-364). In Hippocrates’ treatise on the environment (On Airs 6.2-3 and 15.1-2), the term aḗr designates air saturated with humidity and which light from the sun can illuminate.
[ back ] 26. Empedokles fr. 31 B 6 Diels-Kranz = 150 Bollack; cf. Diogenes Laertius 8.76; Iliad 3.275-280; on this, see the study by de Cerri 1998 (though I do not necessarily support all his equations, sometimes made too quickly); see also Rudhardt 1971:39-44.
[ back ] 27. Iliad 8.13 (see also Theogony 119, 721, 736 = 807, etc.) and Iliad 15.191 (see also 23.51); see also Homeric Hymn to Demeter 482, with the variant eurṓeis “moldy”: see Richardson 1974:315. On the possible correction mentioned here, cf. Cassio 1987; other proposed inclusions and corrections are given in the apparatus criticus by Riedweg 1998:396-7; in the incomplete text of B 11, 11 Riedweg = 475 F, 11 Bernabé, he suggests reading orph[o]éento, with a meaning similar to that of ēeróentos.
[ back ] 28. See Iliad 4.461 and 4.503, 6.11, etc., in reference to B 1, 14 Zuntz = 476 F, 14 Bernabé; cf. Guarducci 1985:391-393; Theogony 682, 736, and 807.
[ back ] 29. Iliad 22.108, Odyssey 6.285, etc.; cf. Plato Cratylus 398d. Unattested in the future, the form eleoûsin would also imply a construction eleéō with the dative toi understood as the pronoun form in the second person, while in correspondence with autoí in B 1, 10 Zuntz= 476 F, 10 Bernabé, the form of the pronoun is in the third person.
[ back ] 30. Zeus Chthonios as early as Works 463 (see Theogony 767, for Hades); see later Aeschylus Persians 628 and 632, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1606, Euripides Alcestis 237 (for Hades itself), etc. In strong contrast, hupokhthónios is attested only once at this time, in Works 141, to describe the “blessed” below; cf. Pugliese Carratelli 1974:112-113, and 1976:461-462. The iota preceding the expression hupò khthoníōi in the text remains unexplained, especially given the dactylic meter, which obliges us to read the adjective in the dative.
[ back ] 31. See especially Odyssey 4.561-565, and Pindar Olympian 2.68-75 (cf. n51 and n53 below) or Plato Gorgias 524a; parallels to the image of the path: Feyerabend 1984:1-10, who would replace kleeinoí with the form kleitán te (to refer to a path), and Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:78-80. On the verb form érkheai, see Iliad 10.385; in this same line 15, the reading sù pión is far from certain (see the apparatus of these texts presented by Riedweg and Bernabé).
[ back ] 32. Aeschylus Prometheus 834; Sophocles Trachiniae 19; Pindar Pythian 1.31; B 1, 11 Zuntz = 476 F, 11 Bernabé; see also B 11, 2 Riedweg = 475 F, 2 Bernabé. Whatever the status of souls revived by Persephone in fr. 133 Maehler of Pindar (cf. n53 below), reinterpreted in terms of palingenesis by Plato Meno 81a-c, they are honored by men, for all eternity, as “respectable heroes” (hḗrōes hagnoí): cf. n54 below.
[ back ] 33. Description of the situation of the dig and of funeral items in Foti 1974 (with corresponding plates); cf. also Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:44-45 (2003:39-40). On the social status of deceased men and women who carried lamellae, see Graf 1993:255-256.
[ back ] 34. B 2, 9 Zuntz = 477 F, 2 Bernabé and B 1, 8 Zuntz = 476 F, 8 Bernabé; see also B 11, 2 Riedweg = 475 F, 2 Bernabé where the word hérōs in the masculine is found: cf. Bernabé 1999:57.
[ back ] 35. P 1-2, 3 and 5 = 485 F-486 F Bernabé: cf. Tsantsanoglou and Parassoglou 1987:3-4.
[ back ] 36. Consult remarks and bibliographic information I gave on this subject in 2000b:34-45; see also 1998a:100-107.
[ back ] 37. B 3-8 Zuntz = 478-483 F Bernabé, and B 9 Graf = 484 F Bernabé (here B 6 Zuntz = 481 F Bernabé); note that one of these texts, unfortunately one whose archaeological situation is unknown, could show one mark of gender: uátēr instead of the masculine huiós: cf. Pugliese Carratelli 1993:43.
[ back ] 38. See references and careful commentary by Zuntz 1971:370-6, and by Pugliese Carratelli 1993:45.
[ back ] 39. On the exclamatory infinitive with optative sense, see Humbert 1960:125-126, and on the dialectical form piém, see Cassio 1994:184-192. On the description aeíroos cf. n50 below.
[ back ] 40. B 9, 5 Graf = 484 F, 4 Bernabé, compare to B 1, 7 Zuntz = 476 F, 7 Bernabé and B 11, 15 Riedweg = 475 F, 15 Bernabé; cf. B 2, 9 Zuntz = 477 F, 9 Bernabé: cf. n22 above.
[ back ] 41. SEG XXVIII (1978), 528 = 466 T Bernabé; the immortalizing uses of the brightness of fire are analyzed by Scarpi 1987:211-213; see Homeric Hymn to Demeter 235-255 and Euripides Heraclidae 853-858 and 910-918.
[ back ] 42. Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1650-1662; cf. Calame 1998c:345-354. On the various (generally Orphic!) interpretations given to this dual descendence, see Betz 1998:404-411.
[ back ] 43. Heraclitus fr. 22 B 14 Diels-Kranz = 587 T Bernabé. On initiates into the Mysteries of Eleusis, see Euripides Herakles 613 (tà mustôn órgia) as well as Herodotus 8.65.4 and Aristophanes Frogs 370 (mústai khoroí, a complement to the teletaí celebrated for Dionysus): cf. Burkert 1987:7-10, and n46 below.
[ back ] 44. SEG XXXIV (1984), 338 and XLI (1991), 401 A and B; on the lamellae from Pella, see references given by Riedweg 1998:391, and by Dickie 1995:82-83, who see in the form Persephónēi not a dative dedication, but an address to the deity, similar to the one mentioned in the Pelinna lamellae; see also the Pherai document cited in n55 below.
[ back ] 45. Pausanias 2.2.6-7 and 2.7.5-6; see references given on this by Burkert 1987:21-22, who a bit too quickly presents the Dionysiac mysteries of Magna Graecia as equivalent to the rites of Eleusis, and see also commentaries I cited in my study of 1996:24-26.
[ back ] 46. DGE 792 Schwyzer = LSCGS 120 Sokolowski, along with references I gave in 1996d:25n21. We must remember that the members of the chorus in Euripides Cretans (fr. 472.9-15 Kannicht) are defined as mústai and bacchants for Zeus on Ida, Zagreus, the Mountain Mother, and the Curetai!
[ back ] 47. Euripides fr. 477 Nauck2 and Hippolytus 24-28 and 952-955, compare for example with Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes 497-499 (a metaphoric use relating to the madness of warriors) or with Herodotus 4.79.5 (thiasus of Dionysus). See reply on this given by Pugliese Carratelli 1976:462-464, to West 1975:234-236, who refuses to automatically associate bacchants with Dionysus.
[ back ] 48. B 3-8 Zuntz = 478 F-483 F Bernabé and B 9 Graf = 484 F Bernabé. West 1975:235-236, could not resist the temptation to reconstruct an archetype!
[ back ] 49. References to this distinctive trait of the initiation ritual in my study from 1999:285-288.
[ back ] 50. Marked also by a glowing cypress, the right-hand spring mentioned in the short texts is described either as aiénaos, or as aieíroos: cf. Works 478, for the first, and Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 469-470, for an adjective similar to the second. Especially Bernabé 1991:226-227, makes the unwarranted connection with the spring of Lethe mentioned by Plato Republic 621a-b (but also cf. 230-231): see n19 above.
[ back ] 51. Odyssey 11.14-50 and 568-571 especially, contrasting for Menelaus with 4.561-569 (cf. n31 above); see also Odyssey 24.1-23, where Hermes leads the souls of the candidates beyond the Ocean River to the “asphodel meadow” (cf. 11.539 and 573) where eídōla such as Achilles, Patroclus, Agamemnon and others await them...; see especially Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:17-92; see also Brown 1994:397-401.
[ back ] 52. Works 156-173: cf. chapter II, section 2.1.4 above.
[ back ] 53. Pindar Olympian 2.57-80 (cf. n31 above); see commentary by Lloyd-Jones 1985:249-279, who connects the representation of the afterlife found in this epinician with the images of it given by the gold lamellae texts (especially Hipponion); these are not necessarily “Orphically” inspired, as Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:229-242, tend to reaffirm. A similar representation of the afterlife is also presupposed by frr. 129-130, as well as by fr. 133 Maehler (cf. n32 above), also of Pindar.
[ back ] 54. B 1, 11 Zuntz = 476 F, 11 Bernabé and B 11, 2 Riedweg = 475 F, 2 Bernabé: B 10, 16 Graf = 474 F, 16 Bernabé. On the heroic status promised by the text, see especially information given haphazardly by Scarpi 1989:207-216, as well as n32 above.
[ back ] 55. Text from Riedweg 1998:390 and commented, with bibliographic information, in Tsantsanoglou 1997:114-117, in Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:201-208, and in Pugliese Carratelli 2001:123-124 (2003:127-128); editio princeps: Chrysostomou 1994:126-139 (on the archaeological site concerned). Súmbola: cf. B 11, 19 Riedweg = 475 F, 19 Bernabé, along with Bernabé 1999:58-59, who in this context proposed reading phe[rsephonē in the next line. See n44 above. Clarification on the right- or left-hand position of the spring to avoid in Pugliese Carratelli 1974:119-120.
[ back ] 56. The symbolic practice of a bone shared between two guests is described by the scholiast to Euripides Medea 613 (Schwartz 1966 II 175); on this, see commentary by Burkert 1999:68-69, as well as Tortorelli Ghidini 1991. Dionysus as a young adult: Homeric Hymn 7.3-4; on Brimo, see Apollonius Rhodius 3.861-863 and 1211, as well as Graf 1985:130-131.
[ back ] 57. As Riedweg noted in 1998:362, the expressions hieroì leimônes and íthi are found, respectively, in the lamellae of Thourioi (A 4, 6 Zuntz = 487 F, 6 Bernabé) and of Rome (A 5, 4 Zuntz = 491 F, 4 Bernabé). On the location of meadows of love and meadows of the blessed, see references given in Calame 1996a: 174-177.
[ back ] 58. A 2-3, 4 Zuntz = 489-490 F, 4 Bernabé; Pindar Olympian 2.57-58; on the debated meaning of this passage, see especially Lloyd-Jones 1985:252-256.
[ back ] 59. Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus 21.2, pace Burkert 1987:46 and 94, who lumps together súmbola and súnthēma (cf. n93 below); remember that Plutarch De Consolatione 611d, recalls concerning the survival of the soul the mustikà súmbola tôn perì tòn Diónuson orgiasmôn.
[ back ] 60. B 1 Zuntz = 476 F, 7 Bernabé. For references on the history of concepts of the rite of passage and the initiation ritual, and for a critique on the overly systematic use of these categories, see my study of 1999:280-289, and chapter III, section 2.2 above.
[ back ] 61. Plato Phaedo 69c (with corresponding commentary by Olympiodoros, p. 48, 20 Norv.) = Orph. fr. 434 F III Bernabé (= fr. 5 and 235 Kern); see also Gorgias 493a-b = Orph. fr. 434 F II Bernabé, Republic 614b-d (with the two paths, one on the right leading toward the heavens, the other on the left leading down below the earth, that souls take after their judgment in the “myth” of Er), as well as Aristophanes Frogs 145-158, for the distinction between the mire where the unjust languish and the paradise reserved for the memuēménoi! See Edmonds 2004: 87-88, 111-158, and 205-207.
[ back ] 62. Poseidippos Epigram 705.21-25 Lloyd-Jones-Parsons; cf. n44 above for the Pella lamella, along with commentaries by Dickie 1995:83-4, and by Rossi 1996:61-2.
[ back ] 63. Texts enunciated in the first person: A 1 Zuntz = 488 F Bernabé (here) and A 2-3 Zuntz = 489-490 F Bernabé; in the second person: A 4 Zuntz = 487 F Bernabé. Description in Zuntz 1971:287-293 and 310-315, and in Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:98-111 (=2003:98-115).
[ back ] 64. On these identifications, quite apart from any systematic association with Dionysus, (but cf. Plutarch Symposiacs 7.714c (Moralia)), cf. Zuntz 1971:310-312, and in an Orphic context, Morand 2001:165-168.
[ back ] 65. Cf. section 2.1.3 above, with n24. In the shortest texts A 2, 3 Zuntz = 489 F, 3 Bernabé and A 3, 3 Zuntz = 490 F, 3 Bernabé, death from being stamped out by the moîra, or by the flash of lightning (image of the will of Zeus) is presented as alternative. On the etymology proposed for elúsion, cf. Sourvinou-Inwood 1995:49-52; contra: Drew Griffith 1997:229-230!
[ back ] 66. Cf. Herodotus 1.5.4; 1.207.2, and 9.27.4, as well as Sophocles Electra 916-919 and, later, Aristotle Problemata 986a 22-29 (see above, Chapter II, section 5); but see also the “circle of heavy sorrows” cited by a late funerary stele from Panticapaeum near Olbia (= Orphica 467 V Bernabé) and interpreted as the cycle of rebirths especially by Casadio 1991:136-137. Pythagorean interpretation of this kúklos has been propsed by Zuntz 1971: 336-337, see also Edmonds 2004: 96-99.
[ back ] 67. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 224-274; Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus 1050; see references I assembled on this in a study from 1998c:352-353 (with n40).
[ back ] 68. A 2, 6 Zuntz = 489 F, 6 Bernabé; A 3, 6 Zuntz = 490 F, 6 Bernabé.
[ back ] 69. Using categories which come more from semio-narrative analysis than from the anthropology of ritual, Riedweg 1998:319-383, also sees in the itinerary described by the speaker of text A 1 progress of an initiatory sort (on this, see also Calame 1996d:20-22). There can be found in this latter study additional elements of commentary referring to various earlier works, as well as the hypothesis that the last utterance of the text is composed in rhythmic prose, as befits its ritual function.
[ back ] 70. A 4 Zuntz = 487 F Bernabé; on the relationships of this text with the lamellae exhumed at the “Timpone piccolo,” as well as with the much later text A 5 Zuntz = 491 F Bernabé (enunciated in the third person), see most recently Riedweg 1998:368-375. The rhythmic structure of the central portion of text, interpreted in terms of súmbola, is analyzed by Watkins 1995:282-283.
[ back ] 71. P 1-2 Riedweg = 485 F and 486 F Bernabé; edition with commentary by Tsantsanoglou and Parassoglou 1987.
[ back ] 72. On the obvious affinities Dionysus shares with the bull, and less clearly with the ram, see Calame 1996d:17-19; on contacts with the kid (ériphos), cf. Casadio 1994:92-94, and Camassa 1994:176-178. On the meaning of éthores (relating to leaping), see references given ibid. n12.
[ back ] 73. Independently of any Orphic allusion, the figure of Dionysus Lysius and his role as liberator are well described by Graf 1991:88-92 (see also 1993:243-247), where he proposes seeing in the wine mentioned in line 6 the timḗ attributed to the deceased, perhaps considered in the present moment an Elysian cupbearer! See also Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001:94-107. On the cult of Dionysus Lysius in Sikyon, in Corinth, and perhaps in Thebes, see most recently Casadio 1999:123-141, and Lavecchia 2000:116-121.
[ back ] 74. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480-482 and 486-489; for other versions of this makarismos formula and several bibliographic entries on this, cf. n96 below.
[ back ] 75. Proposed by Comparetti 1882: (see earlier notes published by D. Comparetti in F. S. Cavallari, “Notizie degli scavi,” in Memorie dei Lincei. Scienze morali 4, 1879:156, and 5, 1880:403-410; cf. Pugliese Carratelli 2001:113 and 99 = 2003:115 and 99). Specifically in reference to a similar reading of fr. 133 Maehler of Pindar (cf. n32 above), this Orphic interpretation of certain of the gold lamellae by reference to the “myth” of anthropogony attributed to Orpheus, through the intermediary of Eudemos’ theogony, has been repeated ad nauseam recently: see notably Lloyd-Jones 1985:274-277, Graf 1991:90-91, Camassa 1994:178-182, Betz 1998:413-416, Riedweg 1998:380-382 (with the additional references given in n101), and Burkert 1999:60-68; tasteful skepticism in Musti 1984:62-64; see also Cole 1993:292-295: “there is no theme of rebirth in the Dionysian sepulchral texts,” and Schlesier 2001:166-168. For a critical view on “Dionysos patiens,” see now Edmonds 2004: 102-109.
[ back ] 76. See especially the precise historical study on this by Edmonds 1999:66-70, who again shows that the “Orphic” narrative of anthopogony is not attested before Olympiodoros! Complete bibliography and reply to this in Bernabé 2002:404-425.
[ back ] 77. See bibliography given by Pugliese Carratelli 2001a:41-44 (=2003: 35-38, cf. n6 above).
[ back ] 78. SEG XXVIII, 659-661 (1979); the circumstances of discovery of these bone lamellae and an interpretation of the graffiti on them are given by West 1983:17-20 (with bibliographic references to the editio princeps given in n43); see also Zhmud’ 1992:159-162, and Baumgarten 1998:89-92, who stresses the non-funerary use of these graffiti; Burkert 1999:61 and 70-72, specifically, finds confirmation of the Orphic nature of the gold lamellae in these documents with no explicit funerary purpose.
[ back ] 79. See the excellent and carefully prepared catalogue of these representations of the Underworld given in Moret 1993:349-351.
[ back ] 80. Napoli H 3222 (RVAp I, 16/82); cf. Pensa 1977:24 (with plates I-IV) and Aellen 1994:61-66 and 202 (with plates 2-3).
[ back ] 81. Apulian volute crater from 350-340, Karlsruhe B4 (RVAp I, 16/81): cf. Pensa 1977:24 (along with plate V and figure 1) and Aellen 1994:58-65 and 205 (and plates 34-35).
[ back ] 82. Ruvo, ex collection Fenicia: cf. Pensa 1977:25 (with figure 8) and Aellen 1994: 202-203 (with plate 6); see also, as an example of the same compositional scheme, the beautiful frescoes of the Apulian volute crater in Munich 3297 (J 849) (RVAp II, 18/282) dating from 330-310 (Pensa 1977:23, with figure 5; Aellen 1994:208, with plates 64-65) or, in a simpler manner, the volute crater Napoli SA 11 (inv. 80854) (RVAp I, 16/54) dating from 350-340 (Pensa 1977:25, with plate VII; Aellen 1994:205, with plates 32-33): Orpheus as Apollo.
[ back ] 83. Apulian volute crater, Napoli SA 709 (RVAp II, 18/284) dating from 330-310 (Pensa 1977: 27, with plate X, see n84); Aellen, 1994: 211, with plates 92-93); on this, see commentary by Moret 1993:318-327 (along with the catalogue of representations of Orpheus given at 321n185).
[ back ] 84. Apulian volute crater Leningrad 1717 (St. 424) (RVAp II, 28/177) = painter of the Louvre K 67, dating from 325-310: cf. Pensa 1977:26, with plate VIII, as well as Aellen 1994:209, with plate 62.
[ back ] 85. Formerly New York, now Toledo 1994. 19 (RVAp Suppl. II, 18/41a 1, post-script p. 508): cf. Moret 1993:293-300, with plate 1a-d, and description given by Johnston and McNiven 1996:25-30; cf. Schlesier 2001:172n62.
[ back ] 86. Leningrad 1701 (St. 498) (RVAp 23/46): cf. Pensa 1977:28, with plate XII; other examples of Orpheus facing Hades directly in Schmidt 1991:39-47. Orpheus as the poet who founded the art of the Muses (and the mysteries): Pindar Pythian 4.176-177, Aristophanes Frogs 1032-1036, and Timotheus fr. 791.221-236; cf. Calame 2002c: 392-397.
[ back ] 87. Cf. Moret 1993:304-305 (waving goodbye), and Johnston and McNiven 1996:27-30 (gesture of recognition).
[ back ] 88. P. Gurôb 1 = Orphica fr. 31 Kern = 578 F Bernabé; see most recently Hordern 2000:132-135.
[ back ] 89. A 1, 2 Zuntz = 488 F, 2 Bernabé and A 2-3, 2 Zuntz = 489-490 F, 2 Bernabé: cf. also A 5, 2 Zuntz = 491 F, 2 Bernabé, and section 3.2 above with n70. On the figure of Eubouleus, cf. n64 above, and on Erikepaios, cf. Morand 2001:189-194. On the identification with a donkey of the initiate called upon to pronounce the ritual text of P. Gurôb, we must recall that in allusions made at Aristophanes Frogs 158-160, to initiates (memuēménoi) of Eleusis, Xanthias compares himself to a donkey who celebrates the mysteries (ṓnos ágō mustḗria). As for the term teletḗ, it generally concerns a mystery cult: cf. Burkert 1987:8-10.
[ back ] 90. P 1-2, 5 = 485-486 F, 5 Bernabé; cf. section 3.2 above, with n71. On the Pherai lamella, cf. n55 above (on Brimo, n56 above).
[ back ] 91. Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus 2.17.2 = Orphica fr. 34 Kern = 306 F and 588 T Bernabé; on this see Edmonds 1999:38-57 (co ntra: Bernabé 2002:404-420.)
[ back ] 92. On these divine actors and ritual objects attested in Athenian celebrations of the Mysteries of Eleusis, I refer the reader to the texts mentioned in the careful commentary by Richardson 1974:295-296 (on the normative role of Rhea in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 441-469, identified somewhat later with her daughter), 81-85 (concerning the Eleusinian figure of Eubouleus), 22-23 (on súnthēma and kálathos: cf. also n59 above), 26-29 and 310-311 (epopteía).
[ back ] 93. In contrast to the confusion on this maintained by Johnston and McNiven 1996:32-34, on the normative consensus among the authors they quote, n30; see also Burkert 1999:68-76.
[ back ] 94. On the salvation role of certain initiatory practices devoted to Dionysus and mentioned in a funerary context, see especially Cole 1993:288-295, and Schlesier 2001:163-166.
[ back ] 95. Eleusinian-type mystery cults apart from Eleusis are examined by Graf 1985:273-277. We should remember that first West 1975:234-236, then Musti 1984:65-68, brought together the way followed by mústai and bacchantes in the Hipponion text (n31 above) with the sacred way leading Athenian initiates to Eleusis. On the image of the path in the context of Dionysian órgia, see for instance, Feyerabend 1984:1-10.
[ back ] 96. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480-489; cf. Pindar fr. 137 Maehler and Sophocles fr. 837 Radt, to compare with P 1-2, 1 and 7 = 485-486 F, 1 and 7 Bernabé (cf. section 3.2 above); on this, see Richardson 1974:310-321, and, for comparison, Calame 1996d:19-23; cf. also Empedokles fr. 31 B 132, 1 Diels-Kranz (see Scarpi 1987:207-210). Notice that the text of lamella A 1, 8 Zuntz = 488 F, 8 Bernabé also shows a form of makarismos: cf. n63 . On the absence of any idea of reincarnation in the Orphic Hymns, cf. Morand 2001:212-230.
[ back ] 97. P 1-2, 1 Riedweg = 485 F, 1 and 486 F, 1 Bernabé ; cf. section 3.2 above.
[ back ] 98. Hesiod fr. 25, 24-33 Merkelbach-West; Nagy 1979:165-169.
[ back ] 99. Carmina Conviviala 894 Page, mentioned at Aristophanes Acharnians 979, and quoted by the scholia ad hoc (I B, p. 124 Wilson); Pindar Olympian 2.71-80: cf. n31 and n51 above.
[ back ] 100. Plutarch Dialogue on Love 761f-762a.
[ back ] 101. On the dialectic of individual “ipséité” and “mêmeté,” see Ricoeur 1990:11-35; on this cf. chapter I, section V.
[ back ] 102. Constant, 1824 (1999): 477.