Chapter 9. Genealogy and Poetic Imagery of a Homeric Formula

The process of crystallization of the dictional material in oral epic poetry is realized in three different levels: reenactment, [1] theme, [2] and traditional referentiality. [3] In this chapter, I will focus my attention on the term traditional referentiality, which refers to specific kinds of metonymical relations that pull up to the narrative’s surface the whole emotive, often unexpressed, range of a formula. Traditional referentiality runs parallel to the direct referentiality of the formula, which is determined by both its position in the verse and by its immediate thematic environment. To put it figuratively, this whole process resembles a tide of memory recalling the latent semantic substratum of the formulaic expression that has sunk into oblivion (due to its antiquity) but is still alive, since it has become an integral part of the collective awareness of the tradition.
In this light, traditional referentiality may be seen as a diachronically diffused form of intertextuality, more so since the full semantic and emotive range of a formulaic expression can be reconstructed by the study of multiple intertextual references or various partial intratextual manifestations of a pre-verbal Gestalt. Cross-textual associations may go back to older, recognizable Indo-European traditions or may be based on unidentifiable strata. Diachronic diffusion has made it possible for elliptical or fragmented parts of mental icons to survive independently, preserving contextualized features that pertain to the deep structure of their initial thematic environment. In this sense, traditional referentiality reflects neither the quoting nor the allusive aspect of intertextuality. It makes notionally present what is dictionally absent, i.e. it makes the text yield to the tradition, the individual formula ‘return’ to the family of formulas from which it originated. Behind its condensed and abbreviated shape, the formula reveals a remarkable structural unboundedness, being tied to a series of relevant formulas that cannot be identified as belonging to any specific tradition.
In this chapter, I will explore the meaning and function of the simile ἠΰτε νεβροί by examining the full nexus of its Iliadic attestations. By zooming in on the structure of an oral fossil such as the formula, I will attempt to disclose its structuration, its coming into being. The dictional and metrical features pertaining to this fossilized expression are consonant with its ‘pre-Homeric’ past, i.e. with its forming part of a larger imagery, a mental Gestalt from which it has been detached.

Outer Metric

The participle πεφυζότες is attested four times in the Iliad, but never in the Odyssey: [4]
1. τῇ ῥ᾿ οἵ γε προχέοντο πεφυζότες, ἠέρα δ᾿ Ἥρη (XXI 6)
2. Τρῶες ἄφαρ κλονέοντο πεφυζότες, οὐδέ τις ἀλκή (XXI 528)
3. ἔλθωσι προτὶ ἄστυ πεφυζότες· ἦ γὰρ Ἀχιλλεύς (XXI 532)
4. ὣς οἳ μὲν κατὰ ἄστυ, πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί (XXII 1)
The metrical structure of these verses is the following: [5]
1. – – – | tr | | – – – (XXI 6)
2. – – | tr | | – – – (XXI 528)
3. – – – | tr | | – – – (XXI 532)
4. – – – | tr | | – – – (XXII 1)
I will start with a detailed metrical discussion of these verses, which is essential for an in-depth exploration of the genealogy of the participle πεφυζότες and, consequently, of the whole πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί simile.
1. All four verses follow the typical dactylic pattern with 24 morae. Verse XXI 528 has 17 syllables, whereas XXI 6, XXI 532 and XXII 1 have 16. It is clear that their syllabicity follows the basic pattern of the dactylic hexameter. [6]
2. All four verses are characterized by the principle of right justification, [7] since their only metrical differentiation is localized in the first colon, where the initial dactyl has been substituted by a spondee.

Inner Metric

1. All four verses have a B2 caesura (i.e. after the third trochee). The participle πεφυζότες ( ) is invariably localized between caesuras B2 and C2, [8] namely between the feminine caesura and the bucolic diaeresis, before the terminal adonic (– – –).
2. All four verses have been developed upon four-colon patterns. [9] Moreover, XXI 532 and XXII 1 seem to be based on the same dictional template, as, in both of them, the participle πεφυζότες is preceded by a prepositional phrase including the noun ἄστυ. To some extent then, and as far as the second and third cola are concerned, one can also speak of the same syntactical, not only metrical, pattern. [10] Therefore, in view of their metrical structure, verses XXI 532 and XXII 1 are identical. The implications of this observation are essential for our examination of the genealogy of the formula containing the participle πεφυζότες. As a result, since the form πεφυζότες ( ) followed by the terminal adonic (– – –) is placed in the second hemistich (after the B2 caesura), it will be less flexible and more rigid in its metrical form. Therefore, the metrical incongruity of the three syllables in the first colon is rather the outcome of right justification than the effect of the semantic disparity of the four aforementioned verses. This argument is further corroborated by the observation that the first colon of each of the four verses [τῇ ῥ᾿ οἵ γε (– – –) // Τρῶες ἄφαρ (– –) // ἔλθωσι (– – –) // ὣς οἳ μὲν (– – –)] refers, despite its dictional and syntactic divergence, to the same subject, the Trojans (who are either named or understood by the syntax).
3. The colon is a metrical, not a phrase unit. The smallest phrase unit is the hemistich. As a result, [11] the expression πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί constitutes a phrase unit. Although the only fixed element in the four verses, with respect to morphology, is the participle πεφυζότες, we are in no position to classify it as a formula since it does not fulfill the Parryan “essential idea.” According to Foley, we should coin it “a functional phrase element.” [12] Pin-pointing an elementary structural unit in verses with similar phrase structure is a very difficult task. Foley maintains that “… no line or unit is ontologically primary. The phraseology does not merely present the possibility of multiformity; it actively is a multiform.” [13]
Foley’s theory is certainly functional on the synchronic level, but on the vertical axis of diachrony things can be different. When epic diction employs archaisms, it is possible to discern the survival of fossilized items [14] incorporated into formulaic constructions, which, due to their rigid morphology, invade the hexameter by occupying specific slots and ‘produce’ metrical clusters that are gradually crystallized in consonance with the metrical shape of the verse. [15]
This is the case with the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί, which on a phrase level is expressed by the pattern perfect participle + ἠΰτε νεβροί ( – –) and which constitutes on the vertical axis of diachrony [16] the archetypal formula from which the allomorphs of XXI 6, XXI 528 and XXI 532 have emanated.
This conclusion is further supported by the fact that, apart from the simile ἠΰτε νεβροί, all the other expressions occupying the metrical slot of the terminal adonic (– – –) are not coterminous and produce an enjambment effect. [17]
Coterminacy, i.e. the convergence of prosodic/metrical completion of the verse and semantic consummation (one verse, one idea), [18] constitutes, by and large, a typical characteristic of oral poetry. Enjambment (whose absence underscores the balanced symmetry between form and content) has its own peculiarities according to the form it takes. Consequently, necessary-periodic enjambment is a sign of the non-traditional style, whereas adding-unperiodic enjambment is typical of oral composition and seems to be traditional. The same phenomenon has been observed in other oral verse forms, such as the decasyllable/deseterac in the Serbo-Croatian return song [19] and the fifteen-syllable verse of Modern Greek folk song. [20] The fact that verses XXI 6, XXI 528, and XXI 532 have a necessary-periodic enjambment preceded by internal punctuation at the end of the fourth foot and the introduction of a new subject at verse-end implicitly indicates that they cannot represent the template or pattern of the πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί formula. Conversely, XXII 1 has a secondary enjambment, which shows the presence of a slight pause at the point of sense completion. The lack of punctuation is, of course, only a printing convention of our written text, but it graphically represents the difference between the adding-unperiodic and the secondary enjambment, the former indicating a shorter pause expressed by optional punctuation at verse-end, whereas the latter points to a longer pause expressed by compulsory punctuation. Given that the enjambment in XXII 1 is secondary, the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί may well be the formulaic template from which the allomorphs of XXI 6, XXI 528 and XXI 532 have originated. This argument is further reinforced by the fact that the formula τεθηπότες//-ας ἠΰτε νεβροί//-ούς (IV 243, XXI 29), which is also placed at verse-terminal position, is followed by no enjambment. In this light, it can be plausibly argued that the expression πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί constitutes the formulaic precursor to other Iliadic verses containing the form πεφυζότες. Besides, the attachment of the second part of the simile (ἠΰτε νεβροί) to the participle πεφυζότες must have preceded its joining the rest of the hemistiches (οὐδέ τις ἀλκή // ἦ γὰρ Ἀχιλλεύς // ἠέρα δ᾿ Ἥρη). A diachronic viewpoint is absolutely vital for understanding the mechanics of the above-mentioned process. Enjambment is, by definition, a form of dissonance, which the set of rules we describe as Homeric diction has reorganized by “thoroughly integrating it into the system.” [21] In other words, enjambed verses like XXI 6, XXI 528, and XXI 532 employing a word attested as part of a word-group that occupies the most traditional part of the dactylic hexameter (the terminal adonic) are likely to stand for historical accretions to or aberrations from a formulaic prototype. At the same time, since they have been effectively incorporated into the system, they are the best proof that the built-in entropy of Homeric diction coexists with a kind of paradoxical taxonomy. Diachronically seen, incompatibility has become masterfully canonized. [22]
In order to avoid any misunderstandings, I should make it clear that I am not arguing for the equation of any preverbal templates with actual phrases endowed with specific metrical properties. [23] On the contrary, I draw attention to the fact that the part of XXII 1 following the trochaic caesura contains a cataphoric word-group that leads the flow of speech forward, whereas in XXI 6, XXI 528, and XXI 532, πεφυζότες is a ‘sense-terminal’ word, i.e. one marking the completion of a sense-group. The aforementioned cataphoric word-group metrically occupies the last two feet of the hexameter (– – –), which correspond to an identifiable and autonomous metrical unit, the adonic. Before going on, let us briefly consider the following ‘evolutionary’ model suggested by Nagy with respect to the relation between meter and phraseology:
At first … traditional phraseology simply contains built in rhythms. Later, the factor of tradition led to the preference of phrases with some rhythms over phrases with other rhythms. Still later, the preferred rhythms have their own dynamics and become regulators of any incoming phraseology. [24]
The adonic, which became a verse-terminal boundary in the dactylic hexameter, may well have been such a ‘built in rhythm’, more so since it is an independent metrical unit with an extremely rigid syllabicity. Right justification, i.e. the tendency of the hexameter to display a progressive (as one moves from left to right in the printed page) rigidity by making the short syllables less prone to replacement by a long syllable, can be seen in the low ratio of substitution of the dactyl (– ) by a spondee (– –) in the fifth foot. Therefore, it can be argued that the terminal adonic, being a preferred rhythm, has evolved into a regulator of incoming phraseology, which in the case of πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί has been conceptually detached from the thematic environment of a simile and dictionally translated into the built-in rhythm of the terminal adonic.
In a nutshell, the examination of the outer and inner metric of verses XXI 6, XXI 528, XXI 532 and XXII 1 points to the participle πεφυζότες as the center around which the rest of the dictional elements were put into orbit. This participle had been ‘extracted’ from its ‘natural’ sequence (the simile πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί) and has created a series of allomorphs on the one hand, while preserving something of its ancient rust on the other, despite the adaptation to a new environment. [25]

Genealogy of verses XXI 6, 528, 532 and XXII 1

tsagalis-op-chap9-image1 [26]

The Formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί//-ούς (Stupefied Like Fawns)

The formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί is attested also as τεθηπότες ἠΰτε νεβροί//-ούς:
1. τίφθ᾿ οὕτως ἔστητε τεθηπότες ἠΰτε νεβροί (IV 243)
2. τοὺς ἐξῆγε θύραζε τεθηπότας ἠΰτε νεβρούς (XXI 29)
The metrical form of the above verses is the following:
– – – | – – tr | | – – – (IV 243)
– – – | tr | | – – – (XXI 29)
These two verses are based on the same metrical, syntactic, structural (with respect to cola 3 and 4) and semantic pattern as far as their second hemistiches are concerned (since they are occupied by the formula τεθηπότες, -ας ἠΰτε νεβροί // -ούς). [27]
We can therefore postulate an initial phase during which the built-in rhythm of the terminal adonic regulated the incoming phraseology of πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί and τεθηπότες, -ας ἠΰτε νεβροί // -ούς. The mental template these formulas stem from did not make its way into the system of Homeric diction in its entirety, but was broken down to its constituent parts. In the first phase, there was no formula contraction (as often happens in cases like this) that could have given a new coin, such as *πεφυζότες νεβροί, since the form πεφυζότες should always be followed by a vowel-initial word to avoid a cretic (– –), which would of course be unacceptable for the hexameter. Nevertheless, in all the attestations of the form πεφυζότες, the terminal adonic (– – –) begins with an open syllable. At a later phase, the participle πεφυζότες was ‘detached’ from the ἠΰτε νεβροί and used independently.
It seems that the phrases πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί ‘panic-stricken like fawns’ and τεθηπότες, -ας ἠΰτε νεβροί // ούς ‘stupefied like fawns’ represent allomorphic manifestations of the same formula, as they have been developed upon the same semantic, metrical, and syntactic pattern. This observation is further corroborated by the fact that the kernel of this set expression is the simile (ἠΰτε νεβροί), which is localized at the most rigid and crystallized (and probably older) part of the hexameter, the terminal adonic (– – –).
After having established firm ground by having shown that we are in fact dealing with the same formula, it is now time to examine the function of these expressions within their immediate thematic environment. [28]

Migrating Formulas and Intertextual Imagery

In this second part, I will try to show how the mental pattern triggered by the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί has ‘migrated’ from an intertextually reconstructed imagery to the dictional material of the epic tradition, at which point the diction is shaped into the given metrical and morphological constraints of the so-called Homeric Kunstsprache, an artificial language amounting to an amalgam of local dialects and various linguistic features that pertain to different historical periods.
It has been argued [29] that the simile in Iliad XXII 189–193 foreshadows the fatal pursuit of Hector by Achilles around the walls of Troy, the former being compared to a young deer and the latter to a dog. Moulton [30] maintains that not only this particular simile but also the initial similes in Iliad XXII are all anticipatory, “since later in XXII the fawn image is expanded into one of the full-scale similes for the pursuit of Hector.” [31]
As far as the participle πεφυζότες is concerned, Ameis-Hentze maintains that the poet preferred it instead of πεφευγότες “von der die Flucht überdauernden Stimmung.” Richardson [32] highlights the fact that this preference may be due to the influence of the word φύζα (panic-stricken flight), [33] constituting a more emphatic expression than φυγή (simple flight). This is also the interpretation offered by the scholia vetera (bT: καὶ τὴν μετὰ δέους κατάπληξιν οὕτω καλεῖ. ἔστιν οὖν δεδειλιακότες). It seems that the uncontrolled, panic-stricken flight of the deer facing great danger was the pretext for using the root *φυζ- explicitly for the flight of the deer (see Iliad IX 2: … Φύζα, Φόβου κρυόεντος ἑταίρη). [34]
Notwithstanding the accuracy of the above observations, I will embark on a closer look at the thematic environment within which XXI 6, XXI 528, XXI 532 and XXII 1 are placed. In order to get a full picture of the semantic range covered by the participles πεφυζότες and τεθηπότες and examine their genetic interrelation, it is necessary to look at the narrative context: [35]
Ἀργεῖοι ἰόμωροι, ἐλεγχέες, οὔ νυ σέβεσθε;
τίφθ᾿ οὕτως ἔστητε τεθηπότες ἠΰτε νεβροί,
αἵ τ᾿ ἐπεὶ οὖν ἔκαμον πολέος πεδίοιο θέουσαι,
ἑστᾶσ᾿, οὐδ᾿ ἄρα τίς σφι μετὰ φρεσὶ γίνεται ἀλκή;
ὣς ὑμεῖς ἔστητε τεθηπότες, οὐδὲ μάχεσθε.
μένετε Τρῶας σχεδὸν ἐλθέμεν, ἔνθά τε νῆες
εἰρύατ εὔπρυμνοι, πολιῆς ἐπὶ θινὶ θαλάσσης,
ὄφρα ἴδητ᾿ αἴ κ᾿ ὔμμιν ὑπέρσχῃ χεῖρα Κρονίων;

Argives, you arrow-fighters, have you no shame, you abuses?
Why are you simply standing there bewildered, like young deer
who after they are tired from running through a great meadow
stand there still, and there is no heart of courage within them?
Thus are you standing still bewildered and are not fighting.
Or are you waiting for the Trojans to come close, where the strong-sterned
ships have been hauled up along the strand of the grey sea,
so you may know if Kronos’ son will hold his hand over you?
Iliad IV 242–249
ἀλλ᾿ ὅτε δὴ πόρον ἷξον ἐϋρρεῖος ποταμοῖο
Ξάνθου δινήεντος, ὃν ἀθάνατος τέκετο Ζεύς,
ἔνθα διατμήξας τοὺς μὲν πεδίονδ᾿ ἐδίωκεν
πρὸς πόλιν, ᾗ περ Ἀχαιοὶ ἀτυζόμενοι φοβέοντο
ἤματι τῷ προτέρῳ, ὅτ᾿ ἐμαίνετο φαίδιμος Ἕκτωρ·
τῇ ῥ᾿ οἵ γε προχέοντο πεφυζότες, ἠέρα δ᾿ Ἥρη
πίτνα πρόσθε βαθεῖαν ἐρυκέμεν· ἡμίσεες δέ
ἐς ποταμὸν εἰλέοντο βαθύρροον ἀργυροδίνην.
ἐν δ᾿ ἔπεσον μεγάλῳ πατάγῳ, βράχε δ᾿ αἰπὰ ῥέεθρα,
ὄχθαι δ᾿ ἀμφὶ περὶ μεγάλ᾿ ἴαχον· οἳ δ᾿ ἀλαλητῷ
ἔννεον ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα ἑλισσόμενοι κατὰ δίνας.
ὡς δ᾿ ὅθ᾿ ὑπὸ ῥιπῆς πυρὸς ἀκρίδες ἠερέθονται
φευγέμεναι ποταμόνδε, τὸ δέ φλέγει ἀκάματον πῦρ
ὄρμενον ἐξαίφνης, ταὶ δὲ πτώσσουσι καθ᾿ ὕδωρ,
ὣς ὑπ᾿ Ἀχιλλῆος Ξάνθου βαθυδινήεντος
πλῆτο ῥόος κελάδων ἐπιμὶξ ἵππων τε καὶ ἀνδρῶν.

But when they came to the crossing place of the fair-running river
of whirling Xanthos, a stream whose father was Zeus the immortal,
there Achilleus split them and chased some back over the flat land
toward the city, where the Achaians themselves had stampeded in terror
on the day before, when glorious Hektor was still in his fury.
Along this ground they were streaming in flight; but Hera let fall
a deep mist before them to stay them. Meanwhile the other half
were crowded into the silvery whirls of the deep-running river
and tumbled into it in huge clamour, and the steep-running water
sounded, and the banks echoed hugely about them, as they out-crying
tried to swim this way and that, spun about in the eddies.
As before the blast of a fire the locusts escaping
into a river swarm in air, and the fire unwearied
blazes from a sudden start, and the locusts huddle in water;
so before Achilleus the murmuring waters of Xanthos
the deep-whirling were filled with confusion of men and of horses.
Iliad XXI 1–16
ὡς δ᾿ ὑπὸ δελφῖνος μεγακήτεος ἰχθύες ἄλλοι
φεύγοντες πιμπλᾶσι μυχοὺς λιμένος εὐόρμου
δειδιότες· μάλα γάρ τε κατεσθίει ὅν κε λάβησιν·
ὣς Τρῶες ποταμοῖο κατὰ δεινοῖο ῥέεθρα
πτῶσσον ὑπὸ κρημνούς. ὃ δ᾿ ἐπεὶ κάμε χεῖρας ἐναίρων,
ζωοὺς ἐκ ποταμοῖο δυώδεκα λέξατο κούρους,
ποινὴν Πατρόκλοιο Μενοιτιάδαο θανόντος·
τοὺς ἐξῆγε θύραζε τεθηπότας ἠΰτε νεβρούς,
δῆσε δ᾿ ὀπίσσω χεῖρας ἐϋτμήτοισιν ἱμᾶσιν,
τοὺς αὐτοὶ φορέεσκον ἐπὶ στρεπτοῖσι χιτῶσιν,
δῶκε δ᾿ ἑταίροισιν κατάγειν κοίλας ἐπὶ νῆας·

As before a huge-gaping dolphin the other fishes
escaping cram the corners of a deepwater harbour
in fear, for he avidly eats up any he can catch;
so the Trojans along the course of the terrible river
shrank under the bluffs. He, when his hands grew weary with killing,
chose out and took twelve young men alive from the river
to be vengeance for the death of Patroklos, the son of Menoitios.
These, bewildered with fear like fawns, he led out of the water
and bound their hands behind them with thongs well cut out of leather,
with the very belts they themselves wore on their ingirt tunics,
and gave them to his companions to lead away to the hollow ships.
Iliad XXI 22–32
ὡς δ᾿ ὅτε καπνὸς ἰὼν εἰς οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἱκάνει
ἄστεος αἰθομένοιο, θεῶν δέ ἑ μῆνις ἀνῆκεν,
πᾶσι δ᾿ ἔθηκε πόνον, πολλοῖσι δὲ κήδε᾿ ἐφῆκεν,
ὣς Ἀχιλεὺς Τρώεσσι πόνον καὶ κήδε᾿ ἔθηκεν.
ἑστήκει δ᾿ ὁ γέρων Πρίαμος θείου ἐπὶ πύργου·
ἐς δ᾿ ἐνόησ᾿ Ἀχιλῆα πελώριον, αὐτὰρ ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ
Τρῶες ἄφαρ κλονέοντο πεφυζότες, οὐδέ τις ἀλκή
γίνεθ᾿· ὃ δ᾿ οἰμώξας ἀπὸ πύργου βαῖνε χαμᾶζε,
ὀτρύνων παρὰ τεῖχος ἀγακλειτοὺς πυλαωρούς·
῾῾πεπταμένας ἐν χερσὶ πύλας ἔχετ᾿, εἰς ὅ κε λαοί
ἔλθωσι προτὶ ἄστυ πεφυζότες· ἦ γὰρ Ἀχιλλεύς
ἐγγὺς ὅδε κλονέων· νῦν οἴω λοίγι᾿ ἔσεσθαι.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεί κ᾿ ἐς τεῖχος ἀναπνεύσωσιν ἀλέντες,
αὖτις ἐπ᾿ ἂψ θέμεναι σανίδας πυκινῶς ἀραρυίας·
δείδια γάρ, μὴ οὖλος ἀνὴρ ἐς τεῖχος ἄληται.᾿᾿
ὣς ἔφαθ᾿· οἳ δ᾿ ἄνεσάν τε πύλας καὶ ἀπῶσαν ὀχῆας,
αἳ δὲ πετασθεῖσαι τεῦξαν φάος. αὐτὰρ Ἀπόλλων
ἀντίος ἐξέθορε, Τρώων ἵνα λοιγὸν ἀμύναι.
οἳ δ᾿ ἰθὺς πόλιος καὶ τείχεος ὑψηλοῖο
δίψῃ καρχαλέοι, κεκονιμένοι ἐκ πεδίοιο
φεῦγον· ὃ δὲ σφεδανὸν ἔφεπ᾿ ἔγχεϊ, λύσσα δέ οἱ κῆρ
αἰὲν ἔχε κρατερή, μενέαινε δὲ κῦδος ἀρέσθαι.

And as when smoke ascending goes up into the wide sky
from a burning city, with the anger of the gods let loose upon it
which inflicted labour upon them all, and sorrow on many,
so Achilleus inflicted labour and sorrow upon the Trojans.
The aged Priam had taken his place on the god-built bastion,
and looked out and saw gigantic Achilleus, where before him
the Trojans fled in the speed of their confusion, no war strength
left them. He groaned and descended to the ground from the bastion
and beside the wall set in motion the glorious guards of the gateway;
‘Hold the gates wide open in your hands, so that our people
in their flight can get inside the city, for here is Achilleus
close by, stampeding them, and I think there will be disaster.
But once they are crowded inside the city and get wind again,
shut once more the door-leaves closely fitted together.
I am afraid this ruinous man may spring into our stronghold’.
He spoke, and they spread open the gates and shoved back the door bars
and the gates opening let in daylight. Meanwhile Apollo
sprang out to meet them, so that he could fend off destruction
from the Trojans, who, straight for the city and the lift of the rampart
dusty from the plain and throats rugged with thirst, fled
away, and Achilleus followed fiercely with the spear, strong madness
forever holding his heart and violent after his glory.
Iliad XXI 522–543
τόφρ᾿ ἄλλοι Τρῶες πεφοβημένοι ἦλθον ὁμίλῳ
ἀσπάσιοι προτὶ ἄστυ· πόλις δ᾿ ἔμπλητο ἀλέντων.
οὐδ᾿ ἄρα τοί γ᾿ ἔτλαν πόλιος καὶ τείχεος ἐκτός
μεῖναι ἔτ᾿ ἀλλήλους καὶ γνώμεναι, ὅς τε πεφεύγοι
ὅς τ᾿ ἔθαν᾿ ἐν πολέμῳ, ἀλλ᾿ ἐσσυμένως ἐσέχυντο
ἐς πόλιν, ὅν τινα τῶν γε πόδες καὶ γοῦναι σαώσαι.

ὣς οἳ μὲν κατὰ ἄστυ, πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί,
ἱδρῶ ἀπεψύχοντο πίον τ᾿ ἀκέοντό τε δίψαν,
κεκλιμένοι καλῇσιν ἐπάλξεσιν· αὐτὰρ Ἀχαιοί
τείχεος ἄσσον ἴσαν, σάκε᾿ ὤμοισι κλίναντες.

All this time the rest of the Trojans fled in a body
gladly into the town, and the city was filled with their swarming.
They dared no longer stay outside the wall and outside the city
to wait for each other and find out which one had got away
and who had died in the battle, so hastily were they streaming
into the city, each man as his knees and feet could rescue him.
So along the city the Trojans, who had run like fawns, dried
the sweat off their bodies and drank and slaked their thirst, leaning
along the magnificent battlements. Meanwhile the Achaians
sloping their shields across their shoulders came close to the rampart.
Iliad XXI 606–XXII 4
By looking at the above passages we can pinpoint several common characteristics that they share:
a. expressions denoting an undisciplined, unruly, and disorderly flight due to sudden fear (ἀτυζόμενοι φοβέοντο, προχέοντο, φευγέμεναι, πτώσσουσι, φεύγοντες, δειδιότες, πτῶσσον, κλονέοντο, κλονέων, δείδια, φεῦγον, πεφοβημένοι, πεφεύγοι, ἐσσυμένως ἐσέχυντο),
b. exhaustion, distress of both the persecuted and the pursuer (expressed by the verb κάμνω and verbs denoting “standing in a place”: ἔστητε - ἑστᾶσι - μένετε - μεῖναι) after a continuous pursuit,
c. complete feebleness of the persecuted (οὐδ᾿ ἄρα τίς σφι … γίνεται ἀλκή, οὐδέ τις ἀλκή // γίνεθ᾿ …),
d. reference to a water element either literally (πολιῆς ἐπὶ θινὶ θαλάσσης, πόρον ἷξον ἐϋρρεῖος ποταμοῖο, Ξάνθου δινήεντος, ἐς ποταμὸν … βαθύρροον ἀργυροδίνην, ἔννεον ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα ἑλισσόμενοι κατὰ δίνας, ποταμόνδε, καθ᾿ ὕδωρ, Ξάνθου βαθυδινήεντος, ῥόος, ὑπὸ δελφῖνος μεγακήτεος ἰχθύες ἄλλοι, λιμένος εὐόρμου, ποταμοῖο κατὰ δεινοῖο ῥέεθρα, ἐκ ποταμοῖο), figuratively (δίψῃ καρχαλέοι, ἱδρῶ ἀπεψύχοντο πίον τ᾿ ἀκέοντό τε δίψαν), or through its latent opposition to the danger emerging from the destructive force of fire (ὑπὸ ῥιπῆς πυρός, φλέγει ἀκάματον πῦρ, ἄστεος αἰθομένοιο).
Therefore, the emerging semantic framework (concerning the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί) is that of uncontrolled fear seizing the pursued, who, at first, remain stunned due to panic and then attempt to escape. But what is the role of the water element?
Nagy [36] has convincingly shown that the words πῦρ and πόντος create a semantic framework that determines the Trojan force and the danger the Achaeans are facing, respectively. This specific poetic imagery has been frequently used by the poet and has almost developed into an Iliadic metonymy abundantly employed in Books IV-XV. [37]
From Iliad XVI onwards the picture on the battlefield changes. In contrast to previous Trojans victories, the Achaeans are now chasing the Trojans, due to Patroclus’ and then Achilles’ entry into battle. This shift in the course of the plot leads to an equivalent change in the roles of the two armies and, consequently, in the two poles of the imagery: now the fire symbolizes the force of Achilles, whereas the water element alludes to the salvation of the Trojans. Nevertheless, the difference between this and the previous imagery is not only seen as a reversal of the roles of victor and vanquished. The water element is only a mirage, a deceitful illusion supposedly leading the Trojans (who are now the pursued) to salvation, when most of them will be slaughtered by Achilles while attempting to get out of the river. The function of this imagery changes dramatically, since it now connotes that the balance between the initial victory of the Trojans and the subsequent prevalence of the Achaeans is misleading. The Achaeans will win the war and eventually sack Troy.
Death has often been linked to a sea journey, as the transition to the underworld requires a voyage by boat through the river Acheron and/or the lake Acherousia. [38] In Homeric eschatological mythmaking, the world of the living is separated from the world of the dead by a river constituting a border, literal and figurative alike, for a passage to Hades. Homeric eschatological beliefs [39] are consonant with the connection between the word πόντος and the concept of danger. It has been argued that the Greek word πόντος is related to the Sanskrit pántāḥ ‘path, passage’ and to the Latin pons ‘bridge’, and that the three forms connote transition, or, rather, perilous transition. [40]
The association of the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί with the idea of imminent death is also dormant in the expression ἱδρῶ ἀπεψύχοντο (attested in Iliad XXII 2 just after πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί) and mutatis mutandis in the phrase ἀναπνεύσωσιν ἀλέντες (Iliad XXI 534). According to Sourvinou-Inwood, “[t]he word psyche is etymologically connected with psycho, breathe, as the cessation of breathing is the simplest and most obvious sign of death. The image of a dying person’s last breath being released into the air provided the model for the visualization and representation of the departure from the body at the moment of death of the person’s surviving component.” [41]
Now I hope that the picture is much more clear. A brief sketch of the evolutionary process and semantic development of the above formula up to its present state can be outlined in the following way: it seems that the preverbal Gestalt [42] that existed in the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί was that of panic-stricken, powerless deer, which were attacked by some carnivorous predator when they were drinking water, probably at some river bank. [43] This preverbal Gestalt, being innate in the mental template pertaining to this visual icon, was shaped into a formula placed in a dictional environment that recalled the initial, archetypal image from which the simile emanated. The participles πεφυζότες and τεθηπότες determine an emotional process that includes two chronologically distinct phases in the realization of the Gestalt: the confusion and perplexity in front of danger (τεθηπότες) and the panic- and terror-stricken flight (πεφυζότες). As the concept of πόντος symbolizes a perilous transition, so the water element alludes to destruction, to imminent death, [44] whence the simile of the deer for the panic-stricken Trojans. Needless to say, the thirst of the exhausted warriors recalls that of the deer who stop at the riverbanks to drink water.
The formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί is at the same time a simile, a part of which (even when found in isolation within the narrative) is surrounded by some common thematic elements and which consequently triggers in the singer’s and the audience’s mind the same connotations. This dictional and thematic material (as is the case with the short simile) [45] has acquired during centuries of long oral transmission by generations of bards a specific emotive tone, a special color that it preserved even when it entered Iliadic diction. This is a good example of how radical complexity and overabundant systematicity coexist within the web of Homeric diction and how regular usage has been followed by pattern deviation and plurality. [46] As a corollary to the combination of complexity and systematicity, we can see how the system has been able to create a delicate balance between nucleus and periphery [47] or core and filler. [48] A great deal of the semantic context of the aforementioned formula ‘surfaces’ in the Iliadic narrative even when the peripheral elements are not textually attested. Their semantic importance is so deeply built in the formula of which they are part that it is contextually ‘present’ even when πεφυζότες or τεθηπότες, -ας are not accompanied by the periphery/filler ἠΰτε νεβροί // -ούς. Therefore, the participle πεφυζότες points to the other pole of the semantic pair of the formula, the simile ἠΰτε νεβροί, even when isolated from it in the poem. In this way, the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί reveals the multiple meanings of a poetic imagery consonant with Homeric eschatological beliefs, and all this through the dictional fossil of a formulaic expression.
In this light, traditional referentiality becomes a form of intertextual cross-referencing, since it alludes not to other identifiable texts but to a shared image-mapping [49] of a simile that stands for a single preverbal Gestalt. The conceptual pattern ‘predator against prey’ was further particularized into two distinct parts, the τεθηπότες part and the πεφυζότες part, referring to the dazzled or panic-stricken deer that are attacked by a carnivorous predator while drinking water. The intratextual diffusion and scattering of the constituent parts of a coherent Gestalt is balanced by their intertextual retrieval, even when not directly mentioned in a given performance. In such a complex oral medium as epic poetry, ellipsis, fragmentation, and deroutinization constitute manifestations of Homeric entropy, [50] which coexists with systematicity, canonization, and regularization. What is synchronically absent can therefore be diachronically present.


[ back ] 1. See Martin 1989:12–37 and 231–239.
[ back ] 2. For the term theme in Homer, see Lord 1960:68–98 and 1991:26–27.
[ back ] 3. See Foley 1991:24; Danek 2002:3–19.
[ back ] 4. The form πεφυζότες is not attested in the Odyssey where one finds πεφευγότες instead. E.g. οἴκοι ἔσαν, πόλεμόν τε πεφευγότες ἠδὲ θάλασσαν (i 12).
[ back ] 5. The single vertical bar (|) indicates the beginning and end of a colon, and the supra-linear index (tr) marks the trochaic caesura.
[ back ] 6. For the concept of syllabicity and its role as determining factor, not only in the dactylic hexameter, but also in the reconstructed proto-Indo-European Ur-meter, see Foley 1993:54–63.
[ back ] 7. The term right justification was coined by Foley 1993:56–59. Foley takes over from the work of Meillet 1923 and Jakobson 1952:21–66, who had detected this regulating metrical factor not only in the dactylic hexameter but also in the deseterac, the Serbo-Croatian heroic decasyllable employed in the traditional epic poetry of the peoples of former Yugoslavia. On this occasion, it can be briefly stated that the dactylic hexameter is comprised by an initial and terminal metrical sequence, which are marked out, the former by metrical flexibility and the latter by metrical rigidity. However, the gradual metrical rigidity of the hexameter verse, as we move from the beginning towards the end of the verse (from left to right, whence the term right justification), is only the visual imprint of this metrical divergence expressed in linear terms. It, therefore, does not mirror the diachronic evolution of the hexameter from an Ur-form of the archetypal Indo-European proto-language. This linear interpretation is, diachronically examined, inversely proportional to the evolution of the dactylic hexameter, which, as the terminal adonic (– – –) testifies, must have had in its archetypal Indo-European form a more rigid and standardized structure towards its end but a rather looser and flexible shape in its beginning. Right justification is also relevant to another tendency of the hexameter, namely that of the size of the cola. Cola 1 and 3 are considerably smaller than cola 2 and 4, since dactyls, according to Foley 1993:84, “migrate toward the ends of both verses and half-verses, making these terminal sections more expansive by both syllable- and morae-count and more densely populated by short syllables.” See also O’ Nolan 1969:17. For a detailed presentation of the dactylic hexameter in its entirety (from Homer to Nonnus), see v. Raalte 1986:28–103; Sicking 1993:69–82.
[ back ] 8. See Fränkel 1926:197–229.
[ back ] 9. For the concept of pattern in Homeric poetry, see Lord 1960:37.
[ back ] 10. The poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey builds his verses not with words but with metrical cola and formulas, which often coincide with sense-breaks within the hexameter verse.
[ back ] 11. See Foley 1993:132. This observation becomes obvious in cases where a specific combination of phrases prevents a caesura. All four verses have a B2 caesura (after the third trochee).
[ back ] 12. See Foley 1993:132.
[ back ] 13. Foley 1993:137.
[ back ] 14. For the antiquity and other related problems of the participle πεφυζότες (*πεφυγϝόhες > πεφυγϝόσες > πεφυγϝότες > πεφυζότες) that was formed in analogy to the noun φύζα after the loss of the digamma, see Chantraine (1968–1980), s.v. φεύγω 1. On the contrary, Trümpy 1950:276n614 and Schwyzer 1934–1939 argue that the participle πεφυζότες comes from the perfect of the verb *φύζω (lat. fugio) or from the noun φύζα, as the form μεμυζότε (Antimachus fr. 90 Wyss = fr. 63 Matthews) comes from the verb μύζω. But see Richardson 1993 and Rix 1976: § 238, § 258, who are in favor of a historical evolution of the form in the pattern of ἀρηρότα < ἀραρϝόσα < ἀραρϝοh-α < a-ra-ru-wo-a. See also Cuny 1936:395398, who thinks that it is wrong “d’ admettre le transfert, dans une forme nettement rattachée au verbe, d’ un ζ qui, dans le nom, résulte d’ une combinaison phonétique de g et de y” (φύζα < *bhug-ya). According to Cuny (396), the result of the loss of the digamma ‘produced’ the form *πεφυγότες (which would have been scanned as a tribrach [ ] but had to be placed in the fourth foot of the hexameter). In order to avoid the tribrach, the form was changed to πεφυζότες, which was, as a matter of fact, a barbarism on the level of writing, but because of its morphological idiosyncrasy it preserved the traces of an archaism that survived within the formulaic framework. The antiquity of the form πεφυζότες is also reinforced by the fact that it always has, contrary to the form πεφευγότες that is the form attested in the Odyssey, a passive sense in spite of its active form. An equivalent development can be already observed in Linear B. See the participle te-tu-ko-wo-a2 (θεθυχϝόα/PY Sa 682 al.), which has a transitive meaning. For more details on this point, see Chantraine 1927:52 and Shipp 19722:114, who disagrees with Chantraine 1986–19886 (1948–1953):429 (GH 1).
[ back ] 15. See Nagy 1974; 1976:239–260.
[ back ] 16. Diachronic and synchronic developments could be schematically represented by a cross, whose vertical axis stands for diachrony and its horizontal for synchrony.
[ back ] 17. For a different view, see Bakker 1997:151–152 who argues: “… I suggest that we refrain from using the term ‘enjambment’ whenever the progression of speech units is in accordance with the metrical period.”
[ back ] 18. “Enjambment, the continuation of the sentence from one verse to the next, is characteristic of Homer, but the nature of the running-over of the sense is more restricted than in literate writers, and attempts have been made to use this feature to differentiate oral from literate poetry.” This is the way Edwards 1986:171–230 sets the framework for his survey of the literature concerning enjambment in Homer. The bibliography is immense but the most important modern discussions can be limited to the following: Bassett 1926:116–148; Parry 1929:200–220 (= 1971:251–265); Lord 1948:113–24; Kirk 1966:105–52; Edwards 1966:115–179; Clayman and van Nortwick 1977:85–92; Barnes 1979:1–10; Bakker 1990:1–21; Higbie 1990; Clark 1994:85–114; Clark 1997; Friedrich 2000: 1–19.
[ back ] 19. See Foley 1993:164.
[ back ] 20. For enjambment, coterminacy, (and the concepts of isometric parallelism and isometric oscillation) in Modern Greek folk song, see Kyriakidis 1978:209–280; Baud-Bovy 1973:301–313; Sifakis 1988:136–164.
[ back ] 21. Kahane 2005:70.
[ back ] 22. See Kahane 2005:70–72.
[ back ] 23. See Kahane 2005:75.
[ back ] 24. Nagy 1974:145; see also Nagy 1990a:37.
[ back ] 25. It is certainly noteworthy that all the attestations of the form πεφυζότες are located in Iliad XXI and XXII and are only separated by a few verses. For the process of expansion and contraction of formulas, see Hainsworth 1968:74–89.
[ back ] 26. Verse XXI 532 is an allomorph of XXII 1. The expression προτὶ ἄστυ is a traditional phrase (23 times in the Iliad, 7 times in the Odyssey) placed before the trochaic caesura (26 times). See Hoekstra 1964:118.
[ back ] 27. The participle τεθηπότες is also attested in the nominative singular (τεθηπώς) in XXI 64 (ὣς ὥρμαινε μένων· ὃ δέ οἱ σχεδὸν ἦλθε τεθηπώς) and refers to Lycaon. The form τεθηπώς does not concern my research since it does not form part of the formulaic prototype that I have discussed above. The same applies to the form ταφών, which is connected to the root θαφ - of the verb τάφω, as is the case with τεθηπώς and τεθηπότες but it belongs to a different formulaic model.
[ back ] 28. The preceding metrical and structural analysis is indispensable for the semantic investigation that will ensue. For it is not possible to trace the latent connotations of a formula unless one has acutely determined its pre-Iliadic (but epic in all probability) prehistory, its metrical structure, its place within the hexameter and finally its morphological variations.
[ back ] 29. Richardson 1993:106.
[ back ] 30. Moulton 1977:78–80, 76–87.
[ back ] 31. Moulton 1977:79.
[ back ] 32. Richardson 1993:54.
[ back ] 33. According to Kirk 1985:357, the deer are “spiritless (ἀνάλκιδες, cf. ἀλκή 245) … natural victims of carnivores in the poem’s five remaining deer-similes … they cover much ground in flight, stand still when tired, have no inclination to resist, but look puzzled.” The poet used the expression φυζακινῇς ἐλάφοισιν (XIII 102) only for the Trojans (as he did with the form πεφυζότες) because he considered this unorganized, panic-stricken form of retreat as more appropriate to Asiatic than to Greek mentality. This is similar to the manner in which the two armies march into battle: the Trojans with shouting and uproar, whereas the Achaeans in silence. This deliberate distinction is made implicit by the particle αὐτάρ in XXII 3; the opposition alludes, through the different manner of movement of the two armies, to the different psychological state of the two sides. See also Iliad IV 422–438. The basic works on this topic are: Strassburger 1954 and Latacz 1977. For a more recent treatment of this theme, see Willcock 1993:141–147. For the first battle in the Iliad in which one can observe the distinction between the different ways the two armies march into battle, see Maronitis 1999:27–50.
[ back ] 34. Moulton 1977:78–79 translates the participle πεφυζότες in the following way: “… who had run like fawns …” In this way the thematic and emotional range of the form πεφυζότες is reduced to a simple expression of the Trojan retreat.
[ back ] 35. The underlined phrases or words in the above passages determine the thematic environment of the formula πεφυζότες ἠΰτε νεβροί and of its allomorphs.
[ back ] 36. Nagy 1979:337–340.
[ back ] 37. See Nagy 1979:335. The thematic motif of comparing the flight of pursued men to that of deer is already known from the Old Testament. See Rahlfs 1965, Lamentationes Jeremiah, 1.6 (καὶ ἐξήρθη ἐκ θυγατρὸς Σειὼν πᾶσα ἡ εὐπρέπεια αὐτῆς· // ἐγένοντο οἱ ἄρχοντες αὐτῆς ὡς κριοὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκοντες νομήν· // καὶ ἐπορεύοντο ἐν οὐκ ἰσχύι κατὰ πρόσωπον διώκοντες). See West 1997:248.
[ back ] 38. See Barringer 1998:55. Cambitoglou, Aelian, and Chamay 1986:209 argue that the Nereids derive their eschatological dimension from their connection to water. This is exactly the reason explaining their link with funeral monuments like that at Xanthos, which dates from 390/380 BC. For more details on death and water and the image of Charon as a ferryman, see Lattimore 1976:13; Vermeule 1979:179; Sourvinou-Inwood 1981:15–39; 1996:61–62, 347–353; LIMC III.1:210–215.
[ back ] 39. See Sourvinou-Inwood 1996:61.
[ back ] 40. I owe this point made by Benveniste 1954:251–264 to Nagy 1979:339.
[ back ] 41. See Sourvinou-Inwood 1996:57, and for a more detailed description of the journey to Hades, 56–66.
[ back ] 42. For the concept of preverbal Gestalt, see Nagler 1967:269–311; 1974:8.
[ back ] 43. For the role of the deer in ancient literature, see Keller 1913:277 and RE 16, VIII.2 s.v. Hirsch. For the deer in Homer, see Rahn 1953:277–297, 431–480. See also Rahn 1967:90–115, where the author shows how a deer’s death in Odyssey x 157–160. is absorbed by the heroic tone of that specific scene. According to Dierauer 1977, in animal similes the emphasis often lies not in the “Ähnlichkeit der Situation” but in the “Übereinstimmung der Gefühle”. See also Schnapp-Gourbeillon 1981:31. The fullest investigation of this topic is that of Richter 1968:44–54.
[ back ] 44. See Odyssey xiv 135, xxiv 291.
[ back ] 45. See Bakker 1988:226.
[ back ] 46. See Kahane 2005:77–78.
[ back ] 47. See Bakker 1995:116.
[ back ] 48. See Visser 1987, 1988. See Russo 1997:253–260.
[ back ] 49. See also chapter 12.
[ back ] 50. On the term entropy and its implications, see Kahane 2005:70.